CHAPTER I. The Omniscient Sachsen
CHAPTER II. Ah Sing Counts his Nails
CHAPTER III. Peter Gross is Named Resident
CHAPTER IV. Koyala's Prayer
CHAPTER V. Sachsen's Warning
CHAPTER VI. The Pirate League
CHAPTER VII. Mynheer Muller Worries
CHAPTER VIII. Koyala's Warning
CHAPTER IX. The Long Arm of Ah Sing
CHAPTER X. Captain Carver Signs
CHAPTER XI. Mynheer Muller's Dream
CHAPTER XII. Peter Gross's Reception
CHAPTER XIII. A Fever Antidote
CHAPTER XIV. Koyala's Defiance
CHAPTER XV. The Council
CHAPTER XVI. Peter Gross's Pledge
CHAPTER XVII. The Poisoned Arrow
CHAPTER XVIII. A Summons to Sadong
CHAPTER XIX. Koyala's Ultimatum
CHAPTER XX. Lkath's Conversion
CHAPTER XXI. Captured by Pirates
CHAPTER XXII. In The Temple
CHAPTER XXIII. Ah Sing's Vengeance
CHAPTER XXIV. A Rescue
CHAPTER XXV. The Fight on the Beach
CHAPTER XXVI. To Half of My Kingdom
CHAPTER XXVII. A Woman Scorned
CHAPTER XXVIII. The Attack on the Fort
CHAPTER XXIX. A Woman's Heart
CHAPTER XXX. The Governor's Promise
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Frontispiece by GEORGE W. GAGE
Ah, God, for a man with a heart, head, hand
Like some of the simple great ones gone
Forever and ever by;
One still, strong man in a blatant land,
Whatever they call himwhat care I?
Aristocrat, democrat, autocratone
Who can rule and dare not lie!
IT was very apparent that his Excellency Jonkheer Adriaan
Adriaanszoon Van Schouten, governor-general of the Netherlands East
Indies, was in a temper. His eyes sparked like an emery-wheel biting
cold steel. His thin, sharp-ridged nose rose high and the nostrils
quivered. His pale, almost bloodless lips were set in rigid lines over
his finely chiseled, birdlike beak with its aggressive Vandyke beard.
His hair bristled straight and stiff, like the neck-feathers of a
ruffled cock, over the edge of his linen collar. It was this latter
evidence of the governor's unpleasant humor that
Vanden Bosch rubbed his purple nose in perplexity.
I suppose it is the witch-woman again, he remarked, discouragedly.
Who else? Van Schouten growled. Always the witch-woman. That spawn
of Satan, Koyala, is at the bottom of every uprising we have in
That is what we get for letting half-breeds mingle with whites in
our mission schools, Vanden Bosch observed bitterly.
The governor scowled. That folly will cost the state five hundred
gulden, he remarked. That is the price I have put on her head.
The general pricked up his ears. H-m, that should interest Mynheer
Muller, he remarked. There is nothing he likes so well as the feel of
a guilder between his fingers.
The governor snorted. Neen, generaal, he negatived. For
once he has found a sweeter love than silver. The fool fairly grovels
at Koyala's feet, Sachsen tells me.
So? Vanden Bosch exclaimed with quickened interest. They say she
is very fair.
If I could get my hands on her once, the Argus Pheasant's pretty
feathers would molt quickly, Van Schouten snarled. His fingers closed
like an eagle's talons.
Argus Pheasant, Bintang Burung, the Star Bird 'tis a
sweet-sounding name the Malays have for her, the general remarked
musingly. There was a sparkle in his eyethe old warrior had not lost
his fondness for a pretty face. If I was younger, he sighed, I might
go to Bulungan myself.
The governor grunted.
You are an old cock that has lost his tail-feathers, generaal,
he growled. This is a task for a young man.
The general's chest swelled and his chin perked up jauntily.
I am not so old as you think, your excellency, he retorted with a
trace of asperity.
Neen, neen, generaal,
the governor negatived, I cannot let you gonot for your own good
name's sake. The gossips of Amsterdam and The Hague would have a rare
scandal to prate about if it became whispered around that Gysbert
Vanden Bosch was scouring the jungles of Bulungan for a witch-woman
with a face and form like Helen of Troy's.
The general flushed. His peccadilloes had followed him to Java, and
he did not like to be reminded of them.
The argus pheasant is too shy a bird to come within gunshot, your
excellency, he replied somberly. It must be trapped.
Ay, and so must she, the governor assented. That is how she got
her name. But you are too seasoned for bait, my dear generaal.
Vanden Bosch was too much impressed with his own importance to enjoy
being chaffed. Ignoring the thrust, he observed dryly: Your excellency
might try King Saul's plan.
Ha! the governor exclaimed with interest. What is that?
Van Schouten prided himself on his knowledge of the Scriptures, and
the general could not repress a little smirk of triumph at catching him
King Saul tied David's hands by giving him his daughter to wife, he
explained. In the same way, your excellency might clip the Argus
Pheasant's wings by marrying her to one of our loyal servants. It might
be managed most satisfactorily. A proper marriage would cause her to
forget the brown blood that she hates so bitterly.
It is not her brown blood that she hates, it is her white blood,
Van Schouten contradicted. But who would be the man?
Why not Mynheer Muller, the controlleur! Vanden Bosch asked.
From what your excellency says, he would not be unwilling. Then our
troubles in Bulungan would be over.
Van Schouten scowled thoughtfully.
It would be a good match, the general urged. He is only common
blooda Marken herring-fisher's son by a Celebes woman. And shehe
shrugged his shouldersfor all her pretty face and plump body she is
Leveque, the French trader's daughter, by a Dyak woman.
He licked his lips in relish of the plan.
Van Schouten shook his head.
No, I cannot do it, he said. I could send her to the
coffee-plantationsthat would be just punishment for her
transgressions. But God keep me from sentencing any woman to marry.
But, your excellency, Vanden Bosch entreated.
It is ridiculous, generaal, the governor cut in
autocratically. The argus pheasant does not mate with the vulture.
Vanden Bosch's face fell. Then your excellency must appoint another
resident, he said, in evident disappointment. It will take a strong
man to bring those Dyaks to time.
Van Schouten looked at him fixedly for several moments. A miserable
sensation of having said too much crept over the general.
Ha! Van Schouten exclaimed. You say we must have a new resident.
That has been my idea, too. What bush-fighter have you that can lead
two hundred cut-throats like himself and harry these tigers out of
their lairs till they crawl on their bellies to beg for peace?
Inwardly cursing himself for his folly in ceasing to advocate Muller,
the general twiddled his thumbs and said nothing.
Well, generaal? Van Schouten rasped irascibly.
Ahemyou know what troops I have, your excellency. Mostly raw
recruits, here scarce three months. There is not a man among them I
would trust alone in the bush. After all, it might be wisest to give
Mynheer Muller another chance. His cheeks puffed till they were
Van Schouten's face flamed.
Enough! Enough! he roared. If the military cannot keep our house
in order, Sachsen and I will find a man. That is all, generaal.
Vanden Bosch made a hasty and none too dignified exit, damning under
his breath the administration that had transferred him from a highly
ornamental post in Amsterdam to live with this pepper-pot. He was
hardly out of the door before the governor shouted:
Sachsen! Hola, Sachsen!
The sound of the governor's voice had scarcely died in the marbled
corridors when Sachsen, the omniscient, the indispensable secretary,
bustled into the sanctum. His stooped shoulders were crooked in a
perpetual obeisance, and his damp, gray hair was plastered thinly over
his ruddy scalp; but the shrewd twinkle in his eyes and the hawklike
cast of his nose and chin belied the air of humility he affected.
Sachsen, the governor demanded, the eagle gleaming in his lean,
Cassarian face, where can I find a man that will bring peace to
The wrinkled features of the all-knowing Sachsen crinkled with a
smile of inspiration.
Your excellency, he murmured, bowing low, there is Peter Gross,
freeholder of Batavia.
Peter Gross, Pieter Gross, Van Schouten mused, his brow
puckered with a thoughtful frown. The name seems to have slipped my
memory. What, has Peter Gross, freeholder of Batavia, done to merit
such an appointment at our hands, Sachsen?
The secretary bowed again, punctiliously.
Your excellency perhaps remembers, he reminded, that it was Peter
Gross who rescued Lieutenant Hendrik de Koven and twelve men from the
pirates of Lombock.
Ha! the governor exclaimed, his stern features relaxing a trifle.
Now, Sachsen, answer me truthfully, has this Peter Gross an eye for
The secretary bent low.
Your excellency, the fairest flowers of Batavia are his to pick and
choose. The good God has given him a brave heart, a comely face, and
plenty of flesh to cover his bones. But his only mistress is the sea.
If I should send him to Bulungan, would that she-devil, Koyala, make
the same fool of him that she has of Muller? the governor demanded
Your excellency, the angels above would fail sooner than he.
The governor's fist crashed on the table with a resounding thwack.
Then he is the man we need! he exclaimed. Where shall I find this
Peter Gross, Sachsen?
Your excellency, he is now serving as first mate of the Yankee
barkentine, Coryander, anchored in this port. He was here at the
paleis only a moment ago, inquiring for news of three of his crew
who had exceeded their shore leave. I think he has gone to Ah Sing's
rumah makan, in the Chinese campong.
Van Schouten sprang from his great chair of state like a cockerel
fluttering from a roost. He licked his thin lips and curved them into a
Sachsen, he said, except myself, you are the only man in Java that
knows anything. My hat and coat, Sachsen, and my cane!
CAPTAIN THRETHAWAY, of the barkentine, Coryander, of Boston,
should have heeded the warning he received from his first mate, Peter
Gross, to keep away from the roadstead of Batavia. He had no particular
business in that port. But an equatorial sun, hot enough to melt the
marrow in a man's bones, made the Coryander's deck a blistering
griddle; there was no ice on board, and the water in the casks tasted
foul as bilge. So the captain let his longing for iced tea and the cool
depths of a palm-grove get the better of his judgment.
Passing Timor, Floris, and the other links in the Malayan chain,
Captain Threthaway looked longingly at the deeply shaded depths of the
mangrove jungles. The lofty tops of the cane swayed gently to a breeze
scarcely perceptible on the Coryander's sizzling deck. When the
barkentine rounded Cape Karawang, he saw a bediamonded rivulet leap
sheer off a lofty cliff and lose itself in the liana below. It was the
last straw; the captain felt he had to land and taste ice on his tongue
again or die. Calling his first mate, he asked abruptly:
Can we victual at Batavia as cheaply as at Singapore, Mr. Gross?
Peter Gross looked at the shoreline thoughtfully.
One place is as cheap as the other, Mr. Threthaway; but if it's my
opinion you want, I advise against stopping at Batavia.
The captain frowned.
Why, Mr. Gross? he asked sharply.
Because we'd lose our crew, and Batavia's a bad place to pick up
another one. That gang for'ard isn't to be trusted where there's liquor
to be got. 'Twouldn't be so bad to lose a few of them at
Singaporethere's always English-speaking sailors there waiting for a
ship to get home on; but Batavia's Dutch. We might have to lay around a
I don't think there's the slightest danger of desertions, Captain
Threthaway replied testily. What possible reason could any of our crew
have to leave?
The pay is all right, and the grub is all right; there's no kicking
on those lines, Peter Gross said, speaking guardedly. But most of
this crew are drinking men. They're used to their rations of grog
regular. They've been without liquor since we left Frisco, except what
they got at Melbourne, and that was precious little. Since the water
fouled on us, they're ready for anything up to murder and mutiny.
There'll be no holding them once we make port.
Captain Threthaway flushed angrily. His thin, ascetic jaw set with
Puritan stubbornness as he retorted:
When I can't sail a ship without supplying liquor to the crew, I'll
retire, Mr. Gross.
Don't misunderstand me, captain, Peter Gross replied, with quiet
I'm not disagreeing with your teetotaler principles. They improve a
crew if you've got the right stock to work with. But when you take grog
away from such dock-sweepings as Smith and Jacobson and that little
Frenchman, Le Beouf, you take away the one thing on earth they're
willing to work for. We had all we could do to hold them in hand at
Melbourne, and after the contrary trades we've bucked the past week,
and the heat, their tongues are hanging out for a drop of liquor.
Let them dare come back drunk, the captain snapped angrily. I know
what will cure them.
They won't come back, Peter Gross asserted calmly.
Then we'll go out and get them, Captain Threthaway said grimly.
They'll be where they can't be found, Peter Gross replied.
Captain Threthaway snorted impatiently.
Look here, captain! Peter Gross exclaimed, facing his skipper
squarely. Batavia is my home when I'm not at sea. I know its ins and
outs. Knowing the town, and knowing the crew we've got, I'm sure a stop
there will be a mighty unpleasant experience all around. There's a
Chinaman there, Ah Sing, a public-house proprietor and a crimp, that
has runners to meet every boat. Once a man goes into his rumah
makan, he's as good as lost until the next skipper comes along
short-handed and puts up the price.
Captain Threthaway smiled confidently.
Poor as the crew is, Mr. Gross, there's no member of it will prefer
lodging in a Chinese crimp's public house ten thousand miles from home
to his berth here.
They'll forget his color when they taste his hot rum, Peter Gross
returned brusquely. And once they drink it, they'll forget everything
else. Ah Sing is the smoothest article that ever plaited a queue, and
they don't make them any slicker than they do in China.
Captain Threthaway's lips pinched together in irritation.
There are always the authorities, he remarked pettishly, to end the
Peter Gross restrained a look of disgust with difficulty.
Yes, there are always the authorities, he conceded. But in the
Chinese campong they're about as much use as a landlubber aloft in a
blow. The campong is a little republic in itself, and Ah Sing is the
man that runs it. If the truth was known, I guess he's the boss
Chinaman of the East Indies pirate, trader, politiciananything he
can make a guilder at. From his rum-shop warrens run into every section
of Chinatown, and they're so well hid that the governor, though he's
sharp as a weasel and by all odds the best man the Dutch ever had here,
can't find them. It's the real port of missing men.
Captain Threthaway looked shoreward, where dusky, breech-clouted
natives were resting in the cool shade of the heavy-leafed mangroves. A
bit of breeze stirred just then, bringing with it the rich spice-grove
and jungle scents of the thickly wooded island. A fierce longing for
the shore seized the captain. He squared his shoulders with decision.
I'll take the chance, Mr. Gross, he said. This heat is killing me.
You may figure on twenty-four hours in port.
Twelve hours after the Coryander cast anchor in Batavia
harbor, Smith, Jacobson, and Le Beouf were reported missing. When
Captain Threthaway, for all his Boston upbringing, had exhausted a
prolific vocabulary, he called his first mate.
Mr. Gross, he said, the damned renegades are gone. Do you think
you can find them?
Long experience in the vicissitudes of life, acquired in that best
school of all, the forecastle, had taught Peter Gross the folly of
saying, I told you so. Therefore he merely replied:
I'll try, sir.
So it befell that he sought news of the missing ones at the great
white stadhuis, where the Heer Sachsen, always his friend, met
him and conceived the inspiration for his prompt recommendation to the
Peter Gross ambled on toward Ah Sing's rumah makan without the
slightest suspicion he was being followed. On his part,
Governor-General Van Schouten was content to let his quarry walk on
unconscious of observation while he measured the man.
God in Israel, what a man! his excellency exclaimed admiringly,
noting Peter Gross's broad shoulders and stalwart thighs. If he packs
as much brains inside his skull as he does meat on his bones, there are
some busy days ahead for my Dyaks. He smacked his lips in happy
Ah Sing's grog-shop, with its colonnades and porticoes and fussy
gables and fantastic cornices terminating in pigtail curlicues, was a
squalid place for all the ornamentation cluttered on it. Peter Gross
observed its rubbishy surroundings with ill-concealed disgust.
'Twould be a better Batavia if some one set fire to the place, he
muttered to himself. Yet the law would call it arson.
Looking up, he saw Ah Sing seated in one of the porticoes, and
quickly masked his face to a smile of cordial greeting, but not before
the Chinaman had detected his ill humor.
There was a touch of three continents in Ah Sing's appearance. He sat
beside a table, in the American fashion; he smoked a long-stemmed
hookah, after the Turkish fashion, and he wore his clothes after the
Chinese fashion. The bland innocence of his pudgy face and the seraphic
mildness of his unblinking almond eyes that peeped through slits no
wider than the streak of a charcoal-pencil were as the guilelessness of
Mother Eve in the garden. Motionless as a Buddha idol he sat, except
for occasional pulls at the hookah.
Good-morning, Ah Sing, Peter Gross remarked happily, as he mounted
The tiny slits through which Ah Sing beheld the pageantry of a
sun-baked world opened a trifle wider.
May Allah bless thee, Mr. Gross, he greeted impassively.
Peter Gross pulled a chair away from one of the other tables and
placed it across the board from Ah Sing. Then he succumbed to it with a
sigh of gentle ease.
A hot day, he panted, and fanned himself as though he found the
Belly hot, Ah Sing gravely agreed in a guttural voice that sounded
from unfathomable abysses.
A hot day for a man that's tasted no liquor for nigh three months,
Peter Gross amended.
You makee long trip? Ah Sing inquired politely.
Peter Gross's features molded themselves into an expression
eloquently appreciative of his past miseries.
That's altogether how you take it, Ah Sing, he replied. From
Frisco to Melbourne to Batavia isn't such a thunderin' long ways, not
to a man that's done the full circle three times. But when you make the
voyage with a Methodist captain who doesn't believe in grog, it's the
longest since Captain Cook's. Ah Sing, my throat's dryer than a
sou'east monsoon. Hot toddy for two.
Ah Sing clapped his hands and uttered a magic word or two in Chinese.
A Cantonese waiter padded swiftly outside, bearing a lacquered tray and
two steaming glasses. One he placed before Ah Sing and the other before
Peter Gross, who tossed a coin on the table.
Pledge your health, sir, Peter Gross remarked and reached across
the board to clink glasses with his Chinese friend. Ah Sing lifted his
glass to meet the sailor's and suddenly found it snaked out of his
hands by a deft motion of Peter Gross's middle finger. Gross slid his
own glass across the table toward Ah Sing.
If you don't mind, he remarked pleasantly. Your waiter might have
mistaken me for a plain A. B., and I've got to get back to my ship
Ah Sing's bland and placid face remained expressionless as a carved
god's. But he left the glass stand, untasted, beside him.
The Coryander's mate sipped his liquor and sank deeper into
his chair. He studied with an air of affectionate interest the long
lane of quaintly colonnaded buildings that edged the city within a
city, the Chinese campong. Pigtailed Orientals, unmindful of the
steaming heat, squirmed across the scenery. Ten thousand stenches were
compounded into one, in which the flavor of garlic predominated. Peter
Gross breathed the heavy air with a smile of reminiscent pleasure and
dropped another notch into the chair.
It feels good to be back ashore again for a spell, Ah Sing, he
remarked. A nice, cool spot like this, with nothing to do and some of
your grog under the belt, skins a blistery deck any day. I don't wonder
so many salts put up here.
Back of the curtain of fat through which they peered, Ah Sing's
oblique eyes quivered a trifle as they watched the sailor keenly.
By the way, Peter Gross observed, stretching his long legs out to
the limit of their reach, you haven't seen any of my men, have you?
Smith, he's pock-marked and has a cut over his right eye; Jacobson, a
tall Swede, and Le Beouf, a little Frenchman with a close-clipped black
mustache and beard?
Ah. Sing gravely cudgeled his memory.
None of your men, he assured, was here.
Peter Gross's face fell.
That's too bad! he exclaimed in evident disappointment. I thought
sure I'd find 'em here. You're sure you haven't overlooked them? That
Frenchie might call for a hop; we picked him out of a hop-joint at
None your men here, Ah Sing repeated gutturally.
Peter Gross rumpled his tousled hair in perplexity.
We-el, he drawled unhappily, if those chaps don't get back on
shipboard by nightfall I'll have to buy some men from you, Ah Sing.
Have y' got three good hands that know one rope from another?
Two men off schooner Marianna, Ah Sing replied in his same
thick monotone. One man, steamer Callee-opie. Good strong man.
You stole 'em, I s'pose? Peter Gross asked pleasantly.
Ah Sing's heavy jowls waggled in gentle negation.
No stealum man, he denied quietly. Him belly sick. Come here, get
well. Allie big, strong man.
How much a head?
F. O. B. the Coryander and no extra charges?
Ah Sing's inscrutable face screwed itself into a maze of unreadable
wrinkles and lines.
Him eat heap, he announced. Five dlolla more for board.
You go to blazes, Peter Gross replied cheerfully. I'll look up a
couple of men somewhere else or go shorthanded if I have to.
Ah Sing made no reply and his impassive face did not alter its
expressionless fixity. Peter Gross lazily pulled himself up in his
chair and extended his right hand across the table. A ring with a big
bloodstone in the center, a bloodstone cunningly chiseled and marked,
rested on the middle finger.
See that ring, Ah Sing? he asked. I got that down to Mauritius.
What d'ye think it's worth?
Ah Sing's long, claw-like fingers groped avariciously toward the
ring. His tiny, fat-encased eyes gleamed with cupidity.
With a quick, cat-like movement, Peter Gross gripped one of the
Don't pull, he cautioned quickly as Ah Sing tried to draw his hand
away. I was going to tell you that there's a drop of adder's poison
inside the bloodstone that runs down a little hollow pin if you press
the stone just so He moved to illustrate.
No! No! Ah Sing shrieked pig-like squeals of terror.
Just send one of your boys for my salts, will you? Peter Gross
requested pleasantly. I understand they got here yesterday morning and
haven't been seen to leave. Talk Englishno China talk, savvy?
A flash of malevolent fury broke Ah Sing's mask of impassivity. The
rage his face expressed caused Peter Gross to grip his hand the harder
and look quickly around for a possible danger from behind. They were
alone. Peter Gross moved a finger toward the stone, and Ah Sing
capitulated. At his shrill cry there was a hurried rustle from within.
Peter Gross kept close grip on the Chinaman's hand until he heard the
shuffling tramp of sailor feet. Smith, Jacobson and Le Beouf, blinking
sleepily, were herded on the portico by two giant Thibetans.
Peter Gross shoved the table and Ah Sing violently back and leaped to
You'lldesertwill you? he exclaimed. Each word was punctuated by
a swift punch on the chin of one of the unlucky sailors and an echoing
thud on the floor. Smith, Jacobson, and Le Beouf lay neatly cross-piled
on one of Ah Sing's broken chairs.
I'll pay for the chair, Peter Gross declared, jerking his men to
their feet and shoving them down the steps.
Ah Sing shrilled an order in Chinese. The Thibetan giants leaped for
Peter Gross, who sprang out of their reach and put his back to the
wall. In his right hand a gun flashed.
Ah Sing, I'll take you first, he shouted.
The screen separating them from the adjoining portico was violently
Ah Sing! exclaimed a sharp, authoritative voice.
Ah Sing looked about, startled. The purpled fury his face expressed
sickened to a mottled gray. Adriaan Adriaanszoon Van Schouten,
governor-general of Java, leaning lightly on his cane, frowned sternly
at the scene of disorder. At a cry from their master the two Thibetans
backed away from Peter Gross, who lowered his weapon.
Is it thus you observe our laws, Ah Sing? Van Schouten demanded
Ah Sing licked his lips. Light of the sun he began, but the
governor interrupted shortly:
The magistrate will hear your explanations. His eagle eyes looked
penetratingly upon Peter Gross, who looked steadfastly back.
Sailor, you threatened to poison this man, the governor accused
harshly, indicating Ah Sing.
Your excellency, that was bluff, Peter Gross replied. The ring is
as harmless as your excellency's own.
Van Schouten's eyes twinkled.
What is your name, sailor, and your ship? he demanded.
Peter Gross, your excellency, first mate of the barkentine
Coryander of Boston, now lying in your excellency's harbor of
Ah Sing, Van Schouten rasped sternly, if these drunken louts are
not aboard their ship by nightfall you go to the coffee-fields.
Ah Sing's gimlet eyes shrank to pin-points. His face was
expressionless, but his whole body seemed to shake with suppressed
emotion as he choked in guttural Dutch:
Your excellency shall be obeyed. He salaamed to the ground.
Van Schouten glared at Peter Gross.
Mynheer Gross, the good name of our fair city is very dear to us,
he said sternly. Scenes of violence like this do it much damage. I
would have further discourse with you. Be at the paleis within
I shall be there, your excellency, Peter Gross promised.
The governor shifted his frown to Ah Sing.
As for you, Ah Sing, I have heard many evil reports of this place,
he said. Let me hear no more.
While Ah Sing salaamed again, the governor strode pompously away,
followed at a respectful distance by Peter Gross. It was not until they
had disappeared beyond a curve in the road that Ah Sing let his face
show his feelings. Then an expression of malignant fury, before which
even the two Thibetans quailed, crossed it.
He uttered a harsh command to have the debris removed. The Thibetans
jumped forward in trembling alacrity. Without giving them another
glance he waddled into the building, into a little den screened off for
his own use. From a patent steel safe of American make he took an ebony
box, quaintly carved and colored in glorious pinks and yellows with a
flower design. Opening this, he exposed a row of glass vials resting on
beds of cotton. Each vial contained some nail parings.
He took out the vials, one by one, looked at their labels inscribed
in Chinese characters, and placed them on an ivory tray. As he read
each label a curious smile of satisfaction spread over his features.
When he had removed the last vial he sat at his desk, dipped a pen
into India ink, and wrote two more labels in similar Chinese
characters. When the ink had dried he placed these on two empty vials
taken from a receptacle on his desk. The vials were placed with the
others in the ebony box and locked in the safe.
The inscriptions he read on the labels were the names of men who had
died sudden and violent deaths in the East Indies while he had lived at
Batavia. The labels he filled out carried the names of Adriaan
Adriaanszoon Van Schouten and Peter Gross.
SAILOR, the penalty for threatening the life of any citizen is penal
servitude on the state's coffee-plantations.
The governor's voice rang harshly, and he scowled across the big
table in his cabinet-room at the Coryander's mate, sitting
opposite him. His hooked nose and sharp-pointed chin with its finely
trimmed Van Dyke beard jutted forward rakishly.
I ask no other justice than your excellency's own sense of equity
suggests, Peter Gross replied quietly.
H'mm! the governor hummed. He looked at the Coryander's mate
keenly for a few moments through half-closed lids. Suddenly he said:
And what if I should appoint you a resident, sailor?
Peter Gross's lips pressed together tightly, but otherwise he gave no
sign of his profound astonishment at the governor's astounding
proposal. Sinking deeper into his chair until his head sagged on his
breast, he deliberated before replying.
Your excellency is in earnest?
I do not jest on affairs of state, Mynheer Gross. What is your
Peter Gross paused. Your excellency overwhelms me he began, but
Van Schouten cut him short.
Enough! When I have work to do I choose the man who I think can do
it. Then you accept?
Your excellency, to my deep regret I must most respectfully
A look of blank amazement spread over the governor's face. Then his
eyes blazed ominously.
Decline! Why? he roared.
For several reasons, Peter Gross replied with disarming mildness.
In the first place I am under contract with Captain Threthaway of the
I will arrange that with your captain, the governor broke in.
In the second place I am neither a soldier nor a politician
That is for me to consider, the governor retorted.
In the third place, I am a citizen of the United States and
therefore not eligible to any civil appointment from the government of
Bonder en bliksem!
the governor exclaimed. I thought you were a freeholder here.
I am, Peter Gross admitted. The land I won is at Riswyk. I expect
to make it my home when I retire from the sea.
How long have you owned that land?
For nearly seven years.
The governor stroked his beard. You talk Holland like a Hollander,
Mynheer Gross, he observed.
My mother was of Dutch descent, Peter Gross explained. I learned
the language from her.
Good! Van Schouten inclined his head with a curt nod of
satisfaction. Half Holland is all Holland. We can take steps to make
you a citizen at once.
I don't care to surrender my birthright. Peter Gross negatived
What! Van Schouten shouted. Not for a resident's post? And eight
thousand guilders a year? And a land grant in Java that will make you
rich for life if you make those hill tribes stick to their plantations?
What say you to this, Mynheer Gross? His lips curved with a smile of
The offer is tempting and the honor great, Peter Gross acknowledged
quietly. But I can not forget I was born an American.
Van Schouten leaned back in his chair with a look of astonishment.
You refuse? he asked incredulously.
I am sorry, your excellency! Peter Gross's tone was unmistakably
You refuse? the governor repeated, still unbelieving.
Eightthousandguilders! And a land grant that will make you rich
I am an American, and American I shall stay.
The governor's eyes sparkled with admiration.
By the beard of Orange! he exclaimed, it is no wonder you Yankees
have sucked the best blood of the world into your country. He leaned
Mynheer Gross, I cannot appoint you resident if you refuse to take
the oath of allegiance to the queen. But I can make you special agent
of the gouvemeur-generaal. I can make you a resident in fact, if
not in name, of a country larger than half the Netherlands, larger than
many of your own American States. I can give you the rewards I have
pledged you, a fixed salary and the choice of a thousand hectares of
our fairest state lands in Java. What do you say?
He leaned forward belligerently. In that posture his long, coarse
hair rose bristly above his neck, giving him something of the
appearance of a gamecock with feathers ruffled. It was this peculiarity
that first suggested the name he was universally known by throughout
the Sundas, De Kemphaan (The Gamecock).
To what province would you appoint me? Peter Gross asked slowly.
The governor hesitated. With the air of a poker player forced to show
his hand he confessed:
It is a difficult post, mynheer, and needs a strong man as resident.
It is the residency of Bulungan, Borneo.
There was the faintest flicker in Peter Gross's eyes. Van Schouten
watched him narrowly. In the utter stillness that followed the governor
could hear his watch tick.
Peter Gross rose abruptly, leaped for the door, and threw it open. He
looked straight into the serene, imperturbable face of Chi Wung Lo,
autocrat of the governor's domestic establishment. Chi Wung bore a
delicately lacquered tray of Oriental design on which were standing two
long, thin, daintily cut glasses containing cooling limes that bubbled
fragrantly. Without a word he swept grandly in and placed the glasses
on the table, one before the governor, and the other before Peter
Gross's vacant chair.
Ha! Van Schouten exclaimed, smacking his lips. Chi Wung, you
peerless, priceless servant, how did you guess our needs?
With a bland bow and never a glance at Peter Gross, Chi Wung strutted
out in Oriental dignity, carrying his empty tray. Peter Gross closed
the door carefully, and walked slowly back.
I was about to say, your excellency, he murmured, that Bulungan
has not a happy reputation.
It needs a strong man to rule it, the governor acknowledged,
running his glance across Peter Gross's broad shoulders in subtle
Those who have held the post of resident there found early graves.
You are young, vigorous. You have lived here long enough to know how
to escape the fevers.
There are worse enemies in Bulungan than the fevers, Peter Gross
replied. It is not for nothing that Bulungan is known as the graveyard
The governor glanced at Peter Gross's strong face and stalwart form
Your refusal is final? he asked.
On the contrary, if your excellency will meet one condition, I
accept, Peter Gross replied.
The governor put his glass down sharply and stared at the sailor.
You accept this post? he demanded.
Upon one condition, yes!
What is that condition?
That I be allowed a free hand.
H'mm! Van Schouten drew a deep breath and leaned back in his chair.
The sharp, Julian cast of countenance was never more pronounced, and
the eagle eyes gleamed inquiringly, calculatingly. Peter Gross looked
steadily back. The minutes passed and neither spoke.
Why do you want to go there? the governor exclaimed suddenly. He
leaned forward in his chair till his eyes burned across a narrow two
feet into Peter Gross's own.
The strong, firm line of Peter Gross's lips tightened. He rested one
elbow on the table and drew nearer the governor. His voice was little
more than a murmur as he said:
Your excellency, let me tell you the story of Bulungan.
The governor's face showed surprise. Proceed, he directed.
Six years ago, when your excellency was appointed governor-general
of the Netherlands East Indies, Peter Gross began, Bulungan was a No
Man's land, although nominally under the Dutch flag. The pirates that
infested the Celebes sea and the straits of Macassar found ports of
refuge in-its jungle-banked rivers and marsh mazes where no gunboat
could find them. The English told your government that if it did not
stamp out piracy and subjugate the Dyaks, it would. That meant loss of
the province to the Dutch crown. Accordingly you sent General Van
Heemkerken there with eight hundred men who marched from the lowlands
to the highlands and back again, burning every village they found, but
meeting no Dyaks except old men and women too helpless to move. General
Van Heemkerken reported to you that he had pacified the country. On his
report you sent Mynheer Van Scheltema there as resident, and Cupido as
controlleur. Within six months Van Scheltema was bitten by an adder
placed in his bedroom and Cupido was assassinated by a hill Dyak, who
threw him out of a dugout into a river swarming with crocodiles.
no! Van Schouten cried. Van Scheltema and Cupido died of the
So it was reported to your excellency, Peter Gross replied gravely.
I tell you the facts.
The governor's thin, spiked jaw shot out like a vicious thorn and his
Go on, he directed sharply.
For a year there was neither resident nor controlleur at
Bulungan. Then the pirates became so bold that you again took steps to
repress them. The stockade at the village of Bulungan was enlarged and
the garrison was increased to fifty men. Lieutenant Van Slyck, the
commandant, was promoted to captain. A new resident was appointed,
Mynheer de Jonge, a very dear friend of your excellency. He was an old
man, estimable and honest, but ill-fitted for such a post, a failure in
business, and a failure as a resident. Time after time your excellency
wrote him concerning piracies, hillmen raids, and head-hunting
committed in his residency or the adjoining seas. Each time he replied
that your excellency must be mistaken, that the pirates and
head-hunters came from other districts.
The governor's eyes popped in amazement. How do you know this? he
exclaimed, but Peter Gross ignored the question.
Finally about two years ago Mynheer de Jonge, through an accident,
learned that he had been deceived by those he had trusted, had a right
to trust. A remark made by a drunken native opened his eyes. One night
he called out Captain Van Slyck and the latter's commando and made a
flying raid. He all but surprised a band of pirates looting a captured
schooner and might have taken them had they not received a warning of
his coming. That raid made him a marked man. Within two weeks he was
poisoned by being pricked as he slept with a thorn dipped in the juice
of the deadly upas tree.
He was a suicide! the governor exclaimed, his face ashen. They
brought me a note in his own handwriting.
In which it was stated that he killed himself because he felt he had
lost your excellency's confidence?
You know that, too? Van Schouten whispered huskily.
Your excellency has suffered remorse without cause, Peter Gross
declared quietly. The note is a forgery.
The governor's hands gripped the edge of the table.
You can prove that? he cried.
For the present your excellency must be satisfied with my word. As
resident of Bulungan I hope to secure proofs that will satisfy a court
The governor gazed at Peter Gross intently. A conflict of emotions,
amazement, unbelief, and hope were expressed on his face.
Why should I believe you? he demanded fiercely.
Peter Gross's face hardened. The sternness of the magistrate was on
his brow as he replied:
Your excellency remembers the schooner Tetrina, attacked by
Chinese and Dyak pirates off the coast of Celebes three years ago? All
her crew were butchered except two left on the deck that night for
dead. I was one of the two, your excellency. My dead comrades have left
me a big debt to pay. That is why I will go to Bulungan.
The governor rose. Decision was written on his brow.
Meet us here to-night, Mynheer Gross, he said. There is much to
discuss with Mynheer Sachsen before you leave. God grant you may be the
instrument of His eternal justice. Peter Gross raised a hand of
Sometimes the very walls have ears, your excellency, he cautioned.
If I am to be resident of Bulungan no word of the appointment must
leak out until I arrive there.
IT was a blistering hot day in Bulungan. The heavens were molten
incandescence. The muddy river that bisected the town wallowed through
its estuary, a steaming tea-kettle. The black muck-fields baked and
flaked under the torrid heat. The glassy surface of the bay, lying
within the protecting crook of a curling tail of coral reef, quivered
under the impact of the sun's rays like some sentient thing.
In the village that nestled where fresh and salt water met, the
streets were deserted, almost lifeless. Gaunt pariah dogs, driven by
the acid-sharp pangs of a never-satiated hunger, sniffed among the
shadows of the bamboo and paknleaf huts, their backs arched and their
tails slinking between their legs. Too weak to grab their share of the
spoil in the hurly-burly, they scavenged in these hours of universal
inanity. The doors of the huts were tightly closedbarricaded against
the heat. The merchant in his dingy shop, the fisherman in his house on
stilts, and the fashioner of metals in his thatched cottage in the
outskirts slept under their mats. Apoplexy was the swift and sure fate
of those who dared the awful torridity.
Dawn had foretold the heat. The sun shot above the purple and orange
waters of the bay like a conflagration. The miasmal vapors that
clustered thickly about the flats by night gathered their linen and
fled like the hunted. They were scurrying upstream when Bogoru, the
fisherman, walked out on his sampan landing. He looked at the unruffled
surface of the bay, and then looked upward quickly at the lane of tall
kenari trees between the stockade and government buildings on an
elevation, a short distance back of the town. The spindly tops of the
trees pointed heavenward with the rigidity of church spires.
There will be no chaetodon sold at the visschers-markt
(fishmart) to-day, he observed. Kismet!
With a patient shrug of his shoulders he went back to his hut and
made sure there was a plentiful supply of sirih and cooling limes on
In the fruit-market Tagotu, the fruiterer, set out a tempting display
of mangosteen, durian, dookoo, and rambootan, pineapples, and
pomegranates, jars of agar-agar, bowls of rice, freshly cooked, and
pitchers of milk.
The square was damp from the heavy night dew when he set out the
first basket, it was dry as a fresh-baked brick when he put out the
last. The heavy dust began to flood inward. Tagotu noticed with dismay
how thin the crowd was that straggled about the market-place. Chepang,
his neighbor, came out of his stall and observed:
The monsoon has failed again. Bunungan will stay in his huts
It is the will of Allah, Tagotu replied patiently. Putting aside
his offerings, he lowered the shades of his shop and composed himself
for a siesta.
On the hill above the town, where the rude fort and the government
buildings gravely faced the sea, the heat also made itself felt. The
green blinds of the milk-white residency building, that was patterned
as closely as tropical conditions would permit after the quaint
architecture of rural Overysel, were tightly closed. The little cluster
of residences around it, the controlleur's house and the homes
of Marinus Blauwpot and Wang Fu, the leading merchants of the place,
were similarly barricaded. For Amsterdam, the fashionable residential
suburb of Bulungan village, was fighting the same enemy as Rotterdam,
the town below, an enemy more terrible than Dyak blow-pipes and Dyak
poisoned arrows, the Bornean sun.
Like Bogoru, the fisherman, and Tagotu, the fruit-vender, Cho Seng,
Mynheer Midler's valet and cook, had seen the threat the sunrise
brought. The sun's copper disc was dyeing the purple and blue waters of
the bay with vermilion and magentas when he pad-padded out on the
veranda of the controlleur's house. He was clad in the
meticulously neat brown jeans that he wore at all times and occasions
except funeral festivals, and in wicker sandals. With a single sweep of
his eyes he took in the kenari-tree-lined land that ran to the gate of
the stockade where a sleepy sentinel, hunched against a pert brass
cannon, nodded his head drowsily. The road was tenantless. He shot
another glance down the winding pathway that led by the houses of
Marinus Blauwpot and Wang Fu to the town below. That also was
unoccupied. Stepping off the veranda, he crossed over to an unshaded
spot directly in front of the house and looked intently seaward to
where a junk lay at anchor. The brown jeans against the milk-white
paint of the house threw his figure in sharp relief.
Cho Seng waited until a figure showed itself on the deck of the junk.
Then he shaded his eye with his arm. The Chinaman on the deck of the
junk must have observed the figure of his fellow countryman on the
hill, for he also shaded his eyes with his arm.
Cho Seng looked quickly to the rightto the left. There was no one
stirring. The sentinel at the gate drowsed against the carriage of the
saucy brass cannon. Shading his eyes once more with a quick gesture,
Cho Seng walked ten paces ahead. Then he walked back five paces. Making
a sharp angle he walked five paces to one side. Then he turned abruptly
and faced the jungle.
The watcher on the junk gave no sign that he had seen this curious
performance. But as Cho Seng scuttled back into the house, he
disappeared into the bowels of the ugly hulk.
An hour passed before Cho Seng reappeared on the veranda. He cast
only a casual glance at the junk and saw that it was being provisioned.
After listening for a moment to the rhythmic snoring that came from the
chamber aboveMynheer Muller's apartmenthe turned the corner of the
house and set off at a leisurely pace toward the tangle of mangroves,
banyan, bamboo cane, and ferns that lay a quarter of a mile inland on
the same elevation on which the settlement and stockade stood.
There was nothing in his walk to indicate that he had a definite
objective. He strolled along in apparent aimlessness, as though taking
a morning's constitutional. Overhead hundreds of birds created a
terrific din; green and blue-billed gapers shrilled noisily; lories
piped their matin lays, and the hoarse cawing of the trogons mingled
discordantly with the mellow notes of the mild cuckoos. A myriad insect
life buzzed and hummed around him, and scurried across his pathway.
Pale white flowers of the night that lined the wall shrank modestly
into their green cloisters before the bold eye of day. But Cho Seng
passed them by unseeing, and unhealing. Nature had no existence for him
except as it ministered unto his physical needs. Only once did he turn
asidea quick, panicky jumpand that was when a little spotted snake
glided in front of him and disappeared into the underbrush.
When he was well within the shadows of the mangroves, Cho Seng
suddenly brightened and began to look about him keenly. Following a
faintly defined path, he walked along in a circuitous route until he
came to a clearing under the shade of a huge banyan tree whose aerial
roots rose over his head. After peering furtively about and seeing no
one he uttered a hoarse, guttural call, the call the great bird of
paradise utters to welcome the sunriseWowk, wowk, wowk.
There was an immediate answerthe shrill note of the argus pheasant.
It sounded from the right, near by, on the other side of a thick tangle
of cane and creeper growth. Cho Seng paused in apparent disquietude at
the border of the thicket, but as he hesitated, the call was repeated
more urgently. Wrenching the cane apart, he stepped carefully into the
His progress through it was slow. At each step he bent low to make
certain where his foot fell. He had a mortal fear of snakeshis
nightmares were ghastly dreams of a loathsome death from a serpent's
There was a low ripple of laughtergirlish laughter. Cho Seng
straightened quickly. To his right was another clearing, and in that
clearing there was a woman, a young woman just coming into the bloom of
a glorious beauty. She was seated on a gnarled aerial root. One leg was
negligently thrown over the other, a slender, shapely arm reached
gracefully upward to grasp a spur from another root, a coil of silky
black hair, black as tropic night, lay over her gleaming shoulder. Her
sarong, spotlessly white, hung loosely about her wondrous form and was
caught with a cluster of rubies above her breasts. A sandal-covered
foot, dainty, delicately tapering, its whiteness tanned with a faint
tint of harvest brown, was thrust from the folds of the gown. At her
side, in a silken scabbard, hung a light, skillfully wrought kris. The
handle was studded with, gems.
Good-morning, Cho Seng, the woman greeted demurely.
Cho Seng, making no reply, snapped the cane aside and leaped through.
Koyala laughed again, her voice tinkling like silver bells. The
Chinaman's laborious progress through the cane had amused her. She knew
why he stepped so carefully.
Good-morning, Cho Seng, Koyala repeated. Her mocking dark brown
eyes tried to meet his, but Cho Seng looked studiedly at the ground, in
the affected humility of Oriental races.
Cho Seng here, he announced. What for um you wantee me? He spoke
huskily; a physician would instantly have suspected he was tubercular.
Koyala's eyes twinkled. A woman, she knew she was beautiful. Wherever
she went, among whites or Malays, Chinese, or Papuans, she was admired.
But from this stolid, unfathomable, menial Chinaman she had never been
able to evoke the one tribute that every pretty woman, no manner how
good, demands from mana glance of admiration.
Cho Seng, she pouted, you have not even looked at me. Am I so ugly
that you cannot bear to see me?
What for um you wantee me? Cho Seng reiterated. His neck was
crooked humbly so that his eyes did not rise above the hem of her
sarong, and his hands were tucked inside the wide sleeves of his
jacket. His voice was as meek and mild and inoffensive as his manner.
Koyala laughed mischievously.
I asked you a question, Cho Seng, she pointed out.
The Chinaman salaamed again, even lower than before. His face was
imperturbable as he repeated in the same mild, disarming accents:
What for um you wantee me?
Koyala made a moue.
That isn't what I asked you, Cho Seng, she exclaimed petulantly.
The Chinaman did not move a muscle. Silent, calm as a deep-sea
bottom, his glance fixed unwaveringly on a little spot of black earth
near Koyala's foot, he awaited her reply.
Leveque's daughter shrugged her shoulders in hopeless resignation.
Ever since she had known him she had tried to surprise him into
expressing some emotion. Admiration, fear, grief, vanity, cupidityon
all these chords she had played without producing response. His
imperturbability roused her curiosity, his indifference to her beauty
piqued her, and, womanlike, she exerted herself to rouse his interest
that she might punish him. So far she had been unsuccessful, but that
only gave keener zest to the game. Koyala was half Dyak, she had in her
veins the blood of the little brown brother who follows his enemy for
months, sometimes years, until he brings home another dripping head to
set on his lodge-pole. Patience was therefore her birthright.
Very well, Cho Seng, if you think I am ugly She paused and arched
an eyebrow to see the effect of her words. Cho Seng's face was as rigid
as though carved out of rock. When she saw he did not intend to dispute
her, Koyala flushed and concluded sharply:
then we will talk of other things. What has happened at the
residency during the past week?
Cho Seng shot a furtive glance upward. What for urn? he asked
Oh, everything. Koyala spoke with pretended indifference. Tell me,
does your baas, the mynheer, ever mention me?
Mynheer Muller belly much mad, belly much drink jenever
(gin), belly much say 'damn-damn, Cho Seng,' the Chinaman grunted.
Koyala's laughter rang out merrily in delicious peals that started
the rain-birds and the gapers to vain emulation. Cho Seng hissed a
warning and cast apprehensive glances about the jungle, but Koyala,
mocking the birds, provoked a hubbub of furious scolding overhead and
There's nobody near to hear us, she asserted lightly.
Mebbe him in bush, Cho Seng warned.
Not when the southeast monsoon ceases to blow, Koyala negatived.
Mynheer Muller loves his bed too well when our Bornean sun scorches us
like to-day. But tell me what your master has been doing?'
She snuggled into a more comfortable position on the root. Cho Seng
folded his hands over his stomach.
Morning him sleep, he related laconically. Him eat. Him speakee
orang kaya, Wobanguli, drink jenever. Him speakee Kapitein
Van Slyck, drink jenever. Him sleep some more. Bimeby when sun
so-so Cho Seng indicated the position of the sun in late
afternoonhim go speakee Mynheer Blauwpot, eat some more. Bimeby come
home, sleep. Plenty say 'damn-damn, Cho Seng.'
Does he ever mention me? Koyala asked. Her eyes twinkled
Plenty say nothing, Cho Seng replied.
Koyala's face fell. He doesn't speak of me at all?
Cho Seng shot a sidelong glance at her.
Him no speakee Koyala, him plenty drink jenever, plenty say
'damn-damn, Cho Seng.' He looked up stealthily to see the effect of
Koyala crushed a fern underfoot with a vicious dab of her sandaled
toes. Something like the ghost of a grin crossed the Chinaman's face,
but it was too well hidden for Koyala to see it.
How about Kapitein Van Slyck? Has he missed me? Koyala asked. It
is a week since I have been at the residency. He must have noticed it.
Kapitein Van Slyck him no speakee Koyala, the Chinaman declared.
Koyala looked at him sternly. I cannot believe that, Cho Seng, she
said. The captain must surely have noticed that I have not been in
Amsterdam. You are not telling me an untruth, are you, Cho Seng?
The Chinaman was meekness incarnate as he reiterated:
Him no speakee Koyala.
Displeasure gathered on Koyala's face like a storm-cloud. She leaped
suddenly from the aerial root and drew herself upright. At the same
moment she seemed to undergo a curious transformation. The light,
coquettish mood passed away like dabs of sunlight under a fitful April
sky, an imperious light gleamed in her eyes and her voice rang with
authority as she said:
Cho Seng, you are the eyes and the ears of Ah Sing in Bulungan
The Chinaman interrupted her with a sibilant hiss. His mask of
humility fell from him and he darted keen and angry glances about the
When Koyala Bintang Burung speaks it is your place to listen, Cho
Seng, Koyala asserted sternly. Her voice rang with authority. Under
her steady glance the Chinaman's furtive eyes bushed themselves in his
customary pose of irreproachable meekness.
You are the eyes and ears of Ah Sing in Bulungan, Koyala
reaffirmed, speaking deliberately and with emphasis. You know that
there is a covenant between your master, your master in Batavia, and
the council of the orang kayas of the sea Dyaks of Bulungan,
whereby the children of the sea sail in the proas of Ah Sing when the
Hanu Token come to Koyala on the night winds and tell her to bid
The Chinaman glanced anxiously about the jungle, fearful that a
swaying cluster of cane might reveal the presence of an eavesdropper.
S-ss-st, he hissed.
Koyala's voice hardened. Tell your master this, she said. The
spirits of the highlands speak no more through the mouth of the Bintang
Burung till the eyes and ears of Ah Sing become her eyes and ears,
There was a significant pause. Cho Seng's face shifted and he looked
at her slantwise to see how seriously he should take the declaration.
What he saw undoubtedly impressed him with the need of promptly
placating her, for he announced:
Cho Seng tellee Mynheer Muller Koyala go hide in bushbig baas
in Batavia say muchee damn-damn, give muchee gold for Koyala.
The displeasure in Koyala's flushed face mounted to anger.
No, you cannot take credit for that, Cho Seng, she exclaimed
sharply. Word came to Mynheer Muller from the governor direct that a
price of many guilders was put on my head.
Her chin tilted scornfully. Did you think Koyala was so blind that
she did not see the gunboat in Bulungan harbor a week ago to-day?
Cho Seng met her heat with Oriental calm.
Bang-bang boat, him come six-seven day ago, he declared. Cho Seng,
him speakee Mynheer Muller Koyala go hide in bush eight-nine day.
The gun-boat was in the harbor the morning Mynheer Muller told me,
Koyala retorted, and stopped in sudden recollection. A tiny flash of
triumph lit the Chinaman's otherwise impassive face as he put her
unspoken thought into words:
him bang-bang boat come see Mynheer Muller namiddag,
(afternoon) he said, indicating the sun's position an hour before
sunset. Mynheer Muller tellee Koyala voormiddag (forenoon). He
pointed to the sun's morning position in the eastern sky.
That is true, Koyala assented thoughtfully, and paused. How did
you hear of it?
Cho Seng tucked his hands inside his sleeves and folded them over his
paunch. His neck was bent forward and his eyes lowered humbly. Koyala
knew what the pose portended; it was the Chinaman's refuge in a silence
that neither plea nor threat could break. She rapidly recalled the
events of that week.
There was a junk from Macassar in Bulungan harbor two weeksno,
eleven days ago, she exclaimed. Did that bring a message from Ah
A startled lift of the Chinaman's chin assured her that her guess was
correct. Another thought followed swift on the heels of the first.
The same junk is in the harbor to-daycame here just before sundown
last night, she exclaimed. What message did it bring, Cho Seng?
The Chinaman's face was like a mask. His lips were compressed
tightlyit was as though he defied her to wedge them open and to force
him to reveal his secret. An angry sparkle lit Koyala's eyes for a
moment, she stepped a pace toward him and her hand dropped to the hilt
of the jeweled kris, then she stopped short. A fleeting look of cunning
replaced the angry gleam; a half-smile came and vanished on her lips
almost in the same instant.
Her face lifted suddenly toward the leafy canopy. Her arms were flung
upward in a supplicating gesture. The Chinaman, watching her from
beneath his lowered brow, looked up in startled surprise. Koyala's form
became rigid, a Galatea turned back to marble. Her breath seemed to
cease, as though she was in a trance. The color left her face, left
even her lips. Strangely enough, her very paleness made the Dyak umber
in her cheeks more pronounced.
Her lips parted. A low crooning came forth. The Chinaman's knees
quaked and gave way as he heard the sound. His body bent from the waist
till his head almost touched the ground.
The crooning gradually took the form of words. It was the Malay
tongue she spokea language Cho Seng knew. The rhythmic beating of his
head against his knees ceased and he listened eagerly, with face
Hanu Token, Hanu Token,
spirits of the highlands, whither are you taking me? Koyala cried.
She paused, and a deathlike silence followed. Suddenly she began
speaking again, her figure swaying like a tall lily stalk in a spring
breeze, her voice low-pitched and musically mystic like the voice of
one speaking from a far distance.
I see the jungle, the jungle where the mother of rivers gushes out
of the great smoking mountain. I see the pit of serpents in the
A trembling seized Cho Seng.
The serpents are hungry, they have not been fed, they clamor for the
blood of a man. I see him whose foot is over the edge of the pit, he
slips, he falls, he tries to catch himself, but the bamboo slips out of
his clutching fingersI see his faceit is the face of him whose
tongue speaks double, it is the face of
A horrible groan burst from the Chinaman. He staggered to his feet.
Neen, neen, neen, neen,
he cried hoarsely in an agonized negative. Cho Seng tellee Bintang
A tremulous sigh escaped from Koyala's lips. Her body shook as though
swayed by the wind. Her eyes opened slowly, vacantly, as though she was
awakening from a deep sleep. She looked at Cho Seng with an absent
stare, seeming to wonder why he was there, why she was where she was.
The Chinaman, made voluble through fear, chattered:
Him junk say big baas gouverneur speakee muchee damn-damn; no
gambir, no rice, no copra, no coffee from Bulungan one-two year; sendee
new resident bimeby belly quick.
Koyala's face paled.
Send a new resident? she asked incredulously. What of Mynheer
The look of fear left Cho Seng's face. Involuntarily his neck bent
and his fingers sought each other inside the sleeves. There was cunning
mingled with malice in his eyes as he looked up furtively and feasted
on her manifest distress.
Him chop-chop, he announced laconically.
They will kill him? Koyala cried.
The Chinaman had said his word. None knew better than he the value of
silence. He stood before her in all humbleness and calmly awaited her
next word. All the while his eyes played on her in quick, cleverly
Koyala fingered the handle of the kris as she considered what the
news portended. Her face slowly hardenedthere was a look in it of the
tigress brought to bay.
Koyala bimeby mally himMynheer Muller, go hide in bush? Cho Seng
ventured. The question was asked with such an air of simple innocence
and friendly interest that none could take offense.
Koyala flushed hotly. Then her nose and chin rose high with pride.
The Bintang Burung will wed no man, Cho Seng, she declared
haughtily. The blood of Chawatangi dies in me, but not till Bulungan
is purged of the orang blanda (white race). She whipped the
jeweled kris out of its silken scabbard. When the last white man
spills his heart on the coral shore and the wrongs done Chawatangi's
daughter, my mother, have been avenged, then Koyala will go to join the
Hanu Token that call her, call her
She thrust the point of the kris against her breast and looked upward
toward the far-distant hills and the smoking mountain. A look of
longing came into her eyes, the light of great desire, almost it seemed
as if she would drive the blade home and join the-spirits she invoked.
With a sigh she lowered the point of the kris and slipped it back
into its sheath.
No, Cho Seng, she said, Mynheer Muller is nothing to me. No man
will ever be anything to me. But your master has been a kind elder
brother to Koyala. And like me, he has had to endure the shame of an
unhappy birth. Her voice sank to a whisper. For his mother, Cho Seng,
as you know, was a woman of Celebes.
She turned swiftly away that he might not see her face. After a
moment she said in a voice warm with womanly kindness and sympathy:
Therefore you and I must take care of him, Cho Seng. He is weak, he
is untruthful, he has made a wicked bargain with your master, Ah Sing,
which the spirits of the hills tell me he shall suffer for, but he is
only what his white father made him, and the orang blanda must
pay! Her lips contracted grimly. Ay, pay to the last drop of blood!
You will be true to him, Cho Seng?
The Chinaman cast a furtive glance upward and found her mellow
dark-brown eyes looking at him earnestly. The eyes seemed to search his
, he pledged.
Then go, tell the captain of the junk to sail quickly to Macassar
and send word by a swift messenger to Ah Sing that he must let me know
the moment a new resident is appointed. There is no wind and the sun is
high; therefore the junk will still be in the harbor. Hurry, Cho Seng!
Without a word the Chinaman wheeled and shuffled down the woodland
path that led from the clearing toward the main highway. Koyala looked
after him fixedly.
If his skin were white he could not be more false, she observed
bitterly. But he is Ah Sing's slave, and Ah Sing needs me, so I need
not fear him yet.
She followed lightly after Cho Seng until she could see the prim top
of the residency building gleaming white through the trees. Then she
stopped short. Her face darkened as the Dyak blood gathered thickly. A
look of implacable hate and passion distorted it. Her eyes sought the
Hanu Token, Hanu Token,
send a young man here to rule Bulungan, she prayed. Send a strong
man, send a vain man, with a passion for fair women. Let me dazzle him
with my beauty, let me fill his heart with longing, let me make his
brain reel with madness, let me make his body sick with desire. Let me
make him suffer a thousand deaths before he gasps his last breath and
his dripping head is brought to thy temple in the hills. For the wrongs
done Chawatangi's daughter, Hanu Token, for the wrongs done me!
With a low sob she fled inland through the cane.
ELECTRIC tapers were burning dimly in Governor-General Van Schouten's
sanctum at the paleis that evening as Peter Gross was ushered
in. The governor was seated in a high-backed, elaborately carved
mahogany chair before a highly polished mahogany table. Beside him was
the omniscient, the indispensable Sachsen. The two were talking
earnestly in the Dutch language. Van Schouten acknowledged Peter
Gross's entrance with a curt nod and directed him to take a chair on
the opposite side of the table.
At a word from his superior, Sachsen tucked the papers he had been
studying into a portfolio. The governor stared intently at his visitor
for a moment before he spoke.
Mynheer Gross, he announced sharply, your captain tells me your
contract with him runs to the end of the voyage. He will not release
Then I must fill my contract, your excellency, Peter Gross replied.
Van Schouten frowned with annoyance. He was not accustomed to being
When will you be able to take over the administration of Bulungan,
Peter Gross's brow puckered thoughtfully. In three weekslet us say
thirty days, your excellency.
Donder en bliksem!
the governor exclaimed. We need you there at once.
That is quite impossible, your excellency. I will need help, men
that I can trust and who know the islands. Such men cannot be picked up
in a day.
You can have the pick of my troops.
I should prefer to choose my own men, your excellency, Peter Gross
Eh? How so, mynheer? The governor's eyes glinted with
Your excellency has been so good as to promise me a free hand,
Peter Gross replied quietly. I have a plan in mindif your excellency
desires to hear it?
Van Schouten's face cleared.
We shall discuss that later, mynheer. You will be ready to go
the first of June, then?
On the first of June I shall await your excellency's pleasure here
at Batavia, Peter Gross agreed.
that is settled! The governor gave a grunt of satisfaction and
squared himself before the table. His expression became sternly
Mynheer Gross, he said, you told us this afternoon some of the
history of our unhappy residency of Bulungan. You demonstrated to our
satisfaction a most excellent knowledge of conditions there. Some of
the things you spoke of wereI may saysurprising. Some touched upon
matters which we thought were known only to ourselves and to our privy
council. But, mynheer, you did not mention one subject that to
our mind is the gravest problem that confronts our representatives in
Bulungan. Perhaps you do not know there is such a problem. Or perhaps
you underestimate its seriousness. At any rate, we deem it desirable to
discuss this matter with you in detail, that you may thoroughly
understand the difficulties before you, and our wishes in the matter.
We have requested Mynheer Sachsen to speak for us.
He nodded curtly at his secretary.
You may proceed, Sachsen.
Sachsen's white head, that had bent low over the table during the
governor's rather pompous little speech, slowly lifted. His shrewd gray
eyes twinkled kindly. His lips parted in a quaintly humorous and
First of all, Vrind Pieter, let me congratulate you, he said,
extending a hand across the table. Peter Gross's big paw closed over it
with a warm pressure.
And let me thank you, Vrind Sachsen, he replied. It was not hard
to guess who brought my name to his excellency's attention.
It is Holland's good fortune that you are here, Sachsen declared.
Had you not been worthy, Vrind Pieter, I should not have recommended
you. He looked at the firm, strong face and the deep, broad chest and
massive shoulders of his protege with almost paternal fondness.
To have earned your good opinion is reward enough in itself, Peter
Sachsen's odd smile, that seemed to find a philosophic humor in
Your reward, Vrind Pieter, he observed, is the customary
recompense of the man who proves his wisdom and his strengtha more
onerous duty. Bulungan will test you severely, vrind (friend).
Do you believe that?
Ay, Peter Gross assented soberly.
Pray God to give you wisdom and strength, Sachsen advised gravely.
He bowed his head for a moment, then stirred in his chair and sat up
as to the work that lies before you, I need not tell you the
history of this residency. For Sachsen to presume to instruct Peter
Gross in what has happened in Bulungan would be folly. As great folly
as to lecture a dominie on theology.
Again the quaintly humorous quirk of the lips.
If Peter Gross knew the archipelago half so well as his good friend
Sachsen he would be a lucky man, Peter Gross retorted spiritedly.
Sachsen's face became suddenly grave.
We do not doubt your knowledge of conditions in our unhappy
province, Vrind Pieter. Nor do we doubt your ability, your courage, or
your sound judgment. But, Pieter
He paused. The clear gray eyes of Peter Gross met his questioningly.
You are young, Vrind Pieter.
The governor rose abruptly and plucked down from the wall a
long-stemmed Dutch pipe that was suspended by a gaily colored cord from
a stout peg. He filled the big china bowl of the pipe with nearly a
half-pound of tobacco, touched a light to the weed, and returned to his
chair. There was a pregnant silence in the room meanwhile.
How old are you, Vrind Pieter? Sachsen asked gently.
Twenty-five, mynheer, Peter Gross replied.. There was a
pronounced emphasis on the mynheer.
Twenty-five, Sachsen murmured fondly. Twenty-five! Just my age
when I was a student at Leyden and the gayest young scamp of them all.
He shook his head. Twenty-five is very young, Vrind Pieter.
That is a misfortune which only time can remedy, Peter Gross
Yes, only time. Sachsen's eyes misted. Time that brings the days
'when strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders shall cease
because they are few, and the grasshopper shall become a burden, and
desire shall fail.' I wish you were older, Vrind Pieter.
The old man sighed. There was a far-away look in his eyes as though
he were striving to pierce the future and the leagues between Batavia
Vrind Gross, he resumed softly, we have known each other a long
time. Eight years is a long time, and it is eight years since you first
came to Batavia. You were a cabin-boy then, and you ran away from your
master because he beat you. The wharfmaster at Tanjong Priok found you,
and was taking you back to your master when old Sachsen saw you. Old
Sachsen got you free and put you on another ship, under a good master,
who made a good man and a good zeeman (seaman) out of you. Do
I shall never forget! Peter Gross's voice was vibrant with emotion.
Old Sachsen was your friend then. He has been your friend through
the years since then. He is your friend to-day. Do you believe that?
Peter Gross impulsively reached his hand across the table. Sachsen
grasped it and held it.
Then to-night you will forgive old Sachsen if he speaks plainly to
you, more plainly than you would let other men talk? You will listen,
and take his words to heart, and consider them well, Pieter?
I knew you would listen, Pieter. Sachsen drew a deep breath. His
eyes rested fondly on his protege, and he let go Gross's hand
reluctantly as he leaned back in his chair.
Vrind Pieter, you said a little while ago that old Sachsen knows the
people who live in these kolonien (colonies). His knowledge is
Peter Gross made a gesture of dissent, but Sachsen did not let him
Yet he has learned some things. It is something to have served the
state for over two-score years in the Netherlands East Indies, first as
controlleur, then as resident in Celebes, in Sumatra, in Java, and
finally as secretary to the gouverneur, as old Sachsen has. In
those years he has seen much that goes on in the hearts of the black,
and the brown, and the yellow, and the white folk that live in these
sun-seared islands. Much that is wicked, but also much that is good.
And he has seen much of the fevers that seize men when the sun waves
hot and the blood races madly through their veins. There is the fever
of hate, and the fever of revenge, the fever of greed, and the fever to
grasp God. But more universal than all these is the fever of love and
the fever of lust!
Peter Gross's brow knit with a puzzled frown. What do you mean,
Sachsen? he demanded.
Sachsen smoothed back his thinning white hair.
I am an old, old man, Vrind Pieter, he replied. Desire has long
ago failed me. The passions that our fiery Java suns breed in men have
drained away. The light that is in a comely woman's eyes, the thrill
that comes at a touch of her warm hand, the quickened pulse-beat at the
feel of her silken hair brushing over one's faceall these things are
ashes and dust to old Sachsen. Slim ankles, plump calves, and full
rounded breasts mean nothing to him. But you, Vrind Pieter, are young.
You are strong as a buffalo, bold as a tiger, vigorous as a banyan
tree. You have a young man's warm blood in your veins. You have the
poison of youth in your blood. You are a man's man, Peter Gross, but
you are also a woman's man.
Peter Gross's puzzled frown became a look of blank amazement. What
in the devil are you driving at, Sachsen? he demanded, forgetting in
his astonishment that he was in the governor's presence.
Sachsen leaned forward, his eyes searching his protege's.
Have you ever loved a woman, Pieter? he countered softly.
Peter Gross appeared to be choking. The veins in his forehead
What has that to do with Bulungan? he demanded. You've known me
since I was a lad, Sachsen; you've known all my comings and goings; why
do you ask me suchrot?
A grimly humorous smile lit the governor's stern visage.
'Let the strong take heed lest they fall,' Sachsen quoted quietly.
Since you say that you love no woman, let me ask you thishave you
ever seen Koyala?
The little flash of passion left Peter Gross's face, but the puzzled
Koyala, he repeated thoughtfully. It seems to me I have heard the
name, but I cannot recall how or when.
Think, think! Sachsen urged, leaning eagerly over the table. The
half-white woman of Borneo, the French trader's daughter by a native
woman, brought up and educated at a mission school in Sarawak. The
Dyaks call her the Bintang Burung. Ha! I see you know her now.
Leveque's daughter, Chawatangi's grandchild? Peter Gross exclaimed.
Of course I know her. Who doesn't? His face sobered. The unhappiest
woman in the archipelago. I wonder she lives.
You have seen her? Sachsen asked.
Peter Gross's eyes twinkled reminiscently. Ay, that I have.
Tell me about it, Sachsen urged, with an imperceptible gesture to
the governor to say nothing. He leaned forward expectantly.
Peter Gross cocked an eye at the ceiling. Let me see, it was about a
year ago, he said. I was with McCloud, on the brig Mary Dietrich.
McCloud heard at Macassar that there was a settlement of Dyaks at the
mouth of the Abbas that wanted to trade in dammar gum and gambir and
didn't ask too much balas (tribute money). We crossed the
straits and found the village. Wolang, the chief, gave us a big
welcome. We spent one day palavering; these natives won't do anything
without having a bitchara first. The next morning I began
loading operations, while McCloud entertained the orang kaya,
Wolang, with a bottle of gin. The natives crowded around pretty close,
particularly the women, anxious to see what we were bringing ashore.
One girl, quite a pretty girl, went so far as to step into the boat,
and one of my men swung an arm around her and kissed her. She
The governor took his pipe out of his mouth and looked up with
The next minute the mob of Dyaks parted as though cut with a scythe.
Down the lane came a woman, a white woman.
He turned to the secretary. You have seen her, Sachsen?
Then you can guess how she keeled me over, Peter Gross said. I
took her for white woman, a pure blood. She is white; the brown in her
skin is no deeper than in a Spaniard's. She walked up to meI could
see a hurricane was threateningand she said:
'You are English? Go back to your ship, now; don't wait a minute, or
you will leave your heads here.'
'Madam,' I said, 'the lad was hasty, but meant no harm. It will not
happen again. I will make the lady a present.'
She turned a look on me that fairly withered me. 'You think
you can buy our women, too?' she said, fairly spitting the words. 'Go!
go! Don't you see my Dyaks fitting arrows in their blowpipes?'
McCloud came running up with Chief Wolang. 'What's this?' he
blustered, but Koyala only pointed to the sea and said the one word:
McCloud spoke to Wolang, but at a nod from Koyala the chief gave an
order to his followers. Fifty Dyaks fitted poisoned arrows into their
sumpitans. McCloud had good judgment; he knew when it was no use to
bitchara and show gin. We rowed back to the ship without the cargo
we expected to load and set sail at once. Not an arrow followed us, but
the last thing I saw of the village was Koyala on the beach, watching
us dip into the big rollers of the Celebes Sea.
She is beautiful? Sachsen suggested softly.
Ay, quite an attractive young female, Peter Gross agreed in utmost
seriousness. The governor's grim smile threatened to break out into an
Sachsen looked at the table-top thoughtfully and rubbed his hands.
She lost you a cargo, he stated. You have a score to settle with
her. He flashed a keen glance at his protege.
By God, no! Peter Gross exclaimed. He brought his fist down on the
table. She was right, eternally right. If a scoundrelly scum from over
the sea tried to kiss a woman of my kin in that way I'd treat him a lot
worse than we were treated.
Van Schouten blew an angry snort that cut like a knife the huge cloud
of tobacco-smoke in which he had enveloped himself. Peter Gross faced
We deserved what we got, he asserted. When we whites get over the
notion that the world is a playground for us to spill our lusts and
vices on and the lower races the playthings we can abuse as we please,
we'll have peace in these islands. Our missionaries preach morals and
Christianity; our traders, like that damned whelp, Leveque, break every
law of God and man. Between the two the poor benighted heathen loses
all the faith he has and sinks one grade lower in brutishness than his
ancestors were before him. If all men were like Brooke of Sarawak we'd
have had the East Indies Christianized by now. The natives were ready
to make gods out of usthey did it with Brookebut now they're
looking for a chance to put a knife in our backsa good many of them
He checked himself. Here I'm preaching. I beg your pardon, your
Van Schouten blew another great cloud of tobacco-smoke and said
nothing. Through the haze his eagle-keen eyes searched Peter Gross's
face and noted the firm chin and tightly drawn lips with stern
disapproval. Sachsen flashed him a warning glance to keep silent.
Mynheer Gross, the secretary entreated, let me again beg the
privileges of an old friend. Is it admiration for Koyala's beauty or
your keen sense of justice that leads you to so warm a defense?
Peter Gross's reply was prompt and decisive.
Vrind Sachsen, if she had been a hag I'd have thought no different.
Search your heart, Vrind Pieter. Is it not because she was young and
comely, a woman unafraid, that you remember her?
Women are nothing to me, Peter Gross retorted irritably. But right
is right, and wrong is wrong, whether in Batavia or Bulungan.
Sachsen shook his head.
Vriend Pieter, he declared sadly, you make me very much afraid for
you. If you had acknowledged, 'The woman was fair, a fair woman stirs
me quickly,' I would have said: 'He is young and has eyes to see with,
but he is too shrewd to be trapped.' But when you say: 'The fault was
ours, we deserved to lose the cargo,' then I know that you are blind,
blind to your own weakness, Pieter. Clever, wicked women make fools of
such as you, Pieter.
One eyebrow arched the merest trifle in the direction of the
governor. Then Sachsen continued:
Vrind Pieter, I am here to-night to warn you against this woman. I
have much to tell you about her, much that is unpleasant. Will you
Peter Gross shrugged his shoulders.
I am at your service, Sachsen.
Will you listen with an open mind? Will you banish from your
thoughts all recollection of the woman you saw at the mouth of the
Abbas River, all that you know or think you know of her fancied wrongs,
and hear what old Sachsen has to say of the evil she has done, of the
crimes, the piracies, ay, even rebellions and treasons for which she
has been responsible? What do you say, Vrind Pieter?
Pieter Gross swallowed hard. Words seemed to be struggling to his
lips, but he kept them back. His teeth were pressed together tightly,
the silence became tense.
Listen, Sachsen, he finally said. His voice was studiedly calm.
You come from an old, conservative race, a race that clings faithfully
to the precepts and ideals of its fathers and is certain of its footing
before it makes a step in advance. You have the old concept of woman,
that her lot is to bear, to suffer, and to weep. I come from a fresher,
newer race, a race that gives its women the same liberty of thought and
action that it gives its men. Therefore there are many things
concerning the conduct of this woman that we look at in different ways.
Things that seem improper, ay, sometimes treasonable, to you, seem a
perfectly natural protest to me. You ignore the wrongs she has
suffered, wrongs that must make life a living hell to her. You say she
must be content with the place to which God has called her, submerge
the white blood in her, and live a savage among savages.
Peter Gross pulled his chair nearer the table and leaned forward. His
face glowed with an intense earnestness.
Great Scot, Sachsen, think of her condition! Half white, ay, half
French, and that is as proud a race as breathes. Beautifulbeautiful
as the sunrise. Taught in a missionary school, brought up as a white
child among white children. And then, when the glory of her womanhood
comes upon her, to learn she is an illegitimate, a half-breed, sister
to the savage Dyaks, her only future in their filthy huts, to kennel
with them, breed with themGod, what a horror that revelation must
He raked his fingers through his hair and stared savagely at the
You don't feel these things, Sachsen, he concluded. You're Dutch
to begin with, and so a conservative thinker. Then you've been ground
through the routine of colonial service so many years that you've lost
every viewpoint except the state's expediency. Thank God, I haven't!
That is why I think I can do something for you in Bulungan
He checked himself. Common sense and a little elemental justice go a
long, long way in dealing with savages, he observed.
Sachsen's eyes looked steadily into Peter Gross's. Sachsen's kindly
smile did not falter. But the governor's patience had reached its
Look you here, Mynheer Gross, he exclaimed, I want no sympathy for
that she-devil from my resident.
An angry retort leaped to Peter Gross's lips, but before it could be
uttered Sachsen's hand had leaped across the table and had gripped his
She may be as beautiful as a houri, but she is a witch, a very
Jezebel, the governor stormed. I have nipped a dozen uprisings in the
bud, and this Koyala has been at the bottom of all of them. She hates
us orang blandas with a hate that the fires of hell could not
burn out, but she is subtler than the serpent that taught Mother Eve.
She has bewitched my controlleur; see that she does not bewitch
you. I have put a price on her head; your first duty will be to see
that she is delivered for safekeeping here in Batavia.
The governor's eyes were sparkling fire. There was a like anger in
Peter Gross's face; he was on the point of speaking when Sachsen's
nails dug so deeply into his hand that he winced.
Mynheer Gross is an American, therefore he is chivalrous, Sachsen
observed. He aims to be just, but there is much that he does not
understand. If your excellency will permit me
Van Schouten gave assent by picking up his pipe and closing his teeth
viciously on the mouthpiece.
Sachsen promptly addressed Peter Gross.
Vrind Pieter, he said, I am glad you have spoken. Now we
understand each other. You are just what I knew you were, fearless,
honest, frank. You have convinced me the more that you are the man we
must have as resident of Bulungan.
Peter Gross looked up distrustfully. Van Schouten, too, evinced his
surprise by taking the pipe from his mouth.
But, Sachsen continued, you have the common failing of youth.
Youth dreams dreams, it would rebuild this sorry world and make it
Paradise before the snake. It is sure it can. With age comes
disillusionment. We learn we cannot do the things we have set our hands
to do in the way we planned. We learn we must compromise. Once old
Sachsen had thoughts like yours. To-day he smiled tenderlyhe has
the beginnings of wisdom. That is, he has learned that God ordains. Do
you believe that, Vrind Pieter?
Ay, of course, Peter Gross acknowledged, a trifle bewildered.
Now, concerning this woman, Sachsen cut in briskly. We will
concede that she was wronged before she was born. We will concede the
sin of her father. We will concede his second sin, leaving her mother
to die in the jungle. We will concede the error, if error it was, to
educate Koyala in a mission school among white children. We will
concede the fatal error of permitting her to return to her own people,
knowing the truth of her birth.
His voice took a sharper turn.
But there are millions of children born in your own land, in my
land, in every land, with deformed bodies, blind perhaps, crippled,
with faces uglier than baboons. Why? Because one or both of their
parents sinned. Now I ask you, he demanded harshly, whether these
children, because of the sin of their parents, have the right to commit
crimes, plot murders, treasons, rebellions, and stir savage people to
wars of extermination against their white rulers? What is your answer?
That is not the question, Peter Gross began, but Sachsen
It is the question. It was the sin of the parent in both cases.
Leveque sinned; his daughter, Koyala, suffers. Parents sin everywhere,
their children must suffer.
Peter Gross stared at the wall thoughtfully.
Look you here, Vrind Pieter, Sachsen said, learn this great truth.
The state is first, then the individual. Always the good of the whole
people, that is the state, first, then the good of the individual.
Thousands may suffer, thousands may die, but if the race benefits, the
cost is nothing. This law is as old as man. Each generation says it a
new way, but the law is the same. And so with this Koyala. She was
wronged, we will admit it. But she cannot be permitted to make the
whole white race pay for those wrongs and halt progress in Borneo for a
generation. She will have justice; his excellency is a just man. But
first there must be peace in Bulungan. There must be no more plottings,
no more piracies, no more head-hunting. The spear-heads must be
separated from their shafts, the krisses must be buried, the
sumpttans must be broken in two. If Koyala will yield, this can be
done. If you can persuade her to trust us, Pieter, half your work is
done. Bulungan will become one of our fairest residencies, its trade
will grow, the piracies will be swept from the seas, and the days of
head-hunting will become a tradition.
Peter Gross bowed his head.
God help me, I will, he vowed.
But see that she does not seduce you, Vrind Pieter, the old man
entreated earnestly. You are both young, she is fair, and she is a
siren, a vampire. Hold fast to your God, to your faith, to the oath you
take as a servant of the state, and do not let her beauty blind
youno, nor your own warm heart either, Pieter.
Sachsen rose. There were tears in his eyes as he looked fondly down
at the young man that owed so much to him.
Pieter, he said, old Sachsen will pray for you. I must leave you
now, Pieter; the governor desires to talk to you.
AS Sachsen left the room the governor snapped shut the silver cap on
the porcelain bowl of his pipe and regretfully laid the pipe aside.
Mynheer Gross, what troops will you need? he asked in a
business-like manner. I have one thousand men here in Java that you
may have if you need them. For the sea there is the gunboat, Prins
Lodewyk, and the cutter, Katrina, both of which I place at
I do not need a thousand men, your excellency, Peter Gross replied
Ha! I thought not! the governor exclaimed with satisfaction. An
army is useless in the jungle. Let them keep their crack troops in the
Netherlands and give me a few hundred irregulars who know the cane and
can bivouac in the trees if they have to. Your Amsterdammer looks well
enough on parade, but his skin is too thin for our mosquitoes. But that
is beside the question. Would five hundred men be enough, Mynheer
Gross? We have a garrison of fifty at Bulungan.
Peter Gross frowned reflectively at the table-top.
I would not need five hundred men, your excellency, he announced.
The governor's smile broadened. You know more about jungle warfare
than I gave you credit for, Mynheer Gross, he complimented. But I
should have known that the rescuer of Lieutenant de Koren was no
novice. Only this morning I remarked to General Vanden Bosch that a
capable commander and three hundred experienced bush-fighters are
enough to drive the last pirate out of Bulungan and teach our Dyaks to
cultivate their long-neglected plantations. What say you to three
hundred of our best colonials, mynheer?
I will not need three hundred men, your excellency, Peter Gross
Van Schouten leaned back in surprise.
Well, Mynheer Gross, how large a force will you need?
Peter Gross's long, ungainly form settled lower in his chair. His
legs crossed and his chin sagged into the palm of his right hand. The
fingers pulled gently at his cheeks. After a moment's contemplation he
looked up to meet the governor's inquiring glance and remarked:
Your excellency, I shall need about twenty-five men.
Van Schouten stared at him in astonishment.
Twenty-five men, Mynheer Gross! he exclaimed. What do you mean?
Twenty-five men, men like I have in mind, will be all I will need,
your excellency, Peter Gross assured gravely.
Van Schouten edged his chair nearer. Mynheer Gross, do you
understand me correctly? he asked doubtfully. I would make you
resident of Bulungan. I would give you supreme authority in the
province. The commandant, Captain Van Slyck, would be subject to your
orders. You will be answerable only to me.
Under no other conditions would I accept your excellency's
appointment, Peter Gross declared.
But, Mynheer Gross, what can twenty-five do? Bulungan has more than
one hundred thousand inhabitants, few of whom have ever paid a picul of
rice or kilo of coffee as tax to the crown. On the coast there are the
Chinese pirates, the Bugi outlaws from Macassar and their traitorous
allies, the coast Dyaks of Bulungan, of Tidoeng, and Pasir, ay, as far
north as Sarawak, for those British keep their house in no better order
than we do ours. In the interior we have the hill Dyaks, the worst
thieves and cut-throats of them all. But these things you know. I ask
you again, what can twenty-five do against so many?
With good fortune, bring peace to Bulungan, Peter Gross replied
The governor leaned aggressively across the table and asked the
one-word pointed question:
Peter Gross uncrossed his legs and tugged gravely at his chin.
Your excellency, he said, I have a plan, not fully developed as
yet, but a plan. As your excellency well knows, there are two nations
of Dyaks in the province. There are the hillmen
Damned thieving, murdering, head-hunting scoundrels! the governor
So your excellency has been informed. But I believe that much of the
evil that is said of them is untrue. They are savages, wilder savages
than the coast Dyaks, and less acquainted with blanken (white
men). Many of them are head-hunters. But they have suffered cruelly
from the coast Dyaks, with whom, as your excellency has said, they have
an eternal feud.
They are pests, the governor snarled. They keep the lowlands in a
continual turmoil with their raids. We cannot grow a blade of rice on
account of them.
That is where your excellency and I must disagree, Peter Gross
Ha! the governor exclaimed incredulously. What do you say, Mynheer
Your excellency, living in Batavia, you have seen only one side of
this question, the side your underlings have shown you. With your
excellency's permission I shall show you another side, the side a
stranger, unprejudiced, with no axes to grind either way, saw in his
eight years of sailoring about these islands. Have I your excellency's
A frown gathered on the governor's face. His thin lips curled, and
his bristly mane rose belligerently.
Proceed, he snapped.
Peter Gross rested his elbows on the table and leaned toward the
Your excellency, he began, let it be understood that I bring no
accusations to-night; that we are speaking as man to man. I go to
Bulungan to inquire into the truth of the things I have heard. Whatever
I learn shall be faithfully reported to your excellency.
Van Schouten nodded curtly.
Your excellency has spoken of the unrest in Bulungan, Peter Gross
continued. Your excellency also spoke of piracies committed in these
seas. It is my belief, your excellency, that the government has been
mistaken in assuming that there is no connection between the two. I am
satisfied that there is a far closer union and a better understanding
between the Dyaks and the pirates than has ever been dreamed of here in
The governor smiled derisively.
You are mistaken, Mynheer Gross, he contradicted. I almost
believed so, too, at one time, and I had Captain Van Slyck, our
commandant at Bulungan, investigate for me. I have his report here. I
shall be glad to let you read it.
He tapped a gong. In a moment Sachsen bustled in.
Sachsen, the governor said, Kapitein Van Slyck's report on the
pirates of the straits, if you please.
Sachsen bowed and withdrew.
I shall be glad to read the captain's report, Peter Gross assured
gravely. A grimly humorous twinkle lurked in his eyes. The governor was
quick to note it. But it will not convince you, eh, mynheer?
he challenged. He smiled. You Yankees are an obstinate breedalmost
as stubborn as we Dutch.
I am afraid that the captain's report will not cover things I know,
Peter Gross replied. Yet I have no doubt it will be helpful.
The subtle irony his voice expressed caused the governor to look at
him quizzically, but Van Schouten was restrained from further inquiry
by the return of Sachsen with the report. The governor glanced at the
superscription and handed the document to Peter Gross with the remark:
Read that at your leisure. I will have Sachsen make you a copy.
Peter Gross pocketed the report with a murmured word of thanks. The
governor frowned, trying to recollect where the thread of conversation
had been broken, and then remarked:
As I say, Mynheer Gross, I am sure you will find yourself mistaken.
The Dyaks are thieves and head-hunters, a treacherous breed. They do
not know the meaning of loyaltyGod help us if they did! No two
villages have ever yet worked together for a common aim. As for the
pirates,, they are wolves that prey on everything that comes in their
path. Some of the orang kayas may be friendly with them, but as
for there being any organization bah! it is too ridiculous to even
Peter Gross's lips pressed a little tighter.
Your excellency, he replied with perfect equanimity, you have your
opinion and I have mine. My work in Bulungan, I hope, will show which
of us is right. Yet I venture to say this. Before I have left Bulungan
I shall be able to prove to your excellency that one man, not so very
far from your excellency's paleis at this moment, has united the
majority of the sea Dyaks and the pirates into a formidable league of
which he is the head. More than this, he has established a system of
espionage which reaches into this very house.
Van Schouten stared at Peter Gross in amazement and incredulity.
Mynheer Gross, he finally exclaimed, this is nonsense!
Peter Gross's eyes flashed. Your excellency, he retorted, it is
What proofs have you? the governor demanded.
None at present that could convince your excellency, Peter Gross
admitted frankly. All I have is a cumulative series of instances,
unrelated in themselves, scraps of conversations picked up here and
there, little things that have come under my observation in my sojourns
in many ports of the archipelago. But in Bulungan I expect to get the
proofs. When I have them, I shall give them to your excellency, that
justice may be done. Until then I make no charges. All I say isguard
carefully what you would not have your enemies know.
This is extraordinary, the governor remarked, impressed by Peter
Gross's intense earnestness. Surely you do not expect me to believe
all this on your unsupported word, mynheer?
The best corroboration which I can offer is that certain matters
which your excellency thought were known only to himself are now common
gossip from Batavia to New Guinea, Peter Gross replied.
The governor's head drooped. His face became drawn. Lines formed
where none had been before. The jauntiness, the pompous self-assurance,
and the truculence that so distinguished him among his fellows
disappeared from his mien; it was as though years of anxiety and care
had suddenly passed over him.
This discussion brings us nowhere, Mynheer Gross, he wearily
remarked. Let us decide how large a force you should have. What you
have told me convinces me the more that you will need at least two
hundred men. I hesitate to send you with less than a regiment.
Let me deal with this situation in my own way, your excellency,
Peter Gross pleaded. I believe that just dealing will win the
confidence of the upland Dyaks. Once that is done, the rest is easy.
Twenty-five men, backed by the garrison at Bulungan and the hill Dyaks,
will be able to break up the pirate bands, if the navy does its share.
After that the problem is one of administration, to convince the coast
Dyaks that the state is fair, that the state is just, and that the
state's first thought is the welfare of her people, be they brown,
black, or white.
You think twenty-five men can do all that? the governor asked
The men I shall choose can, your excellency. They will be men whom I
can trust absolutely, who have no interests except the service of Peter
Where will you find them, mynheer?
Here in Java, your excellency. Americans. Sailors who have left the
sea. Men who came here to make their fortunes and failed and are too
proud to go back home. Soldiers from the Philippines, adventurers, lads
disappointed in love. I could name you a dozen such here in Batavia
The governor looked at his new lieutenant long and thoughtfully.
Do as you deem best, mynheer. It may be God has sent you here
to teach us why we have failed. Is there anything else you need,
besides the usual stores?
There is one more request I wish to make of your excellency, Peter
And that is
That your excellency cancel the reward offered for the arrest of
Van Schouten stroked his brow with a gesture of infinite weariness.
You make strange requests, mynheer, he observed. Yet I am
moved to trust you. What you ask shall be done.
He rose to signify that the interview was at an end. You may make
your requisitions through Sachsen, mynheer. God speed you and
give you wisdom beyond your years.
SEATED in a low-framed rattan chair on the broad veranda of his
cottage, Mynheer Hendrik Muller, controlleur, and acting
resident of Bulungan, awaited in perspiring impatience the appearance
of his military associate, Captain Gerrit Van Slyck.
State regulations required daily conferences, that the civil arm of
the government might lay its commands upon the military and the
military make its requisitions upon the civil. An additional incentive
to prompt attendance upon these was that mynheer the resident
rarely failed to produce a bottle of Hollands, which, compounded with
certain odorous and acidulated products of the tropics, made a drink
that cooled the fevered brow and mellowed the human heart, made a
hundred and twenty in the shade seem like seventy, and chased away the
homesickness of folk pining for the damp and fog of their native
It was no urgent affair of state, however, that made Muller fume and
fuss like a washerwoman on a rainy Monday at Van Slyck's dilatoriness.
A bit of gossip, casually dropped by the master of a trading schooner
who had called for clearance papers an hour before, was responsible for
When does your new resident arrive? the visiting skipper had asked.
The new resident? Muller returned blankly. What new resident?
The skipper perceived that he was the bearer of unpleasant tidings
and diplomatically minimized the importance of his news.
Somebody down to Batavia told me you were going to have a new
resident here, he replied lightly. It's only talk, I s'pose. You hear
so many yarns in port.
There is nothing officialyet, Muller declared. He had the air of
one who could tell much if he chose. But when the sailor had gone back
to his ship he hurriedly sent Cho Seng to the stockade with an urgent
request to Van Slyck to come to his house at once.
Van Slyck was putting the finishing touches to an exquisite toilet
when he received the message.
What ails the doddering old fool now? he growled irritably as he
read Muller's appeal. Another Malay run amuck, I suppose. Every time a
few of these bruineuels (brown-skins) get krissed he thinks the
whole province is going to flame into revolt.
Tossing the note into an urn, he leisurely resumed his dressing. It
was not until he was carefully barbered, his hair shampooed and
perfumed, his nails manicured, and his mustache waxed and twisted to
the exact angle that a two-months old French magazine of fashion
dictated as the mode, that the dapper captain left the stockade. He was
quite certain that the last living representative of the ancient house
of Van Slyck of Amsterdam would never be seen in public in dirty linen
and unwashed, regardless how far mynheer the controlleur might
forget his self-respect and the dignity of his office.
Van Slyck was leisurely strolling along the tree-lined lane that led
from the iron-wood stockade to the cluster of houses colloquially
designated Amsterdam when the impatient Muller perceived his
Devil take the man, why doesn't he hurry? the controlleur
swore. With a peremptory gesture he signaled Van Slyck to make haste.
By the beard of Nassau, the captain exclaimed. Does that swine
think he can make a Van Slyck slap like a butcher's boy? Things have
come to a pretty pass in the colonies when a Celebes half-breed
imagines he can make the best blood of Amsterdam fetch and carry for
Deliberately turning his back on the controlleur, he affected
to admire the surpassingly beautiful bay of Bulungan, heaven's own blue
melting into green on the shingly shore, with a thousand sabres of
iridescent foam stabbing the morning horizon. Muller was fuming when
the commandant finally sauntered on the veranda, selected a fat, black
cigar from the humidor, and gracefully lounged in an easy chair.
Donder en bliksem! kapitein,
but you lie abed later every morning, he growled.
Van Slyck's thin lips curled with aristocratic scorn.
We cannot all be such conscientious public servants as you,
mynheer, he observed ironically.
Muller was in that state of nervous agitation that a single jarring
word would have roused an unrestricted torrent of abuse. Fortunately
for Van Slyck, however, he was obtuse to irony. He took the remark
literally and for the moment, like oil on troubled waters, it calmed
the rising tide of his wrath at what he deemed the governor-general's
Well, kapitein, gij kebt gelijk (you are right, captain) he
assented heavily. The blubbery folds under his chin crimsoned with his
cheeks in complacent self-esteem. There are not many men who would
have done so well as I have under the conditions I had to faceunder
the conditions I had to facekapitein. Ja! Not many men. I have
worked and slaved to build up this residency. For two years now I have
done a double dutyI have been both resident and controlleur.
Recollection of the skipper's unpleasant news recurred to him. His
face darkened like a tropic sky before a cloudburst.
And what is my reward, kapitein? What is my reward? To have
some Amsterdamsche papegaai (parrot) put over me. His fist came
down wrathily on the arm of his chair. Ten thousand devils! It is
enough to make a man turn pirate.
Van Slyck's cynical face lit with a sudden interest.
You have heard from Ah Sing? he inquired.
Ah Sing? No. Drommel noch toe! Muller swore. Who mentioned
Ah Sing? That thieving Deutscher who runs the schooner we had in port
over-night told me this not an hour ago. The whole of Batavia knows it.
They are talking it in every rumdh makan. And we sit here and
know nothing. That is the kind of friends we have in Batavia.
Van Slyck, apprehensive that the impending change might affect him,
speculated swiftly how much the controlleur knew.
It is strange that Ah Sing hasn't let us know, he remarked.
Ah Sing? Muller growled. Ah Sing? That bloodsucker is all for
himself. He would sell us out to Van Schouten in a minute if he thought
he saw any profit in it. Ja! I have even put money into his
ventures, and this is how he treats me.
Damnably, I must say, Van Slyck agreed sympathetically. That is,
if he knows.
If he knows, mynheer kapitein? Of course he knows. Has he not
agenten in every corner of this archipelago? Has he not a spy in
the paleis itself?
He should have sent us word, Van Slyck agreed. Unless mynheer,
the new resident, is one of us. Who did you say it is, mynheer?
How the devil should I know? Muller growled irritably. All I know
is what I told youthat the whole of Batavia says Bulungan is to have
a new resident.
Van Slyck's face fell. He had hoped that the controlleur knew
at least the identity of the new executive of the province. Having
extracted all the information Muller had, he dropped the cloak of
sympathy and remarked with cool insolence:
Since you don't know, I think you had better make it your business
to find out, mynheer.
Muller looked at him doubtfully. You might make an effort also,
kapitein, he suggested. You have friends in Batavia. It is your
concern as well as mine, a new resident would ruin our business.
I don't think he will, Van Slyck replied coolly. If he isn't one
of us he won't bother us long. Ah Sing won't let any prying reformer
interfere with business while the profits are coming in as well as they
A shadow of anxiety crossed Muller's face. He cast a troubled look at
Van Slyck, who affected to admire the multi-tinted color display of
jungle, sun, and sea.
Whatwhat do you mean, kapitein? he asked hesitantly.
People sometimes begin voyages they do not finish, Van Slyck
observed. A man might eat a pomegranate that didn't agree with
himpouf the colic, and it is all over. There is nothing so
uncertain as life, mynheer.
The captain-replaced his cigar between his teeth with a flourish.
Muller's pudgy hands caught each other convulsively. The folds under
his chin fluttered. He licked his lips before he spoke.
you mean he might come to an unhappy end on the way? he faltered.
Why not? Van Slyck concentrated his attention on his cigar.
let us have no bloodshed, Muller vetoed anxiously. We have had
enough He looked around nervously as though he feared someone might
be overhearing him. Let him alone. We shall find some way to get rid
of him. But let there be no killing.
Van Slyck turned his attention from the landscape to the
controlleur. There was a look in the captain's face that made
Muller wince and shift his eyes, a look of cynical contempt, calm,
frank, and unconcealed. It was the mask lifting, for Van Slyck despised
his associate. Bold and unscrupulous, sticking at nothing that might
achieve his end, he had no patience with the timid, faltering, often
Well, mynheer, Van Slyck observed at length, you are
getting remarkably thin-skinned all of a sudden.
He laughed sardonically. Muller winced and replied hastily:
I have been thinking, kapitein, that the proa crews have been
doing too much killing lately. I am going to tell Ah Sing that it must
be stopped. There are other wayswe can unload the ships and land
their crews on some island
To starve, or to be left to the tender mercies of the Bajaus and the
Bugis, Van Slyck sneered. That would be more tender-hearted. You
would at least transfer the responsibility.
Muller's agitation became more pronounced.
But we must not let it go on, kapitein, he urged. It hurts
the business. Pretty soon we will have an investigation, one of these
gunboats will pick up one of our proas, somebody will tell, and what
will happen to us then?
We'll be hung, Van Slyck declared succinctly.
Muller's fingers leaped in an involuntary frantic gesture to his
throat, as though he felt cords tightening around his windpipe. His
don't speak of such things, he gasped.
Then don't talk drivel, Van Slyck snarled. You can't make big
profits without taking big chances. And you can't have piracy without a
little blood-letting. We're in this now, and there's no going back. So
stop your squealing.
Settling back into his chair, he looked calmly seaward and exhaled
huge clouds of tobacco smoke. The frown deepened on Muller's troubled
brow as he stared vacantly across the crushed coral-shell highway.
You can think of no reason why his excellency should be offended
with us, kapitein? he ventured anxiously.
The controller's eagerness to include him in his misfortune,
evidenced by the use of the plural pronoun, evoked a sardonic flicker
in Van Slyck's cold, gray eyes.
No, mynheer, I cannot conceive why the governor should want
to get rid of so valuable a public servant as you are, he assured
ironically. You have certainly done your best. There have been a few
disturbances, of course, some head-hunting, and the taxes have not been
paid, but outside of such minor matters everything has done well, very
Donder en bliksem,
Muller exclaimed, how can I raise taxes when those Midianites, the
hill Dyaks, will not let my coast Dyaks grow a spear of rice? Has there
been a month without a raid? Answer me, kapitein. Have you Spent
a whole month in the stockade without being called to beat back some of
these thieving plunderers and drive them into their hills?
The sardonic smile flashed across Van Slyck's face again.
Quite true, mynheer. But sometimes I don't know if I blame
the poor devils. They tell me they're only trying to get even because
your coast Dyaks and Ah Sing's crowd rob them so. Ah Sing must be
making quite a profit out of the slave business. I'll bet he shipped
two hundred to China last year.
He glanced quizzically at his associate.
By the way, mynheer, he observed, you ought to know
something about that. I understand you get a per cent, on it.
I? Muller exclaimed, and looked affrightedly about him. I,
Oh, yes you do, Van Slyck asserted airily. You've got money
invested with Ah Sing in two proas that are handling that end of the
business. And it's the big end just now. The merchandise pickings are
small, and that is all I share in.
He looked at Muller meaningly. There was menace in his eyes and
menace in his voice as he announced:
I'm only mentioning this, mynheer, so that if the new
resident should happen to be one of us, with a claim to the booty, his
share comes out of your pot, not mine. Remember that!
For once cupidity overcame Muller's fear of the sharp-witted cynical
Wat de drommel,
he roared, do you expect me to pay all, kapitein, all? Not
in a thousand years! If there must be a division you shall give up your
per cent, as well as I, stuiver for stuiver, gulden for
A hectic spot glowed in each of Van Slyck's cheeks, and his eyes
glittered. Muller's anger rose.
Ah Sing shall decide between us, he cried heatedly. You cannot rob
me in that way, kapitein.
Van Slyck turned on his associate with an oath. Ah Sing be damned.
We'll divide as I say, or
The pause was more significant than words. Muller's ruddy face paled.
Van Slyck tapped a forefinger significantly on the arm of his chair.
Just remember, if the worst comes to the worst, there's this one
difference between you and me, mynheer. I'm not afraid to die,
and youare! He smiled.
Muller's breath came thickly, and he stared fascinatedly into the
evilly handsome face of the captain, whose eyes were fixed on his with
a basilisk glare. Several seconds passed; then Van Slyck said:
See that you remember these things, mynheer, when our next
The silence that followed was broken by the rhythmic pad-pad of
wicker sandals on a bamboo floor. Cho Seng came on the veranda, bearing
a tray laden with two glasses of finest crystal and a decanter of
colorless liquid, both of which he placed on a small porch table. Drops
of dew formed thickly on the chilled surface of the decanter and rolled
off while the Chinaman mixed the juices of fruits and crushed leaves
with the potent liquor. The unknown discoverer of the priceless recipe
he used receives more blessings in the Indies daily than all the saints
on the calendar. When Cho Seng had finished, he withdrew. Muller
swallowed the contents of his glass in a single gulp. Van Slyck sipped
leisurely. Gradually the tension lessened. After a while, between sips,
the captain remarked:
I hear you have a chance to pick up some prize money.
Muller looked up with interest. So, kapitein! he exclaimed
with forced jocularity. Have you found a place where guilders grow on
Almost as good as that, Van Slyck replied, playing his fish.
Finesse and indirection were not Muller's forte. Well, tell us about
it, kapitein! he demanded bluntly.
Van Slyck's eyes twinkled.
Catch Koyala, he replied.
The captain's meaning sank into Muller's mind slowly. But as
comprehension began to dawn upon him, his face darkened. The veins
showed purple under the ruddy skin.
You are too clever this morning, kapitein, he snarled. Let
me remind you that this is your duty. The controlleur sits as
judge, he does not hunt the accused.
Van Slyck laughed. And let me remind you, mynheer, that I
haven't received the governor's orders as yet, although they reached
you more than a week ago. Ironically he added: You must not let your
friendship with Koyala blind you to your public duties, mynheer.'
Muller's face became darker still. He had not told any one, and the
fact that the orders seemed to be public property both alarmed and
How did you hear of it? he demanded.
Not from you, mynheer, Van Slyck mocked. I really do not
remember who told me. (As a matter of fact it was Wang Fu, the Chinese
Muller reflected that officers from the gunboat which carried Van
Schouten's mandate might have told more than they should have at the
stockade. But Koyala had received his warning a full week before, so
she must be safely hidden in the jungle by now, he reasoned. Pulling
himself together, he replied urbanely:
Well, kapitein, it is true that I have rather neglected that
matter. I intended to speak to you to-day. His excellency orders Koyala
Bintang Burung's arrest.
The argus pheasant, Van Slyck observed, is rarely shot. It must be
that is a chance for you to distinguish yourself, Muller replied
heartily, confident that Van Slyck could never land Koyala.
Van Slyck flecked the ash from his cigar and looked at the glowing
It seems to me that you might be of material assistance,
mynheer, he observed.
In what way?
I have noticed that the witch-woman is not er He glanced at
Muller quizzically, wondering how far he might venture to gonot
altogether indifferent to you.
Muller drew a deep breath. His ruddy face became a grayish purple.
His clenched hands gripped each other until the bones crunched and the
veins stood in ridges. Drops of perspiration gathered on his forehead,
he wiped them away mechanically.
Van Slyck looked at him incredulously, for he had not dreamed
Muller's feelings ran so deeply.
You thinkshesometimes thinks of me?
Van Slyck's nimble wits were calculating the value to him of this new
weakness of the controlleur. He foresaw infinite possibilities,
Muller in love would be clay in his hands.
I am positive, mynheer, he assured with the utmost gravity.
do not make a mistake, Muller entreated. His voice trembled and
broke. Are you absolutely sure?
Van Slyck restrained a guffaw with difficulty. It was so
ridiculousthis mountain of flesh, this sweaty, panting porpoise in
his unwashed linen in love with the slender, graceful Koyala. He choked
and coughed discreetly.
I am certain, mynheer, he assured.
Tell me, kapitein, what makes you think so? Muller begged.
Van Slyck forced himself to calmness and a judicial attitude.
You know I have seen something of women, mynheer, he replied
gravely. Both women here and in the best houses in Amsterdam, Paris,
and London. Believe me, they are all the samea fine figure of a man
He ran his eye over Muller's form in assumed admiration.
You have a figure any woman might admire, mynheer. I have
seen Koyala's eyes rest on you, and I know what she was thinking. You
have but to speak and she is yours.
Say you so, kapitein! Muller cried ecstatically.
Absolutely, Van Slyck assured. His eyes narrowed. The devilish
humor incarnate in him could not resist the temptation to harrow this
tortured soul. Watching Muller closely, he inquired:
Then I can expect you to spread the net, mynheer?
The light died in Midler's eyes. A slow, volcanic fury succeeded it.
He breathed deeply and exhaled the breath in an explosive gasp. His
hands clenched and the veins in his forehead became almost black. Van
Slyck and he leaped to their feet simultaneously.
Kapitein Van Slyck, he cried hoarsely, you are a scoundrel! You
would sell your own mother. Get out of my sight, or God help you, I
will break you in two.
The door of the controlleur's dwelling opened. Muller leaped
back, and Van Slyck's hand leaped to his holster.
I am here, Kapitein Van Slyck, a clear, silvery voice announced
Koyala stood in the doorway.
FOR a moment no one spoke. Koyala, poised lightly on her feet, her
slender, shapely young figure held rigidly and her chin up-tilted,
gazed steadily at Van Slyck. Her black eyes blazed a scornful defiance.
Before her contempt even the proud Amsterdammer's arrogance succumbed.
He reddened shamefacedly under his tan.
I am here, Kapitein Van Slyck, Koyala repeated clearly.. She
stepped toward him and reached out a slender, shapely arm, bare to the
shoulder. Here is my arm, where are your manacles, kapitein?
Koyala! Muller gasped huskily. His big body was trembling with such
violence that the veranda shook.
This is my affair, mynheer, Koyala declared coldly, without
removing her eyes from Van Slyck. She placed herself directly in front
of the captain and crossed her wrists.
If you have no irons, use a cord, kapitein, she taunted.
But bind fast. The Argus Pheasant is not easily held captive.
Van Slyck thrust her roughly aside.
Let's have done with this foolishness, he exclaimed brusquely.
What folly, mynheer kapitein? Koyala demanded frigidly.
You had no business eavesdropping. If you heard something unpleasant
you have only yourself to blame.
Koyala's eyes sparkled with anger.
Eavesdropping, kapitein? I came here with a message of great
importance to mynheer the controller. Even the birds cock
their ears to listen when they hear the hunter approach, kapitein.
Turning her back with scornful indifference on Van Slyck, she crossed
over to Muller and placed both her hands on his shoulder. Another fit
of trembling seized the acting resident and his eyes swam.
You will forgive me, will you not, mynheer, for taking such
liberties in your house?
Ofof course, Muller stammered.
I heard a little of what was said, Koyala said; enough to show me
that I have a good friend here, a friend on whom I can always rely.
Van Slyck caught the emphasis on the word friend and smiled
Well, Sister Koyala, he remarked mockingly, if you and
Brother Muller will be seated we will hear your important message.
Muller plumped heavily into a chair. Things had been going too
rapidly for him, his heavy wits were badly addled, and he needed time
to compose himself and get a fresh grip on the situation. There was
only one other chair on the veranda. Perceiving this, Van Slyck sprang
forward and placed it for Koyala, smiling satirically as he did so.
Koyala frowned with annoyance, hesitated a moment, then accepted it.
Van Slyck swung a leg over the veranda rail.
Your message, my dear Koyala, he prompted. He used the term of
endearment lingeringly, with a quick side glance at Muller, but the
controlleur was oblivious to both.
The message is for Mynheer Muller, Koyala announced icily.
Ah? So? Van Slyck swung the leg free and rose. Then I am not
needed. I bid the dear bother and sister adieux.
He made an elaborate French bow and started to leave. The embarrassed
Muller made a hasty protest.
Ho, kapitein! he cried, do not leave us. Bonder en
bliksem! the message may be for us both. Who is it from, Koyala?
Van Slyck was divided between two desires. He saw that Muller was in
a panic at the thought of being left alone with Koyala, and for that
reason was keenly tempted to get out of sight as quickly as possible.
On the other hand he was curious to hear her communication, aware that
only a matter of unusual import could have called her from the bush.
Undecided, he lingered on the steps.
It was from Ah Sing, Koyala announced.
Van Slyck's indecision vanished. He stepped briskly back on the
From Ah Sing? he exclaimed. Mynheer Muller and I were just
discussing his affairs. Does it concern the new resident we are to
It does, Koyala acknowledged.
Who is it? Muller and the captain cried in the same breath.
Koyala glanced vindictively at Van Slyck.
You are sure that you will not sell me to him, mynheer kapitein?
Van Slyck scowled. Tell us about the resident, he directed curtly.
Koyala's eyes sparkled maliciously.
The new resident, mynheer kapitein, seems to have a higher
opinion of me than you have. You see, he has already persuaded the
governor to withdraw the offer he made for my person.
Van Slyck bit his lip, but ignored the thrust.
Then he's one of us? he demanded brusquely.
On the contrary, he is a most dangerous enemy, Koyala contradicted.
don't keep us waiting, Muller cried impatiently. Who is it,
A sailor, mynheer, Koyala announced.
A sailor? Van Slyck exclaimed incredulously. Who?
Mynheer Peter Gross, of Batavia.
Van Slyck and Muller stared at each other blankly, each vainly trying
to recall ever having heard the name before.
Pieter Gross, Pieter Gross, he must be a newcomer, Van Slyck
remarked. I have not heard of him before, have you, mynheer?
There is no one by that name in the colonial service, Muller
declared, shaking his head. You say he is of Batavia, Koyala?
Of Batavia, mynheer, but by birth and upbringing, and
everything else, a Yankee.
A Yankee? her hearers chorused incredulously.
Yes, a Yankee. Mate on a trading vessel, or so he was a year ago. He
has been in the Indies the past seven years.
Van Slyck broke into a roar of laughter.
Now, by the beard of Nassau, what joke is Chanticleer playing us
now? he cried. He must be anxious to get that Yankee out of the way.
Neither Koyala nor Muller joined in his mirth. Muller frowned
thoughtfully. There was the look in his eyes of one who is striving to
recollect some almost forgotten name or incident.
Pieter Gross, Pieter Gross, he repeated thoughtfully. Where have I
heard that name before?
Do you remember what happened to Gogolu of Lombock the time he
captured Lieutenant de Koren and his commando? Koyala asked. How an
American sailor and ten of his crew surprised Gogolu's band, killed a
great many of them, and took their prisoners away from them? That was
Donder en bliksem.
I knew I had reason to remember that name, Muller cried in alarm.
We have no Mynheer de Jonge to deal with this time, kapitein.
This Yankee is a fighter.
Good! Van Slyck exclaimed with satisfaction. We will give him his
bellyful. There will be plenty for him to do in the bush, eh,
mynheer? And if he gets too troublesome there are always ways of
getting rid of him. He raised his eyebrows significantly.
This Yankee is no fool, Muller rejoined anxiously. I heard about
that Lombock affairit was a master coup. We have a bad man to deal
Van Slyck smiled cynically.
Humph, mynheer, you make me tired. From the way you talk one
would think these Yankees can fight as well as they can cheat the
brownskins. We will fill him up with Hollands, we will swell his
foolish head with praise till it is ready to burst, and then we will
engineer an uprising in the hill district. Koyala can manage that for
us. When Mynheer, the Yankee, hears of it he will be that thirsty for
glory there will be no holding him. We will start him off with our
blessings, and then we will continue our business in peace. What do you
think of the plan, my dear Koyala?
Evidently you don't know Mynheer Gross, Koyala retorted coldly.
Do you? Van Slyck asked, quick as a flash.
I have seen him, Koyala acknowledged. Once. It was at the mouth of
the Abbas River. She described the incident.
He is no fool, she concluded. He is a strong man, and an able man,
one you will have to look out for.
And a devilish handsome young man, too, I'll wager, Van Slyck
observed maliciously with a sidelong glance at Muller. The
controlleur's ruddy face darkened with a quick spasm of jealousy,
at which the captain chuckled.
Yes, a remarkably handsome man, Koyala replied coolly. We need
handsome men in Bulungan, don't we, captain? Handsome white men?
Van Slyck looked at her quickly. He felt a certain significance in
her question that eluded him. It was not the first time she had
indulged in such remarks, quite trivial on their face, but invested
with a mysterious something the way she said them. He knew her tragic
history and was sharp enough to guess that her unholy alliance with Ah
Sing grew out of a savage desire to revenge herself on a government
which had permitted her to be brought up a white woman and a victim of
appetites and desires she could never satisfy. What he did not know,
did not even dream, was the depth of her hate against the whole white
race and her fixed purpose to sweep the last white man out of Bulungan.
We do have a dearth of society here in Bulungan, he conceded. Do
you find it so, too?
The question was a direct stab, for not a white woman in the
residency would open her doors to Koyala. The Dyak blood leaped to her
face; for a moment it seemed that she would spring at him, then she
controlled herself with a powerful effort and replied in a voice
I do, mynheer kapitein, but one must expect to have a limited
circle when there are so few that can be trusted.
At this juncture Muller's jealous fury overcame all bounds. Jealousy
accomplished what all Van Slyck's scorn and threats could not do, it
made him eager to put the newcomer out of the way.
What are we going to do? he thundered. Sit here like turtles on a
mud-bank while this Yankee lords it over us and ruins our business?
Bonder en bliksem, I won't, whatever the rest of you may do.
Kapitein, get your wits to work; what is the best way to get rid of
Van Slyck looked at him in surprise. Then his quick wit instantly
guessed the reason for the outburst.
Well, mynheer, he replied, shrugging his shoulders
indifferently, it seems to me that this is a matter you are more
interested in than I. Mynheer Gross does not come to displace me.
You are ready enough to scheme murders if there is a gulden
in it for you, but you have no counsel for a friend, eh? Muller
snarled. Let me remind you, kapitein, that you are involved
just as heavily as I.
Van Slyck laughed in cynical good humor.
Let it never be said that a Van Slyck is so base as that,
mynheer. Supposing we put our heads together. In the first place,
let us give Koyala a chance to tell what she knows. Where did you get
the news, Koyala?
That makes no difference, mynheer kapitein, Koyala rejoined
coolly. I have my own avenues of information.
Van Slyck frowned with annoyance.
When does he come here? he inquired.
We may expect him any time, Koyala stated. He is to come when the
rainy season closes, and that will be in a few days.
Bonder en bliksem,
does Ah Sing know this? Muller asked anxiously.
Van Slyck's lips curled in cynical amusement at the inanity of the
He knows, Koyala declared.
Of course he knows, Van Slyck added sarcastically. The question
is, what is he going to do?
I do not know, Koyala replied. He can tell you that himself when
he comes here.
He's coming here? Van Slyck asked quickly.
I am not in Ah Sing's councils, Koyala declared coldly.
The deuce you're not, Van Slyck retorted irritably. You seem to
know a lot of things we hadn't heard of. What does Ah Sing expect us to
do? Pander to this Yankee deck-scrubber until he comes?
We will do what we think best, Muller observed grimly.
Koyala looked at him steadily until his glance fell.
You will both leave him alone and attend to your own affairs, she
announced. The new resident will be taken care of by Ah Singand by
TWO weeks after receiving his appointment as resident of Bulungan,
Peter Gross stood on a wharf along the Batavia water-front and looked
wistfully out to sea. It was early evening and quite dark, for the moon
had not risen and the eastern sky from the zenith down was obscured by
fitful patches of cloud, gray-winged messengers of rain. In the west,
Venus glowed with a warm, seductive light, like a lamp in a Spanish
garden. A brisk and vigorous breeze roughed the waters of the bay that
raced shoreward in long rollers to escape its impetuous wooing.
Peter Gross breathed the salt air deeply and stared steadfastly into
the west, for he was sick at heart. Not until now did he realize what
giving up the sea meant to him. The sea!it had been a second mother
to him, receiving him into its open arms when he ran away from the
drudgery of the farm to satisfy the wanderlust that ached and ached in
his boyish heart. Ay, it had mothered him, cradling him at night on its
fond bosom while it sang a wild and eerie refrain among sail and
cordage, buffeting him in its ill-humor, feeding him, and even clothing
him. His first yellow oilskin, he remembered poignantly, had been
salvaged from a wreck.
Now he was leaving that mother. He was leaving the life he had lived
for ten years. He was denying the dreams and ambitions of his youth. He
was casting aside the dream of some day standing on the deck of his own
ship with a score of smart sailors to jump at his command. A feeling
akin to the homesickness he had suffered when, a lad of fifteen, he
lived through his first storm at sea, in the hold of a cattle-ship,
came over him now. Almost he regretted his decision.
Since bidding good-bye to Captain Threthaway two weeks before, he had
picked twenty-four of the twenty-five men he intended to take with him
for the pacification of Bulungan. The twenty-fifth he expected to sign
that night at the home of his quondam skipper, Captain Roderick Rouse,
better known as Roaring Rory. Rouse had been a trader in the south seas
for many years and was now skipper of a smart little cottage in Ryswyk,
the European residence section of Batavia. Peter Gross's presence at
the water-front was explained by the fact that he had an hour to spare
and naturally drifted to Tanjong Priok, the shipping center.
The selection of the company had not been an easy task. Peter Gross
had not expected that it would be. He found the type of men he wanted
even scarcer than he anticipated. For the past two weeks beachcombers
and loafers along the wharves, and tourists, traders, and gentlemen
adventurers at the hotels had looked curiously at the big, well-dressed
sailor who always seemed to have plenty of time and money to spend, and
was always ready to gossip. Some of them tried to draw him out. To
these he talked vaguely about seeing a little of Java before he went
sailoring again. Opinion became general that for a sailor Peter Gross
was remarkably close-mouthed.
While he was to all appearances idly dawdling about, Peter Gross was
in reality getting information concerning hardy young men of
adventuresome spirit who might be persuaded to undertake an expedition
that meant risk of life and who could be relied upon. Each man was
carefully sounded before he was signed, and when signed, was told to
keep his mouth shut.
But the major problem, to find a capable leader of such a body of
men, was still unsolved. Peter Gross realized that his duties as
resident precluded him from taking personal charge. He also recognized
his limitations. He was a sailor; a soldier was needed to whip the
company in shape, a bush-fighter who knew how to dispose those under
him when Dyak arrows and Chinese bullets began to fly overhead in the
Two weeks of diligent search had failed to unearth any one with the
necessary qualifications. Peter Gross was beginning to despair when he
thought of his former skipper, Captain Rouse. Looking him up, he
explained his predicament.
By the great Polar B'ar, Roaring Rory bellowed when Peter Gross had
finished his recital. How the dickens do you expect to clean out that
hell-hole with twenty-five men? Man, there's a hundred thousand Dyaks
alone, let alone those rat-faced Chinks that come snoopin' down like
buzzards smellin' carrion, and the cut-throat Bugis, and the bad men
the English chased out of Sarawak, and the Sulu pirates, and Lord knows
what all. It's suicide.
I'm not going to Bulungan to make war, Peter Gross explained
Roaring Rory spat a huge cud of tobacco into a cuspidor six feet
away, the better to express his astonishment.
Then what in blazes are you goin' there for? he roared.
Peter Gross permitted himself one of his rare smiles. There was a
positive twinkle in his eyes as he replied:
To convince them I am their best friend.
Roaring Rory's eyes opened wide.
Convince 'emwhat? he gasped.
That I am their friend.
The old sea captain stared at his ex-mate.
You're jokin', he declared.
I was never more serious in my life, Peter Gross assured gravely.
Then you're a damn fool, Roaring Rory asserted. Yes, sir, a damn
fool. I didn't think it of ye, Peter.
It will take time, but I believe I see my way, Peter Gross replied
quietly. He explained his plan briefly, and as he described how he
expected to win the confidence and support of the hillmen, Roaring Rory
Mebbe you can do it, Peter, mebbe you can do it, he conceded
dubiously. But that devil of an Ah Sing has a long arm, and by the
bye, I'd keep indoors after sundown if I were you.
But this isn't getting me the man I need, Peter Gross pointed out.
Can you recommend any one, captain?
Roaring Rory squared back in his chair.
I hain't got the latitude and longitude of this-here proposition of
yours figured just yet, he replied, producing a plug of tobacco and
biting off a generous portion before passing it hospitably to his
visitor. Just what kind of a man do you want?
Peter Gross drew his chair a few inches nearer the captain's.
What I want, he said, is a man that I can trustno matter what
happens. He doesn't need to know seamanship, but he's got to be
absolutely square, a man the sight of gold or women won't turn. He has
to be a soldier, an ex-army officer, and a bush-fighter, a man who has
seen service in the jungle. A man from the Philippines would just fill
the bill. He has to be the sort of a man his men will swear by. And he
has to have a clean record.
Roaring Rory grunted. Ye don't want nothin', do ye? I'd recommend
the Angel Gabriel.
There is such a man, Peter Gross insisted. There always is. You've
got to help me find him, captain.
Rouse scratched his head profoundly and squinted hard. By and bye a
big grin overspread his features.
I've got a newy, he announced, who'd be crazy to be with ye. He's
only seventeen, but big for his age. He's out on my plantation now.
Hold on, he roared as Peter Gross attempted to interrupt. I'm comin'
to number twenty-five. This newy has a particular friend that's with
him now out to the plantation. 'Cordin' to his log, this chap's the
very man ye're lookin' for. Was a captain o' volunteer infantry and saw
service in the Philippines. When his time run out he went to Shanghai
for a rubber-goods house, and learned all there is to know about
Chinks. He's the best rifle shot in Java. An' he can handle men. He
ain't much on the brag order, but he sure is all there.
That is the sort of a man I have been looking for, Peter Gross
observed with satisfaction.
He's worth lookin' up at any rate, Captain Rouse declared. If you
care to see him and my newy, you're in luck. They're comin' back
tonight. They had a little business here, so they run down together and
will bunk with me. I expect them here at nine o'clock, and if ye're on
deck I'll interduce you. What d'ye say?
I knew you wouldn't fail me, captain, Peter Gross replied warmly.
I'll be here.
The shrill whistle of a coaster interrupted Peter Gross's melancholy
reflections. He recollected with a start that it must be near the time
he had promised to be at Captain Rouse's cottage. Leaving the wharves,
he ambled along the main traveled highway toward the business district
until overtaken by a belated victoria whose driver he hailed.
The cool of evening was descending from the hills as the vehicle
turned into the street on which Captain Rouse lived. It was a wide,
tree-lined lane, with oil lamps every six or seven hundred feet whose
yellow rays struggled ineffectually to banish the somber gloom shed by
the huge masses of foliage that shut out the heavens. Feeling cramped
from his long ride and a trifle chill, Peter Gross suddenly decided to
walk the remainder of the distance, halted his driver, paid the fare,
and dismissed him. Whistling cheerily, a rollicking chanty of the sea
to which his feet kept time, he walked briskly along.
Cutting a bar of song in the middle, he stopped suddenly to listen.
Somewhere in the darkness behind him someone had stumbled into an
acacia hedge and had uttered a stifled exclamation of pain. There was
no other sound, except the soughing of the breeze through the
A drunken coolie, he observed to himself. He stepped briskly along
and resumed his whistling. The song came to an abrupt close as his keen
ears caught a faint shuffling not far behind, a shuffling like the
scraping of a soft-soled shoe against the plank walk. He turned
swiftly, ears pricked, and looked steadily in the direction that the
sound came from, but the somber shadows defied his searching glance.
Only coolies, he murmured, but an uneasy feeling came upon him and
he quickened his pace. His right hand involuntarily slipped to his
coat-pocket for the pistol he customarily carried. It was not there. A
moment's thought and he recollected he had left it in his room.
As he reached the next street-lamp he hesitated. Ahead of him was a
long area of unlighted thoroughfare. Evidently the lamp-lighter had
neglected his duties. Or, Peter Gross reflected, some malicious hand
might have extinguished the lights. It was on this very portion of the
lane that Captain Rouse's cottage stood, only a few hundred yards
He listened sharply a moment. Back in the shadows off from the lane a
piano tinkled, the languorous Dream Waltz from the Tales of Hoffman. A
lighted victoria clattered toward him, then turned into a brick-paved
driveway. Else not a sound. The very silence was ominous.
Walking slowly, to accustom his eyes to the gloom, Peter Gross left
the friendly circle of light. As the shadows began to envelop him he
heard the sound of running feet on turf. Some one inside the hedge was
trying to overhaul him. He broke into a dogtrot.
A low whistle cut the silence. Leaping forward, he broke into a
sprint. Rouse's cottage was only a hundred yards aheada dash and he
would be there.
A whistle from in front. A like sound from the other side of the
lane. The stealthy tap-tapping of feet, sandaled feet, from every
For a moment Peter Gross experienced the sensation of a hunted
creature driven to bay. It was only for a moment, however, and then he
acquainted himself with his surroundings in a quick, comprehensive
glance. On one side of him was the hedge, on the other a line of tall
Vaulting the hedge, he ran silently and swiftly in its shadow,
hugging the ground like a fox in the brush. Suddenly and without
warning he crashed full-tilt into a man coming from the opposite
direction, caught him low, just beneath the ribs. The man crashed back
into the hedge with an explosive gasp.
Ahead were white pickets, the friendly white pickets that enclosed
Captain Rouse's grounds. He dashed toward them, but he was too late.
Out of a mass of shrubbery a short, squat figure leaped at him. There
was the flash of a knife. Peter Gross had no chance to grapple with his
assailant. He dropped like a log, an old sailor's trick, and the short,
squat figure fell over him. He had an instant glimpse of a yellow face,
fiendish in its malignancy, of a flying queue, of fingers that groped
futilely, then he rose.
At the same instant a cat-like something sprang on him from behind,
twisted its legs around his body, and fastened its talons into his
throat. The impact staggered him, but as he found his footing he tore
the clawlike fingers loose and shook the creature off. Simultaneously
two shadows in front of him materialized into Chinamen with gleaming
knives. As they leaped at him a red-hot iron seared his right forearm
and a bolt of lightning numbed his left shoulder.
A sound like a hoarse, dry cackle came from Peter Gross's throat. His
long arms shot out and each of his huge hands caught one of his
assailants by the throat. Bringing their heads together with a sound
like breaking egg-shells, he tossed them aside.
Before he could turn to flee a dozen shadowy forms semi-circled about
him. The starlight dimly revealed gaunt, yellow faces and glaring eyes,
the eyes of a wolf-pack. The circle began to narrow. Knives glittered.
But none of the crouching forms dared venture within reach of the
Then the lion arose in Peter Gross. Beside him was an ornamental iron
flower-pot. Stooping quickly, he seized it and lifted it high above his
head. They shrank from him, those crouching forms, with shrill pipings
of alarm, but it was too late. He hurled it at the foremost. It caught
two of them and bowled them over like ninepins. Then he leaped at the
others. His mighty right caught one under the chin and laid him flat.
His left dove into the pit of another's stomach. The unfortunate
Chinaman collapsed like a sack of grain.
They ringed him round. A sharp, burning sensation swept across his
backit was the slash of a knife. A blade sank into the fleshy part of
his throat, and he tore it impatiently away. He struck out savagely
into the densely packed mass of humanity and a primitive cave-man surge
of joy thrilled him at the impact of his fists against human flesh and
But the fight was too unequal. Blood started from a dozen cuts; it
seemed to him he was afire within and without. His blows began to lack
power and a film came over his eyes, but he struck out the more
savagely, furious at his own weakness. The darkness thickened. The
figures before him, beside him, behind him, became more confused. Two
and three heads bobbed where he thought there was only one. His blows
went wild. The jackals were pulling the lion down.
As he pulled himself together for a last desperate effort to plough
through to the security of Rouse's home, the sharp crack of a revolver
sounded in his ear. At the same instant the lawn leaped into a blinding
light, a light in which the gory figures of his assailants stood out in
dazed and uncertain relief. The acrid fumes of gunpowder filled his
Darting toward the hedges like rats scurrying to their holes, the
Chinamen sought cover. Peter Gross hazily saw two men, white men, each
of them carrying a flash-light and a pistol, vault the pickets. A third
followed, swinging a lantern and bellowing for the wacht
(police). It was Roaring Rory.
Are you hurt? the foremost asked as he approached.
Not bad, I guess, Peter Gross replied thickly. He lifted his hand
to his forehead in a dazed, uncertain way and looked stupidly at the
blood that gushed over it. A cleft seemed to open at his feet. He felt
himself sinkingdown, down, down to the very foundations of the world.
Dimly he heard the cry:
Quick, Paddy, lend a hand.
Then came oblivion.
WHEN Peter Gross recovered consciousness fifteen minutes later he
found himself in familiar quarters. He was lying on a cot in Captain
Rouse's den, commonly designated by that gentleman as the cabin.
Captain Rouse's face, solemn as an owl's, was leaning over him. As he
blinked the captain's lips expanded into a grin.
Wot did I tell ye, 'e's all right! the captain roared delightedly.
Demmit, ye can't kill a Sunda schooner bucko mate with a little
blood-lettin'. Ah Sing pretty near got ye, eh, Peter?
The last was to Peter Gross, who was sitting up and taking inventory
of his various bandages, also of his hosts. There were two strangers in
the room. One was a short, stocky young man with a pugnacious Irish
nose, freckly face, and hair red as a burnished copper boiler. His eyes
were remarkably like the jovial navigator's, Peter Gross observed. The
other was a dark, well-dressed man of about forty, with a military
bearing and reserved air. He bore the stamp of gentility.
Captain Carver, Roaring Rory announced. My old mate, Peter Gross,
the best man as ever served under me.
The elder man stepped forward and clasped Peter Gross's hand. The
latter tried to rise, but Carver restrained him.
You had better rest a few moments, Mr. Gross, he said. There was a
quiet air of authority in his voice that instantly attracted the
resident, who gave him a keen glance.
My newy, Paddy, Peter, the doggonest young scamp an old sea-horse
ever tried to raise, Rouse bellowed. I wish I could have him for'ard
with a crew like we used to have on the old Gloucester Maid. He
guffawed boisterously while the younger of the two strangers, his face
aglow with a magnetic smile, sprang forward and caught Peter Gross's
hand in a quick, dynamic grip.
Them's the lads ye've got to thank for bein' here, Roaring Rory
announced, with evident pride. If they hadn't heard the fracas and
butted in, the Chinks would have got ye sure.
I rather fancied it was you whom I have to thank for being here,
Peter Gross acknowledged warmly. You were certainly just in time.
Captain Rouse is too modest, Captain Carver said. It was he who
heard the disturbance and jumped to the conclusion you might bein
The old navigator shook his head sadly. I warned ye, Peter, he
said; I warned ye against that old devil, Ah Sing. Didn't I tell you
to be careful at night? Ye ain't fit to be trusted alone, Peter.
I think you did, Peter Gross acknowledged with a twinkle. But
didn't you fix our appointment for to-night?
Ye should have carried a gun, Roaring Rory reproved. Leastwise a
belayin'-pin. Ye like to use your fists too well, Peter. Fists are no
good against knives. I'm a peace-lovin' man, Peter, 'twould be better
for ye if ye patterned after me.
Peter Gross smiled, for Roaring Rory's record for getting into
scrapes was known the length and breadth of the South Pacific. Looking
up, he surprised a merry gleam in Captain Carver's eyes and Paddy
striving hard to remain sober.
I'll remember your advice, captain, Peter Gross assured.
Humph! Roaring Rory grunted. Well, Peter, is your head clear
enough to talk business?
I think so, Peter Gross replied slowly. Have you explained the
matter I came here to discuss?
Summat, summat, Rouse grunted. I leave the talking to you, Peter.
Captain Rouse told me you wanted some one to take charge of a
company of men for a dangerous enterprise somewhere in the South
Pacific, Carver replied. He said it meant risking life. That might
mean anything to piracy. I understand, however, that your enterprise
has official sanction.
My appointment is from the governor-general of the Netherlands East
Indies, Peter Gross stated.
I need a man to drill and lead twenty-five men, all of whom have had
some military training. I want a man who knows the Malays and their
ways and knows the bush.
I was in the Philippines for two years as a captain of volunteer
infantry, Carver said. I was in Shanghai for four years and had
considerable dealings at that time with the Chinese. I know a little of
Have you any one dependent on you?
I am a bachelor, Captain Carver replied.
Does twenty-five hundred a year appeal to you?
That depends entirely on what services I should be expected to
Confident that he had landed his man, and convinced from Captain
Rouse's recommendation and his own observations that Carver was the
very person he had been seeking, Peter Gross threw reserve aside and
frankly stated the object of his expedition and the difficulties before
You see, he concluded, the game is dangerous, but the stakes are
big. I have no doubt but what Governor Van Schouten will deal
handsomely with every one who helps restore order in the residency.
Captain Carver was frowning.
I don't like the idea of playing one native element against
another, he declared. It always breeds trouble. The only people who
have ever been successful in pulling it off is the British in India,
and they had to pay for it in blood during the Mutiny. The one way to
pound the fear of God into the hearts of these benighted browns and
blacks is to show them you're master. Once they get the idea the white
man can't keep his grip without them, look out for treachery.
I've thought of that, Peter Gross replied sadly. But to do as you
suggest will take at least two regiments and will cost the lives of
several thousand Dyaks. You will have to lay the country bare, and you
will sow a seed of hate that is bound to bear fruit. But if I can
persuade them to trust me, Bulungan will be pacified. Brooke did it in
Sarawak, and I believe I can do it here.
Carver stroked his chin in silence.
You know the country, he said. If you have faith and feel you want
me, I'll go with you.
I'll have a lawyer make the contracts at once, Peter Gross replied.
We can sign them to-morrow.
Can't you take me with you, too, Mr. Gross? Paddy Rouse asked
Peter Gross looked at the lad. The boy's face was eloquent with
How old are you? he asked.
Seventeen, came the halting acknowledgment. But I've done a man's
work for a year. Haven't I, avunculus?
Captain Rouse nodded a reluctant assent. I hate to miss ye, my boy,
he said, but maybe a year out there would get the deviltry out of ye
and make a man of ye. If Peter wants ye, he may have ye.
A flash of inspiration came to Peter Gross as he glanced at the boy's
tousled shock of fiery-red hair.
I'll take you on a private's pay, he said. A thousand a year. Is
I'm signed, Paddy whooped. Hooray!
When Peter Gross and his company left Tanjong Priok a fortnight later
Captain Rouse bade them a wistful good-bye at the wharf.
Take care of the lad; he's all I got, he said huskily to the
resident. If it wasn't for the damned plantation I'd go with ye, too.
THE Dutch gunboat Prins Lodewyk, a terror to evil-doers in the
Java and Celebes seas, steamed smartly up Bulungan Bay and swung into
anchorage a quarter of a mile below the assemblage of junks and Malay
proas clustered at the mouth of Bulungan River. She carried a new flag
below her ensign, the resident's flag. As she swung around, her guns
barked a double salute, first to the flag and then to the resident.
Peter Gross and his company were come to Bulungan.
The pert brass cannon of the stockade answered gun for gun. It was
the yapping of terrier against mastiff, for the artillery of the
fortress was of small caliber and an ancient pattern. Its chief service
was to intimidate the natives of the town who had once been bombarded
during an unfortunate rebellion and had never quite forgotten the
sensation of being under shell-fire.
Peter Gross leaned over the rail of the vessel and looked fixedly
shoreward. His strong, firm chin was grimly set. There were lines in
his face that had not been there a few weeks before when he was
tendered and accepted his appointment as resident. Responsibility was
sitting heavily upon his shoulders, for he now realized the magnitude
of the task he had so lightly assumed.
Captain Carver joined him. All's well, so far, Mr. Gross, he
Peter Gross let the remark stand without comment for a moment. Ay,
all's well so far, he assented heavily.
There was another pause.
Are we going ashore this afternoon? Carver inquired.
That is my intention.
Then you'll want the boys to get their traps on deck. At what hour
will you want them?
I think I shall go alone, Peter Gross replied quietly.
Carver looked up quickly. Not alone, Mr. Gross, he expostulated.
Peter Gross looked sternly shoreward at the open water-front of
Bulungan town, where dugouts, sampans, and crude bark canoes were
frantically shooting about to every point of the compass in
I think it would be best, he said.
Carver shook his head. I don't think I'd do it, Mr. Gross, he
advised gravely. I don't think you ought to take the chance.
To convince an enemy you are not afraid is often half the fight,
Peter Gross observed.
A good rule, but it doesn't apply to a pack of assassins, Carver
replied. And that's what we seem to be up against. You can't take too
big precautions against whelps that stab in the dark.
Peter Gross attempted no contradiction. The ever increasing concourse
of scantily clad natives along the shore held his attention. Carver
scanned his face anxiously.
They pretty nearly got you at Batavia, Mr. Gross, he reminded,
anxiety overcoming his natural disinclination to give a superior
You may be right, Peter Gross conceded mildly.
Carver pushed his advantage. If Ah Sing's tong men will take a
chance at murdering you in Batavia under the nose of the governor, they
won't balk at putting you out of the way in Bulungan, a thousand miles
from nowhere. There's a hundred ways they can get rid of a man and make
it look like an accident.
We must expect to take some risks.
Perceiving the uselessness of argument, Carver made a final plea. At
least let me go with you, he begged.
Peter Gross sighed and straightened to his full six feet two. Thank
you, captain, he said, but I must go alone. I want to teach Bulungan
one thing to-daythat Peter Gross is not afraid.
While Captain Carver was vainly trying to dissuade Peter Gross from
going ashore, Kapitein Van Slyck hastened from his quarters at the fort
to the controlleur's house. Muller was an uncertain quantity in
a crisis, the captain was aware; it was vital that they act in perfect
accord. He found his associate pacing agitatedly in the shade of a
screen of nipa palms between whose broad leaves he could watch the trim
white hull and spotless decks of the gun-boat.
Muller was smoking furiously. At the crunch of Van Slyck's foot on
the corralled walk he turned quickly, with a nervous start, and his
Oh, kapitein, he exclaimed with relief, is it you?
Who else would it be? Van Slyck growled, perceiving at once that
Muller had worked himself into a frenzy of apprehension.
I don't know. I thought, perhaps, Cho Seng
You look as though you'd seen a ghost. What's there about Cho Seng
to be afraid of?
that Cho Seng had come to tell me Mynheer Gross was here, Muller
Van Slyck looked at him keenly, through narrowed lids.
Hum! he grunted with emphasis. So it is Mynheer Gross already with
you, eh, Muller?
There was a significant emphasis on the mynheer.
Muller flushed. Don't get the notion I'm going to sweet-mouth to him
simply because he is resident, kapitein, he retorted,
recovering his dignity. You know me well enoughmy foot is in this as
deeply as yours.
Yes, and deeper, Van Slyck replied significantly.
The remark escaped Muller. He was thrusting aside the screen of nipa
leaves to peer toward the vessel.
No, he exclaimed with a sigh of relief, he has not left the ship
yet. There are two civilians at the forward railcome, kapitein,
do you think one of them is he?
He opened the screen wider for Van Slyck. The captain stepped forward
with an expression of bored indifference and peered through the
H-m! he muttered. I wouldn't be surprised if the big fellow is
Gross. They say he has the inches.
I hope to heaven he stays aboard to-day, Muller prayed fervently.
He can come ashore whenever he wants to, for all I care, Van Slyck
Muller straightened and let the leaves fall back.
Lieve hemel, neen, kapitein,
he expostulated. What would I do if he should question me. My
reports are undone, there are a dozen cases to be tried, I have
neglected to settle matters with some of the chiefs, and my accounts
are in a muddle. I don't see how I am ever going to straighten things
outthen there are those other thingswhat will he say?
He ran his hands through his hair in nervous anxiety. Van Slyck
contemplated his agitation with a darkening frown. Is the fool going
to pieces? was the captain's harrowing thought. He clapped a hand on
Muller's shoulder with an assumption of bluff heartiness.
'Sufficient unto the day' You know the proverb, mynheer,
he said cheerfully. There's nothing to worry aboutwe won't give him
a chance at you for two weeks. Kapitein Enckel of the Prins will
probably bring him ashore to-day. We'll receive him here; I'll bring my
lieutenants over, and Cho Seng can make us a big dinner.
To-night there will be schnapps and reminiscences, to-morrow morning
a visit of inspection to the fort, to-morrow afternoon a bitchara
with the Rajah Wobanguli, and the day after a visit to Bulungan town.
At night visits to Wang Fu's house and Marinus Blauwpot's, with cards
and Hollands. I'll take care of him for you, and you can get your books
in shape. Go to Barang, if you want to, the day we visit
Rotterdamleave word with Cho Seng you were called away to settle an
important case. Leave everything to me, and when you get back we'll
have mynheer so drunk he won't know a tax statement from an
Muller's face failed to brighten at the hopeful program mapped out by
his associate. If anything, his agitation increased.
But he might ask questions to-day, kapitein questions I
Van Slyck's lips curled. His thought was: Good God, what am I going
to do with this lump of jellyfish? But he replied encouragingly:
No danger of that at all, mynheer. There are certain
formalities that must be gone through first before a new resident takes
hold. It would not be good form to kick his predecessor out of office
without giving the latter a chance to close his books even a pig of a
Yankee knows that. Accept his credentials if he offers them, but tell
him business must wait till the morning. Above all, keep your head, say
nothing, and be as damnably civil as though he were old Van Schouten
himself. If we can swell his head none of us will have to worry.
But my accounts, kapitein, Muller faltered.
To the devil with your accounts, Van Slyck exclaimed, losing
patience. Go to Barang, fix them up as best you can.
I can never get them to balance, Muller cried. Our dealingsthe
rattan we shippedyou know. He looked fearfully around.
There never was a controlleur yet that didn't line his own
pockets, Van Slyck sneered. But his books never showed it. You are a
book-keeper, mynheer, and you know how to juggle figures. Forget
these transactions; if you can't, charge the moneys you got to some
account. There are no vouchers or receipts in Bulungan. A handy man
with figures, like yourself, ought to be able to make a set of accounts
that that ferret Sachsen himself could not find a flaw in.
But that is not the worst, Muller cried despairingly. There are
the taxes, the taxes I should have sent to Batavia, the rice that we
sold instead to Ah Sing.
Good God! Have you grown a conscience?
Van Slyck snarled. If you have, drown yourself in the bay. Lie, you
fool, lie! Tell him the weevils ruined the crop, tell him the floods
drowned it, tell him a tornado swept the fields bare, lay it to the
hill Dyaksanything, anything! But keep your nerve, or you'll hang
Muller retreated before the captain's vehemence.
But the bruinevels, kapitein? he faltered. They may tell
him something different.
Wobanguli won't; he's too wise to say anything, Van Slyck asserted
firmly. None of the others will dare to, eitherall we've got to do
is to whisper Ah Sing's name to them. But there's little danger of any
of them except the Rajah seeing him until after the Prins is
gone. Once she's out of the harbor I don't care what they sayno word
of it will ever get back to Batavia.
His devilishly handsome smile gleamed sardonically, and he twisted
his nicely waxed mustache. Muller's hands shook.
he replied in an odd, strained voice, I am afraid of this Peter
Gross. I had a dream last night, a horrible dreamI am sure it was him
I saw. I was in old de Jonge's room in the residency buildingyou know
the roomand the stranger of my dream sat in old de Jonge's chair.
He asked me questions, questions of how I came here, and what I have
done here, and I talked and talked till my mouth was dry as the marsh
grass before the rains begin to fall. All the while he listened, and
his eyes seemed to bore through me, as though they said: 'Judas, I know
what is going on in your heart.'
At last, when I could say no more, he asked me: 'Mynheer, how
did Mynheer de Jonge die?' Then I fell on the ground before him and
told him allall. At the last, soldiers came to take me away to hang
me, but under the very shadow of the gallows a bird swooped down out of
the air and carried me away, away into the jungle. Then I awoke.
Van Slyck broke into scornful laughter.
you had enough to worry about before you started dreaming, he said
bluntly. If you're going to fill your head with such foolishness I'll
leave you to your own devices.
But, kapitein, it might be a warning, Muller cried
Heaven doesn't send ravens to cheat such rogues as you and I from
the gallows, mynheer, Van Slyck mocked. We might as well get
ready to meet our new resident. I see a boat putting off from the
WHEN Peter Gross stepped ashore at the foot of the slope on which the
fort and government buildings stood, three thousand pairs of eyes,
whose owners were securely hidden in the copses and undergrowth for a
quarter of a mile in both directions along the shore-line, watched his
every movement. With the lightning celerity with which big news travels
word had been spread through Bulungan town that the new resident was
coming ashore, and every inhabitant possessed of sound legs to bear him
had run, crawled, or scrambled to a favorable patch of undergrowth
where he could get a first glimpse of the orang blanda chief
without being observed.
Perfectly aware of this scrutiny, but calmly oblivious to it, Peter
Gross stepped out of the boat and directed the sailors who rowed it to
return to their ship. As their oars bit the water he faced the path
that wound up the hillside and walked along it at a dignified and easy
pace. His sharp ears caught the incessant rustle of leaves, a rustle
not made by the breeze, and the soft grinding of bits of coral under
the pressure of naked feet.
Once he surprised a dusky face in the bush, but his glance roved to
the next object in his line of vision in placid unconcern. As he
mounted the rise he made for the controlleur's home, strolling
along as calmly as though he were on a Batavia lane. Duivel nock
toe! Muller exclaimed as the boat returned to the ship. He is
coming here alone. His voice had an incredulous ring as though he half
doubted the evidence of his own senses.
Van Slyck's eyes danced with satisfaction, and his saturnine smile
was almost Mephistophelean.
By Nassau, I was right, after all, mynheer, he exclaimed.
He's an ass of a Yankee that Van Schouten is having some sport with in
sending him here.
There may be something behind this, kapitein, Muller
cautioned apprehensively, but Van Slyck cut him short.
Behind this, mynheer? The fool does not even know how to
maintain the dignity due his office. Would he land this way, like a
pedler with his pack, if he did? Oh, we are going to have some rare
Van Slyck's merriment broke loose in a guffaw.
Youyou will not do anything violent, kapitein? Muller
Violent? Van Slyck exclaimed. I wouldn't hurt him for a thousand
guilders, mynheer. He's going to be more fun than even you.
The frank sneer that accompanied the remark made the captain's
meaning sufficiently clear to penetrate even so sluggish a mind as the
controlleur's. He reddened, and an angry retort struggled to his
lips, but he checked it before it framed itself into coherent language.
He was too dependent on Van Slyck, he realized, to risk offending the
latter now, but for the first time in their acquaintanceship his
negative dislike of his more brilliant associate deepened to a positive
What are we going to do, kapitein? he asked quietly.
Welcome him, mynheer! Again the sardonic smile. Treat him
to some of your fine cigars and a bottle of your best Hollands. Draw
him out, make him empty his belly to us. When we have sucked him dry
and drenched him with liquor we will pack him back to the Prins
to tell Kapitein Enckel what fine fellows we are. To-morrow we'll
receive him with all ceremonyI'll instruct him this afternoon how a
resident is installed in his new post and how he must conduct himself.
Enckel will leave here without a suspicion, Mynheer Gross will be
ready to trust even his purse to us if we say the word, and we will
have everything our own way as before. But s-s-st! Here he comes! He
lifted a restraining hand. Lord, what a shoulder of beef! Silence,
now, and best your manners, mynheer. Leave the talking to me.
Peter Gross walked along the kenari-tree shaded lane between the
evergreen hedges clipped with characteristic Dutch primness to a
perfect plane. Behind him formed a growing column of natives whose
curiosity had gotten the better of their diffidence.
The resident's keen eyes instantly ferreted out Van Slyck and Muller
in the shadows of the veranda, but he gave no sign of recognition.
Mounting the steps of the porch, he stood for a moment in dignified
expectancy, his calm, gray eyes taking the measure of each of its
An apprehensive shiver ran down Muller's spine as he met Peter
Gross's glancethose gray eyes were so like the silent, inscrutable
eyes of the stranger in de Jonge's chair whom he saw in his dream. It
was Van Slyck who spoke first.
You were looking for some one, mynheer? he asked.
For Mynheer Muller, the controlleur and acting resident. I
think I have found him.
The mildness with which these words were spoken restored the
captain's aplomb, momentarily shaken by Peter Gross's calm,
You have a message for us?
I have, Peter Gross replied.
Ah, from Kapitein Enckel, I suppose, Van Slyck remarked urbanely.
Your name is He paused significantly.
It is from his excellency, the Jonkheer Van Schouten, Peter Gross
Peter Gross's tolerance of this interrogation convinced Van Slyck
that he had to do with an inferior intelligence suddenly elevated to an
important position and very much at sea in it.
And your message, I understand, is for Mynheer Muller, the
controlleur? the captain inquired loftily with a pert uptilt of
For Mynheer Muller, the controlleur, Peter Gross
Ah, yes. This is Mynheer Muller. He indicated the controlleur
with a flourish. But you have not yet told us your name.
I am Peter Gross.
Ah, yes, Pieter Gross. Pieter Gross. The captain repeated the name
with evident relish. Pieter Gross. Mynheer Pieter Gross.
There was a subtle emphasis on the mynheera half-doubtful
use of the word, as though he questioned Peter Gross's right to a
gentleman's designation. It was designed to test the sailor.
Peter Gross's face did not change a muscle. Turning to the
controlleur, he asked in a voice of unruffled calm: May I speak to
you privately, mynheer?
Muller glanced apprehensively at Van Slyck. The fears inspired by his
dreams made him more susceptible to ulterior impressions than the
captain, whose naturally more acute sensibilities were blunted by the
preconceived conviction that he had an ignorant Yankee to deal with.
Van Slyck smiled cynically and observed:
Am I in the way, Mynheer Gross? Again the ironic accent to the
mynheer. He rose to go, but Muller stayed him with the cry:
Neen, neen, kapitein.
Whatever comes from the governor concerns you, too. Stay with us,
and we will see what his excellency has to say.
None knew the importance of first impressions better than the
captain. If the new resident could be thwarted in his purpose of seeing
Muller alone that achievement would exercise its influence on all their
future relations, Van Slyck perceived.
Assuming an expression of indifference, he sank indolently into an
easy chair. When he looked up he found the gray eyes of Peter Gross
fixed full upon him.
Perhaps I should introduce myself further, captain, Peter Gross
said. I am Mynheer Gross, of Batavia, your new resident by virtue of
his excellency the Jonkheer Van Schouten's appointment.
Van Slyck's faint, cynical smile deepened a trifle.
Ah, mynheer has been appointed resident, he remarked
Peter Gross's face hardened sternly.
It is not the custom in Batavia, captain, for officers of the
garrison to be seated while their superiors stand.
For a moment the astonished captain lost his usual assurance. In that
moment he unwittingly scrambled to his feet in response to the
commanding look of the gray eyes that stared at him so steadily. The
instant his brain cleared he regretted the action, but another
lightning thought saved him from the folly of defying the resident by
reseating himself in the chair he had vacated. Furious at Peter Gross,
furious at himself, he struggled futilely for an effective reply and
failed to find it. In the end he took refuge in a sullen silence.
Peter Gross turned again to Muller.
Here are my credentials, mynheer, and a letter from his
excellency, the governor-general, he announced simply.
With the words he placed in Muller's hands two envelopes plentifully
decorated with sealing-wax stamped with the great seal of the
Netherlands. The controlleur took them with trembling fingers.
Peter Gross calmly appropriated a chair. As he seated himself he
Gentlemen, you may sit.
Van Slyck ignored the permission and strolled to one end of the
veranda. He was thinking deeply, and all the while stole covert looks
at Peter Gross. Had he been mistaken, after all, in his estimate of the
man? Was this apparent guilelessness and simplicity a mask? Were Koyala
and Muller right? Or was the resident's sudden assumption of dignity a
petty vanity finding vent in the display of newly acquired powers?
He stole another look. That face, it was so frank and ingenuous, so
free from cunning and deceit, and so youthful. Its very boyishness
persuaded Van Slyck. Vanity was the inspiration for the resident's
sudden assertion of the prerogatives of his office, he decided, the
petty vanity of a boor eager to demonstrate authority. Confidence
restored, he became keenly alert for a chance to humble this froward
It was some time before Muller finished reading the documents. He was
breathing heavily the while, for he felt that he was reading-his own
death-warrant. There was no doubting their authenticity, for they were
stamped with the twin lions of the house of Orange and the motto,
Je Maintiendrai. The signature at the bottom of each was the
familiar scrawl of Java's gamecock governor.
Muller stared at them blankly for a long time, as though he half
hoped to find some mitigation of the blow that swept his vast
administrative powers as acting resident from him to the magistracy of
a district. Dropping them on his lap at last with a weary sigh, he
Welcome, Mynheer Gross, to Bulungan. I wish I could say more, but I
cannot. The most I can say is that I am happy his excellency has at
last yielded to my petition and has relieved me of a portion of my
duties. It is a hard, hard residency to govern, mynheer.'
A splendid start, Van Slyck muttered to himself under his breath.
So I have been informed, mynheer, Peter Gross replied
gravely. Pardon me a moment.
He turned toward Van Slyck: Captain, I have a letter for you also
from his excellency. It will inform you of my appointment.
It would be better form, perhaps, mynheer, for me to receive
his excellency's commands at Fort Wimelmina, Van Slyck replied
suavely, delighted at being able to turn the tables.
Very true, very true, kapitein, if you insist, Peter Gross
agreed quietly. I hope to visit you at the fort within the hour. In
the mean time you will excuse Mynheer Muller and me.
For the second time a cold chill of doubt seized Van Slyck. Was it
possible that he had misjudged his man? If he had, it was doubly
dangerous to leave Muller alone with him. He resolved to force the
A thousand pardons, mynheer, he apologized smilingly.
Mynheer Muller just now requested me to remain.
A swift change came into the face of Peter Gross. His chin shot
forward; in place of the frank simplicity on which Van Slyck had based
his estimate was a look of authority.
Mynheer Muller cancels that invitation at my request, he announced
Van Slyck glanced in quick appeal at his associate, but Muller's eyes
were already lowering under Peter Gross's commanding glance. Unable to
find a straw of excuse for holding the captain, the controller
Certainly, mynheer. I will see you later, kapitein.
Even then Van Slyck lingered, afraid now to leave Muller alone. But
the cold, gray eyes of Peter Gross followed him; they expressed a
decision from which there was no appeal. Furious at Muller, furious at
his own impotence, the captain walked slowly across the veranda.
Half-way down the steps he turned with a glare of defiance, but thought
better of it. Raging inwardly, and a prey to the blackest passions, he
strode toward the stockade. The unhappy sentinel at the gate, a
Javanese colonial, was dozing against the brass cannon.
Devil take you, is this the way you keep guard? Van Slyck roared
and leaped at the man. His sword flashed from its scabbard and he
brought the flat of the blade on the unhappy wretch's head. The
Javanese dropped like a log.
Bring that carrion to the guard-house and put some one on the gate
that can keep his eyes open, Van Slyck shouted to young Lieutenant
Banning, officer of the day. White to the lips, Banning saluted, and
executed the orders.
In barracks that night the soldiers whispered fearfully to each other
that a budjang brani (evil spirit) had seized their captain
YOU have found Bulungan a difficult province to govern, mynheer?
Peter Gross asked. The words were spoken in a mild, ingratiating
manner. Peter Gross's voice had the friendly quality that so endeared
him to all who made his acquaintance, and the harshness that had
distinguished his curt dismissal of the supercilious Van Slyck was
Muller wiped away the drops of perspiration that had gathered on his
forehead. A prey to conscience, Van Slyck's dismissal had seemed to him
the beginning of the end.
he faltered, it has been a heavy task. Too much for one man,
altogether too much. Since Mynheer de Jonge left here two years ago I
have been both resident and controlleur. I have worked night and
day, and the heavy work, and the worry, have made me almost bald.
That a connection existed between baldness and overwork was a new
theory to Peter Gross and rather amusing, since he knew the
circumstances. But not the faintest flicker of a smile showed on his
You have found it difficult, then, I presume, to keep up with all
your work? he suggested.
Muller instantly grasped at the straw. Not only difficult,
mynheer, but wholly impossible, he vehemently affirmed. My
reports are far behind. I suppose his excellency told you that?
He scanned Peter Gross's face anxiously. The latter's serenity
His excellency told me very little, he replied. He suggested that
I consult with you and Captain Van Slyck to get your ideas on what is
needed for bettering conditions here. I trust I will have your
Muller breathed a silent sigh of relief. That you will, mynheer,
be assured fervently. I shall be glad to help you all I can. And so
will Kapitein Van Slyck, I am sure of that. You will find him a good
mana little proud, perhaps, and headstrong, like all these soldiers,
but an experienced officer.Muller nodded sagely.
I am glad to hear that, Peter Gross replied. The work is a little
new to meI presume you know that?
So I heard, mynheer. This is your first post as resident?
Peter Gross's eyelids quivered a trifle. Muller's admission revealed
that he had had correspondence with Ah Sing, for from no other source
could the news have leaked out.
This is my first post, he acknowledged.
Possibly you have served as controlleur? Muller suggested.
I am a sailor, Peter Gross replied. This is my first state
Then my experience may be of value to you, mynheer, Muller
declared happily. You understand accounts, of course?
In a measure. But I am more a sailor than a supercargo, mynheer.
To be sure, to be sure, Muller acquiesced heartily. A sailor to
the sea and to fighting in the bush, and a penman to his books. Leave
the accounts to me; I will take care of them for you, mynheer.
You will have plenty to do, keeping the tribes in order. It was more
than I could do. These Dyaks and Malays are good fighters.
So I have been told, Peter Gross assented dryly.
They told you correctly, mynheer. But they will get a stern
master nowwe have heard of your work at Lombock, mynheer.
The broad compliment was accompanied by an even broader smile. Muller
was very much pleased with himself, and thought he was handling a
delicate situation in a manner that Van Slyck himself could not have
Peter Gross's gravity did not relax. How are the natives? Do you
have much difficulty? he inquired.
Muller assumed a wobegone expression. Ach, mynheer, he
exclaimed dolorously, those hill Dyaks are devils. It is one raid
after another; they will not let us alone. The rice-fields are swept
bare. What the Dyaks do not get, the floods and typhoons get, and the
weevils eat the stubble. We have not had a crop in two years. The rice
we gathered for taxes from those villages where there was a little
blessing on the harvest we had to distribute among the villages where
the crop failed to keep our people from starving. That is why we could
not ship to Batavia. I wish his excellency would come here himself and
see how things are; he would not be so critical about the taxes that
are not paid.
Do the coast Dyaks ever make trouble? Peter Gross asked.
Muller glanced at him shrewdly.
It is the hill Dyaks who begin it, mynheer. Sometimes my
coast Dyaks lose their heads when their crops are burned and their
wives and children are stolen, but that is not often. We can control
them better than we can the hill people, for they are nearer us. Of
course a man runs amuck occasionally, but that you find everywhere.
I hear there is a half-white woman who wields a great influence over
them, Peter Gross remarked. Who is she?
You mean Koyala, mynheer. A wonderful woman with a great
influence over her people; they would follow her to death. That was a
wise act, mynheer, to persuade his excellency to cancel the
offer he made for her person. Bulungan will not forget it. You could
not have done anything that pleases the people more.
She is very beautiful, I have heard, Peter Gross remarked
Muller glanced at him sharply, and a quick spasm of jealousy
contracted his features. The resident might like a pretty face, too,
was his instant thought; it was an angle he had not bargained for. This
Mynheer Gross was strong and handsome, young altogether a dangerous
rival. His mellow good nature vanished.
That depends on what you call beauty, he said surlily. She is a
witch-woman, and half Dyak.
Peter Gross looked up in pretended surprise.
Well, mynheer, I am astonished. They told me in Batavia He
checked himself abruptly.
What did they tell you in Batavia? Muller demanded eagerly.
Peter Gross shook his head. I should not have spoken, mynheer.
It was only idle gossip.
Tell me, mynheer, Muller pleaded. Lieve kernel, this
is the first time in months that some one has told me that Batavia
still remembers Muller of Bulungan.
It was only idle rumor, Peter Gross deprecated. I was told you
were going to marrynaturally I believedbut of course as you say
I to marry? Muller exclaimed. Who? Koyala?
Peter Gross's silence was all the confirmation the controlleur
needed. A gratified smile spread over his face; he was satisfied now
that the resident had no intention of being his rival.
They say that in Batavia? he asked. Well, between you and me,
mynheer, I would have to look far for a fairer bride.
Let me congratulate you, Peter Gross began, but Muller stayed him.
No, not yet, mynheer. What I have said is for your ears
alone. Remember, you know nothing.
Your confidence is safe with me, Peter Gross assured him.
Muller suddenly recollected his duties as host.
Ho, mynheer, you must have some Hollands with me, he cried
hospitably. A toast to our good fellowship. He clapped his hands and
Cho Seng appeared in the doorway.
A glass of lemonade or iced tea, if you please, Peter Gross stated.
You are a teetotaler? Muller cried in dismay.
As resident of Bulungan, yes, mynheer. A servant of the state
cannot be too careful.
Muller laughed. Lemonade and jenever, Cho Seng, he directed.
Well, mynheer, I'll wager you are the only resident in all the
colonies that will not take his glass of Hollands. If it were not for
jenever many of us could not live in this inferno. Sometimes it is
well to be able to forget for a short time.
If one has a burdened conscience, Peter Gross conditioned quietly.
Muller started. He intuitively felt the words were not idle
observation, and he glanced at Peter Gross doubtfully. The resident was
looking over the broad expanse of sea, and presently remarked:
You have a splendid view here, mynheer. I hope the outlook
from my house is half so good.
Muller roused himself. That is so, mynheer, he said. I had
almost forgotten; we will have to put your house in order at once. It
has not been occupied for two years, and will need a thorough cleaning.
Meanwhile you must be my guest.
I thank you, mynheer, Peter Gross replied quietly.
You will have an establishment, mynheer? Muller asked
curiously. Have you brought servants? If not, I shall be glad to loan
you Cho Seng.
Thank you, I am well provided, Peter Gross assured.
Cho Seng padded out on the porch and served them. Being a
well-trained servant, he scarcely glanced at his employer's guest, but
Peter Gross favored him with a thoughtful stare.
Your servant has been with you a long time, mynheer? he
A year, mynheer. I got him from Batavia. He was recommended
bya friend. The pause was perceptible.
His face seems familiar, Peter Gross remarked in an offhand manner.
But that's probably imagination. It is hard to tell these Chinese
Conscious of having said too much again, Muller made no reply. They
sipped their drinks in silence, Peter Gross thinking deeply the while
why Ah Sing should make a former waiter in his rumah makan
Muller's servant. Presently he said:
If it is not too much trouble, mynheer, could you show me my
Gladly, mynheer,' Muller exclaimed, rising with alacrity.
It is only a few steps. We will go at once.
For the next half hour Peter Gross and he rambled through the
dwelling. It was modeled closely after the controlleur's own,
with a similar green and white facade facing the sea. The atmosphere
within was damp and musty, vermin scurried at their approach, but Peter
Gross saw that the building could be made tenable in a few days. At
last they came to a sequestered room on the north side, facing the
hills. An almost level expanse of garden lay back of it.
This was Mynheer de Jonge's own apartment, Muller explained. Here
he did most of his work. He sighed heavily. He was a fine old man. It
is too bad the good God had to take him away from us.
Peter Gross's lips pressed together tightly.
Mynheer de Jonge was careless of his health, I hear, he remarked.
One cannot be too careful in Bulungan. Therefore, mynheer, I
must ask you to get me a crew of men busy at once erecting two long
houses, after these plans. He took a drawing from his pocket and
showed it to Muller. The controlleur blinked at it with a
These buildings will ruin the view, mynheer, he
expostulated. Such long hutsthey are big enough for thirty men. What
are they for?
Protection against the fevers, mynheer, Peter Gross said
dryly. The fevers that killed Mynheer de Jonge.
That evening, when Peter Gross had returned to the ship, Muller and
Van Slyck met to compare notes. The captain was still boiling with
anger; the resident's visit to Fort Wilhelmina had not soothed his
He told me he brought twenty-five irregulars with him for work in
the bush, Van Slyck related. They are a separate command, and won't
be quartered in the fort. If this Yankee thinks he can meddle in the
military affairs of the residency he will find he is greatly mistaken.
Where will they be quartered? Muller asked.
I don't know.
Maybe he will place them in the huts he has ordered me to build back
of the residency, Muller remarked, rubbing his bald pate thoughtfully.
He told you to build some huts? Van Slyck asked.
Yes, some long huts. Big enough for thirty men. He said they were to
be a protection against the fevers.
The fevers? Van Slyck exclaimed in amazement.
Yes, the fevers that killed Mynheer de Jonge, he said.
Van Slyck's face became livid with passion. Against the fevers that
killed de Jonge, eh? he snarled. The damned Yankee will find there
are more than fevers in Bulungan.
He flashed a sharp look at Muller.
When you see Koyala, he said, send her to me.
FROM his quarters in the residency building, the same room where his
predecessor, the obstinate and perverse de Jonge, had lived his brief
and inglorious career, Peter Gross looked across the rolling expanse to
the jungle-crested hills of Bulungan.
It was now two weeks since his coming. Many changes had been wrought
during the fortnight. The residency had been cleared of vermin and made
habitable. Paddy Rouse had been installed as secretary and general
factotum. The tangle of cane, creeper growth, and nipa palm that had
grown in the park of shapely tamarinds since de Jonge's death had been
cut away. Two long, low buildings had been erected as barracks, and
Captain Carver had converted the newly created plain into a
They were drilling now, the khaki-clad twenty-five that had crossed
the Java Sea with Peter Gross. Two weeks on shore, supplementing the
shipboard quizzes on the drill manual, had welded them into an
efficient command. The smartness and precision with which they executed
maneuvers compelled a grudging admiration from the stolid Dutch
soldiers of Fort Wilhelmina who strolled over daily to watch the
They'll do, they'll do, Peter Gross assured himself with
He stepped back to his desk and took a document from it. It was
Muller's first report as controlleur. Peter Gross ran his eyes
down the column of figures and frowned. The accounts balanced and were
properly drawn up. The report seemed to be in great detail. Yet he felt
that something was wrong. The expenses of administration had been
heavy, enormously heavy, he noted. Instead of exporting rice Bulungan
had been forced to import to make good crop losses, the report showed.
Mynheer Muller is a good accountant, he observed to himself. But
there are a few items we will have to inquire into. He laid the report
aside. The door opened and Paddy Rouse entered. His bright red hair,
scrubby nose, and freckled face were in odd contrast to his
surroundings, so typically Dutch. Mynheer de Jonge had made this
retreat a sanctuary, a bit of old Holland transplanted bodily without
regard to differences of latitude and longitude. In the east wall was a
blue-tile fireplace. On the mantel stood a big tobacco jar of Delftware
with the familiar windmill pattern. Over it hung a long-stemmed Dutch
pipe with its highly colored porcelain bowl. The pictures on the wall
were Rembrandtesque, gentlemen in doublet and hose, with thin, refined,
scholarly faces and the inevitable Vandyke beard.
A lady to see you, sir, Paddy Rouse announced with military
curtness, saluting. The irrepressible Irish broke through in a sly
twinkle. She's a beauty, sir.
Peter Gross controlled the start of surprise he felt. He intuitively
guessed who his visitor was.
You may show her in, he announced.
And, Paddycall Captain Carver, please.
The shock of red hair darted away.
Peter Gross looked out of the window again. The crucial moment, the
moment he had looked forward to since accepting his appointment, was
upon him. What should he say to her, this woman of two alien, utterly
irreconcilable races, this woman so bitterly wronged, this woman with a
hot shame in her heart that would not die? How should he approach her,
how should he overcome her blind, unreasoning hatred against the
dominant white race, how persuade her to trust him, to give her aid for
the reclamation of Bulungan?
At the same time he wondered why she had come. He had not anticipated
this meeting so soon. Was there something back of it? As he asked
himself the question his ringers drummed idly on the desk.
While he was meditating he became suddenly aware of another presence
in the room. Turning, he found himself looking into the eyes of a
woman the woman of his thoughts. She stood beside him, silent,
possessed. There was a dagger in the snakeskin girdle she wore about
her waista single thrust and she could have killed him. He looked at
her steadily. Her glance was equally steady. He rose slowly.
You are the Juffrouw Koyala, he announced simply. Good morning,
juffrouw. He bowed.
There was an instant's hesitationor was it only his imagination,
Peter Gross asked himselfthen her form relaxed a trifle. So slight
was the movement that he would not have been sure had not every muscle
of her perfect body yielded to it with a supple, rhythmic grace.
Won't you be seated? he remarked conventionally, and placed a chair
for her. Not until then did she speak.
It is not necessary, mynheer. I have only a few words to
The cold austerity of her voice chilled Peter Gross. Yet her tones
were marvelously sweetlike silver bells, he thought. He bowed and
waited expectantly. In a moment's interlude he took stock of her.
She was dressed in the native fashion, sarong and kabaya, both of
purest white. The kabaya reached to midway between the knees and
ankles. Her limbs were bare, except for doeskin sandals. The girdle
about her waist was made from the skins of spotted pit vipers. The
handle of the dagger it held was studded with gems, rubies, turquoises,
and emeralds. A huge ruby, mounted on a pin, caught the kabaya above
her breasts; outside of this she wore no jewelry. Her lustrous black
hair hung loosely over her shoulders. Altogether a creature of the
jungle, she looked at him with a glance in which defiance was but
What did you wish to see me about? Peter Gross asked when he saw
that she was awaiting his permission to speak.
Something like a spark shot from the glowing coals of her eyes. The
tragic intensity of those eyes stirred anew the feeling of pity in the
I am told, mynheer, that the governor withdrew his offer for
my person at your request, she said coldly.
The statement was a question, Peter Gross felt, though put in the
form of a declaration. He scrutinized her face sharply, striving to
divine her object.
That is true, juffrouw, he acknowledged.
Why did you do this, mynheer?
Peter Gross did not answer at once. The direct question astonished
Why do you ask, juffrouw? he parried.
Her finely chiseled head tilted back. Very royal she looked, very
queenly, a Diana of the tropic jungle.
Because Koyala Bintang Burung asks no favors from you, Mynheer
Gross. Nor from any white man.
It was a declaration of war. Peter Gross realized it, and his face
saddened. He had expected opposition but not open defiance. He wondered
what lay back of it. The Dyak blood in her, always treacherous, never
acting without a purpose, was not frank without reason, he assured
I had no intention of doing you a favor, juffrouw, he
What was your object, mynheer?
The words were hardly out of her mouth before she regretted them. The
quick flash of her teeth as she bit her lips revealed the slip. Peter
Gross instantly divined the reasonher hostility was so implacable
that she would not even parley with him.
To do you justice, juffrouw, he replied.
The words were like oil on flame. Her whole figure stiffened rigidly.
The smoldering light in her eyes flashed into fire. The dusk in her
face deepened to night. In a stifled voice, bitter with scorn, she
I want none of your justice, mynheer.
No, I suppose not, Peter Gross assented heavily. His head sagged
and he stared moodily into the fireplace. Koyala looked at him
questioningly for a moment, then turned swiftly and glided toward the
door. A word from Peter Gross interrupted her.
She turned slowly. The cold disdain her face expressed was
What shall I do? he entreated. His mild, gray eyes were fixed on
her flaming orbs pleadingly. Her lips curled in scornful contempt.
That is for you to decide, mynheer, she replied.
Then I cross from the slate all that has been charged against you,
juffrouw. You are free to come and go as you wish.
A flash of anger crossed Koyala's face.
Your pardon is neither asked nor desired, mynheer, she
I must do my duty as I see it, Peter Gross replied. All that I ask
of you, juffrouw, is that you do not use your influence with the
natives to hinder or oppose the plans I have for their betterment. May
I have your pledge for that?
I make no promises and give no pledges, mynheer, Koyala
I beg your pardonI should not have asked it of you. All I ask is a
chance to work out my plans without hindrance from those whose welfare
I am seeking.
Koyala's lips curled derisively. You can promote our welfare best by
going back to Java, mynheer, she retorted.
Peter Gross looked at her sadly.
he said, you are speaking words that you do not know the meaning
of. Leave Bulungan? What would happen then? The Chinese would come down
on you from the north, the Bugis from the east, and the Bajaus from
every corner of the sea. Your coasts would be harried, your people
would be driven out of their towns to the jungles, trade would cease,
the rice harvests would fail, starvation would come upon you. Your
children would be torn from you to be sold in the slave-market. Your
women would be stolen. You are a woman, juffrouw, a woman of
education and understanding; you know what the white man saves you
And what have you whites given us in return for your protection?
she cried fiercely. Your law, which is the right of a white man to
cheat and rob the ignorant Dyak under the name of trade. Your garrisons
in our city, which mean taking away our weapons so that our young men
become soft in muscle and short in breath and can no longer make war
like their fathers did. Your religion, which you force on us with a
sword and do not believe yourself. Your morals, which have corrupted
the former sanctity of our homes and have wrought an infamy
unspeakable. Gin, to make our men stagger like fools; opium, to debauch
us all! These are the white man's gifts to the Dyaks of Borneo. I would
rather see my people free, with only their bows and arrows and
sumpitans, fighting a losing fight in their jungles against the Malays
and the Chinese slave-hunters, than be ruined by arrach and gin and
opium like they are now.
She was writhing in her passion. Her bosom rose and fell
tumultuously, and her fingers opened and closed like the claws of an
animal. In this mood she was a veritable tigress, Peter Gross thought.
All that you have said is the truth, he admitted. He looked very
weary, his shoulders were bent, and he stared gloomily into the hearth.
Koyala stared at him with a fierce intensity, half doubtful whether he
was mocking her. But his dejection was too patent to be pretense.
If you believe that, why are you here? she demanded.
Because I believe that Bulungan needs me to correct these evils,
juffrouw, he replied gently.
Koyala laughed shrilly, contemptuously. Peter Gross's form
straightened and the thin, firm lines of his lips tightened. He lifted
a restraining hand.
May I speak for a few moments, juffrouw? he asked. I want
to tell you what I am planning to do for Bulungan. I shall put an end
to the gin and opium trade. I shall drive the slave-hunters and the
pirates from these seas, and the head-hunters from their babas
(jungles). I shall make Bulungan so peaceful that the rice-grower can
plough, and sow, and harvest with never a backward look to see if an
enemy is near him. I shall take the young men of Bulungan and train
them in the art of war, that they may learn how to keep peace within
their borders and the enemy without. I shall readjust the taxes so that
the rich will pay their just share as well as the poor. I shall bring
in honest tax-collectors who will account for the last grain of rice
they receive. Before I shall finish my work the Gustis (Princes)
will break their krisses and the bushmen their sumpitans; hill Dyak and
coast Dyak will sit under the same tapang tree and take sirih and betel
from the same box, and the Kapala Kampong shall say to the people of
his villagego to the groves and harvest the cocoanut, a tenth for me
and a tenth for the state, and the balance for you and your children.
Koyala looked at him searchingly. His tremendous earnestness seemed
to impress her.
You have taken a big task upon yourself, mynheer, she
I will do all this, juffrouw, if you will help me, Peter
Gross affirmed solemnly.
Scornful defiance leaped again into Koyala's eyes and she drew back
I, mynheer? I am a Dyak of Bulungan, she said.
You are half a daughter of my people, Peter Gross corrected. You
have had the training of a white woman. Whether you are friend or foe,
you shall always be a white woman to me, juffrouw.
A film came across Koyala's eyes. She started to reply, checked
herself, and then spoke, lashing the words out between set teeth.
Promise upon promise, lie upon lie, that has been the way with you
whites. I hate you all,' I stand by my people.
Swift as the bird whose name she bore, she flashed through the door.
Peter Gross took a half-step forward to restrain her, stopped, and
walked slowly back to his chair.
She will come back, he murmured to himself; she will come back. I
have sown the seed, and it has sunk in fertile ground.
In the banyan grove Koyala, breathing rapidly because of her swift
flight, came upon Kapitein Van Slyck. The captain rose eagerly as she
darted through the cane.
What did he say? he asked. Did he try to make love to you?
Koyala turned on him furiously. You are a fool, we are all fools!
she exclaimed. He is more than a match for all of us. I will see you
later, when I can think; not now. She left the clearing.
Van Slyck stalked moodily back to the fort. At the edge of the grove
he slashed viciously at a pale anemone.
Damn these women, you never can trust them, he snarled.
When the only sounds audible in the clearing were the chirping of the
crickets and the fluting of the birds, a thin, yellow face with watery
eyes peered cautiously through the cane. Seeing the coast clear, Cho
Seng padded decorously homeward to the controlleur's house,
stepping carefully in the center of the path where no snakes could lie
THE council of the chiefs was assembling. From every part of Bulungan
residency they came, the Rajahs and the Gustis, the Datu Bandars or
governors of the Malay villages, and the Orang Kayas and Kapala
Kampongs, the Dyak village heads. Their coming was in answer to the
call of Peter Gross, resident, for messengers had been sent to every
part of the province to announce that a great bitchara (talk)
was to be held in Bulungan town.
They came in various ways. The Malay Datu Bandars of the coast towns,
where the Malays were largely in the ascendant, voyaged in royal
sailing proas, some of which were covered with canopies of silk. Each
had twenty men or more, armed to the teeth, in his cortege. The inland
Rajahs traveled in even greater state. Relays of slaves carried them in
sedan chairs, and fifty gleaming krisses marched before and fifty
after. The humbler Orang Kayas and Kapala Kampongs came on foot, with
not more than ten attendants in their trains, for a village head,
regardless of the number of buffaloes in his herd, must not aspire to
the same state as a Rajah, or even a Gusti. The Rajah Wobanguli
received each arrival with a stately dignity befitting the ruler of the
largest town in the residency, and assigned him and his people the
necessary number of houses to shelter them.
But these were not the only strangers in Bulungan. From all the
country round, and from every village along the coast, Dyaks, Malays,
Chinese, and Bugis, and the Bajau sea-wanderers, streamed into the
town. The usually commodious market-place seemed to shrink and dwindle
as the crowd of traders expanded, and the raucous cries of the venders
rang about the street to a late hour at night.
In every second house a cock-fight was in progress. Sweating,
steaming bodies crushed each other in the narrow streets and threatened
ruin to the thatched houses. Malays scowled at Dyaks, and Dyaks glared
vindictively at Malays. Shrewd, bland Chinese intermingled with the
crowd and raked in the silver and copper coins that seemed to flow
toward them by a magnetic attraction. Fierce, piratical Bugis cast
amorous glances at the Dyak belles who, although they shrank timidly
into their fathers' huts, were not altogether displeased at having
their charms noticed.
There was hardly a moment without its bickering and fierce words, and
there were frequent brawls when women fled shrieking, for hill Dyak and
coast Dyak and Malay and Bugi could not meet at such close quarters
without the feuds of untold generations breaking out.
Foremost in the minds and on the lips of every individual in that
reeking press of humanity was the question: What will the orang
blanda (white man) want? Speculation ran riot, rumor winged upon
rumor, and no tale was too fantastical to lack ready repetition and
credulous listeners. Mynheer would exact heavy penalties for
every act of piracy and killing traced back to Bulungan, so the stories
ran; mynheer would confiscate all the next rice crop; mynheer
would establish great plantations and every village would be required
to furnish its quota of forced labor; mynheer would demand the
three handsomest youths from each village as hostages for future good
behavior. Thus long before the council assembled, the tide was setting
against Peter Gross.
Bulungan was ripe and ready for revolt. It chafed under the fetters
of a white man's administration, lightly as those fetters sat. Wildest
of Borneo's residencies, it was the last refuge of the adventurous
spirits of the Malay archipelago who found life in the established
provinces of Java, Sumatra, and Celebes all too tame.
They had tasted freedom for two years under Muller's innocuous
administration and did not intend to permit the old order to be
changed. Diverse as their opinions on other matters might be, bitter as
their feuds might be, hill Dyak and coast Dyak, Malay, Chinese, Bugi,
and Bajau were united on this point. So for the first time in
Bulungan's history a feeling of unanimity pervaded a conclave of such
mongrel elements as were now gathered in old Rotterdam town. This
feeling was magnified by a reportoriginating, no one knew where, and
spreading like wildfirethat the great Datu, the chief of all the
pirates of the island seas, the mysterious and silent head of the great
confederation, was in Bulungan and would advise the chiefs how to
answer their new white governor.
Peter Gross was not wholly ignorant of public sentiment in the town.
One of Captain Carver's first acts on coming to Bulungan was to
establish the nucleus of a secret service to keep him informed on
public sentiment among the natives. A Dyak lad named Inchi, whom Carver
had first hired to help with the coarsest camp work, and who had formed
an immediate attachment for his soldierly white baas, was the
first recruit in this service and brought in daily reports.
Inchi tells me that the chiefs have decided they will pay no more
tax to the government, Carver announced to Peter Gross on the morning
of the council. The resident and he were on the drill-ground where they
could talk undisturbed. Peter Gross's lips tightened.
I expected opposition, he replied noncommittally.
Too bad we haven't the Prins Lodewyk here, Carver remarked.
A few shells around their ears might bring them to their senses.
We don't need such an extreme measure yet, Peter Gross deprecated
I hardly know whether it's safe for us to venture into the town,
Carver observed. Couldn't you arrange to have the meeting here, away
from all that mob? There must be thirty thousand people down below.
I would rather meet them on their own ground.
It's a big risk. If there should be an attack, we couldn't hold
Thirty thousand against twenty-five would be rather long odds,
Peter Gross assented, smiling.
You're going to use the fort garrison, too, aren't you? Carver
I shall take just two people with me, Peter Gross announced.
My God, Mr. Gross! You'll never get back! Carver's face was tense
Three people will be just as effective as twenty-six, captain,
Peter Gross declared mildly. The victory we must gain to-day is a
moral victorywe must show the natives that we are not afraid.
But they're bound to break loose. A show of military force would
I think it would be more a provocation than a restraint, captain.
They would see our helplessness. If I go alone they will reason that we
are stronger than they think we are. Our confidence will beget
uncertainty among them.
Carver had long since learned the futility of trying to dissuade his
chief from a course once adopted. He merely remarked:
Of course I'll go?
I'm sorry, captain Peter Gross's face expressed sincere regret.
Nothing would please me more than to have you with me, but I can't
spare you here.
Carver realized that himself. He swallowed his disappointment.
Whom were you planning on taking? he asked abruptly.
Carver nodded approval.
And Paddy Rouse.
Paddy? the captain exclaimed. Of what use I beg your pardon, Mr.
Peter Gross smiled. It does seem a peculiar mission to take that
youngster on, he said. But Paddy's going to be rarely useful to me
to-day, useful in a way every man couldn't be. These natives have a
superstitious reverence for red hair.
An understanding smile broke upon Carver's face.
Of course. A mighty good idea. Bluff and superstition are two
almighty-powerful weapons against savages.
I also hope that we shall have another ally there, Peter Gross
Who is that?
The Juffrouw Koyala.
Carver frowned. Mr. Gross, he said, I don't trust that woman.
She's Dyak, and that's the most treacherous breed that was ever
spawned. We've got to look out for her. She's an actress, and mighty
clever in playing her little part, but she can't hide the hate in her
heart. She'll keep us on the string and pretend she's won over, but the
first chance she gets to strike, she'll do it. I've met that kind of
woman in the Philippines.
I think you are wholly mistaken, Peter Gross replied decisively.
Carver glanced at him quickly, searchingly. She's a damn pretty
woman, he remarked musingly, and shot another quick glance at the
That has nothing to do with the matter, Peter Gross replied
Abruptly dropping the topic, Carver asked:
At what hour does the council meet?
You'll be back by sundown?
I am afraid not. I shall probably spend the night with Wobanguli.
Carver groaned. Send Inchi if things look as though they were going
wrong, he said. Might I suggest that you let him go to the village
right away, and keep away from you altogether?
If you'll instruct him so, please. In case there is trouble, throw
your men into the fort. He took a package of papers from his pocket
and gave them to Carver. Here are some documents which I want you to
take care of for me. They are all addressed. One of them is for you; it
appoints you military commandant of Bulungan in case something should
happen to me down below. Don't use it otherwise. If Van Slyck should
make a fuss you will know how to handle him.
I understand, Carver replied shortly, and pocketed the envelope. He
strode back to his shelter with a heavy heart.
THE afternoon sun was pouring its full strength on the coral highway
to Bulungan when Peter Gross rode to the council. He was mounted on a
thoroughbred that he had brought with him from Java, and was in
full-dress uniform. On his breast gleamed several decorations awarded
him by Governor-General Van Schouten. It was the first time he had used
them, and it was not vanity that inspired him to pin them on his coat.
He realized the importance of employing every artifice to impress the
native mind favorably toward its new ruler. Paddy Rouse was in
field-service uniform, and rode a chestnut borrowed from the military
The terrific din created by several thousand gongs of brass, copper,
and wood, beaten in every part of Bulungan to testify to the holiday,
was plainly audible as they cantered along the road.
Sounds like the Fourth of July, Paddy remarked cheerfully.
When they neared the village two Gustis, youthful Dyak chiefs with
reputations yet to make, charged toward them with bared krisses. As the
hoofs of their jet-black steeds thundered toward Peter Gross, Paddy
gave his horse, the spur and shot it half a length ahead of the
resident. His hand was ' on the butt of his pistol when a low-voiced
warning from his chief restrained him. Just as it seemed that they
would be ridden down the horsemen parted and flashed by with krisses
lifted to salute. They wheeled instantly and fell in behind the
Whew, Paddy whistled softly. I thought they meant business.
It was meant to do us honor, Peter Gross explained.
More native princes spurred from the town to join the procession. In
each instance the demonstration was the same. Paddy, noted that every
one was mounted on a black horse and carried a kris whose handle was of
either gold or ivory, and was studded with gems. None used saddles, but
each horse was caparisoned with a gayly colored saddle-cloth
embroidered with gold thread. The bridles were of many-colored cords
and the bits of silver. He pointed out these things to Peter Gross in
That shows that they are all of princely rank, 'Peter Gross
The din from the gongs became almost deafening as they entered the
outskirts of the town. The crowd thickened also, and it became
increasingly difficult to break through the press. Paddy Rouse's eyes
swam as he looked into the sea of black and brown faces grimacing and
contorting. The scene was a riot of color; every native was dressed in
his holiday best, which meant garments of the gaudiest and brightest
dyes that his means enabled him to procure. Paddy noticed a patriarch
in a pea-green velvet jacket, blue and orange chawat, or waist-cloth,
and red, yellow, and blue kerchief headdress. Most of the kerchief
head-dresses, worn turban-fashion, were in three colors, blue
predominating, he observed.
Big reception they're giving us, Paddy remarked.
Peter Gross's reply was noncommittal. He felt a little of the forces
that were at work beneath the surface, and realized how quickly this
childishly curious, childishly happy mob could be converted into a
bedlam of savagery.
As they neared the huge twin Hindu deities, carved in stone, that
formed the gate-posts of Wobanguli's palace grounds and the
council-hall enclosure, the crowd massed so thickly that it was
impossible for them to proceed. Paddy drove his horse into the press
and split an aisle by a vicious display of hoofs and the liberal use of
his quirt-stock. The crowd gave way sullenly, those behind refusing to
give way for those in front. Paddy leaned sidewise in his saddle as
they passed between the scowling gods.
Into the lion's den, he whispered to Peter Gross. His eye was
sparkling; roughing the natives had whetted his appetite for action.
Peter Gross sprang from his horse lightlyhe had learned to ride
before he went to seaand entered the dimly lit hall. Rouse remained
at the entrance and began looking about for Inchi. The little Malay was
rubbing down a horse, but gave no sign of recognition when Rouse's
glance met his. As Paddy looked away, his face, too, sobered. Only his
eyes were more keenly alert.
As Peter Gross became accustomed to the semi-darkness, he
distinguished about forty chiefs and princes seated along the side
walls of the building. There were two Europeans in the room in one
corner. Peter Gross guessed their identity before he could distinguish
their faces; they were Muller and Van Slyck.
At the farther end of the hall was a platform. Two chairs of European
make had been placed upon it. Wobanguli occupied one, the other was
vacant. The hall was thick with smoke, for those who were not chewing
betel were laboring on big Dutch pipes, introduced by their white
rulers. Silence greeted Peter Gross as he slowly walked the length of
the hall, and none rose to do him the customary honor. Instead of
mounting the platform he remained standing at its base and looked
sternly into the face of the Rajah. In a voice suspiciously sweet he
Is it so long since a son of the white father has come to Bulungan
that you have forgotten how he must be received, O Rajah?
There was a moment's pregnant pause, a moment when the royal mind did
some quick thinking. Then Wobanguli rose and said:
We have heard the call and we are here, resident.
The moment Wobanguli rose a quick rustle and the clicking of steel
apprised Peter Gross that the others also had risen. Although he knew
it was not in his honorcustom forbade lesser chiefs from sitting
while the Rajah stoodhe accepted it as such. He did not look around
until he had mounted the platform. Then he gazed at each man
individually. Something in his silent scrutiny sent a cold chill into
the hearts of more than one of the chiefs who had endured it, but most
of them returned it boldly and defiantly.
Not until each of the forty had felt the power of his mesmeric glance
did Peter Gross speak.
You may tell the council the purpose of this meting, Rajah, he
announced, turning to Wobanguli, and then seated himself in the vacant
As Wobanguli came forward, Peter Gross had an opportunity to measure
his man. The Rajah was tall, quite tall for a Bornean, powerfully
built, but a trifle stoop-shouldered. His features were pronouncedly
Malay rather than Dyak; there was a furtive look in his half-shut eyes
that suggested craft and cunning, and his ever-ready smile was too
suavely pleasant to deceive the resident.
A panther; he will be hard to tame, was Peter Gross's unspoken
Wobanguli began speaking in sonorous tones, using Malay-Dyak dialect,
the lingua franca of the residency.
Rajahs, Custis, Datus, and Kapalas, to-day hath Allah and the Hanu
Token and the great god Djath given a new ruler to Bulungan.
Peter Gross's brow contracted thoughtfully. It was apparent from
Wobanguli's exordium that he was striving to please the adherents of
every faith represented among the natives present. The Rajah continued:
In the days when the great fire mountains poured their rivers of
flame into the boiling ocean our forefathers, led by the great god
Djath, came to Borneo. They built villages and begat children. The fire
mountains belched flame and molten rock, the great floods came to drown
the mountains, the earth shook, and whole jungles were swallowed up;
but ever our fathers clung to the island they had come to possess. Then
Djath said: 'This is a strong people. I shall make it my own, my chosen
people, and give to them and to their children's children forever the
land of Borneo.'
From the seed of our fathers sprang many tribes. New nations came
from over the sea and found habitation with us, and we called them
'brother.' Last of all came the white man. He sold us guns, and knives,
and metals, and fine horses, and the drink that Allah says we must not
touch, and opium. By and bye, when he was strong and we were weak, he
said: 'I will give you a resident who shall be a father unto you. There
will be no more killings, but every man shall have plenty of gongs and
brass rings for his wives, and many bolts of brilliantly colored cloth,
and much tobacco.' So we let the white man give us a ruler.
There was an ominous stirring among the assembled chiefs. Peter
Gross's face maintained an inscrutable calm, but he was thinking
rapidly. Wobanguli's speech had all the elements of nitroglycerine, he
It is now many moons since the first white father came to dwell with
us, Wobanguli continued. Three times has the great fire mountain
belched flame and smoke to show she was angry with us, and three times
have we given of our gifts to appease the spirits. We are poor. Our
women hide their nakedness with the leaves of palm-trees. Our tribesmen
carve their kris-handles from the branches of the ironwood-tree.
He paused. The air was electric. Another word, a single passionate
plea, would unsheath forty krisses, Peter Gross perceived. Wobanguli
was looking at him, savage exultation leering in his eyes, but Peter
Gross's face did not change a muscle, and he waited with an air of
polite attention. Wobanguli faced the assembly again:
Our elder brother from over the sea, who was sent to us by the
little father at Batavia, will tell us to-day how he will redeem the
promises made to us, he announced. I have spoken.
So abrupt was the climax that Peter Gross scarcely realized the Rajah
had concluded until he was back in his chair. There was a moment's
dramatic hush. Conscious that Wobanguli had brought him to the very
edge of a precipice as a test, conscious, too, that the Rajah was
disappointed because his intended victim had failed to reveal the
weakness he had expected to find, Peter Gross rose slowly and
impressively to meet the glances of the forty chiefs now centered so
hostilely upon him.
Princes of our residency of Bulunganhe began; there was a stir in
the crowd; he was using the native tongue, the same dialect Wobanguli
had usedthe Rajah Wobanguli has told you the purpose of this
meeting. He has told you of the promises made by those who were
resident here before me. He has reminded you that these promises have
not been fulfilled. But he has not told you why they were not
fulfilled. I am here to-day to tell you the reason.
A low, whistling sound, the simultaneous sharp intake of breath
through the nostrils of forty men, filled the room. Pipes and betel and
sirih were laid aside. Rajahs, governors, and princes craned their
heads and looked ominously over the shafts of their spears at their
There are in this land three peoples, or perhaps four, Peter Gross
said. Only two of these are the real owners of Borneo, the people
whose fathers settled this island in the early days, as your Rajah has
told you. They are the hill Dyaks and the sea Dyaks, who are one people
though two nations. The Malays are outlanders. The Chinese are
outlanders. They have the same right to live here that the white man
hasno more, no less. That right comes from the increase in riches
they bring and the trade they bring.
A hoarse murmur arose. The Malay Datus' scowls were blacker. The
Dyaks looked sullenly at their arch-enemies, the brown immigrants from
Long before the first white man came here, the two nations of
Dyaksthe Dyaks of the sea and the Dyaks of the hillswere at war
with each other. The skulls of the people of each nation decorated the
lodge-poles of their enemies. The Dyaks of the sea made treaties with
the Bajaus, the Malays, the Bugis, and the Chinese sea-rovers. Together
these people have driven the Dyaks of the hills far inland, almost to
the crest of the great fire mountains. But the price they pay is the
surrender of their strong men to row the proas of their masters, the
pirates. The spring rains come, but the rice is left unsowed, for a
fair crop attracts the spoilers, and only the poor are left in peace.
Poverty has come upon your Dyaks. Your kris-handles are of wood, while
those of your masters are of gold and jewels.
Peter Gross paused. The Dyaks were glaring at the Malays, the Malays
looked as fiercely back. Several chiefs were fingering their
kris-handles. Muller was watching the tribesmen in anxious
bewilderment; Van Slyck hid in the shadows.
Forget your feuds and listen to me, Peter Gross thundered in a
voice of authority that focused instant attention upon him. Let me
tell you what I have come to do for Bulungan.
He turned a group of short, lithely built men armed with spears.
To you, hill Dyaks, I bring peace and an end of all raiding. No more
shall the coast-rovers cross your borders. Your women will be safe
while you hunt dammar gum and resin in the forests; the man who steals
a woman against her will shall hang. I, your resident, have spoken.
He turned toward the delegation of coast natives.
To you, Dyaks of the sea, I bring liberation from your masters who
make slaves of your young men. There will be no more raids; you may
grow your crops in peace.
To the scowling Malays he said:
Merchants of Malacca, think not that my heart is bitter against you,
for I bring rich gifts to you also. I bring you the gift of a happy and
contented people, rich in the produce of this fertile island, eager to
buy the things you bring to them in trade. The balas money which
you now pay the pirates will be counted with your profits, for I will
drive the pirates from these seas.
These are my commands to all of you. Keep your houses in order. If a
Dyak of the hills slay a Dyak of the sea, keep your krisses sheathed
and come and tell me. If a man take a woman that is not his own, keep
your krisses sheathed and come and tell me. If your neighbor arm his
people and drive your people to the jungle and burn their village, come
and tell me. I will do justice. But swift and terrible will be my
vengeance on him who breaks the law.
An ominous rumble of angry dissent filled the hall. It was instantly
quelled. Towering over them, his powerful frame lifted to its full
height, Peter Gross glared at them so fiercely that the stoutest hearts
among them momentarily quailed and shrank back. Taking instant
advantage of the silence, he announced sternly:
I am now ready to hear your grievances, princes of the residency.
You may speak one by one in the order of your rank.
Calmly turning his back on them, he walked back to his chair.
There was a tense silence of several minutes while Datu looked at
Rajah and Rajah at Datu. Peter Gross saw the fierce sway of passions
and conflicting opinions. Muller looked from face to face with an
anxious frown, striving to ascertain the drift of the tide, and Van
Slyck grinned saturninely.
A powerful Malay suddenly leaped to his feet, and glared defiantly at
Hear me, princes of Bulungan, he shouted. Year after year the
servants of him who rules in Batavia have come to us and said: ' Give
us a tenth of your rice, of your dammar gum, give us bamboo, and
rattan, and cocoanuts as tribute money and we will protect you from
your enemies.' Year after year have our fields been laid waste by the
Dyaks of the hills, by the Beggars of the sea, till our people are poor
and starve in the jungles, but no help has come from the white man.
Twice has my village been burned by men from the white man's ships that
throw fire and iron; not once have those ships come to save me from the
sea Beggars. Then one day a light came. Grogu, I said, make a peace
with the great Datu of the rovers of the sea, give him a part of each
harvest. Three great rains have now passed since I made that peace. He
has kept my coasts free from harm, he has punished the people of the
hills who stole my cattle. With whom I ask you, princes of Bulungan,
shall I chew the betel of friendship?
Ai-yai-yai-yai, was the angry murmur that filled the hall in a
A wizened old Malay, with a crooked back and bereft of one eye, rose
and shook a spear venomously. His three remaining teeth were ebon from
I had forty buffaloes, he cried in a shrill, crackly voice. The
white man in the house on the hill came and said: 'I must have ten for
the balas (tribute money).' The white kris-bearer from the war-house on
the hill came and said: 'I must have ten for my firestick-bearers.' The
white judge came and said: 'I must have ten for a fine because your
people killed a robber from the hills.' Then came the sea-rovers and
said: ' Give us the last ten, but take in exchange brass gongs, and
copper-money, and silks from China.' Whom must I serve, my brothers,
the thief who takes and gives or the thief who takes all and gives
The tumult increased. A tall and dignified chief in the farther
corner of the hall, who had kept aloof from the others to this time,
now rose and lifted a hand for silence. The poverty of his dress and
the lack of gay trappings showed that he was a hill Dyak, for no Dyak
of the sea was so poor that he had only one brass ring on his arm. Yet
he was a man of influence, Peter Gross observed, for every face at once
turned in his direction.
My brothers, there has been a feud between my people of the hill and
your people of the coasts for many generations, he said. Yet we are
all of one father, and children in the same house. It is not for me to
say to-day who is right and who is wrong. The white chief bids us give
each other the sirih and betel. He tells us he will make us both rich
and happy. The white chief's words are good. Let us listen and wait to
see if his deeds are good.
There was a hoarse growl of disapproval. Peter Gross perceived with a
sinking heart that most of those present joined in it. He looked toward
Wobanguli, but that chieftain sedulously avoided his glance and seemed
satisfied to let matters drift.
A young Dyak chief suddenly sprang to the middle of the floor. His
trappings showed that he was of Gusti rank.
I have heard the words of the white chief and they are the words of
a master speaking to his slaves, he shouted. When the buck deserts
his doe to run from the hunter, when the pheasant leaves the nest of
eggs she has hatched to the mercy of the serpent, when the bear will no
longer fight for her cubs, then will the Sadong Dyaks sit idly by while
the robber despoils their villages and wait for the justice of the
white man, but not before. This is my answer, white chief!
Whipping his kris from his girdle, he hurled it at the floor in front
of Peter Gross. The steel sank deeply into the wood, the handle
quivering and scintillating in a shaft of sunlight that entered through
a crack in the roof.
An instant hush fell on the assembly. Through the haze and murk Peter
Gross saw black eyes that flamed with hate, foaming lips, and
passion-distorted faces. The lust for blood was on them, a moment more
and nothing could hold them back, he saw. He sprang to the center of
Men of Bulungan, hear me, he shouted in a voice of thunder. Your
measure of wickedness is full. You have poisoned the men sent here to
rule you, you have strangled your judges and thrown their bodies to the
crocodiles, you have killed our soldiers with poisoned arrows. To-day I
am here, the last messenger of peace the white man will send you.
Accept peace now, and you will be forgiven. Refuse it, and your
villages will be burned, your people will be hunted from jungle to
swamp and swamp to highland, there will be no brake too thick and no
cave too deep to hide them from our vengeance. The White Father will
make the Dyaks of Bulungan like the people of the lands under the sea
a name only. Choose ye, what shall it be?
For a moment his undaunted bearing and the terrible threat he had
uttered daunted them. They shrank back like jackals before the lion,
their voices stilled. Then a deep guttural voice, that seemed to come
through the wall behind the resident's chair, cried:
Kill him, Dyaks of Bulungan. He speaks with two tongues to make you
slaves on the plantations.
Peter Gross sprang toward the wall and crashed his fist through the
bamboo. A section gave way, revealing an enclosed corridor leading to
another building. The corridor was empty.
The mischief had been done, however, and the courage of the natives
revived. Kill the white man, kill him, the hoarse cry arose. A dozen
krisses flashed. A spear was hurled, it missed Peter Gross by a hair's
breadth. Dyaks and Malays surged forward, Wobanguli alone was between
him and them. Paddy Rouse sprang inside with drawn pistol, but a hand
struck up his pistol arm and his harmless shot went through the roof. A
half-dozen sinewy forms pinned him to the ground.
At the same instant Peter Gross drew his automatic and leaped toward
Wobanguli. Before the Rajah could spring aside the resident's hand
closed over his throat and the resident's pistol pressed against his
One move and I shoot, Peter Gross cried.
The brown wave stopped for a moment, but it was only a moment, Peter
Gross realized, for life was cheap in Borneo, even a Rajah's life. He
looked wildly aboutthen the tumult stilled as suddenly as though
every man in the hall had been simultaneously stricken with paralysis.
Gross's impressions of the next few moments were rather vague. He
dimly realized that some one had come between him and the raging mob.
That some one was waving the natives back. It was a woman. He
intuitively sensed her identity before he perceived her faceit was
The brown wave receded sullenly, like the North sea backing from the
dikes of Holland. Peter Gross replaced his pistol in its holster and
released WobanguliKoyala was speaking. In the morguelike silence her
silvery voice rang with startling clearness.
Are you mad, my children of Bulungan? she asked sorrowfully. Have
you lost your senses? Would the taking of this one white life
compensate for the misery you would bring on our people?
She paused an instant. Every eye was riveted upon her. Her own
glorious orbs turned heavenward, a mystic light shone in them, and she
raised her arms as if in invocation.
Hear me, my children, she chanted in weird, Druidical tones. Into
the north flew the Argus Pheasant, into the north, through jungle and
swamp and canebrake, by night and by day, for the Hanu Token were her
guides and the great god Djath and his servants, the spirits of the
Gunong Agong called her. She passed through the country of the sea
Dyaks, and she saw no peace; she passed through the country of the hill
Dyaks, and she saw no peace. Up, up she went, up the mountain of the
flaming fires, up to the very edge of the pit where the great god Djath
lives in the flames that never die. There she saw Djath, there she
heard his voice, there she received the message that he bade her bring
to his children, his children of Bulungan. Here is the message, chiefs
of my people, listen and obey.
Every Dyak groveled on the ground and even the Malay Mahometans
crooked their knees and bowed their heads almost to the earth. Swaying
from side to side, Koyala began to croon:
'Hear my words, O princes of Bulungan, hear my words I send you by
the Bintang Burung. Lo, a white man has come among you, and his face is
fair and his words are good and his heart feels what his lips speak.
Lo, I have placed him among you to see if in truth there is goodness
and honesty in the heart of a white man. If his deeds be as good as his
words, then will you keep him, and guard him, and honor him, but if his
heart turns false and his lips speak deceitfully, then bring him to me
that he may burn in the eternal fires that dwell with me. Lo, that ye
may know him, I have given him a servant whose head I have touched with
fire from the smoking mountain.'
At that moment Paddy, hatless and disheveled, plunged through the
crowd toward Peter Gross. A ray of sunlight coming through the roof
fell on his head. His auburn hair gleamed like a burst of flame. Koyala
pointed at him and cried dramatically: See, the servant with the
The sacred flame, Dyaks and Malays both muttered awesomely, as they
crowded back from the platform.
Who shall be the first to make blood-brother of this white man?
Koyala cried. The hill Dyak chieftain who had counseled peace came
Jahi of the Jahi Dyaks will, he said. Peter Gross looked at him
keenly, for Jahi was reputed to be the boldest raider and head-hunter
in the hills. The Dyak chief opened a vein in his arm with a dagger and
gave the weapon to Peter Gross. Without hesitating, the resident did
the same with his arm. The blood intermingled a moment, then they
rubbed noses and each repeated the word: Blood-brother, three times.
One by one Dyaks and Malays came forward and went through the same
ceremony. A few slipped out the door without making the brotherhood
covenant, Peter Gross noticed. He was too elated to pay serious
attention to these; the battle was already won, he believed.
In the shadows in the rear of the hall Van Slyck whispered in the ear
of a Malay chieftain. The Malay strode forward after the ceremonies
were over, and said gravely: Blood-brother, we have made you one of us
and our ruler, as the great god Djath hath commanded. But there was one
condition in the god's commands. If you fail, you are to be delivered
to Djath for judgment, and no evil shall come upon our people from your
people for that sentence. Will you pledge us this?
They were all looking at him, Malay, hill Dyak, and sea Dyak, and
every eye said: Pledge! Peter Gross realized that if he would keep
their confidence he must give his promise. But a glance toward Van
Slyck had revealed to him the Malay's source of inspiration, and he
sensed the trick that lay beneath the demand.
Will you pledge, brother? the Malay demanded again.
I pledge, Peter Gross replied firmly.
AND so, Peter Gross concluded, I pledged my life that we'd put
things to rights in Bulungan. Captain Carver did not answer. It was
dim twilight of the evening following the council meetingthey were
met in Peter Gross's den, and the captain had listened with an air of
critical attention to the nocturnal chirping of the crickets outside.
Had it not been for occasional curt, illuminative questions, Peter
Gross might have thought him asleep. He was a man of silences, this
Captain Carver, a man after Peter Gross's own heart.
On the other hand they pledged that they would help me, Peter Gross
resumed. There are to be no more raids, the head-hunters will be
delivered to justice, and there will be no more trading with the
pirates or payment of tribute to them. Man for man, chief for chief,
they pledged. I don't trust all of them. I know Wobanguli will violate
his oath, for he is a treacherous scoundrel, treacherous and cunning
but lacking in courage, or his nerve wouldn't have failed him
yesterday. The Datu of Bandar is a bad man. I hardly expected him to
take the oath, and it won't take much to persuade him to violate it.
The Datu of Padang, the old man who lost the forty buffaloes, is a
venomous old rascal that we'll have to watch. Lkath of the Sadong Dyaks
left while we were administering the oath; there is no blood of fealty
on his forehead. But I trust the hill Dyaks, they are with me. And we
Another silence fell between the resident and his lieutenant. It was
quite dark now and the ends of their cigars glowed ruddily. There was a
tap on the door and Paddy Rouse announced himself.
Shall I get a light, sir? he asked.
I don't think it is necessary, Paddy, Peter Gross replied kindly.
He had conceived a great affection for the lad. He turned toward
What do you think of the situation? he asked pointedly.
Carver laid his cigar aside. It was not casually done, but with the
deliberateness of the man who feels he has an unpleasant duty before
I was trying to decide whether Koyala is an asset or a liability,
Peter Gross, too, listened for a moment to the chirping of the
crickets before he answered.
She saved my life, he said simply.
She did, Captain Carver acknowledged. I'm wondering why.
Peter Gross stared into the evening silence.
I believe you misjudge her, captain, he remonstrated gently. She
hasn't had much chance in life. She's had every reason for hating
usall whitesbut she has the welfare of her people at heart. She's a
patriot. It's the one passion of her life, the one outlet for her
starved and stunted affections. Her Dyak blood leads her to extremes.
We've got to curb her savage nature as far as we can, and if she does
break the bounds occasionally, overlook it. But I don't question her
absolute sincerity. That is why I trust her.
If she were all Dyak I might think as you do, Captain Carver said
slowly. But I never knew mixed blood to produce anything noble. It's
the mixture of bloods in her I'm afraid of. I've seen it in the
Philippines and among the Indians. It's never any good.
There have been some notable half-breed patriots, Peter Gross
remarked with a half-smile that the darkness curtained.
Dig into their lives and you'll find that what an infatuated people
dubbed patriotism was just damned meanness. Never a one of them, but
was after loot, not country.
You have old Sachsen's prejudices, Peter Gross said. Did I tell
you about the letter I got from him? I'll let you read it later, it's a
shame to spoil this evening. Sachsen warns me not to trust the girl,
says she's a fiend. He coupled her name with Ah Sing's. The vicious
snap of the resident's teeth was distinctly audible. God, how an old
man's tongue clacks to scandal. I thought Sachsen was above it, but
'Rumor sits on the housetop,' as Virgil says....
His voice trailed into silence and he stared across the fields toward
the jungle-crowned hills silhouetted against the brilliantly starlit
Sachsen is too old a man to be caught napping, Carver observed.
There probably is some sort of an understanding between Koyala and
Ah Sing, Peter Gross admitted seriously. But it's nothing personal.
She thought he could help her free Bulungan. I think I've made her see
the better wayat least induced her to give us a chance to show what
we can do.
You're sure it was Ah Sing's voice you heard?
Peter Gross perceived from the sharp acerbity of the captain's tone,
as well as from the new direction he gave their conversation, Carver's
lack of sympathy with his views on Koyala's conduct. He sighed and
I am positive. There is no other bass in the world like his. Hoarse
and deep, a sea-lion growl. If I could have forced the bamboo aside
sooner, I might have seen him before he dodged out of the runway.
If he's here we've got the whole damn wasp's nest around our ears,
Carver growled. I wish we had the Prins here.
That would make things easier. But we can't tie her up in harbor,
that would give the pirates free play. She's our whole navy, with
nearly eight hundred miles of coastline to patrol.
And we're here with twenty-five men, Carver said bitterly. It
would be damned farcical if it wasn't so serious.
We are not here to use a mailed fist, Peter Gross remonstrated
I understand. All the same Carver stopped abruptly and stared
into the silence. Peter Gross made no comment. Their views were
irreconcilable, he saw. It was inevitable that Carver should undervalue
moral suasion; a military man, he recognized only the arbitrament of
brute force. The captain was speaking again.
When do you begin the census?
Next Monday. I shall see Muller to-morrow. It will take at last two
months, possibly three; they're very easy-going here. I'd like to
finish it before harvest, so as to be able to check up the tax.
You're going to trust it to Muller?
The question implied doubt of his judgment. Peter Gross perceived
Carver was averse to letting either Muller or Van Slyck participate in
the new administration outside their regular duties.
I think it is best, the resident replied quietly. I don't want him
condemned on his past record, regardless of the evidence we may get
against him. He shall have his chanceif he proves disloyal he will
How about Van Slyck?
He shall have his chance, too.
You can't give the other man all the cards and win.
We'll deal fairly. The odds aren't quite so big as you thinkwe'll
have Koyala and the hill Dyaks with us.
H'mm. Jahi comes to-morrow afternoon, you say?
Yes. I shall appoint him Rajah over all the hill people.
Carver picked up his cigar and puffed in silence for several moments.
If you could only trust the brutes, he exploded suddenly. Damn it,
Mr. Gross, I wish I had your confidence, but I haven't. I can't help
remember some of the things that happened back in Luzon a few years
agoand the Tagalogs aren't far distant relatives of these cusses.
'Civilize 'em with a Krag,' the infantry used to sing. It's damn near
In the heart of every man there's something that responds to simple
justice and fair dealing What's that?
A soft thud on the wall behind them provoked the exclamation. Carver
sprang to his feet, tore the cigar from Peter Gross's mouth, and hurled
it at the fireplace with his own. Almost simultaneously he snapped the
heavy blinds together. The next moment a soft tap sounded on the
Peter Gross lit a match and stepped to the wall. A tiny arrow, tipped
with a jade point, and tufted with feathers, quivered in the plaster.
Carver pulled-it out and looked at the discolored point critically.
Poisoned! he exclaimed. He gave it to the resident, remarking
With the compliments of the Argus Pheasant, Mr. Gross.
WITH pen poised, Peter Gross sat at his desk in the residency
building and stared thoughtfully at the blank sheets of stationery
before him. He was preparing a letter to Captain Rouse, to assure that
worthy that all was going well, that Paddy was in the best of health
and proving his value in no uncertain way, and to give a pen picture of
the situation. He began:
Doubtless you have heard from Paddy before this, but I want to add my
assurance to his that he is in the best of health and is heartily
enjoying himself. He has already proven his value to me, and I am
thanking my lucky stars that you let me have him.
We have been in Bulungan for nearly a month, and so far all is well.
The work is going on, slowly, to be sure, but successfully, I hope. I
can already see what I think are the first fruits of my policies.
The natives are not very cordial as yet, but I have made some
valuable friends among them. The decisions I have been called upon to
make seem to have given general satisfaction, in most instances. I have
twice been obliged to set aside the judgments of controlleurs,
whose rulings appeared unjust to me, and in both cases my decision was
in favor of the poorer litigant. This has displeased some of the
orang kayas, or rich men, of the villages, but it has strengthened
me with the tribesmen, I believe.
He described the council and the result, and continued:
I am now having a census taken of each district in the residency. I
have made the controlleur in each district responsible for the
accuracy of the census in his territory, and have made Mynheer Muller,
the acting-resident prior to my coming, chief of the census bureau. He
opposed the count at first, but has come round to my way of thinking,
and is prosecuting the work diligently. The chief difficulty is the
nativessome one has been stirring them upbut I have high hopes of
knowing, before the next harvest, how many people there are in each
village and what proportion of the tax each chief should be required to
bring. The taxation system has been one of the worst evils in Bulungan
in the past; the poor have been oppressed, and all the tax-gatherers
have enriched themselves, but I expect to end this....
I had a peculiar request made of me the other day. Captain Van Slyck
asked that Captain Carver and his company be quartered away from
Bulungan. The presence of Carver's irregulars was provoking jealousies
among his troops, he said, and was making it difficult to maintain
discipline. There is reason in his request, yet I hesitate to grant it.
Captain Van Slyck has not been very friendly toward me, and a mutiny in
the garrison would greatly discredit my administration. I have not yet
given him my answer....
Inchi tells me there is a persistent rumor in the town that the great
Datu, the chief of all the pirates, is in Bulungan. I would have
believed his story the day after the council, for I thought I
recognized his voice there; but I must have been mistaken. Captain
Enckle, of the Prins Lodewyk, who was here a week ago, brings me
positive assurance that the man is at Batavia. He saw him there
himself, he says. It cannot be that my enemy has a double; nature never
cast two men in that mold in one generation. Since Inchi cannot produce
any one who will swear positively that he has seen the Datu, I am
satisfied that the report is unfounded. Maybe you can find out
As Peter Gross was affixing the required stamp, the door opened and
Paddy Rouse entered.
The baby doll is here and wants to see you, Paddy announced.
Who? Peter Gross asked, mystified.
The yellow kid; old man Muller's chocolate darling, Paddy
Peter Gross looked at him in stern reproof.
Let the Juffrouw Koyala be the Juffrouw Koyala to you hereafter, he
Yes, sir. Paddy erased the grin from his lips but not from his
eyes. Shall I ask the lady to come in?
You may request her to enter, Peter Gross said. And, Paddy
leave the door open.
The red head bobbed to hide another grin.
Koyala glided in softly as a kitten. She was dressed as usual in the
Malay-Javanese costume of kabaya and sarong. Peter Gross could not help
noticing the almost mannish length of her stride and the haughty,
arrogant tilt of her head.
Unconquerable as the sea, he mused. And apt to be as tempestuous.
She's well namedthe Argus Pheasant.
He placed a chair for her. This time she did not hesitate to accept
it. As she seated herself she crossed her ankles in girlish
unconsciousness. Peter Gross could not help noticing how slim and
perfectly shaped those ankles were, and how delicately her exquisitely
formed feet tapered in the soft, doe-skin sandals.
Well, juffrouw, which of my controlleurs is in
mischief now? he asked in mock resignation.
Koyala flashed him a quick smile, a swift, dangerous, alluring smile.
Am I always complaining, mynheer? she asked.
Peter. Gross leaned back comfortably. He was smiling, too, a smile of
masculine contentment. No, not always, juffrouw, he conceded.
But you kept me pretty busy at first.
It was necessary, mynheer.
Peter Gross nodded assent. To be sure, juffrouw, you did have
reason to complain, he agreed gravely. Things were pretty bad, even
worse than I had expected to find them. But we are gradually improving
conditions. I believe that my officers now know what is expected of
He glanced at her reprovingly. You haven't been here much this week;
this is only the second time.
A mysterious light flashed in Koyala's eyes, but Peter Gross was too
intent on admiring her splendid physical sufficiency to notice it.
You are very busy, Mynheer Resident, Koyala purred. I take too
much of your time as it is with my trifling complaints.
Not at all, not at all, Peter Gross negatived vigorously. The more
you come, the better I am pleased. Koyala flashed a swift glance at
Come every day if you can. You are my interpreter, the only voice by
which I can speak to the people of Bulungan and be heard. I want you to
know what we are doing and why we are doing it; there is nothing secret
here that you should not know.
He leaned forward earnestly.
We must work out the salvation of Bulungan together, juffrouw.
I am relying very much upon you. I cannot do it alone; your people will
not believe in me. Unless you speak for me there will be
misunderstandings, maybe bloodshed.
Koyala's eyes lowered before his beseeching gaze and the earnestness
of his plea.
You are very kind, mynheer, she said softly. But you
overestimate my powers. I am only a womanit is the Rajahs who rule.
One word from Koyala has more force in Bulungan than the mandate of
the great council itself, Peter Gross contradicted. If you are with
me, if you speak for me, the people are mine, and all the Rajahs,
Gustis, and Datus in the residency could not do me harm.
He smiled frankly.
I want to be honest with you, juffrouw. I am thoroughly
selfish in asking these things. I want to be known as the man who
redeemed Bulungan, even though the real work is yours.
Koyala's face was hidden. Peter Gross saw that her lips pressed
together tightly and that she was undergoing some powerful emotion. He
looked at her anxiously, fearful that he had spoken too early, that she
was not yet ready to commit herself utterly to his cause.
I came to see you, mynheer, about an affair that happened in
the country of the Sadong Dyaks, Koyala announced quietly.
Peter Gross drew back. Koyala's reply showed that she was not yet
ready to join him, he perceived. Swallowing his disappointment, he
asked in mock dismay:
Another complaint, juffrouw?
One of Lkath's own people, a Sadong Dyak, was killed by a poisoned
arrow, Koyala stated. The arrow is tufted with heron's feathers;
Jahi's people use those on their arrows. Lkath has heard that the head
of his tribesman now hangs in front of Jahi's hut.
The smile that had been on Peter Gross's lips died instantly. His
face became drawn and hard.
I cannot believe it! he exclaimed at length in a low voice. Jahi
has sworn brotherhood with me and sworn to keep the peace. We rubbed
noses and anointed each others' foreheads with the blood of a
If you choose the hill people for your brothers, the sea people will
not accept you, Koyala said coldly.
I choose no nation and have no favorites, Peter Gross replied
sternly. I have only one desireto deal absolute and impartial
justice to all. Let me think.
He bowed his head in his hands and closed his eyes in thought. Koyala
watched him like a tigress in the bush.
Who found the body of the slain man? he asked suddenly, looking up
Lkath himself, and some of his people, Koyala replied.
Do the Sadong Dyaks use the sumpitan?
The Dyaks of the sea do not fight their enemies with poison, Koyala
said scornfully. Only the hill Dyaks do that.
H-m! Where was the body? How far from the stream?
It was by a water-hole.
How far from Lkath's village?
About five hours' journey. The man was hunting.
Was he alone? Were there any of Lkath's people with him?
One. His next younger brother. They became separated in the baba,
and he returned home alone. It was he who found the body, he and
Ah! Peter Gross exclaimed involuntarily. Then, according to Dyak
custom, he will have to marry his brother's wife. Are there any
One, Koyala answered. They were married a few moons over a year
ago. Pensively she added, in a woman's afterthought: The woman
grieves for her husband and cannot be consoled. She is very-beautiful,
the most beautiful woman of her village.
I believe that I will go to Sadong myself, Peter Gross said
suddenly. This case needs investigating.
It is all I ask, Koyala said. Her voice had the soft, purring
quality in it again, and she lowered her head in the mute Malay
obeisance. The action hid the tiny flicker of triumph in her eyes.
I will go to-morrow, Peter Gross said. I can get a proa at
You will take your people with you?
No, I will go alone.
It seemed to Peter Gross that Koyala's face showed a trace of
You should not do that, she reproved. Lkath is not friendly to
you. He will not welcome a blood-warrior of Jahi since this has
In a matter like this, one or two is always better than a company,
Peter Gross dissented. Yet I wish you could be there. I cannot offer
you a place in my proathere will be no room for a womanbut if you
can find any other means of conveyance, the state will pay. He looked
at her wistfully.
Koyala laughed. The Argus Pheasant will fly to Sadong faster than
your proa, she said. She rose. As her glance roved over the desk she
caught sight of the letter Peter Gross had just finished writing.
Oh, you have been writing to your sweetheart, she exclaimed.
Chaffingly as the words were spoken, Peter Gross felt a little of the
burning curiosity that lay back of them.
It is a letter to a sea-captain at Batavia whom I once served
under, he replied quietly. I told him about my work in Bulungan.
Would you care to read it?
He offered her the envelope. Quivering with an eagerness she could
not restrain, Koyala half reached for it, then jerked back her hand.
Her face flamed scarlet and she leaped back as though the paper was
death to touch. With a choking cry she exclaimed:
I do not want to read your letters. I will see you in Sadong She
bolted through the door.
Peter Gross stared in undisguised bewilderment after her. It was
several minutes before he recovered and placed the letter back in the
I never will be able to understand women, he said sadly, shaking
THE house of Lkath, chief of the Sadong Dyaks, stood on a rocky
eminence at the head of Sabu bay. The bay is a narrow arm of the
Celebes Sea, whose entrance is cunningly concealed by a series of
projecting headlands and jealously guarded by a triple row of saw-tooth
rocks whose serrated edges, pointed seaward, threaten mischief to any
ship that dares attempt the channel.
Huge breakers, urged on by the southeast monsoon, boil over these
rocks from one year's end to the next. The headlands drip with the
unceasing spray, and at their feet are twin whirlpools that go down to
the very bowels of the earth, according to tradition, and wash the feet
of Sangjang, ruler of Hades, himself. Certain it is that nothing ever
cast into the whirlpools has returned; certain it is, too, say the
people of Bulungan, that the Sang-sangs, good spirits, have never
brought back any word of the souls of men lost in the foaming waters.
In their rocky citadel and rock-guarded harbor the Sadong people have
for years laughed at their enemies, and combed the seas, taking by
force when they could, and taking in trade when those they dealt with
were too strong for them. None have such swift proas as they, and none
can follow them into their lair, for only the Sadong pilots know the
intricacies of that channel. Vengeful captains who had permitted their
eagerness to outrun discretion found their ships in the maelstrom and
rent by the rocks before they realized it, while the Sadongers in the
still, landlocked waters beyond, mocked them as they sank to their
Two days after Koyala had reported the murder of the Sadonger to
Peter Gross a swift proa approached the harbor. Even an uncritical
observer would have noticed something peculiar in its movements, for it
cut the water with the speed of a launch, although its bamboo sails
were furled on the maze of yards that cluttered the triangle mast. As
it neared the channel its speed was reduced, and the chug-chug of a
powerful gasoline motor became distinctly audible. The sentinel on the
promontory gesticulated wildly to the sentinels farther inland, for he
had distinguished his chief, Lkath, at the wheel.
Under Lkath's trained hand the proa skipped through the intricate
channel without scraping a rock and shot the length of the harbor. With
shouts of salaamat (welcome) the happy Sadongers trooped to
the water-front to greet their chief. Lkath's own body-guard, fifty men
dressed in purple, red, and green chawats and head-dresses and carrying
beribboned spears, trotted down from the citadel and cleared a space
for the voyagers to disembark from the sampans that had put out for
As the royal sampan grounded, Lkath, with a great show of ceremony,
assisted out of the craft a short, heavy-jowled Chinaman with a face
like a Hindoo Buddha's. A low whisper of awe ran through, the
crowdthis was the great Datu himself. The multitude sank to its
knees, and each man vigorously pounded his head on the ground.
The next passenger to leave the sampan was the Rajah Wobanguli, tall,
a trifle stoop-shouldered, and leering craftily at the motley throng,
the cluster of houses, and the fortifications. A step behind him
Captain Van Slyck, dapper and politely disdainful as always, sauntered
along the beach and took his place in one of the dos-a-dos that had
hastened forward at a signal from Lkath. The vehicles rumbled up the
When they neared the temple that stood close to Lkath's house at the
very summit of the hill an old man, dressed in long robes, stepped into
the center of the band and lifted his hand. The procession halted.
What is it, voice of Djath? Lkath asked respectfully.
The bilian is here, and awaits your presence, the priest
Lkath stifled ah exclamation of surprise.
Koyala is here, he said to his guests. Ah Sing's face was
expressionless. Wobanguli, the crafty, smiled noncommittally. Van Slyck
alone echoed Lkath's astonishment.
A hundred miles over jungle trails in less than two days, he
remarked, with a low whistle. How the devil did she do it?
There was no doubting the priest's words, however, for as they
entered the temple Koyala herself came to meet them.
Come this way, she said authoritatively, and led them into a
side-chamber reserved for the priests. The room was imperfectly lit by
a single window in the thick rock walls. A heavy, oiled Chinese paper
served as a substitute for glass.
He will be here to-morrow, she announced. What are you going to do
There was no need for her to mention a name, all knew whom she
referred to. A silence came upon them. Van Slyck, Wobanguli, and Lkath,
with the instinct of lesser men who know their master, looked at Ah
Sing. The Chinaman's eyes slumbered between his heavy lids.
What are you going to do with him, Datu? Koyala demanded,
addressing Ah Sing directly.
The Princess Koyala is our ally and friend, he replied gutturally.
Your ally waits to hear the decision of the council, Koyala
Wobanguli interposed. There are things, bilian, that are not
fitting for the ear of a woman, he murmured suavely, with a sidelong
glance at Ah Sing.
I am a warrior, Rajah, as well as a woman, with the same rights in
the council that you have, Koyala reminded.
Wobanguli smiled his pleasantest. True, my daughter, he agreed
diplomatically. But he is not yet ours. When we have snared the bird
it is time enough to talk of how it shall be cooked.
You told me at Bulungan that this would be decided on shipboard,
Koyala replied sharply. A tempest began to kindle in her face. Am I to
be used as a decoy and denied a voice on what shall be done with my
We haven't decided Van Slyck began.
That is false!
Van Slyck reddened with anger and raised his hand as though to strike
her. Koyala's face was a dusky gray in its pallor and her eyes blazed
Peace! Ah Sing rumbled sternly. He is my prisoner. I marked him
for mine before he was named resident.
You are mistaken, Datu, Koyala said significantly. He is my
prisoner. He comes here upon my invitation. He comes here under my
protection. He is my guest and no hostile hand shall touch him while he
Ah Sing's brow ridged with anger. He was not accustomed to being
crossed. He is mine, I tell you, woman, he snarled. His name is
written in my book, and his nails shall rest in my cabinet.
The Dyak blood mounted to Koyala's face.
He is not yours; he is mine! she cried. He was mine long before
you marked him yours, Datu.
Wobanguli hastened to avoid a rupture. If it is a question of who
claimed him first, we can lay it before the council, he suggested.
The council has nothing to do with it, Koyala retorted. There was a
dangerous gleam in her eyes. I marked him as mine more than a year
ago, when he was still a humble sailor with no thought of becoming
resident. His ship came to the mouth of the Abbas River, to Wolang's
village, and traded for rattan with Wolang. I saw him then, and swore
that one day he would be mine.
You desire him? Ah Sing bellowed. The great purple veins stood out
on his forehead, and his features were distorted with malignancy.
Koyala threw back her head haughtily.
If I do, who is going to deny me?
Ah Sing choked in inarticulate fury. His face was black with rage.
I will, woman! he bawled. You are mine Ah Sing's
He leaped toward her and buried his long fingers, with their sharp
nails, in the soft flesh of her arm. Koyala winced with pain; then
outraged virginity flooded to her face in a crimson tide. Tearing
herself away, she struck him a stinging blow in the face. He staggered
back. Van Slyck leaped toward her, but she was quicker than he and
backed against the wall. Her hand darted inside her kabaya and she drew
a small, silver-handled dagger. Van Slyck stopped in his tracks.
Ah Sing recovered himself and slowly smoothed his rumpled garments.
He did not even look at Koyala.
Let us go, he said thickly.
Koyala sprang to the door. She was panting heavily.
You shall not go until you pledge me that he is mine! she cried.
Ah Sing looked at her unblinkingly. The deadly malignancy of his face
caused even Van Slyck to shiver.
You may have your lover, woman, he said in a low voice.
Koyala stared at him as though turned to stone. Suddenly her cheeks,
her forehead, her throat even, blazed scarlet. She flung her weapon
aside; it clattered harmlessly on the bamboo matting. Tears started in
her eyes. Burying her face in her arms, she sobbed unrestrainedly.
They stared at her in astonishment. After a sidelong glance at Ah
Sing, Wobanguli placed a caressing hand on her arm.
my daughter he began.
Koyala flung his arm aside and lifted her tear-stained face with a
Is this my reward? she cried. Is this the return I get for all I
have done to drive the orang blanda out of Bulungan? My lover?
When no lips of man have ever touched mine, shall ever touch mine
She stamped her foot in fury. Fools! Fools! Can't you see why I want
him? He laughed at methere by the Abbas Riverlaughed at my
disgraceyea, I know he was laughing, though he hid his smile with the
cunning of the orang blanda. I swore then that he would be
mine that some day he should kneel before me, and beg for these arms
around his, and my kiss on his lips. Then I would sink a dagger into
his heart as I bent to kiss himlet him drink the deep sleep that has
no ending outside of Sangjang.
Her fingers clenched spasmodically, as though she already felt the
hilt of the fatal blade between them.
Van Slyck drew a deep breath. The depth of her savage, elemental
passion dazed him. She looked from man to man, and as he felt her eyes
upon him he involuntarily stepped back a pace, shuddering. The doubt he
had of her a few moments before vanished; he did not question but what
he had glimpsed into her naked soul. Lkath and Wobanguli were
convinced, too, for fear and awe of this wonderful woman were expressed
on their faces. Ah Sing alone scanned her face distrustfully.
Why should I trust you? he snarled.
Koyala started, then shrugged her shoulders indifferently and flung
the door open for them to pass out. As Ah Sing passed her he halted a
moment and said significantly:
I give you his life to-day. But remember, Bintang Burung, there is
one more powerful than all the princes of Bulungan.
The god Djath is greater than all princes and Datus, Koyala replied
quietly. I am his priestess. Answer, Lkath, whose voice is heard
before yours in Sadong?
Lkath bowed low, almost to the ground.
Djath rules us all, he acknowledged.
You see, Koyala said to Ah Sing, even your life is mine.
Something like fear came into the eyes of the Chinaman for the first
I go back to Bulungan, he announced thickly.
THE afternoon sun was waning when Peter Gross's sailing proa arrived
at Sadong. The resident had been fortunate in finding a Sadonger at
Bulungan, and a liberal promise of brass bracelets and a bolt of cloth
persuaded the rover to pilot them into Sadong harbor. Paddy Rouse
accompanied his chief.
A vociferous crowd of Dyaks hastened to the beach under the
misapprehension that the proa was a trader. When shouts from the crew
apprised them that the orang blanda chief was aboard, their
cries of welcome died away. Glances of curious and friendly interest
changed to glances of hostility, and men on the edges of the crowd
slunk away to carry the news through the village. The inhospitable
reception depressed Peter Gross, but he resolutely stepped into one of
the sampans that had put off from shore at the proa's arrival and was
paddled to the beach.
We must be awfully popular here, Paddy remarked cheerfully, and he
looked unabashed into the scowling faces of the natives. He lifted his
hat. Rays from the low-hanging sun shone through his ruddy, tousled
hair, making it gleam like living flame. A murmur of surprise ran
through the crowd. Several Dyaks dropped to their knees.
They're beginning to find their prayer-bones, Mr. Gross, Paddy
pointed out, blissfully unconscious that it was he who had inspired
At that moment Peter Gross saw a familiar girlish figure stride
lightly down the lane. His face brightened.
Good-afternoon, juffrouw! he exclaimed delightedly as she
approached. How did you get here so soon?
He offered his hand, and after a moment's hesitation Koyala permitted
his friendly clasp to encircle the tips of her fingers.
Lkath has a house ready for you, she said. The dos-a-dos will be
here in a moment. They chatted while the natives gaped until the
jiggly, two-wheeled carts clattered toward them.
Lkath received them at the door of his house. Peter Gross needed only
a glance into his face to see that Koyala had not been mistaken in her
warning. Lkath entertained no friendly feeling toward him.
Welcome to the falcon's nest, Lkath said.
The words were spoken with a stately courtesy in which no cordiality
mingled. Dyak tradition forbade closing a door to a guest, however
unwelcome the guest might be.
Seized with a sudden admiration of his host, who could swallow his
prejudices to maintain the traditional hospitality of his race, Peter
Gross resolved to win his friendship at all costs. It was his newborn
admiration that inspired him to reply:
Your house is well named, Gusti. None but eagles would dare roost
above the gate to Sangjang.
Lkath's stern features relaxed with a gratified smile, showing that
the compliment had pleased him. There was more warmth in his voice as
My poor house and all that is in it is yours, Mynheer Resident.
There is no door in Borneo more open than Lkath's, Peter responded.
I am happy to be here with you, brother.
The words were the signal, according to Dyak custom, for Lkath to
step forward and rub noses. But the chief drew back.
The blood of one of my people is between us, Mynheer Resident, he
said bluntly. There can be no talk of brother until the Sadong Dyaks
Am I not here to do justice? Peter Gross asked. Tomorrow, when the
sun is an hour high, we will have a council. Bring your people who know
of this thing before me at that time.
Lkath bowed and said: Very good, Mynheer Resident.
Having performed his duty as head of his nation, Lkath the chief
became Lkath the host, and ushered Peter Gross, Rouse, and Koyala into
the house. Peter Gross was surprised to find the dwelling fitted out
with such European conveniences as chandelier oil-lamps, chairs, and
tables, and even a reed organ. Boys dressed in white appeared with
basins of water and napkins on silver salvers for ablutions. The dinner
was all that an epicure could desire. Madeira and bitters were first
offered, together with a well-spiced vegetable soup. Several dishes of
fowls and other edible birds, cooked in various ways, followed. Then a
roast pig, emitting a most savory odor, was brought in, a fricassee of
bats, rice, potatoes, and other vegetables, stewed durian, and, lastly,
various native fruits and nuts. Gin, punch, and a native beer were
served between courses.
Lkath's formal dignity mellowed under the influence of food and wine,
and he became more loquacious. By indirect reference Peter Gross
obtained, piece by piece, a coherent account of the hunting trip on
which the Sadonger had lost his life. It confirmed his suspicion that
the brother knew far more about the murder than he had admitted, but he
kept his own counsel.
The next morning the elders assembled in the balais, or
assembly-hall. Peter Gross listened to the testimony offered. He said
little, and the only man he questioned was the Sadonger's brother,
Lkath's chief witness.
How did they know it was Jahi who was responsible? he asked the
Sadongers who had accompanied Lkath on the search. They broke into
voluble protestations. Did they use the sumpitan? Was it not
exclusively a weapon of the hill Dyaks? Did not the feathers on the
arrow show that it came from Jahi's tribe? And did they not find a
strip of red calico from a hillman's chawat in the bush?
Peter Gross did not answer their questions. Show me where the body
was found, he directed.
Paddy Rouse, usually bold to temerariousness, protested in dismay,
pointing out the danger in venturing into the jungle with savages so
There is no middle course for those who venture into the lion's
den, Peter Gross replied. We will be in no greater danger in the
jungle than here, and I may be able to solve the mystery and do our
cause some good.
I'm with you wherever you go, Paddy said loyally.
Lkath led the expedition in person. To Peter Gross's great relief,
Koyala went also. The journey took nearly five hours, for the road was
very rugged and there were many detours on account of swamps, fallen
trees, and impenetrable thickets. Koyala rode next to Peter Gross all
the way. He instinctively felt that she did so purposely to protect him
from possible treachery. It increased his sense of obligation toward
her. At the same time he realized keenly his own inability to make an
adequate recompense. Old Sachsen's words, If you can induce her to
trust us, half your work is done, came to him with redoubled force.
They talked of Bulungan, its sorry history, its possibilities for
development. Koyala's eyes glowed with a strange light, and she spoke
with an ardency that surprised the resident.
How she loves her country! he thought.
They were riding single file along a narrow jungle-path when Koyala's
horse stumbled over a hidden creeper. She was not watching the path at
the moment, and would have fallen had not Peter Gross spurred his
animal alongside and caught her. Her upturned face looked into his as
his arm circled about her and held her tightly. There was a furious
rush of blood to her cheeks; then she swung back into the saddle
lightly as a feather and spurred her horse ahead. A silence came
between them, and when the path widened and he was able to ride beside
her again, he saw that her eyes were red.
These roads are very dusty, he remarked, wiping a splinter of fine
shale from his own eyes. When they reached the scene of the murder
Peter Gross carefully studied the lay of the land. Lkath and the dead
man's brother, upon request, showed him where the red calico was found,
and how the body lay by the water-hole. Standing in the bush where the
red calico strip had been discovered, Peter Gross looked across the
seven or eight rods to the water-hole and shook his head.
There is some mistake, he said. No man can blow an arrow that
Lkath's face flashed with anger. When I was a boy, Mynheer Resident,
I learned to shoot the sumpitan, he said. Let me show you how a Dyak
can shoot. He took the sumpitan which they had taken with them at
Peter Gross's request, placed an arrow in the orifice, distended his
cheeks, and blew. The shaft went across the water-hole.
A wonderful shot! Peter Gross exclaimed in pretended amazement.
There is none other can shoot like Lkath.
Several Sadongers offered to show what they could do. None of the
shafts went quite so far as their chief's. Taking the weapon from them,
Peter Gross offered it to the dead Sadonger's brother.
Let us see how far you can shoot, he said pleasantly.
The man shrank back. Peter Gross noticed his quick start of fear. I
cannot shoot, he protested.
Try, Peter Gross insisted firmly, forcing the sumpitan into his
hand. The Sadonger lifted it to his lips with trembling hands, the
weapon shaking so that careful aim was impossible. He closed his eyes,
took a quick half-breath, and blew. The arrow went little more than
half the distance to the water-hole.
You did not blow hard enough, Peter Gross said. Try once more.
But the Sadonger, shaking his head, retreated among his companions, and
the resident did not press the point. He turned to Lkath.
It is time to start, if we are to be back in Sadong before malam
(night) casts its mantle over the earth, he said. Well content with
the showing he had made, Lkath agreed.
They were passing the temple; it was an hour before sundown when
Peter Gross said suddenly:
Let us speak with Djath on this matter. He singled out Koyala,
Lkath, and the Sadonger's brother, inviting them to enter the temple
with him. A dusky pallor came over the Sadonger's face, but he followed
the others into the enclosure.
The great god Djath is not my god, Peter Gross said, when they had
entered the silent hall and stood between the rows of grinning idols.
Yet I have heard that he is a god who loves the truth and hates
falsehood. It seems good to me, therefore, that the Bintang Burung call
down Djath's curse on this slayer of one of your people. Then, when the
curse falls, we may know without doubt who the guilty one is. Is it
The chief, although plainly amazed at hearing such a suggestion from
a white man, was impressed with the idea.
It is good, he assented heartily.
Peter Gross looked at Koyala. She was staring at him with a puzzled
frown, as if striving to fathom his purpose.
Invoke us a curse, O Bintang Burung, on the slayer, he asked.
Speak your bitterest curse. Give him to the Budjang Brani, to the
eternal fires at the base of the Gunong Agong.
Koyala's frown deepened, and she seemed on the point of refusal, when
Lkath urged: Call us down a curse, daughter of Djath, I beg you.
Seeing there was no escape, Koyala sank to her knees and lifted her
hands to the vault above. A vacant stare came into her eyes. Her lips
began to move, first almost inaudibly; then Peter Gross distinguished
the refrain of an uninterpretable formula of the Bulungan priesthood, a
formula handed down to her by her grandfather, Chawatangi. Presently
she began her curse in a mystic drone:
May his eyes be burned out with fire; may the serpents devour his
limbs; may the vultures eat his flesh; may the wild pigs defile his
bones; may his soul burn in the eternal fires of the Gunong Agong
Mercy, bilian, mercy! Shrieking his plea, the dead
Sadonger's brother staggered forward and groveled at Koyala's feet. I
will tell all! he gasped. I shot the arrow; I killed my brother; for
the love of his woman I killed him
He fell in a fit, foaming at the mouth.
There was utter silence for a moment. Then Peter Gross said to the
aged priest who kept the temple:
Call the guard, father, and have this carrion removed to the jail.
At a nod from Lkath, the priest went.
Neither Lkath nor Koyala broke the silence until they had returned to
the former's house. Peter Gross, elated at the success of his mission,
was puzzled and disappointed at the look he surprised on Koyala's face,
a look of dissatisfaction at the turn of events. The moment she raised
her eyes to meet his, however, her face brightened.
When they were alone Lkath asked:
How did you know, O wise one? His voice expressed an almost
The gods reveal many things to those they love, was Peter Gross's
To Paddy Rouse, who asked the same question, he made quite a
It was really quite simple, he said. The only man with a motive
for the crime was the brother. He wanted the wife. His actions at the
water-hole convinced me he was guilty; all that was necessary was a
little claptrap and an appeal to native superstition to force him to
confess. This looked bad for us at the start, but it has proven the
most fortunate thing that could have happened. Lkath will be with us
WHEN they rose the next morning Peter Gross inquired for his host,
but was met with evasive replies. A premonition that something had gone
wrong came upon him. He asked for Koyala.
The Bintang Burung has flown to the jungle, one of the servant lads
informed him after several of the older natives had shrugged their
shoulders, professing ignorance.
When did she go? he asked.
The stars were still shining, Datu, when she spread her wings, the
lad replied. The feeling that something was wrong grew upon the
An hour passed, with no sign of Lkath. Attempting to leave the house,
Peter Gross and Paddy were politely but firmly informed that they must
await the summons to the balais, or assembly-hall, from the
This is a rum go, Paddy grumbled.
I am very much afraid that something has happened to turn Lkath
against us, Peter Gross remarked. I wish Koyala had stayed.
The summons to attend the balais came a little later. When
they entered the hall they saw a large crowd of natives assembled.
Lkath was seated in the judge's seat. Peter Gross approached him to
make the customary salutation, but Lkath rose and folded his hands over
Mynheer Resident, the chief said with dignity, your mission in
Sadong is accomplished. You have saved us from a needless war with the
hill people. But I and the elders of my tribe have talked over this
thing, and we have decided that it is best you should go. The Sadong
Dyaks owe nothing to the orang blanda. They ask nothing of the
orang blanda. You came in peace. Go in peace.
A tumult of emotions rose in Peter Gross's breast. To see the fruits
of his victory snatched from him in this way was unbearable. A wild
desire to plead with Lkath, to force him to reason, came upon him, but
he fought it down. It would only hurt his standing among the natives,
he knew; he must command, not beg.
It shall be as you say, Lkath, he said. Give me a pilot and let me
He awaits you on the beach, Lkath replied. With this curt
dismissal, Peter Gross was forced to go.
The failure of his mission weighed heavily upon Peter Gross, and he
said little all that day. Paddy could see that his chief was wholly
unable to account for Lkath's change of sentiment. Several times he
heard the resident murmur: If only Koyala had stayed.
Shortly before sundown, while their proa was making slow headway
against an unfavorable breeze Paddy noticed his chief standing on the
raised afterdeck, watching another proa that had sailed out of a
jungle-hid creek-mouth shortly before and was now following in their
wake. He cocked an eye at the vessel himself and remarked:
Is that soap-dish faster than ours, or are we gaining?
That is precisely what I am trying to decide, Peter Gross answered
Paddy observed the note of concern in the resident's voice.
She isn't a pirate, is she? he asked quickly.
I am very much afraid she is. Peter Gross spoke calmly, but Paddy
noticed a tremor in his voice.
Then we'll have to fight for it? he exclaimed.
Peter Gross avoided a direct reply. I'm wondering why she can stay
so close inshore and outsail us, he said. The wind is offshore, those
high hills should cut her off from what little breeze we're getting,
yet she neither gains nor loses an inch on us.
Why doesn't she come out where she can get the breeze?
Ay, why doesn't she? Peter Gross echoed. If she were an honest
trader she would. But keeping that course enables her to intercept us
in case we should try to make shore.
Paddy did not appear greatly disturbed at the prospect of a brush
with pirates. In fact, there was something like a sparkle of
anticipation in his eyes. But seeing his chief so concerned, he
Can't we beat out to sea and lose them during the night?
Not if this is the ship I fear it is, the resident answered
What ship? The question was frankly curious.
Did you hear something like a muffled motor exhaust a little while
Paddy looked up in surprise. That's just what I thought it was, only
I thought I must be crazy, imagining such a thing here.
Peter Gross sighed. I thought so, he said with gentle resignation.
It must be her.
Who? What? There was no escaping the lad's eager curiosity.
The ghost proa. She's a pirateAh Sing's own ship, if reports be
true. I've never seen her; few white men have; but there are stories
enough about her, God knows. She's equipped with a big marine engine
imported from New York, I've heard; and built like a launch, though
she's got the trimmings of a proa. She can outrun any ship, steam or
sail, this side of Hong Kong, and she's manned by a crew of fiends that
never left a man, woman or child alive yet on any ship they've taken.
Paddy's face whitened a little, and he looked earnestly at the ship.
Presently he started and caught Peter Gross's arm.
There, he exclaimed. The motor again! Did you hear it?
Ay, Peter Gross replied. We had gained a few hundred yards on
them, and they've made it up.
Paddy noted the furtive glances cast at them by the crew of their own
proa, mostly Bugis and Bajaus, the sea-rovers and the sea-wash, with a
slight sprinkling of Dyaks. He called Peter Gross's attention to it.
They know the proa, the resident said. They'll neither fight nor
run. The fight is ours, Paddy. You'd better get some rifles on deck.
We're going to fight? Rouse asked eagerly.
Ay, Peter Gross answered soberly. We'll fight to the end. He
placed a hand on his protege's shoulder.
I shouldn't have brought you here, my lad, he said. There was
anguish in his voice. I should have thought of this
I'll take my chances, Paddy interrupted gruffly, turning away. He
dove into their tiny cubicle, a boxlike contrivance between decks, to
secure rifles and cartridges. They carried revolvers. When he came up
the sun was almost touching the rim of the horizon. The pursuing proa,
he noticed had approached much nearer, almost within hailing distance.
They don't intend to lose us in the dark, he remarked cheerfully.
The moon rises early to-night, Peter Gross replied.
A few minutes later, as the sun was beginning to make its thunderclap
tropic descent, the juragan, or captain of the proa issued a
sharp order. The crew leaped to the ropes and began hauling in sail.
Peter Gross swung his rifle to his shoulder and covered the navigator.
Tell your crew to keep away from those sails, he said with deadly
The juragan hesitated a moment, glanced over his shoulder at
the pursuing proa, and then reversed his orders. As the crew scrambled
down they found themselves under Paddy's rifle.
Get below, every man of you, Peter Gross barked in the lingua
franca of the islands. Repeat that order, juragan!
The latter did so sullenly, and the crew dropped hastily below,
apparently well content at keeping out of the impending hostilities.
These happenings were plainly visible from the deck of the pursuing
proa. The sharp chug-chug of a motor suddenly sounded, and the
disguised launch darted forward like a hawk swooping down on a chicken.
Casting aside all pretense, her crew showed themselves above the rail.
There were at least fifty of them, mostly Chinese and Malays, fierce,
wicked-looking men, big and powerful, some of them nearly as large,
physically, as the resident himself. They were armed with magazine
rifles and revolvers and long-bladed krisses. A rapid-firer was mounted
on the forward deck.
Paddy turned to his chief with a whimsical smile. Pretty big
contract, he remarked with unimpaired cheerfulness.
Peter Gross's face was white. He knew what Paddy did not know, the
fiendish tortures the pirates inflicted on their hapless victims. He
was debating whether it were more merciful to shoot the lad and then
himself or to make a vain stand and take the chance of being rendered
helpless by a wound.
The launch was only a hundred yards away now twenty yards. A cabin
door on her aft deck opened and Peter Gross saw the face of Ah Sing,
aglow in the dying rays of the sun with a fiendish malignancy and
satisfaction. Lifting his rifle, he took quick aim.
Four things happened almost simultaneously as his rifle cracked. One
was Ah Sing staggering forward, another was a light footfall on the
deck behind him and a terrific crash on his head that filled the
western heavens from horizon to zenith with a blaze of glory, the third
was the roaring of a revolver in his ear and Paddy's voice trailing
into the dim distance:
I got you, damn you.
When he awoke he found himself in a vile, evil-smelling hole, in
utter darkness. He had a peculiar sensation in the pit of his stomach,
and his lips and tongue were dry and brittle as cork. His head felt the
size of a barrel. He groaned unconsciously.
Waking up, governor? a cheerful voice asked. It was Paddy.
By this time Peter Gross was aware, from the rolling motion, that
they were at sea. After a confused moment he picked up the thread of
memory where it had been broken off.
They got us, did they? he asked.
They sure did, Paddy chirruped, as though it was quite a lark.
We haven't landed yet?
We made one stop. Just a few hours, I guess, to get some grub
aboard. I can't make out much of their lingo, but from what I've heard
I believe we're headed for one of the coast towns where we can get a
doctor. That shot of yours hit the old bird in the shoulder; he's
scared half to death he's going to croak.
If he only does, Peter Gross prayed fervently under his breath. He
asked Paddy: How long have we been here?
About fourteen hours, I'd say on a guess. We turned back a ways,
made a stop, and then headed this way. I'm not much of a sailor, but I
believe we've kept a straight course since. At least the roll of the
launch hasn't changed any.
Fourteen hours, Peter Gross mused. It might be toward Coti, or it
might be the other way. Have they fed you?
Not a blankety-blanked thing. Not even sea-water. I'm so dry I could
swallow the Mississippi.
Peter Gross made no comment. Tell me what happened, he directed.
Paddy, who was sitting cross-legged, tried to shuffle into a more
comfortable position. In doing so he bumped his head against the top of
their prison. Ouch! he exclaimed feelingly.
You're not hurt? Peter Gross asked quickly.
A plug in the arm and a tunk on the head, Paddy acknowledged. The
one in my arm made me drop my rifle, but I got two of the snakes before
they got me. Then I got three more with the gat before somebody landed
me a lollapalooza on the beano and I took the count. One of the
steersmen jurumuddis you call 'em, don't you?got you. We
forgot about those chaps in the steersmen's box when we ordered the
crew below. But I finished him. He's decorating a nice flat in a
shark's belly by now.
Peter Gross was silent.
Wonder why they didn't chuck us overboard, Paddy remarked after a
time. I thought that was the polite piratical stunt. Seeing they were
so darned considerate, giving us this private apartment, they might
rustle us some grub.
How shall I tell this light-hearted lad what is before us? Peter
Gross groaned in silent agony.
A voluble chatter broke out overhead. Through the thin flooring they
heard the sound of naked feet pattering toward the rail. A moment later
the ship's course was altered and it began pitching heavily in the big
rollers. Peter Gross sat bolt upright, listening intently.
What's stirring now? Paddy asked.
Hist! I don't know, Peter Gross warned sharply.
There was a harsh command to draw in sail, intelligible only to Peter
Gross, for it was in the island patois. Paddy waited in breathless
anticipation while Peter Gross, every muscle strained and tense,
listened to the dissonancy above, creaking cordage, the flapping of
bamboo sails, and the jargon of two-score excited men jabbering in
their various tongues.
There was a series of light explosions, and then a steady vibration
shook the ship. It leaped ahead instantly in response to its powerful
motor. It was hardly under way when they heard a whistling sound
overhead. There was a moment's pause, then the dull boom of an
explosion reached their ear.
We're under shell-fire! Paddy gasped.
That must be the Prins, Peter Gross exclaimed. I hope to
Heaven Enckel doesn't know we're aboard.
Another whistle of a passing shell and the thunder of an explosion.
The two were almost simultaneous, the shell could not have fallen far
from the launch's bow, both knew.
They may sink us! Paddy cried in a half-breath.
Better drowning than torture. The curt reply was cut short by
another shell. The explosion was more distant.
They're losing the range. Paddy exclaimed in a low voice. In a
flash it came to him why Peter Gross had said: I hope Enckel doesn't
know we're here.
Peter Gross stared, white, and silent into the blackness, waiting for
the next shell. It was long in coming, and fell astern. A derisive
shout rose from the pirates.
The Prins is falling behind, Paddy cried despairingly.
Ay, the proa is too fast for her, the resident assented in a
scarcely audible voice. Tears were coursing down his cheeks, tears for
the lad that he had brought here to suffer unnameable tortures, for
Peter Gross did not underestimate the fiendish ingenuity of Ah Sing and
his crew. He felt grateful for the wall of darkness between them.
Well, there's more than one way to crawl out of a rain-barrel,
Paddy observed with unimpaired cheerfulness.
Peter Gross felt that he should speak and tell Rouse what they had to
expect, but the words choked in his throat. Blissful ignorance and a
natural buoyant optimism sustained the lad, it would be cruel to take
them away, the resident thought. He groaned again.
Cheer up, Paddy cried, we'll get another chance.
The grotesqueness of the situationhis youthful protege striving to
raise his nagging spiritscame home to Peter Gross even in that moment
of suffering and brought a rueful smile to his lips..
I'm afraid, my lad, that the Prins was our last hope, he
said. There was an almost fatherly sympathy in his voice,
responsibility seemed to have added a decade to the slight disparity of
years between them.
Rats! Paddy grunted. We're not going to turn in our checks just
yet, governor. This bird's got to go ashore somewhere, and it'll be
deuced funny if Cap Carver and the little lady don't figure out some
way between 'em to get us out of this.
THE hatch above them opened. A bestial Chinese face, grinning
cruelly, appeared in it.
You b'g-um fellow gettee outtee here plenty damn quick! the
Chinaman barked. He thrust a piece of bamboo into the hole and prodded
the helpless captives below with a savage energy. The third thrust of
the cane found Peter Gross's ribs. With a hoarse cry of anger Paddy
sprang to his feet and shot his fist into the Chinaman's face before
the resident could cry a warning.
The blow caught the pirate between the eyes and hurled him back on
the deck. He gazed at Paddy a dazed moment and then sprang to his feet.
Lifting the cane in both his hands above his head, he uttered a shriek
of fury and would have driven the weapon through Rouse's body had not a
giant Bugi, standing near by, jumped forward and caught his arm.
Wrestling with the maddened Chinaman, the Bugi shouted some words
wholly unintelligible to Paddy in the pirate's ear. Peter Gross
scrambled to his feet.
Jump on deck, my lad, he shouted. Quick, let them see you. It may
Paddy obeyed. The morning sun, about four hours high, played through
his rumpled hair, the auburn gleaming like flame. Malays, Dyaks, and
Bugis, attracted by the noise of the struggle, crowded round and
pointed at him, muttering superstitiously.
Act like a madman, Peter Gross whispered hoarsely to his aide.
Paddy broke into a shriek of foolish laughter. He shook as though
overcome with mirth, and folded his arms over his stomach as he rocked
back and forth. Suddenly straightening, he yelled a shrill Whoopee!
The next moment he executed a handspring into the midst of the natives,
almost upsetting one of them. The circle widened. A Chinese mate tried
to interfere, but the indignant islanders thrust him violently aside.
He shouted to the juragan, who ran forward, waving a pistol.
Every one of the crew was similarly armed, and every one wore a kris.
They formed in a crescent between their officer and the captives. In a
twinkling Peter Gross and Rouse found themselves encircled by a wall of
The juragan's automatic dropped to a dead level with the eyes
of the Bugi who had saved Paddy. He bellowed an angry command, but the
Bugi closed his eyes and lowered his head resignedly, nodding in
negation. The other islanders stood firm. The Chinese of the crew
ranged themselves behind their captain and a bloody fight seemed
A Dyak left the ranks and began talking volubly to the juragan,
gesticulating wildly and pointing at Paddy Rouse and then at the sun. A
crooning murmur of assent arose from the native portion of the crew.
The juragan retorted sharply. The Dyak broke into another volley
of protestations. Paddy looked on with a glaringly stupid smile. The
juragan watched him suspiciously while the Dyak talked, but
gradually his scowl faded. At last he gave a peremptory command and
stalked away. The crew returned to their duties.
We're to be allowed to stay on deck as long as we behave ourselves
until we near shore, or unless some trader passes us, Peter Gross said
in a low voice to Rouse. Paddy blinked to show that he understood, and
burst into shouts of foolish laughter, hopping around on all fours. The
natives respectfully made room for him. He kept up these antics at
intervals during the day, while Peter Gross, remaining in the shade of
the cabin, watched the pirates. After prying into every part of the
vessel with a childish curiosity that none of the crew sought to
restrain, Paddy returned to his chief and reported in a low whisper:
The old bird isn't aboard, governor.
I rather suspected he wasn't, Peter Gross answered. He must have
been put ashore at the stop you spoke of.
It was late that day when the proa, after running coastwise all day,
turned a quarter circle into one of the numerous bays indenting the
coast. Peter Gross recognized the familiar headlands crowning Bulungan
Bay. Paddy also recognized them, for he cried:
They're bringing us back home. At that moment the tall Bugi who had
been their sponsor approached them and made signs to indicate that they
must return to the box between decks from which he had rescued them. He
tried to show by signs and gestures his profound regret at the
necessity of locking them up again, his anxiety to convince the son of
the Gunong Agong was almost ludicrous. Realizing the futility of
objecting, Peter Gross and Paddy permitted themselves to be locked in
the place once more.
It was quite dark and the stars were shining brightly when the hatch
was lifted again. As they rose from their cramped positions and tried
to make out the circle of faces about them, unceremonious hands yanked
them to the deck, thrust foul-smelling cloths into their mouths,
blindfolded them, and trussed their hands and feet with stout cords.
They were lowered into a boat, and after a brief row were tossed on the
beach like so many sacks of wool, placed in boxlike receptacles, and
hurried inland. Two hours' steady jogging followed, in which they were
thrown about until every inch of skin on their bodies was raw with
bruises. They were then taken out of the boxes and the cloths and cords
Looking about, Peter Gross and Paddy found themselves in the enclosed
court of what was evidently the ruins of an ancient Hindoo temple. The
massive columns, silvery in the bright moonlight, were covered with
inscriptions and outline drawings, crudely made in hieroglyphic art. In
the center of one wall was the chipped and weather-scarred pedestal of
a Buddha. The idol itself, headless, lay broken in two on the floor
beside it. Peter Gross's brow puckeredthe very existence of such a
temple two hours' journey distant from Bulungan Bay had been unknown to
The juragan and his Chinese left after giving sharp
instructions to their jailers, two Chinese, to guard them well. Peter
Gross and Paddy looked about in vain for a single friendly face or even
the face of a brown-skinned manevery member of the party was Chinese.
The jailers demonstrated their capacity by promptly thrusting their
prisoners into a dark room off the main court. It was built of stone,
like the rest of the temple.
Not much chance for digging out of here, Rouse observed, after
examining the huge stones, literally mortised together, and the narrow
window aperture with its iron gratings. Peter Gross also made as
careful an examination of their prison as the darkness permitted.
We may as well make ourselves comfortable, was his only observation
at the close of his investigation.
They chatted a short time, and at last Paddy, worn out by his
exertions, fell asleep. Peter Gross listened for a while to the lad's
rhythmic breathing, then tip-toed to the gratings and pulled himself up
to them. A cackle of derisive laughter arose outside. Realizing that
the place was carefully watched, he dropped back to the floor and began
pacing the chamber, his head lowered in thought. Presently he stopped
beside Rouse and gazed into the lad's upturned face, blissfully serene
in the innocent confidence of youth. Tears gathered in his eyes.
I shouldn't have brought him here; I shouldn't have brought him
here, he muttered brokenly.
The scraping of the ponderous bar that bolted the door interrupted
his meditations shortly after daybreak. The door creaked rustily on its
hinges, and an ugly, leering Chinese face peered inside. Satisfying
himself that his prisoners were not planning mischief, the Chinaman
thrust two bowls of soggy rice and a pannikin of water inside and
gestured to Peter Gross that he must eat. The indignant protest of the
door as it closed awoke Paddy, who sat bolt upright and blinked
sleepily until he saw the food.
What? Time for breakfast? he exclaimed with an amiable grin. I
must have overslept.
He picked up a bowl of rice, stirred it critically with one of the
chopsticks their jailers had provided, and snuffed at the mixture. He
put it down with a wry face.
Whew! he whistled. It's stale.
You had better try to eat something, Peter Gross advised.
I'm that hungry I could eat toasted sole leather, Paddy confessed.
But this stuff smells to heaven.
Peter Gross took the other bowl and began eating, wielding the
It isn't half badI've had worse rations on board your uncle's
ship, he encouraged.
Then my dear old avunculus ought to be hung, Paddy declared with
conviction. Hunger and his superior's example finally overcame his
scruples, however, and presently he was eating with gusto.
Faith, he exclaimed, I've got more appetite than I imagined.
Peter Gross did not answer. He was wondering whether the rice was
poisoned, and half hoped it has. It would be an easier death than by
torture, we thought. But he forebore mentioning this to Paddy.
TWO days, whose monotony was varied only by occasional visits from
one or another of their jailers, passed in this way. Peter Gross's
faint hope that they might be able to escape by overpowering the
Chinamen, while the latter brought them their meals, faded; the jailers
had evidently been particularly cautioned against such an attempt and
were on their guard.
On the afternoon of the second day a commotion in the fore-court of
the temple, distinctly audible through the gratings, raised their
curiosity to fever heat. They listened intently and tried to
distinguish voices and words in the hubbub, but were unsuccessful. It
was apparent, however, that a large party had arrived. There were fully
a hundred men in it, Peter Gross guessed, possibly twice that number.
What's this? Paddy asked.
Peter Gross's face was set in hard, firm lines, and there was an
imperious note in his voice as he said:
Come here, Paddy. I have a few words to say to you.
Paddy's face lost its familiar smile as he followed his chief to the
corner of their prison farthest from the door.
I don't know what this means, but I rather suspect that Ah Sing has
arrived, Peter Gross said. He strove to speak calmly, but his voice
broke. If that is the case, we will probably part. You will not see me
again. You may escape, but it is doubtful. If you see the slightest
chance to get away, take it. Being shot or krissed is a quicker death
than by torture.
In spite of his effort at self-control, Paddy's face blanched.
By torture? he asked in a low voice of amazement.
That is what we may expect, Peter Gross declared curtly.
Paddy breathed hard a moment. Then he laid an impulsive hand on his
Let's rush 'em the minute the door opens, Mr. Gross.
Peter Gross shook his head in negation. While there is life there is
hope, he said, smiling.
Paddy did not perceive that his chief was offering himself in the
hope that his death might appease the pirate's craving for vengeance.
They strolled about, their hearts too full for speech. Presently
Paddy lifted his head alertly and signaled for silence. He was standing
near the window and raised himself on tiptoe to catch the sounds coming
through. Peter Gross walked softly toward him.
What is it? he asked.
I thought I heard a white man speaking just now, Paddy whispered.
It sounded like Van Slyck's voiceHist!
A low murmur of ironic laughter came through the gratings. Peter
Gross's face became black with anger. There was no doubting who it was
that had laughed.
A few minutes later they heard the scraping of the heavy bar as it
was lifted out of its socket, then the door opened. Several armed
Chinamen, giants of their race, sprang inside. Ah Sing entered behind
them, pointed at Peter Gross, and issued a harsh, guttural command.
The resident walked forward and passively submitted to the rough
hands placed upon him. Paddy tried to follow, but two of the guards
thrust him back so roughly that he fell. Furious with anger, he leaped
to his feet and sprang at one of them, but the Chinaman caught him,
doubled his arm with a jiu-jitsu trick, and then threw him down again.
The other prodded him with a spear. Inwardly raging, Paddy lay
motionless until the guards tired of their sport and left him.
In the meantime Peter Gross was half led, half dragged through the
fore-court of the temple into another chamber. Those behind him prodded
him with spear-points, those in front spit in his face. He stumbled,
and as he regained his balance four barbs entered his back and legs,
but his teeth were grimly set and he made no sound. Although he gazed
about for Van Slyck, he saw no signs of him; the captain had
unquestionably deemed it best to keep out of sight.
In the chamber, at Ah Sing's command, they bound him securely hand
and foot, with thongs of crocodile hide. Then the guards filed out and
left the pirate chief alone with his prisoner.
As the doors closed on them Ah Sing walked slowly toward the
resident, who was lying on his back on the tessellated pavement. Peter
Gross looked back calmly into the eyes that were fixed so gloatingly
upon him. In them he read no sign of mercy. They shone with a savage
exultation and fiendish cruelty. Ah Sing sighed a sigh of satisfaction.
Why you don't speak, Mynheer Gross? he asked, mimicking Van
Schouten's raspy voice.
Peter Gross made no reply, but continued staring tranquilly into the
face of his arch-enemy.
Mebbe you comee Ah Sing's house for two-three men? the pirate chief
suggested with a wicked grin.
Mebbe you show Ah Sing one damn fine ring Mauritius? the pirate
Peter Gross did not flick an eyelash. A spasm of passion flashed over
Ah Sing's face, and he kicked the resident violently.
Speakee, Chlistian dog, he snarled.
Peter Gross's lips twitched with pain, but he did not utter a sound.
I teachum you speakee Ah Sing, the pirate declared grimly. Whipping a
dagger from his girdle, he thrust it between Peter Gross's fourth and
fifth ribs next to his heart. The point entered the skin, but Peter
Gross made no sound. It penetrated a quarter-inch.
Ah Sing, smiling evilly, searched the face of his victim for an
expression of fear or pain. Three-eighths of an inch, half an
inchPeter Gross suddenly lunged forward. An involuntary contraction
of his facial muscles betrayed him, and the Chinaman pulled the dagger
away, before the resident could impale himself upon it. He stepped
back, and a look of admiration came upon his faceit was the tribute
of one strong man to another.
Peter him muchee likee go sangjang (hades), he observed. Ah
Sing sendee him to-mollow, piecee, piecee, plenty much talkee then.
The pirate indicated with strokes of his dagger that he would cut off
Peter Gross's toes, fingers, ears, nose, arms, and legs piecemeal at
the torture. Giving his victim another violent kick, he turned and
passed through the door. A few minutes later a native physician came in
with two armed guards and staunched the flow of blood, applying
bandages with dressings of herbs to subdue inflammation.
Night settled soon after. The darkness in the chamber was abysmal.
Peter Gross lay on one side and stared into the blackness, waiting for
the morning, the morning Ah Sing promised to make his last. Rats
scurried about the floor and stopped to sniff suspiciously at him. At
times he wished they were numerous enough to attack him. He knew full
well the savage ingenuity of the wretches into whose hands he had
fallen for devising tortures unspeakable, unendurable.
Dawn came at last. The first rays of the sun peeping through the
gratings found him asleep. Exhausted nature had demanded her toll, and
even the horror of his situation had failed to banish slumber from his
heavy lids. As the sun rose and gained strength the temperature
sensibly increased, but Peter Gross slept on.
He awoke naturally. Stretching himself to ease his stiffened limbs,
he felt a sharp twitch of pain that brought instant remembrance. He
struggled to a sitting posture. The position of the sun's rays on the
wall indicated that the morning was well advanced.
He listened for the camp sounds, wondering why his captors had not
appeared for him before now. There was no sound outside except the
soughing of the wind through the Jungle and the lackadaisical chatter
of the pargams and lories.
Strange! he muttered to himself. It can't be that they've left.
His shoulders were aching frightfully, and he tugged at his bonds to
get his hands free, but they were too firmly bound to be released by
his unaided efforts. His clothing, he noticed, was almost drenched, the
heavy night dew had clustered thickly upon it. So does man cling to the
minor comforts even in his extremity that he labored to bring himself
within the narrow park of the sun's rays to dry his clothing.
He was still enjoying his sun-bath when he heard the bar that
fastened the door of his chamber lifted from its sockets. His lips
closed firmly. A half-uttered prayer, God give me strength, floated
upward, then the door opened. An armed guard, one of his jailers for
the past two days, peered inside.
Seeing his prisoner firmly bound, he ventured within with the
customary bowl of rice and pannikin of water. A slash of his kris cut
the thongs binding Peter Gross's hands, then the jailer backed to the
door while the resident slowly and dazedly unwound the thongs that had
Expecting nothing else than that he would be led to the torture,
persuaded that the door would be opened for no other purpose, Peter
Gross could not comprehend for a few moments what had happened. Then he
realized that a few hours of additional grace had been vouchsafed him,
and that Ah Sing and his crew must have left.
He wondered why food was offered him. In the imminent expectancy of
death, the very thought of eating had nauseated him the moment before.
Yet to have this shadow removed, if only for a few hours, brought him
an appetite. He ate with relish, the guard watching him in the meantime
with catlike intentness and holding his spear in instant readiness. As
soon as the resident had finished he bore the dishes away, barring the
door carefully again.
RELEASED from his bonds, for the jailer had not replaced these, Peter
Gross spent the hours in comparative comfort. He amused himself in
examining every inch of the cell in the faint hope that he might find a
weak spot, and in meditating other plans of escape. Although missing
Paddy's ready smile and readier chaff greatly, he did not worry about
the lad, for since he was safe himself he reasoned that his subordinate
Late in the afternoon, while he was pacing his cell, the sharp crack
of a rifle suddenly broke the forest stillness. Holding himself tense
and rigid with every fiber thrilling at the thought of rescue, he
listened for the repetition of the shot. It came quickly, mingled with
a blood-curdling yell from a hundred or more savage throats. There were
other scattered shots.
His finger-nails bit into his palms, and his heart seemed to stand
still. Had Carver found him? Were these Dyaks friends or enemies? The
next few moments seemed that many eternities; then he heard a ringing
We've got 'em all, boys; come on!
Peter Gross leaped to the grating. Here, Carver, here! he shouted
at the top of his voice.
Coming! twenty or more voices shouted in a scattered chorus. There
was a rush of feet, leather-shod feet, across the fore-court pavement.
The heavy bar was lifted. Striving to remain calm, although his heart
beat tumultuously, Peter Gross waited in the center of the chamber
until the door opened and Carver sprang within.
The captain blinked to accustom himself to the light. Peter Gross
stepped forward and their hands clasped.
In time, Mr. Gross, thank God! Carver exclaimed. Where's Paddy?
In the other chamber; I'll show you, Peter Gross answered. He
sprang out of his cell like a colt from the barrier and led the way on
the double-quick to the cell that had housed him and Paddy for two
days. Carver and he lifted the bar together and forced the door. The
cell was empty.
It took a full minute for the resident to comprehend this fact. He
stared dazedly at every inch of the floor and wall, exploring bare
corners with an eager eye, as though Paddy might be hiding in some nook
or cranny. But the tenantless condition of the chamber was
A half-sob broke in Peter Gross's throat. It was the first emotion he
had given way to.
They've taken him away, he said in a low, strained voice.
Search the temple! Carver shouted in a stentorian voice to several
of his command. Get Jahi to help; he probably knows this place.
Jahi's here? Peter Gross exclaimed incredulously.
He and a hundred hillmen, Carver replied crisply. Now to comb this
The tribesmen scattered to search the ruin. It was not extensive. In
the meantime Peter Gross briefly sketched the happenings of the past
few days to Carver. At the mention of Van Slyck the captain's face
The damn skunk said he was going to Padang, he exclaimed. He left
Banning in charge. I hope to God he stays away.
One of Jahi's hillmen reported that no trace of Rouse could be found.
Him no here; him in bush, he said.
The Chinks have gone back to their proas; the trail heads that way,
Carver said. Some of Jahi's boys picked it up before we found you. But
what the deuce do they want with Rouse, if they haven't killed him?
He's alive, Peter Gross declared confidently, although his own
heart was heavy with misgiving. We've got to rescue him.
They've got at least five hours the start of us, Carver remarked.
How far are we from the sea-coast?
Peter Gross's reply was as militarily curt as the captain's question.
About two hours' march.
They're probably at sea. We'll take a chance, though. He glanced
upward at the sound of a footfall. Ah, here's Jahi.
Peter Gross turned to the chieftain who had so promptly lived up to
his oath of brotherhood. Warm with gratitude, he longed to crush the
Dyak's hand within his own, but restrained himself, knowing how the
Borneans despised display of emotion. Instead he greeted the chief
formally, rubbing noses according to the custom of the country.
No word of thanks crossed his lips, for he realized that Jahi would
be offended if he spoke. Such a service was due from brother to
brother, according to the Dyak code.
Rajah, can we catch those China boys before they reach their proas?
No can catch, Jahi replied.
Can we catch them before they sail?
No can say.
How far is it?
They were standing near a lone column of stone that threw a short
shadow toward them. Jahi touched the pavement with his spear at a point
about six inches beyond the end of the shadow.
When there shall have reached by so far the finger of the sun, he
Both Carver and Peter Gross understood that he was designating how
much longer the shadow must grow.
About two hours, as you said, Carver remarked to his chief. We'd
better start at once.
Jahi bowed to indicate that he had understood. He took some soiled
sheets of China rice paper from his chawat.
Here are skins that talk, mynheer kapitein, he said
respectfully. Dyak boy find him in China boy kampong.
Carver thrust them into his pocket without looking at them and blew
his whistle. A few minutes later they began the march to the sea.
While they were speeding through a leafy tunnel with Jahi's Dyaks
covering the front and rear to guard against surprise, Carver found
opportunity to explain to Peter Gross how he had been able to make the
rescue. Koyala had learned Ah Sing's plans from a native source and had
hastened to Jahi, who was watching the borders of his range to guard
against a surprise attack by Lkath. Jahi, on Koyala's advice, had made
a forced march to within ten miles of Bulungan, where Carver, summoned
by Koyala, had joined him. Starting at midnight, they had made an
eight-hour march to the temple.
Koyala again, Peter Gross remarked. She has been our good angel
all the way.
Carver was silent. The resident looked at him curiously.
I am surprised that you believed her so readily,. he said. They
jogged along some distance before the captain replied.
I believed her. But I don't believe in her, he said.
Something's happened since to cause you to lose confidence in her?
Peter Gross asked quickly.
No, nothing specific. Only Muller and his controlleurs are
having the devil's own time getting the census. Many of the chiefs
won't even let them enter their villages. Somebody has been stirring
them up. And there have been raids
So you assume it's Koyala? Peter Gross demanded harshly.
Carver evaded a reply. I got a report that the priests are preaching
a holy war among the Malay and Dyak Mohammedans.
That is bad, bad, Peter Gross observed, frowning thoughtfully. We
must find out who is at the bottom of this.
The Argus Pheasant isn't flying around the country for nothing,
Carver suggested, but stopped abruptly as he saw the flash of anger
that crossed his superior's face.
Every success we have had is due to her, Peter Gross asserted
sharply. She saved my life three times.
Carver hazarded one more effort.
Granted. For some reason we don't know she thinks it's to her
interest to keep you alivefor the present. But she has an object. I
can't make it out yet, but I'm going to The captain's lips closed
You condemned her before you saw her because she has Dyak blood,
Peter Gross accused. It isn't fair.
I'd like her a lot more if she wasn't so confounded friendly,
Carver replied dryly.
Peter Gross did not answer, and by tacit consent the subject was
Captain Carver was looking at his watchthe two hours were more than
upwhen Jahi, who had been in the van, stole back and lifted his hand
in signal for silence.
here stay, Dyak boy smell kampong, he said.
CARVER gave a low-voiced command to halt, and enjoined his men to see
to their weapons. As he ran his eyes over his company and saw their
dogged jaws and alert, watchful faces, devoid of any trace of
nervousness and excitability, his face lit with a quiet satisfaction.
These men would fightthey were veterans who knew how to fight, and
they had a motive; Paddy was a universal favorite.
A Dyak plunged through the bush toward Jahi and jabbered excitedly.
China boy, him go proa, three-four sampan.
Lead the way, Carver cried. Peter Gross translated.
Double time, the captain shouted, as Jahi and his tribesmen plunged
through the bush at a pace too swift for even Peter Gross.
In less than, three minutes they reached the edge of the jungle, back
about fifty yards from the coral beach. Four hundred yards from shore a
proa was being loaded from several large sampans. Some distance out to
sea, near the horizon, was another proa.
A sharp command from Carver kept his men from rushing out on the
beach in their ardor. In a moment or two every rifle in the company was
covering the sampans. But there were sharp eyes and ears on board the
proa as well as on shore, and a cry of alarm was given from the deck.
The Chinese in the sampans leaped upward. At the same moment Carver
gave the command to fire.
Fully twenty Chinamen on the two sampans floating on the leeward side
of the proa made the leap to her deck, and of these eleven fell back,
so deadly was the fire. Only two of them dropped into the boats, the
others falling into the sea. Equipped with the latest type of magazine
rifle, Carver's irregulars continued pumping lead into the proa.
Several Chinamen thrust rifles over the rail and attempted a reply, but
when one dropped back with a bullet through his forehead and another
with a creased skull, they desisted and took refuge behind the ship's
steel-jacketed rail. Perceiving that the proa was armored against
rifle-fire, Carver ordered all but six of his command to cease firing,
the six making things sufficiently hot to keep the pirates from
The sampans were sinking. Built of skins placed around a bamboo
frame, they had been badly cut by the first discharge. As one of them
lowered to the gunwale, those on shore could see a wounded Chinaman,
scarce able to crawl, beg his companions to throw him a rope. A coil of
hemp shot over the deck of the vessel. The pirate reached for it, but
at that moment the sampan went down and left him swirling in the water.
A dorsal fin cut the surface close by, there was a little flurry, and
the pirate disappeared.
Peter Gross made his way through the bush toward Carver. The latter
was watching the proa with an anxious frown.
They've got a steel jacket on her, he declared in answer to the
resident's question. So long as they don't show themselves we can't
touch them. We couldn't go out to them in sampans if we had them;
they'd sink us.
Concentrate your fire on the water-line, Peter Gross suggested.
The armor doesn't probably reach very low, and some of these proas are
A good idea! Carver bellowed the order.
The fire was concentrated at the stern, where the ship rode highest.
That those on board became instantly aware of the maneuver was evident
from the fact that a pirate, hideously attired with a belt of human
hands, leaned over the bow to slash at the hempen cable with his kris.
He gave two cuts when he straightened spasmodically and tumbled
headlong into the sea. He did not appear above the surface again.
John Vander Esse, a member of the crew, murmured happily, refilling
his magazine. Now for nummer twee. (Number two.)
But the kris had been whetted to a keen edge. A gust of wind filled
the proa's cumbersome triangular sail and drove her forward. The
weakened cable snapped. The ship lunged and half rolled into the trough
of the waves; then the steersmen, sheltered in their box, gained
control and swung it about.
Gif heem all you got, Anderson, a big Scandinavian and particularly
fond of Rouse, yelled. The concentrated fire of the twenty-five rifles,
emptied, refilled, and emptied as fast as human hands could perform
these operations, centered on the stern of the ship. Even sturdy teak
could not resist that battering. The proa had not gone a hundred yards
before it was seen that the stern was settling. Suddenly it came about
and headed for the shore.
There was a shrill yell from Jahi's Dyaks. Carver shouted a hoarse
order to Jahi, who dashed away with his hillmen to the point where the
ship was about to ground. The rifle-fire kept on undiminished while
Carver led his men in short dashes along the edge of the bush to the
same spot. The proa was nearing the beach when a white flag was hoisted
on her deck. Carver instantly gave the order to cease firing, but kept
his men hidden. The proa lunged on. A hundred feet from the shore it *
struck on a shelf of coral. The sound of tearing planking was
distinctly audible above the roar of the waves. The water about the
ship seemed to be fairly alive with fins.
We will accept their surrender, Peter Gross said to Carver. I
shall tell them to send a boat ashore. He stepped forward.
Don't expose yourself, Mr. Gross, Carver cried anxiously. Peter
Gross stepped into the shelter of a cocoanut-palm and shouted the Malay
A Chinaman appeared at the bow. His dress and trappings showed that
he was a juragan.
Lower a boat and come ashore. But leave your guns behind, Peter
The juragan cried that there was no boat aboard. Peter Gross
conferred with Jahi who had hastened toward them to find out what the
conference meant. When the resident told him that there was to be no
more killing, his disappointment was evident.
They have killed my people without mercy, he objected. They will
cut my brother's throat to-morrow and hang his skull in their lodges.
It was necessary to use diplomacy to avoid mortally offending his
ally, the resident saw.
It was not the white man's way to loll when the fight is over, he
said. Moreover, we will hold them as hostages for our son, whom Djath
Jahi nodded dubiously. My brother's word is good, he said. There
is a creek near by. Maybe my boys find him sampan.
Go, my brother, Peter Gross directed. Come back as soon as
Jahi vanished into the bush. A half-hour later Peter Gross made out a
small sampan, paddled by two Dyaks, approaching from the south. That
the Dyaks were none too confident was apparent from the anxious glances
that they shot at the proa, which was already beginning to show signs
of breaking up.
Peter Gross shouted again to the juragan, and instructed him
that every man leaving the proa must stand on the rail, in full sight
of those on shore, and show that he was weaponless before descending
into the sampan. The juragan consented.
It required five trips to the doomed ship before all on board were
taken off. There were thirty-seven in alleleven sailors and the rest
off-scourings of the Java and Celebes seas, whose only vocation was
cutting throats. They glared at their captors like tigers; it was more
than evident that practically all of them except the juragan
fully expected to meet the same fate that they meted out to every one
who fell into their hands, and were prepared to sell their lives as
dearly as possible.
A nasty crew, Carver remarked to Peter Gross as the pirates were
herded on the beach under the rifles of his company. Every man's
expecting to be handed the same dose as he's handed some poor devil. I
wonder why they didn't sink with their ship?
Peter Gross did not stop to explain, although he knew the reason
whythe Mohammedan's horror of having his corpse pass into the belly
of a shark.
We've got to tie them up and make a chain-gang of them, Carver said
thoughtfully. I wouldn't dare go through the jungle with that crew any
Peter Gross was looking at Jahi, in earnest conversation with several
of his tribesmen. He perceived that the hill chief had all he could do
to restrain his people from falling on the pirates, long their
I will speak to them, he announced quietly. He stepped forward.
Servants of Ah Sing, he shouted in an authoritative tone. All eyes
were instantly focused on him.
Servants of Ah Sing, he repeated, the fortunes of war have this
day made you my captives. You must go with me to Bulungan. If you will
not go, you shall die here.
A simultaneous movement affected the pirates. They clustered more
closely together, fiercely defiant, and stared with the fatalistic
indifference of Oriental peoples into the barrels of the rifles aimed
You've all heard of me, Peter Gross resumed. You know that the
voice of Peter Gross speaks truth, that lies do not come from his
mouth. He glanced at a Chinaman on the outskirts of the crowd. Speak,
Wong Ling Lo, you sailed with me on the Daisy Deane, is it not
Wong Ling Lo was now the center of attention. Each of the pirates
awaited his reply with breathless expectancy. Peter Gross's calm
assurance, his candor and simplicity, were already stirring in them a
hope that in other moments they would have deemed utterly fantastic,
contrary to all naturea hope that this white man might be different
from other men, might possess that attribute so utterly
incomprehensible to their dark minds mercy.
Peter Gross, him no lie, was Wong Ling Lo's unemotional admission.
You have heard what Wong Ling Lo says, Peter Gross cried. Now,
listen to what I say. You shall go back with me to Bulungan; alive, if
you are willing; dead, if you are not. At Bulungan each one of you
shall have a fair trial. Every man who can prove that his hand has not
taken life shall be sentenced to three years on the coffee-plantations
for his robberies, then he shall be set free and provided with a farm
of his own to till so that he may redeem himself. Every man who has
taken human life in the service of Ah Sing shall die.
He paused to see the effect of his announcement. The owlish faces
turned toward him were wholly enigmatic, but the intensity of each
man's gaze revealed to Peter Gross the measure of their interest.
I cannot take you along the trail without binding you, he said.
Your oaths are worthless; I must use the power I have over you.
Therefore you will now remember the promise I have made you, and submit
yourselves to be bound. Juragan, you are the first.
As one of Carver's force came forward with cords salvaged from the
proa, the juragan met him, placed his hands behind his back, and
suffered them to be tied together. The next man hesitated, then
submitted also, casting anxious, glances at his companions. The third
submitted promptly. The fourth folded his hands across his chest.
I remain here, he announced.
Very well, Peter Gross said impassively. He forced several Chinamen
who were near to move back. They gave ground sullenly. At Carver's
orders a firing-squad of three men stood in front of the Chinaman,
whose back was toward the bay.
Will you go with us? Peter Gross asked again.
The Chinaman's face was a ghostly gray, but very firm.
Allah wills I stay here, he replied. His lips curled with a calm
contemptuousness at the white man's inability to rob him of the place
in heaven that he believed his murders had made for him. With that
smile on his lips he died.
A sudden silence came upon the crowd. Even Jahi's Dyaks, scarcely
restrained by their powerful chief before this, ceased their mutterings
and looked with new respect on the big orang blanda resident.
There were no more refusals among the Chinese. On instructions from
Peter Gross four of them were left unbound to carry the body of their
dead comrade to Bulungan. Alive or dead, he had said. So it would be
CAPTAIN CARVER selected a cigar from Peter Gross's humidor and
reclined in the most comfortable chair in the room.
A beastly hot day, he announced, wiping the perspiration from his
forehead. Regular Manila weather.
The monsoon failed us again to-day, Peter Gross observed.
Carver dropped the topic abruptly. I dropped over, he announced,
to see if the juragan talked any.
Peter Gross glanced out of the window toward the jungle-crowned
hills. The lines of his mouth were very firm.
He told me a great deal, he admitted.
About Paddy? There was an anxious ring in Carver's voice.
About Paddyand other things.
The lad's come to no harm?
He is aboard Ah Sing's proa, the proa we saw standing out to sea
when we reached the beach. He is safefor the present at least. He
will be useful to Ah Sing, the natives reverence him so highly.
Thank God! Carver ejaculated in a relieved voice. We'll get him
back. It may take time, but we'll get him.
Peter Gross made no reply. He was staring steadfastly at the hills
Odd he didn't take you, too, Carver remarked.
The juragan told me that he intended to come back with a
portion of his crew for me later, Peter Gross said. They ran short of
provisions, so they had to go back to the proas, and they took Paddy
with them. Some one warned them you were on the march with Jahi, so
they fled. Tsang Che, the juragan, says his crew was slow in
taking on fresh water; that is how we were able to surprise him.
That explains it, Carver remarked. I couldn't account for their
leaving you behind. Peter Gross lapsed into silence again.
Did you get anything else from him, any real evidence? Carver
The resident roused himself with an effort.
A great deal. Even more than I like to believe.
He turned state's evidence?
You might call it that.
You got enough to clear up this mess?
No, Peter Gross replied slowly. I would not say that. What he told
me deals largely with past events, things that happened before I came
here. It is the present with which we have to deal.
I'm a little curious, Carver confessed.
Peter Gross passed his hand over his eyes and leaned back.
He told me what I have always believed. Of the confederation of
pirates with Ah Sing at then-head; of the agreements they have formed
with those in authority; of where the ships have gone that have been
reported missing from time to time and what became of their cargoes; of
how my predecessor died. He made a very full and complete statement. I
have it here, written in Dutch, and signed by him. Peter Gross tapped
a drawer in his desk.
It compromises Van Slyck?
He is a murderer.
Of de Jongeyour predecessor?
It was his brain that planned.
A slaver and embezzler.
You're going to arrest them? Carver scanned his superior's face
Not yet, Peter Gross dissented quietly. We have only the word of a
pirate so far. And it covers many things that happened before we came
We're waiting too long, Carver asserted dubiously. We've been
lucky so far; but luck will turn.
We are getting the situation in hand better every day. They will
strike soon, their patience is ebbing fast; and we will have the
Prins with us in a week.
The blow may fall before then.
We must be prepared. It would be folly for us to strike now. We have
no proof except this confession, and Van Slyck has powerful friends at
That reminds me, Carver exclaimed. Maybe these documents will
interest you. They are the papers Jahi found on your jailers. They seem
to be a set of accounts, but they're Dutch to me. He offered the
papers to Peter Gross, who unfolded them and began to read.
Are they worth anything? Carver asked presently, as the resident
carefully filed them in the same drawer in which he had placed Tsang
They are Ah Sing's memoranda. They tell of the disposition of
several cargoes of ships that have been reported lost recently. There
are no names but symbols. It may prove valuable some day.
What are your plans?
I don't know. I must talk with Koyala before I decide. She is coming
Peter Gross glanced out of doors at that moment and his face
brightened. Here she comes now, he said.
Carver rose. I think I'll be going, he declared gruffly.
Stay, captain, by all means.
Carver shook his head. He was frowning and he cast an anxious glance
at the resident.
No; I don't trust her. I'd be in the way, anyway. He glanced
swiftly at the resident to see the effect of his words. Peter Gross was
looking down the lane along which Koyala was approaching. A necklace of
flowers encircled her throat and bracelets of blossoms hung on her
armsgardenia, tuberose, hill daisies, and the scarlet bloom of the
flame-of-the-forest tree. Her hat was of woven nipa palmleaves,
intricately fashioned together. Altogether she was a most alluring
When Peter Gross looked up Carver was gone. Koyala entered with the
familiarity of an intimate friend.
What is this I hear? Peter Gross asked with mock severity. You
have been saving me from my enemies again.
Koyala's smile was neither assent nor denial.
This is getting to be a really serious situation for me, he
chaffed. I am finding myself more hopelessly in your debt every day.
Koyala glanced at him swiftly, searchingly. His frankly ingenuous,
almost boyish smile evoked a whimsical response from her.
What are you going to do when I present my claim? she demanded.
Peter Gross spread out his palms in mock dismay. Go into
bankruptcy, he replied. It's the only thing left for me to do.
My bill will stagger you, she warned.
You know the Persian's answer, 'All that I have to the half of my
kingdom,' he jested.
I might ask more, Koyala ventured daringly.
Peter Gross's face sobered. Koyala saw that, for some reason, her
reply did not please him. A strange light glowed momentarily in her
eyes. Instantly controlling herself, she said in carefully modulated
You sent for me, mynheer?
I did, Peter Gross admitted. I must ask another favor of you,
Koyala. The mirth was gone from his voice also.
What is it? she asked quietly.
You know whom we have lost, Peter Gross said, plunging directly
into the subject. Ah Sing carried him away. His uncle, the boy's only
living relative, is an old sea captain under whom I served for some
time and a very dear friend. I promised him I would care for the lad. I
must bring the boy back. You alone can help me.
The burning intensity of Koyala's eyes moved even Peter Gross,
unskilled as he was in the art of reading a woman's heart through her
eyes. He felt vaguely uncomfortable, vaguely felt a peril he could not
see or understand.
What will be my reward if I bring him back to you? Koyala asked.
Her tone was almost flippant.
You shall have whatever lies in my power as resident to give, Peter
Gross promised gravely.
Koyala laughed. There was a strange, jarring note in her voice.
I accept your offer, Mynheer Resident, she said. But you should
not have added those two words, 'as resident.'
Rising like a startled pheasant, she glided out of the door and
across the plain. Peter Gross stared after her until she had
IT was Inchi who brought the news of Paddy's return. Three days after
Koyala's departure the little Dyak lad burst breathlessly upon a
colloquy between Peter Gross and Captain Carver and announced
Him, Djath boy, him, orang blanda Djath boy, him come.
What the devil is he driving at? Carver growled. The circumlocution
of the south-sea islander was a perennial mystery to him.
Paddy is coming, Peter Gross cried. Now get your breath, Inchi,
and tell us where he is.
His scant vocabulary exhausted, Inchi broke into a torrent of Dyak.
By requiring the lad to repeat several times, Peter Gross finally
understood his message.
Paddy, Koyala, and some of Koyala's Dyaks are coming along the
mountain trail, he announced. They will be here in an hour. She sent
a runner ahead to let us know, but the runner twisted an ankle. Inchi
found him and got the message.
There was a wild cheer as Paddy, dusty and matted with perspiration,
several Dyaks, and Koyala emerged from the banyan-grove and crossed the
plain. Discipline was forgotten as the entire command crowded around
I shot two Chinamans for you, Vander Esse announced. An' now daat
vas all unnecessary.
Ye can't keep a rid-head bottled up, Larry Malone, another member
of the company, shouted exultingly.
Aye ban tank we joost get it nice quiet van you come back again,
Anderson remarked in mock melancholy. The others hooted him down.
Koyala stood apart from the crowd with her Dyaks and looked on.
Glancing upward, Peter Gross noticed her, noticed, too, the childishly
wistful look upon her face. He instantly guessed the reason she felt
herself apart from these people of his, unable to share their intimacy.
Remorse smote him. She, to whom all their success was due, and who now
rendered this crowning service, deserved better treatment. He hastened
Koyala, he said, his voice vibrant with the gratitude he felt, how
can we repay you?
Koyala made a weary gesture of dissent.
Let us not speak of that now, mynheer, she said.
But come to my home, he said. We must have luncheon togetheryou
and Captain Carver and Paddy and I. With a quick afterthought he
added: I will invite Mynheer Muller also.
The momentary gleam of pleasure that had lit Koyala's face at the
invitation died at the mention of Muller's name.
I am sorry, she said, but there was no regret in her voice. I must
go back to my people, to Djath's temple and the priests. It is a long
journey; I must start at once.
You cannot leave us now! Peter Gross exclaimed in consternation.
For the present I must, she said resignedly. Perhaps when the moon
is once more in the full, I shall come back to see what you have done.
But we cannot do without you!
Is a woman so necessary? she asked, and smiled sadly.
You are necessary to Bulungan's peace, Peter Gross affirmed.
Without you we can have no peace.
If you need me, send one of my people, she said. I will leave him
here with you. He will know where to find me.
But that may be too late, Peter Gross objected. His tone became
very grave. The crisis is almost upon us, he declared. Ah Sing will
make the supreme test soonhow soon I cannot saybut I do not think
he will let very many days pass by. He is not accustomed to being
thwarted. I shall need you here at my right hand to advise me.
Koyala looked at him searchingly. The earnestness of his plea, the
troubled look in his straightforward, gray eyes fixed so pleadingly
upon her, seemed to impress her.
There is a little arbor in the banyan-grove yonder where we can talk
undisturbed, she said in a voice of quiet authority. Come with me.
We can use my office, Peter Gross offered, but Koyala shook her
I must be on my journey. I will see you in the grove.
Peter Gross walked beside her. He found difficulty in keeping the
pace she set; she glided along like a winged thing. Koyala led him
directly to the clearing and reclined with a sigh of utter weariness in
the shade of a stunted nipa palm.
It has been a long journey, she said with a wan smile. I am very
Forgive me, Peter Gross exclaimed in contrition. I should not have
let you go. You must come back with me to the residency and rest until
A half-hour's rest will be all I need, Koyala replied.
But this is no place for you, Peter Gross expostulated.
The jungle is my home, Koyala said with simple pride. The Argus
Pheasant nests in the thickets.
Surely not at night?
What is there to harm me? Koyala smiled wearily at his alarm.
But the wild beasts, the tigers, and the leopards, and the
orangutans in the hill districts, and the snakes?
They are all my friends. When the tiger calls, I answer. If he is
hungry, I keep away. I know all the sounds of the jungle; my
grandfather, Chawatangi, taught them to me. I know the warning hiss of
the snake as he glides through the grasses, I know the timid hoofbeat
of the antelope, I know the stealthy rustle of the wild hogs. They and
the jackals are the only animals I cannot trust.
But where do you sleep?
If the night is dark and there is no moon, I cut a bundle of bamboo
canes. I bind these with creepers to make a platform and hang it in a
tree. Then I swing between heaven and earth as securely or more
securely, than you do in your house, for I am safe from the malice of
men. If it rains I make a shelter of palm-leaves on a bamboo frame.
These things one learns quickly in the forest.
You wonderful woman! Peter Gross breathed in admiration.
Koyala smiled. She lay stretched out her full length on the ground.
Peter Gross squatted beside her.
You haven't told me where you found Paddy? he remarked after a
Oh, that was easy, she said. Ah Sing has a station a little way
this side of the Sadong country
Peter Gross nodded.
I knew that he would go there. So I followed. When I got there Ah
Sing was loading his proa with stores. I learned that your boy was a
prisoner in one of the houses of his people. I went to Ah Sing and
begged his life. I told him he was sacred to Djath, that the Dyaks of
Bulungan thought him very holy indeed. Ah Sing was very angry. He
stormed about the loss of his proa and refused to listen to me. He said
he would hold the boy as a hostage.
That night I went to the hut and found one of my people on guard. He
let me in. I cut the cords that bound the boy, dyed his face brown and
gave him a woman's dress. I told him to wait for me in the forest until
he heard my cry. The guard thought it was me when he left.
Her voice drooped pathetically.
They brought me to Ah Sing. He was very angry, he would have killed
me, I think, if he had dared. He struck mesee, here is the mark. She
drew back the sleeve of her kabaya and revealed a cut in the skin with
blue bruises about it. Peter Gross became very white and his teeth
closed together tightly.
That is all, she concluded.
There was a long silence. Koyala covertly studied the resident's
profile, so boyish, yet so masterfully stern, as he gazed into the
forest depths. She could guess his thoughts, and she half-smiled.
When you left, I promised you that you should have a
rewardanything that you might name and in my power as resident to
give, Peter Gross said presently.
Let us not speak of thatyet, Koyala dissented. Tell me, Mynheer
Gross, do you love my country?
It is a wonderfully beautiful country, Peter Gross replied
enthusiastically, falling in with her mood. A country of infinite
possibilities. We can make it the garden spot of the world. Never have
I seen such fertile soil as there is in the river bottom below us. All
it needs is time and labor and men with vision.
Koyala rose to a sitting posture and leaned on one hand. With deft
motion of the other she made an ineffectual effort to cover her
nut-brown limbs, cuddled among the ferns and grasses, with the
shortened kabaya. Very nymphlike she looked, a Diana of the jungle, and
it was small wonder that Peter Gross, the indifferent to woman, gave
her his serious attention while she glanced pensively down the forest
Men with vision! she sighed presently. That is what we have always
needed! That is what we have always lacked. My unhappy people!
Ignorant, and none to teach them, none to guide them into the better
way. Leaders have come, have stayed a little while, and then they have
gone again. Brooke helped us in Sarawaknow only his memory is left.
A pause. I suppose you will be going back to Java soon again,
Not until my work is completed, Peter Gross assured gravely.
But that will be soon. You will crush your enemies. You will
organize the districts and lighten our burdens for a while. Then you
will go. A new resident will come. Things will slip back into the old
rut. Our young men are hot-headed, there will be feuds, wars, piracy.
There are turns in the wheel, but no progress for us, mynheer.
Borneo! Her voice broke with a sob, and she stole a covert glance at
By heaven, I swear that will not happen, Koyala, Peter Gross
asserted vehemently. I shall not go away, I shall stay here. The
governor owes me some reward, the least he can give me is to let me
finish the work I have begun. I shall dedicate my life to Bulunganwe,
Koyala, shall redeem her, we two.
Koyala shook her head. Her big, sorrowful eyes gleamed on him for a
moment through tears.
So you speak to-day when you are full of enthusiasm, mynheer.
But when one or two years have passed, and you hear naught but the
unending tales of tribal jealousies, and quarrels over buffaloes, and
complaints about the tax, and falsehood upon falsehood, then your
ambition will fade and you will seek a place to rest, far from Borneo.
The gentle sadness of her tear-dimmed eyes, the melancholy cadences
of her voice sighing tribulation like an October wind among the maples,
and her eloquent beauty, set Peter Gross's pulses on fire.
Koyala, he cried, do you think I could give up a cause like
thisforget the work we have done togetherto spend my days on a
plantation in Java like a buffalo in his wallow?
You would soon forget Borneo in Java, mynheerand me.
The sweet melancholy of her plaintive smile drove Peter Gross to
Forget you? You, Koyala? My right hand, my savior, savior thrice
over, to whom I owe every success I have had, without whom I would have
failed utterly, died miserably in Wobanguli's hall? You wonderful
woman! You lovely, adorable woman!
Snatching her hands in his, he stared at her with a fierce hunger
that was half passion, half gratitude.
A gleam of savage exultation flashed in Koyala's eyes. The resident
was hers. The fierce, insatiate craving for this moment, that had
filled her heart ever since she first saw Peter Gross until it tainted
every drop of blood, now raced through her veins like vitriol. She
lowered her lids lest he read her eyes, and bit her tongue to choke
utterance. Still his grasp on her hands did not relax. At last she
asked in a low voice, that sounded strange and harsh even to her:
Why do you hold me, mynheer?
The madness of the moment was still on Peter. He opened his lips to
speak words that flowed to them without conscious thought, phrases as
utterly foreign to his vocabulary as metaphysics to a Hottentot. Then
reason resumed her throne. Breathing heavily, he released her.
Forgive me, Koyala, he said humbly.
A chill of disappointment, like an arctic wave, submerged Koyala. She
felt the sensation of having what was dearest in life suddenly snatched
from her. Her stupefaction lasted but an instant. Then the fury that
goads a woman scorned possessed her and lashed on the blood-hounds of
Forgive you? she spat venomously. Forgive you for what? The words
you did not say, just now, orang blanda, when you held these two
Peter Gross had risen quickly and she also sprang to her feet. Her
face, furious with rage, was lifted toward his, and her two clenched
fists were held above her fluttering bosom. Passion made her almost
Forgive you for cozening me with sweet words of our work, and
our mission when you despised me for the blood of my mother that is
in me? Forgive you for leading me around like a pet parrot to say your
words to my people and delude them? Forgive you for the ignominy you
have heaped upon me, the shame you have brought to me, the loss of
friendships and the laughter of my enemies?
Koyala Peter Gross attempted, but he might as well have tried to
Are these the things you seek forgiveness for? Koyala shrieked.
Liar! Seducer! Orang blanda!
She spat the word as though it were something vile. At that moment
there was a rustling in the cane back of Peter Gross. Bewildered,
contrite, striving to collect his scattered wits that he might calm the
tempest of her wrath, he did not hear it. But Koyala did. There was a
savage exultation in her voice as she cried:
To-morrow the last white will be swept from Bulungan. But you will
stay here, mynheer
Hearing the footsteps behind him, Peter Gross whirled on his heel.
But he turned too late. A bag was thrust over his head. He tried to
tear it away, but clinging arms, arms as strong as his, held it tightly
about him. A heavy vapor ascended into his nostrils, a vapor warm with
the perfume of burning sandalwood and aromatic unguents and spices. He
felt a drowsiness come upon him, struggled to cast it off, and yielded.
With a sigh like a tired child's he sagged into the waiting arms and
was lowered to the ground.
Very good, Mynheer Muller, Koyala said. Now, if you and Cho Seng
will bind his legs I will call my Dyaks and have him carried to the
house we have prepared for him.
WHEN Peter Gross failed to return by noon that day Captain Carver,
becoming alarmed, began making inquiries. Hughes supplied the first
I saw him go into the bush with the heathen woman while we was
buzzin' Paddy, he informed his commander. I ain't seen him since.
A scouting party was instantly organized. It searched the banyan
grove, but found nothing. One, of the members, an old plainsman,
reported heel-marks on the trail, but as this was a common walk of the
troops at the fort the discovery had no significance.
Where is Inchi? Captain Carver inquired. Search also failed to
reveal the Dyak lad. As this disquieting news was reported, Lieutenant
Banning was announced.
The lieutenant, a smooth-faced, clean-cut young officer who had had
his commission only a few years, explained the object of his visit
without indulging in preliminaries.
One of my Java boys tells me the report is current in Bulungan that
we are to be attacked tomorrow, he announced. A holy war has been
preached, and all the sea Dyaks and Malays in the residency are now
marching this way, he says. The pirate fleet is expected here to-night.
I haven't seen or heard of Captain Van Slyck since he left for Padang.
He was plainly worried, and Carver correctly construed his warning as
an appeal for advice and assistance. The captain took from his wallet
the commission that Peter Gross had given him some time before.
Since Captain Van Slyck is absent, I may as well inform you that I
take command of the fort by order of the resident, he said, giving the
document to Banning. The lieutenant scanned it quickly.
Very good, captain, he remarked with a relieved air. His tone
plainly indicated that he was glad to place responsibility in the
crisis upon an older and more experienced commander. I suppose you
will enter the fort with your men?
We shall move our stores and all our effects at once, Carver
declared. Are your dispositions made?
We are always ready, captain, was the lieutenant's reply.
From the roof of the residency Carver studied Bulungan town through
field-glasses. There was an unwonted activity in the village, he
noticed. Scanning the streets, he saw the unusual number of armed men
hurrying about and grouped at street corners and in the market-place.
At the waterfront several small proas were hastily putting out to sea.
It looks as if Banning was right, he muttered.
By sundown Carver's irregulars were stationed at the fort. Courtesy
denominated it a fort, but in reality it was little more than a
stockade made permanent by small towers of crude masonry, filled
between with logs set on end. The elevation, however, gave it a
commanding advantage in such an attack as they might expect. Peter
Gross had been careful to supply machine-guns, and these were placed
where they would do the most efficient service. Putting the Javanese at
work, Carver hastily threw up around the fort a series of barbed-wire
entanglements and dug trench-shelters inside. These operations were
watched by an ever-increasing mob of armed natives, who kept a
respectful distance away, however. Banning suggested a sortie in force
to intimidate the Dyaks.
It would be time wasted, Carver declared. We don't have to be
afraid of this mob. They won't show teeth until the he-bear comes.
We'll confine ourselves to getting readyevery second is precious.
A searchlight was one of Carver's contributions to the defenses.
Double sentries were posted and the light played the country about all
night, but there was no alarm. When dawn broke Carver and Banning, up
with the sun, uttered an almost simultaneous exclamation. A fleet of
nearly thirty proas, laden down with fighting men, lay in the harbor.
Ah Sing has arrived, Banning remarked. Absent-mindedly he mused: I
wonder if Captain Van Slyck is there?
Carver had by this time mastered just enough Dutch to catch the
What do you know about Captain Van Slyck's dealings with this gang?
he demanded, looking at the young man fixedly.
I can't saythat is Banning took refuge in an embarrassed
Never mind, Carver answered curtly. I don't want you to inform
against a superior officer. But when we get back to Batavia you'll be
called upon to testify to what you know.
Banning made no reply.
Carver was at breakfast when word was brought him that Mynheer
Muller, the controlleur, was at the gate and desired to see him.
He had left orders that none should be permitted to enter or leave
without special permission from the officer of the day. The immediate
thought that Muller was come to propose terms of surrender occurred to
him, and he flushed darkly. He directed that the controlleur be
Goeden-morgen, mynheer kapitein,
Muller greeted as he entered. His face was very pale, but he seemed
to carry himself with more dignity than customarily, Carver noticed.
State your mission, mynheer, Carver directed bluntly,
transfixing the controlleur with his stern gaze.
you must fight for your lives to-day, Muller said. Ah Sing is
here, there are three thousand Dyaks and Malays below. His voice
quavered, but he pulled himself together quickly. I see you are
prepared. Therefore what I have told you is no news to you. He paused.
Proceed, Carver directed curtly.
I am here to fight and die with you, the controlleur
A momentary flash of astonishment crossed Carver's face. Then his
suspicions were redoubled.
I hadn't expected this, he said, without mincing words. I thought
you would be on the other side.
Muller's face reddened, but he instantly recovered. There was a time
when I thought so, too, kapitein, he admitted candidly. But I
now see I was in the wrong. What has been done, I cannot undo. But I
can die with you. There is no escape for you to-day, they are too many,
and too well armed. I have lived a Celebes islander, a robber, and a
friend of robbers. I can at least die a white man and a Hollander.
Carver looked at him fixedly.
Where is the resident? he demanded.
In a hut, in the jungle.
In Ah Sing's hands?
He is Koyala's prisoner. Ah Sing does not know he is there.
Um! Carver grunted: The exclamation hid a world of meaning. It took
little thought on his part to vision what had occurred.
Why aren't you with Koyala? he asked crisply.
Muller looked away. She does not want me, he said in a low voice.
For the first time since coming to Bulungan, Carver felt a trace of
sympathy for Muller. He, too, had been disappointed in love. His tone
was a trifle less gruff as he asked: Can you handle a gun?
You understand you'll get a bullet through the head at the first
sign of treachery?
Muller flushed darkly. Ja, mynheer, he affirmed with quiet
dignity. It was the flush that decided Carver.
Report to Lieutenant Banning, he said. He'll give you a rifle.
It was less than an hour later that the investment of the fort began.
The Dyaks, scurrying through the banyan groves and bamboo thickets,
enclosed it on the rear and landward sides. Ah Sing's pirates and the
Malays crawled up the rise to attack it from the front. Two of Ah
Sing's proas moved up the bay to shut off escape from the sea.
An insolent demand from Ah Sing and Wobanguli that they surrender
prefaced the hostilities.
Tell the Rajah and his Chinese cut-throat that we'll have the
pleasure of hanging them, was Carver's reply.
To meet the attack, Carver entrusted the defense of the rear and
landward walls to the Dutch and Javanese under Banning, while he looked
after the frontal attack, which he shrewdly guessed would be the most
severe. Taking advantage of every bush and tree, and particularly the
hedges that lined the lane leading down to Bulungan, the Malays and
pirates got within six hundred yards of the fort. A desultory
rifle-fire was opened. It increased rapidly, and soon a hail of bullets
began sweeping over the enclosure.
They've got magazine-rifles, Carver muttered to himself. Latest
pattern, too. That's what comes of letting traders sell promiscuously
The defenders made a vigorous reply. The magazine-rifles were used
with telling effect. Banning had little difficulty keeping the Dyaks
back, but the pirates and Malays were a different race of fighters, and
gradually crept closer in, taking advantage of every bit of cover that
the heavily grown country afforded.
As new levies of natives arrived, the fire increased in intensity.
There were at least a thousand rifles in the attacking force, Carver
judged, and some of the pirates soon demonstrated that they were able
marksmen. An old plainsman was the first casualty. He was sighting
along his rifle at a daring Manchu who had advanced within three
hundred yards of the enclosure when a bullet struck him in the forehead
and passed through his skull. He fell where he stood.
Shortly thereafter Gibson, an ex-sailor, uttered an exclamation, and
clapped his right hand to his left shoulder.
Are ye hit? Larry Malone asked.
They winged me, I guess, Gibson said.
The Dutch medical officer hastened forward. The bone's broken, he
pronounced. We'll have to amputate.
Then let me finish this fight first, Gibson retorted, picking up
his rifle. The doctor was a soldier, too. He tied the useless arm in a
sling, filled Gibson's magazine, and jogged away to other duties with a
parting witticism about Americans who didn't know when to quit. There
was plenty of work for him to do. Within the next half hour ten men
were brought into the improvised hospital, and, Carver, on the walls,
was tugging his chin, wondering whether he would be able to hold the
The firing began to diminish. Scanning the underbrush to see what
significance this might have, Carver saw heavy columns of natives
forming. The first test was upon them. At his sharp command the reply
fire from the fort ceased and every man filled his magazine.
With a wild whoop the Malays and Chinese rose from the bush and raced
toward the stockade. There was an answering yell from the other side as
the Dyaks, spears and krisses waving, sprang from the jungle. On the
walls, silence. The brown wave swept like an avalanche to within three
hundred yards. The Javanese looked anxiously at their white leader,
standing like a statue, watching the human tide roll toward him. Two
hundred yards a hundred and fifty yards. The Dutch riflemen began to
fidget. A hundred yards. An uneasy murmur ran down the whole line.
Carver gave the signal. Banning instantly repeated it. A sheet of
flame leaped from the walls as rifles and machine-guns poured their
deadly torrents of lead into the advancing horde. The first line melted
away like butter before a fire. Their wild yells of triumph changed to
frantic shrieks of panic, the Dyaks broke and fled for the protecting
cover of the jungle while the guns behind them decimated their ranks.
The Malays and Chinese got within ten yards of the fort before they
succumbed to the awful fusillade, and fled and crawled back to shelter.
A mustached Manchu alone reached the gate. He waved his huge kris, but
at that moment one of Carver's company emptied a rifle into his chest
and he fell at the very base of the wall.
The attack was begun, checked, and ended within four minutes. Over
two hundred dead and wounded natives and Chinese lay scattered about
the plain. The loss within the fort had been four killed and five
wounded. Two of the dead were from Carver's command, John Vander Esse
and a Californian. As he counted his casualties, Carver's lips
tightened. His thoughts were remarkably similar to that of the great
Epirot: Another such victory and I am undone.
Lieutenant Banning, mopping his brow, stepped forward to felicitate
his commanding officer.
They'll leave us alone for to-day, anyway, he predicted.
Carver stroked his chin in silence a moment.
I don't think Ah Sing's licked so soon, he replied.
For the next three hours there was only desultory firing. The great
body of natives seemed to have departed, leaving only a sufficient
force behind to hold the defenders in check in case they attempted to
leave the fort. Speculation on the next step of the natives was soon
answered. Scanning the harbor with his glasses, Carver detected an
unwonted activity on the deck of one of the proas. He watched it
closely for a few moments, then he uttered an exclamation.
They're unloading artillery, he told Lieutenant Banning.
The lieutenant's lips tightened.
We have nothing except these old guns, he replied.
They're junk, Carver observed succinctly. These proas carry
Krupps, I'm told.
What are you going to do?
We'll see whether they can handle it first. If they make it too hot
for uswell, we'll die fighting.
The first shell broke over the fort an hour later and exploded in the
jungle on the other side. Twenty or thirty shells were wasted in this
way before the gunner secured the range. His next effort landed against
one of the masonry towers on the side defended by the Dutch. When the
smoke had cleared away the tower lay leveled. Nine dead and wounded men
were scattered among the ruins. A yell rose from the natives, which the
remaining Dutch promptly answered with a stinging volley.
Hold your fire, Carver directed Banning. We'd better take to the
trenches. These had been dug the day before and deepened during the
past hour. Carver issued the necessary commands and the defenders,
except ten pickets, concealed themselves in their earthen shelters.
The gunnery of the Chinese artilleryman improved, and gaunt breaches
were formed in the walls. One by one the towers crumbled. Each
well-placed shell was signalized by cheers from the Dyaks and Malays.
The shelling finally ceased abruptly. Carver and Banning surveyed the
scene. A ruin of fallen stones and splintered logs was all that lay
between them and the horde of over three thousand pirates and Malay and
Dyak rebels. The natives were forming for a charge.
Carver took the lieutenant's hand in his own firm grip.
This is probably the end, he said. I'm glad to die fighting in
such good company.
LYING on the bamboo floor of the jungle hut which Muller had spoken
of, his hands and feet firmly bound, and a Dyak guard armed with spear
and kris at the door, Peter Gross thought over the events of his
administration as resident of Bulungan. His thoughts were not pleasant.
Shame filled his heart and reddened his brow as he thought of how
confidently he had assumed his mission, how firmly he had believed
himself to be the chosen instrument of destiny to restore order in the
distracted colony and punish those guilty of heinous crimes, and how
arrogantly he had rejected the sage advice of his elders.
He recollected old Sachsen's warning and his own impatient replythe
event that he deemed so preposterous at that time and old Sachsen had
foreseen had actually come to pass. He had fallen victim to Koyala's
wiles. And she had betrayed him. Bitterly he cursed his stupid folly,
the folly that had led him to enter the jungle with her, the folly of
that mad moment when temptation had assailed him where man is weakest.
In his bitter self-excoriation he had no thought of condemnation for
her. The fault was his, he vehemently assured himself, lashing himself
with the scorpions of self-reproach. She was what nature and the sin of
her father had made her, a child of two alien, unincorporable races, a
daughter of the primitive, wild, untamed, uncontrolled, loving
fiercely, hating fiercely, capable of supremest sacrifice, capable,
too, of the most fiendish cruelty.
He had taken this creature and used her for his own ends, he had
praised her, petted her, treated her as an equal, companion, and
helpmate. Then, when that moment of madness was upon them both, he had
suddenly wounded her acutely sensitive, bitterly proud soul by drawing
the bar sinister. How she must have suffered! He winced at the thought
of the pain he had inflicted. She could not be blamed, no, the fault
was his, he acknowledged. He should have considered that he was dealing
with a creature of flesh and blood, a woman with youth, and beauty, and
passion. If he, who so fondly dreamed that his heart was marble, could
fall so quickly and so fatally, could he censure her?
Carver, too, had warned him. Not once, but many times, almost daily.
He had laughed at the warnings, later almost quarreled. What should he
say if he ever saw Carver again? He groaned.
There was a soft swish of skirts. Koyala stood before him. She gazed
at him coldly. There was neither hate nor love in her eyes, only
indifference. In her hand she held a dagger. Peter Gross returned her
gaze without flinching.
You are my prisoner, orang blanda, she said. Mine only.
This hut is mine. We are alone here, in the jungle, except for one of
You may do with me as you will, Koyala, Peter Gross replied
Koyala started, and looked at him keenly.
I have come to carry you away, she announced.
Peter Gross looked at her in silence.
But first there are many things that we must talk about, she said.
Peter Gross rose to a sitting posture. I am listening, he
Koyala did not reply at once. She was gazing fixedly into his eyes,
those frank, gray eyes that had so often looked clearly and honestly
into hers as he enthusiastically spoke of their joint mission in
Bulungan. A half-sob broke in her throat, but she restrained it
Do you remember, mynheer, when we first met? she asked.
It was at the mouth of the Abbas River, was it not? At Wolang's
Why did you laugh at me then? she exclaimed fiercely.
Peter Gross looked at her in astonishment. I laughed at you? he
Yes, on the beach. When I told you you must go. You laughed. Do not
deny it, you laughed! The fierce intensity of her tone betrayed her
Peter Gross shook his head while his gaze met hers frankly. I do not
recollect, he said. I surely did not laugh at youI do not know what
it was A light broke upon him. Ay, to be sure, I remember, now. It
was a Dyak boy with a mountain goat. He was drinking milk from the
teats. Don't you recall?
You are trying to deceive me, Koyala cried angrily. You laughed
As God lives, it is the truth!
Koyala placed the point of her dagger over Peter Gross's heart.
she said, I have sworn to kill you if you lie to me in any single
particular to-day. I did not see that whereof you speak. There was no
boy, no goat. Quick now, the truth, if you would save your life.
Peter Gross met her glance fearlessly.
I have told you why I laughed, Koyala, he replied. I can tell you
The point of the dagger pricked the resident's skin.
Then you would rather die?
Peter Gross merely stared at her. Koyala drew a deep breath and drew
back the blade.
First we shall talk of other things, she said.
At that moment the rattle of rifle-fire reached Peter Gross's ears.
What is that? he cried.
Koyala laughed, a low laugh of exultation. That, mynheer, is
the children of Bulungan driving the white peccaries from Borneo.
Ah Sing has attacked? Peter Gross could not help, in his
excitement, letting a note of his dismay sound in his voice.
Ah Sing and his pirates, Koyala cried triumphantly. Wobanguli and
the warriors of Bulungan. Lkath and his Sadong Dyaks. The Malays from
the coast towns. All Bulungan except the hill people. They are all
there, as many as the sands of the seashore, and they have the orang
blanda from Holland, and the Javanese, and the loud-voiced orang
blanda that you brought with you, penned in Van Slyck's kampong.
None will escape.
Thank God Carver's in the fort, Peter Gross ejaculated.
But they cannot escape, Koyala insisted fiercely.
We shall see, Peter Gross replied. Great as were the odds, he felt
confident of Carver's ability to hold out a few days anyway. He had yet
to learn of the artillery Ah Sing commanded.
Not one shall escape, Koyala reiterated, the tigerish light glowing
in her eyes. Ah Sing has pledged it to me, Wobanguli has pledged it to
me, the last orang blanda shall be driven from Bulungan, She
clutched the hilt of her dagger fiercely.
Amazed at her vehemence, Peter Gross watched the shifting display of
emotion on her face.
Koyala, he said, suddenly, why do you hate us whites so?
He shrank before the fierce glance she cast at him.
Is there any need to ask? she cried violently. Did I not tell you
the first day we met, when I told you I asked no favors of you, and
would accept none? What have you and your race brought to my people and
to me but misery, and more misery? You came with fair promises, how
have you fulfilled them? In the orang blanda way, falsehood upon
falsehood, taking all, giving none. Why don't I kill you now, when I
have you in my power, when I have only to drop my hand thus she
flashed the dagger at Peter Gross's breastand I will be revenged?
Why? Because I was a fool, white man, because I listened to your lies
and believed when all my days I have sworn I would not. So I have let
you live, unless She did not finish the thought, but stood in rigid
attention, listening to the increasing volume of rifle-fire.
They are wiping it out in blood there, she said softly to herself,
the wrongs of Bulungan, what my unhappy country has suffered from the
Peter Gross's head was bowed humbly.
I have wronged you, he said humbly. But, before God, I did it in
ignorance. I thought you understoodI thought you worked with me for
Bulungan and Bulungan only, with no thought of self. So I worked. Yet
somehow, my plans went wrong. The people did not trust me. I tried to
relieve them of unjust taxes. They would not let me take the census. I
tried to end raiding. There were always disorders and I could not find
the guilty. I found a murderer for Lkath, among his own people, yet he
drove me away. I cannot understand it.
Do you know why? Koyala exclaimed exult-ingly. Do you know why you
failed? It was III, who worked against you. The orang kayas
sent their runners to me and said: 'Shall we give the controlleur
the count of our people?' and I said 'No, Djath forbids.' To the Rajahs
and Gustis I said: 'Let there be wars, we must keep the ancient valor
of our people lest they become like the Javanese, a nation of slaves.'
You almost tricked Lkath into taking the oath. But in the night I went
to him and said: ' Shall the vulture rest in the eagle's nest?' and he
drove you away.
Peter Gross stared at her with eyes that saw not. The house of his
faith was crumbling into ruins, yet he scarcely realized it himself,
,the revelation of her perfidy had come so suddenly. He groped blindly
for salvage from the wreck, crying:
But you saved my lifethree times!
She saw his suffering and smiled. So she had been made to suffer, not
once, but a thousand times.
That was because I had sworn the revenge should be mine, not Ah
Sing's or any one else's, orang blanda.
Peter Gross lowered his face in the shadow. He did not care to have
her see how great had been his disillusionment, how deep was his pain.
You may do with me as you will, juffrouw, he said.
Koyala looked at him strangely a moment, then rose silently and left
the hut. Peter Gross never knew the reason. It was because at that
moment, when she revealed her Dyak treachery and uprooted his faith, he
spoke to her as he would to a white womanjuffrouw.
They are holding out yet, Peter Gross said to himself cheerfully
some time later as the sound of scattered volleys was wafted over the
hills. Presently he heard the dull boom of the first shell. His face
That is artillery! he exclaimed. Can it be? He remembered the
heavy guns on the proas and his face became whiter still. He began
tugging at his bonds, but they were too firmly bound. His Dyak guard
looked in and grinned, and he desisted. As time passed and the
explosions continued uninterruptedly, his face became haggard and more
haggard. It was because of his folly, he told himself, that men were
dying therebrave Carver, so much abler and more foresighted than he,
the ever-cheerful Paddy, all those he had brought with him, good men
and true. He choked.
Presently the shell-fire ceased. Peter Gross knew what it meant, in
imagination he saw the columns of natives forming, column upon column,
all that vast horde of savages and worse than savages let loose on a
tiny square of whites.
A figure stood in the doorway. It was Koyala. Cho Seng stood beside
The walls are down, she cried triumphantly. There is only a
handful of them left. The people of Bulungan are now forming for the
charge. In a few minutes you will be the only white man left in
I and Captain Van Slyck, Peter Gross said scornfully.
He is dead, Koyala replied. Ah Sing killed him. He was of no
further use to us, why should he live?
Peter Gross's lips tightened grimly. The traitor, at least, had met
the death he merited.
Cho Seng edged nearer. Peter Gross noticed the dagger hilt protruding
from his blouse.
Has my time come, too? he asked calmly.
The Chinaman leaped on him. Ah Sing sends you this, he cried
hoarselythe dagger flashed.
Quick as he was, quick as a tiger striking its prey, the Argus
Pheasant was quicker. As the dagger descended, Koyala caught him by the
wrist. He struck her with his free hand and tried to tear the blade
away. Then his legs doubled under him, for Peter Gross, although his
wrists were bound, could use his arms. Cho Seng fell on the point of
the dagger, that buried itself to the hilt in the fleshy part of his
breast. With a low groan he rolled over. His eyeballs rolled glassily
upward, thick, choked sounds came from his throat
Ah Singcomeeefor Koyalaplenty quick With a sigh, he died.
Peter Gross looked at the Argus Pheasant. She was gazing dully at a
tiny scratch on her forearm, a scratch made by Cho Seng's dagger. The
edges were purplish.
The dagger was poisoned, she murmured dully. Her glance met her
prisoner's and she smiled wanly.
I go to Sangjang with you, mynheer, she said.
Peter Gross staggered to his knees and caught her arm. Before she
comprehended what he intended to do he had his lips upon the cut and
was sucking the blood. A scarlet tide flooded her face, then fled,
leaving her cheeks with the pallor of death.
No, no, she cried, choking, and tried to tear her arm away. But in
Peter Gross's firm grasp she was like a child. After a frantic, futile
struggle she yielded. Her face was bloodless as a corpse and she stared
glassily at the wall.
Presently Peter Gross released her.
It was only a scratch, he said gently. I think we have gotten rid
of the poison.
The sound of broken sobbing was his only answer.
Koyala, he exclaimed.
With a low moan she ran out of the hut, leaving him alone with the
dead body of the Chinaman, already bloated purple.
Peter Gross listened again. Only the ominous silence from the hills,
the silence that foretold the storm. He wondered where Koyala was and
his heart became hot as he recollected Cho Seng's farewell message that
Ah Sing was coming. Well, Ah Sing would find him, find him bound and
helpless. The pirate chief would at last have his long-sought revenge.
For some inexplicable reason he felt glad that Koyala was not near. The
jungle was her best protection, he knew.
A heavy explosion cut short his reveries. They are cannonading
again, he exclaimed in surprise, but as another terrific crash sounded
a moment later, his face became glorified. Wild cries of terror sounded
over the hills, Dyak cries, mingled with the shrieking of shrapnel
It's the Prins, Peter Gross exclaimed jubilantly. Thank
God, Captain Enckel came on time.
He tugged at his own bonds in a frenzy of hope, exerting all his
great strength to strain them sufficiently to permit him to slip one
hand free. But they were too tightly bound. Presently a shadow fell
over him. He looked up with a start, expecting to see the face of the
Chinese arch-murderer, Ah Sing. Instead it was Koyala.
Let me help you, she said huskily. With a stroke of her dagger she
cut the cord. Another stroke cut the bonds that tied his feet. He
sprang up, a free man.
Hurry, Koyala, he cried, catching her by the arm. Ah Sing may be
here any minute.
Koyala gently disengaged herself.
Ah Sing is in the jungle, far from here, she said.
A silence fell upon them both. Her eyes, averted from his, sought the
ground. He stood by, struggling for adequate expression.
Where are you going, Koyala? he finally asked. She had made no
movement to go.
Wherever you will, mynheer, she replied quietly. I am now
Peter Gross stared a moment in astonishment. My prisoner? he
Your people have conquered, mynheer, she said. Mine are in
flight. Therefore I have come to surrender myselfto you.
I do not ask your surrender, Peter Gross, replied gravely,
beginning to understand.
You do not ask it, mynheer, but some one must suffer for what
has happened. Some one must pay the victor's price. I am responsible, I
incited my people. So I offer myselfthey are innocent and should not
be made to suffer.
Ah Sing is responsible, Peter Gross said firmly. And I.
You, mynheer? The question came from Koyala's unwilling lips
before she realized it.
Yes, I, juffrouw. It is best that we forget what has
happenedI must begin my work over again. He closed his lips firmly,
there were lines of pain in his face. That is, he added heavily, if
his excellency will permit me to remain here after this fiasco.
You will stay here? Koyala asked incredulously.
Yes. And you, juffrouw?
A moment's silence. My place is with my peopleif you do not want
me as hostage, mynheer?
Peter Gross took a step forward and placed a hand on her shoulder.
She tumbled violently.
I have a better work for you, juffrouw, he said.
Her eyes lifted slowly to meet his. There was mute interrogation in
To help me make Bulungan peaceful and prosperous, he said.
Koyala shook herself free and walked toward the door. Peter Gross did
not molest her. She stood on the threshold, one hesitating foot on the
jungle path that led to the grove of big banyans. For some minutes she
remained there. Then she slowly turned and reentered the hut.
Mynheer Gross, she said, in a choking voice, before I met you I
believed that all the orang blanda were vile. I hated the white
blood that was in me, many times I yearned to take it from me, drop by
drop, many times I stood on the edge of precipices undecided whether to
let it nourish my body longer or no. Only one thing kept me from death,
the thought that I might avenge the wrongs of my unhappy country and my
A stifled sob shook her. After a moment or two she resumed:
Then you came. I prayed the Hanu Token to send a young man, a young
man who would desire me, after the manner of white men. When I saw you
I knew you as the man of the Abbas, the man who had laughed, and I
thought the Hanu Token had answered my prayer. I saved you from
Wobanguli, I saved you from Ah Sing, that you might be mine, mine only
to torture. Her voice broke again.
But you disappointed me. You were just, you were kind, righteous in
all your dealings, considerate of me. You did not seek to take me in
your arms, even when I came to you in your own dwelling. You did not
taunt me with my mother like that pig, Van Slyck
He is dead, Peter Gross interrupted gently.
I have no sorrow for him. Sangjang has waited over-long for
him. Now you come to me, after all that has happened, and say: 'Koyala,
will you forget and help me make Bulungan happy?' What shall I answer,
She looked at him humbly, entreatingly. Peter Gross smiled, his
familiar, confident, warming smile.
What your conscience dictates, Koyala.
She breathed rapidly. At last came her answer, a low whisper. If you
wish it, I will help you, mynheer.
Peter Gross reached out his hand and caught hers. Then we're pards
again, he cried.
PETER GROSS had just concluded an account of his administration in
Bulungan to Governor-General Van Schouten at the latter's paleis
in Batavia. The governor-general was frowning.
So! mynheer, he exclaimed gruffly. This is not a very happy
report you have brought me.
Peter Gross bent his head.
No census, not a cent of taxes paid, piracy, murders, my
controlleursGod knows where they are, the whole province in
revolt. This is a nice kettle of fish.
Sachsen glanced sympathetically at Peter Gross. The lad he loved so
well sat with bowed head and clenched hands, lines of suffering marked
his face, he had grown older, oh, so much older, during those few sorry
months since he had so confidently declared his policies for the
regeneration of the residency in this very room. The governor was
You said you would find Mynheer de Jonge's murderer for me, Van
Schouten rasped. Have you done that?
Yes, your excellency. It was Kapitein Van Slyck who planned the
deed, and Cho Seng who committed the act, pricked him with a upas thorn
while he slept, as I told your excellency. Here are my proofs. A
statement made by Mynheer Muller to Captain Carver and Lieutenant
Banning before he died, and a statement made by Koyala to me. He gave
the governor the documents. The latter scanned them briefly and laid
How did Muller come to his death? he demanded.
Like a true servant of the state, fighting in defense of the fort,
Peter Gross replied. A splinter of a shell struck him in the body.
H-m! the governor grunted. I thought he was one of these traitors,
He expiated his crimes two weeks ago at Fort Wilhelmina, your
And Cho Seng? the governor demanded. Is he still alive?
He fell on his own dagger. Peter Gross described the incident. It
was not the dagger thrust that killed him, he explained. That made
only a flesh wound. But the dagger point had been dipped in a cobra's
venom. Softly he added: He always feared that he would die from a
It is the judgment of God, Van Schouten pronounced solemnly. He
looked at Peter Gross sharply.
Now this Koyala, he asked, where is she?
I do not know. In the hills, among her own people, I think. She will
not trouble you again.
The governor stared at his resident. Gradually the stern lines of his
face relaxed and a quaintly humorous glint came into his eyes. So,
Mynheer Gross, the woman deceived you? he asked sharply.
Peter Gross made no reply. The governor's eyes twinkled. He suddenly
brought down his fist on the table with a resounding bang.
Bonder en bliksem!
he exclaimed, I cannot find fault with you for that. The fault is
mine. I should have known better. Why, when I was your age, a pretty
woman could strip the very buttons from my dress coatdammit, Mynheer
Gross, you must have had a heart of ice to withstand her so long.
He flourished a highly colored silk handkerchief and blew his nose
So you are forgiven on that count, Mynheer Gross. Now for the other.
It appears that by your work you have created a much more favorable
feeling toward us among many of the natives. The hill Dyaks did not
rise against us as they have always done before, and some of the coast
Dyak tribes were loyal. That buzzard, Lkath, stayed in his lair.
Furthermore, you have solved the mysteries that have puzzled us for
years and the criminals have been muzzled. Lastly, you were the honey
that attracted all these piratical pests into Bulungan harbor where
Kapitein Enckel was able to administer them a blow that will sweep
those seas clear of this vermin for years to come, I believe. You have
not done so badly after all, Mynheer Gross. Of course, you and your
twenty-five men might have come to grief had not Sachsen, here, heard
reports that caused me to send the Prins Lodewyk post-haste to
Bulungan, but we will overlook your too great confidence on the score
of your youth. He chuckled. Now as to the future.
He paused and looked smilingly into the eyes that looked so
gratefully into his.
What say you to two more years at Bulungan, mynheer, to
straighten out affairs there, work out your policies, and finish what
you have so ably begun?
Your excellency is too good, Peter Gross murmured brokenly.
Good! Van Schouten snapped. Bonder en bliksem, mynheer, it
is only that I know a man when I see him. Can you go back next week?
Yes, your excellency.
Then see that you do. And see to it that those devils send me some
rice this year when the tax falls due or I will hang them all in the
good, old-fashioned way.