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verdure was delightful to eyes which had so long gazed on nothing but sea and sky. The Bermudas belong to England, and a governor resides there. The population consists chiefly of negroes, formerly slaves, but now free, and either cultivators of the land or fishermen. We found them kind and civil. They were generally poor; but the little they possessed was offered to us with cordial hospitality. We soon left these lovely islands, and were again in the open sea. Monotonous as our prospect now was, we found something to interest us in the waters which surrounded us, especially the corals, which were of exceeding beauty, and in some parts rose above the level of the sea, as if to warn the navigator of his danger. When the rocks of coral are concealed by the water, they are a most perilous snare to ships, which sometimes become entangled among them, and cannot be extricated without great difficulty.
Our course was now towards the north, having orders for Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia, in North America, which was considerably out of our direct route. We had now an unpleasant change from the delightful climate of the Bermudas. The climate of Nova Scotia is, indeed, singularly disagreeable, being both cold and foggy; but I was surprised to learn that it is not considered unhealthy. We left Halifax as we had found it, almost invisible, from the thick fogs which enveloped it, and coasted along the shores of the United States. Our voyage now became pleasanter; every day the air grew warmer and the sun brighter; all announced that we were again approaching southern latitudes. At length we entered the Gulf of Mexico, and islands without number seemed to start up around us, covered with trees, so that they looked like green specks in the distance. I was sorry when we lost sight of them, and were once more in the great Atlantic,
with nothing to vary our prospect except the rising and setting of the sun, and the stars at night; though these last are so brilliant in the tropical latitudes, that they almost. compensated for the absence of any earthly objects.
After several days, in which nothing worthy of note occurred, the sailor on the look-out exclaimed, “ Land to the south-east!" It was St. Helena—that solitary rock, celebrated for being the last residence of the most extraordinary man of modern times, Napoleon Buonaparte, the terror of all Europe. In this lonely isle he had no longer the power of injuring mankind, and the countries he bad devastated with war were at length enjoying peace and tranquillity.
The wind continuing favourable, we pursued our course towards the South of Africa, and doubled the Cape of Good Hope without meeting any of the storms which are so frequent on that dangerous coast. Passing the south-east of Africa, we arrived at Madagascar. This island is uncommonly fertile and beautiful; an extensive chain of mountains traverses it lengthways, from which numerous rivers descend on all sides. Very little is known of the interior, as it is difficult for Europeans to penetrate far into the country, owing to the ferocity of the tribes by which it is inhabited. We made no stay either at Madagascar or the island of Mauritius, at which we touched; but on our arrival at Borneo, several days afterwards, I was delighted to hear that we were to remain stationary for a fortnight, during which I hoped to make some expeditions into the country.
Borneo, which, after New Holland, is the largest island on the globe, is almost unknown, except round the coast; but I intended to be more daring than former travellers, and in my youthful ardour I determined not to be daunted by any difficulties in my endeavours to explore the country.
I set out, the morning after our arrival, accompanied by my friend Berton, a young officer belonging to the Humming Bird, who was almost as anxious as myself to view this new and interesting country. We took our guns, and plunged boldly into the depths of the forest, which extended almost to the shore. After wandering some time, we came to a small stream, nearly dried up by the heat. A slender thread of water still flowed under the shade of the trees and bushes, which grew thickly on its banks, and which seemed to lean over it as if to drink the welcome moisture. The burning sun appeared to destroy whatever it touched : the giant palm and the majestic teak tree hung their faded leaves, and the parched fruits crackled under our feet. It was noon, and therefore the hottest part of the day; and in spite of the shade afforded by the trees we felt weak and exhausted. We proceeded, however, following the course of the stream, till the bushes and tall reeds became so thick and 80 entangled that it was impossible to penetrate them. “I am too wearied to go another step at present,” said Berton, “let us rest, and then we can try to find some other way out of the forest.” I consented, and we seated ourselves under a palm tree, and began to eat some of the biscuit we had brought with us. Knowing that tigers and other wild animals are common in these forests, we kept a sharp lookout, that we might not be taken by surprise. I soon heard å rustling among the bushes, and turning round, saw at some distance, not a tiger, but an old man peeping cautiously from behind a tree. “Look,” exclaimed I to my companion, “there is a savage! perhaps more are behind him; be ready with your gun.” By this time the barbarian had left the shelter of the bushes and advanced towards us ; his frightful countenance had an expression of malignity which alarmed me, though his stooping gait showed him to be old. Berton, however, after looking for a moment at the advancing savage, burst out laughing ;“ It is no man,” said he, “but an ourang-outang; I have seen one before in France. We had better not molest him, as these creatures are sometimes extremely ferocious.” As he spoke he drew me aside, in order to let the “ man of the woods " pass. But we were not destined to part company so easily; the creature fixed his eyes upon us, intently grinding his teeth, and then brandishing a huge stick which he held, a sudden bound brought him close to us.
I sprang backwards and fired, but only wounded him slightly. Berton stepped a few paces back to try his luck, but the man of the woods meanwhile had given me so violent a blow with his stick that I had nearly fallen. He was preparing to spring upon me, but I slipped behind a tree. At the same moment Berton fired, and my dangerous foe fell dead on the ground. Fearing to lose ourselves in the forest, we now began to retrace our steps. We had not proceeded far, before our attention was attracted to a singular hissing noise, apparently very near us. “It must be a serpent!” cried I, stepping backward, “and look, there he is !" At this moment we perceived a large serpent, whose eyes shone like diamonds in his beautiful marked head. He was already rearing himself up to make the fatal spring. I prepared to receive it with a blow from the butt-end of my gun, but my companion gave a sudden shout, which fortu
, nately startled the reptile; it drew back its crested head and glistening eyes, uncoiled its long tail, and slowly glided away into the thicket. We were most thankful for this escape, as we knew that the serpents of these forests were exceedingly venomous, and that a bite from one of them would in all probability have occasioned death. We now pursued our way in peace, nothing of importance occurring
during the remainder of our ramble. Just before sunset we emerged from the forest, and our companions, who were strolling about the beach enjoying the cool breeze, hastened to meet us, and congratulated us on our safe return. We showed them some curious plants we had brought with us, and also some beautiful parrots which we had shot, intending to stuff them and take them home as specimens to our friends in Europe.
I was disappointed in my hope of penetrating far into the interior of Borneo, for my father would not hear of my attempting an expedition so full of dangers, and which besides could hardly have been performed during our limited stay. I was obliged, therefore, to content myself with rambles on the coast and the forests near at hand, in which indeed I found enough that was interesting and curious to occupy my leisure hours. I saw nothing of the original inhabitants of Borneo, they having been driven from the sea coast by the Malays, who have established colonies there. The native tribes are little known to Europeans; but with the Malays, sailors, who are accustomed to the navigation of the Indian Ocean, are only too well acquainted. They are a cruel and ferocious people, though not destitute of some of the arts of civilization. They derive their name from the peninsula of Malacca, whence the race is believed to have been originally derived.
We left Borneo with a favourable wind, but the weather soon changed for the worse; we were tossed about for several days, during which our vessel was in imminent danger. The wind had at length abated, though the sea still continued very rough, when we descried a boat struggling amid the waves at some distance. On examining it through the telescope, my father declared he saw several men, who seemed to be trying to hoist a signal of distress.