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OF THE MOLUCCAS.
general uniformity of its climate and vegetation; while on the other hand the great susceptibility of the insect organization to the action of external conditions has led to infinite detailed modifications of form and color which have in many cases given a considerable diversity to the productions of adjacent islands.
Owing to the great preponderance among the birds of parrots, pigeons, kingfishers, and sunbirds, almost all of gay or delicate colors, and many adorned with the most gorgeous plumage, and to the numbers of very large and showy butterflies which are almost everywhere to be met with, the forests of the Moluccas offer to the naturalist a very striking example of the luxuriance and beauty of animal life in the tropics. Yet the almost entire absence of Mammalia, and of such wide-spread groups of birds as woodpeckers, thrushes, jays, tits, and pheasants, must convince him that he is in a part of the world which has in reality but little in common with the great Asiatic continent, although an unbroken chain of islands seems to link them to it.
MACASSAR TO THE ARU ISLANDS IN A NATIVE PRAU.
Ir was the beginning of December, and the rainy season at Macassar had just set in. For nearly three months I had beheld the sun rise daily above the palm-groves, mount to the zenith, and descend like a globe of fire into the ocean, unobscured for a single moment of his course. Now dark leaden clouds had gathered over the whole heavens, and seemed to have rendered him permanently invisible. The strong east winds, warm and dry and dust-laden, which had hitherto blown as certainly as the sun had risen, were now replaced by variable gusty breezes and heavy rains, often continuous for three days and nights together; and the parched and fissured rice stubbles, which during the dry weather had extended in every direction for miles around the town, were already so flooded as to be only passable by boats, or by means of a labyrinth of paths on the top of the narrow banks which divided the separate properties.
Five months of this kind of weather might be expected in Southern Celebes, and I therefore determined to seek some more favorable climate for collecting in during that period, and to return in the next dry season to complete my exploration of the district. Fortunately for me, I was in one of the great emporiums of the native trade of the Archipelago. Rattans from Borneo, sandal-wood and bees-wax from Flores and Timor, tripang from the Gulf of Carpentaria, cajeput-oil from Bouru, wild nutmegs and mussoi-bark from New Guinea, are all to be found in the stores of the Chinese and Bugis merchants of Macassar, along with the rice and coffee which are the chief products of the surrounding country. More important than all these, however, is the trade to Aru, a group of islands situated on the south-west coast of New Guinea, and of which almost the whole produce comes to Macassar in na
IN A NATIVE PRAU.
tive vessels. These islands are quite out of the track of all European trade, and are inhabited only by black mop-headed savages, who yet contribute to the luxurious tastes of the most civilized races. Pearls, mother-of-pearl, and tortoiseshell find their way to Europe, while edible birds' nests and "tripang," or sea-slug, are obtained by shiploads for the gastronomic enjoyment of the Chinese.
The trade to these islands has existed from very early times, and it is from them that birds of paradise, of the two kinds known to Linnæus, were first brought. The native vessels can only make the voyage once a year, owing to the monsoons. They leave Macassar in December or January at the beginning of the west monsoon, and return in July or August with the full strength of the east monsoon. Even by the Macassar people themselves the voyage to the Aru Islands is looked upon as a rather wild and romantic expedition, full of novel sights and strange adventures. He who has made it is looked up to as an authority, and it remains with many the unachieved ambition of their lives. I myself had hoped rather than expected ever to reach this "Ultima Thule" of the East; and when I found that I really could do so now, had I but courage to trust myself for a thousand miles' voyage in a Bugis prau, and for six or seven months among lawless traders and ferocious savages, I felt somewhat as I did when, a schoolboy, I was for the first time allowed to travel outside the stage-coach, to visit that scene of all that is strange and new and wonderful to young imaginations-London!
By the help of some kind friends I was introduced to the owner of one of the large praus which was to sail in a few days. He was a Javanese half-caste, intelligent, mild, and gentlemanly in his manners, and had a young and pretty Dutch wife, whom he was going to leave behind during his absence. When we talked about passage-money he would fix no sum, but insisted on leaving it entirely to me to pay on my return exactly what I liked. "And then," said he, whether you give me one dollar or a hundred, I shall be satisfied, and shall ask no more."
The remainder of my stay was fully occupied in laying in stores, engaging servants, and making every other preparation for an absence of seven months from even the outskirts of
civilization. On the morning of December 13th, when we went on board at daybreak, it was raining hard. We set sail, and it came on to blow. Our boat was lost astern, our sails damaged, and the evening found us back again in Macassar harbor. We remained there four days longer, owing to its raining all the time, thus rendering it impossible to dry and repair the huge mat-sails. All these dreary days I remained on board, and during the rare intervals when it did not rain made myself acquainted with our outlandish craft, some of the peculiarities of which I will now endeavor to describe.
It was a vessel of about seventy tons burden, and shaped something like a Chinese junk. The deck sloped considerably downward to the bows, which are thus the lowest part of the ship. There were two large rudders; but instead of being placed astern they were hung on the quarters from strong cross-beams, which projected out two or three feet on each side, and to which extent the deck overhung the sides of the vessel amidships. The rudders were not hinged, but hung with slings of rattan, the friction of which keeps them in any position in which they are placed, and thus perhaps facilitates steering. The tillers were not on deck, but entered the vessel through two square openings into a lower or half deck about three feet high, in which sit the two steersmen. In the after part of the vessel was a low poop, about three and a half feet high, which forms the captain's cabin, its furniture consisting of boxes, mats, and pillows. In front of the poop and mainmast was a little thatched house on deck, about four feet high to the ridge; and one compartment of this, forming a cabin six and a half feet long by five and a half wide, I had all to myself, and it was the snuggest and most comfortable little place I ever enjoyed at sea. It was entered by a low sliding door of thatch on one side, and had a very small window on the other. The floor was of split bamboo, pleasantly elastic, raised six inches above the deck, so as to be quite dry. It was covered with fine cane mats, for the manufacture of which Macassar is celebrated; against the farther wall were arranged my gun-case, insect-boxes, clothes, and books; my mattress occupied the middle, and next the door were my canteen, lamp, and little store of luxuries for the voyage, while guns, revolver, and hunting-knife hung conveniently from