The dog uttered a joyous whine as he seemed to leap upon them from out of the transparent darkness, and five minutes later the ladies' anxieties were temporarily at an end. "There is nothing to mind," the captain said as he helped them down to the boat. "The Malays will no doubt pass us by. I expect that by morning they will be many miles away. Still it is a bit of a scare."
They jumped, and raged, and brandished their knives, and made horrid gesticulations of revenge; and the white eyeballs of the Malays and Papuans glittered fiendishly; and the wounded captain raised his sound arm and had a signal hoisted to his consort, and she bore up in chase, and jamming her fore lateen flat as a board, lay far nearer the wind than the Agra could, and sailed three feet to her two besides.
The next island was a large one. The keeper said it was called Pulo Seneng, or Island of Leisure, and held a little kampong, or village of Malays, under an old punghulo, or chief, named Wahpering. We found, on nearing the verdure-covered island, that it looked much larger than it really was. The woods grew out into the sea for a quarter of a mile.
Its progress among the Malays under Dutch rule is certainly an astonishing phenomenon, and, taken in connection with a hardly less remarkable progress in Equatorial Africa, may well console those Mussulmans who see in the loss of their temporal dominions northwards signs of the decay of Islam.
Less than three score of the seamen were American born; near four score were British, inclusive of sixteen Irish; one hundred and thirty-seven were French soldiers, who acted as marines; and the rest of the three hundred odd souls to fight her were from all over the earth, Malays and Maltese and Portuguese. In the hold were more than one hundred and fifty English prisoners.
They are dwarfs in stature, only averaging four feet six inches to four feet eight inches high, or eight inches less than the Malays; whereas the Papuans are decidedly taller than the Malays.
Here we thankfully lay down, and I do not think I ever slept more soundly in my life, forgetting all the hardships I had gone through. When we awoke the sun was well-nigh dipping into the ocean, and the Malays had finished the repair of their boat. The old chief was, however, still seated on his carpet, with four or five other individuals, habited much in the same way, and all gravely smoking.
Yellow being esteemed, as in China, the royal colour, is said to be constantly and exclusively worn by the sultan and his household. The immediate subjects of this empire, properly denominated Malays, are all of the Mahometan religion, and in that respect distinguished from the generality of inland inhabitants.
The human soul may also, in the belief of all the peoples, be reincarnated in the body of almost any animal; but opinions in regard to this matter are very vague. Thus the Kayans believe that the objection of the Mohammedan Malays to the eating of pig is due to reincarnation of their souls in animals of that species, which belief naturally causes some vexation to the Malay traders.
A number of boats being manned and armed with about thirty officers and men, a movement was made to carry the ship by boarding. The Malays did not wait the approach of this determined attack, but all deserted the vessel to her lawful owners, when she was taken possession of and warped out into deep water.