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THE ANDAMANESE

25

socket. These arrows are used in shooting pig, and of course much impede the escape of any animal, by the shaft disengaging from the head and catching in the undergrowth of the jungle. The bows were constructed of white wood, and handled with the recurved end downward.

To , foreheads of some of the women were daubed with white clay, and one, in addition to a quantity of coral ornaments, wore suspended from her neck a human skull daubed with red earth. This, however, is not, as was long supposed, a sign of conjugal mourning, for any of the relatives or intimate friends of a deceased person are qualified to wear his disinterred bones, and the skull often passes round amongst a considerable number of people.

We were agreeably surprised at the appearance of the natives, as they were clean, pleasant-looking and merry, apparently somewhat childish in disposition, and much given to chatter and laughter.

On leaving, we flung a number of small coins amongst them, and these were scrambled for with great noise and excitement.

The Homes are occupied from time to time only by the natives, who are allowed to go and come as they please, and while dwelling in them are supplied with provisions. Love of the jungle, and the life to which they are born, is so deeply rooted in the aborigines, that although they occupy the sheds intermittently for varying periods, few have been found who are sufficiently attracted by the neighbouring civilisation to become permanent residents.

As we proceeded up the harbour we caught a glimpse, at the head of Navy Bay, of the tea gardens which have for some time been established there. The product is very coarse and strong, and finds favour with the European troops in India, and with the Madras Army.

Lastly we came to Viper Island, which has been not inappropriately christened “Hell,” for in Viper Jail are kept the very worst of the prisoners in the Settlement, and it must not be forgotten that here are collected the scum of the whole immense Indian Empire and of Burma as well. No one is sent to the islands who has less than seven years to serve, and many here, perhaps, are those, who, but for some flaw in the evidence which convicted them, might long ago have paid the last penalty for their crimes.

Viper Island is elevated in parts with a somewhat broken surface, and the Jail, with its grey-and-white walls, standing among a group of trees, shows picturesquely from the summit of a hill. A number of convicts are confined to the island, besides those in the prison, and to accommodate them barracks have been erected in various spots.

We landed on a jetty, and, passing by the guardhouse at its foot, soon climbed the little hill, on the top of which the prison is situated. First, and grimmest sight of all, came the condemned cells and the gallows, and then we passed-accompanied by a guard of police—through room after room full of men reclining on slabs of masonry. The shackled inmates of these wards, who rose unwillingly with clanking irons at the word of command, are under the control of promoted convicts made responsible for their behaviour. The effect of our entrance varied with different individuals; some, apparently apathetic and sullen, took no notice whatever, while others seemed to evince the liveliest curiosity.

As the day of our visit was a Sunday, no work was being done : all the inmates were undisturbed, save a few whose heads were being cropped, and some convalescents receiving their midday ration—a chapáti, and an ample portion of coarse boiled rice.

The scope allowed for employment in the prison is somewhat limited, for, while the work must be of sufficient severity to act as a punishment, it must of necessity be of such a nature that the tools accessory to it are not of a kind that can be used by those handling them in an attack on jailers or fellow-prisoners. Among the tasks set are coir-pounding, in which a certain quantity must be produced and made into bundles every day : the heavy mallets used are fastened, for safety, by a short lanyard to the beam on which the husk is broken up. Again, THE CONVICTS-PUNISHMENTS 27 oil has to be expressed from a given weight of copra by pounding the material in iron mortars with unwieldy wooden pestles. Wool-teasing is yet another form of occupation.

Besides the wards, there are a number of cells for solitary confinement; some of these were occupied by prisoners suspected of malingering, others by those awaiting punishment.

This last, of course, takes various forms, from-for instancethe dark cell, where an offender may be incarcerated for twentyfour hours, to castigation with a rattan, in which, it is said, the maximum sentence of thirty strokes can be applied so severely as to be fatal to the recipient. Lastly, of course, comes execution by hanging, which is inflicted in the case of those prisoners, who, being already under severe sentence, attempt the lives of their fellows, their warders, or the officials of the Settlement.

The transportation of European offenders is now discontinued, but a large number of female convicts are engaged mainly in turning the wool prepared in Viper Jail into blankets.

Caste-a most important point in connection with people of India—is carefully respected, and the Brahmin prisoners are nearly all employed as cooks.

The majority of the convicts are from the Indian Peninsula, and are resident for life. Of the Burmese, however, the greater part are serving sentences of ten years, for engaging too recklessly in the national pastime of dacoity, and many of them are employed in the jungle and as boatmen.

To maintain discipline, and for the protection of the Settlement, a military force of about 440 men is stationed at Aberdeen, Ross, and Viper — two companies of European and four of native troops—and a battalion of military police.

After leaving Viper Island we returned to the headquarters of the Settlement, where next day we left behind the last post of civilisation met with, until three months later we reached Olehleh, the most northerly of the Dutch colonies in Acheen.

CHAPTER III

MACPHERSON STRAIT-SOUTH ANDAMAN AND RUTLAND

ISLAND

Gunboat Tours-South Andaman-Rutland Island-Navigation-Landing

place — Native Camp-Natives — Jungle --- Birds - Appearance of the Natives-Our Guests—Native Women : Decorations and Absurd Appearance-Trials of Photography—The Village-Food-Bows, Arrows, and Utensils—Barter-Coiffure-Fauna-Water-New Species.

AFTER leaving Port Blair, where we got up anchor at half-past three in the morning to make the most of a light breeze, we sailed slowly along the coast of South Andaman, until, rounding the point of the south-east corner, we came to anchor in Macpherson Strait.

Just outside the port we met the R.I.M.S. Elphinstone returning from a census-taking visit to the Nicobars; three or four times a year she makes a ten days' trip round the group, stopping at a few of the more important places; and these cruises are almost the only thing that brings home to the natives the fact that they are under the British raj.

For some distance south of the Settlement the land consists of undulating grassy hills, dotted with coco palms, and streaked by gullies, in which dark clumps of jungle still remain. It is an ideal country for game, and some years ago hog-deer were introduced; but, although they have multiplied, they are very rarely seen, and have afforded but little sport.

Nearer the strait, the hills by the coast are still covered with forest; and between the stretches of sandy shore at their feet grow luxuriant thickets of mangroves.

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