Front Page Titles (by Subject) Chapter III.: MORNING IN THE JUNGLE. - Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 7
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Chapter III.: MORNING IN THE JUNGLE. - Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 7 
Illustrations of Political Economy (3rd ed) in 9 vols. (London: Charles Fox, 1834). Vol. 7.
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MORNING IN THE JUNGLE.
During the time of the cinnamon harvest, it was the custom of Mr. Carr, the agent of the East India Company for the management of their cinnamon contract, to ride every morning through one department or another of the Marandahn, or great cinnamon garden near Columbo. The beauty of the ride might afford sufficient temptation at any season of the year. The blue lake of Columbo, whether gleaming in the sunrise, or darkening in the storms of the monsoon, never lost its charms. The mountain range in the distance was an object for the eye to rest lovingly upon, whether clearly outlined against the glowing sky, or dressed in soft clouds, from which Adam's Peak alone stood aloft, like a dark island in the waters that are above the firmament.
Whether the laurel-like cinnamon wore its early foliage of red or its later of green, or its white blossom that made the landscape dazzling with beauty and voluptuous with fragrance; whether the talipot upreared its noble crest of straw-coloured blossoms above its green canopy, or presented its clustering fruit; whether the cocoa-nut tree bowed before the gusts of autumn, or stood in dark, majestic clumps above the verdure of a less lofty growth, the groves and gardens were a paradise to the eye of the Europeans.
The reaches of road, and the green paths which might be detected here and there amidst the vast plantation, the race grounds and patches of meadow land interspersed, and the lowly roof peeping out occasionally from beneath the palms, gave hints of the presence of man and civilization; while the temple, with its oriental dome supported on slender pillars, jutting out at the extreme end of a promontory into the blue-waters of the lake, or perched on some point of the piled rocks in the background, carried back the thoughts to old days of barbarian superstition. In all this there was so much pleasure as to make a ride in the Marandahn a tempting pleasure at all times and seasons; though Mr. Carr's interest was at its height during the cinnamon harvest.
As he was about to mount his horse one morning, the sound of argument, not to say dispute, reached him from within.
“My dear child,” Mrs. Carr was saying, “Roomseree and Pellikee shall give you an airing nearer home, so that you will not be killed with the heat. Do not think of going with papa this morning.”
“O, mama, you know papa says nothing tires me. I can ride as far as papa; and papa says he likes to show me what the people are doing; and I am sure the people like me to go too. Papa enjoys his ride so much more when I go with him; and the horse does not think me very heavy.”
“Heavy ! no, love! You are so small and slight, Alice, that it makes me tremble to think of your going out under such a sun as it will be by the time you get back. Papa always promises to take a very short ride; and it ends with his bringing you home at the end of four or five hours. Better stay with me, love.”
“All the rest of the day, mama; but papa has had the right saddle put on, and we are to go the west ride this morning. Cannot you go to sleep till we come back?”
Mrs, Carr promised to try; and, to do her justice, she was always ready to do her best to sleep, day and night, bidden and unbidden. With a few sighs over the charming spirits and the unquenchable curiosity of the dear child, she closed her eyes on the dewy radiance of a morning in paradise, and was glad that she had nothing more to do with cinnamon than to be tired of hearing of it, and to taste it when she pleased.
Alice used her eyes to more purpose this morning. She was yet new enough to scenes like those before her to be full of wonder, and other feelings, as natural, perhaps, but less desirable.
“Papa, do giants live in this place?”
“Giant, my dear, no. What made you fancy such a thing? You have seen no very amazing people, have you?”
“No; they are very small pretty people, I think. Sometimes, when I see them under such a very tall clump of trees as that, or among the jungle grass, they put me more in mind of dark fairies than giants; but—”
“But the trees are some of them fit for giants' walking-sticks, I suppose you think; and an elephant is a very proper animal for a giant to ride. Hey?”
“I have seen men on elephants,” replied Alice. “But look there! Look at that great castle!” And she pointed with awe to a mighty object which was partially revealed as the morning mists drew off.
“That is not a castle, my dear; though I do not wonder at your taking it to one. It is a mountain-peak.”
“But the drawbridge, papa;—the drawbridge hanging in the air.”
“Ah! you would be a long time in finding out what that drawbridge (as you call it) is. You think it made for giants; but it would break down under your weight. That is only a bridge of creeping plants, for birds and butterflies to hide in. If a strong wind came, you would see it swing, like your swing between the cherry, trees in the orchard at your grand-mama's, in England.—When we get out of the garden and nearer the thickets, you will see some such flowers as that bridge is made of, hanging from the trees, and binding them together so that we cannot ride through them.”
“But I do not want to get out of the garden yet. Here come the people, one after another, from their cottages, with their crooked knives to cut down the branches. What are those tawny people doing in the shade? They seem to be sitting very comfortably, all in a ring. This is prettier than seeing grandmama's mowers in England, besides that the mowers do not sing at their work, like these people.”
“The mowers in England have more reason to sing than many of these peelers. Look how thin many of them are; and that poor child playing in the grass appears half-starved. Very few people in England are so poor as some of the natives here, who yet sing from morning till night.”
Alice observed that they were not all thin; and she pointed to one man whose legs were of an enormous size, and to another whose body was nearly as broad as it was long.—She was told that these appearances were caused by disease; and that the diseases of the labourers were in a great degree owing to their poor way of living. There would be few such swollen or emaciated bodies as these if the people had flesh to eat, or good bread, or even the seasoning which was necessary to make their vegetable food agree with them.
“Seasoning! What sort of seasoning?”
“Salt, and pepper, and cardamoms, and cinnamon.”
“Salt, papa! They must be very lazy if they do not get salt enough. There is the sea all round Ceylon; and I have seen several ponds where the water was so salt I could not drink it. There was a crust of salt all about the edge, papa.”
“Very true, my dear; but the people are not allowed to take it. The king of Candy lives in the middle of this island; and the kings of Candy have sometimes been troublesome people to the English, as they were to the Dutch before them. Now, as the king of Candy cannot get to the sea, or to any salt lake, without our king's leave, he and his people depend upon us for salt; and our government likes to keep him quiet, and get a great price for its salt at the same time by selling it to the Candians very dear, and by letting nobody else sell any. So the people of the country are not allowed to help themselves to salt.”
“But if there was not enough, I would rather make the king of Candy go without than these poor people who belong to us. We ought to take care of them first.”
“The government likes to take care of itself before either its own people or the Candians. There is salt enough for every body here, and for half India besides; and large quantities are destroyed every year, to keep up the price, while many are dying for want of it, and those who live can get nothing better than coarse dirty salt which the beasts in your grandmam's, farm-yard would turn away from. If we could count the numbers of Hindoos who die in India for want of the salt which their own country produces, we should find that fearful reckoning awaits the Company there, as there does the government here; a fearful balance of human life against a high price for salt.”
Alice thought that if the ghosts of these poor natives could haunt the authorities, such an army of shadows would soon prevail to secure for their surviving countrymen the food which Providence had made to superabound before their eyes. She knew how shocked and sorry government was that a woman here and there burned herself when her husband died; but when government burned the salt which was left, in order to keep up the price, Alice thought, and so did her father, that government was destroying more lives than ever penshed on piles kindled by native hands.
“But pepper, papa: the king of Candy can grow his own pepper in his own woods, I suppose; for it seems as if it would grow any where here, as long as there are trees for it to hang upon. I see the pepper vine dangling in the woods, wherever I go; and the monkeys throw the red clusters at each other.”
“The monkeys may gather them, but the men and women may not unless they are employed to do so by the government. “The monkeys cannot pay for papper, and some of the people can: therefore the people who cannot must go without, or steal, and run the risk of being punished.”
“Miserably poor, indeed. If they were allowed to grow as much pepper as they pleased, and sell it to any part of the world where it is wished for, they would have a great deal of money wherewith to buy things which the government, could sell much more profitable than pepper. Then we. should see mats, strewed with pepper corns, spread in many a nook of the thickets which the panther and the snake now have all to themselves; and many a child would be heard singing among the vines, which now moans its little life away in its half-starved mother's arms. The same may be said of cardamoms. There is no one in these eastern countries who wonld not eat cardamoms if he could get them; and there are endless tracts where cardamoms would grow; and yet very few of the natives can obtain them to eat. Cardamoms grow wherever vegetable ashes are found in this country. The plant naturally springs up on the very spots where other precious things have been burned before the people's eyes; but the plant must be rooted up, or its capsules left to be avoided as forbidden fruit, unless offered to the government for sale, But government gives so low a price for cardamoms, that the people have little heart to cultivate the plant.”
“But what does the government do-with cardamoms?”
“It sells them; but not to half so many people as would be glad to buy. If government would let the people freely sell cardamoms, government would have a people rich enough to pay more in taxes than government will ever make by selling cardamoms.”
“But you said the people might not have cinnamon. How can any body prevent their getting it? Look all round, papa. As far as we can see on this side and on that, and a great way before us, it is one wood of cinnamon.”
“Yes, my dear. This one garden is fifteen miles round.”
“Well, why cannot the people steal as much as they please? If I were a poor native, I would cut down all I could get, and sell enough to make a great deal of money, and then buy what I wished for.”
“As for the cutting it down, my dear, the natives would have little scruple; for, like all people who are cruelly pinched, they are apt to take what they can get without caring to whom it belongs. But how are they to sell it when they have got it?”
“I thought you said that cinnamon grew scarcely anywhere in the world but here; and I am sure there are plenty of people all over the world who are fond of it, and would be glad to buy it.”
“Very true; but those who long to sell and those who long to buy cannot get at each other. Somebody steps between to prevent the bargain. The English government lets the East India Company have all the cinnamon you see, on condition of the Company paying so much a-year. So the spice is carried away to be sold, instead of foreign nations being allowed to come here to buy; and none is left but that which the Company does not think it worth while to carry away; and even that is sometimes burned to keep up the price.”
“Burned! when so many people would be glad of it ! Would not the common people in England like it, if they could get it as cheap as salt? If they did, they would make the fortunes of the people here.”
“And then the people here would make the fortunes of a great many of the working people in England. This would certainly be the case.— What do you think the people in England eat most of, Alice?”
“Bread, I suppose.”
“Yes; and salt comes next. And what next? —Another sort of seasoning.”
It was not pepper, nor mustard; but something that every body liked and used,— from the infant that will leave sucking its thumb for it, to the old man that has but one tooth left in his head;—from the king who lets his queen put it into his coffee, to the labourer's wife who carries home a coarse sample of it on the Saturday night.
“That must be sugar. But I think almost every thing that is good with sugar would be better with cinnamon; and if cinnamon was made very cheap, what a quantity would be used, and how rich the growers might be ! They would grow more and more, and employ more people, till this whole large island was one great cinnamon garden—”
“Every part of it that is fit for such a purpose; every part that has a light dry sandy soil like that which we are riding over so pleasantly. And then much more use would be made of the rest of the land, the richer the inhabitants grew. There would be more rice, and more fruits, and more dye-woods, and more timber, and more of all the useful and beautiful things that this paradise will produce.”
Alice wondered that the whole world did not cry out for more cinnamon and her father agreed with her that such a cry would probably be raised, if the greater part of the world did but know how good cinnamon is. They never could have known, or they would not so easily agree to go without it, for the sake of the pockets of the East India Company.
“The fact is, my dear, the Company and the government do not behave so ill as some people did before them. The cinnamon trade is a very old trade:—as old as the time when the wise and wealthy Egyptians used to trade with the rich and barbarous princes of India; but, though this trade has passed through many hands, there has never been liberty to buy and sell as natural wants and wishes rise. Three hundred years ago, the Portuguese came here, and drove out the turbaned Moors, and sold cinnamon at their own price to the world, (and let the natives have none of the benefit of it,) for more than a hundred and thirty years. Then came the Dutch to take the matter out of the hands of the Portuguese, and they let the world have a little and a little more, by degrees till they prepared the way for a fine commerce for us, if we had but known how to make use of it. But the mistake of the government of England is in letting nobody have the spice who will not buy of us and pay our price for it; when it is very plain that their money would come round to England at last: and in much greater plenty, if we let the natives grow and the foreigners buy of them, as much as they pleased.”
“Those poor people who are peeling, and stopping their songs as we pass, looking and so terribly afraid of us, seem as if they were not fit to make a bargain, papa.”
“They would soon learn, my dear, if left to manage their own interest. At present, they know very well how to steal, but very little how to conduct a fair bargain. The Cingales come begging mad praying, almost on their knees, that we will buy; and if we condescend to ask their prices, they name twice as much as they mean to take; and if we choose to give them only half what they might really look for, they cannot help themselves: or if we have a fancy to pay them in betel-nut, or tobacco, or cotton-cloth, or anything else we may want to get rid of, they have nothing to do but to take it, or to carry back their commodity as they brought it. These people, however,—these peelers, have nothing to sell.”
“When we get among the cocoa groves, papa, there are several cottages, and the people bring out things to sell. I wish you would buy something this morning; just to see how they will manage, poor things ! But who is this, papa? He looks grander than the modelier, with his gay petticoat and his blue dress. I do believe this is Captain Cinnamon, as the peelers call him.”
“It is. He is the chief of the peelers, and he is taking his morning round, as we are. I will speak to him.”
Captain Cinnamon bent his turbaned head in a profound obeisance to the little girl, as well as to her father, which the young lady returned as if she had been the far-famed pearl queen of the olden time, Alice's father and mother were more amused then they ought to have been at the airs of consequence she assumed among the natives, and did not discourage the haughtiness with which she naturally returned their homage. Mr. Carr's own manner, adapted to those he had to deal with, was a bad example for her.
“I'll tell you what, captain, you must take more care of your charge. I am certain there is a great deal of pilfering on in this gardens, and you are answerable to the Company for it.”
The captain was all humility: but how should there be thefts? For what purpose, as the peelers could not sell this commodity.
“But others besides peelers may help themselves, and do.”
“The English gentlemen from the fort ride through the garden,” modestly suggested the captain.
“Nonsense ! do you suppose they steal cinnamon? I tell you I saw a head pop up yonder, and a motion among the shrubs, where neither cutting nor barking is going on: look there, and you will find a thief, depend upon it.”
The captain owned that secure as the Company was of no interference with their monopoly of the bark while the garden was under his care, it was difficulty to prevent persons from entering to pluck the fruit. It was so easy to pull and carry away the fruit unobserved, and it was so precious to the people, and of so little use to the Company, that Mr. Carr's predecessor had connived, at the practice, and desired Captain Cinnamon to do so too. As Mr. Carr thought differently, however, the peasants of the jungle should be humbled beneath his feet In a trice, half a score of peelers were called from their work to hunt the thief; and a grand show of zeal they made in beating among the shrubs, and uttering cries.
“There, that will do,” said Mr. Carr, when Alice had pointed out the gradual retreat of the moving thing (as shown by the twitching of the bushes) towards the ditch which bounded the garden.
“This will frighten him: now let him escape.”
Little Alice now signified her will and pleasure to be informed what was to become of the quantity of bark which was strewed before her eyes. Wherever there was a space between the shrubs where the sun could penetrate to the pure white sand from which the spicy stems sprang, mats were spread; and on these mats were strewed and heaped rolls of the bark, the smaller rolls being fitted into the larger, so as to contain a great quantity of tile commodity in a small bulk.—On some open plots which they had already passed, other such mats, heaped with other such rolls, had greeted the senses of Alice and her father; aud wherever they. caught glimpses through tide alleys of the wood, or reached an eminence whence they could look abroad over the expanse of shrubs, they saw dark forms squatted on the white sand, or gemmed heads rising amidst the verdure, while the rich scent which declared their occupation diffused itself through the still air. Though the bands of the workmen moved languidly, (like the bands of other workmen who do not labour for themselves.) though the process of peeling was clumsy, and the waste of material excessive, yet such quantities of bark fell from innumerable boughs and twigs that Alice could not imagine what was to be done with it all.
Captain Cinnamon told her (with obeisances which were imitated and multiplied by his throng of followers) that all this quantity of spice awaited the disposal of her puissant father, the agent of the Honourable Company; and that he would probably inform her that when he had caused to be packed that which his wisdom should deem the proper quantity to be vouchsafed for the use of the world, the rest would receive its sentence of destruction or distribution from his lips. Alice held up her head, and rode on, not quite understanding the matter of fact about which she had inquired, but thinking that it would be below the dignity of so great a man's daughter to appear to need further information.
The throng of attendants hovered round them as long as they continued within the verge of the garden—pointing out to the young lady here a little stack of cinnamon awaiting the hands of the packers; and there kneeling groups, with each a chest in the centre, a heap of black pepper lying beside it, to strew between the layers of cinnamon, and pots of resin wherewith to stop the seams and crevices of the chests. Alice could not help learning much from what she saw, not with standing the sudden start of pride which made her prefer issuing commands to asking questions. She felt a sad loss of consequence when her father dismissed the peelers to their proper business, on reaching the ditch which divided the garden from the open country. She was now no more than Alice Carr, riding before her father, as she remembered having done long ago in a field of grandmama's in England, where there were no black people to make bows, and gather round her as if she were a princess.
She complained of the narrowness of the path through the close jungle, and was sorry that they were leaving the lake farther and farther on one side of them; but it was not long before she found that there was here something to admire, Grandmama's horses had never trod such a path as that on which her steed was now pacing: they had never entangled their feet in trails of the blue convolvulus, or bowed their beads to avoid being garlanded with creepers,— now scarlet, now yellow, now white. They would have started at the ghttering snakes that wound in the grass, and at the monkeys that hung by one arm from the boughs overhead, gibbering and chattering in a way that must move all unaccustomed gazers to perpetual laughter. Instead of one proud peacock, perched upon a wall, to be gazed at by a populous neighbourhood, here were numbers of those stately creatures, fanning the long grass as they spread their burnished tails, or making their rich purple hues gleam from beneath the shades of the bowery fig-tree. Nothing could be more unlike the cottages of England than the dwellings which emerged upon the sight, here and there, from their hiding-places among the verdure. These dwellings looked as if they were part and parcel of the jungle, being formed of the wood and leaves that grew there, fenced with shrubs, and decked with creepers, winch twisted themselves over every part, so as scarcely to leave room for the squirrels to pop in and out from their holes in the leafy thatch. The enclosed plots (where any cottage could boast such an acquisition) were as little like the gardens of a civilized country. No rows of cabbages and peas, no beds of potatoes and onions—no supply of vegetables on which a family may depend as some security against starvation. The Cingalese, though blest with a soil and climate in which every thing will grow, are destitute of any such provision as a tenth of the toil of an English labourer would secure, and as a single gem from thc necklace of a native would purchase, in almost any land that has not the misfortune to be a monopolized colony. If any one in Ceylon has a fancy for potatoes and onions, he must get them from Bombay. If his ambition extends to peas and cabbages, he must wait till they can be brought from England.
The shaddock, the plantain, and the jack-fruit, might be seen growing within these enclosures, the little walks being spread with a covering as bright and as curiously variegated as any mosaic pavement, and as soft as the richest carpet. Moss,—the scarlet, crimson, brown, yellow, green, moss of Ceylon,— “the jewellers sorrow,” as it is there called, from its beauty surpassing any which the combination of the lapidary can produce, was tufted beneath the stems, and spread under the feet. Instead of thieves of the air, hovering in a we of the scarecrow which flaps and nods in an English breeze, here were four-footed pilferers peeping with longing looks from neighbouring tree-tops, or swinging themselves down from a convement branch, or pushing out what looked very like a human hand, to pluck, or to grub up whatever might, be within reach, while the switch of the owner was absent. Instead of the lowing of cows from the farm-yard, and the cawing of rooks from the rustling trees, and the cackle of geese from the bare pond on the common, there was the chit-chat of monkeys, the screaming of parrots, the timid step of the gazelle among the dry twigs, and the splash of teal and wild ducks from the pool beneath the mangroves. Alice was obliged to be content with tracking the deer with her eye; but at the sound of water, she must turn aside and see whence it came, notwithstanding the fear with which her father ever approached, or allowed any belonging to him to approach, water in these swampy wildernesses. Just for one moment he thought his little daughter might be permitted to look around her; but when he had penetrated a little farther into the shade, he repented of his compliance. A fallen tree had intercepted the course of the tiniest rivulet that ever was seen, and had formed a pool, which had spread and spread, till it had made an island of one tree after another, and was now canopied with a green shade, and mantled with the lotus, and fringed with the bull-rush, from among which rose the cry of waterfowl, and rainbow visions of gigantic dragon-flies. Notwithstanding all this beauty, Mr. Carr repented of having penetrated these shades, so heavy felt the air, and so oppressive was the moist smell of decaying vegetation. A woman was stooping in the grass, too, whose looks did not reassure him. Fever or hunger had sunk her cheek, and given such languor to her gait and gestures as to destroy the grace which co-exists to a remarkable degree with the indolence of demeanour which distinguishes the natives of the country.
“That is very like one of grandmama's hens,” observed Alice, as the tawny lady disentangled a fowl from the snare in the grass, and held the fluttering bird against her bosom. “I could almost fancy that was one of the fowls I used to feed in the poultry-yard.”
“Look at the cock and you will see the difference,” replied her father. “See what a lofty, steady flight he takes half way up that tree, whose lowest branch would allow your grandmama's sycamore to stand under it. Look at the gay, glossy plumage of each fowl, and tell me if you ever saw such on an English cock and hen. These are the jungle-fowl you have heard me speak of as a great blessing to the natives. I hardly know what some of them would do for food without jungle-fowl.”
“That woman looks as if she had not been eating any,” observed Alice. “She looks as if she had had nothing good to eat this long while.”
So thought Mr. Cart; and he stopped to ask her if the trees under which she dwelt were fruitful? Marana (for it was she) replied, that her husband and, she could generally get cocoa-nuts when they were hungry, but that they had sickened many times under this diet, during the short time that they had been in the jungle. Her husband's strength had wasted, and she had had the ague; and it was but seldom that she could snare a fowl.
Did not her husband bring home game, or earn money, or grow rice?
He brought home little game, for want of means to take it. He could not grow rice, as he had neither land nor seed; and as for earning money, how was it possible for a stranger to do so, when so many residents were already unemployed?
“It is true,” replied Mr. Carr, “that the gardens are very full of people, some of whom make more show of working than do any good; but still”
Marana was too courteous to interrupt his speech; but when he had paused for some time to think, she declared that her husband must not be supposed to desire to have anything to do with the Challias, or cinnamon-peelers. Rayo was of the fishermen's caste.
“Well, you must settle it between you which is the highest caste. If you differ among yourselves on such a point, a foreigner cannot be expected to decide it. But why does your husband, being a fisherman, come to live here? Why does not he try his chance among the pearl fishers?”
“There are too many there, as well as in the gardens,” replied Marana.
“Too many for what?” inquired Alice. “There cannot be more men than pearls. Why cannot they take it in turns to fish? And then, if only one pearl was paid to every man, there would be plenty left for the rich men who do not fish.”
“Ay; but then captains and merchants from many nations would come: and that is just what our government does not like. A French merchant would carry away pearls, and leave silk dresses behind him, or money, with which the Cingalese might lay out rice-fields and cotton plantations, or stock meadows with cattle. The Dutch captain would go to some neighbouring countries for grain, and would be paid in pearls. The Russian would bring leather and corn, and carry away pearls. The Englishman would bring iron, and clothing of cotton, and a hundred comforts besides, and would make a profitable bargain of pearls.”
“But this would be a good thing for everybody,—for the ladies who want more pearls, and for these poor people, who want employment, and food, and clothing.”
“But the government must then leave off paying as little as it likes to the pearl-fishers, and being the only party to sell the fair white pearls of Ceylon to all the beautiful ladies in the world who can afford to obtain them.”
“But there are plenty of princes and great men who would give away more pearls as presents, if they could get them; and there must be plenty of beautiful ladies who cannot get pearls, because they are very dear. I should like to give these people a boat, and send them out to fish pearls for some of the ladies, who would give a little less for their pearls, but quite enough to make Rayo rich,—to buy him a rice-ground”
“Though the fisher and the buyer are ready, and the boat may soon be had, Rayo must do without his rice-ground. The government will not give him leave to sell pearls to anybody but themselves, and they will not pay enough to buy a rice-ground.”
At the first sound of buying and selling, Marana had disappeared within the cottage. She came forth again with her right-handed chank, which she offered to Alice for sale, with, a sad and imploring look.
“It is a pity you should sell this shell,” observed Mr. Carr. “It is a very valuable one, as you ought to know.”
“Then keep it,—it may be a little fortune to you some day.”
“We want rice, and my husband's clothing is old.”
“Well, food and dress are of more importance than any shell, to be sure.”
Than any shell but this, Marana thought; but when the idea arose of the hag, and her threat of leprosy, and of the curse which might now pursue Rayo, she doubted whether anything could be more important to her than this charmed shell. Whether the curse had not already lighted upon Rayo, she was doubtful; for never man was so changed. He was as smooth and courteous in his manner to strangers as formerly, and as fond of her as he had ever been: but he was not the indolent, careless, light-hearted youth he had been when she had first known him on the coast. He did not work, for there was no work for him to do but to scramble up a tree and down again when he wanted a cocoa-nut; but he prowled about the neighbourhood, and seemed to have some purpose which lay nearer to his heart than his wife. Marana hoped that he was not bewitched or doomed; but it always alarmed her to meet him unawares in the thicket, and to see how full his mind was of some thought which the hardships of the day and the fever of the night could not banish.
While Alice was handling the shell, and tonging more and more for it, as she observed the solicitude with which Marana watched her mode of playing with it, a rustling was heard in the wood, and Rayo himself burst from the covert, with a rude sort of basket in his arms, which seemed to be filled with the fruit of the cinnamon shrub. At the unexpected sight of a stranger, he turned quickly, and deposited his load in the long grass behind him. While his back was turned, his wife made a rapid sign to her visiters to hide the chank, and say nothing about it, which sign Mr. Carr obeyed by pocketing the shell, and slipping into Marana's hand gold, which made a warm blush visible on her dark cheek, and lighted up her dim eyes with a momentary gleam. She bad never held so much money in her hand at one time before; and the idea of the hag vanished for the instant before the image of a basket of steaming rice, stewed with cardamoms or peppercorns.
“We must have a lamp,” half-whispered Marana, observing that Mr. Carr sent a searching glance after the acorn-like fruit that was turned over in the grass. “And if Marana is not anointed, how should her husband love her?”
This was a question which Mr. Carr's European habits unfitted him for answering. He asked if there was no method of obtaining the oil of the cinnamon fruit but by pilfering from the garden? None, for poor creatures so weak as these peasants, who could not penetrate into the interior for such purposes. The garden was close at hand; the cocoa-nut oil, with which the oil of the cinnamon fruit was to be mixed, hung overhead; and the temptation was too strong to allow of Mr. Carr's being very angry. He asked how the oil was made to serve the purpose of a lamp during the dark nights, when it became the office of the invalids to watch and nurse each other? Marana produced her lamp,—half the shell of a cocoa-nut, supported on a stick of eboveillegible which was stuck into a little block of calammda wood. On the surface of the oil which the shell contained, floated a little wick, formed from the pith of a rush. Nothing could be more primitive; few things more elegant; and the materials were such as would in few other countries have been found in the habitation of persons in want of proper food.
Alice was bent upon purchasing the lamp also; and small was the price demanded, however Marana might wonder at her husband's demand not being so much as disputed. Busily did she attempt to fulfil her task of making another lamp, and bruising the fruit from which the oil was to be drained, while Rayo seemed to have a sudden fancy for making torches.
Meantime, Mr. Carr cleared the jungle; and, seeing that the sky was blackening towards the west, as if with the first storms of the monsoon, turned his horse's head homeward, bestowing many a thought on the natives whom he saw in field, garden, jungle, and road,—all obsequious, and looking up to every Englishman they met, as it impressed with profound gratitude, while most were poor and comfortless, and it was certain that all were injured by the nominal protection of their country. Even Alice, occupied as she was with looking about her for homage, and with planning an exhibition of her two treasures to her mother, could not wholly forget the sunken countenances of those who appeared to be pining in the luxuriant region which she had just left, and where Nature seemed to intend that all things should flourish.