These are chiefly Madrassees, who are, it is said, stronger and healthier than the Calcutta Coolies.
The road runs by the docks at Singapore, which are enormous and extend all along the coast up to the town. On the way we pass men of all nations. There are natives of India, companies of Sikhs, Madrassees like Ramaswamy, who is well on his way back to his master now, Cingalese, Tamils with frizzy heads, little Japanese ladies in rickshaws, plenty of Chinese, and many Malays.
The sight of the Asiatics who have crowded into Georgetown is a wonderful one, Chinese, Burmese, Javanese, Arabs, Malays, Sikhs, Madrassees, Klings, Chuliahs, and Parsees, and still they come in junks and steamers and strange Arabian craft, and all get a living, depend slavishly on no one, never lapse into pauperism, retain their own dress, customs, and religion, and are orderly.
Some of these appeared in entirely European costume, while others could easily be recognised as Bengalis by the peculiar cap with a flap behind which they had donned. None of them wore the gold rings or diamond pendants which adorned the ears of some of the Madrassees; nor had they their foreheads painted like their more orthodox and more conservative brethren from the Southern presidency.
It is a very difficult thing to get a really trustworthy boy, but the Madrassees are the best, and Ramaswamy comes from the Madras country far south; he has been in service with a man I know for two years, and as he is only lent to us for this trip he will probably behave himself.