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FROM THE OUTPOSTS.
I'll call him David Shannon. as the missing link. The unIt wasn't his real name, and registered motto of the clan he was killed in Mesopotamia. was “Hpa-n-khrit-ai-lo," mean. W-S- who told me the ing, “We fear nothing." story, is also dead. I am not Captain David Shannon, who forgetful, and I, too, have lived was responsible for keeping among the races in the dark things quiet up there (there is blue mountains to the east of little humour in the Secretariat the Irrawaddy. This is the at Rangoon), was a typical tale.
Indian Army officer. He loved A year of the Great War his regiment, and his regiment had passed ; an eddy had just was on service, and the last crept up to the little-known mail had brought him a letter country which flanks the steep from a most important personsides of the Mali Kha, the age to say that if Shannon local name for the northern applied to rejoin his unit again, reaches of the Irrawaddy. he would be put under arrest.
I don't think anybody quite He was lying back in a long knew why Government had arm-chair in the verandah of planted unhealthy little police the thatched hut which did outposts, apparently indiscrim- duty as living quarters for two inately, over the half-million white men. His feet were square miles of bamboo brake, braced against one of the verthe home of a few savages, andah poles—the table on his many mosquitoes, more sand- left gave one the impression flies, and most of the leeches of a miniature bar,—and he in the world. A few civilians was gently dabbing with a spoke of the “ Yellow Peril," short stick, on the point of but at this period it was gener- which was a bag of salt, someally considered by the occu- times at his shoes and stockpants of the posts that a big ings, and sometimes at the mistake had been made, and, chair or ground itself. Each “anyhow, the Chinese could dab was at a leech. have the whole blasted coun- He was apparently in good try if they wanted it!"
spirits, though it was pelting The local inhabitants were with rain and almost dark chiefly Kachins or Chingpaws, from the thick mist like poison a race the average man of gas, which blotted out the imwhich appeared to a new arrival penetrable and dripping jungle to be an exact facsimile of beyond, for he was singing, to what he had always pictured a travesty of the tune of the and gongs.
“ Lincolnshire Poacher,” the
the cash to pay for it—cash being following :
in kind—i.e., buffaloes, dahs, “Where were you when the war was
In this case, howon ?
ever, the delinquent was now I shall hear the last-joined murmur, buried outside the village preWhere was I when the war was on?
cincts with those who had died In the safest place in Burma.”
suddenly and by violence. With a final dig at the Shannon had held the inverandah pole, he stopped and quiry. The murderer had dislooked at his watch. “That appeared, which was unusual, makes forty-two in 30 minutes, but he had obviously now been he shouted, “and you can come found, and was about to stand and count 'em if you don't his trial. believe me."
He started off in the dripping A door of thatched grass fell rain next morning, followed by with a crash on to the mud his servant, a Burman, and a flooring of the verandah, and a string of Kachin coolies carryvoice replied, “There are about ing the necessary kit and food, fifty-eight more in my bed here, and each armed with the inif you care to make a century. evitable leech-stick. The jourPour me out a virgin, old thing; ney, except for sickness, was I'm just coming out.”
uneventful till the fifth day, Adrian Lambert was a young when he lost the track-not a ster in the Lancers. What very difficult thing to do, with actual use he was in that por- the excessive growth of vegetion of the country from a tation due to the rains and cavalry point of view only the the continual elephant-paths authorities knew. The journey side-tracking the main route,to the men's lines alone meant and towards evening he found sinking to one's boot-tops in himself near the Mali Kha, mud, and there were no and decided to camp on the mounted infantry in the bat- bank of the river. talion ; but he had made him- It was a miserable camp, self acquainted with the local soaking rain and cloying mist, dialects and the local headmen, damp bedding, sand-flies and and was useful.
leeches in millions and in everyShannon was moving out the thing, the unbearable itching, next day on a journey to head- the slug-like clammy feel of quarters, about 300 miles south, them on his fingers, the hunt to give evidence in a murder in the middle of the night for case--an unusual murder, over the salt-bag which had fallen
woman-a wife. Kachins into the jheel at the bottom of are not civilised, and many his bed, practically no sleep, wives are not as virtuous as and everything, in fact, that they should be; but it was could be unpleasant. generally understood that a Rain stopped at dawn, and young Lothario could do what he dressed and, crawling out, he liked as long as he had the wandered off to the river's edge. While watching the swift green bamboos, tied together and silent turgid brown waters, with " “palis or thin strips the echoing hail of a Kachin- of twisted bamboo, about 30
A-goi-lo "_from up - stream feet square, with a tiny hut caused him to turn round in the centre. Kachins can sharply, and he heard again- make anything out of bamboo, “ A-goi-lo É-makhawn-É grai'marawn
from a suite of rooms to a ai lo"
water-bottle, and by the after(Oh girl, oh girl, how I miss you).
noon they had fixed up a
shelter for him and his servant Then he saw a raft come racing in an extension to the little down on the flood about a hut; they had made him a hundred yards up-stream.
chair of sorts and some passShannon at once decided to able shelves. He had paid off join them if possible, for if the his coolies, and was ready to local natives could go by river, start on his journey. there was no reason why he While drifting down he disshould go by road ; it all de- covered that two of the rafters pended on how far they were were brothers named respecgoing. So he waved to the tively Sau Tu and Sau La. occupants as they swung past, Sau Tu owned the raft, and shouting and beckoning them had only once before made to pull into the bank. He saw the journey down the many them leap to their paddles, and rapids, so treacherous in the slowly bring the raft round to rainy season. In some of the the bank a good many hun- larger ones great trunks of trees dreds of yards down-stream. will stand up on end in the Having jammed the raft against water, held upright by the force the side, they came towards him, of the different under-currents. cutting their way through the Sau La, who was smaller thick and prickly cane-brake. than his brother, seemed oddly
'Oh, cousins, where are you preoccupied and much less going ?” he asked.
friendly, and all attempts at Chief, we are going down conversation ended in the blunt -down-downwards" (the re- “Nchoi ai lo,” which in a iterated word accented in certain tone means, “I'm Kachin is most descriptive), re- damned if I know.” The third plied the spokesman, a dirty occupant was a slave, for sturdy little savage, dressed in slavery still exists in a mild nothing but a loin-cloth and form. a bamboo sheath for his dah. Sau Tu guided by means of
Thank God, thought Shan- an immense bamboo pole from non, and at once arranged for the front of the raft (if one them to take him and his should call any portion the servant on the raft with them, front, for it continually circled with a promise of payment in its course), prodding rocks, after arrival.
driftwood, and the river bank The raft was made of large when near it, while the other
two worked unceasingly with Tu and had given up the their puny paddles, though the attempt was glued to the corner result gained seemed to Shannon of the hut. Then came one to be nil; later he came to rending crash plumb in the learn their use.
centre of the rickety refuge The average pace was about against a smooth slippery rock. eight miles an hour, and Shan- The raft tilted half over, slipped non congratulated himself on his sideways, and slid into almost luck, and the possibility of being calm water. in headquarters in three days. Breathing a prayer of thanks
On the second afternoon they to the powers above, Shannon were shooting some rapids, al- ordered the two men and his ways an exciting period for a servant to get to work on the novice, for it seemed to be a mending of the raft. He moved continual succession of success- over himself to a broken edge ful avoidings of complete dis- with the intention of helping, aster, continual just missings when he saw Sau La stop and of ragged rocks that stood out stare fixedly at the water. like black teeth from the swirl- “What's happened ? he ing flood.
asked. Sau Tu was skilfully manipu- “Duwa,” replied the man, , lating the pole when there was we are in a whirlpool. Look a crack like a pistol-shot; the at that log !” pole snapped, and he staggered They all watched the log and disappeared into the boil- circling, gather speed, and fining froth. It was madness to ally disappear with a sucking go after him, and he never ap- gurgle. peared again, and now—there At first no one had any idea was no one who knew the river. what to do. Shannon had a
Sau La leapt like a flash to vague impression that the raft the front of the raft with a would follow the log. It was paddle, shouting something that obvious, however, that the was drowned in the roar of the farther they kept from the waters. He seemed to save centre the better, and Sau La the raft from being broken up with this idea told the slave on several rocks, but he him- to commence work on making self could have had no hope some paddles. The raft meanof any real control, and it while was moving very, very gathered speed, whirling and slowly, but by the time they twisting, twirling and bumping had got the paddles ready they on its ricochetting course down were only a few yards from the rapids. Shannon was hang- the middle. All four now ing on to the sides of the hut paddled hard, and after a wondering when the final break- strenuous ten minutes succeeded up would come. His servant in bringing the raft to the outer was clinging flat on his face edge of the whirlpool, which to the floor of the raft, and the was marked by a broken line slave who had tried to join Sau of dirty brown froth.
Repeated desperate attempts, “ Look here,” said Shannon, which ended in them lying “ what about a rope ?” back gasping, proved that by “Duwa, I will make one,” no amount of paddling could replied Sau La. they get the raft out of the With infinite patience and suction area. Dusk fell. It care from the lengthy green looked as if they were in for bamboos of the raft long thin life, and Shannon's heart sank. Strips were cut and twisted, It was practically dark, pelt- intertwined and tied together. ing with rain. They were wet It seemed years before they to the skin-all cold, and very, produced a rope some sixty very frightened. The sand- feet long, and a quarter of the flies were a perpetual torment, raft had gone to make it. and always in their ears the Shannon tested it most careincessant roar of the rapids. fully before Sau La tied it Paddling with a grim deter- round his waist, and then they mination whenever they felt paddled to the edge of the the rate of the raft increase, whirlpool. always, always at the back of Sau La took a running jump their minds was that central over the outer rim of the froth, vortex with its beastly gurgle. and breaking quickly into an
And so they passed the night. over - hand trudgeon stroke,
Dawn came, and Sau La forged away till he was caught moved across Shannon. by the current, and flung down
Chief, I think I know one stream on the farther side of way to get out of here," he the rock. The force of the said. “We must paddle to water was so powerful that the outer edge of the whirl- they found it impossible to pool, and I will jump beyond, pull him back up-stream to the with a rope tied round my rock ; but the strain itself of waist. Look at that rock," pulling on the rope slowly, and he pointed to a large black almost imperceptibly, drew the boulder, over the top of which raft out of the vortex. the edge of the race from the It hovered a second on the rapids poured in a small water- edge, caught some under-curfall. "If I plunge far enough rent, and was swept away out, the current will carry me parallel to Sau La, whom they down on its farther side. I gradually drew towards them shall then swing round behind and dragged on board. it, and you will be able to pull hands were red with blood, against me and the rock, and and great pieces of flesh showed perhaps drag the raft out, and white on his waist where the in this manner we shall come coarse fibre had scarred him. out, I think.”
They pulled into the bank It seemed madness on the a mile lower down, dressed face of it, but there was no Sau La's wounds, had a rest other way, and there was just and a meal, and started off a possibility,