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The Negros was not fast—thirteen knots was about the best she could do—so that it took us two days to cross from Samarinda, in Borneo, to Makassar, the capital of the Celebes. Our course took us within sight of "the Little Paternosters, as you come to the union Bank," where, as you may remember, Sir Anthony Gloster, of Kipling's ballad of The Mary Gloster, was buried beside his wife. Before our hawsers had fairly been made fast to the wharf at Makassar it became evident that among the natives our arrival had created a distinct sensation. The wharf was crowded with Bugis, as the natives of the southern Celebes are known, who tried in vain to make themselves understood by our Filipino crew. Instead of the boisterous curiosity which had marked the attitude of the natives at the other ports, the Bugis appeared to be laboring under a suppressed but none the less evident excitement. When I went ashore to call on the American Consul they made way for me with a respect which verged on reverence. This curious attitude was explained by the Consul.

"Your coming has revived among the natives a very curious and ancient legend," he told me. "When the[127] Dutch established their rule in the Celebes, something over three centuries ago, the King of the Bugis mysteriously disappeared. Whether he fled or was killed in battle, no one knows. In any event, from his disappearance arose a tradition that he had founded another kingdom in some islands far to the north, but that, when the time was propitious, he would return to free his people from foreign domination. Thus he came in time to be regarded as a divinity, a sort of Messiah. Curiously enough, the natives refer to him by a name which, translated into English, means 'the King of Manila.' Some months ago it was reported in the Makassar papers that the Governor-General of the Philippines expected to visit the Celebes upon his way to Australia, whereupon the rumor spread among the Bugis like wild-fire that 'the King of Manila' was about to return to his ancient kingdom, but the excitement gradually subsided when the Governor-General failed to appear. But when the Negros entered the harbor this morning, and it was reported that she was from Manila and had on board a white man who had some mysterious mission in the interior of the island, the excitement flamed up again. The natives, you see, who are as simple and credulous as children, believe that you are the Messiah of their legend and that you have come to liberate them from Dutch rule."[2]

[128]"But look here," said I, annoyance in my tone, "this isn't as funny as it seems. Tying me up to this fool tradition may result in spoiling my plans for taking pictures in the Celebes. Of course the Dutch authorities know perfectly well that I haven't come here to start a revolution, but, on the other hand, they may not want a person whom the natives regard as a Messiah to go wandering about in the interior, where Dutch rule is none too firmly established anyway, for fear that my presence might be used as an excuse for an insurrection."

"Don't let that worry you," the Consul reassured me. "I'll take you over now to call on the Governor. He's a good sort and he'll do everything he can to help you. Then I'll send the editors of the vernacular papers around to the Negros this afternoon to call on you. You can explain that you're here to get motion-pictures to illustrate the progress and prosperity of the Celebes, and it might be a good idea to tell them that some of your ancestors were Dutch. That will help to make you solid with the authorities. The interview will appear in the papers tomorrow and in twenty-four hours the news will have spread among the Bugis that you're not their Messiah after all."

"But I'm not Dutch," I protested. "All my people were Welsh and English. The only connection I have with Holland is that the house in which I was born is on a street that has a Dutch name."

"Fine!" he exclaimed enthusiastically. "Born on Van Rensselaer street, you say? Be sure and tell 'em[129] that. That's the next best thing to having been born in Holland."

"I know now," I said, "how it feels to refuse a throne."

At tiffin that noon on the Negros I told the story to the others. "So you see," I concluded, "if I had been willing to take a chance, I might have been King of the Bugis."

"They wouldn't have called you that at home," the Lovely Lady said unkindly. "There they would have called you the King of the Bugs."

Nature must have created Celebes in a capricious moment, such a medley of bold promontories, jutting peninsulas, deep gulfs and curving bays does its outline present. Indeed, its coast line is so irregular and so deeply indented by the three great gulfs or bays of Tomini, Tolo, and Boni that it is small wonder that the first European explorers assumed it was a group of islands and gave it the name of plural form which still perpetuates the very natural mistake. Its length is roughly about five hundred miles but its width is so varying that while it is over a hundred miles across the northern part of the island at the middle it is a scant twenty miles from coast to coast.

Though the census of 1905 gave the population of the island as less than nine hundred thousand, the latest official estimate places it at about three millions. The actual number of inhabitants is probably midway between these figures. But, to tell the truth, the temperament[130] of the savages who inhabit the interior is not conducive to an accurate enumeration, the Dutch census-takers being greeted with about the same degree of cordiality that the moonshiners of the Kentucky mountains extend to United States revenue agents.

The three most important peoples of Celebes are the Bugis, the Makassars, and the Mandars. The medley of more or less savage tribes dwelling in the island are known as Alfuros—literally "wild"—which is the term applied by the Malays to all the uncivilized non-Mohammedan peoples in the eastern part of the archipelago. For the Bugis to refer to the tribes of the interior as wild is like the pot calling the kettle black. The Bugis, a passionate, half-savage, extremely revengeful people, originally occupied only the kingdom of Boni, in the southwestern peninsula, but from this district they have spread over the whole of Celebes and have founded settlements on many of the adjacent islands. They are the seamen of the archipelago, the greatest navigators and the most enterprising tradesmen, and were, in times gone by, the greatest pirates as well. In fact, the harbor master at Makassar told us that the crews of many of the rakish looking sailing craft which were anchored in close proximity to the Negros were reformed buccaneers. Certainly they looked it. They may have reformed, but that did not prevent Captain Galvez from doubling the deck-watch at night while we were in Celebes waters. He believed in safety first.

The Winsome Widow had been very enthusiastic about going to the Celebes because Makassar is the greatest market in the world for those ornaments so dear to the feminine heart—bird-of-paradise plumes. I explained to her that it was against the law to bring them into the United States, but no matter, she wanted to buy some. To visit Makassar without buying bird-of-paradise plumes, she said, would be like visiting Japan without buying a kimono. The bird is usually sold entire, the prices ranging from twenty-five to thirty dollars, according to size and condition, though, owing to the ruthless slaughter of the birds to meet the demands of the European market, prices are steadily advancing. The Winsome Widow bought four of the finest birds I have ever seen—gorgeous, flame-colored things with plumes nearly two feet long. How she proposed getting them into the United States she did not tell me, and I thought it as well not to ask her. She had them carefully packed in a wooden box made for the purpose which she did not open until nearly two months later, when we were steaming down the coast of Siam on a cargo boat, long after I had sent the Negros back to Manila. Imagine her feelings when, upon opening the box to feast her eyes on her contraband treasures, she found it to contain nothing but waste paper! I suspect that the sweetheart of one of our Filipino cabin-boys is now wearing a hat fairly smothered in bird-of-paradise plumes.

The Bugis' love of the sea has given them almost a monopoly of the trade around Celebes. Despite their fierce and warlike dispositions they are industrious and[132] ingenious—qualities which usually do not go together; they practise agriculture more than the neighboring tribes and manufacture cotton cloth not only for their own use but for export. They also drive a thriving trade in such romantic commodities as gold dust, tortoise shell, pearls, nutmegs, camphor, and bird-of-paradise plumes. They dwell for the most part in walled enclosures known as kampongs, in flimsy houses built of bamboo and thatched with grass or leaves. But as diagonal struts are not used the walls soon lean over from the force of the wind, giving to the villages a curiously inebriated appearance. In several of the eight petty states which comprise the confederation of Boni the ruler is not infrequently a woman, the female line having precedence over the male line in succession to the throne. The women rulers of the Bugis have invariably shown themselves as astute, capable and warlike as the men, the princess who ruled in Boni during the middle of the last century having defeated three powerful military expeditions which the Dutch sent against her. Everything considered, the Bugis are perhaps the most interesting race in the entire archipelago.

The Bugis are said to be more predisposed toward "running amok" than any other Malayan people. Having been warned of this unpleasant idiosyncrasy, I took the precaution, when among them, of carrying in the right-hand pocket of my jacket a service automatic, loaded and ready for instant action. For when a Bugi runs amok he will almost certainly get you[133] unless you get him first. Running amok, I should explain, is the native term for the homicidal mania which attacks Malays. Without the slightest warning, and apparently without reason, a Malay, armed with a kris or other weapon, will rush into the street and slash at everybody, friends and strangers alike, until he is killed. These frenzies were formerly regarded as due to sudden insanity, but it is now believed that the typical amok is the result of excitement due to circumstances, such as domestic jealousy or gambling losses, which render the man desperate and weary of life. It is, in fact, the Malay equivalent of suicide. Though so intimately associated with the Malay, there are good grounds for believing the word to have an Indian origin. Certainly the act is far from unknown in Indian history. In Malabar, for example, it was long the custom for the zamorin or king of Calicut to cut his throat in public after he had reigned twelve years. But in the seventeenth century there was inaugurated a variation in this custom. After a great feast lasting for nearly a fortnight the ruler, surrounded by his bodyguard, had to take his seat at a national assembly, on which occasion it was lawful for anyone to attack him, and, if he succeeded in killing him the murderer himself assumed the crown. In the year 1600, it is recorded, thirty men who would be king were killed while thus attempting to gain the throne. These men were called Amar-khan, and it has been suggested that their action was "running amok" in the true sense of the term. From this it would appear that a king of[134] Calicut was about as good an insurance risk as a president of Haiti.

The act of running amok is probably due to causes over which the culprit has some measure of control, as the custom has now virtually died out in the Philippines and in the British possessions in Malaysia, owing to the drastic measures adopted by the authorities. Among the Mohammedans of the southern Philippines, where the custom is known as juramentado, it was discouraged by burying the carcass of a pig—an animal abhorred by all Moslems—in the grave with the body of the assassin. When I was in Jolo the governor told me of a novel and highly effective method which had been adopted by the officer commanding the American forces in that island for discouraging the custom. A number of American soldiers had been killed by Moros running amok. The American commander took up the matter with the local priests but they only shrugged their shoulders with true Oriental stoicism, saying that when a man went juramentado it was the will of Allah and that nothing could be done. The next day an American soldier, a revolver in either hand, burst into a Moro village, notorious for its juramentados, firing at everyone whom he saw and yelling like a mad man. The terrified villagers took to the bush, where they remained in fear and trembling until the crazy Americano had taken his departure. That evening the village priests appeared at headquarters to complain to the American commander.

[135]"But Americans have just as much right to go juramentado as the Moros," said the general. "I can do nothing. The man is not responsible. It is the will of Allah." That was the end of juramentado in Jolo.

The wharves and godowns which line Makassar's water-front form an unattractive screen to a picturesque and charming town. Though, owing to its commercial importance as a half-way station on the road from Asia to Australia, Makassar promises to become a second Singapore, it has as yet neither an electric lighting, gas, nor water system. It is, however, very beautifully laid out, the streets, which are broad and well-kept, being lined by double rows of magnificent canarium trees or tamarinds, whose branches interlace high overhead in a canopy of green. The European life of Makassar centers in the great grass-covered plein, or common, where band concerts, reviews, horse races, festivals, and similar events are held. Facing on the plein is the palace of the Governor of the Celebes, a one-story, porticoed building with white walls and green blinds, in the Dutch colonial style, a type of architecture which is admirably adapted to the tropics. Next to the palace is the Oranje Hotel, a well-kept and comfortable hostelry as hotels go in Malaysia. On its terrace the homesick Europeans gather toward twilight to sip advocat—a drink which is a first cousin to the egg-nogg[136] of pre-Volstead days, very popular in the Indies—and to listen to the military band playing on the plein.

Diagonally across the plein rise the massive walls of Fort Rotterdam, erected by one of the native rulers, the King of Goa, with the assistance of the Portuguese, when the seventeenth century was still in its infancy and when the settlement on the lower end of Manhattan Island was still called Nieuw Amsterdam. The capture of the fort by the Dutch in 1667 signalized the passing of Portuguese power in Asia. Pass the slovenly native sentry at the outer gate, cross the creaking drawbridge, and, were it not for the tropical vegetation and the oppressive heat, you might think yourself in the Low Countries instead of a few degrees below the Line, for the crenelated ramparts, the shaded, gravelled paths, the ancient garrison church, the officers' quarters with their steep-pitched, red-tiled roofs, make the interior a veritable bit of Holland, transplanted to a tropic island half the world away.

Makassar has a population of about fifty thousand, including something over a thousand Europeans and some five thousand Chinese, but as most of the natives live in their walled kampongs in the environs, the city appears much smaller than it really is. The retail trade is almost wholly in the hands of the Chinese, many of whom are men of great wealth and influence. There was also a small colony of Japanese, but, as a result of the boycott which the Chinese had instituted against them in reprisal for Japan's refusal to evacuate Shantung, they were unable to[137] find markets for their wares or to obtain employment and, in consequence, were being forced to leave the island. The only American in the Celebes when we were there was the representative of the Standard Oil Company—a desperately homesick youngster from Missouri who had been a lieutenant of aviation. He introduced himself to us on the terrace of the Oranje Hotel, begged the privilege of buying the drinks, and pleaded with an eagerness that was almost pathetic for the latest news from God's Country. At almost every place of importance which we visited in Malaysia we found these agents of Standard Oil—alert and clean-cut young fellows, who, far from home and friends, are helping to build up a commercial empire for America oversea.

The native soldiery, who form the bulk of the Makassar garrison, are quartered, with their families, in long, stone barracks—ten couples to a room. For every soldier of the colonial forces, whether European or native, is permitted to keep a woman in the barracks with him. If she is the soldier's wife, well and good, but the authorities do not frown if the couple have omitted the formality of standing up before a clergyman. The rooms in which the soldiers and their families live have no partitions, to each couple being assigned a space about eight feet square, which is chalk-marked on the floor. The only article of furniture in each of these "apartments" is a bed, which is really a broad, low platform covered with a grass-mat, for in a land where the mercury not infrequently climbs to 120[138] in the shade, there is no need for bedding. Here they eat and sleep and make their toilets, the women preparing the meals for their men and for themselves in ovens out-of-doors. At night the beds may be separated by drawing the flimsiest of cotton curtains—the only concession to privacy that I could discover. As Malays invariably have large families, the barrack room usually has the appearance of a day nursery, with naked brown youngsters crawling everywhere, but at night they are disposed of in fiber hammocks which are slung over the parents' heads. The colonel in command at Fort Rotterdam told me that in the new type of barracks which were being built in Java each family would be assigned a separate room, but he seemed to regard such provisions for privacy as wholly unnecessary and a shameful waste of money.

The military authorities not only permit, but encourage the Dutch soldiers to contract alliances of a temporary character with native women during their term of service in the Insulinde, with the idea, no doubt, of making them more contented. During operations in the field the women and children, instead of remaining behind in barracks, accompany the troops almost to the firing-line, a custom which, apparently, does not interfere with efficiency or discipline. Indeed, there are few forces of equal size in the world which have seen as much active service as the army of Netherlands India, for in the extension of Dutch dominion throughout the archipelago the native rulers rarely have surrendered their authority without[139] fighting. Though the newspapers seldom mention it, Holland is almost constantly engaged in some little war in some remote corner of her Indian empire, in certain districts of Sumatra, for example, fighting having been almost continuous these many years.

Though the flag of Holland was first hoisted over the Celebes more than three centuries ago, Dutch commercial interests are still virtually confined to the four chief towns—Makassar, Menado, Gorontalo, and Tondano—and this in spite of the fact that the interior of the island is known to be immensely rich in natural resources. In the native states Dutch authority is little more than nominal, the repeated attempts which have been made to subjugate them invariably having met with discouragement and not infrequently with disaster. Hence the island is still without railways, though it is being slowly opened up by means of roads, some of which are practicable for motor-cars. Most of the roads in the Celebes were originally built by means of the Corvée, or forced labor, the natives being compelled to spend one month out of the twelve in road construction. But, though they were taken for this work at a season when they could best be spared from their fields, it was an enormous tax to impose upon an agricultural population, resulting in grave discontent and in seriously retarding the development of the island. For, ever since Marshal Daendels, "the Iron Marshal," who ruled the Indies under Napoleon, utilized forced labor to build the splendid eight-hundred-mile-long highway which runs from one end of[140] Java to the other, the corvée has been a synonym for unspeakable cruelty and oppression throughout the Insulinde. Each dessa, or district, through which the great trans-Java highway runs was forced to construct, within an allotted period, a certain section of the road, the natives working without pay while their crops rotted in the fields and their families starved. As a final touch of tyranny, the grim old Marshal gave orders that if a dessa did not complete its section of the road within the allotted time the chiefs of that district were to be taken out and hung.

When the Dutch determined to open up Celebes by the construction of a highway system they realized the wisdom of obtaining the cooperation of the native rulers. But when they outlined their scheme to the King of Goa, the most powerful chieftain in the southern part of the island, they encountered, if not open opposition, at least profound indifference. This was scarcely a matter for surprise, however, for the King quite obviously had no use for roads, first, because when he had occasion to journey through his dominions he either rode on horseback or was carried in a palanquin along the narrow jungle trails; secondly, because he was perfectly well aware that by aiding in the construction of roads he would be undermining his own power, for roads would mean white men. To attempt to build a road across Goa in the face of the King's opposition, would, as the Dutch realized, probably precipitate a native uprising, for, without his cooperation, it would[141] be necessary to make use of the corvée to obtain laborers.

But the Governor of the Celebes had been trained in a different school from the Iron Marshal. He believed that with an ignorant and suspicious native, such as the King of Goa, tact could accomplish more than threats. So, instead of attempting to build the road by forced labor, he sent to Batavia for a fine European horse and a luxurious carriage, gaudily painted, which he presented to the King as a token of the government's esteem and friendship. Now the King of Goa, as the governor was perfectly aware, had about as much use for a wheeled vehicle in his roadless dominions as a Bedouin of the Sahara has for a sailboat. But the King did precisely what the governor anticipated that he would do: in order that he might display his new possession he promptly ordered his subjects to build him a carriage road from his capital to Makassar. Thus the government of the Celebes obtained a perfectly good highway for the price of a horse and carriage, and won the friendship of the most powerful of the native rulers into the bargain. After some years, however, the road began to fall into disrepair, but as by this time the novelty of the horse and carriage had worn off, the King took little interest in its improvement. So the governor again had recourse to diplomacy to gain his ends, this time presenting his Goanese Majesty with a motor-car, gorgeous with scarlet paint and polished brass. And, in order that the King might be brought[142] to realize that the roads were not in a condition conducive to comfortable motoring, a young Dutch officer took him for his first motor ride. That ride evidently jolted the memory as well as the body of the dusky monarch, for the next day a royal edict was issued summoning hundreds of natives to put the road in good repair. And, as the King quickly acquired a taste for speeding, in good repair it has remained ever since.

I have related this episode not because it is in itself of any great importance, but because it serves to illustrate the methods used by the Dutch officials in handling recalcitrant or stubborn natives. Though Holland rules her fifty million brown subjects with an iron hand, she has long since learned the wisdom of wearing over the iron a velvet glove.


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