« EelmineJätka »
selection of the smallest cartridge possible on each occasion, often a tiresome stalk, and a large amount of dodging about to get a clean shot through the leaves and branches, so that the event is by no means a more foregone conclusion than sport in the open.
Besides bags for cartridges and specimens, with extractor, knife, string, cotton wool, and wrapping paper, it is absolutely essential, if it is intended to penetrate the jungle at all, that one should carry some sort of implement-cutlass, parang, or macheté -to hew a way through the tangled undergrowth.
It is far the best plan, when shooting in the tropics, not to indulge in a too elaborate outfit. The most suitable and commonsense clothing consists of a stout cotton suit of pyjamas, grey or brown in colour for preference, with pockets; the ends of the trousers should be tied round the ankles with string, to keep out the ants and leeches, and only when these and thorns are very bad need stronger trousers and puttees be worn. Such clothes are easily put on and off, are comfortable, and are not heavy when soaked with water, rain, and perspiration.
On board ship, when away from civilisation, we invariably wore a similar dress, or the national garment of Malaya, the sarong, than which nothing is more comfortable in a hot climate, unless it be the exceedingly sensible dress of the tropic-dwelling Chinese.
For head-dress there is no better gear than an old felt hat (terai), which can be rolled up and put away in the game-bag when one is in the shade of the forest. In one of the most delightful books that has been written about the East, the following lines occur : * “Given a thick jungle, trees 200 feet high, and a mushroom-helmeted sportsman, it will be seen that comfort and a large bag are incompatible. A long training in the Sistine Chapel is necessary for this work. Absurd as it may seem, my spine in the region of the neck eventually became so sore that I was on more than one occasion compelled to give myself a rest." With the latter part of the passage I perfectly concur, for one often stands
* The Cruise of the Marchesa, by F. H. H. Guillemard, second edition, London, 1889.
for minutes at a time staring vainly upwards, to where, right overhead, the specimen that one knows is there, is vocally proclaiming its presence, and the effect on the back of the neck is, after a time, often one of excruciating agony. Strangely enough, large birds like parrots and pigeons are often the most difficult to see.
But why the helmet in the shade of the forest? We ourselves never wore hats except when out in the open or going to and fro between the schooner and the shore, while the sun was high, and experienced no ill effects from being without them at other times, although one of us made it a practice to keep his head shaved for the sake of coolness. Though they perhaps lay me open to an accusation of thick-headedness, I mention these facts to show that it is not necessary to burden oneself with an awkward sola topee with the idea of evading danger from the sun in such circumstances.
A cloudless sky and a blazing sun; a long stretch of yellow beach lapped by a calm sea of brilliant green above the reef, verging into an intense sapphire in the distance. Inland, swelling hills clothed in densest jungle — the topmost ridge capped by a delicate tracery of foliage that stands out clear cut in the pure atmosphere. Adjoining the sandy shore a grass-grown level expanse, with a grove of stately palm trees, through which runs a rippling brook, and lastly, two or three native huts and their occupants, so that one can lie, pyjama-clad, in the shade, and consume young coconuts without first having to climb for them.
Only to hear and see the far-off brine,
Is it fair that we should call the native of the tropics lazy because in some parts of his domain the labour of an hour supplies his daily wants ? The working man of colder climates, by eight and even twelve hours' occupation, obtains no more, and often less. The others are the true lotos-eaters, and when one is amongst them one often feels, as doubtless they do themselves, could they formulate their sensations:
“... Why should we toil alone,
'There is no joy but calm !'
These are one's thoughts, while captivated by the charm of the islands, and if feelings change when analysed in more virile countries, the transformation of ideas only goes to show how relative to circumstances are such things as industry and idleness.
The foregoing are a few prosaic items about a form of life which, although when indulged in too long, it perhaps causes now and again a desire for the amenities of civilisation and a shirt-front, yet when it is over, always leaves a longing for further experiences whenever one is haunted by thoughts of the palms, the sunlight, and the sea ; wanderings in the jungle; strange birds, animals, and vegetation, and pleasant memories of easy-going islanders.