I walk along the country road and have a glimpse of the white and gold of a pagoda, and a glimpse of the river through tree trunks in shadow, and wish the steamer's horn for recall would not sound for many days.
21st January.—Past Mimbu—sands wide and whitey-grey. There are white cirri on blue—sky and sand repeated on the river's surface. At the ends of the sand-spits are waders—oyster catchers I vow—one might be at Arisaig in a splendid June instead of the Irrawaddy in January.... Long rafts of teak logs pass us occasionally, drifting slowly down with the current. The three or four oarsmen, when they see us, run about over the round logs and give a pull here and a pull there at long oars, and try to get the unwieldy length up and down stream; they wear only a waist cloth, and look so sun-bitten; there is but one tiny patch of shadow in the middle of their island under a lean-to cottage of matting, with a burgee on a tall bamboo flying over it. Our wash sends their dug-out canoe bobbling alongside their raft, and splashes over and between the logs, and the raftsmen have to bustle to keep their herd together, and we pass, and they go and dream, of—well I don't know what; that's the worst of being only a visitor in a country—without the language, you can only guess what the people think by their expressions.
We drop anchor off Yenangyaung. There are sandy cliffs here, riddled with holes made by blue rock-pigeons (?)—more shooting going a-begging! And there is a bungalow on a sandy bluff, and picturesque native craft lie along the sandy shore, altogether rather a sandy place. The oil works don't show from the river very much. The Jacobs' party get off here. Mr Jacobs manages this particular source of Burmah's wealth. They go ashore in a smart white launch.
 Crude oil production of Burmah in 1904—116 million gallons, of which 73 million came from Yenangyaung. In 1902 the Burmese oil fields yielded nearly 55 million gallons, valued at the rate of 250 gallons for a sovereign—Del Mar's "Romantic East."
There is the wreck of a river steamer on a sandbank off Yenangyaung, its black ribs lie about like the bones of disintegrated whale; it is not pleasant to look at. She went on fire, and about 200 Burmans were drowned, and no one would save them, though there were many canoes and people within three hundred yards. A Scotsman could only get one boat's crew to go off, and they saved the captain and others, the rest jumped overboard and were drowned. Burmese are said to be good swimmers, but I have not so far seen a Burman swim more than two or three strokes, though I see hundreds bathing every day. The Chittagong Indians who form our crew swim ashore with a line every time we tie up, and they are about the worst swimmers I have ever seen; they jump in on all fours and swim like dogs or cattle. In this case of the drowning people, the lookers on would say it was not their affair, just as they would, with the utmost politeness, if you chose to worship in a way different from them; a reductio ad absurdum, from the point of view of those in the water, of a very charming trait. The Burman is naturally brave, but his philosophy is that of the Christian Socialist, it is not his creed to be heroic, or to take life, or thought for the morrow; and if a man smites him on the cheek, though he may not actually turn the other, he doesn't counter quick enough in our opinion—doesn't know our working creed—"Twice blest is he whose cause is just, but three times blest whose blow's in first;" so we took his country—and make it pay by the sweat of our brows—poor devils.
We are steaming now north by east, a very winding course, for the water is shallow though the river is wide. At high water season I'd think there must be too much water for appearance sake—it must feel too wide for a river and too narrow for the sea.
We stop at another village. Popa mountain detaches itself from surroundings, thirty or forty miles to the east; it is faint violet and rises from a slightly undulating wooded plain. It is a great place for game and nats. Most powerful nats or spirits live there, and if you go shooting you get nothing, unless you offer some of your breakfast as a peace-offering to these spirits in the morning. This has been found to be true over and over again by those who have shot there.
The day closes, the Arrakan Mountains far away in the west are violet. The river here is wide as a fine lake and so smooth it reflects the most delicate tints of cloud-land. In front of us a low promontory stretches out from the east bank; we have to spend the night there. It is heavily clad with trees, delicate pagoda spires, white and gold, rise from the dark foliage and gleam with warm sunset light against the cool grey sky in the north. Trees and spires, sands, cliffs, cottages, and the canoes with bright-coloured paddlers, are all reflected in the smooth water.
As we get within ten yards of the shore six of our Chittagong crew plunge into the glittering water with a light rope, and are ashore in a minute and are hauling in our wire hawser; the setting sun striking their wet bodies, makes them almost like ruddy gold, and their black trousers cling to their legs. It seems an elementary way of taking a line ashore; I think that with a little practise two men in a dinghy would be quicker and would look more seamanlike—but probably it was the way in the Ark, so the custom remains.
The Burmese villagers gather in groups and sit on the top of the bank in the growing dusk. We can just see a suggestion of their gay colours and the gleam of their cheroots. G. and I go ashore and stumble along a deep, sandy road; on either side are little and big trees with open cottages behind them, made of neatly woven bamboo matting, lit with oil crusies. We come to a pagoda, and tall white griffins at its entrance staring up into the sky, strange, grotesque beasts—the white-wash they are covered with looks violet in the fading light.
At dinner, yarns on the fore-deck, big beetles humming out of the night against our lamp, and the Captain telling us deep-sea yarns—how he signed articles as a cabin boy, and of the times before the annexation of Upper Burmah, when the white man skipper was of necessity something of a diplomatist and a soldier. Some sailors can't spin yarns, but those who can—how well they do it!
As we were at coffee there was a gurgling and groaning came from the people aft, so we took our cigars, and went to see the row, and order restored. There was a little crowd struggling and rolling in a ball, and it turned out there was a long Sikh in the middle of it in grips with a diminutive Chinaman, who might have been a wizened little old woman from his appearance. It was the big Sikh who had done the horrible gurgling; the silly ass had joined in with several Chinese, professional gamblers, and of course lost, and unlike a Burman or a Chinaman, the native of India can't lose stolidly. He vowed he'd been set on from behind, and had been robbed of fifty-four rupees. The Captain assessed probable loss at two rupees, and the first officer took him down the companion to the lower deck, the Sikh standing two feet higher than the little Scot. Later, the long black man went hunting the shrimp of a Chinaman round the native part of the ship, and caught him again and asked the Captain for justice, and looked at me as he spoke, which made me uncomfortable, for I could not understand, but guessed he expected the Sahib to stick up for a Sikh against any damn Chinee. I would have liked to photograph the two—they were such a contrast as they sat on their heels beside each other, the wizened little expressionless, beady-eyed Chinaman with his thread of a pigtail, and his arm in the grasp of the long Sikh, with black beard and long hair wound untidily round his head.
22nd January.—Another very distinctive charm about this river is that the two sides are generally quite different in character. On one side this morning, the sun is rising over a wilderness of level sandbank, buff-coloured against the sun, over this there is a low range of distant mountains, with Popa by itself, lonely and pink; and looking out on the other side from our cabin window we find we are steaming close under steep, sunny banks, overhung with luxuriant foliage.
Where there is a break in the bank we look up sandy corries that come down from hills, clad with park-like trees and scrub—the very place for deer! There are no inhabitants on the river side, though we pass every mile or two a ruined pagoda spire.
Passing Pagan we see the tops of some of its nine hundred and ninety-nine pagodas. Many of them are different in shape from the bell-shaped type we have seen so far. At breakfast we watch them as we pass. The Flotilla Company does not give an opportunity of landing to see these "Fanes of Pagan," which is very disappointing. So this ancient city, one of the world's, wonders, is seldom seen by Europeans. There are nine miles of the ruined city; "as numerous as the Pagodas of Pagan" is, in Burmah, a term for a number that cannot be counted. Mrs Ernest Hart, in "Picturesque Burmah," describes them in a most interesting chapter. The authorities on Indian architecture, Fergusson, Colonel Yule, and Marco Polo, all agree that they are of the wonders of the world. Mrs Hart compares them in their historical interest to the Pyramids, and in their architecture to the cathedrals of the Middle Ages. She says of Gaudapalin Temple, which is the first temple seen on approaching Pagan, that the central spire, which is 180 feet, recalls Milan Cathedral. It was built about the year 1160 A.D. Colonel Yule says that in these temples "there is an actual sublimity of architectural effect which excites wonder, almost awe, and takes hold of the imagination." Mr Fergusson is inclined to think this form of fane was derived from Babylonia, and probably reached Burmah, via Thibet, by some route now unknown. They have pointed arches to roof passages and halls, and to span doorways and porticoes; and as no Buddhist arch is known in India, except in the reign of Akbar, and hardly an arch in any Hindoo temple, this disposes of the idea that the Burmese of the eleventh and twelfth centuries derived their architecture from India. There are besides temples and fanes, many solid bell-shaped pagodas of the Shwey Dagon type. The Ananda Temple is the oldest. It is built in the form of a Greek cross, the outer corridors are a hundred feet. The interior, from descriptions I've read, must be splendidly effective and impressive.
We stop at oil works, Yenangyat. The people come on and off in boat loads of bright colours, and women come and sit on the sand beside the ship. Each woman has an assortment of lacquered ware, orange and red, delicately patterned cylindrical boxes, with neatly fitting trays and lids, and bowls, trays, and priests' luncheon baskets—large bowls with trays and smaller bowls inside each other, rising to a point with a cup over the top. This ware is made of finely woven cane, and some of woven horse-hair, alternately coated with a tree varnish, ash, and clay, polished in laths and covered with faintly raised designs and colours between, and brought to a polished surface. The best is so elastic that one side of a tumbler or box can be pressed to meet the other without cracking the colour inlay. They seem to cost a good deal, but when you examine them, the intricacies of the designs of figures and foliage account for the price. The groups of sellers on the shore were interesting, but there was altogether loo much orange vermilion for my particular taste—a little of that colour goes far, in nature or art. The women wore rose red tamiens or skirts, and these, plus the red lacquer work and reddish sand, made an effect as hot as if you had swallowed a chili!
After Pagan, the traveller may snatch a rest for wearied eyes. The sandbanks and distance are so level that the views are less interesting than they were below, but, after all, appearances depend so much on the weather effect. To-day, sky, water, and sand are so alike in colour, that the effect is almost monotonous.
At the next village every one seemed jolly and busy, men and women humping parcels, sacks, and boxes ashore, up the soft, hot sands into bullock-carts. Now, after our lunch and their day's work, the men are coming down the banks to bathe—social, cheery fellows, they all go in together, wading with nothing on but their kilts tucked round their hips, showing the tattooed designs, that all grown Burmans have over their thighs. They give a plunge or two, and soap down, and gleam like copper. Then they put on the dry kilt they have taken out with them, slipping it on as they came out, modestly and neatly. The women pass close by and exchange the day's news, and walk in with their skirts on too, and also change into their dry garments as they come out with equal propriety. No towelling is needed, for the air is so hot and still—but the water is pretty cold—I know!
Another entertainment we have at lunch; on a sandbank a little to our right, a long net; some 200 fathoms, is being drawn ashore, and people in canoes are splashing the water outside and at the ends to keep in the fish. There must be twenty men, boys, and women, working at it; beyond them, there is a rolling distance of woodland, and with solitary Popa in the distance—this mountain begins to grow on one, it is so constantly the view from so many places.
Two new passengers, a Captain in R. A., I think, and his wife, came on board here—came riding out of the greenery and along the shore on two pretty arabs, through the bustling crowd of Burmans and natives.
He tells me he got with another gun, 60 couple of snipe yesterday, which is a little unsettling for me. However, my gun is in Rangoon, and I will leave it there, and hang on to my pencil! I find our fellow passenger, who is somewhat deaf, is an artist, studied in Paris, and draws little character figures in most excellent style; so he and G. and I draw all day! one encourages the other.
At Myingyan we tie up for the night, and we all go ashore together, that is, Captain Terndrup, G., and I and the artist and his friend and walk on the flat on the top of the sandy banks, and here is the view down the river from where we landed, a yellow and violet sunset. Bullock carts go slowly creaking past us; the dust they raise hangs in yellow clouds in the sunset light. There are crops here, a little like potatoes, which suggest partridges. I am told there are quail; some day I must come back to see for myself. There are deer about, for two heads came on board, like our red deer, but with only a brow antler, and a well-curved single switch above that—some fellow sending them to be set up for home? I begin to feel awfully sorry I did not bring up gun and rifles and fishing tackle, especially as there's any amount of space on board for stowing luggage.
 Since return have seen Messrs Colonel Pollock and Thorn's book on Sport in Burmah, Upper and Lower, and wish I had read it before going out.
28th January.—The air gets more and more exhilarating as we get North,—there's a Strathspey in the air now in the morning when you waken; but what poor rags we felt only a few days ago down at Rangoon! It is said that men in the Woods and Forests with fever come from the jungle to the river, get on board a Flotilla steamer, and recover immediately.
This is our last day's journey on this boat, but we are to stay on board her to-night at Mandalay, and perhaps to-morrow night, till we get on board the upper river cargo boat, which is slightly smaller than this mail boat. The cargo boats go slower than the mails, for they stop oftener, and tow two flats or barges, one on each side. After Mandalay, Bhamo will be our objective; it is the most northerly British cantonment in Burmah, and is near the Chinese frontier. All the way there trade is carried on at the stopping places between the traders' booths on the flats and the riverside villagers. We expect to find this trade mightily interesting, as we shall see men and women of the wild mountain tribes. I hope to see the Shan sword-makers particularly; they make splendid blades by the light of the moon, for secrecy, I am told, like Ferrara, and also because they can then see the fluctuating colour of the tempering better than in daylight—and perhaps because it is cooler at night!
Seven hundred and eight miles we have come to-day from the sea, a regular Argo trip, yet we are far from wearied, and, allowed a day to stop here and there, would willingly proceed in the same manner to the Arctic circle. The farther we go, the more are we impressed with the apparent wealth of this country; the soil is fertile to a degree, the climate is better than Egypt; there's coal, oil, minerals, precious stones, gold, marble, alabaster, and such a magnificent waterway. Had I a hundred years to live I'd scrape capital together to put into this recently "acquired" land; as it is perhaps it would be cheaper and better to stay here now, and learn Burmese philosophy, and make capital out of the flowers that blow.
... That settles the matter—I get my gun sent up from Rangoon, or go down for it myself—over 200 splendid geese along a sandbank! Within 200 yards! I could count their feathers with my glass. The Captain tells me you just need to drift down in a native canoe and make a bag with ease. Rather a shame, you say; for the Burmans are not supposed to take life, so the geese are not afraid of a dug-out canoe. But a Burman is delighted to eat what others kill, and besides, I have been so often outwitted by geese at home, that I'd just like to have one chance, to retrieve past misfortunes. Between Mandalay and Bhamo, the Captain says, they are even more numerous than here. Beyond Bhamo, he describes the river water as so clear you can count the pebbles thirty feet below its surface, and describes the whacking big Mahseer, the gold dredging, and the game alongside—peacocks—leopards—buffaloes!
As we were talking, the Rock pilot came alongside in a launch and handed aboard a bunch of geese, the same as those we had seen; he is out of shot and powder, and I believe we have no cartridges on board. The geese weighed five and a half pounds each, but they put on some three pounds before the end of the season, before they go north, possibly to some lake in the Himilayas or Western China, to breed.
 Barhead and grey lag geese are the two kinds commonly seen.
At Saigang we fairly draw a breath with astonishment at the beauty of the panorama that opens before us. The river widens to two miles, and comes to us in a grand curve from the north and east. Mandalay is at the bend, some nine miles up. It is like a beautiful lake edged with a thread of sand—a lake that Turner might have dreamed of. Above Saigang on our left are green woods, capped with white and gold minarets, with white stairs and terraces leading up to them. To the north one or two canoes, with bright sails, and distant mountains with purple corries, and fleecy clouds, are mirrored on the tranquil river: these distant hills are of very delicate warm violet tints, on their shoulders we can just make out the forms of forests, and heavy white cumuli hang above them in a hazy blue. The white Saigang pagodas on our left in the distance look like Scottish-baronial or French chateaux, embowered in foliage. Across the swelling river ("swelling" is the right word, I am sure, for the river's surface seems to be convex) and to our right the country is flat, and in the green woods are the overgrown ruins of the once splendid city of Ava. Certainly, of my most pleasant recollections, this wide landscape, and all its light tints of mother-of-pearl, will remain one of the most delightful.
Mandalay is at the upper end of this lake-like part of the Irrawaddy; it lies back and behind the river bank or bunda, so it is not visible from the river.
Our steamer pulls up against a flat that lies against the sandy shore, exposed, at this time of year, by the lowness of the river. There are no wharfs as I had expected, only two or three floating sheds, and two or three steamers like our own. The sandy shore slopes up some thirty feet to the bundar, and over that we see palms and trees.
Up and along the sandy shore we drove in a gharry, a man on either side to prevent it upsetting in the ruts, and if it had not been for the honour of the thing I would as soon have walked! On the top of the bundar we struck a macadamised road and rattled gaily along to see the town. It is almost pure Burmah here, and the native of India is beautifully scarce; but Chinese abound, and are uncommonly nice-looking people. We drive a mile or so with rather dingy teak and matting houses on trestle legs on either side of the road, overhung with palms and trees, and see the domestic arrangements through open verandahs—women and children winding yellow silk in skeins and cooking, the vivid colours of the silks in sudden contrast to the sombre dusty red and brown wood of the houses.
We stop at a wooden building with gilded pillars in a clear space of dry foot-trodden mud, surrounded with tall palms and some teak trees with grey-green leaves big as plates. The short lower wooden pillars support a gallery, and this again has other gilded pillars supporting one roof above another in most fantastic complication; green glass balustrades and seven-roofed spires wrought with marvellous intricacies of gilded teak-wood carving. Indian red underlies the gilding, and the weather has left some parts gold and some half gold and red, and other bits weather-worn silvery teak. The pillars and doors from the gallery into the interior shrines were all gold of varying colours of weather stain. Shaven priests, with cotton robes of many shades of orange, draped like Roman senators, moved about quietly; they had just stopped teaching a class of boys to read from long papyrus leaves—the boys were still there, and seemed to have half possession of the place. Overhead green paroquets screamed, flying to and fro between carved teak foliage and the green palm tops. The interior of the building was all gilded wood—a marvel of carpentry; there were lofty golden teak tree pillars and gilded door panels with gilded figures in relief, and yellow buff cane mats on the floor. Light only came in through doorways and chinks in the woodwork in long shafts, but such light! golden afternoon sun into a temple of gold, you can imagine the effect when it struck gilding—how it flamed, burned, and lit up remote corners of the shadowy interior with subdued yellows! As we looked in, a kneeling priest near us waved to us to enter, and went on with his devotions, his old wrinkled, kindly, brown face and neck and close cropped head, and deep orange drapery all in half tone against a placque of vivid lemon yellow gold in sunlight. These priests, or phungyis, in their old gold cotton robes form one of the most distinctive features of Burmese life in town and country. They are greatly respected by the people for their simplicity of life. They teach all the boys in the country reading, writing, and simple arithmetic, and how to try to follow the example of the life of their great Gautama. Theoretically they do this for love alone, or to "earn merit." What alms they receive is not in payment—gifts are accepted but not asked for. The people do not pay taxes for their clergy, nor do these literally free kirk ministers perambulate the country, and ask children for their Saturday pennies for a Sustentation Fund. One of the most interesting sights here is to see their young novitiate priests in the morning going round the bazaars and the boats and the stalls on the strand in their yellow robes, bowl in hand, silently waiting for a dole of boiled rice or fruit, and passing on if it is not quite ready, to come another day.
All Burmese men are priests for a certain time, even though it be but for a few months; for that time they must wear the simple yellow dress and renounce all worldly desires. So it was in the earliest Scottish Church; the Culdee clergy were teachers as well as preachers, and taught arts and crafts as well as their faith.
 For exhaustive and interesting accounts of life and education in the Monastery, see "Picturesque Burmah," by Mrs Ernest Hart.
The observances of the phungyis are almost austere, but the teaching that Gautama Buddha passed to the laity was less so. The Burman says, "Life is a vale of tears, so be happy as possible and make others happy and you will be good"—the religion of the actor and the artist—the rose and to-morrow fade, and "loves sweet manuscript must close," but do what you may, as beautifully as you can—be it a pastel or a matinee.
This monastery is called the Queen's golden Kyoung; it was erected by Thebaw's queen, Supayalat, in the early eighties—and now king Thebaw and his queen are in durance near Bombay.
Though it was getting late we drove on to another place, the Arrakan Pagoda. We had heard of it pretty much as a Burman coming to Europe might hear of a place called St Peter's.
It was a long, fatiguing, jolting drive in the rattling gharry, fatiguing physically and mentally, for along both sides of the road were such interesting things, Chinese cafes lighting up, huge paper lanterns outside, and stalls of every kind, makers of golden umbrellas and Burmese harness-makers, almost every stall showing some pretty colour and Rembrandtesque lamplight effect.
The entrance was like that of other pagodas, two white griffins looking up at the sky, with busy modern life at their feet. There was a long approach of shallow steps between double rows of red pillars with much wood-carving overhead, and panels of poor fresco; but it was rather dark to see details, and the stall-holders from either side were departing, and we could see little but the flare of these ladies cheroots. As we got up towards the centre of the temple, a light or two appeared, and worshippers came in from the shadowy outside. As the candle light increased it showed that we were under gilded Italian renaissance arches, and in the centre, where the four arcades met, were lofty elaborate ornate iron gates round a centre of great light.
Before the gates were curious umbrellas of pink and white silk, and pendant chrystals and ornate vases of china and lacquer with peacocks feathers in them; and a golden chest and huge silver bowl (full of flower-petals) were in shadow to one side.
More and more candles and hanging glass lamps from green-coloured beams were lit, and gradually worshippers collected and knelt before the great gates facing the strong light with the blue evening shadows behind them. They brought with them strange tokens in shapes like marriage cakes but in brilliant colours, gold, emerald, pink, and vermilion; these they placed on the pavement in front of them. There were dark-robed people, men and women from somewhere towards China, some of them old and tottering, and Chinese, Burmese, Shans, Kachins, Karens, and people of Asia that I could not place, all kneeling, sitting, and bowing in the warm glow of light that comes from the great golden Buddha behind the gates. Amongst them were golden and red lacquered boxes and bowls and a melee of effects and things, that suggested a curiosity shop, yet withal a bigness in the golden arches and a simplicity of worship that was simply grand. Ghost of Rembrandt!—could you have but seen this and depicted it in your most reverend and inspired moment! Or Rubens—he would have caught the grandeur of effect, but would he also have caught the meekness and the piety of the old women's and men's faces.
There was a dog and a Chinese boy beside the peacock feathers, in a blue silk shirt and trousers edged with black; a Burmese woman sweeping; two little brown half naked children—a boy and girl playing on the stone pavement with the guttering wax of candles at the side of the arches; and the kneeling youths and seniors bowing and repeating their sonorous prayers, all within a few yards of each other, without one disturbing or apparently distracting the other. Only I felt out of place, a long standing Western figure from the Western world in topee and flannels with a sketch book, scribbling: but a boy kindly held half of some worshipper's candle to light my sketch book; priests in yellow robes stood behind looking on, and made no remark.
I fear an Occidental must look uncouth in such an Oriental setting; you feel you ought at least not to stand up in a place like that; I mean for aesthetic reasons—you overbalance the composition.
How great and unexpected was the change from the morning on the river in the sun and clear air to the evening and the glow of lamps and colour and the chanted, prayers in this centre of Buddhism, the Mecca of this far East!
We came out and caught a tram-car home, i.e. to the "Java"—an electric car made in London—Ye gods—the short circuit of ideas!
24th January.—This morning I have to try to paint the groups in the Arrakan Pagoda, but in the bright daylight it is difficult to take one's attention from these Phrynes, who come down to bathe beside our steamer—Phrynes, as to figure I mean. One of the two nearest has a little white jacket and a tight hunting green cloth skirt and black velvet sandals; her movements are deliberate, almost languid, and she is fairly tall, very well proportioned, and when her white jacket comes off, the colour of her shoulders is very pretty in contrast to the jet black hair and undergarment of blue. This garment, with its white band tight across her bust, remains on when the green kirtle drops to her feet. Her friend is dressed in the same way in different colours. They walk in and swim a few strokes—if you may call it swimming—with other women already in the water. Then they wash themselves very carefully with soap, and when the first comes out in her blue tight garment, she slips the green kirtle over her head and the blue dress drops off underneath it. There is no drying—the sun does that, and they are hardy. A yard or two on this side of them, two men tuck their waist clothes round their hips and go in with their oxen; both the yellowy-brown men and the oxen seem to enjoy it, and come out with the sun in high lights on their tautened muscles.
Immediately at hand a native (Indian) woman, a Madrassee, with her brass chatty, wades into the water all standing—dirty white canopies and all—and futilely washes, without soap, and rubs her teeth with a finger, spits and makes ugly noises and faces, looking now and then critically at the Burmese women farther up the bank, as if she would fain copy their more graceful ways and movements. Then she polishes her brass chatty religiously with mud, and fills it with water where she has been dabbling, and goes ashore and up the sand, a bedraggled-looking creature, and conceited at that! Next comes a Burmese mother and her two young daughters, their bathing dress a smile and a Christmas orchid in the hair. The eldest is a thing of beauty, with lines to delight a Phidias. Alas! why must we hide all beauty of form except that of animals—hide fearfully God's image? Men, women, and children here all seem fit and fairly well shaped; you rarely see a deformity, except at show places such as the big temples. It would be the same with us were we to pay more attention to form, and proportion, than to dress.
I intended to paint at the Arrakan Pagoda to-day, but a pleasant looking man came on board with a chitsaya harp; I had to try and make a jotting of him. G. and Captain Turndrup brought him. He sat and played tunes for hours—epic tunes, which I'd have given anything to remember. His boat-shaped harp of thirteen strings was tuned in minor thirds, so you could readily pick out Celtic tunes on it. I am told Sir Arthur Sullivan came here and listened to his music and made many notes. The harp belonged to Prince Dabai, Thebaw's step-brother, and I confess I bought it; but I will restore it if it is required for any National Burmese Museum or Palace.
Whilst I painted him, the phungyi boys in yellow robes came along the shore to collect food from the people on the river boats alongside the sand, and from one or two stalls on the shore. They stood silently with the big black lacquer bowls in their arms against their waists, looking humbly down, and a stall holder placed large handfuls of the rice she was cooking into a bowl. Then the close-cropped bare-headed lad came to the fifty foot dug-out canoe beside us, but the food there was only being cooked so he moved on without a word.
Half an hour's gharry to the pagoda, an hour there sketching and trying to remember things, and half an hour's rattle back in the dark, wound up my day's study.
The Mandalay gharry, a "dog kennel on wheels," is a frightfully ramshackle thing; doesn't the very name suggest a rickety, rattling sort of a machine? They are of hard wood, loosely built, with wooden seats, iron tyres, loose wooden blinds, and springs of iron—I doubt if there are any! and it is hauled by a tiny Burmese pony, licked by a native of India.
... 25th.—A faint mist lifting off the shore. The sun is hardly risen, but already the bullock carts with heavy wooden wheels are squeaking and groaning along the sand. There is just enough mercantile life to be comprehensible and picturesque; some four or five Irrawaddy Flotilla steamers are fast to the bank, and between them are some sixty native canoes with round mat houses on them. The cargoes of the steamers are piled on the sand in bales, so you see the whole process of its being discharged and loaded on the carts and taken away. As the sun rises the dust does the same, and so do the voices of the people, old and young, and the geese and the children join in, but the babel is not unpleasant, it is not too loud; there are pleasant low notes and laughter all the time. The general tone of the voices is not unlike that of a French crowd in good humour.
We have received a kind invitation to go and stay with people on shore, but we resisted the temptation for the meantime. For here on the "Java," we see such interesting scenes; and our up-river boat ought to be here immediately, and to shift our belongings along the shore some thirty yards on to her, will be much less trouble than flitting to our friends' bungalow; so we go on drawing here.
The Phryne in hunting green is down again, languorously dropping her green kirtle. It has an orange vermilion band round the top that clips the green above her breast. She isn't a swell swimmer; all the women do in that way is with their hands and they raise their heels out of the water, and smack down their shins and toes together and just get along, this possibly on account of the tightness of the lungye or tamien. The men have various strokes, mostly sort of dog strokes, and get along but slowly. I have not seen either a man or woman dive.
We have gone up the bank now a few yards to the cargo boat and installed ourselves in it with our luggage—a very easy "flitting"—and we find the cargo steamer just as perfectly comfortable as the mail boat we have left—cabins, mess table, promenade on the upper deck in the bows. There are curtains round the bows to drop if there is too much draught, and thick handsome carpets on deck. To compare price, comfort, and beauty of scenery with a Nile trip would be hard luck on Old Nile and its steamers. I should say this is a third cheaper and six times more comfortable, and many times more interesting. With regard to mosquitoes there are more at this present moment of writing than I have had the misfortune of meeting elsewhere, but it isn't so all the road. I still think, however, that those mosquitoes of the Bassein Creek are incomparable.
We (that is merely "I" this time) went to-day with a very European party of Mandalay residents up and across the river to Mingun in a sort of large picnic on a Government launch. We went to see the second biggest bell in the world and a pagoda that would have been one of the biggest buildings, if it had ever been finished! Both are great draws, and neither is of any account. The view of the winding river from the top of the ruins of the pagoda is certainly exquisite, and for ever to be remembered. But it's a pretty stiff climb to get there, and you should let your enemy go behind, for the loose bricks sometimes go down through the shrubs like bolting rabbits.
The trees too are splendid, and the distant ruby mountains are very exquisite, but as for dancing on a Government boat's deck, and tea and small talk—such things may be had at home, and brass bands too—mo thruaigh!
The big bell weighs about ninety tons; it is hung on modern girders, far enough off the ground to let you crawl inside, and it has a poor tone. The diameter of the lip is sixteen feet. The masonry, otherwise the base for the proposed pagoda, contains 8,000,000 cubic feet, is 165 feet high and 230 feet square, and is cracked through the middle and tumbling to pieces owing, some say, to an earthquake and thunderbolts—I think from bad building and the natural inclination of loose bricks to find their angle of repose.
To-night we gharried to the Grahams to dinner, over the ups and downs and deep sand and ruts of the shore, over cables and round timber heads and teak logs till we got to the hard, a man on each side holding up the conveyance, and two men with lanterns.
There were splendid roses on the dinner-table and strawberries down from the Shan Highlands, as fine as any I have seen. Then after dinner we saw collections of the most recherche Burmese and Chinese art, in which Mr Graham evidently has a very critical taste. There was exquisite silver work and brass, gold, and amber carvings, dahs or swords in silver and velvet sheaths with ivory handles, long shaped books of papyrus with the heavy black print on lacquered gilded leaves, and Buddhas in gold and marble, and a little Chinese box carved in root amber, which I coveted—it suggested a picture by Monticelli—besides wonders of Burmese carvings in wood and ivory: then music, and good voices, and the piano sounding so well in the large teak drawing-room—and home again, rattling in the gharry over the hard macadam and the soft ups and downs and ruts along the sand, as here depicted in black and white, to our new quarters on the shores of Mandalay where the big mosquitoes play and sing us to sleep—"only a temporary plague," they say here, and we hope so! G. invented a plan of slaying them. When you are under the net, you can't bang them against the swaying muslin—this plan obviated that difficulty, and is effective, only it needs a candle and matches inside the net, and might, at any moment, set the ship and Mandalay in a blaze: I mentioned this dire possibility, and G. said she would not do it if I were not near!
26th, Friday.—Still aboard the S.S. "Mandalay," turned out bright and early—a delicious morning, dew lying on the short grass above the shore. Went to the bazaar with my native boy—wish I had a Burmese servant, as neither of us can speak a word of Burmese. I'd advise any tourist to try and get a Burmese servant for guide and councillor. It is horrid being tongue-tied amongst such kindly-looking people. There does not seem to be much love lost between the Burmans and the natives of India, and I think the foolish Indian natives actually fancy themselves superior!
I have never seen, no, not in India, so much paintable "stuff" in so small a space. The stalls were sheltered by tall umbrellas made of sun-bleached sacks, over them the blue sky, and under them masses of colour in light and shade, heaps of oranges, green bananas, red chillies, and the girls and women sitting selling them, puffing blue smoke from white cheroots big as Roman candles, or moving about from shade to light like the brightest of flowers, no hurry, no bustle; a chatter of happy voices, nothing raucous in sound or colour, and all the faces good and kind to look at, except when a foxy Indian came across the scene. There is also near this open-air bazaar an immense market under cover. The light is not so picturesque in it, but the women are of a better class. There's much colour at the stalls where they sell silks, and talk to the passer-by, and brush their black hair, and powder their faces between times. If you could talk to them it would be fun, for they are as jolly and witty as can be. I understand Burmese girls of almost all families keep stalls at the bazaars when they "come out," which accounts for the Burmese women's great intelligence in business affairs.
Then to the Arrakan Pagoda, and felt inclined to stay all day listening to the sonorous recitations of the kneeling people.
Back in a tram-car, an excellent place to sketch faces, your topee over your eyes, and sketch book behind a newspaper—no one knows you are drawing. The following tram-car notes are of Burmese faces, except the face behind, with a look of cankered care on it; he is some kind of an Indian.
After lunch to the palace—a longish drive inland from the river. Thebaw not at home, and Supayalat out too, so we called on the Britishers, resting on long deck chairs in the golden rooms now used as a club. What a rude contrast Western chairs and tables and newspapers were to the surroundings! I believe Lord Curzon has arranged that this aesthetic immorality shall be put right, and a proper place appointed for the Club, and Divine service.
I'd like to have been here at the looting of this particular palace, you hear such fascinating descriptions of Thebaw's barrels of jewels—emeralds and rubies to be had by the handful. How angry the soldier man is when you speak of it. He will explain to you, with the deepest feeling, that military men were put on their parole not to bag anything, and they did not; but the men in the Civils came on ponies, and went away with carts.
The palace grounds are surrounded by four crenellated walls, each a mile long; each wall has three seven-roofed gates in it, and each gate has a bridge across the wide moat. The palace rooms are nearly splendid; they are supported on many teak pillars, low at the sides of the rooms, and up to sixty feet in the middle. These are all gilt, and show "architectural refinements," for the teak trees they are made of are not absolutely straight, and they have an entasis that is quite natural where they taper away into the golden gloom of the sloping timber roofs. The rooms are lofty, and all on one floor, because the Burmese do not like to live in rooms with people above. There are infinite intricacies of gilded teak carving, and some rooms glitter like herring shoals with silvery glass mosaics and mirrors and crystals. How delightful it must have been to see these courts, and gardens, and palaces, and throne-rooms in their full brilliancy before our "occupation," but I suppose one would have had to crawl on all fours or lose one's head at the nod of Supayalat. She and Thebaw and their parents were very much in-bred, and, though she was otherwise particularly charming, she had a strongly-developed homicidal mania. However, the people wept when they saw their king and queen being so unexpectedly hurried away in a gharry to go "Doon the Water" in Denny's steamer, in November 1885. They had far more fun, they say, before we came; a rupee went farther, and so on; and I quite believe it—we did not grab the country to amuse them!
27th.—Painted till 2 from 8 in half-hearted way. To the Grahams, then to the Arrakan Pagoda again, too tired and mosquito-bitten to do much after getting there—a nostalgia of colour these last few days—but saw the golden Buddha. The florid iron gates were open, and an immense light shone on the seated and kneeling worshippers in front. It is the most effective scene in the world for the amount of staging. A glare of golden light from unseen lamps—electric, I believe—gleams all over the calm golden figure. It is raised so that the arch in front just allows you to see up to the top of the statue; it is over twelve feet high, and the base is about six feet off the ground.
I must come back; on this journey I have already seen so much on the way here—some day I will come out direct and paint this one scene, and perhaps one or two in the Shwey Dagon Pagoda—"if I'm spaired," as they say in the lowlands, instead of knocking under the table.
... On board to-night; Burmans and natives are making up their booths and stalls on the flats alongside, and on the after-decks of this boat, so there is a good deal of hammering during dinner-time. Afterwards we sit round the table on the fore-deck and tolerate the mosquitoes, and tell yarns, and I turn in with a picture in my mind, from a story of the captain's, of an East African coast, and a tramp steamer on a bar, the surf coming over her stern, and the shore lined with drunk niggers, and green boxes of square-faced Dutch gin—at four shillings and sixpence the dozen, box included.
"Away to Bhamo, Then fare ye well You Mandalay girl We're away—— To the Bhamo Strand."
New verse to old Chantie.
Sunday, 28th.—The steamer blows a second time, and the friends and relations of our traders, sisters, cousins, and aunts get ashore across the flat or barge alongside, and the crowd of gharries, ox-carts, and fruit and food sellers begins to disperse up the sandbank. I see the tall beauty in green kirtle get a friend to raise her flat basket of oranges on plaintain leaves on to her head, a slow elegant movement she may have learned in dancing. Here, when the women dance, there is little movement of the feet, but the angular movements of the body, arms, and hands and fingers are very subtle and studied, and are done very slowly; they have time!—in fact, they have to look forward to so many re-incarnations before they even become men, that they must feel entirely superior to Time!
We had a quieter night, leastwise quieter than we expected. A child cried, and a Burman built his booth a little aft of our cabin, with box lids and French nails, and the hammering went on till about two. Then all was quiet, and traders and passengers and their families were asleep, stretched round the deck aft of our portion—Burmans, Phunghis, Shans, Karens, Chinese, Sikhs, wrapped in various coloured sheets, in lines fore and aft and from side to side, dimly lit from above by lamps—the same in the two decks of the flat which we are to take up the river with us alongside.
These cargo steamers usually take up two flats, one on each side, and the amount of trade done on these each voyage up and down, I am told, is considerable, and must annually give great profit to the countries whose goods we carry; two-thirds of these goods are Continental—German, Swiss, Austrian, Italian, and some are Japanese. The deduction to be drawn from this will be equally clear to Protectionist or Free Trader.
 I am told this steamer is 250 feet, beam 48, flats 96, beam 24, and the mail steamer was 325, beam 62.
We made a false start; the mail steamer from the south we had been waiting for appeared just as we had cleared off the shore. She had been delayed by fog, so we anchored for an hour or so to tranship the mails and Burmese passengers. Meantime I took a spell of painting, then Krishna and I hunted up a bamboo, got out snake-rings, fishing book, and reel, and had a rod fixed up in no time. What with gun, cartridges, and painting things, my cabin looks quite interesting—to my mind. We have but one other passenger, so we may utilise two cabins, one as sleeping-room, the other as sitting-room, gun-room, and studio combined. As such it might be even bigger with advantage, but for situation it would be impossible to beat—for changing views from the window or swirling tide and passing boats with people in them, like bunches of flowers flaring in the sun, and then all soft and delicate as they float past in our shadow. The priests in these boats, with their yellow robes and round palm leaf fans have a decorative effect of repetition, and we are told these fans keep their thoughts from wandering from righteousness to pretty girls. Palm leaves, robes, and their bare right shoulders and arms are all in harmonious browns and yellows; the water is bluish mother-of-pearl. The men row their boats as all Southerners do, Italians, and the rest, standing and backing them like gondolas; only the Burman uses two oars.
 Telegraphed to Cook, Rangoon, who sent them to Mandalay by train.
But to the fishing rod and line; we started with bait and did underhand casting from lower deck up and down the ship's side. The rod was excellent, a split new cane, if not exactly the "Hardy split," and it did not lie wholly between two points—it meandered a little, but I've got salmon on worse. We got nothing, and yet I saw a Burman in a dug-out log, with a no whit better rod, pull up a beauty like a sea trout of two pounds, as he drifted past; so next stopping place I hope you will hear of fish "grassed" or "creeled," as they say in the papers.
We pass Mingun, half-an-hour up the river from Mandalay. I've mentioned this place before and its bell. The bell is big, so the traveller is expected to make every effort to see it. To me, the size of a bell is not very interesting, and one heap of stone (pyramids included) seems as interesting as another. It's the design that counts.
The Flotilla steamer does not always stop at Mingun; we went steaming past it on our left. The reflections of the trees and ruin in the smoothly running stream were crossed by rippling bands of lavender, where a breeze touched the water: and sea swallows poised and dipped, screaming and flashing after each other. On the far side of the river were level white sands, green sward, and distant blue mountains.
There's a pleasant sense of swelling fullness about the river; it may be an optical delusion, but I am inclined to believe it is a fact that the surface is slightly convex, like an old-fashioned mirror, perhaps an inch or two higher in the middle than at the sides. There is not much depth to spare, already we have touched bottom. It was a curious and almost incredible statement made to me that we draw four and a half feet, and can go over sand bars only covered four feet. It is true, however; the steamer after touching is backed astern a yard or two, and when her own following swell comes up to her, she goes ahead over the bar, on the swell.
At lunch we pass a great number of geese on the edge of a sandbank—our table is right in the bows, and we have a clear view of the banks on either side as we go along, even at meal times we have the field-glasses handy to pry into the scenes of animal life on river side—the captain, who generally has his gun handy, said, "Yes, certainly we must have a shot at them," and for a moment I hoped he would drop anchor, and that we would go off in a boat and stalk them, but I gathered sadly the "shot" was to be underway at 150 yards—and I'd rather not—another lost opportunity!
Now we pass a regular regiment of birds I do not know—cranes, I think—some four feet high, the colour of oyster catchers, long red bills and legs, and black and white plumage.
The Irrawaddy valley is here a little like the valley of the Forth. There is a centre hill for a Wallace monument, and the distant hills are like those in Perthshire, but both the valley and the river are wider; and the delicious summery sun and air are too ideal—we only had such summer weather when we were children.
Painted all afternoon, passing scenes. G. did a broad daylight effect of blue sky and distance, and the blue Ruby mountains and flecks of white cumuli and calm water, an effect in much too high a key for me to attempt; and I did a Punghis' bathing pool, in lower tones, a more getatable effect for my brush....
We have to drop anchor at sunset in mid-stream, somewhere below Kyonkmyoung, to wait for the mail, and because we have no searchlight we cannot go on at night. The mountains are closer now, and towards evening they are reflected in voilet and rose in the wide river.
... The lights go on, and I assure you our open air saloon, with its table set for dinner with silver, white waxy champak flowers, and white roses in silver bowls are delightful against the blue night outside. The scent of the champak would be too heavy, but for a pleasant air from up-stream, which we hope will help to clear out the piratical longshore crew of Mandalay mosquitoes which we brought with us. We are only a few miles short of our proper destination for the night, but no matter, we are not in a hurry; the Burmans up-stream, waiting for their market, are not either, they will just have to camp out for the night.
Before bedtime, G. and I and Miss Blunt, the only other passenger, go round the booths and make small purchases, and try to make ourselves understood by the jolly Burmese shopkeepers: the Indian shopkeepers speak English. A little later the family groups go to sleep in their stalls, their merchandise round them. A father and mother and child I saw, in pretty colours under a lamp, curled up in the space a European could barely sit on. And near our cabins there is a couple asleep on the deck, a dainty Burmese woman, her figure so neat, with narrow waist and rounded hip, and her hand and cheek on a dainty pillow, her husband lies opposite, and between them, also asleep, on the deck their mite of a child. Almost touching them is a priest still sitting up, his thoughts his company—possibly they are of Paternity. They all keep pretty quiet, they are not like those beasts on the B.I. boat; I daresay the quiet here is also due to better management. Now as I write the electric light goes out, and we light our candles—the ship is quiet fore and aft, the only sound the rippling of the Irrawaddy against our anchor chain and plates.
29th.—Second day from Mandalay. We have stopped three times at the river-side to-day. At each place a cascade of elegant people in heavenly colours came smiling down to our gangway planks, and when these were fixed, trooped on board; to buy purple velvet sandals, strips of silk, seeds, German hardware, American cigarettes, and goodness knows what else. I suppose I shall forget all these groups—and, colours, and expressions, in time—that is the gall and the wormwood of seeing beauty; I'd fain remember them longer and more vividly than I do.
At the first place we stopped two hours, so I went on shore, got a Burman as guide, and in a half-hour's run, got seven snipe and twelve pigeon. Pigeons, I was told, would help the larder; they were very tame, otherwise I'd hardly have cared to have let off at them.
Sabendigo for the night. In afternoon, stopped painting with reluctance, and if I'd stopped sooner might have beaten my small records at snipe.
The ladies elected to walk with me on shore, so, to give a sense of security, I took my gun! and as we went across the gangway, picked up a Burman, who I was told knew where there was game of some description, and the captain sent one of the Chittangong crew, and other two Burmans joined unofficially, so we made quite a party. The ladies shortly began to collect flowers, and not being so keen about sauntering as the second Charles, I set off at a mighty quick walk, the Burmans following at a dog-trot, whither, I'd no idea; but it was nice going, through lanes at first, past an occasional transparent house of cane and matting, past cow-byres and cattle feeding, then into a sandy track through jungle of tall trees and thick undergrowth. Then the bamboo clumps got thicker and met overhead, and the afternoon sun came through in golden threads and patches on the whitey-grey sand of the path. We hoped to see jungle-fowl in some of the more open places, and for an hour we dog-trotted, till we got a trifle warm—but never a sign of any really open snipe ground, and I almost turned back; but my Burmans pointed on and we soon turned to the left, crawled under thick bamboos and came on a clearing with water and paddy fields, and hope revived. But we walked round the edges of two or three fields without seeing anything, then just as the sun went down, the first snipe got up and flew straight at a Burman behind me, so it got away, and in five minutes—no, one minute—we were in ground absolutely alive with snipe, thick as midges and about as visible. I saw faintly a wisp get up, fired at one and it dropped somewhere, and heard the old familiar scraik, scraik on all sides as snipe got up at the shot, but it was hopelessly dark. It was a horrid sell, barring the satisfaction there always is in finding your game—I am not sure that killing it adds much—then we dog-trotted home to the river, along the soft sand track; it was very dark under the bamboos, but a new moon helped in the more open land. It was pretty going, all afternoon, with scenes like pictures by Rousseau and Daubigny, and twice, in the shadows of bamboo groves I saw veritable Monticelli's, when we met people and ox carts labouring through the sand; when forms and colours were all soft and blended, and the glow of day changed to night—Art is consoling when the bag is empty, even the purse sometimes!
Had a cast before we left with fly in the morning; fish were rising, had one on for a moment—saw a fish taken from a balance net on shore, seemed about seven to ten pounds, bright and silvery as a salmon, with a rather forked tail, should think said fish might be taken on a blue phantom or Devon. I have both here, and, granted a stay of any time, will try harling.
The shores of the river now are closer together, wooded and steep, showing here and there boulders through the sand rather like the lower reaches of Namsen in Norway, which perhaps only describes the appearance to rather a restricted number of fortunates.
We saw two elephants grazing by the river-side; I believe they were wild.
30th January 1906.—Fog—6 o'clock A.M.—half daylight, and the anchor chain comes clanking on board—a cheery sound, the steady clink clank of the pall-pin in the winch—a comforting sound, and bit of machinery to anyone who has hauled in anchor overhand—what say you Baldy—or Mclntyre, do you remember Rue Breichnich or Lowlandman's Bay, before we got a winch, and the last three fathoms out of green mud?—and the kink in the back before breakfast, and the feeling you'd never stand straight again in your life?
We barely have the anchor up and fast and have steamed less than ten minutes when we run into a fog bank set cunningly across the stream by some river Nat. The bell rings, "Stop her"—and plunge goes the anchor with the chain rattling out behind it, and we lie still again in the silence of the fog. Sea swallows come out of the mist and give their gentle call and flit out of sight, they give a regular flavour of the sea; the mist hangs on our clothes and drips from the corrugated iron roof of the flat, and our iron lower decks are shining wet.
9 o'clock.—The mist very gently rises off the river and wanders away in the tree-tops and climbs the distant mountains slowly, and the warm sun comes out to dry everything. The anchor is up again and its "paddle and go,"—the leadsman is at his chant again. All the way up from Rangoon to Mandalay and from Mandalay here, two of the crew, one on either side of the bows, takes sounding with a bamboo, alternately singing out the feet in a sing-song melancholy cadence that briskens and changes a little when the water suddenly shoals.
We draw four feet, and yesterday went over a bar covered by three feet nine inches only,—went towards it, backed, and went over it on our own following wave!
Kyankyet—We take on more wood faggots here to fill our bunkers. The wood smoke gives rather a pleasant scent in the air—pretty much like last halting place, same sunny dusty banks, plus a few rocks, and similar village of dainty cottages and of weather-bleached cane and teak showing out of green jungle. Above the place we stop at, a spit of sand runs into the river with a hillock and on it, there is a little golden pagoda amongst a few trees and palms: a flight of narrow white steps leads up to it, and below in the swirl of the stream are wavering reflections of gold, and white, and green foliage. And as usual there are figures coming to the ship along the shore, each a harmony of colours, each with a sharp shadow on the sand.
Whilst the wood goes on board we wander through the village and look at people weaving fringes of grass for thatch, much as grooms weave straw for the edges of stalls; then to the pagoda on the hillock, and up the narrow flight of steps. It is not in very first-class repair, the river is eating away its base. To obtain merit the Burman prefers to build anew rather than to restore, and this one has done its turn. We saw several bronze and marble Buddhas under a carved teak shed; some fading orchids lay before them. Two men were making wood carvings very freely and easily in teak. Miss B. and G. coveted a little piece of furniture in brown teak, covered with lozenges of greeny-blue stone. It looked like a half-grown bedstead, the colour very pretty. If we had had an interpreter, we might have saved it from the ruin. What I carried away was a memory of the blue above, the gliding river below, hot sun and stillness, and the hum of a large, irridescent black beetle that went blundering through scarlet poinsettia leaves into the white, scented blossoms of a leafless, grey-stemmed champak tree.
I am told there are barking deer and jungle fowl within an hour of the ship, elephant, rhinoceros, sambhur, and much big game within thirty miles, but we are on the move again, and my heart bleeds.—I cannot try for these for I have neither battery, guides, nor camp equipment.
At Tagaung, stopping-place for the ruby mines, we tie up for the night—a charmingly wooded country.
In "Wild Sports of Burmah and Assam," by Col. Pollock and W. S. Thom, published in 1900, you read that "some of the best big game shooting in the world, with the least possible trouble and expenditure, can be had in Upper Burmah," and this is the place to set out for it—from Mandalay, some seventy-seven miles. Mercifully, I did not read this till after we had left Burmah, or I'd have felt frightfully unhappy passing it all. Even now, as I read their descriptions, I feel vexed, to a degree, that I did not know more about the possibilities of sport in Upper Burmah before starting North. The above book must be invaluable to any keen sportsman who goes to Burmah; but keen he must be, and prepared to hunt for his quarry; game is not driven up to him, the jungle is too dense.
I will now proceed to write about fish. As the sun set they were rising beside us, making rings in the golden flood, and the reflected woods of the far side of the river, so I put on a Loch Leven fly cast, and got a beauty right away, of about one pound; a shimmering, silvery fish, between a sea-trout and a whiting as to colour, and I missed other rises. A Woods and Forests' man on board told me he had recently caught a similar fish on a small fly rod; it weighed five pounds and leapt like a sea-trout, but no one apparently knows much about the possibilities of fishing here with rod and modern tackle. We then got a hand-line and a cod-hook from the engineer, and baited with squeezed bread, the size of a pigeon's egg, and fished on the bottom, and almost at once had on a heavy fish. It pulled tremendously and got a lot of line out, and wandered up and down the middle of the river; on a salmon rod it would have played long and heavily. We got it hand over hand alongside, aft the paddle-box, and a Burman in a canoe hitched a noose over its tail, and we hoisted it on board. I couldn't see the beast very clearly, as it was growing dusk, and all hands crowded round us to give advice. It looked rather like a cod, and weighed thirty-five lbs. I'd have guessed it to be eighteen lbs., but its weight was quite out of proportion to its measurements. Shortly after we got another—twenty lbs. They have red firm flesh, and to eat are like sturgeon, they say. The sporting silvery fish was called Mein and Butter fish, and they are said to be very good to eat, but they have a beard, which doesn't answer to my standard of a game fish. I got about a dozen of these smaller fellows of about one lb. each, not a bad way of putting in an hour or so, when the time does not allow of gunning ashore.
31st—Tegine.—This morning we passed on our right the elephant Kedar Camp, where natives are preparing to rope in wild elephants as they do in Mysore. The bank was steep, about level with the top of our funnel. The low jungle had been cleared, and we saw screens and houses of green thatch and palm leaves. A very brown Britisher came out of his tent as we passed, his face half white with soap lather, and his shirt sleeves rolled up; he did unintelligible semaphore signalling with both arms, a razor in one hand, paper in the other. He likewise spoke to us in words that were barely audible for the sound of the rush of the water. When we pieced together what each had heard, it came to "what the blankety blank has come over your—tut tut-down-stream cargo boat? She was to bring me tea and sugar! And I've no whiskey, and—" but there was a stiff turning just at this part of the river, and the skipper and pilot and everyone on board gave it all their attention, or we'd have been ashore. Soon after we met the dilatory down-river cargo boat, and waited where the channel was wide and she passed, its master shouting to us that the channel somewhere further up was "only four feet six, and very difficult." She had stranded somewhere for twenty-four hours or so. There were apparently only two passengers on board! I don't think these good days for passengers can last, the crowd is bound to come.
Next small item in to-day's entertainment. An otter, rather larger than any I've seen at home, performed to us on a sandbank, danced, and rolled over its own shadow, or possibly a fish, in apparent exuberance of spirit. It was a very pretty sight through the glass, and I think I could have got him with a rifle, but it was rather far to risk a shot and wounding with my Browning's colt pistol—the Woods and Forest man, by the way, had a Browning colt, and rather fancied himself as a shot. He told me his terrier puts up otters pretty often in the streams in the jungle, in family parties, greatly to the amusement of the otters. So there's another heading for a game book here; that might begin with elephant and finish up with mouse-deer and button-quail. What a list of water-fowl there would be, and where would turtle go?—under Game or Fish? They lay their eggs on the sandbanks in numbers, and these fetch quite a big price, four annas each. I'd willingly sacrifice a night's sleep to see one come out of the water up the sand, and to "turn it" would make me feel at the Ultima Thule of the world abroad.
All the way along the edge of the river, where there are not trees, there is Kaing or elephant grass—grass that waves some eighteen feet high and runs far inland, and here and there are bits of tree jungle. Every now and then we see some bird or beast which we have not seen before outside of a Zoo; a grand eagle is in sight just now, no vulture this fellow; he looks twice the size of our golden eagle, and sits motionless on a piece of driftwood in the middle of a sandbank. I can only just make out his or her mate soaring against the woods on the hills behind. On a bank to our right there's a whole crowd of large birds—as we get closer I can count their feathers with my glasses; they are not beauties—vultures of some kind, and gorged at that, to judge from their lazy movements; their plumage is a grey, chocolate colour; their lean bare neck and heads are black or deep plum colour. On the very edge of the sandbank there's a string of white sea-swallows, sitting each on its own reflection. There are several kinds, and they rise as we pass, and I see, for the first time, the Roseate Tern, a sea-swallow with deep lavender and black feathers, rather telling with its scarlet bill. To complete this menagerie's inventory we pass four elephants bathing; two on the bank are dry, and blow sand over themselves from their trunks, and are the same dry khaki colour as the banks; the other two lie in the water, their great tubby sides, big as a whale's back, are black as sloes. Through the glass we see them rise slowly and stalk up the bank, getting their little feet all sandy again.
We went aground about five or six P.M., and are aground, and will probably take root here. The Chittagong crew are talking and working like niggers to kedge her off, and she won't budge. I'm sorry for the Captain; it seems running things rather fine to expect him to take his ship drawing four feet, over a bar only covered three feet.
In the pause, with the glasses I spy geese on a distant point, so with the steward as interpreter, engage a dug-out that came alongside to trade to take me in pursuit, but as I get out the gun, a Burman's boat comes down and passes within a few yards of them and they shift. The boatman tells me there are deer about—points to woods and jungle within a mile on the river's right bank, but time will not allow us to go after them. So we make a shooting engagement for the "morn's morn" if we are still on the sandbank.
The crew struck work and singing at ten and left things to Providence; the captain didn't believe in this; he remarked "All things come to those who wait, but I know a plan much slicker; for he who bustles for what he wants, gets things a d——d sight quicker!"—and called on them in their quarters—he had a whole stick when he went in—and they got to work again. He believes that if the river was buoyed by a white man instead of a native we wouldn't be fast now. I should think it is just the sort of work that would need a European, but I rather think after watching the soundings we made, that there was no deeper channel over the sand anywhere—at any rate none could be found from our small boat. They kept at this kedging till midnight, and later, dropping the anchor ahead from the small boat, then hauling the ship up to it by the chain and steam windlass—with the variations splendid exercise for all hands.
At first the flat, as it drew less than we did, was left behind a little, and our ship did this fighting with sand and water alone. They started again to the work early in the morning and by breakfast time, by constant steaming ahead and backing, had burrowed a channel in the sand; then went back and clawed on to the flat and steamed away for Chittagong distant a mile or two. As we went the anchor chains were unshackled and overhauled to get the twists out of them; and both anchors and chains were bright as silver from their rude polishing in the sand.
It is perishingly cold at Chittagong, i.e., in shade in the early morning, but it is bracing, A.1. weather for doing things. Last night I had three blankets and two sleeping suits and felt cold at that. The sides and windows of our cabin being made of open lattice woodwork we fix up some newspapers and a mat or two we have over these, which makes all the difference.
We had only half-an-hour for the bazaar at Chittagong. By the way I can't vouch for the spelling of this or any other names of places en route, but this is the way our First Mate spells it. We have no good map on board to give the names, but there are a number of books, and a piano, and many other comforts that one would hardly expect on a cargo steamer, so I think the Company, having done so well for their passengers, might run to a framed map of Upper and Lower Burmah.
At Kalone the people stood in splendid groups at the jungle edge waiting for the arrival of the market. It was absolutely a Fete Champetre, but more brilliant and classic than Watteau ever can have seen. There were no houses visible, just the steep sandy bank with roots dangling out of it, and splendid trees above like sycamores and ash, some with creepers pouring from their highest branches. Against the green depths were these groups of happy people in delightful colours, some sitting and others standing, some in the full sunlight, others further in the jungle amongst the shadowy trunks and fern palms.
My Conscience pricked me and said "draw," but I said, "I'm bothered if I do, let's get into the jungle, if it's only for an hour, and see more new things, close," so we did, got a guide, and arranged to return at first blast of the steamer's horn, and away we went ventre a terre to a jheel said to be near, and had not more than enjoyed a glance at this pretty watery opening in the woods when up got a snipe with its old sweet song, and along with the snipe were any number of other waders—what a place for a naturalist! The first wisp went straight towards some paddy workers so I only got one flanker, and just as I was in the middle of them, beginning a record bag the horn sounded—the vexation of it! We turned and hoofed it back; under shadows of grand trees, over brown fallen leaves, past sunbeam lit girls in velvet sandals, coming from the ship, with bundles of purchases poised on their heads, and on board by the last plank of the gangway, muddy and hot and desperately annoyed at having to cut short a good morning's shooting. Some of the snipe were larger and deeper in colour than those I am familiar with—Painted snipe I believe.
A delightful country this would be for a holiday in a native river boat. What a pity it is so far from home; with a party and a boat I believe one could have a splendid time drifting down, there would be fishing, walks, rowing, sailing, shooting, sketching, and all in a delicious climate, and all the sport bar elephants free, and amongst courteous people with all the supplies of "the saut market" at arm's length from the Flotilla Company's steamers. Why not charter a big native dug-out up the river at Bhamo—sink it for a day or two—for reasons—then drift and row down. You could get up to Bhamo in a week or less, or in two or three days shortly, when there's a railway, and take, say three weeks down to Mandalay.
Kalone to Katha is interesting all the way. At Katha the mountains on the west come closer to the river. There is a short railway branch from this place to the line to Mandalay. I hardly like to mention a railway up here, it sounds so prosaic and so unassociated with any of the wild surroundings; but there—it's a solid fact, you can come up here from Rangoon in next to no time and see nothing on the way, by train. We walk past the little station, the first piece of blackened ground we have seen for many a day—a ballast truck, ashes, and coals—impossible! From the wire fence round the station-house and from its wooden eaves hang numbers of orchids, nameless and priceless—impossible again!
It is a pleasant country round Katha, once you get away from the line. There is low ground cleared for crops then knolly wooded hills within easy reach, and higher hills beyond. The air was still and wisps of wood-smoke from distant village fires hung in level bands above the plain. Miss B. and G. went to see the pagoda, I did the same, and also took my gun in case of a wet place and snipe. They saw a procession to a priest's funeral—one of the regular shows of Burmah, I only saw jungle, and brakes of white roses with rather larger blossoms than our sweet briar, growing to about twenty feet high. These grew many feet below the level of the river in the wet season, so I gather they spend several months in the rains under water: I also saw vultures, eagles, hawks, and a big kind of lapwing and snipe; but the snipe here were cunning, and got up wild and flew far, so I only got a small bag. But putting the afternoon's stravaig and the morning's ramble together made quite a decent day's exercise; and I believe the two or three hours in the jungle with its strange sights and sounds, flowers, birds, and beasts, were as interesting as a Phoungies' funerals.
2nd February.—There was a river mist this morning, the sun shining through, and we "slept in" for there was no engine to awaken us. When we did awaken, it was to the tune of reed instruments like our pipe chanters. These headed a single and double file procession to the pagoda along the top of the river bank. The arrangement might have been taken from the procession of the Parthenon. Most of the people were women, some carried offerings in lacquer bowls on their heads, others carried between them pagodas and pyramids in wicker-work hung with new pots and pans and, odd bits of pretty colours and flowers. Others carried round palm leaf fans, the whole effect through the sunny morning mist was exquisite in colour and perfectly decorative. I think it was part of the Phoungie funeral of last night. We got fairly cold looking at it from the deck in dressing-gowns.
... It gets cold truly—morning tub makes one gasp, but the Burmans are bathing and soaping themselves this morning alongside, apparently enjoying the cold water as much as they do down south.
The fog lifts and we swing out and into the current at eight o'clock; the mail boat that came up last night just ahead of us, and we go surging up in her wake, two mighty fine children of the great Cleutha; Glasgow owned, Clyde built and engineered—900 horse-power has this Mandalay, and she has twenty years behind her, and the engines run as smoothly as if she were new: and the whole ship fore and aft is so well kept, she might have come from the makers yesterday! I don't say that the mail boat in front exactly adds to the beauty of the scenery but it gives a big sense of successful enterprise. How gratifying it must be to Germans and other foreigners to have the use of such a fine line of steamers for their goods.
The cottages on your left after Katha are rather pretty. They are on piles of course, on account of the floods in the monsoon, not "because of ye tygers which here be very plentifull," as the old travellers had it. Their silvery weather-worn teak or cane showing here and there, is a pleasant contrast to the rich green foliage. We pass so close to the bank that we can see the bright colours of the women's tamaines inside them and through the trees we get glimpses of the blue hills to the west— d—— we are aground again—and my snipe shooting at Moda won't come off—horrid sell! No—I believe she's over. No, she's stuck!
... But we got off—and have arrived at Moda; and I think the show of native beauty crowding down the white sand here is even more effective and exquisite than any village crowds we have seen so far on either of the two sides of the river.
The girls are pictures; one has a yellow orchid between her golden coloured cheek and jet black hair, another a Marechal Niel rose above her forehead. There are old and young; Shans, Burmans, Chinese, Kachins—the young Burmese beauties vastly set off by the various northern tribes. Up the sand I see, for example, a group of three, an old lady and two young things sitting under a pink parasol, each with knees tucked up in a red purple and lemon yellow silk tamaine or tight skirt. Imagine the soft rose light from the parasol over the white jackets and silk and the sharp shadows on the sand. How graceful the owner of the parasol was when she stood up! I think it was her duenna who toppled off the edge of the gangway with one of the Chittagong crew in the push to come aboard. The old lady's face puckered as she went over, but she was out in a second, and came aboard with the jolly crowd, smiling like the rest. The pretty girls drop their red and blue velvet sandals with a clatter on to our iron deck when they come up the gangway, shuffle their toes into them and waddle off to the stalls with an air. No—waddle is not the word, its a little body twist rather like that of our French cousins, and their frank look is Spanish, but with less langour and a little more lift in it for fun! Leaving all this grace and colour behind, we marched away with a gun and two men, a native and a Burman, which surely proves the vandalism of our upbringing.
But I may have scored by not staying and painting, granted I may never forget the charm of the mid-day stillness behind the village, and the walk through half jungle, half cultivated country with everything asleep in the quiet and warmth, and never a chance of game unless I trod on it. Through the village palms and trees I came on a lakelet with short grass and tall white briar rose bushes round its edge. It was almost covered with a water plant with leaves like a strawberry, which made a dull rose tracery across the reflected blue sky. There were three white ibis, distant dark blue hills and trees, and jungle grass and their reflections; a cormorant and sea swallow were fishing, and a little pagoda, with gleaming golden Hti hung its reflection in the mirror. It was so still and the air so sweet that I felt perfectly happy with never a thing to fire at but an occasional dove, or curiously coloured lapwing. The only thing I actually did fire at was a swagger bluebird whose plumage I did covet. It let me have five shots, at from seventy to eighty yards but never closer, and went off flaunting its green and blue plumage derisively, and I hurried home at top speed long after the second whistle, rather glad I'd done no damage to anything.
At Shewgee in the afternoon we pulled out of the sunlight on the river into the shadow of a steep bank with some sixty black-tarred wooden steps up it. Creepers and foliage hung in masses over the edge and on the top were the usual groups of brightly dressed people and palms and trees in half tone, against a warm sky; and a pagoda too, of course, in white and gold, with a banner staff in white glass mosaic. The dainty figures came trooping down the long black steps and surged on board, first of all politely making way to let us go ashore.
We wandered through, I think, the neatest village we have seen, each dainty mat house had a tiny compound with palms, trees, and roses and other flowers round it. We heard "The Potter thumping his wet clay" and stopped and watched. He, or she, sat on the ground with feet out in front and modelled bowls round the left hand, thumping and patting the stiff clay with a little wooden spade, and without any further appliance made complicated forms perfectly symmetrical. I'd no idea such symmetry could be attained without the use of the wheel.
As we came back the darkness was falling and there were fires in most of the houses on trays of earth and the light shone through the bamboo walls, and we could see figures sitting beside them, either for warmth or possibly to get away from mosquitoes.
We met a gold prospector here, a lean, brown, blue-eyed man in khaki shirt and well-cut, and well-worn tweed continuations. I think all prospectors must be somewhat alike. The last I saw was a similar type—drinking beer in "The First and Last,"—Port Stanley—he was just back from "the Coast," and his rig, and particularly, his expression were much the same, but the man from Terra del had found gold, "like melon seeds—G—D—two inches deep!"—this one hadn't.
Dinner talk suddenly interesting—the new passenger, Captain Kirke, R. A., commandant of the military police is just in from the hills on the west, where he has been on a punitive expedition. His three hundred Sikhs and Ghurkas and ponies are on a small government steamer which we have passed and repassed lately, so we have the latest news of our neighbours to the west, the "partially subdued" Chins. The expedition was, I understand, to settle some family grievances of these people. One chief had taken some of a neighbouring chief's people when he wasn't at home, and had them tied to trees and little arrows fired into them, one by one, so that in the end they died. The cruel chief's wives were said to be the instigators of this "most bloody business" and the leading lady's photograph warranted the assertion. Her face was tattooed and was curiously like a Red Indian's. I have read in a book that the Chins tattoo their wives' faces to prevent them being stolen for their beauty! I gather this punitive expedition that we have come across unexpectedly, was carried out without a shot being fired, so it won't be in the papers. The wicked chief and his wives awoke one morning to find their village being looked at severely by two mountain guns, and a camera, and encircled with rifles, so they came along quietly-some ten chiefs all told. I think Captain Kirke was naturally a little pleased at the persuasive effect of his pet guns, and gratified that he had managed to bring them over the difficult country, and civil objections—but if I had run that show I'd have felt much inclined to have fired just one shot, for the sake of a medal and newspaper laurels.
We really begin to feel at the Empire's frontier now, when we have pointed out to us to the northward, the mountain tops where the military police, i.e., native troops and lonely British officers keep watch and ward over our furthest marches—heliographing between times to Bhamo for "news from Town."
3rd February.—We got away early this morning, and were stopped by a fog bank, so I saw the Defiles. The Defiles are considered the thing to see; and they are interesting enough; we passed the Third Defile down the river somewhere. At this the Second the river narrows and the mountains rise pretty steeply on either side, and are clothed with grand trees and jungle. It is less distinctive scenery than that of the wider valleys of the Irrawaddy; you might see similar features in many other rivers. At full flood the force of water down this narrow gorge must be rather tremendous, it is said to be forty fathoms deep then, and the captain told me, that when steaming up at fourteen knots, they could sometimes barely make way! Coming down must be kittle steering, I'd think. It is a good country for elephants. I am told.
After the Defiles we stop at Sinkan on the left bank, where the river spreads out again into the more usual style of Irrawaddy scenery, the valley very wide, the sandy river's edge capped with a jungle of waving kaing, or elephant grass, eighteen feet high, and over and beyond bluey-green tree-clad mountains, not very high, but high enough to be interesting and to raise hope.
I made a sketch of cottages at Sinkan. The blue and black of the Shans, and light blue colours of the Chinese dresses, begins to tell more distinctly among the tulip colours of the Burmans. The men here are armed with swords. The Shan's blade is slightly curved and pointed, with no guard, the hilt sometimes of ivory and the scabbard richly ornamented with silver, and the shoulder belt is of red or green velvet rope; the Kachins' swords that I have seen are more simply made as regards their scabbards and are square across the end of the blade.
Only you who fish can understand what great restraint I was obliged to exercise here; as I painted on the fore-deck a grand fish rose in the stream that comes in beside us, within casting distance of our bow, and with the surge of a thirty pound salmon! And yet I went on painting! I confess I very nearly did not.
At Bhamo the river broadens into a lake again, something like what it is between Saigang and Mandalay—beautiful enough to travel a long way to see.
There is a little desert of sand between the water's edge and Bhamo, across it were trekking in single file Burmans, Shans, and Chinese, to and from our steamer with lines of ponies, with bales of merchandise on their pack saddles.
We look at the distant mountains beyond Bhamo that bound the horizon—they tempt us and we wonder if we should not venture further north; and take the caravan route into China—rather a big affair for peaceful tourists. Captain Kirke came in strongly here, said, "Go, of course—I will show you how to do it, give you ponies, and find you guide and servants." So we have taken our courage in both hands and decided to go. One of his men in the meantime, had gone and brought an elephant, an enormous beast, over the sand; I am sure it was twice the height of any I've seen in Zoos. It went down on its knees and elbows, bales of cotton were piled alongside, and Miss B. and G. climbed up these on to the pad, and I got up by its tail and the crupper. Then up it heaved, and on we held, to ropes, and went off for half a mile over the hot, soft sand; Captain Kirke riding a pretty Arab pony. I'd never been on an elephant before, to my knowledge, nor had I ever experienced the sensation of the black hair pricking through thin trousers, or the besom of a tail whacking my boots—I consider we entered Bhamo with a good deal of eclat.
4th February.—We all went shopping on the elephant, Captain Kirke kindly showing us round. He and his pony might have passed under our steed's girth. It made a pretty fair block in the traffic of China Street, but the style of shopping seemed to take the popular taste; and from our point of view we could study at ease the various types of people. The old ladies in tall blue serge turbans and tunics and putties of the same colour rather struck me—they are Shans from the East—with little shrewd twinkling black eyes, short noses and a gentle expression, and that break in the eyebrow, which I think characteristic of a certain dark Celtic type.
The above sketch represents a corner of the market; in the centre a Kachin fairly characteristic but too tall, beside him his sturdy kilted wife, with the usual basket on her back; other figures, a Burmese girl, a Chinese woman, Sikhs, and distant Shan woman.
China Street, the principal street in Bhamo, is only about two hundred yards long, but it is fairly wide and crammed full of interest to the newcomer; it is so purely Chinese, you only see a Burman, a Burmese woman rather, here and there, the wife of some Chinese trader. Burmese women they say, incline to marry either Indians or Chinese, for though these men are not exactly beautiful they are great workers, whilst the Burman is a pleasure-loving gentleman of the golden age. The Burmese and Indian cross is a sad sight.
We stopped at a leading citizen's house with whom Captain K. conversed in Chinese, and why or how I don't know, but we found ourselves sitting in his saloon, beyond his outer court, and it was just as if I'd dropped into an old Holbein interior, it was all so subdued and harmonious and perfect in finish. There was lacquer work-and ivory-coloured panels on the walls, brown beams above, and orange vermilion paper labels with black lettering hanging from them in rows, each purporting the titles of our host; he wore a loose black silk waistcoat with buff sleeves, buff shorts, black silk skull-cap, and a weedy black moustache which he touched every now and then with little pocket comb; the colouring of his dress, and complexion, and background, all in perfect harmony. He had gentle clever overhung eyes and was quite the great gentleman, entertaining us intruders with calm smiling affability. In a court which he showed us, he had a raised octagonal fish pond, and in his porch his people were unlading ponies of bales of merchandise. Both the persons and the surroundings of his establishment seemed to date away back to the happy and cruel Middle Ages.
At a shop over the way our elephant stood in the sun, the Burman on its head with his white jacket and light red scarf round his hair, calmly smoking a cheroot, a welcome contrast to the busy keen Chinese life; above him hung large orange-red paper lanterns with large Chinese inscriptions. At the young merchant's shop over the way, we bought finely cut Chinese tobacco, and a number of Chinese silk satchels, note books, and other things at trifling prices. The young owner I'd like to be able to describe; I don't think I have ever seen such perfection of finish of dress, and even form; his complexion was palest coffee-colour, teeth perfectly white and symmetrical, cap and jacket of the most delicate finish, silk shoes and white socks, and baggy trousers, all as if split new and of perfection of workmanship, and he totted up his accounts and did all the business with a polished self-possessed manner! I must say my first impression of the heathen Chinee at Bhamo was tremendously in his favour; in many ways even the coolies, or Chinese porters, struck me favourably, by their simple kit, blue tunic and shorts, and their sturdy limbs and absence of any roughness of manner.
A few yards along the road brought us to the Joss House. It would take many drawings, to describe the many arrangements of courts and steps and quaintly curved roofs, and the foliage and flickering shadows. In the interior were Chinese and some Burmese, and all the pastime of their lives seemed to go on there, prayers, feeding, gambling and theatricals, at the same or at different times without hurry. We patronised the gambling corner—gave the principal high priest who did the honours of the place to us five rupees to gamble with for us—he was a fine big man with a potent expression—he lost and won a good deal, then lost the lot and two or three more rupees, and went on playing with his own money. It was delightful to see the hearty way these gamblers laughed when they lost, and chuckled when they won: I got a respect for gambling that I'd never previously had. I've generally seen people get a little white when they lose—and—well—I do not care for their subdued expressions when they win—but there was a boyish hilarity and hardihood about this gambling that made it almost attractive.
Here is one view of the Joss House. The Chinamen were intensely interested, as I painted, and crowded round. They were perfectly polite and well-intentioned as also are the Burmese, but I think the Chinaman's interest in the technique is so great that he cannot keep at any distance, so it was an enormous effort to concentrate on the subject and not just to draw the nearest heads. Here is one, however, a boy with fur cap, his complexion was like fine China and showed great finish of form. I noticed they were all very clean indeed, their clothes spotless, and the scent of their tobacco quite good.