inc ajdwin Library
ON THE IRRAWADDY
STANLEY GAVE A SUDDEN SPRING AND BURIED HIS KNIFE IN
ON THE IRRAWADDY
A STORY OF
THE FIRST BURMESE WAR
G. A. HENTY
Author of" With Clive in India," In the Heart of the Rockies," Through Rus-
sian Snows," When London Burned," The Dash for Khar-
toum," Through the Sikh War," etc.
WITH EIGHT ILLUSTRATIONS BY W. H. OVEREND
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
------------- A uyu
____ ___ ___ __-O .
COPYRIGHT, 1896, BV
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
PRINTING AND BOOKBINDING COMPANY
With the exception of the terrible retreat from Afghan-
istan, none of England's many little wars have been so fatal
in proportion to the number of those engaged as our first
expedition to Burma. It was undertaken without any due
comprehension of the difficulties to be encountered from the
effects of climate and the deficiency of transport; the power
and still more the obstinacy and arrogance of the court of
Ava were altogether underrated; and it was considered that
our possession of her ports would assuredly bring the enemy,
who had wantonly forced the struggle upon us, to submis-
sion. Events, however, proved the completeness of the
error. The Burman policy of carrying off every boat on
the river, laying waste the whole country and driving away
the inhabitants and the herds, maintained our army as pris-
oners in Rangoon through the first wet season, and caused the
loss of half the white officers and men first sent there. The
subsequent campaign was no less fatal, and although large
reinforcements had been sent, fifty per cent. of the whole
died, so that less than two thousand fighting men remained
in the ranks when the expedition arrived within a short dis-
tance of Ava. Not until the last Burmese army had been
scattered did the court of Ava submit to the by no means
onerous terms we imposed. Great, indeed, was the contrast
presented by this first invasion of the country with the last
war in 1885, which brought about the final annexation of
Burma. Then a fleet of steamers conveyed the troops up
the noble river, while in 1824 a solitary steamer was all that
India could furnish to aid the flotilla of row-boats. No worse
government has ever existed than that of Burma when, with
the boast that she intended to drive the British out of India,
she began the war; no people were ever kept down by a
more grinding tyranny, and the occupation of the country
by the British has been an even greater blessing to the
population than has that of India. Several works, some by
eye-witnesses, others compiled .from official documents,
appeared after the war. They differ remarkably in the
relation of details, and still more in the spelling of the names
both of persons and places. I have chiefly followed those
given in the narratives of Mr. H. H. Wilson, and of Major
Snodgrass, the military secretary to the commander of the
A NEW CAREER, I
THE OUTBREAK OF WAR, 8
A PRISONER, 34
A RUINED TEMPLE, 53
WITHl BRIGANDS, 71
AMONG FRIENDS, 89.
ON THE STAFF, 107
THE PAGODA, 1 125
THE ADVANCE, .. 160
HARRY CARRIED OFF, 195
PREPARING A RESCUE,. 213
IN THE TEMPLE, 230
THE ATTACK, 248
THE PRIDE OF BURMA HUMBLED, 284
IN BUSINESS AGAIN, .301
"STANLEY GAVE A SUDDEN SPRING AND BURIED HIS KNIFE IN
THE LEOPARD," .Fronlispiece, 70
STANLEY IS BROUGHT BEFORE BANDOOLA THE BURMESE GEN-
"THEY FORCED THE CANOE BEHIND BUSHES SO AS TO BE EN-
TIRELY CONCEALED," 87
THE BURMESE MAKE A GREAT EFFORT TO CAPTURE PAGODA-
"STANLEY CUT DOWN THE MAN WHO WAS ABOUT TO FIRE THE
"THE GREAT SNAKE MOVED HIS HEAD HIGHER AND HIGHER,
HISSING ANGRILY," 227
" IN VAIN THE BURMESE TRIED TO FORCE THEIR WAY INTO
THE CHAMBER," .. 250
THE OLD BURMESE GENERAL WAS CARRIED FROM POINT TO
POINT IN A LITTER," 282
ON THE IRRAWADDY
A NEW CAREER
PARTY was assembled in a room of an hotel in
Calcutta at the end of the year 1822. It con-
sisted of a gentleman, a lady in deep mourning,
a boy of between fourteen and fifteen, and two
girls of thirteen and twelve.
I think you had better accept my offer, Nellie," the gen-
tleman was saying. You will find it hard work enough to
make both ends meet with these two girls, and Stanley would
be a heavy drain on you. The girls cost nothing but their
clothes, but he must go to a decent school, and then there
would be the trouble of thinking what to do with him after-
wards. If I could have allowed you a couple of hundred a
year it would have been altogether different, but you see I am
fighting an uphill fight myself, and need every penny that I
can scrape together. I am getting on, and I can see well
enough that, unless something occurs to upset the whole thing,
I shall be doing a big trade one of these days, but every half-
ON THE IRRAWADDY
penny of profit has to go into the business. So, as you know,
I cannot help you at present, though by the time the girls grow
up I hope I shall be able to do so, and that to a good extent. I
feel sure that it would not be a bad thing for Stanley; he will
soon get to be useful to me, and in three or four years will be
a valuable assistant. Speaking Hindustani as well as he does,
he won't be very long in picking up enough of the various
dialects in Kathee and Chittagong for our purpose, and by
twenty he will have a share of the business, and be on the high-
way towards making his fortune. It will be infinitely better
than anything he is likely to find in England, and he will be
doing a man's work at the age when he would still be a
school-boy in England. I have spoken to him about it. Of
course he does not like leaving you, but he says that he should
like it a thousand times better than perhaps having to go into
some humdrum office in England."
Thank you, Tom," Mrs. Brooke said with a sigh. It
will be very hard to part with him-terribly hard-but I see
that it is by far the best thing for him, and, as you say, in a
monetary way it will be a relief to me. I think I can man-
age very comfortably on the pension, in some quiet place at
home with the two girls, but Stanley's schooling would be a
heavy drain. I might even manage that, for I might earn a
little money by painting, but there would be the question of
what to do with him when he left school, and without friends
or influence it will be hopeless to get him into any good sit-
uation. You see, Herbert's parents have both died since he
came out here, and though he was distantly related to the Earl
of Netherley, he was only a second cousin or something of that
kind, and knew nothing about the family, and of course I
could not apply to them."
Certainly not, Nellie," her brother agreed. "There is
nothing so hateful as posing as a poor relation-and that is a
A NEW CAREER
connection rather than a relationship. Then you will leave
the boy in my hands?"
I am sure that it will be best," she said with a tremor in
her voice, and at any rate I shall have the comfort of know-
ing that he will be well looked after.'
Mrs. Brooke was the widow of a captain in one of the na-
tive regiments of the East India Company. He had, six weeks
before this, been carried off suddenly by an outbreak of cholera,
and she had been waiting at Calcutta in order to see her
brother before sailing for England. She was the daughter of
an English clergyman, who had died some seventeen years be-
fore. Nellie, who was then eighteen, being motherless as well
as fatherless, had determined to sail for India. A great friend
of hers had married and gone out a year before. Nellie's
father was at that time in bad health, and her friend had said
to her at parting: Now mind, Nellie, I have your promise
that if you should find yourself alone here, you will come out
to me in India. I shall be very glad to have you with me,
and-I don't suppose you will be on my hands very long;
pretty girls don't remain single many months in India." So,
seeing nothing better to do, Nellie had, shortly after her
father's death, sailed for Calcutta.
Lieutenant Brooke was also a passenger on board the Ava,
and during the long voyage he and Nellie Pearson became en-
gaged, and were married from her friend's house a fortnight
after their arrival. Nellie was told that she was a foolish girl,
for that she ought to have done better, but she was perfectly
happy. The pay and allowances of her husband were sufficient
for them to live upon in comfort, and though, when the chil-
dren came, there was little to spare, the addition of pay when
he gained the rank of captain was ample for their wants.
They had been in fact a perfectly happy couple -both had
bright and sunny dispositions and made the best of everything,
ON THE IRRAWADDY
and she had never had a serious care until he was suddenly
taken away from her.
Stanley had inherited his parents' disposition, and, as his
sisters, coming so soon after him, occupied the greater por-
tion of his mother's care, he was left a good deal to his own
devices, and became a general pet in the regiment, and was
equally at home in the men's lines and in the officers' bun-
galows. The native language came as readily to him as Eng-
lish, and by the time he was ten he could talk in their own
tongue with the men from the three or four different dis-
tricts from which the regiment had been recruited. His fa-
ther devoted a couple of hours a day to his studies ; he did
not attempt to teach him Latin, which would, he thought, be
altogether useless to him, but gave him a thorough ground-
ing in English and Indian history and arithmetic, and in-
sisted upon his spending a certain time each day in reading
standard English authors.
Tom Pearson, who was five years younger than his sister,
had come out to India four years after her. He was a lad full
of life and energy. As soon as he left school, finding himself
the master of a hundred pounds, the last remains of the small
sum that his father had left behind him, he took a second-
class passage to Calcutta. As soon as he had landed he went
round to the various merchants and offices, and finding that
he could not, owing to a want of references, obtain a clerkship,
he took a place in the store of a Parsee merchant who dealt in
Here he remained for five years, by which time he had
mastered two or three native languages, and had obtained a
good knowledge of business. He now determined to start on
his own account; he had lived hardly, saving up every rupee
not needed for actual necessaries, and at the end of the five
years he had in all a hundred and fifty pounds. He had long
A NEW CAREER
before this determined that the best opening for trade was
among the tribes on the eastern borders of the British terri-
tory, and had specially devoted himself to the study of the
languages of Kathee and Chittagong. Investing the greater
portion of his money in goods suitable for the trade, he em-
barked at Calcutta in a vessel bound for Chittagong. There
he took passage in a native craft going up the great river to
Sylhet, where he established his head-quarters, and thence,
leaving the greater portion of his goods in the care of a na-
tive merchant with whom his late employer had had dealings,
started with a native, and four donkeys on which his goods
were packed, to trade among the wild tribes.
His success fully equalled his anticipations, and gradually
he extended his operations, going as far east as Manipur and
south almost as far as Chittagong. The firm in Calcutta,
from whom he had in the first place purchased his goods,
sent him up fresh stores as he required them, and soon, see-
ing the energy with which he was pushing his business, gave
him considerable credit, and he was able to carry on his
operations on an increasingly larger scale. Sylhet remained
his head-quarters, but he had a branch at Chittagong whither
goods could be sent direct from Calcutta, and from this he
drew his supplies for his trade in that province. Much of his
business was carried on by means of the waterways and the
very numerous streams that covered the whole country, and
enabled him to carry his goods at a far cheaper rate than he
could transport them by land, and for this purpose he had a
boat specially fitted up with a comfortable cabin. He de-
termined from the first to sell none but the best goods in the
market, and thus he speedily gained the confidence of the na-
tives, and the arrival of his boats was eagerly hailed by the
villagers on the banks of the rivers.
He soon found that money was scarce, and that to do a
ON THE IRRAWADDY
good business he must take native products in barter for his
goods, and that in this way he not only did a much larger
trade, but obtained a very much better price for his wares
than if he had sold only for money; and he soon consigned
considerable quantities to the firm in Calcutta, and by so do-
ing obtained a profit both ways. He himself paid a visit to
Calcutta every six months or so, to choose fresh fashions of
goods and to visit the firm, with whom his dealings every
year became more extensive. But though laying the founda-
tions for an extensive business, he was not, as he told his sis-
ter, at present in a position to help her, for his increasing
trade continually demanded more and more capital, and the
whole of his profits were swallowed up by the larger stocks
that had to be held at his depots at Sylhet, Chittagong, and
at the mouths of the larger rivers. Twice since he had been
out he had met his sister at Calcutta, and when she came
down after her husband's death and heard from Tom's agents
that he would probably arrive there in the course of a fort-
night, she decided to wait there and meet him. He was
greatly grieved at her loss, and especially so as he was unable
to offer her a home; for as his whole time was spent in trav-
elling, it was impossible for him to do so; nor.indeed would
she have accepted it. Now that her husband was gone, she
yearned to be back in England again ; it was, too, far better
for the girls that she should take them home. But when he
now offered to take the boy, she felt that, hard as it would be to
leave Stanley behind, the offer was a most advantageous one
The boy's knowledge of Indian languages, which would be
of immense advantage to him in such a life, would be abso-
lutely useless in England, and, from what Tom told her of
his business, there could be little doubt that the prospects
were excellent. Stanley himself, who now saw his uncle for
A NEW CAREER
the first time, was attracted to him by the energy and cheeri-
ness of manner that had rendered him so successful in busi-
ness, and he was stirred by the enterprise and adventure of
the life he proposed for him. More than once in the little
frequented rivers that stretched into Kathee his boats had
been attacked by wild tribesmen, and he had to fight hard to
keep them off; petty chiefs had at times endeavoured to ob-
struct his trading, and when at Manipur, he had twice been
witness of desperate fights between rival claimants for the
throne. All this was to a boy brought up among soldiers ir-
resistibly fascinating, especially as the alternative seemed to
be a seat in a dull counting-house in England. He was then
delighted when his mother gave her consent to his remaining
with his uncle, grieved as he was at being parted from her
and his sisters. The thought that he should in time be able
to be of assistance to her was a pleasant one, and aided him
to support the pain of parting, when, a week later, she sailed
with the girls for England.
I suppose you have not done any shooting, Stanley?"
his uncle asked.
Not with a gun, but I have practised sometimes with
pistols. Father thought that it would be useful."
Very useful; and you must learn to shoot well with them
and with fowling-piece and rifle. What with river thieves,
and dacoits, and wild tribes, to say nothing of wild beasts, a
man who travels about as I do, wants to be able to shoot
straight. The straighter you shoot, the less likely you are to
have to do so. I have come to be a good shot myself, and
whenever we row up a river I constantly practise either at
floating objects in the water, or at birds or other marks in
the trees. I have the best weapons that money can buy. It
is my one extravagance, and the result is that to my boat-
men and the men about me my shooting seems to be marvel-
ON THE IRRAWADDY
lous; they tell others of it, and the result is that I am re-
garded with great respect. I have no doubt whatever that it
has saved me from much trouble, for the natives have almost
got to believe that I only have to point my gun, and the man
I wish to kill falls dead, however far distant."
Two days after the departure of Mrs. Brooke her brother
and Stanley started down the Hoogly in a native trader.
She is a curious-looking craft, uncle."
Yes; she would not be called handsome in home waters,
but she is uncommonly fast, and I find her much more con-
venient in many ways than a British merchantman."
Is she yours, uncle ? "
No, she is not mine, and I do not exactly charter her,
but she works principally for me. You see the wages are so
low that they can work a craft like this for next to nothing.
Why, the captain and his eight men together don't get
higher pay than the boatswain of an English trader. The
captain owns the vessel; he is quite content if he gets a few
rupees a month in addition to what he considers his own rate
of pay; his wife and his two children live on board. If the
craft can earn twenty rupees a week, he considers that he is
doing splendidly. At the outside he would not pay his men
more than four rupees a month each, and I suppose that he
would put down his services at eight, so that would leave him
forty rupees a month as the profit earned by the ship. In
point of fact I keep him going pretty steadily. He makes
trips backwards and forwards between the different depots;
carries me up the rivers for a considerable distance; does a
little trade on his own account,-not in goods such as I sell,
you know, but purely native stores; takes a little freight when
he can get it, and generally a few native passengers.
I pay him fifteen rupees a week, and I suppose he earns
from five to ten in addition, so that the arrangement suits us
A NEW CAREER
both admirably. I keep the stern cabin for myself. As you
see, she has four little brass guns which I picked up for a
song at Calcutta, and there are twenty-four muskets aft. It is
an arrangement that the crew are to practise shooting once a
week, so they have all come to be pretty fair shots, and the
captain himself can send a two-pound shot from those little
guns uncommonly straight. You will be amused when you
see us practising for action. The captain's wife and the two
boys load the guns, and do it very quickly too; he runs round
from gun to gun, takes aim, and fires; the crew shout and yell
and bang away with their muskets; I take the command, and
give a few pice among them if the firing has been accurate.
We have been attacked once or twice in the upper waters, but
have always managed to beat the robbers off without much
difficulty. The captain fires away till they get pretty close,
and I pepper them with my rifles; I have three of them.
When they get within fifty yards, the crew open fire, and as
they have three muskets each, they can make it very hot for
the pirates. I have a store of hand grenades, and if they
push on, I throw two or three on board when they get within
ten yards, and that has always finished the matter. They
don't understand the things bursting in the middle of them.
I don't mean to say that my armament would be of much use
if we were trading along the coast of the Malay Peninsula or
among the Islands, but it is quite enough to deal with the
petty robbers of these rivers."
"But I thought that you had a boat that you went up the
rivers in, uncle? "
"Yes; we tow a row-boat and a store-boat up behind this
craft as far as she can go, that is, as long as she has wind
enough to make against the sluggish stream. When she can
go no further, I take to the row-boat; it has eight rowers,
carries a gun-it is a twelve-pounder howitzer that I have
ON THE IRRAWADDY
had cut short so that it is only about a foot long. Of course
it won't carry far, but that is not necessary. Its charge is a
pound of powder and a ten-pound bag of bullets, and at a
couple of hundred yards the balls scatter enough to sweep two
or three canoes coming abreast, and as we can charge and fire
the little thing three times in a minute, it is all that we require
for practical purposes ; it is only on a few of the rivers we go
up that there is any fear of trouble. On the river from Sylhet
to the east and its branches in Kathee, or, as it is sometimes
called, Kasi, the country is comparatively settled. The
Goomtee beyond Oudypore is well enough until it gets into
Kaayn, which is what they call independent. That is to say,
it owns no authority, and some villages are peaceable and well
disposed, while others are savage. The same may be said of
the Munnoo and Fenny rivers. For the last two years I have
done a good deal of trade in Assam up the Brahmaputra river.
As far as Rungpoor there are a great many villages on the
banks, and the people are quiet and peaceable."
"Then you don't go further south than Chittagong,
No. The, Burmese hold Aracan on the south, and indeed
for some distance north of it there is no very clearly-defined
border. You see the great river runs from Rangoon very
nearly due north, though with a little east in it, and extends
along at the back of the districts I trade with; so that the
Burmese are not very far from Manipur, which indeed stands
on a branch of the Irrawaddy, of which another branch runs
nearly up to Rungpoor. We shall have big trouble with them
one of these days ; indeed we have had troubles already. You
see the Burmese are a great and increasing power, and have so
easily conquered all their neighbours that they regard them-
selves as invincible. Until the beginning of the eighteenth
century the Burmese were masters of Pegu; then the people
A NEW CAREER
of that country, with the help of the Dutch and Portuguese,
threw off their yoke. But the Burmese were not long kept
down, for in 1753 Alompra, a hunter, gathered a force round
him, and, after keeping up an irregular warfare for some time,
was joined by so many of his countrymen that he attacked
and captured Ava, conquered the whole of Pegu, and in 1759
the English trading colony at Negrais were massacred.
"This, however, was not the act of Alompra, but of the
treachery of a Frenchman named Levine, and of an Arme-
nian, who incited the Burmese of the district to exterminate
the English, hoping, no doubt, thus to retrieve in a new quar-
ter the fortunes of France, which in India were being extin-
guished by the genius of Clive. The English were at the
time far too occupied with the desperate struggle they were
having in India to attempt to revenge the massacre of their
countrymen at Negrais. Very rapidly the Burman power
spread. They captured the valuable Tenasserim coast from
Siam, repulsed a formidable invasion from China, annexed
Aracan and dominated Manipur, and thus became masters of
the whole tract of country lying between China and Hindu-
stan. As they now bordered upon our territory, a mission was
sent in 1794 to them from India, with a proposal for the set-
tlement of boundaries, and for the arrangement of trade
between the two countries. Nothing came of it, for the Bur-
mese had already proposed to themselves the conquest of
India, and considered the mission as a proof of the terror that
their advance had inspired among us.
"After the conquest by them of Aracan in 1784, there had
been a constant irritation felt against us by the Burmese, ow-
ing to the fact that a great number of fugitives from that
country had taken refuge in the swamps and islands of Chitta-
gong, from which they from time to time issued and made
raids against the Burmese. In 1811 these fugitives, in alli-
ON THE IRRAWADDY
ance with some predatory chiefs, invaded Aracan in force, and
being joined by the subject population there, expelled the
Burmese. These, however, soon reconquered the province.
The affair was, nevertheless, unfortunate, since the Burmese
naturally considered that as the -insurrection had begun with
an invasion by the fugitives in Chittagong, it had been fo-
mented by us. This was in no way the fact: we had no
force there capable of keeping the masses of fugitives in order,
but we did our best, and arrested many of the leaders when
they returned after their defeat. This, however, was far
from satisfying the Burmese. A mission was sent to Ava to
assure them of our friendly intentions, and that we had had
nothing whatever to do with the invasion, and would do all
we could to prevent its recurrence. The Burmese govern-
ment declined to receive the mission.
"We ourselves had much trouble with the insurgents, for,
fearful of re-entering Burma after their defeat, they now car-
ried on a series of raids in our territory, and it was not un-
til 1816 that these were finally suppressed. Nevertheless the
court of Ava remained dissatisfied, and a fresh demand was
raised for the surrender of the chiefs who had been captured,
and of the whole of the fugitives living in the government of
Chittagong. The Marquis of Hastings replied that the Brit-
ish government could not, without a violation of the princi-
ples of justice, deliver up those who had sought its protection;
that tranquillity now existed; and there was no probability of
a renewal of the disturbances, but that the greatest vigilance
should be used to prevent and punish the authors of any raid
that might be attempted against Aracan. A year later a sec-
ond letter was received, demanding on the part of the king
the cession of Ramoo, Chittagong, Moorshedabad, and Dacca,
that is to say, of the whole British possessions east of the
Ganges. Lord Hastings simply replied that if it was possible
A NEW CAREER
to suppose that the demand had been dictated by the King of
Ava, the British government would be justified in regarding it
as a declaration of war.
"To this the Burmese made no reply; doubtless they had
heard of the successes we had gained in Central India, and
had learned that our whole force was disposable against them.
Three years ago the old king died, and a more warlike mon-
arch succeeded him. Since 18io they have been mixed up
in the troubles that have been going on in Assam, where a
civil war had been raging. One party or other has sought
their assistance, and fighting has been going on there nearly
incessantly, and two months ago the Burmese settled the
question by themselves taking possession of the whole coun-
try. This has, of course, been a serious blow to me.
Although disorder has reigned, it has not interfered with my
trading along the banks of the river; but now that the Bur-
mese have set up their authority, I shall, for a time anyhow,
be obliged to give up my operations there, for they have
evinced considerable hostility to us-have made raids near
Rungpoor on our side of the river, and have pulled down a
British flag on an island in the Brahmaputra. We have
taken, in consequence, the principality of Cachar under our
protection-indeed its two princes, seeing that the Burmese
were beginning to invade their country, invited us to take
this step-and we thus occupy the passes from Manipur into
the low country of Sylhet."
I wonder that you have been able to trade in Manipur,
uncle, as the Burmese have been masters there."
I am not trading with the capital itself, and the Burmese
have been too occupied with their affairs in Assam to exercise
much authority in the country. Besides, you see there has
not been war between the two countries. Our merchants at
Rangoon still carry on their trade up the Irrawaddy, and in
ON THE IRRAWADDY
Assam this spring the only trouble I had, was, that I had to
pay somewhat higher tolls than I had done before. However,
now that Cachar is under our protection, I hope that I shall
make up for my loss of trade in Assam by doing better than
before in that province.''
"I thought you called it Kathee, uncle?"
"So it is generally named; but as it is spoken of as Cachar
in the proclamation assuming the protectorate, I suppose it
will be called so in future; but all these names out here are
spelt pretty much according to fancy."
While this conversation had been going on the boat had
been running fast down the river, passing several European
vessels almost as if they had been standing still.
"I should not have thought that a boat like this would
pass these large ships," Stanley said.
We have a good deal to learn in the art of sailing yet,"
his uncle replied. "A great many of these Indian dhows
can run away from a square-rigged ship in light weather. I
don't know whether it is the lines of their hulls or the cut of
the sails, but there is no doubt about their speed. They seem
to skim over the water while our bluff-bowed craft shove their
way through it. I suppose some day we shall adopt these
long sharp bows; when we do it will make a wonderful differ-
ence in our rate of sailing. Then, too, these craft have a
very light draft of water; but, on the other hand, they have a
deep keel which helps them to lie close to the wind, and that
long overhanging bow renders them capital craft in heavy
weather, for as they meet the sea they rise over it gradually,
instead of its hitting them full on the bow as it does our ships.
We have much to learn yet in the way of shipbuilding."
The trader had his own servant with him, and the.man
now came up and said that a meal was ready, and they at
once entered the cabin. It was roomy and comfortable, and
A NEW CAREER
was, like the rest of the boat, of varnished teak. There were
large windows in the stern; it had a table with two fixed
benches, and there were broad, low sofas on each side.
Above these the muskets were disposed in racks, while at the
end by the door were Tom Pearson's own rifles, four brace of
pistols, and a couple of swords. Ten long spears were sus-
pended from the roof of the cabin in leather slings. The
floor, like the rest of the cabin, was varnished.
"It looks very comfortable, uncle."
Yes; you see I live quite half my time on board, the rest
being spent in the boat. My man is a capital cook. He
comes from Chittagong, and is a Mug."
"What are Mugs, uncle? "
"They are the original inhabitants of Aracan. He was
one of those who remained there after the Burmese had con-
quered it, and speaks their language as well as his own. I
recommend you to begin it with him at once. If things set-
tle down in Assam, it will be very useful for you in arranging
with the Burmese officials. You won't find it very easy,
though of course your knowledge of three or four Indian
tongues will help you. It is said to be a mixture of the old
Tali, Sanscrit, Tartar, and Chinese. The Tartar and Chinese
words will of course be quite new to you-the other two ele-
ments will resemble those that you are familiar with. I talk
to the man in Hindustani; he picked up a little of it at Chit-
tagong, and has learned a good deal more during the two
years that he has been with me, and through that you will be
able to learn Burmese."
A week later the dhow entered the harbour. Stanley had
passed most of his time in conversation with Khyen, Tom's
servant. The facility his tongue had acquired in the Indian
languages was of great benefit to him, and he speedily picked
up a good many Burmese sentences.
ON THE IRRAWADDY
For the next six months he continued, with his uncle, the
work the latter had carried on, and enjoyed it much. They
sailed up the sluggish rivers, with their low, flat shores, in the
dhow, towing the row-boat and the store-boat behind them.
The crews of these boats lived on board the dhow until their
services were required, helping in its navigation and aiding
the crew when the wind dropped and sweeps were got out.
The villages along the banks were for the most part small, but
were very numerous. At each of these the dhow brought up.
There was in almost all cases sufficient water to allow of her
being moored alongside the banks, and as soon as she did so -
the natives came on board to make their purchases and dispose
of their produce. In addition to the European and Indian
goods carried, the dhow was laden with rice, for which there
was a considerable demand at most of the villages. As soon
as he had learned the price of the various goods and their
equivalent in the products of the country, Stanley did much
of the bartering, while his uncle went ashore and talked with
the head men of the village, with all of whom he made a
point of keeping on good terms, and so securing a great
portion of the trade that might otherwise have been carried
by native craft.
Three times during the six months the dhow had gone back
to Calcutta to fetch fresh supplies of goods, and to take in an-
other cargo of rice, while the trader proceeded higher up the
river in his own boats. While on the voyage Stanley always
had the rifle and fowling-piece, that his uncle had handed
over for his special use, leaning against the bulwark, close at
hand, and frequently shot water-fowl, which were so abundant
that he was able to keep not only their own table supplied,
but to furnish the crew and boatmen with a considerable
quantity of food. They had had no trouble with river pirates,
for these had suffered so heavily in previous attacks upon the
A NEW CAREER 17
dhow that they shunned any repetition of their loss. At the
same time every precaution was taken, for owing to the intes-
tine troubles in Cachar and Assam, fugitives belonging to the
party that happened for the time to be worsted were driven
to take refuge in the jungles near the rivers, and to subsist
largely on plunder, the local authorities being too feeble to
root them out. The boats, therefore, were always anchored
in the middle of the stream at night and two men were kept
on watch. To the south as well as in the north the trading
operations were more restricted, for the Burmese became
more and more aggressive. Elephant hunters in the hills that
formed the boundary of the British territory to the east were
seized and carried off, twenty-three in one place being capt-
ured and six in another-all being ill-treated and imprisoned,
and the remonstrances of the Indian government treated with
contempt by the Rajah of Aracan.
It was evident that the object of the Burmese was to pos-
sess themselves of this hill country in order that they might,
if they chose, pour down at any time into the cultivated coun-
try round the town of Ramoo.
"There is no doubt, Stanley," said his uncle one day,
"we shall very shortly have a big war with the Burmese.
The fact that these constant acts of aggression are met only by
remonstrances on our part increases their arrogance, and they
are convinced that we are in mortal terror of them. They say
that in Assam their leaders are openly boasting that ere long
they will drive us completely from India, and one of their
generals has confidently declared that after taking India they
intend to conquer England. With such ignorant people there
is but one argument understood, namely, force; and sooner
or later we shall have to give them such a hearty thrashing
that they will be quiet for some time. Still, I grant that the
difficulties are great. Their country is a tremendous size, the
ON THE IRRAWADDY
beggars are brave, and the climate, at any rate near the sea-,
coast, is horribly unhealthy. Altogether it will be a big job,
but it will have to be done, or in a very short time we shall
see them marching against Calcutta.'
THE OUTBREAK OF WAR
ON the last day of September, 1823, just a year after Stanley
had joined his uncle, the dhow sailed into Chittagong,
which had now taken the place of Sylhet, as the traders' chief
depot, the latter place being too near the Burmese in Assam
for him to care about keeping a large stock of his goods there.
He went ashore as soon as the dhow cast anchor, Stanley re-
maining on board.
"The fat is all in the fire, Stanley," Tom Pearson said
when he returned. "The Burmese have attacked and killed
some of our troops, and it is certain that the government can-
not put up with that."
"Where was it, uncle? "
Down at the mouth of the Naaf. As you know, that is
the southern boundary of the province, and there was a row
there in January. One of our native boats laden with rice
was coming up the river, on our side of the channel, when an
armed Burmese boat came across and demanded duty. Of
course, our fellows said they were in their own waters, where-
upon the Burmese fired upon them and killed the steersman.
There were reports then that bodies of Burmese troops were
moving about on their side of the river, and that it was feared
they would cross over and burn some of our villages. Accord-
ingly our guard at the mouth of the river was increased to
THE OUTBREAK OF WAR
fifty men, and a few of these were posted on the island of
Shapuree. This island lies close to our shore, and indeed the
channel between can be forded at low water. It has always
formed part of the province of Chittagong, and there has never
been any question raised by the Burmese as to this. However,
the Viceroy of Aracan called upon our resident here to with-
draw the guard, asserting the right of the King of Ava to the
Since then letters have passed to and fro, but I hear that
the Burmese have settled the question by landing on Shapuree.
One night last week they attacked our post there, killed and
wounded four of the sepoys, and drove the rest off the island.
The Indian government have put up with a great deal rather
than engage in so costly and difficult an operation as a war
with Burma, but it is impossible that we can stand this."
The Indian government, however, used every endeavour
to avert the necessity for war, although the Rajah of Aracan
lost no time in writing a letter to the government of Calcutta,
stating that he had occupied the island of Shapuree, and that
unless they submitted quietly to this act of justice, the cities
of Dacca and Moorshedabad would be forcibly seized. In
order, however, to postpone, at any rate, the outbreak of war,
the government of Bengal resolved to give the court of Ava an
opportunity to withdraw from the position taken up. They
therefore acted as if the attack on the guard at Shapuree had
been the action of the Viceroy of Aracan alone, and addressed
a declaration to the Burmese government recapitulating the
facts of the case, pointing out that Shapuree had always been
acknowledged by Burma as forming part of the province of
Chittagong, and calling upon the government to disavow the
action of the local authorities.
The Burmese considered this, as it was in fact, a proof
that the government of India was reluctant to enter upon a
ON THE IRRAWADDY
contest with them, and confirmed Burma in its confident ex-
pectation of annexing the eastern portions of Bengal, if not of
expelling the English altogether. In the meantime Shapuree
had been reoccupied by us. The Burmese, after driving out
the little garrison, had retired, and two months after the at-
tack two companies of the 20th Native Infantry arrived by
seafrom Calcutta and landed there. A stockade was built,
and two six-pounders placed in position. Another company
was stationed on the mainland, and the Planet and three gun-
boats, each carrying a twelve-pounder, were stationed in the
river. The Burmese at once collected large bodies of troops,
both in Aracan and Assam. The government of Bengal made
preparations to defend our frontier, and especially the position
in the north, as an advance of the Burmese in this direction
would not only threaten the important towns of Dacca and
Moorshedabad, but would place the invaders in dangerous
proximity to Calcutta. Accordingly a portion of the ioth
and 23d Native Infantry, and four companies of the Rung-
poor local force, were marched to Sylhet, and outposts thrown
forward to the frontier.
Seeing that, the Burmese operations would probably com-
mence in the north, Tom Pearson had, after completing his
arrangements at Chittagong, sailed north to remove his
depots from Sylhet and other places that would be exposed to
an attack from that direction. They reached Sylhet the first
week in January. By this time Stanley, from his constant
conversation with his uncle's servant, had come to speak
Burmese as fluently as the Indian languages. He was now
nearly sixteen, tall for his age and active; but owing to the
hot climate and the absence of vigorous exercise, he was less
broad and muscular than most English lads of his age.
They found on landing that news had arrived two days
before that a powerful army of Burmese had entered Cachar
THE OUTBREAK OF WAR
from Manipur and had defeated the troops of Jambhir Sing,
that 4000 Burmes eand Assamese had advanced from Assam
into Cachar, and had begun to stockade themselves at Bick-
rampore at the foot of the Bhortoka Pass, and that the third
division was crossing into the district of Jyntea immediately
to the north of Sylhet. There was a complete panic in the
town, and the ryots were flocking in from all the surrounding
country with their families and belongings, and were making
their way down the country in boats to Dacca.
I am afraid, Stanley, there is an end of trade for the pres-
ent. What we see here is doubtless taking place all over
Cachar, and it would be just as bad down at Chittagong. It
is a heavy blow, for I have done remarkably well this year,
and was building up the foundations for a good business. No
doubt when this trouble is over I shall be able to take it up
again, and it may be if we thrash the Burmese heartily,
which we are sure to do in the long run, it may even prove a
benefit; still there is no doubt that it is a very bad business
for me. However, as just at present there is nothing what-
ever to be done, I propose, as soon as the goods are all on
board, to take a holiday and go out and have a look at the
"You will take me with you, uncle?" Stanley asked
Certainly, lad, we don't mean to do any fighting our-
selves, but only to look on; and it may be that after it is over
you may be able to make yourself useful if they want to ask
questions of any Burmese prisoners."
"You think that there is no chance of their beating us? "
I should think not, though of course there is no saying;
still, I don't think these fellows will be able to stand against
our troops. Of course, they have no idea whatever of our
style of fighting, and have never met any really formidable
ON THE IRRAWADDY
foes, so that I imagine we shall make pretty short work of
them. However, as we shall be mounted-for I will hire a
couple of horses, there have been plenty of them driven into
the town-we shall be able to make a bolt of it if necessary.
Of course we will take our rifles and pistols with us."
The goods were not placed on board the dhow, but in what
was called the store-boat, as the trader had determined to take
up his abode in his row-boat, which could move about much
faster than the dhow, and to allow the captain of that craft
to make a good thing of it by taking down to Dacca as many
of the fugitives as she would hold.
Finding that the Burmese division that had entered
Jyntea was intrenching itself at a few miles' distance, Major
Newton, the officer commanding on the Sylhet frontier, con-
centrated his force at Jatrapur, a village five miles beyond the
Sylhet boundary. Tom Pearson had introduced himself to
Major Newton and asked permission to accompany his force,
saying that his nephew would be able, if necessary, to com-
municate with the Burmese either before or after the action,
and that both would willingly act as aides de camp. The
offer was accepted with thanks, and they rode out with him
on the evening of the i6th of January, 1824, to Jatrapur.
At one o'clock in the morning the troops were roused,
and marched an hour later. At daybreak they came in
sight of the stockade, and a few shots were at once fired upon
the advanced guard by the Burmese. A portion of their force
was lying in a village hard by.
Major Newton at once divided his command into two
bodies; one of these was led by Captain Johnston against the
front of the stockade, the other under Captain Rowe attacked
the village adjoining. The Burmese stationed there gave
way after a very faint resistance. They were accustomed to
rely always on stockades, and this attack upon them when
THE OUTBREAK OF WAR
not so protected, shook them at once. Those in the stock-
ade, however, made a resolute resistance. Captain Rowe, after
gaining possession of the village, and seeing the occupants in
full flight, moved his force to aid the other division; and the
Burmese, dispirited by the defeat of their countrymen, and
finding themselves attacked on two sides, gave way and fled,
leaving a hundred dead behind them, while on the British
side but six sepoys were killed.
The Burmese fled to the hills at a speed that rendered pur-
suit hopeless by the more heavily armed troops, and the
fugitives soon rallied and effected their junction with the
division advancing from Manipur. After the action Major
Newton returned to Sylhet, and a few days later Mr. Scott,
who had been appointed commissioner, arrived there, and,
advancing to Bhadrapur, opened communications with the
Burmese. As, however, it became evident that the latter
were only negotiating in order to gain time to intrench them-
selves near Jatrapur, to which they had returned, he again
placed the matter in the hands of the military commanders.
The Burmese force amounted to about six thousand men.
They had erected strong stockades on each bank of the river
Surma, and had thrown a bridge across to connect them.
Captain Johnston advanced with a wing of the ioth Native
Infantry, a company of the 23d Native Infantry, and a
small party of men of a local corps. Small as was this force,
he divided it into two parties; one of these under Captain
Rowe crossed the river, and then both moved against the
enemy. The Burmese opened fire as they advanced, but the
sepoys marched gallantly forward, and drove the enemy out
of their unfinished intrenchments at the point of the bayonet.
The Assam division retreated hastily to the Bhortoka Pass,
while the Manipur force stockaded itself at Doodpatnee.
The Assam division was first attacked, and the stockade
ON THE IRRAWADDY
carried at the point of the bayonet. Lieutenant-Colonel
Bowen, who now commanded, then moved against the posi-
tion at Doodpatnee. This was very strong; steep hills
covered the rear, while the other faces of the intrenchments
were defended by a deep ditch fourteen feet wide, with a
chevaux de frise of pointed bamboos on its outer edge. Al-
though the position was attacked with great gallantry, it was
too strong to be captured by so small a force, and they were
obliged to withdraw to Jatrapur with the loss of one officer
killed and four wounded, and about one hundred and fifty
sepoys killed and wounded. However, their bravery had
not been without effect, for the Burmese evacuated their
stockade and retreated to Manipur, leaving Cachar free from
its invaders. Thus in less than three weeks the Burmese in-
vasion of the northern provinces had been hurled back by a
British force of less than a tenth of that of the invaders.
Stanley and his uncle had been present at all these en-
gagements, and in the absence of any cavalry had done
good service in conveying messages and despatches, and
the lad had several times acted as interpreter between the
officers and Burmese prisoners. Both received letters from
the commissioner thanking them for the assistance that they
That last affair was unfortunate, Stanley, and it is evi-
dent that these stockades of theirs are nasty places to attack,
and that they ought to be breached by guns before the men
are sent forward to storm them. However, as the Burmese
have gone, our repulse does not matter much. Well, I felt
sure that we should thrash them, but I certainly gave them
credit for having a great deal more pluck than they have
shown. As it is, if there is nothing fresh takes place here,
the natives and little traders will soon be coming back from
Dacca, and business will be better than before; for the Bur-
THE OUTBREAK OF WAR
mese have been talking so big for the last three years that
no one has bought more than would just carry him on,
while now they will be more inclined to lay in good stocks
of goods. To-morrow we will start for Chittagong. You
see I have a considerable store there, and there is a chance
of much more serious fighting in that quarter than this little
affair we have seen. The Governor of Aracan has all along
been the source of troubles, and we may expect that he will
cross into the province at the head of a large force, and may
do an immense deal of damage before we can get enough
troops there to oppose him."
Descending the river they coasted along until they ar-
rived, early in March, at Chittagong. They found that
great alarm reigned there. In January, Bandoola, the
greatest military leader of the Burmese, who was known
to have been one of the most strenuous supporters of the
war policy at the court of Ava, had arrived at Aracan and
taken the command of the troops collected there, and had
brought with him considerable reinforcements. A wanton
outrage that had been committed by the Burmese showed
how intent they were upon hostilities. Owing to the un-
healthiness of the islet of Shapuree the sepoys stationed
there had been withdrawn, and the Company's pilot vessel
Sophia was ordered to join the gunboats off that island.
Four deputies from the Burmese court arrived at Mungdoo
on the opposite shore, and these invited the commander of
the Sophia to come on shore in order that they might talk
over with him in a friendly way the situation of affairs. He
unsuspectingly accepted their invitation and landed, accom-
panied by an officer and some native seamen. The party
were at once seized and sent prisoners to Aracan, where
they were detained for a month and then sent back to
ON THE IRRAWADDY
This wanton insult was followed by a formal declaration
of war by the government of India, and a similar document
was issued by the court of Ava. The force at Sylhet was
reinforced, and that in Chittagong increased. It consisted
of a wing of the 13th and of the 2oth Native Regiments,
and a battalion of the 23d, with a local levy, amounting in
all to some 3000 men. Of these a wing of the 23d, with
two guns, and a portion of the native levies were posted at
Ramoo, which was the point most threatened by an inva-
sion from Aracan. It was in the north that hostilities first
commenced, a force moving into Assam and driving the
Burmese before them; several sharp blows were dealt the
enemy, and had it not been for the setting in of the wet
season they would have been driven entirely out of Assam.
I think, Stanley," his uncle said, after he had been a
short time at Chittagong, you had better go up to Ramoo
and see about matters there. Of course, until the Burmese
move we cannot say what their game is "'"tly to be, but it
will be as well to get the stores ready ful 'oarkation in
case they should advance in that direction If they do so
get everything on board at once, and you "hen be guided
by circumstances. As the dhow came i. yesterday, I can
spare both our boats, and shall, of course, ship the goods
here on board the big craft. Even if the Burmese come this
way I have no fear of their taking the town, and shall, of
course, lend a hand in the defence if they attempt it; you
can do the same at Ramoo if you like. I was chatting with
Colonel Shatland yesterday; he tells me that a large fleet has
been collected, and that an expedition will be sent to capture
Rangoon, so in that case .it is likely that Bandoola and his
force will march off in that direction.
I think government are wrong. It will be impossible for
the troops to move when the wet season once sets in, and they
THE OUTBREAK OF WAR
will lose a tremendous lot of men from sickness if they are
cooped up in Rangoon. They had very much better have
sent a few thousand men down here to act on the defensive
and repel any attempted invasion until the rains are over,.
when they could have been shipped again and join the ex-
pedition against Rangoon. It seems to me a mad-headed
thing to begin at the present time of the year. We have put
up with the insults of the Burmese for so long that we might
just as well have waited for the favourable season before we
b&gan our operations in earnest."
Accordingly, on the following day, Stanley started south
for Ramoo, and on arriving there took charge of the trading
operations. Shortly after, meeting Captain Noton, who com-
manded there, in the street, he recognized him as an officer
who had been stationed at the same cantonment as his father,
and whom he had four years previously known well.
You don't recognize me, Captain Noton," he said; I
am the son o ifLpin Brooke, of the 33d."
I cert ~l:d not recognize you," the officer said,
"but I alm .meet you again. Let me think; yes,
your name is and a regular young pickle you used to
be. What on earth ae you doing here ? Of course I heard
of your poor fatTer's death, and was grieved indeed at his
loss. Where is your mother? She is well, I hope."
She went back to England with my sisters two months
after my father's death. I joined my uncle, her brother.
He is a trader, and carries on business in the district between
here and Sylhet, trading principally on the rivers, but of
course the war has put a stop to that for the present. We
saw the fighting up in the north, and then came down to this
district. He has remained at Chittagong, and I am in charge
of goods here. I speak Burmese fairly now, and if I can be
of any use to you I shall be very glad to be so. There is
ON THE IRRAWADDY
not much business here, and the Parsee clerk, who is gen-
erally in charge, can look after it very well. I acted as
interpreter with the troops in the north, and have a letter
from Mr. Scott, the commissioner, thanking me for my ser-
I remember you used to be able to talk four or five of the
native languages, but how did you come to pick up Bur-
From a servant of my uncle's. We thought that there
would be sure to be war sooner or later, and that after it was
over there would be a good chance of profitable trade on the
Burmese rivers. I had no great difficulty in learning it from
my uncle's man, who was a native of Aracan."
I have no doubt you will find it very useful. What a
big fellow you have grown, Stanley ; at least as far as height
is concerned. Let me see. How old are you now? "
"I am past sixteen," Stanley replied. "I have had sev-
eral touches of fever, caught, I suppose, from the damp on the
rivers, but I think that I am pretty well acclimatized now. I
know I don't look very strong, but I have not had much ac-
tive exercise, and of course the climate is against me."
Very much so. I wonder that you have kept your health
as well as you have in this steamy climate. I am going to the
mess-room now. You had better come and lunch with me,
and I will introduce you to the other officers. We are very
strong in comparison to the force, for, counting the assistant
surgeon, there are ten of us.'
I shall be very glad, sir," Stanley said. "I have cer-
tainly been feeling rather lonely here, for I know no one, and
there is very little to do. During the last year I have often
gone up one of the rivers by myself, but there has always been
occupation, while at present things are at a standstill."
I tell you what, Brooke, if you would like it, I can ap-
THE OUTBREAK OF WAR
point you interpreter. There is not one of us who speaks this
Mug language, which is, you know, almost the same as Bur-
mese, and the officers in charge of the native levy would be
delighted to have some one with them who could make the
fellows understand. I can appoint you a first-class interpreter.
The pay is not very high, you know, but you might just as
well be earning it as doing nothing, and it would give you a
sort of official position; and, as the son of a British officer and
my friend, you would be one of us."
Thank you very much, Captain Noton. I should like it
immensely. Should I have to get a uniform? "
There will be no absolute necessity for it; but if you get
a white patrol-jacket like this, and a white cap-cover, it will
establish you in the eyes of the natives as an officer, and give
you more authority. Oh, by the way, you need not get them,
for one of our lieutenants died the other day of fever. His
effects have not been sold yet, but you may as well have his
patrol-jackets and belts. We can settle what you are to pay
for them afterwards; it will only be a matter of a few rupees,
They now arrived at the house that had been taken for the
use of the officers. On entering, Captain Noton introduced
him to the others, and as several of these had at various times
met his father in cantonments or on service, he was heart-
ily welcomed by them, and at luncheon they listened with
great interest to his accounts of the fighting in Cachar with
I fancy we shall find them more formidable here, if they
come," Captain Noton said. Bandoola has a great reputa-
tion, and is immensely popular with them. From what you
say, a considerable proportion of the fellows you met up there
were Assamese levies raised by the Burmese. I grant that the
Burmese themselves do not seem to have done much better,
ON THE IRRAWADDY
but they would never have conquered all the peoples they
have come across, and built up a great empire if there had not
been good fighting stuff in them. I have no doubt that we
shall thrash them, but I don't think we shall do it as easily as
our troops did in the north."
The time now passed pleasantly with Stanley; he had,
after thinking it over, declined to accept payment for his ser-
vices, for this would have hindered his freedom of action and
prevented his obeying any instructions that his uncle might
send him. He therefore joined as a volunteer interpreter, and
was made a member of the officers' mess. He was specially
attached to the native levy, and, soon acquiring their words
of command, assisted its officers in drilling it into something
Early in May a Burmese division, 8000 strong, crossed the
Naaf and established itself at Rutnapullung, fourteen miles
south of Ramoo. As soon as Captain Noton learned that the
Burmese had crossed the river he sent news of the fact to Chit-
tagong, with a request that reinforcements should be at once
sent to him, and then moved out with his force from Ramoo
to ascertain the strength of the enemy. The Burmese were
seen upon some hills, where they were constructing stockades.
The small British force advanced against them, drove them off
the hills, and, following them, prepared to attack them in the
plain beyond. The guns, however, had not come up, partly
owing to the cowardice of the elephant-drivers, and partly to
the fact that it was found that several of the essential parts of
the guns had been left behind.
Without their assistance to clear the way Captain Noton
felt that it would be imprudent to attack so great a force, and
therefore fell back to Ramoo. Here he was joined by three
companies of the 2oth Native Infantry, bringing up his force
to close upon a thousand, of whom about half were sepoys and
THE OUTBREAK OF WAR
the rest native levies. Had any energy whatever been shown
by the officer in command of Chittagong in sending up rein-
forcements,-which he could well have spared, now that the
point of attack by the Burmese had been made clear,-Cap-
tain Noton might have taken the offensive, in which case se-
rious disaster would have been avoided, and the Burmese
would have been driven back across the Naaf. None, how-
ever, came, and on the morning of the i3th of May the enemy
appeared on the hill east of Ramoo, being separated from the
British force by the river of the same name. There was some
difference of opinion among the officers as to whether it would
be better to maintain a position outside the town or to retreat
at once, but the belief that reinforcements might arrive at any
hour caused Captain Noton to determine to keep in the open
and so to cover the town as long as possible.
On the evening of the i4th, the Burmese came down to the
river as if to cross it, but retired when the two six-pounder
guns opened fire upon them. That two small guns should
produce such an effect confirmed the British officers in their
opinion that the Burmese, although they might defend stock-
ades well, were of little use in the open. The next morning,
however, the enemy effected the passage of the river farther
away, and then advancing, took possession of a large tank
surrounded by a high embankment. Captain Noton placed
his force in an enclosure with a bank three feet high. His
right flank was protected by the river, and a small tank, some
sixty paces in front, was occupied by a strong picket. On his
left, somewhat to the rear, was another tank, and at this the
native levies were placed. The main position was held by
the sepoys with the two six-pounders. As the Burmese ad-
vanced, a sharp fire was opened upon them, but they availed
themselves of every irregularity of the ground and of cover
of all kinds, and threw up shelter banks with such rapidity,
ON THE IRRAWADDY
that the fire was by no means so effective as had been ex-
During the day news came that the left wing of the 23d
Native Infantry had left Chittagong on the i3th, and as it
should arrive the next day, Captain Noton determined to hold
his ground though the Burmese continued to press forward,
and a good many men, as well as two or three officers, had
been wounded by their fire. At nightfall, a consultation
was held. The reinforcements were expected in the morning,
and although the native levies had shown signs of insubordina-
tion, and evidently could not be relied upon to make a stand
if the Burmese attacked in earnest, it was resolved to retain
the position. During the night, the Burmese pushed forward
their trenches. A heavy fire was maintained on both sides
during the day, but it was with considerable difficulty that the
officers in command of the levies kept the men from bolting.
Things look very black," Captain Pringle said to Stan-
ley, when the firing died away at nightfall. "Reinforce-
ments should have been here to-day; it is scandalous that
they should not have been pushed forward at once when we
asked for them. Still more so that, when they once started,
they should riot have come on with the greatest possible
speed. I doubt whether we shall be able to hold these cow-
ardly curs together till to-morrow. If they bolt, the sepoys
will be sure to do so too; in fact, their position would be
altogether untenable, for the Burmese could march round this
flank and take them in rear. I wish to Heaven we had two
or three companies of white troops to cover a retreat; there
would be no fear of the sepoys yielding to a panic if they had
British troops with them, but when they are outnumbered, as
they are now, one can hardly blame them if they lose heart,
when the enemy are ten times their strength, and will be
twenty to one against them if our fellows here bolt,"
THE OUTBREAK OF WAR
The next morning the Burmese had pushed up their
trenches to within twelve paces of the British lines, and a
tremendous fire was opened. At nine o'clock, in spite of
the efforts of their officers to keep them steady, the native
levies bolted, and the officers with them dashed across the
intervening ground towards the main body. One of them
fell dead, and two others were wounded. Stanley was run-
ning when he fell headlong, without a moment's thought or
consciousness. The Burmese occupied the tank as soon as
the levies had abandoned it, and their fire at once took the
defenders of the main position in flank. A retreat was now
necessary, and the sepoys drew off in good order, but as the
exulting Burmans pressed hotly upon them, and their cavalry
cut off and killed every man who fell wounded from their
ranks, they became seized with a panic. In vain their offi-
cers exhorted them to keep steady. Reaching a rivulet, the
men threw down their rifles and accoutrements, as they crossed
it, and took to headlong flight.
The little group of officers gathered together and fought to
the end. Captains Noton, Truman, and Pringle, Lieutenant
Grigg, Ensign Bennet, and Maismore the doctor, were killed.
Three officers only made their escape; of these, two were
wounded. The fugitives, both natives and sepoys, continued
their flight, and when two or three days later they straggled
into Chittagong, it was found that the total loss in killed and
missing amounted to about two hundred and fifty. Those
taken prisoners numbered only about twenty. All these
were more or less severely wounded, for no quarter had
been given. They had in the pursuit been passed over as
dead, and when, after this was over, they were found to be
alive, they were spared, from no feeling of humanity, but
that they might be sent to Ava as proofs of the victory ob-
tained over the British. The number actually found alive
ON THE IRRAWADDY
was greater, but only those were spared that were capable of
travelling. Among these was Stanley Brooke. He had
remained insensible until the pursuit had been discontinued.
A violent kick roused him to consciousness, and sitting up,
he found that half a dozen Burmese were standing round him.
His first action on recovering his senses was to discover where
he was wounded. Seeing no signs of blood on his white
clothes, he took off his cap and passed his hand over his
head, and found that the blood was flowing from a wound
just on the top, where a bullet had cut away the hair and
scalp, and made a wound nearly three inches long, at the
bottom of which he could feel the bone. Looking up at the
Burmese, he said in their own language:
"That was a pretty close shave, wasn't it?"
Two or three of them laughed, and all looked amused.
Two of them then helped him to his feet, and the group,
among whom there were some officers, then took him some
distance to the rear, where he was ordered to sit down with
three wounded sepoys who had been brought in.
THE little group of prisoners received several additions
until the number mounted up to twenty. The spot
where they were placed was close to the bank of the river,
and as all were suffering severely from thirst, Stanley asked
and obtained permission from the guard to fetch some water.
He first knelt down and took a long drink, then he bathed
his head, and soaking his handkerchief with water, made it
into a pad, placed it on the wound, and put his cap on over
it, then he filled a flask that he carried, and joined his com-
panions. These were permitted to go down one by one to
the river to drink and bathe their wounds. Stanley had al-
ready learned from them all they knew of what had happened,
after he had been stunned by the bullet. Two of them had
crossed the rivulet before being wounded, and these said that
they believed all the white officers had been killed, but that
they thought most of the troops had got away.
It is more than they deserved," Stanley said indignantly.
"I don't say much about the Mugs; they had very little
drill or discipline, and naturally were afraid of the Burmese,
who had long been their masters, but if the sepoys had kept
together under their officers they might all have escaped, for
the Burmese would never have been able to break their ranks."
"Some of the officers had been killed and most of them
wounded before the retreat began, sahib," one of the sepoys
said apologetically, and they were ten to one against us."
"Yes, I know that; but you who had fought before should
have known well enough that as long as you kept together
you could have beaten them off, and they would have been
glad enough to have given up the pursuit at last. No doubt
they all wanted to have a share in the plunder of Ramoo."
What do you think that they are going to do with us,
From what they said as they brought me here I think
that we shall be sent to Ava or Amarapura; they lie close
together, and the court is sometimes at one place and some-
times at the other. What they will do with us when we get
there I don't know. They may cut off our heads, they may
put us in prison; anyhow, you may be sure that we shall not
have a pleasant time of it. All we have to hope for is that
the capture of Rangoon by our fleet may lower their pride
ON THE IRRAWADDY
and bring them to treat for terms. It sailed nearly six
weeks ago from Calcutta, and was to have been joined by one
from Madras, and, allowing for delays, it ought to have been
at Rangoon a fortnight since, and would certainly capture the
place without any difficulty. So possibly by the time we
reach Ava we shall find that peace has been made. Still, the
Burmese may not consider the loss of Rangoon to be import-
ant, and may even try to recapture it, which you may be sure
they won't do, for I heard at Chittagong that there were some
twenty thousand troops coming, which would be quite enough,
if there were but good roads and plenty of transport for them,
to march through Burma from end to end."
In the evening food was brought to the prisoners, and talk-
ing with some of the Burmese who came up to look at them,
Stanley learned that Bandoola himself had not accompanied
the force across the Naaf, and that it was commanded by the
rajahs who ruled the four provinces of Aracan. Upon the
following morning the prisoners were marched away under a
strong guard. Six days later they reached the camp of
Bandoola. They were drawn up at a distance from the
great man's tent. He came down, accompanied by a party
of officers, to look at them. He beckoned to Stanley.
Ask him if he is an officer," he said to an interpreter
standing by his side. The man put the question in Hindu-
stani. Stanley replied in Burmese:
"I am an officer, your lordship, but a temporary one
only; I served in the Mug levy, and was appointed for my
knowledge of their tongue."
How is it that you come to speak our language? Ban-
doola asked in surprise.
I am a trader, your lordship, but when our trade was put
an end to by the outbreak of the war I entered the army to
serve until peace was made. I learned the language from
STANLEY IS BROUGHT BEFORE BANDOOLA THE BURMESE GENERAL,
a servant in the service of my uncle, whose assistant I
The Burmese general was capable of acts of great cruelty
when he considered it necessary, but at other times was
kindly and good-natured.
He is but a lad," he said to one of his officers, and he
seems a bold young fellow. He would be useful as an inter-
preter to me, for we shall want to question his countrymen
when we make them all prisoners. However, we must send
him with the others to Ava, as he is the only officer that we
have taken, but I will send a message to some of my friends
at the court asking them to represent that I consider he will
be useful to me, and praying that he may be kept for a time
and treated well, and may be forwarded to me again when I
make my next move against the English."
The following day the prisoners started under the escort of
twenty soldiers, commanded by an officer of some rank, who
was specially charged to take them safely to Ava. It was a
fortnight's march to the Irrawaddy. Until they neared the
river the country was very thinly populated, but when they
approached its banks the villages were comparatively thick,
standing for the most part in clearings in a great forest. On
the march the Burmese officer frequently talked with Stanley,
asked many questions about England and India, and was evi-
dently surprised and somewhat sceptical as to the account
the lad gave him of the fighting strength of the country.
He treated him with considerable indulgence, and sent him
dishes from his own table. When not talking with him Stanley
marched at the head of the little party of prisoners, all of whom
were sepoys, no quarter having been given to the native levies.
Of an evening Stanley endeavoured to keep up the sepoys'
spirits by telling them that probably by this time the British
expedition had arrived at Rangoon and captured it, and that
ON THE IRRAWADDY
peace would most likely follow, and they might be exchanged
for any Burmese who fell into the hands of the English.
When they reached a village on the banks of the river, the
population on seeing them came round and would have mal-
treated them, had not the officer interfered and said he had
Bandoola's orders to carry them safely to the court, and that
anyone interfering with them would be severely punished. The
head man of the village bent low on hearing the general's name.
I ask your pardon, my lord; the prisoners shall not be
touched. But have you heard the news? "
I have heard no news," the officer said.
It arrived here yesterday, my lord. The barbarians
have -had the audacity to sail up with a great fleet of ships
to Rangoon. They had vessels of war with them, and
though our forts fired upon them, they had so many cannon
that we could not resist them, and they have captured the
town. This happened a fortnight since."
The officer stood thunderstruck at what appeared to him to
be an act of audacious insolence. However, after a moment's
pause, he said wrathfully:
It is of little matter. The town was weak and in no
position for defence, but a force will soon go down to sweep
these barbarians away. Now, get ready your war galley as
soon as possible."
Each village on the river was compelled by law to furnish
a war galley for the king's service, whenever it might be re-
quired. These carried from fifty to a hundred men, and
some three hundred of these boats were always available for
service, and constituted one of the strongest divisions of the
fighting force of the Burman empire.
The village was a large one, and in half an hour the crew
of the galley were on board, and, rowing forty oars, started
up the river.
What think you of this news ? the officer said, beckon-
ing to Stanley to take his place in front of him. These
men must be mad to tempt the anger of the Lord of the
Golden Stool, the mighty Emperor. Had you heard aught
of this ?"
I heard but a vague rumour that a fleet had been col-
lected, but I heard nothing for certain as to its destination."
It is madness," the officer repeated. We shall sweep
them into the sea. How many of them are there, do you
As to that I can say little, my lord. I only heard a re-
port that some ships and troops were to sail, some from
Madras and some from Calcutta, but of the number of the
men and ships I know nothing for certain."
They have taken evil council," the officer said gravely.
" I have heard that they gained some slight advantage in
Cachar, but there they had but irregular troops to meet,
largely Assamese, who are but poor cowards. This little
success must have turned their heads. They will now have
our regular forces to deal with, and these will number a
hundred thousand, or twice as many if necessary. Think
you that the handful that would be transported in ships can
stand against such a host? "
"There may be more than you think, my lord. Many of
the ships will be very big, much bigger than those that trade
with Rangoon, and some of them will carry as many as five
"Even so," the officer said scornfully; "if there were
twenty-five such ships, or even fifty, the force would be as
nothing to us. They will have to take to their vessels as
soon as our army approaches."
It may be so, sir ; but I think that they will scarce go
without fighting. I would represent to you that although
ON THE IRRAWADDY
much fewer in numbers than your army which attacked us at
Ramoo, the troops made a stout fight of it, and that they
fought steadily until the Mugs ran away; after that, from
what I hear, I admit that they fled shamefully. But the
troops that come to Rangoon will be better than those were,
for there will be white regiments among them ; and though
these may, as you say, be overpowered with numbers and
destroyed, I do not think that you will see them running
"And you think that they will really venture to withstand
I think that they will endeavour to do so."
Why, there will scarce be an occasion for fighting," the
officer said disdainfully ; they were mad to come, they are
madder still to come now. The rainy season is just at hand;
in another week it will be upon us: the rivers will spread,
the flat country will be a marsh. Even we, who are accus-
tomed to it, suffer. In places like Rangoon fever and disease
will sweep them away, and when the dry season comes and
our troops assemble to fight them, there will be none left.
They will die off like flies; we shall scarce capture enough to
send as prisoners to the emperor."
Stanley felt that in this respect the Burman's prophecies
were but too likely to be fulfilled. He knew how deadly
were the swamp fevers to white men, and that in spite of his
comfortable home on board the dhow and boat he had him-
self suffered, although, during the wet season, his uncle made
a point of sailing along the coast, and of ascending only rivers
that flowed between high banks and through a country free
from swamps. He remembered that his uncle had spoken
very strongly of the folly of the expedition being timed to
arrive on the coast of Burma at the beginning of the wet
season, and had said that they would suffer terribly from
fever before they could advance up the country, unless it was
intended to confine the operations to the coast towns until
the dry season set in.
It would indeed have been impossible to have chosen a
worse time for the expedition, but doubtless the government
of India thought chiefly of the necessity for forcing the Bur-
mese to stand on the defensive, and of so preventing the
invasion of India by a vast army. Unquestionably, too, they
believed that the occupation of Rangoon and the stoppage of
all trade would show the court of Ava that they had em-
barked in a struggle with no contemptible foe, and would be
glad to abate their pretensions and to agree to fair terms of
The Bengal force that had been embarked consisted of two
British regiments, the i3th and 38th, a battalion of native
infantry, and two batteries of European artillery, amounting
in all to 2175 men. The Madras force, of which one division
was sent on at once, the other was to follow shortly, consisted
of the 41st and 89th Regiments, the Madras European regi-
ment, seven battalions of native infantry, and four batteries
of artillery, amounting to 9300 men, making a total of
11,475 fighting men, of whom nearly five thousand were
Europeans. In addition to the transports the Bengal force
was accompanied by a flotilla of twenty gun-brigs and as
many row-boats, each armed with an eighteen-pounder, the
Larne and Sophia sloop, belonging to the Royal Navy, several
of the Company's cruisers, and the steamboat Diana. Gen-
eral Sir A. Campbell was appointed to the chief command,
and Colonel M'Bean, with the rank of Brigadier-General, com-
manded the Madras force. The Bengal squadron sailed from
Saugur in the middle of April, and reached the rendezvous,
Port Cornwallis, in the Andaman Islands, at the end of the
month. The Madras first division sailed at the same time,
ON THE IRRAWABDY
and joined them a few days later, and the whole force under
the escort of H. M. frigate Lifey and the Slaney sloop-of-war,
left Port Cornwallis on the 5th of May, and arrived on the
9th at the mouth of the Irrawaddy.
Forces were detached for the .capture of the islands of
Chuduba and Negrais. On the Ioth the fleet entered the
river and anchored within the bar, and on the following
morning proceeded with the flood-tide up to Rangoon, the
Liffey and the Larne leading the way. A few shots were
fired as they went up the river, but the Burmese were taken
wholly by surprise, the idea that the English would venture
to invade them never having entered their minds. There was
considerable disappointment on board the fleet when Ran-
goon came into sight. It was situated on the north bank of
the main branch of the river, thirty miles from the sea. It
extended about nine hundred yards along the bank, and was
six or seven hundred yards wide at its broadest part. Beyond
the town were some suburbs outside the palisade that inclosed
it. The palisades were ten or twelve feet high, strengthened
by embankments of earth thrown up against them on the in-
ner side. One face of the defences ran along the river bank,
while the others were protected by a shallow creek communi-
cating with the river. The town itself consisted for the most
part of miserable and dirty hovels and of a few official build-
ings of larger size.
At twelve o'clock the Liffey anchored abreast of the prin-
cipal battery close to the water gate, the transports being
ranged in a line in rear of her. A proclamation had been
sent on shore on the previous day, giving assurances of pro-
tection to the people at large and to all who should offer no
resistance. When the guns of the fleet were loaded a pause
ensued. The town was evidently incapable of offering re-
sistance, and it was hoped that it would capitulate. The
Burmese were seen standing at their guns, but they also
remained inactive, apparently paralysed at the appearance of
this great fleet of vessels of a size hitherto undreamt of by
them, and the threatening guns pointed towards them. How-
ever, they were at last goaded by the orders and threats of
their officers to open fire upon the ships. The frigate at once
replied with a broadside. In a very few minutes every gun
on shore was silenced, and the Burmese fled in confusion
from their works. As soon as they did so the signal for dis-
embarkation was made. The troops crowded into the boats,
which rowed for the shore, and the soldiers entered the town
without resistance, and found it completely deserted.
The whole of the population had been driven out by the
governor on the previous day, and, according to Burmese
custom, the men had all been formed into a levy, while the
women and children were held under guard as hostages for'
their husbands and fathers, their lives being forfeited in case
of desertion or cowardice by their male relations. The
foreigners in the town had all been seized. They were few
in number, consisting of some eight or ten British traders
and American missionaries; these, after being fettered, were
taken to the Custom House prison. They were brought up
and tried early on the morning of the attack, and were ac-
cused of having arranged the assault on the town. They
naturally urged that if they had had the least knowledge that it
was going to be made they would have left the place in time.
But the Burmese at once condemned them to death, and they
were taken back to the prison to be executed. The sentence
was not carried out. The Burmese had intended to execute
them on the walls in sight of their countrymen, and the authori-
ties had all assembled at the prison for the purpose, when
fortunately a shot from the first broadside fired, passed through
the building, causing an instant stampede.
ON THE IRRAWADDY
The chiefs at once left the city, and the prisoners, heavily
chained, were marched some distance into the country. A
party of British troops were, however, pushed forward in ad-
vance of the town as soon as it was occupied, and the guard,
in alarm for their own safety, placed the prisoners in a house
and made off, and a patrol found them there on the following
morning and brought them into the town.
The great pagoda, standing two miles and a half from the
town, was at once occupied as an advanced position by the
British. It stood upon a conical hill rising seventy-five feet
above the plain; the area on the top was somewhat over two
acres, and in the centre rose the pagoda three hundred and
thirty-eight feet high.
Every boat on the river was found to have been removed.
In spite of proclamations promising good treatment, none of
the inhabitants returned to the town, being prevented from
doing so by the Burmese authorities and troops. No stores
whatever had been found, and till the end of the wet season
the army had to depend entirely upon the fleet for provisions,
and remained cooped up in the wretched and unhealthy town,
suffering severely from fever and malaria.
The boat in which Stanley and the other prisoners were
conveyed was changed at every village going up the river, as
the officer was carrying the despatches from Bandoola to the
court. A flag was hoisted as the boat came in sight of a vil-
lage. This was the signal that another was required, and
within two or three minutes of their arrival the prisoners, their
guard, and officer were on their way again.
Thus they proceeded night and day, and in four days ar-
rived at Ava. Leaving the prisoners in charge of the guard,
the officer at once proceeded to the palace. In an hour guns
were fired, drums beat, and the bells of the pagodas rung to
give notice to the population that a great victory had been
won over the English, and their army annihilated, by Ban-
doola and his valiant troops. This obliterated the impres-
sion produced by the news that had arrived a few days pre-
viously of the landing at Rangoon, and there were great re-
joicings among the population. An officer from the palace
presently came down to the boat, and the prisoners were
marched through the streets to a jail, amid the jeers of the
mob. Stanley was surprised at the meanness of the town;
the great majority of the houses being built of bamboo and
thatched with grass, and having a very poor appearance. The
public buildings and the houses of the great officers were con-
structed of planks, and tiled, but were heavy and tasteless,
and it was only upon the innumerable pagodas in and around
the town that any care seemed to have been bestowed. He
had wondered much at the numerous pagodas that they had
seen near every town and village as they passed up, but the
officer had informed him that these were all private property,
and that it was considered the most meritorious of actions to
erect one, consequently every man who had means to do so
built a pagoda, large or small in proportion to the sum that
he could bestow upon it. On Stanley's remarking upon the
great number that were in ruins, the officer replied that it was
considered so much more meritorious an action to build a
pagoda than to repair one, that after the death of the founder
they were generally suffered to fall into decay.
For some days the prisoners were taken out every day and
marched about the town for some time so as to afford the pop-
ulation ocular proof of the victory gained by Bandoola. The
place in which they were confined was small and filthy, but
at the end of a week Stanley was taken out and placed in a
room by himself, and here the officer who had had charge of
him paid him a visit an hour or two later.
I have expressed to the court," he said, the wishes of
ON THE IRRAWADDY
the general, and have had permission accorded for you to re-
ceive different treatment from the others, partly because you are
an officer, but principally because the general thinks that you
may be made useful to him. I have informed the officer of
the prison that you are to be at liberty to walk about in the
city when you please, but that to protect you from violence
an officer and two soldiers are to accompany you so long as
you may think such a precaution necessary. I have ordered
a dress of our fashion to be brought to you, as otherwise you
could not go into the streets without being mobbed."
Stanley expressed his gratitude to the officer for obtaining
these indulgences, and the latter replied:
I acted upon the orders of the general, but it has been a
pleasure to me, for I see that you are a young man of merit,
and I have learned much from you about your people during
the journey, and have seen that foolish as they have been to
undertake to match themselves against us, there are yet some
things that might be learned from them, and that if they had
remained in their island, many months' journey away from
here, they might have been worthy of our friendship."
A short time after the officer had left, a soldier brought up
some food of a very much better nature than that with which
Stanley had been hitherto supplied. Half an hour later the
dress arrived. It was that of a Burmese officer of inferior
grade, and consisted of a tunic of thick cloth coming down
to the knees, leather sword belt, a sort of tippet resembling
that of an English coachman, with three layers of cloth
thickly quilted, and a leather helmet going up to a point in
the centre with a flap to protect the neck and ears; with it
were worn tight fitting stockings of cloth, and low shoes.
Presently an officer came in.
I am ordered to go out with you once a day at whatever
hour you may desire. I am a relative of the officer who
brought you here, and he has requested me to look after your
"I am much obliged to you, sir," Stanley said, "and
shall be glad indeed to go out to see the city. Your kinsman
has kindly sent me a dress; but if I am not to be noticed it
will be necessary for me to stain my face and hands some-
"That I have thought of," the officer said, "and have
brought with me some dye which will darken your skin. It
would be worse than useless for you to dress as a Burman un-
less you did so, for it would seem even more singular to the
people in the streets that a white man should be seen walking
about dressed as an officer, than that a white prisoner should
be taken through the streets under a guard. I am ready to
go out with you now, if you wish it."
I shall be ready in a few minutes," Stanley replied, and,
on being left alone, at once changed his attire and stained his
face and hands. He had just finished when the officer re-
turned. He smiled and said:
There is no fear of your being suspected now, and you
might really go about safely without a guard, unless you were
to enter into conversation with anyone. You speak the lan-
guage very well, but your accent is not quite the same as ours
here, though in Aracan it would pass unremarked."
As they went out from the prison the officer told two sol-
diers who were waiting there to follow at a distance.
Do not approach us," he said, unless I call you up."
The houses were not constructed in continuous rows, but
were very scattered, each house having its inclosure or garden.
The population was very small in comparison to the area oc-
cupied by the town. This was divided into two parts-the
inner and outer town. The whole was surrounded by a brick
wall, five miles and a half in circumference, some sixteen feet
ON THE IRRAWADDY
high and ten feet in thickness, strengthened on the inside by
a great bank of earth. The inner town was inclosed by a
separate wall, with a deep ditch on two sides, the river Irra-
waddy on the third, and a tributary river on the fourth. A
considerable portion of the inclosed area was occupied by the
royal quarter, containing the palace, the court of justice, the
council chamber, arsenal, and the houses of the ministers and
chief officials. This was cut off from the rest by a strong and
well-built wall, twenty feet high, outside which was a stock-
ade of the same height. The total population of Ava was
The officer did not take Stanley to the royal quarter, ob-
serving that it was better not to go there, as, although he had
leave to walk in the town, it might give offence were he to
show himself near the palace; but after going through the
wall, they visited two or three of the markets, of which there
were eleven in the town.
The markets consisted of thatched huts and sheds, and were
well supplied with the products of the country. Here were
rice, maize, wheat, and various other grains; sticks of sugar-
cane, tobacco; cotton, and indigo; mangoes, oranges, pine
apples, custard apples, and plantains were in abundance; also
peacocks, jungle fowl, pigeons, partridges, geese, ducks, and
snipes; but little meat was on sale, as the Burman religion
forbids the killing of animals for food. Venison was the only
meat allowed to be sold in the markets, but there were lizards,
iguanas, and snakes, which were exposed freely for sale, and
there were large quantities of turtle and tortoise eggs, which
had been brought up from the delta.
Stanley saw that there had really been no great occasion for
him to stain his skin, as the people were for the most part
lighter in colour than the Hindoos. Many of the men had,
however, stained their faces to a darker colour, and all were
tattoed more or less. Men, women, and children were all
smoking, and frequently, when both hands were required for
any purpose, thrust their cigars into the large holes bored in
the lobes of their ears. Both men and women were somewhat
short in stature, but squarely built and muscular, and in the
majority of cases inclined to be fat.
The men wore a sort of kilt, consisting of a double piece of
cloth wrapped round the body and falling to the knee; over
this was a loose tunic, with sleeves open in front. The head-
dress was a scanty white turban. The dress of the women
was somewhat similar to that of the Hindoos, consisting
of a single garment like a sheet wrapped round the body,
fastening under the arms and falling to the ankles. Those
of the upper classes were more elaborate. The rank among
the women was distinguished, so Stanley's guide pointed
out to him, by the manner in which the hair was plaited
and twisted, and by the ornaments in it. The men, like
the women, wore their hair long, but while the men wore
theirs in a knot at the top of the head, the women gathered it
in at the back. Their faces were broad at the cheek-bones,
but narrowed in sharply both at the forehead and chin. The
narrow and oblique eyes showed the relationship between the
Burmese and their Chinese neighbours. They seemed to
Stanley a light hearted, merry people, going about their
business with much chatter and laughter, and the sound of
musical instruments could often be heard inside the houses.
Several men in bright yellow garments mingled with the
crowds in the market. These were priests, the officer told
him, and it would be a mortal act of sacrilege were anyone
else to wear that colour.
Stanley remarked upon seeing so few soldiers, and the offi-
cer told him that there was no regular army in Burma. Every
man capable of carrying arms was obliged to serve in case of
ON THE IRRAWADDY
war, but with the exception of the king's body-guard and a
very small body of men who were police rather than soldiers,
there was no force permanently kept up. Every man was ex-
pected to know something of military duty, and all were able
to build stockades. From the fact that the flesh of wild fowl
formed one of the principal articles of food, the peasantry
throughout the country were all accustomed to the use of the
gun, and were fair marksmen.
But you yourself are an officer," Stanley said.
"At present yes, but to-morrow I may return to my land.
It is the same with the highest minister ; one day he may be
a trader, but if recommended to the king as one possessing
ability, straightway he is chosen to be a high official. If he
does not please the king, or fails in his duties, then the next
day he may be selling cloth in the bazaar again. Everything
is at the will of the king. Nobody is born with fortune or
rank, for everything belongs to the king, and at a man's death
all goes back to him. Thus everyone in the land has an
equal chance. In war the bravest becomes a general, in peace
the cleverest is chosen as a councillor."
Walking about, Stanley soon found that there were a great
variety of dialects talked in the streets, and that the language
of the Burmese of the coast, of the natives of Pegu and the
central province, and of those from districts bordering on the
Shan states or the frontiers of China, differed as widely as those
of the most remote parts of Great Britain did from each other.
This being so, he was convinced that there would be no diffi-
culty whatever in passing as a native, without attracting any
observation or inquiry, so far as the language went. His
features, and, still more, the shape of his face, might however
be noticed by the first comer in the daytime. He thought in-
deed that a little tinge of colour in the corner of the eyes, so
as to lengthen their appearance and give an oblique cast to
them, would make a difference. The general shape of the
head was unalterable, but the Burmese nose and mouth did
not differ very greatly from the European, except that the nos-
trils were smaller, and in shape were round rather than oval.
For three weeks he continued the same life, and then the
Burmese officer, with whom he had now become very friendly,
said when he entered one morning :
You must not go out to-day; there is news that your
people have made two forward marches. The first was against
a stockade, which they took, and killed many of our men;
the other time they marched out four or five miles, had a fight
with our troops, and again killed many. These things have
angered the king and the people. Of course it is nothing, for
our troops are only beginning to assemble, but it is consid-
ered insolent in the extreme, and the king's face is darkened
against your countrymen. Four of the prisoners have been
taken out this morning and publicly executed, and if the news
of another defeat comes, I fear that it will be very dangerous
even for you."
What had I best do, my friend ? "
"I would fain save you, for we have come to know each
other, and I see that there is much good in your ways,
though they differ greatly from ours. Were I to take you
out as usual you might be killed in the streets; were you
to slip away and escape I should assuredly be put to
death; but if in any way I can help you I would fain do
so. My relation who brought you up here, left a fortnight
since to rejoin Bandoola, so his influence cannot serve you.
I do not say that you might not escape from this prison,
since you are not, like the others, confined in a dungeon, but
I see not what you could do, or where you could go. Were
you to disappear, orders would be sent down the river to
every village, and every passing craft would be examined,
ON THE IRRAWADDY
and you would be sure to be detected, while it would be well-
nigh impossible to travel the country on foot, for it is but
thinly inhabited. There are often very long distances be-
tween the villages, and much of the country is swamp and
forest without paths, for the village trade goes by the river,
and they have little communication with each other. I
know that, from what you say, you think that your troops
will beat ours even when we assemble in large numbers.
Were this so, I fear that there would be little chance of your
life being spared. Were it not for that, I should say that,
Bandoola having recommended you, you would be in no
danger here and had better remain until peace is made.
What think you yourself ? "
It is very difficult to reply at once," Stanley said, but
I thank you greatly for your offer to befriend me in any way
you can. I do not say that I had not thought of escape, for
I have of course done so. But it seemed to me a thing in
the distance, and that, at any rate until the rains were over
and the rivers had sunk, it would be useless to attempt it.
I see now that it will be safest for me to try without delay.
If you will come in again this afternoon I will tell you what I
have thought of."
I will do so, and I myself will try to think how best the
matter can be managed. We must remember that the great
thing is for you to find concealment for the present. After
the search for you has been made for some time, it will die
away, and it will then be the easiest plan for you to make
your way down the river."
A RUINED TEMPLE
A RUINED TEMPLE
AFTER the officer left him, Stanley sat thinking for a
long time. He himself inclined strongly towards the
river, but he saw that at present the difficulties would be
very great. The war boats were passing up and down, and
bodies of troops were being carried down in large craft. In
every village the men, he knew, were assembling and drilling.
Even in Ava he could see the difference in the population,
the proportion of men to women having markedly decreased
since his arrival. As to the journey by land, it appeared to
him impossible. He was, too, altogether without money,
and whether by water or land, it would be necessary to go
into the villages to buy provisions; indeed, money would
have been almost useless, for there was no coined money
in Burma, payments being made in lead for small amounts,
or in silver for large ones -the quantity necessary being
cut off from small sticks or bars, or paid in filings. It
seemed to him that the best thing would be to take to the
forest for a time, and endeavour to subsist upon wild fruits,
or if these were not to be found there, to go out into the
fields and orchards at night, and so manage to hold on for a
His friend told him that in the forests along the prin-
cipal lines of route to the capital were many bad characters-
persons who had committed crime and fled from justice.
Some were cultivators who, having been unable to pay their
taxes, had deserted their land and taken to the woods. All
committed depredations, and traders coming into the town
ON THE IRRAWADDY
from the Shan states, or from the country where rubies
and emeralds were found, always travelled in caravans for
mutual protection. At times levies were called out, and
many of these marauders were killed.
Stanley then had hit upon -nothing definite when the
officer returned in the afternoon, and in reply to the latter's
question he acknowledged at once that the only thing he
could see was to take to the forest until the active search for
him had ceased.
"You would find it difficult to maintain yourself. I have
thought of a better way than that. I am acquainted with
a Phongee, who lives in a temple in a lonely spot four miles
away. He is a good man, though somewhat strange in
his habits, and I feel sure that, on my recommendation,
he would take you in. There would be little chance of
your being discovered there. You could not go dressed
as you are, but must disguise yourself as a peasant, though it
might be well to retain your present attire, which may be
useful to you afterwards. I fear that you will fare badly with
him in the way of food; there will be enough to eat, but it
will be of the simplest."
"So that there is enough to keep life together it matters
little what it is."
"Then that is settled. Now about making your escape
from here. Your door is closely barred at night, and there is
no window save those four little holes high up in the wall,
which scarce a bird could get through."
I could cut through the thatch above," Stanley said, if
I had but something that I could stand upon to do so. There
are some bamboos lying just at the bottom of the steps. With
these and some cord I might make a sort of ladder, and should
then be able to get at the thatch."
I will bring you some cord to-morrow for that and to let
A RUINED TEMPLE
yourself down to the ground. Then I will arrange where to
meet you, and will guide you out of the town and take you to
the priest. I will bring a disguise for you, and some stain for
your body and arms, for as a peasant you would be naked to
the waist. I can think of nothing better."
"I thank you most heartily," Stanley said, "and trust
that you may get into no trouble for the kindness that you
have shown me."
There is no fear of that, my friend. No one will know
that I have been away from the town. I am greatly afraid
that this will be all that I shall be able to do for you, for I
am told that I am to go down the river with the next batch
of troops, which will start in three days. I have only been
informed of it since I saw you this morning. Had it not
been for you I should have been glad, for it is in war time
only that one can obtain honour and promotion."
"I am sorry that you are going, sir. I shall miss your
kindness sorely; but I can understand your desire to go to
the front. It is the same with us; when there is a war every
officer and soldier hopes that his regiment will be sent there.
However, I shall see you again. Has Bandoola's army moved
No; nor do I think that it will do so. It is a long
march down to Rangoon from Ramoo, and I believe that- he
will remain where he is until he sees how matters go at Ran-
goon. As soon as your people are driven out he will be
joined by a great army, and will march to Dacca. There
our troops from the north will join him, and then he will go
to India, we think."
"I fancy," Stanley said with a smile, "if he waits until
we are turned out from Rangoon his stay at Ramoo will be a
The next day the officer brought several yards of strong
ON THE IRRAWADDY
cloth such as was worn by the peasants, a piece of muslin to
make the circular band that was worn by the lower class
instead of a complete turban, and a lot of horse-hair to be
worn on the top of the head.
Now," he said, "strip to the waist, and I will dye your
body. I have dyes of two colours here, one for the skin and
the other to draw lines on the face so as to make you look
older, and with this I can also imitate tattoo marks on your
chest and shoulders. Here is a long knife such as everyone
wears, and here is the cord. As soon as it is getting dark
you must carry up two of the bamboo poles, taking care that
no one observes you do so; there is seldom anyone in the
courtyard. I have had the knife sharpened, and it will cut
through the thatch easily enough. When you get away walk
straight to the market that lies nearest to us. I will be at its
entrance. It will take you, I suppose, two hours to make
your ladder and get out. You cannot begin until the guard
closes your door. You tell me he.never comes in."
No; he brings the last meal an hour before sunset. I
generally sit on the top of the steps till he comes up to lock
the door, which is about nine o'clock, and I do not see him
again until he unbars the door in the morning. I should
not think that it will take as long as two hours to make the
ladder and cut the thatch; at any rate, by eleven I ought to
join you. I suppose the gates are open."
Oh, yes! they are never closed, though of course they
would be if an enemy were near. There is no guard any-
After staining Stanley's skin the officer waited a quarter of
an hour for it to dry thoroughly, and then proceeded to draw
lines on his face, across the forehead, and from the corners of
his eyes, and then spent nearly an hour in executing rough
tattoo marks on his body and arms.
A RUINED TEMPLE
"This dye is very good, and will last for weeks before it
begins to fade. I will bring with me another bottle to-night
so that you can at least re-dye your skin. Here is some wax,
you must turn your hair up from the neck, and plaster it in its
place with it. The turban will prevent anyone seeing how
short the hair is. Here is a little bottle of black dye, with
which you had better colour it before fixing it with the wax."
Stanley's hair had not been cut for some time before he
had been captured by the Burmese, and in the two months
that had since elapsed it had grown very long, and could
therefore be turned up as the officer suggested. Putting on
his usual garments, he sat at his place, at the door of the cell,
until the guard brought up his evening meal. Having eaten
this, he dyed his hair, and half an hour later turned it up,
plastering it with wax, and tied a bit of fibre round where
the turban would come. By this time it was getting dusk.
He sat at the door at the top of the steps, until he saw that
the court-yard was deserted, the guard at the gate having
gone outside to enjoy the coolness of the air. Then he ran
down the steps, took two bamboo poles about ten feet in
length, and two short pieces of the same wood no thicker than
his finger, and hurrying up the steps with them, laid them
down against the side of the room. Then he went to the
steps again, and sat there until he saw the guard coming
across to fasten his door, when he went in, and as soon as he
heard the bars put up, began his preparations.
First he lashed the short pieces across the ends of the two
bamboos so as to keep them a foot apart, then he put ratlines
across, and soon had the ladder completed. He made up his
clothes into a bundle, wrapped the rough cloth round his
waist, adjusted the knot of horse-hair on the top of his head,
and fastened it there with wax. He wound the turban round
below, and his disguise was complete. Fixing the ladder
ON THE IRRAWADDY
against the wall he climbed it, and it was not long before he
cut a hole through the thatch of sufficient size to pass out.
The work had taken him longer than he had expected, for it
had to be done in absolute darkness; however, he was sure
that he was well within his time. Fastening the end of the
rope to one of the bamboo rafters, he descended the ladder,
and .picked up his bundle, then climbed up again, got half-
way out of the hole and listened intently. Everything was
quiet in the street, and in another minute he stood on the
ground. When he turned into the principal street there
were still many people about. Sounds of music and singing
came from the windows, for the Burmese are very fond of
music, and often pass the whole night in playing and singing.
There was no risk whatever of detection now, and he stepped
briskly along until he came to the open space, with its rows
of little thatched huts. Here he paused for a minute, and
the officer stepped out from behind a house and joined him.
"I was not sure at first that it was you," he said; "your
disguise is excellent. You had better follow me now until we
get beyond the busy streets."
Keeping some twenty yards behind his guide, Stanley
went on until, after nearly half an hour's walking, they passed
through a gate in the city walls. He now closed up to the
officer, and after another half-hour's walk across a cultivated
country they entered a forest. The ground now rose steadily,
end, after keeping on for two miles, they emerged from the
trees at the top of a hill. The space had been cleared of
timber, but it was nearly covered with bushes and young
trees. In the centre were the ruins of a temple that had evi-
dently existed long before the Burmese dynasty occupied the
country, and had been erected by some older race. It was
roofless, the walls had in places fallen, and the ruins were
covered with vegetation. The Burman ascended some
A RUINED TEMPLE
broken steps, entered the temple, and crossed to one of the
opposite corners. A dim light was burning in a small apart-
ment which had been roofed with thatch. A man was lying
dressed on a heap of leaves at one side. He started up as the
"Who is it who comes here at this hour? he asked.
"Thekyn," the officer answered.
"I am glad to see you," the Phongee said, "whatever
may bring you here. You have not fallen into trouble, I
"In no way, good priest. I am starting in two days
down the river to fight the barbarians; but before I go I want
you to do me a favour."
The Phongee smiled. "Beyond naming you in my
prayers, Thekyn, there is but little that a hermit can do for
"Not so in this case," the officer said. I have one here
with me who needs rest and concealment. I would rather
that you did not ask who he is. He has done no crime, and
yet he is in danger; and for a month maybe he needs a shel-
ter. Will you give it hi'm for my sake? "
"Assuredly I will," the priest said. "Your father was
one of my dearest friends in the days when I dwelt in the city;
I would gladly do all in my power for his son, and this is but
a small thing that you ask. Let him enter."
Stanley went in. The priest took down the little lamp
from a shelf on which it stood and held it near the lad's face.
Then he turned with a smile to Thekyn:
The painting is but clumsily done," he said, though
maybe it would pass without close examination. He is a
stranger and comes of a race unknown to me, but, as you said,
it matters not to me who he is ; suffice that he is a friend of
yours. He, is welcome to a share of my shelter and my food,
ON THE IRRAWADDY
though the shelter is rough and the food somewhat scanty.
Of late few indeed have sought me, for, as I hear, most of the
men have gone down to the war."
I have brought you some food," the officer said; for
Stanley had observed that he also carried a bundle, a larger
one than his own. Here is a supply of rice that will last
for some time, and this, with your offerings, will suffice to
keep things going. My friend is not, like you, bound by his
religion not to take life; and I know that snakes are very
plentiful round here."
Snakes had formed a frequent article of his diet since he
had been captured, and Stanley had lost the repugnance to
them that he at first felt, so the prospect of their forming the
staple of his food was not disagreeable to him. It would also
afford him some employment to search for and kill them.
I shall be well content," he said, with anything that I
can get, and trust that I shall be no burden upon you."
You will assuredly be none," the priest replied. Here
must be at least thirty pounds of rice, which alone would keep
two men alive for a month. As regards the snakes, though I
may not kill them, I may eat them when killed; and indeed
there are few things better. In truth I should not be sorry
to have some of the creatures out of the way, for they swarm
round here so thickly that I have to pay great heed when I
walk lest I step upon them."
Have you been troubled with robbers of late, father? "
"They trouble me not at all," the priest said. "Men
come sometimes, they may be robbers or they may not. I
ask no questions. They sometimes bring fruit and other
offerings, and I know that I need not fear them. I have
nought to lose save my life, and he would be indeed an evil
man who would dare to lift his finger against a priest-one
A RUINED, TEMPLE
who harms not anyone, and is ready to share what food he
has with any man who comes to him hungry."
Well, father, I will say good-bye. I must be back to
the city before men are about, as I would not that my absence
should be discovered."
"Peace be with you, my son; may you come back safe
from the wars; my prayers will be said for you night and
morning. Be in no uneasiness as to your friend. If any
should ask me about my companion I shall reply that he is
one who has undertaken to rid me of some of the snakes, who
dispute the possession of this place with me."
Thekyn motioned to Stanley to come outside the hut with
him, and when he did so handed to him a small but heavy bag.
This is lead," he said; "you will need it when you
start on your journey down the country. There are eight
pounds of it, and from what you have seen in the market you
will know how much food can be got for a small amount of
lead. I would that I could do more for you and assist your
You have done much indeed, very much, and should I
regain my friends I will endeavour to do as much by one of
your countrymen for your sake. I hope that when this war
is over I may meet you again."
"I hope so," the Burman said warmly. "I cannot but
think that you will succeed in getting away."
My son," the old priest said when Stanley returned to
his cell, I am going to my prayers. I always rise at this
hour and pray till morning; therefore you may as well lay
yourself down on these leaves. There is another cell like this
in the opposite corner of the temple; in the morning you can
cut boughs and roof it like this, and make your bed there.
There is no room for another here, and it will doubtless be
more pleasant for you to have a place to yourself, where you
ON THE IRRAWADDY
can go and come as you like; for in the day women come up
to consult me and ask for my prayers; but mind how you
enter it for the first time-as like as not there will be snakes
Stanley lay awake for a time listening to the monotonous
voice of the priest as he repeated his prayers, but his senses
soon wandered, and he slept soundly till daybreak.
His first step was to cut a stout stick, and he then pro-
ceeded to the other cell, which was partially blocked up with
stone from the fallen roof. It took him two hours to carry
this stuff out, and he killed no less than nine snakes that he
disturbed in his work. The prospect of sleeping in a place
so frequented was not a pleasant one, especially as the cell
had no door to it, and he resolved at once to erect some sort
of bed-place where he might be beyond their reach. For this
purpose he cut two poles, each three or four inches longer
than the cell. One end of each he sharpened and drove
in between the interstices of the stone at a distance of some
two feet and a half apart and four feet from the ground, the
other ends he hammered with a heavy stone against the op-
posite wall until they would go down no farther. Then he
split up some more wood, and lashed strips, almost touching
each other, underneath the two poles by the aid of some strong
creepers; then he filled up the bed-place between the poles
with dry leaves.
One end of the bed was some inches higher than the other.
This was immaterial, and he felt satisfied that even the craft-
iest snake could not reach him. As to the roof he was by no
means particular about it. In this part of Burma the rainfall
is very small, the inundations being the effect of heavy rains
in the distant hill-country, which, as they come down, raise
the level of the rivers in some cases as much as eighteen feet,
and overflow the low lying country. Before beginning to
A RUINED TEMPLE
construct the bed he had carried the snakes into the Phongee,
after first cutting off their heads, which, as he knew, the
Burmans never touch.
This is good, indeed, my son," the priest said. Here
we have our breakfast and dinner. I will boil some rice and
fry four of them for breakfast."
The bed was but half completed when he heard the priest
sound a bell. It was doubtless used as a call to prayer.
However, Stanley rightly conjectured that in this case it was
a summons to a meal, and was soon seated on the ground by
the side of the priest. Little was said at breakfast, which
Stanley enjoyed heartily.
So my friend Thekyn is starting for the wars. What
think you of it, my son, shall we easily overpower these bar-
barians? We have never met them in war before, and
doubtless their methods of fighting are different from ours."
Quite different. Their men are trained as soldiers, they
act as one man, while the Burmese fight each for himself.
Then they have cannon with them, which they can drag
about quickly and use with great effect. Although they are
few in comparison with the armies going down to attack
them, the latter will find it very difficult work to turn them
out of Rangoon."
"Do you think that they will beat us, then? "
"That I cannot say, but I should not be surprised if it
were to prove so."
"The Burmese have never been beaten yet," the priest
said; they have been victorious over all their enemies."
"The Burmese are very brave," Stanley agreed, "but
hitherto they have only fought against people less warlike
than themselves; now they have to deal with a nation that
has made war a study, and which always keeps up a large
army of men who are trained to fight, and who spend all
ON THE IRRAWADDY
their time in military exercises. It is not that they are
stronger than the Burmese, for the Burmese are very strong
men, but only that men who are trained to act together must
necessarily possess a great advantage over those who have had
no such training, who simply take up arms for the occasion,
and when the trouble is over return to their homes and lay
them by until called out to fight again. Besides, their weap-
ons are better than yours; and they have many cannon,
which by practice they can load and fire very quickly, and
each of which, when the armies are near each other, can fire
fifty or sixty bullets at once."
"I have heard a strange story that the barbarians have a
ship without sails, with a great chimney that pours out quan-
tities of black smoke, and a wheel on each side, and, as the
wheels move round, the vessel can go straight up the river
against the tide, even if the wind is blowing strongly down."
It is true, father, there are many such ships, but only two
or three that have made the long voyage across stormy seas
"It is wonderful how these men can force fire to be their
servant, and how it can make the wheels of the ship to move
"That I cannot tell you, father. I have never seen one of
these vessels, though I have heard of them."
The priest said no more, but evidently fell into a profound
meditation, and Stanley, getting quietly up, returned to his
work. The priest came in just as he had completed his bed.
"That is well," he said, looking at it approvingly. I
myself, although I know that until my time has come no
creature can harm me, cannot resist a shudder when I hear
one rustling amid the leaves of my bed, for they come in
although some of my friends have had a door placed to ex-
clude their entry at night. I wander but little from my cell,
A RUINED TEMPLE
and always close the door after me; but they enter sometimes
when I am meditating and forgetful of earthly matters, and
the first I know of their presence is the rustling of the leaves
in the bed at night. Were I as strong in faith as I should be,
I would heed it not. I tell myself so, but my fear is stronger
than my will, and I am forced to rise, turn up the leaves with
a stick until I find them, and then I open the door and eject
them with as much gentleness as may be."
I should get no sleep at all," Stanley said. "I don't
think that even a door would make me feel any safer, for I
might forget to shut it sometimes. To-morrow, father, I
will wage war with them, and see if I cannot decrease their
Stanley's first task was to clear the bushes away from the
court of the temple, and this, after several days' hard work,
he carried out, although he soon saw that by so doing he
would not diminish the number of the snakes, for the greater
portion of the area was covered with blocks of fallen stone
among which the reptiles found an impenetrable shelter. The
clearance effected, however, was so far useful that while the
creatures were before altogether hidden from sight by the
bushes, they could now be killed when they came out to bask
in the sun on the uncovered stones, and he could every day
destroy a dozen or more without the slightest difficulty. Ten
days after he had finished the work he heard the sound of
men's voices, and peeping out saw a Burmese officer with a
party of eight armed men going to the Phongee's cell. It
was possible that they might have come on other business,
but it was more probable they had come in search of him.
Some of the women who had come up to the hermit had
seen him at work, and might have mentioned on their return
that the priest had a man at work clearing away the bushes;
the matter might have come to the ears of some officer
ON THE IRRAWADDY
anxious to distinguish himself, and the idea that this was the
prisoner for whom a search was being made occurred to him.
Stanley shrank back into his cell, took up the bundle of
clothes that served as his pillow, got on to the bed, and
standing on it was able to get his fingers on to the top of the
wall. He hoisted himself up, made his way through the
boughs of the roof, and dropped on to the ground outside.
Then he went round by the back of the temple, until he
stood outside the priest's cell and could hear the voices within
Then you know nothing whatever of this man ? "
Nothing whatever," he replied. As I have told you,
he came to me and asked for shelter; I gave him such poor
assistance as I could, as I should give it to anyone who asked
me. He has been no burden upon me, for he has killed
enough snakes for my food and his own."
"You know not of what part he is a native?"
Not at all; I asked him no questions. It was no busi-
ness of mine."
Could you form any idea from his speech? "
His speech was ours. It seemed to me that it was that
of a native of the lower provinces."
Where is he now ?"
"I know not."
You say that he is away at present."
Not seeing him in front, I thought he had gone out, for
he comes and goes as he pleases. He is not a hired servant,
but a guest. He cut down the bushes here in order that he
might more easily kill the snakes; for which, indeed, I am
thankful to him, not only for the food that they afford, but
because they were in such abundance and so fearless that they
often came in here, knowing that they had naught to fear
A RUINED TEMPLE
"Then you think that he will return soon?"
As he told me not of his intention of going out at all, I
cannot say. He is away sometimes for hours in the forest."
Well, in any case, we shall watch here until his return.
It may be that he is some idle fellow who prefers killing
snakes to honest work; but it may also be that he is the es-
caped prisoner of whom we are in search."
I hear little of what passes in the town," the priest said
quietly; news would disturb my meditations, and I never
question tho-e who come here to ask for my prayers. I have
heard of the escape of no prisoner."
"It was a young English officer who got away. There
has been a great stir about it. Every house in the town has
been searched, and every guard-boat on the river has been
warned to allow no boat to pass without assuring themselves
that he is not on board."
This was a brown man like ourselves, clad only in a pet-
ticoat of rough cloth like other peasants."
"He may have dyed his skin," the officer said; at any
rate, we will stay until he returns and question him. Two of
my men shall take their places just inside the entrance, and
seize him as he enters. Has he arms? "
None, save his knife and the stick with which he kills
the snakes. It may be that he has seen you coming hither,
and if he has committed any crime he would flee, and not re-
turn here at all.'
If he does not come back before it is the hour when I
must return to the town, I shall leave four men to watch for
him, and they will wait here, if it is for a week, until he
comes back again."
You can do as you please," the priest said, only I pray
you withdraw your men from the neighbourhood of this cell.
I would not that my meditations were disturbed by their talk.
ON THE IRRAWADDY
I have come hither for peace and quietness, and to be apart
from the world and its distractions."
"'You shall not be disturbed," the officer said respectfully,
and Stanley heard a movement of feet and then the closing of
the door. Thinking it probable that the officer might make
a search round the temple, he at once made off into the wood
behind the temple. As soon as he was well among the trees
he exchanged his cloth for the disguise he had worn in the
town, and, folding it up to be used as a blanket at night, he
went further into the wood, sat down, and proceeded to think
what his next step had best be. It was evident that he could
not return to the temple for the present, and it was clear also
that the search for him was still maintained, and that it would
not be safe to attempt to descend the river. He regretted
that he had been obliged to leave the place without saying
good bye to the priest and again thanking him for the shelter
that he had given him ; but he was sure that when he did not
return the old man would guess that he had caught sight of
the officer and his party entering the temple and had at once
fled. Had he not known that the guard would remain there
he would have waited until they returned to the town, and
would then have gone in and seen the priest, but as they
would remain there for some days he thought it was as well to
abandon all idea of returning, as the suspicions that he might
be the man sought for would be heightened by his continued
absence, and the watch might be continued for a long time
on the chance of his coming back.
He concluded that at any rate his best course would be to
endeavour to make his way for a considerable distance down
the country, and then to try and get a boat. He knew-that
the country near the river was comparatively thickly popu-
lated, and that the distances between the villages were not
great, so that he would find no great difficulty in purchasing
A RUINED TEMPLE
provisions. The dress he had brought with him was not al-
together unfavourable for such a purpose, as he could easily
pass as a sub-officer, whose duty it was to inquire whether the
villages had each sent all their able-bodied men to the war;
the only drawback to it would be that if instructions for his
arrest had been sent down to the villages along the road, as
well as those by the river, they would have probably been
directed to specially look for one clad in such attire. How-
ever, it would be open to him at any moment to take to his
peasant's disguise again.
He at last determined to make a start, and by nightfall had
traversed several miles through the great forest stretching
along by the side of the Panlaung river. He had asked many
questions of his friend the officer as they went up to the
temple as to the roads. He was told that there was one run-
ning almost due south to Ramuthayn, by which he could
travel down to Rangoon, by way of Tannoo. This, however,
would take him a long distance from the main river, and he
decided that he would presently strike the road that ran about
half-way between the hills and the Irrawaddy. He would
follow that for a time, and would try and strike the river
somewhere between Meloun and Keow-Uan. Below this
point there was a network of rivers, and but few villages, and
the country was swampy and unhealthy. He infinitely pre-
ferred the risks of the descent by the river to those by road,
and it seemed to him that if he could but obtain possession
of one of the small native fishing boats he could drop down
at night unnoticed, as the width of the river at Ava was up-
wards of a thousand yards, and below that town often con-
siderably exceeded that breadth.
When it became too dark to proceed further he sat
down at the foot of a tree. He regretted that he had no
means of lighting a fire, and determined that at any risk he
ON THE IRRAWADDY
would obtain the means of doing so at the first village that he
came to, for he knew that there were both tigers and leopards
in the jungles; he thought, however, that they were not
likely to be numerous, so near the capital, and the old priest
had never alluded to them as a source of danger, though in-
deed it had never occurred to him to ask. In the morning
he continued his way. He had gone but a mile when he
heard a sudden scream in the wood a short distance to his
left. Feeling sure that it was a human being in great fear or
pain, he drew his knife and ran at the top of his speed in the
direction of the cry, thinking that it might be some man or
woman attacked by the robbers of the forest.
Suddenly he came upon a small open space some twenty
yards in diameter. He hesitated when his eyes fell on a
group in the centre. Two men were lying on the ground,
and a leopard stood with a paw on each of them. They had
guns lying beside them, and a fire was burning close by.
He guessed that the animal had sprung from a tree, one of
whose boughs extended almost as far as the centre of the
opening. Probably it had killed one of the men in its
spring, for at the moment when he saw the animal, it was
licking the blood from the shoulder of the man on whom its
right paw rested. The other was, as far as Stanley could see,
unhurt. His tread in the light Burmese shoes had been al-
most noiseless, and the leopard, which was keeping up a low
growling, and whose back was towards him, had apparently
not noticed it. He hesitated for a moment, and then decided
to endeavour to save the man who was still alive. Creeping
up stealthily, he gave a sudden spring upon the leopard
and buried his knife to the hilt in its body, just behind the
shoulder. With a terrible roar, it rolled over for a moment
and then struggled to its feet. The time had been sufficient
for Stanley to pick up and cock one of the guns, and as the
leopard turned to spring at him, he aimed between its eyes
and fired. Again the beast rolled over, and Stanley caught
up the other gun, thrust the muzzle within a foot of its head,
and fired. The leopard gave a convulsive quiver and lay
STANLEY uttered an involuntary hurrah as the leopard
expired, and at the sound the Burman, who had been
lying motionless, leapt to his feet. He looked at the leopard
and then at his rescuer, and exclaimed in a tone of astonish-
"You have slain the beast alone, and with no weapon but
your knife "
No," Stanley replied; "I began the fight with my knife
only, but caught up one of those guns when I wounded him
and fired as he charged me; then I finished him with the
Comrade," the Burman said, "you have done a great
deed with courage. I, who am esteemed no coward, would
never even have thought of attacking that great leopard with
but a knife, and that to save the life of a stranger."
I saw the guns lying on the ground. Had it not been
for that I should not have dared to attack the leopard, for
it would have been certain death."
Certain death, indeed. But tell me first how you did it;
it seems to me well-nigh a miracle."
ON THE IRRAWADDY
I was passing along not far distant when I heard your
cry," Stanley said. "Thinking that it was some person
in distress, I ran hither, and saw you both lying with the
leopard's fore-paws upon you. The beast's back was turned
to me, and, as it was growling, it had not heard my approach.
Seeing the guns lying there, and having no doubt that they
were loaded, I stole up, sprang suddenly on the leopard, and
drove my knife into it behind the shoulder. The blow
rolled it over and gave me time to pick up the gun. The
rest was easy."
The man without a word examined the body of the
"It is as you say," he said. It was well struck, and
would probably have been fatal, but the animal would have
torn you in pieces before he died, but for the guns. Well,
comrade, you have saved my life, and I am your servant so
long as I live. I thought all was over with me; the leopard,
as it sprang, threw its full weight on my comrade here. We
had just risen to our feet, and the blow struck me also to the
ground; I raised that cry as I fell. I lay there immovable;
I felt the leopard's paw between my shoulders, and heard its
angry growlings, and I held my breath, expecting every
moment to feel its teeth in my neck. I had but one hope,
namely, that the beast would carry off my comrade-who, I
was well assured, was dead-to the jungle to devour him, and
would then come back to fetch me. I managed to breathe
once very quietly, when I felt a movement of the leopard,
and hearing a low sound, guessed that he was licking my
comrade's blood; but slightly as I moved, the leopard
noticed it, and stood straight up again over me. I dared not
breathe again, but the time had come when I felt that I must
do so, though I was sure that it would be the signal for my
death. Then I knew not what had happened. There was a
sharp pain as the leopard's claws contracted, and then there
was a loud roar, and its weight was removed from me. Then
I heard it snarl as if about to spring, then came the sound of
a gun, a fall, and a struggle, and then the sound of another
gun; then I heard your shout and knew the beast was dead.
Now, sir, what can I do for you? Shall I first skin the
I care not for the skin," Stanley said; "it would be of
no use to me."
"Then, with your permission, I will take it off, and keep
it as long as I live as a remembrance of the narrowest escape
that I ever had."
Is your comrade dead ? "
"Yes," the man replied. "The leopard struck him be-
tween the shoulders as you see, and the force of the blow
and the weight of the spring must have killed him instanta-
Then I will take his sword, gun, and cartridges."
So Stanley undid the sword-belt, and buckled it round him,
put the bandolier of cartridges over his shoulders, and took
up the gun and reloaded it while the man was at work skin-
ning the leopard. This operation the man performed with
great speed; it was evidently one that he had done before.
As soon as the beast was flayed, he rolled up the skin and
placed it on his shoulder.
You are an officer, sir ? he asked.
"No; I am a fugitive."
While he had been watching the man, Stanley had debated
over whether he should confide in him, and thought that after
the service he had rendered him he could do so with safety.
"I am an Englishman-I was captured by Bandoola at
Ramoo, and sent a prisoner to Ava. I have escaped, and
want to make my way down to Rangoon; but I heard that
ON THE IRRAWADDY
orders had been sent along the river to arrest me, and I do
not at present know how to make my way down."
Come with me," the man said. I have friends in the
forest some distance from here; they will receive you gladly
when I tell them what you have done for me, and you will be
safe until you choose to go. We are outlaws, but at present
we are masters of the forest. The government has its hands
full, and there is no fear of their disturbing us."
Stanley thought over the matter for a minute or two.
Doubtless it was a robber band that he was asked to join, but
the offer seemed to promise safety for a time.
I agree," he said, so that you do not ask me to take
part in any deeds of violence."
"About that you shall do as you like," the man said;
but I can tell you that we make good hauls sometimes.
Our difficulty is not to capture booty, but to dispose of it.
Have you a turban, for that helmet of yours is out of place in
the woods ? The rest of your dress has nothing peculiar about
it, and would attract no attention."
I have a turban. I have been lately in the dress of a
peasant. The cloth I wore lies fifty yards away; I dropped it
as I ran; it will be useful to cover me at night, if for nothing
Stanley exchanged the helmet for the turban that he had
before worn, and fetched the cloth. "Will you bury your
companion ? he said.
It would be useless; he will sleep above ground as well
as below, and if we are to reach my comrades to-night it is
time for us to be moving."
They at once set out. After five hours' walking they came
upon the river Myitnge, the tributary that falls into the Irra-
waddy at Ava. It was some four hundred yards across. The
Burman walked along its banks for a short distance, and then
pulled from a clump of bushes a small boat that was just capa-
ble of carrying two. He put it in the water; they took their
seats, and paddled across to the other side, where he carefully
concealed it as before.
That is our ferry-boat," he said. It is not often used,
for our head-quarters are in the great forest we shall presently
come to, but it is as well, when occasionally parties are sent
out to hunt us, to have the means of crossing to the other side."
Another two hours' walking through cultivated fields brought
them to the edge of the forest.
Here you are as safe as if you were in Rangoon," the Bur-
man said. In another hour we shall reach my comrades.
As a rule we change our head-quarters frequently. At present
there is no question of our being disturbed, so we have settled
ourselves for a time."
Why were you and your comrade on the other side of the
His village lies five miles beyond that forest," the man
said. At ordinary times he dared not venture there, but
he thought that at present most of the able men would be
away, and so he could pay a visit to his friends. He asked
me to accompany him, and as I had nothing better to do, I
agreed to go. A convoy of traders too strong to be attacked
had passed down from the hill country the morning before we
started. There was not much probability that anyone would
come again for a few days."
They bring down rubies from there, do they not? "
"The mines are the property of the emperor," the man
said, "and the gems are sent down once every two months
under a strong guard, but for all that many of the traders
bring rubies down from there,-of course secretly. The men
who work the mines often conceal stones that they come upon,
and sell them for a small sum to the traders; besides, some-
ON THE IRRAWADDY
times the peasants pick them up elsewhere, and these, too,
make haste to sell them for anything that they can get. We
do not care for them much, for it is a risky business going down
to Ava to sell them; and the traders there, knowing that at
a word from them we should be arrested and most likely exe-
cuted, will give us next to nothing for them. We prefer sil-
ver and lead for money, and garments, arms, and set jewels.
Each man takes his share of what is captured, and when we
have enough we go home to our villages. A pound of silver,
or two or three pounds of lead, are generally quite enough to
buy the goodwill of the head man of the village. We give
out that we have been working on the river or in Ava since
we left, and everyone knows better than to ask questions."
In another hour they reached the encampment. It was
now dusk, and some five-and-twenty men were sitting round a
great fire. A number of leafy arbours had been constructed
in a circle beyond them.
"What, returned so soon one of the men said as Stan-
ley's guide came near enough for the fire-light to fall on his
face; but where is Ranji, and whom have you brought here
-a new recruit ? "
Not exactly, Parnik, but one to whom I have promised
shelter for a while. Ranji is dead. I should have been dead,
too, and eaten had it not been for my comrade here. Here
is the skin of the beast who slew Ranji, and when I tell you
that the leopard stood with one paw on me you may guess
that my escape was a narrow one."
"The brute was a large one," one of the other men said,
as Meinik, for such was the name of Stanley's companion, un-
rolled and held the skin up. I see it had a bullet between
the eyes, and another just behind the ear, and there is a knife
cut behind the shoulder. It must have been hot work, when
it came to knives, with a beast of that size."
Give us some food and cocoa; we have eaten nothing to-
day, and have walked far. When we have fed I will tell you
The Burman's recital of the adventure with the leopard
excited great applause and admiration from his comrades.
"'Tis wonderful," one said, not so much that our new
comrade should have killed the leopard, though that was a
great feat, but that, armed only with a knife, he should at-
tack a beast like this to save the life of a stranger. Truly I
never heard of such a thing. Has he all his senses ? "
Meinik nodded. He had received permission from Stanley
to say who he was. Stanley had consented with some re-
luctance, but the man assured him that he could trust his
companions as well as himself, and that it was much better to
tell the truth, as it would soon be seen that his features dif-
fered altogether from their own, and that therefore he was
some strange person in disguise.
"He is in his senses," he said, "but he does not see
things as we do. He is one of those English barbarians who
have taken Rangoon, and against whom our armies are march-
ing. He was captured at Ramoo, and sent by Bandoola as
a prisoner to Ava. He has made his escape, and will, in a
short time, go down the river, but at present the search is too
hot for him, so you see that he is, like ourselves, a fugitive."
What is his age ? one of the men asked after a silence,
during which they all gazed at the new comer.
He is but a lad, being as he tells me between sixteen and
seventeen; but you see his skin is stained, and his face
marked so as to give him the appearance of age."
If the men of his race are as brave as he is, Meinik, our
troops will truly have harder work than they think to drive
them into the sea. Does he speak our tongue ? "
Yes,'? Stanley answered for himself. I have been more
ON THE IRRAWADDY
than two years in the province of Chittagong, and learned it
from one who was in our service."
And would many of your people risk their lives in the
way you did for a stranger ? "
Certainly. Many men constantly run risks as great to
One life is all a man has," the Burman said. "Why
should he give it for a stranger ? "
I don't think that we stop to think of that," Stanley
said; it seems to us natural that if we see another in dan-
ger of his life, we should try to save it, whether it is a man or
woman, whether it be from fire or from any other fate."
You must be a strange people," the Burman said gravely,
"and I should scarce have credited it had I not heard that
you had done it yourself; but it is wonderful, and you, too,
a lad who has not yet come to his full strength. We should
be glad to have such a man for our comrade, my friends.
Whether he be Burman or English matters little. He has
risked his life for one of us, and he is our brother as long as
he likes to stay with us."
There was a warm exclamation of assent round the circle,
and Stanley felt that he had no cause for uneasiness as long as
he remained with them. In the evening the men sung many
songs, and at their request Stanley sang some English ones,
choosing some with lively airs. The Burmese were much
pleased and surprised at these, and joined merrily in the
chorus. Half a dozen of them then set to work with their
knives, cut down some saplings and boughs, and constructed
for Stanley an arbour similar to the others, and he lay down
well satisfied with the results of his adventure, and feeling
that he could remain with these merry fellows, criminals
though they might be, until it would be safe to make his way
down the river.
In the morning the men started early, leaving him in
charge of the fire. They went off in parties of four or five to
watch the various roads leading to the capital, two or three of
them, dressed as peasants, going to towns where travellers
would halt, so as to gain information as to any party coming
down. When they gathered again at dusk one party only
had had any success. They had met six merchants coming
down with horses laden with spices, indigo, and cotton.
These had offered no resistance, and they had taken as much
as they could carry and then allowed them to go on with the
rest of their goods. There was a general feeling of regret
that the party had not been more numerous, and some ex-
pressions of anger at the spies on the road by which the
traders had come, for not letting them know beforehand so
that they could have placed their whole force there and car-
ried away all the goods.
These are the things that suit us best," Meinik said to
Stanley. You see, one can go down with a parcel of cin-
namon or pepper, or a bag of dyes, or fifty pounds of cotton
into the town and sell it in the market at a fair and proper
price. Of course, one dresses one's self as a small cultivator,
and there is no suspicion whatever that all is not right. We
shall keep a sharp look-out for the men as they come back
again and relieve them of the silver or goods they may have
taken in exchange, that is, if they come by the same road;
but it is more likely that after their adventure to-day they
will choose some other, or take a guide and travel by village
tracks. No doubt they think that they have got off easily, for
they have not lost more than a quarter of their goods. It is
war-time now, and there is no fear of a force being sent
against us, but usually we do not take so much as a quarter of
the merchandise. Were they to lose everything they would
make complaints, and then we should have a force sent up
ON THE IRRAWADDY
against us, and be obliged to move away for a time. But as
it is, they are so pleased with getting the greater part of their
goods safe to market that they do not care to make a fuss
about it, for they might have to pay the court officials and
others more than the value of the goods lost."
They do not often resist, then ? "
"Not often. If a man loses his goods he can gather more
again; but when his life has gone, everything has gone; be-
sides, as a rule, we take care that we are so strong that they
see at once that resistance would be hopeless. Sometimes
they bring armed guards with them; these are men who make
it their business to convoy traders down when the times are
troubled. Sometimes we have fights with these, but, as a
rule, we seldom attack them unless we are so strong that they
do not dare to oppose us ; still we do have fights sometimes,
for these Shan guards are brave fellows. Their convoys are
generally rich ones, for it would not pay small traders to hire
men to protect them. In times of peace we seldom stop long
in one neighbourhood, for, when it once becomes known what
road we are lying near, they come along in parties too strong
to be attacked, and, as it matters little to us where we live,
we move away perhaps a hundred miles and then settle on
another line of traffic. We have not been here long; we
were last down by Tannoo and did well for a long time there,
until at last the governor raised all the villagers and hunted
the woods, and we found that we had to leave. I expect we
shall stay here some time now. There is no fear of troops
being sent out, and we can afford not to press too hardly on
travellers, for we have done so well of late that we could
separate and return to our homes, each with a good store of
booty. Half our number did leave when we came up from
the south, and more of us would go if it were not for this
order that everyone shall join the army. It is much pleasanter
to live here free to do as we like than to be driven down like
a herd of beasts to fight. Besides, we have no quarrel with
your people; it was the officials at Aracan who began it, let
them fight if they like."
Stanley remained a fortnight with the band. At the end
of that time they heard that a party of thirty traders were
coming down together, and that they had with them ten
armed guards. This, they no doubt supposed was ample pro-
tection, for, as the band generally worked in such small
parties, it was believed that there were but a few outlaws in
the forest. All the band went out, and returned in the even-
ing laden with spoil; two or three of them were wounded,
but not severely.
So you had resistance to-day, Meinik."
"It lasted only for a minute," the man said. "As soon
as they saw how strong we were, the guard were glad enough
to put up their swords and let us bind them hand and foot
while we searched the merchants. As you see, we have made
a good capture, though we have not seized more than a fifth
of what they brought down with them, but it will take them
some time to pack their bales again, for we searched every-
thing thoroughly, and made all the merchants strip, and
searched their clothes and their hair."
What did you do that for ? "
Well, it was this way. I said to-my comrades as we went
along this morning, The Englishman is going to leave us in
a day or two. I have not forgotten what I owe him, and
should like to make him a present. I propose that we search
all the party thoroughly to-day. From what we heard some
of them come from the ruby country, and are pretty sure to
have gems concealed about them or in their baggage. I
propose that all the stones we find we will give to our
friend.' They all agreed at once, for, as you know, they all
ON THE IRRAWADDY
like you, and rubies, as I told you, are of little use to us, for
we cannot dispose of them without great risk. So they did
as I proposed, and had good fortune. Twelve out of the
number had gems hidden about them, and some of them a
good lot. You need not hesitate to take them, for you may
be sure that they bought them for next to nothing from poor
fellows who had risked their lives to hide them. There they
are; we have not looked at them, but just emptied the parcels
into this bag as we found them. Of course they are all rough
stones. You must take them as a present from all of us,
and as a proof that a Burman, even if he is but a robber, is
grateful for such a service as that you rendered him."
Stanley felt that he could not refuse a gift so offered, even
though the goods were stolen. As Meinik said, the gems
were of little use to the robbers, since they were afraid to try
and dispose of them, and their owners had themselves
broken the law in having purchased them, and had doubtless
given sums bearing no proportion to their real value. There-
fore he thanked Meinik very heartily, and also, after they had
had their meal, the rest of the band, who made very light of
The things were useless to them, they said. If it had been
silver or even lead it would have been different, but to endeav-
our to sell rubies they had to risk their lives. The goods that
they had got that day would fetch them far more money than
the rubies, and could be sold without difficulty, and as soon
as the war was over and they could go down to their villages,
the band would break up. They had enough silver and lead
hidden away to keep them for years even if they never did
any work whatever.
"What do you do with it when you get back? "
We hide it. It would never do to enter a village with
ten or twelve pounds' weight of silver, and three or four
times as much lead, for the head-man might take it into
his head to have us searched, so we generally dig a hole at the
foot of a tree in some quiet spot, and take, perhaps, a pound
of silver and two or three of lead with us; a gift of half that
silver is enough to convince the head-man that we are honest
fellows who have been working hard since we went away,
and from time to time we can go to our store and get what
we want from it, and can build a house and marry, and take
up a field or two, and perhaps become head-men ourselves
before very long."
"Well, I am sure I wish you all well," Stanley said.
"You have all been very kind to me since I joined you, and
I shall be glad to think of you all as settled quietly down in
your villages, rather than as remaining here, when some day
or other you might all be captured and harm come to you."
The next morning Stanley started with Meinik, who was a
native of a small village on the river some forty miles below
Ava, and who had resolved to accompany him down to Ran-
I shall be able to get a boat and some nets for a pound
or two of lead. If we are hailed I can do the talking, and
can land and buy provisions, if wanted. I have arranged
with my comrades to take my share of the silver and lead we
have stored up at once, for it is likely that they will also have
gone to their homes before I shall have returned, and we have
changed everything into money except what we took yester-
Before starting, Stanley was again dyed, and the tattoo
marks imitated far more carefully than before, three or four of
the men operating upon him at once. His face was almost
entirely covered with these marks; some liquid was applied
that extracted the colour from his eyebrows and left them
snow-white, some of his hair was similarly treated; and, look-
ON THE IRRAWADDY
ing at himself in a pool of water, Stanley did not in the
slightest degree recognize himself, and felt certain that no one
would suspect him of being the young English captive. Re-
suming his peasant's cloth he took a hearty farewell of the
band and started with Meinik. The latter carried a bundle
slung on his gun; it contained some clothes, and did not look
heavy, but in the centre were two parcels that weighed some
forty pounds. Stanley carried a bundle with his other
clothes, and several pounds of rice. Two days' walking took
them to Meinik's village. Once out of the forest they
travelled at night, and reached the village just as the people
were astir. The place consisted of ten or twelve huts, and
Meinik created quite an excitement among the few people
who inhabited it. These consisted of two or three old men,
some women and children.
Where have you been for the last year and half, Meinik,
if I may ask ? "
Working near Ava," he said; but as I should have to
go to war if I had remained there, I thought that I would
come back and see how you all were. I have saved a little
money and may settle down, but whether here or elsewhere
I have not yet made up my mind."
You will have to go to the war," one of the old men
said. There is scarce a day that one of the war canoes
does not stop here to see if there are any able bodied
men. They have taken eight, and they will assuredly take
"Then I shall get a boat," he said, and take to fishing.
The war cannot last long, and I shall do my best to keep out
of the way of the war-canoes ,until it is over. If any of you
have a boat to sell I will buy it."
"I will sell you mine," the old man said. Both of my
sons have been taken to the war, and I am too old to work it
myself. It is a good one; my sons made it only last year.
Whom have you with you ? "
Stanley had remained a short distance off while Meinik was
talking to his friends.
He is an old man I joined along the road," he said.
" He is a skilful fisherman, and he has agreed to go with me
if I can get a boat. Is there an empty hut ?"
Yes, six of them. Of course when the men were taken
they carried off the wives and children, as usual, as hostages
for their conduct."
Meinik nodded; he felt.no surprise, as it was the custom in
Burma to hold the women and children of all the men going
to the war as guarantees that their husbands would not desert
or show cowardice in battle. In either event their relatives
would be at once put to death.
"My companion is tired," he said. "We walked all
night, so we will cook some food and he will sleep."
They at once took possession of one of the empty huts,
which was just as it was left by its proprietor. One of the
women brought a brand or two from her hearth. An earthen
cooking-pot was filled with water and placed above it, and a
few handfuls of rice dropped in. Two or three snakes cut up
into small pieces, and some pepper-pods were added; and
then Meinik went out, talked to his acquaintances, and ar-
ranged for the purchase of the boat. Stanley watched the
In an hour Meinik returned. "The boat is a good one,"
he said, and the nets in fair order. I have bought them
for two pounds of lead, and have promised that when the war
is over and the man's sons return, it is to be free to them to
buy it back at the same price."
After eating their meal they both lay down and slept until
late in the afternoon, then Meinik bought an earthenware pot
ON THE IRRAWADDY
and a flat slab of the same material for making a fire on, some
peppers and capsicums, and a little cinnamon and nutmeg, a
basket of mangoes, and some tobacco. As soon as it became
dusk they took their places in the boat, Meinik carrying down
two or three faggots of wood. The boat was a canoe hewn
out of a pine log; it would have carried four people comfort-
ably, and there was plenty of room for them both to lie down
at full length. It was very light, the wood having been cut
away until it was little thicker than cardboard. This was the
almost universal method of construction; even the war-ca-
noes that would carry sixty paddlers sitting two by two on a
bench, and thirty soldiers, being hewn from great single logs
of teak. The nets were stowed one at each end. In the
middle was the fire-place, on which the brands of the fire had
already been laid. Near it were the faggots and stores.
Meinik and Stanley sat on the nets, each with a paddle;
the former had hidden the greater portion of his store of
money in the ground before entering the village. As soon
as they had fairly started Stanley said:
"'Had we not better get rid of the fire, Meinik ; its light
would draw attention to us.'
That matters little," the Burman replied. There are
not likely to be war-canoes about at night, and I expect that
most of them will have gone down the river. People fish
either by night or by day, and even if a war-canoe came
along they would not trouble about it, for of course many
men too old to go to the war remain here and go on fishing.
People cannot starve because there is fighting. The old men
and women must cultivate the fields and fish, or both they
and the people of the towns would starve. Many even of
the young men do not go. They keep away from their
villages during the day and work in the fields, and the head-
men shut their eyes, for they know that if the fields are not
THEY FORCED THE CANOE BEHIND BUSHES SO AS TO BE