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"Dive? l should think so!" said his host to Jack Norris. "You just watch the little beggar dive!"
it was early morning, and the two men were stripping for a swim on board one of the big house-boats which lie eternally at their moorings on the right bank of the river near Thames Ditton. The place was littered with sweaters, towels, flannels, boat-cushions, books, newspapers, pipes, and the varied accumulations of rubbish such as only a house-boat full of bachelors can collect when it lacks even the feminine influence of a charwoman. Without, seen through the wide oblong windows, the tawny waters ran cool and inviting under the glad sunshine of a bright summer morning. From a spring-board rigged in the bows men from time to time took running headers: in the middle of the narrow fairway five or six heads were bobbing, while arms and legs in number to correspond splashed gallantly. The cheery clamor of the bathers carried far over the water.
Presently another head broke through the surface of the river some twenty yards up-stream,—a head to which the wet hair clung sleek and black as the fur of an otter,—and from it came a cry of defiance, the tone of which was somehow strangely familiar as it smote upon Jack Norris's ears.
•Hugh Clifford's striking story "Saleh," recently published ln Blackwood's Magazine, is a sequel to "Sally: A Study," wnlch appeared ln the same magazine in 1903-4. The two are so closely connected that lt has seemed best to reprint the first, which perplexed many readers, when first published, by its apparent LlVlNG AGE. VOL. XLl. 2134
The swimmers answered the challenge with discordant chorus, and began to splash up against the current, with straining arms and legs, in the direction of the man who had uttered it. The latter waited until his pursuers had nearly surrounded him, were almost upon him, and then dived neatly, leaving barely so much as a ripple behind him. Two or three men went down headlong in pursuit, to reappear in a minute or so baffled and panting. A moment later, first one and then another were drawn under, with gurgles and splutterings of protest, by an invisible hand that had gripped them by the heels. With renewed splutterings each in turn came to the surface, laughing and shouting, breathing forth threats of instant retribution. Dashing the water from their eyes, they looked around, vainly seeking for some sign of their antagonist's whereabouts, calling upon him by name the while with humorous mock-wrath.
"Sally!" they cried. "Sally, you young ruffian! Sally! Sally! Sally, you villain.' We'll pay you out properly when we catch you!"
Again the head, with its close covering of straight limp hair, came to the surface, far down river this time, and well out of the reach of its pursuers. Again that queer challenging cry came from it, and set Norris tingling with old memories suddenly awakened.
incompleteness. "Saleh" will follow. Less, perhaps, as fiction than as a study by one who as had the best opportunities for observing, "Sally" and "Saleh" are dramatic representations of the effect of western civilization upon Oriental character.— Editoe Op Tur Livino Aqxi.
"Why, he is a Malay!" he exclaimed. "No one but a Malay ever used that lilting whoop. It is the s6rak—their war-cry!"
"Of course he is a Malay," said the part-owner of the house-boat. "He is Sally, you know—a Malay boss of sorts. We all knew him when we were at Winchester. He is being educated in England privately, not at the school; but he is an awfully decent little chap, and was very pally with a lot of us."
Jack Norris stepped out on to the bows, and stood for a minute in his bathing-pants looking across the river. The Englishmen had abandoned the hopeless chase, and the little Malay was swimming back to them, breasting the current with the unmistakable long overhand stroke of his people. The sight, and the echo of the cry which still rang in his ears, brought back to Norris suddenly the memory of many a swim in the glorious rivers of the Malay Peninsula; and for a space the banks around him, with their fringe of moored house-boats and floating stages, the trim towingpath opposite skirting the tall brick wall, and the great shapeless pile of Hampton Court Palace, its windowpanes winking in the sunlight, its ruddy bulk surmounted by grotesque chimney-stacks, picked out with white masonry and set with grinning gargoyles, were rolled back. He seemed once more to be standing on the beak of a Malayan priiltu, with an olivegreen tide of waters surging past him and spreading away and away to the marvellous tangles of forest that stood, more than half a mile apart, hedging the river on either flank. Then he braced himself and took a header from the bow, and the chill of the English stream smote him with a shock of surprise, for so complete had been the momentary illusion that he had expected
to be greeted by the tepid waters of the East .
When he rose to the surface he found himself close to the man they called "Sally." His face—the boyish, hairless face of a young Malay—was turned towards him. The great, black, velvety, melancholy eyes of his race looked at Norris from their place in the flawless, olive-tinted skin in which they were set. The mouth, somewhat full, with mobile sensitive lips that pouted slightly, had just that sweetness of expression that is most often seen in the face of a little child. The features were clean-cut, delicate, giving promise of more adaptability than strength of character: the whole effect was pretty and pleasing, for this was a Malay of rank and breeding, the offspring of men who for uncounted generations have had the fairest women of their land to wife.
Mechanically Norris spoke in the vernacular.
"What is the news?" he asked, using the conventional greeting.
"Khahar baik! The news is good!" the Malay answered, speaking the words from sheer force of habit, and he eyed Norris curiously with evident surprise. Then his face lighted up with a gleam of recognition, and his lips, parting in a grin, disclosed two even rows of beautiful white teeth,— teeth such as belong by right to every Malay, did not the inexplicable fashion of this people order them to be mutilated with the stone-file and blackened by indelible pigment .
'To Allah. TCiun yori'! It is thou!" he exclaimed.
The word or two of the vernacular, to which he added the popular mispronunciation of Jack's name, slipped from him unconsciously. An instant later he corrected himself.
"Do you remember me?" he asked in English. "I am R:1ja Saleh of Pelesu. i met you las' at Kflru."
He spoke his acquired language fluently, but with a strong foreign intonation, lengthening the flat English vowels and eliding the last of two final consonants. His words unlocked a forgotten chamber of Jack's memory, and at once the boy himself, his identity, bis circumstances, and all connected with him, were made so clear that Norris fell to wondering how it had come to pass that, even for a moment, he had failed to recognize him. immediately the Englishman and the Malay were busy interchanging news, the former chatting volubly of men and places with strange names, that surely had never before been spoken on the bosom of the ancient Thames, the latter listening and replying, but with a certain indifference and aloofness that were curious. Once more, from force of habit, Norris spoke in the vernacular. Using the Malayan idiom like his own mother tongue, he had never yet met a native who did not prefer to converse with him in that language, or who was completely at his best when employing the white man's speech. The foreign tongue seems in some subtle fashion to emphasize defects in taste and character which the more familiar vernacular mercifully hides. lang-ulia Raja Muhammad Saleh bin lang-Maha-Mulia Sultan Abubakar Maiitham Shah lang-di-perTOan Pelesu, however,—to give his full title to the youth who was known to his English friends by the undistinguished name of "Sally,"—had not heard Malay spoken for years, and he seemed now to shy away from it, as though it were not only unfamiliar, but also, in some sort, distressing to him. lt was only at a much later period of their intercourse that Saleh came back to bis Malayan tongue, and found in it the only medinm of expression with which to convey to Jack an understanding of the feelings that were in his heart .
Now, as the bathers dressed themselves on board the house-boat,—Saleh standing amongst them all in complete unconsciousness of the nakedness which would have outraged the sense of decency of the meanest of his subjects,—Jack was busy piecing together all that he could recollect concerning his past meetings with the lad. So again the familiar surroundings of the home-land faded, and were replaced by scenes that he had looked upon, lived through, years before, and thousands of miles away, on the banks of a mighty Malayan river.
They rose up singly,—these scattered memories of incidents in which Saleh had played a part,—lingered for a moment, and were gone; for the mind, when it wanders in retrospect, knows no trammels of space or time, and, flashing hither and thither at will, throws sudden gleams into the dark places with all the speed and the vividness of lightning. Thus, as in silence Norris dressed himself amid the hum of talk on board the house-boat, the trivial happenings of nearly a score of years were reviewed in less than half as many minutes, each picture rising before him clear-cut and complete to the last detail, glimmering for an instant ere it vanished to give room to another—just as a view cast by a magic-lantern leaps whole and sudden out of the darkness, burns its impression upon our eyesight, and in a flash is blotted out .
Three big wooden houses, raised on piles above the untidy litter of a compound, connected each to each by narrow gangways roofed and walled; three high-pitched pyramids of thatch, the dried palm-leaves rustling and lifting under the full beat of the noontide sun; a big brown river rolling by, with a dull murmur of sound, beyond the ten-foot fence of wattled bamboos which encloses in its lop-sided square this palace of a native king. In the central house Jack Norrls squats crosslegged, surrounded by a mob of expectant Malays of both sexes. The great barn-like apartment is bare, save for the imengktiiing-pa.}m mats spread upon the floor; and the bellying squares of ceiling-patchwork sagging from the rafters overhead, whence, near the center of the room, a big hammock also depends, swaying gently to and fro. Above the hammock, in dingy contrast to glaring patterns of the Manchester ceiling-cloths, an old casting-net, whereof the soiled and rent meshes prove that it has seen much service, hangs in an uneven oblong. lt is a barrier raised against the assaults of the Pen-unggdl—the Undone One—that fearful wraith of a woman who has died in child-birth, and who cherishes for ever a quenchless enmity towards little children. She, poor wretch, wrenched terribly in twain, is doomed to flit eternally through the night,—a dreadful shape with agonized woman's face, full breasts, and nought beside save only certain awful bloodstained streamers,—bringing a curse of destruction wherever she can win an entry. But the gods, who suffer such things to be, mercifully ordain that her onslaughts upon defenceless babes can only be made from above, and a discarded casting-net dipped in magicwater, it is well known, will often stay and baffie her. Yet even now, perchance, she may be lurking, unseen by impotent human eyes, in the hammock itself, wherefore due precaution must be taken ere the royal baby can be safely laid to rest therein.
As the crowd sits watching, a grim figure strides into the centre of the room. lt is that of an aged woman, tall, erect, with a fierce mouth, wild eyes, and a tumble of shaggy elf-locks making an unsightly halo about her
lean face, a woman dressed in the male costume of a Malay warrior. It is Raja Anjang—the witch of the blood royal—and at her coming a little wave of tremor ripples over the faces of the Malay onlookers. She is in a condition of trance—possessed by her familiar demons: those unseeing eyes and every rigid muscle in her big angular frame bear witness to her uncanny state, and no man knows with certainty what will befall while this inspired beldam fills the stage. She wanders round and round the hammock, moving with long masculine strides, muttering fearfully words of a forgotten language which none save the wizards know; and her elf-locks, stirring restlessly, seem to be lifted by winds which should have no place in that still atmosphere. Then stooping, she seizes suddenly upon a reluctant cat, which the onlookers thrust within her reach, and clutches the miauling creature to her flat breasts with merciless grip. A chorus of minor witches squatting on her right breaks into a wild chant of incantation, while the devil-drums sob and pant in time to the rhythm of the dirge. With her disengaged hand Raja Anjang seizes the cord of the hammock and sets it swinging in time to the chant, which grows momentarily wilder and wilder. The women who form the chorus are rocking themselves backward and forward in a kind of hysteria of excitement; the hands that smite the drums are raised between each stroke high in the air with fingers wriggling rapidly in frantic gesticulation; the hair and the garments of the hag by the hammock are agitated anew, as though those unearthly breezes, which are yet unfelt by the spectators, were raging mightily. When the weird song is at its shrillest the cat is dropped into the sag of the hammock, whence it scrambles quickly on to the mat-covered floor. lt is promptly recaptured by those nearest to it, and the witch pounces upon it with the spring of a tigress. Again, and yet a third time, the unhappy beast is clutched to that comfortless bosom, is dropped into the hammock, and at the last is suffered to make its escape, spitting and scratching with bared claws and humped back. A wild cry goes up from the mouths of all the Malays present, and is succeeded by a heavy silence. The witch sinks to the floor in a shapeless bundle, sweating profusely, and rocks to and fro with smothered moans and cries. Her struggle with the ghastly Pen-ang<ml has left her utterly spent. The close atmosphere of the room is heavy with the reek of incense.
A little pause ensues, the stiliness of which is tense with the recent excitement, and then from the inner apartment a huddled procession of women makes its way, headed by the king himself, a great rolling figure clad in glaring colors. One of the women carries a tiny burden swaddled in cloth-of-gold, the upper folds of which being presently drawn aside reveal the existence of a minute head. With much state and ceremony the crown of this head is solemnly shaved, the invisible fluff shorn from it being reverently treasured, and when this operation has been performed, the baby is at last placed in the hammock, whence all evil spirits have now departed for their new abode in the body of the miserable cat.
A priest in a green jubah and ample red turban, who has sat complacently watching the magic practices which are an abomination to the Prophet's Law, stands erect and recites a rolling Arabic prayer with breathless fluency, his audience sitting with hands on knees and curved palms uppermost, chiming in at intervals with long "Amtns!"
Then the spectators rise to their feet, and each in turn files past the hammock, and looks down at the child as
he drops a dollar or two into a basket placed convenient for the purpose. Jack Norris, as he stands gazing down at the infant, sees a small brick-red disk, with a slack, slowly moving mouth, a shapeless button of a nose, a skin all crumpled with puckers, and two big dull eyes made grotesque by enormous arched eyebrows traced with soot upon the wrinkled forehead. The rest of the baby is immobile in its lashing of swaddling-clothes, and is imbedded deeply in a nest of gorgeous Malayan silks.
lt is thus that Jack gets his first glimpse of the boy whom his English friends call "Sally."
lt is late at night in the audience hall of the king,—a big bare room without ornament or furniture,—and the monarch, nude to the waist, is squatting on a mat beside a Chinese gambling-cloth. Around him sit a number of his courtiers, and facing him are two yellow Chinamen in loose coats and trousers of shining black linen. in the centre of the cloth there rests a little square box made of dull brass, and presently, at a sign from the king, one of the courtiers begins to draw upward with maddening slowness the outer cover, which fits very closely over the inner box. A dead silence reigns while all eyes are riveted upon the dice-box and the hand that lifts its cover. Little by little, a fraction of an inch at a time, the outer box is raised, the narrower column of brass within it being disclosed more and more, standing squarely on the mat. At last the cover is free of that which it has encased, and more slowly than ever the courtier proceeds to twist it round in such a fashion that presently a corner of the hidden die will be made visible. The gamblers are leaning forward now with straining eyes; they draw their breaths pantingly; and still the hand gripping the