(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "On & off duty in Annam"



ON 




( OF 
GO 



ON AND OFF DUTY 

IN ANNAM 



NEW BOOKS OF TRAVEL 



CAMERA ADVENTURES IN THE 
AFRICAN WILDS 

Being an Account of a Four Months' Expedition in 
British East Africa for the purpose of securing Photo- 
graphs from Life of the Game 

BY A. RADCLYFFE DUGMORE 

In One Volume, Demy 410, with One Hundred and Forty 
Photographs from life by the author. Price 303. net. 

THE LAND OF THE LION 

BY W. S. RAINSFORD 
In One Volume, Demy 8vo, Illustrated, izs. 6d. net. 

THE HEART OF THE ANTARCTIC 

The Story of the British Antarctic Expedition, 
1907-1909 

BY SIR ERNEST SHACKLETON, C.V.O. 

In Two Volumes, Crown 410, Profusely Illustrated in 
Colour, Photogravure, &c. Price 365. net. 

ALSO AN EDITION DE LUXE, PRINTED ON VAN GELDER'S 

HAND-MADE PAPER 

In Two Volumes, Medium 410, limited to 350 Numbered 
Copies. Bound in Vellum. Price Ten Guineas net. 

LONDON : WILLIAM HEINEMANN 
ii BEDFORD STREET, W.C. 




AN ANNAMESE WOMAN IN HKR HOME COSTUME 



ON e? OFF DUTY 

IN ANNAM 



BY 



GABRIELLE M. VASSAL 



WITH NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS FROM 
PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN BY THE AUTHOR 




LONDON 

WILLIAM HEINEMANN 

1910 



Copyright, London, 1910, by William Heintmann 



CONTENTS 

INTRODUCTION 

Occupation of the Country, or First Occupation of the Colony Pp. i-n 

CHAPTER I 
FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF FRENCH INDO-CHINA 

The send-off of our English and French friends : Arrival at Cap St. 
Jacques : First glimpse of the Annamese : Saigon : Adventurous 
driving : Le tour cf inspection : Public buildings and native dwell- 
ings : My first evening in the Tropics : European life in Saigon : 
Cholen : A crowded native thoroughfare Pp. 13-32 

CHAPTER II 
LIFE IN AN ANNAMESE FISHING VILLAGE 

Miseries of a coast steamer : An ungraceful landing : Nhatrang : The 
native village : Fishing tactics : Our new home : Choosing 
native servants : Beginning of domestic worries : Fight with 
insects, damp, mould, native habits, &c. : Catering of native cook : 
The market : My neighbour's pigeons : Cooking practices : Daily 
routine Pp. 33-51 

CHAPTER III 
A TROPICAL PASTEUR INSTITUTE 

Influence of Pasteur's discoveries on tropical medicine : The origin of 
research work : One of Pasteur's pupils : Yersin's discovery of 
the plague bacillus : His search for a site and foundation of the 
present Institute : Its work and organisation : Suoigiau : A 
rubber plantation : Mosquitoes and malaria : The Institute's 



vi CONTENTS 

cattle : Natives' distrust of European doctor : A shark's victim : 
Difficulties in treatment of native patients : Escape of a one-legged 
man : Expressions of gratitude after recovery : A thanksgiving 
ceremony : Trials of research work in the Tropics Pp. 52-67 



CHAPTER IV 
IN AND ABOUT NHATRANG 

Lessons in riding and shooting : Configuration and outlook of Annam : 
Want of communications : Comparison with Cochin-China : Beauty 
and attractiveness of the country : A native village : Pagodas and 
tombs : Water buffaloes : Red ants : A brickmaking village 

Pp. 68-87 

CHAPTER V 
DAILY ROUTINE IN THE LITTLE CAI-NHA 

The awakening at dawn : The rush into light and air of the cai-nka's 
occupants : Tidying up and arranging the house for the day : The 
ba-gia : The baby's meal : Occupations of the children : The 
market : The rice-fields irrigating, ploughing, sowing, and plant- 
ing out : Occupations which bring men and women together : 
Evening leisure Pp. 88-104 

CHAPTER VI 
THE MANDARIN AT HOME 

How to become a mandarin : The esteem with which education is 
regarded in Annam : The mandarin's house and furniture : The 
Citadel : Visit to the Quan B6 of the province : Shaking hands : 
Refreshments : His family : Nicknames of the children : Respect 
due to the family name : The Quan Bo's return call : A brother 
of Thanh-Thai : Illness of one of his wives : The princess : A 
royal infant : A Chinese pipe : Snapshots Pp. 105-119 




Religious systems of Annam : The scepticism of the native : Spirits 
and genii : Countryside shrines : The shrine to the tiger : Super- 



CONTENTS vii 

stitions concerning the tiger : Ancestor-worship : The benefits to 
family life of this cult : Its ceremonies : The death and funeral of 
a believer : The practice of polygamy Pp. 120-131 



CHAPTER VIII 
THE SOCIAL POSITION OF WOMEN 

Marriage laws : Betrothal and divorce : Betrothal and marriage 
ceremonials : Polygamy : Social situation : Education and occu- 
pations : Peculiarities of Annamese beauty : Generalities 

Pp. 132-147 

CHAPTER IX 

THE ANNAMESE COMMUNE AND THE 
ADMINISTRATIVE ORGANISATION OF THE STATE 

The Annamese Commune : Its independence and its functions : Mayor 
and deputy mayors : Notables and the Municipal Council : 
The Public Hall, goods in common and their redistribution : The 
canton, the district, and the prefecture : The Ministers and the 
Comat : The Emperor Pp. 148-155 



CHAPTER X 
THE TET 

Preparations for the Tet : Gambling propensities of the Annamese : 
Baquan : Festivities during the Tet : Sports on water and land : 
Procession of the Dragon : A theatrical performance : A curious 
play : An enthusiastic audience Pp. 156-169 



CHAPTER XI 
OUR GARDEN 

Laying out and planning a garden in the Tropics : Our coolie gardener : 
Tropical shrubs, bougainvilleas, filaos, agaves : Tropical fruits : 
Cultivation of European garden flowers : Enemies lizards, crabs, 
birds, ants Pp. 170-179 



viii CONTENTS 

CHAPTER XII 
THE TCHAM TEMPLE OF NHATRANG 

History of the Tchams and their conquest : Tcham dress : Their 
temples : P6 Nagar's temple : Its architectural beauty : The 
goddess P6 Nagar : Tcham curios and hidden treasures : A Tcham 
legend Pp. 180-189 

CHAPTER XIII 
TO THE INLAND HILLS NHATRANG TO DABAN 

Preparations for a two-hundred-kilometre journey : Trials of a tri-car : 
Catastrophe to a group of native women : Meeting an elephant : 
Arrival in a village whose inhabitants had never seen a motor-car : 
Commotion wrought among oxen, fowls, pigs, &c. : Frightful state 
of roads : Safe arrival at Banghoi : Phan Rang : Breakdown : 
Return to Phan Rang : New start in pony-cart : No relays ready : 
Balat : Change of scenery as we approached the hills : Exhaustion 
of the last pony : Deluge of rain : Shelter at Daban : In the land 
of the tiger Pp. 190-304 

CHAPTER XIV 

TO THE INLAND HILLS (continued) FROM DABAN 
TO DANKIA 

The Mois' physical appearance : their baskets : A " tailed race " : A 
steep climb on horseback : The pines : A snake : Dran : Isola- 
tion of Europeans in this district : A second long climb : General 
view of the plateau : M. Canivey's escape from a tiger : His puni- 
tive expedition to a Moi village : Moi bows and arrows : A Moi 
woman : Dankia Pp. 205-217 



CHAPTER XV 
IN THE KINGDOM OF THE MOIS 

A Moi village : Children decorticating and winnowing the rice : A Moi 
hut : Darkness and smoke : Moi furniture : Men and women 
round the fire : Hygiene among the Mois : A Moi woman's con- 



CONTENTS ix 

finement : A Moi funeral : Moi tombs : Sacrifice of a buffalo : 
The priest's oration : The slaughter : The banquet which follows : 
Moi justice : The Sorcerer : Methods of discovering the culprit 

Pp. 218-232 

CHAPTER XVI 
THE AGRICULTURAL STATION 

The discovery of the plateau : The proposed sanatorium : Foundation 
of the Agricultural Station : Temperate and tropical fruits and 
flowers : Cattle-breeding : The Mois as farm labourers : Moi 
slaves : Their hatred of the Annamese : Wages paid in kind : 
Good-bye to the Station : Visit to a Moi village : Hospitality of 
Moi women towards their sex : Arrival at Dran : An adventurous 
ride : An incident on the homeward drive Pp. 233-243 



CHAPTER XVII 
A TIGER HUNT 

A tiger seen on the Station : Surrounding his hiding-place, a clump of 
bamboos : A courageous dog : First sight of the monster : 
Wounded : Hunting him in the long grass : Escaped : Re- 
appearance at the house itself : A night watch under a bridge : 
The tiger by moonlight : Killed at last Pp. 244-258 



CHAPTER XVIII 
THROUGH HINTER-ANNAM 

Preparations for our novel journey : The pholy of Dankia promises to 
accompany us : Scenery beyond the plateau : Difficulties of 
mountain and jungle paths : Our first night : Strange quarters : 
Cockroaches : A tremendous descent : Great welcome to a Moi 
village : The pholy's hut : Ternutn : Sleeping to an audience : A 
hasty departure : Mois' accurate shooting : Leeches : Crossing 
a river : Moi weavers : A narrow escape from a fight : The 
gradual extinction of the Moi race : Dankia again Pp. 259-275 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

To/ace 
page 

An Annamese Woman in her Home Costume Frontispiece 

An Annamese Woman with her Children in our Garden 12 

A Moi Woman with her Children 12 

Fishing Experts 34 

Fishing-boats in the River 34 

Bringing the Nets to Land 34 

A Novel Mode of Fishing 34 

Doctor Yersin's House 52 

The Verandah of the Pasteur Institute 52 

Logoun, the Brick -making Village 68 

The Return of the Fishing-boats 68 

Our Best Road in November 88 

On their Way to Market. The Baskets are carried like a Pair of 

Scales 88 

Ploughing under Water 88 

Primitive Method of Irrigation 88 

The Native Market 94 

The Market Flooded 94 

One of the Towers of the Tcham Temple at Nhatrang 102 

He balances himself on the Harrow by means of his Buffaloes' 

Tails 102 

One of the Tricks for flooding a Rice-field 102 

Women planting out the Rice 102 

Princess Thuyen Hoa outside her House 106 

ix b 



x ILLUSTRATIONS 

To/ace 
page 

At the Quan B6's House no 

The Quan Bo lent me his Official Robes no 

A Mandarin in his Garden 116 

Two Mandarins with their Household and Retainers 1 16 

The Tomb of a Village Notable 120 

An Annamese Tomb 126 

A Wedding Procession 134 

The Wedding Procession entering Bride's Garden 134 

A Highly Ornamental Pagoda Door 148 

A Sheltered Corner of the Bay 150 

Prisoners at Work on a Stone Dike 154 

Dancing 160 

A Sampan Race 160 

Types of Moi Men 166 

Annamese Actors 166 

Our Pet Deer begging for Bananas 176 

An Agave springing up 176 

Inside the Principal Tower of the Tcham Temple of Nhatrang 180 

The Market. The Central Figure is a Tcham Woman 186 

The Quan Bo's Elephant 192 

The Whole Village in our Wake 2 oo 

On the Edge of the Tropical Forest 200 

Resting the Stick props up the Burden 206 

A Picnic near some Falls 2 io 

Over the Langbian Plateau 212 

Our Convoy waiting to be paid 2x4 

The Village of Prenh 216 

Mois. Two Young Girls in Foreground 218 

A Sociable Gathering 233 

The Moi Lances have done their Work 222 



ILLUSTRATIONS xi 

To/ace 

A Funeral among the Savages 22^ 

In a Moi Village 224 

The Buffalo Sacrifice. The Moi Chief officiates dressed in 

Annamese Costume 228 

The Village Sorcerer 230 

Savages examine my Watch 230 

In Dankia Village 234 

Station Coolies 234 

A Fine Water-Buffalo 240 

Our Convoy emerging from the Forest 244 

A Dangerous Search in the Long Grass 250 

Bringing him through a Field of Maize 250 

The River near Suoigiau 256 

A well-made Moi Dwelling 264 

A Curious Staircase 264 



INTRODUCTION 

FRENCH Indo-China forms the Eastern side of the 
Indo-Chinese peninsula. It is bounded to the east 
and south by the China Sea, to the north by the 
Chinese Empire, to the west by Burmah and 
Siam. Its greatest rivers are the Mekong and 
the Red River, which form, at their mouth, alluvial 
lands and rich deltas where the Tonkinese have 
settled in the north, the Cochin-Chinese and Cam- 
bodians in the south. Between the valleys of the 
Mekong and Red River, extending over a distance 
of 1000 kilometres, stretches a chain of mountains, 
which proceeds from the Tibetan system by the 
Yunnan plateau. 

The "Annamitic Chain" expands in North Tonking, 
traverses Annam, where the highest peaks and largest 
plateaux (Tranninh, Langbian, 1500 metres) are to 
be found ; then dies down into the sea at Cap 
St. Jacques. 

The eastern coast-line is so near this mountain chain 
that the valleys of Annam are of small extent. Those 
of Song Ca and of Song Ma, in the rich provinces of 
Thanh-Hoa and Vinh, must be mentioned however, 
also those of Binh-Dinhand Quang-Nam. Finally, to 
the south, is the Song Cai, the river of Hue" and 
Tourane, and the Donai, which rises in the Langbian 
and forms one of the tributaries of the Saigon River. 



2 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

Indo-China, a country much greater in size than 
France, can be said to form a big capital J, of which 
Tonking forms the head, Cochin-China and Cambodia 
the tail, and Annam the trunk. The ancient Annamese 
were fond of representing their country by a pair of 
scales, the pans loaded with rice, Annam itself was the 
beam of the scales, not only from its geographical 
outline, but also on account of its relative poverty. 
The population of this country is estimated at five 
millions, whilst that of the remainder of Indo-China is 
about ten or twelve millions. 

The Annamese people the delta of the Red River, 
the lower valleys and the shores of the China Sea, and 
the lower delta of the Mekong. They form four-fifths 
of the population of the Indo-China of to-day, which 
moreover differs very little from the ancient empire of 
Annam. This included the present Annam, Tonking, 
and Cochin-China. The King of Cambodia was 
tributary. Laos and the mountainous hinterland of 
Annam were beyond its sway. 

The Cambodians ancient Khmers inhabit the 
upper delta of the Mekong and the country of the 
Great Lakes. The Thais extend over the upper 
reaches of the Mekong, and a fourth race, the Chams 
or Tchams, after having played an important part in 
the history of Indo-China, have been absorbed or 
dispersed. A few of them, however, are still to be 
found in villages in Phan-Rang and Phan-Tiet (South 
Annam) and at Chaudoc (Cochin-China). 

The Mois are the aboriginal people of Annam, 
whom later civilisations gradually drove towards the 
summit of the mountains, The Annamese call them 



INTRODUCTION 3 

Mois, the Cambodians Stiengs or Penongs, the Thais, 
Khas. 

The Chinese are naturally very numerous in Indo- 
China ; after many centuries they have acquired an 
exceptional position here, and gained the respectful 
title of " cai-chu " (uncles). 

In their dealings with the Annamese they are, as 
it best profits them, either discreetly or insolently 
superior. Except in Tonking, it is they who carry 
on all the small trade. They are unrivalled shop- 
keepers, devoted to their work, clever, honest, and 
very united among themselves. They do not cultivate 
rice-fields, but they monopolise the rice trade, building 
manufactories to shell the rice and chartering boats to 
export it. From the very first days of the European 
occupation they have made themselves indispensable 
as intermediaries between the white and yellow races. 
They have strengthened this position by monopolising 
all trade connected with gambling, opium, and alcohol. 
They are perhaps Indo-China's best colonists, and 
those who make the greatest profits. There can be 
no question of evicting them at present as the 
Americans have done in the Philippines (Chinese 
Exclusion Act). The French have simply tried to 
limit Chinese immigration by raising heavy taxes on 
the Celestials, so as to re-establish the equilibrium 
in favour of the Annamese. In Cochin-China, for 
instance, a Chinese from eighteen to forty-six years 
pays, first, a head-tax, which varies from four to four- 
hundred piastres, and secondly, a prestation tax of 
from two to fifty piastres a year. Every Chinese must 
belong to a " congregation," a sort of association which 



4 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

is responsible to the State for all its members civilly 
and pecuniarily. 

The climate of Indo-China is not the same every- 
where. While in Tonking and North Annam there 
is a real winter the temperature in Cambodia and 
Cochin-China is always hot and damp. The average 
temperature of Saigon is 30. 7 7, of Nhatrang 26. 79, 
and that of Haiphong 24. 79 Centigrade. The year 
is divided into two seasons : dry and wet, according to 
the monsoons (N.E. from October 15 to April 15, 
S.W. the rest of the year). 

The unity of Indo-China was realised by M. Doumer 
in 1898. The five States of the Union are : Tonking, 
Cochin-China, Annam, Cambodia, Laos. A new 
territory has been added : Quan-Tche"ou on the 
Lei Tche"ou peninsula, a little to the north of the 
Hainan Straits, ceded by China. The colonial union 
has thus been able to acquire a moral personality, 
permitting it to realise large loans and to carry out 
extensive public works. 

Annam proper is that long strip of country, 
more than 1000 kilometres in length, which unites 
Cochin-China to Tonking. The government is 
a Protectorate. The Emperor reigns at Hue" with 
the help of regents and of the Chief Council of the 
kingdom, the Comat. The " Resident Supe"rieur de 
France," at Hue, is president of the Comat and 
represents the protecting Power. The whole of the 
native administration is under the direct control of 
French officials. There are ten provinces in Annam. 
At the head of each is a Civil Service official, who 
takes the title of "Resident de France." The 



INTRODUCTION 5 

" Resident Supe"rieur " has the supreme authority 
over all the services. 

The revenue of Annam is about three million 
piastres. Each province has its own particular revenue, 
which varies, according to the importance of the 
population and the value of the land, from fifty to 
two hundred thousand piastres. 

With the exception of Hue" and Thanh-Hoa, the 
chief towns of Annam are on the coast. Starting from 
the south, one first reaches Phan-Tiet and Phan- 
Rang, then the magnificent port of Camranh, where 
the Russian fleet took shelter before the battle of 
Tsoushima. After Nhatrang, you pass Qui-Nhon and 
Tourane. Tourane is the only port with dockyards, 
between Saigon and Haiphong. It stretches along 
the left bank of the Song-Hau and joins the big 
Chinese town, Faifo. 

Hue" is the capital, and here it is that the manners 
and customs of the great mandarins are best preserved. 
The royal palaces, and especially the tombs, are most 
characteristic of Annamese architecture. 

In North Annam, Vinh and Than-Hoa are the two 
most important cities. 

The Annamese are descended from the Giao-Chi, 
once established in the south of China. Giao-Chi 
means separated big toe ; this is a peculiarity which the 
Annamese have not yet lost, and which enables them 
to use their big toe in a most skilful manner. The 
Giao-Chi may be traced back to the remotest antiquity. 
Nearly three thousand years before our era they occupied 
Yunnan, the Quan-Si, Quan Toung, and Tonking. 

A Chinese prince sent his son Loc Tuc to govern 



6 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

the Giao-Chi. It is the origin of the H6ng Bang 
dynasty, which reigned over those Qui (foreign devils) 
for more than two thousand years. It is only in 
the third century B.C. that we can emerge from this 
legendary period. 

At that time intestine struggles divided the Giao- 
Chi country into two parts : the Van- Lang to the 
people of the plain and deltas, the Thai to those of the 
hill-country. China seized this opportunity of estab- 
lishing a new Chinese dynasty. In the year in B.C. 
she conquered the country and kept it in subjection 
till A.D. 968. The Annamese were therefore governed 
by Chinese mandarins, who accustomed them to 
Chinese civilisation during more than a millennium. 
The literature and moral code of Confucius gave a 
definite shape to Annamese thought and religion. 
That their national spirit was still alive is proved from 
time to time in the repeated insurrections and heroic 
rebellions against their conquerors. From 39-36 B.C. 
an Annamese woman, after proclaiming the indepen- 
dence of her country, expelled the Chinese for a time, 
and reigned under the name of Tru'ng Vu'ong. 

But it was not till the middle of the tenth century 
that the foreigner was driven out and the first national 
dynasty established. The Dinh, then the L (first 
dynasty) were followed by the Ly, the Tran, and the 
Ho (968-1407), ephemeral dynasties which gave place 
in the end to a new Chinese occupation. Treated 
with unexampled severity, the Annamese rebelled, 
and once more became free. Their great deliverer 
was a poor Tonkinese fisherman, Le-Soi, who 
received a miraculous sword from the genii of the 



INTRODUCTION 7 

little lake at Hanoi. He was proclaimed king. This 
dynasty (second dynasty of the L6) occupied the 
throne till the end of the eighteenth century. 

Among the monarchs of this line Thanh -Tong 
must be specially mentioned as proving himself a 
clever ruler and great warrior. He formed the six 
Ministries of State, the mandarin hierarchy, reor- 
ganised the civil code, and did much to promote 
agriculture and public instruction. Placing himself at 
the head of an army of 260,000 men, he attacked the 
Chams in their capital and exterminated them. For 
fifteen centuries the Chams had inhabited the larger 
part of Annam proper. As the representatives of 
Hindoo civilisation, they have left remarkable monu- 
ments of their past glory. Only a few survivals now 
remain. This rapid extinction of a powerful and 
civilised race by the Annamese is a problem of the 
highest interest. 

The Mois, on the other hand, have survived the 
disturbances and revolutions of the country's history. 
Faraway in the remote mountainous regions of Annam 
they have retained their primitive habits. An incon- 
gruous collection of wretched tribes may there be 
found who have sacrificed everything to their love of 
freedom. At all events, they have succeeded in occu- 
pying an immense hinterland, the possession of which 
their neighbours did not find it worth while to dispute 
with them. 

In the beginning of the nineteenth century the 
Annamese had extended their rule over Tonking- 
Annam, and the whole territory of Cochin-China 
proper. Here they very naturally transformed the 



8 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

valleys and deltas into fertile rice-fields, but made the 
great mistake of neglecting the hill-country. For it 
can well be believed that a strong position in the 
mountains would have enabled them to defend them- 
selves and remain a free people. 

It was in the reign of Louis XVI. in 1787 that 
Annam for the first time came into contact with 
France. Gialong, of the dynasty of the Nguyen, had 
been desperately struggling to recover his crown, 
usurped by the three brothers Tay Son. Not suc- 
ceeding in this exploit, he followed the advice of the 
Bishop of Adran, and sent an embassy to France 
demanding protection. With the help of the French 
officers Olivier, Chaigneau, Vannier, and Dayot 
King Gialong reconquered all his lands. His suc- 
cessor, Ming-Mang, broke off all connection with 
Europe, in order to gain the support of China, from 
whom he accepted investiture. Tu-Duc made several 
attacks on the Christians, whom he massacred in great 
numbers with their European missionaries. The 
Spanish and French interfered, and Saigon was 
taken by Admiral Rigault de Genouilly in 1861. In 
the following year, Tu-Duc, finding himself besieged 
in his own capital, was obliged to give up Lower 
Cochin-China to France. The rest of Cochin-China 
became French territory in 1867. The King of 
Cambodia, Norodom, had placed himself under the 
protection of the French in 1863. The provinces of 
Angkor and Batambang have been lately given back 
by Siam, during the reign of Sisowah, in consequence of 
the happy negotiations of Lieutenant-Colonel Bernard. 

The conquest of Tonking required far greater 



INTRODUCTION 9 

efforts on the part of the French troops, because of 
Annam's alliance with China, and more especially 
because the politics of France were uncertain and 
confused. The French of the metropolis were them- 
selves opposed to it, and it was only through the 
genius and skill of Jules Ferry that this colony was 
added to the mother-country, one might almost say 
against her will. 

On two several occasions Tonking was taken and 
lost, first by Francis Gamier and then by Commandant 
Riviere. Both attempts, though extraordinarily auda- 
cious, failed through want of support at the right 
moment. A new start had to be made. Admiral 
Courbet directed the expedition. The French now 
had to face not only the Annamese, but numerous 
bands of pirates and the regular troops from the 
Chinese frontier provinces of the Quan Si and 
Yunnan. Some splendid feats of arms took place, 
the capture of Son-tay and Bac-Ninh, the battles of 
Bac-L and Kep, the defence of Tuyen-Quang 
by the Commander Domine" (1884-85). The cause 
appeared to be won. The army of the Yunnan was 
destroyed, that of Quan-Si had been driven beyond 
the frontier, and from the fort of Lang-Son the move- 
ments of the enemy could be carefully kept in view. 
At sea, after the bombardment of Fou-Tchou, 
Admiral Courbet received orders to take Formosa. 
He was unsuccessful, and had to be content with 
merely forming a blockade. Later he took the 
islands of Pescadores. China was on the point of 
coming to terms, when the panic of Lang-Son took 
place (March 28, 1885). It created considerable ex- 



io ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

citement in Paris : the Ferry Ministry fell. Tonking, 
in spite of all, was finally conquered ; a treaty with 
China recognised the sovereignty of France. 

The military operations in Annam, started by 
Admiral Courbet in 1883, had the following political 
results : Recognition of the French Protectorate, 
restoration of the control of the finances and 
customs, and the permanent occupation of the forts 
of Thuan-An and the lines of Vung-Khiona. After 
the settlement of Tonking, the French wished to 
consolidate their position in Annam. General de 
Courcy entrenched himself in the citadel of Hue". 
There he was suddenly attacked by superior numbers, 
but put them to rout (July 1885). The King of 
.Annam, Nam Nghi, who had escaped from Hue", was 
deposed and replaced by Dong- Khan, whose name 
means " Union of the Two Nations." One of the 
regents had been captured and sent into captivity, 
the other followed the fortunes of the King Nam- 
Nghi, who had been driven into the Moi country. 
Thus there were two Kings in Annam, and two large 
factions. The Christians, suspected of friendliness to 
the foreigner, were massacred by the orders of Nam- 
Nghi to the number of 20,000. The question of 
Tonking- Annam, which had caused the fall of the Ferry 
Ministry, was brought once more before the French 
Parliament. It was only by a majority of four votes 
that it was decided not to relinquish it. 

A short time after Paul Bert was appointed 
Governor. He died at his task. His successors, 
Constans, Richaud, Picquet, de Lanessan, and Rous- 
seau, effected the pacification of the country and its 



INTRODUCTION 11 

reorganisation. During the five years in which 
M. Paul Doumer (1897-1902) held office, the union 
of Indo-China was accomplished, and the era of 
great public works and railroads was inaugurated. 
M. Beau, then M. Klobukowski (1908), succeeded him. 
Annam has lately been disturbed by one or two 
small rebellions. 

The King Than Thai, who had been chosen by 
the French on the death of Dong-Khan, was deposed. 
One of his sons, aged eight years, now reigns over 
the Annamese under the name of Jy-Su. 



CHAPTER I 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF FRENCH INDO-CHINA 

The send-off of our English and French friends : 
Arrival at Cap St. Jacques : First glimpse of the 
Annamese : Saigon : Adventurous driving : Le tour 
^inspection : Public buildings and native dwellings : 
My first evening in the Tropics : European life in 
Saigon : Cholen : A crowded native thoroughfare 

A FEW weeks after our marriage we got marching 
orders for Annam. This did not surprise us, for the 
natural fate of a French army doctor is a French 
colony. We were only too pleased that our destina- 
tion was Annam rather than Martinique or Timbuktu ! 
My husband had been offered a post by Dr. Roux 
at the Pasteur Institute of Nhatrang, and preferring 
bacteriology to other medical work, he accepted it 
gladly. 

I had never heard of Annam up till then, but it 
was reassuring to learn that our bungalow was all 
ready for us on the coast in a picturesque country 
amidst an interesting population. 

My family indeed was rather taken aback at the 
thought of our departure for such a distant, and to 
them unknown land, but nevertheless they looked on 
the bright side of things, while some of the inexperi- 
enced members even envied the novelty of my new 

12 





S O 

i 5 



13 

existence and the adventures we were likely to 
encounter. And this was perhaps the attitude of 
the greater proportion of our English friends. 
The love of adventure is still a strong national 
characteristic. 

All this encouraging interest and sympathy enabled 
one to leave England with a fairly light heart. But 
what a different send-off we received from our friends 
in Paris! Though evidently proud of their largest 
and wealthiest colony, any allusion to our approach- 
ing sojourn out there was greeted with unconcealed 
looks and words of pity. One and all thanked 
Providence that their duty did not call them beyond 
the confines of their own country. Those whose 
acquaintance with Annam led me to expect ex- 
citing stories of exploration and vivid descriptions 
of the life and scenery limited themselves to the 
remark that perhaps we should not find the life as 
bad as we expected. The attitude was most dis- 
concerting. 

Even the doctors of the Paris Pasteur Institute, 
who with their wives came to bid us good-bye at the 
Gare de Lyon, took leave as if they might never see 
us again. Had not the wish to travel and to try new 
experiences in the East been very keen, my courage 
would assuredly have ebbed away. 

Indeed, as the train glided out of the station and 
we settled down for the night, I found that the re- 
marks on the platform had not been without effect, 
and began to shiver with nervousness and apprehen- 
sion as to what might be in store for us. I pictured 
disasters and calamities of every description, and a 



14 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

shudder went through me when I realised that there 
was no going back and that every minute was taking 
us farther into the vast unknown. I comforted myself 
with the recollection that the greatest drawback for 
a woman in such isolated spots as we were going 
to, is the difficulty, or even the impossibility, of 
obtaining the help of a doctor, but I was taking mine 
with me ! I resolved to trouble no more, and let the 
shaking whirling train act on my brain as well as on 
my body, and in the consequent confusion of ideas I 
fell asleep. 

The sun was pouring in at the carriage window 
when I woke the next morning ; 1 was only just dressed 
when the train came to a standstill in Marseilles. 

We spent that day hard at work shopping, no 
time to drive up to "Notre Dame de la Garde," 
whose tall spire is associated in the minds of all 
travellers with their last thoughts of home ; no 
time to linger on the dirty but picturesque quays with 
their cosmopolitan crowd of idlers, and early the next 
morning we sailed. 

Some colonial friends of my husband, who had just 
returned from Indo-China, came on board to see us 
off. These fortunately cheered us up by declaring 
that Nhatrang was the prettiest and healthiest spot in 
Annam. 

We met some delightful people, both French and 
English, on the Salazie, and time and opportunity 
were not wanting to discuss the merits and character- 
istics of the two nations. The arguments were often 
long and lively, and in our peculiar position of French 
husband and English wife we received on board the 



FRENCH INDOCHINA 15 

nickname of " entente cordiale." We were often cited 
as typical examples or called upon as umpires. 

Though bridge and dancing help to make the days 
go quickly, the first glimpse of the East, as seen 
during the few hours spent at Port Said, Djibouti, and 
Colombo, are so impressive that before Singapore 
is reached, one feels as if one had been travelling a 
lifetime. After passing Singapore with its luxuriant 
vegetation, its crowded Chinese quarters, and its 
sampan-filled canals, we began to be impatient to see 
our new country, and to compare Saigon, the most 
important port of Cochin-China, with the English 
colonial towns we had visited on our way. And yet I 
was sorry that the journey was nearing its end, for we 
should probably meet none of our fellow-passengers 
again ; and many of them, after this month's intimacy, 
were quite old friends. Still "en avant " was the 
predominant feeling, and we did not stop to indulge 
in vain regrets. 

With the beautiful harbours of Colombo and Singa- 
pore still fresh in our memory, the prospect, when at 
Cap St. Jacques we left the open sea and turned into 
the Saigon River, was very disappointing. With the 
exception of this lofty ridge, which is used by the 
Europeans of Saigon as a health resort, a monotonous 
and absolutely flat stretch of country lies between the 
ocean and the town. As far as the eye can see on either 
side, there is no rising ground, and the long grass and 
water palms on the banks of the river are covered with 
mud. It is a dreary picture, and I therefore prepared 
myself for disappointment when Saigon should be 
reached, We could, owing to the flat surface, already 



16 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

see the spires of the cathedral when we were still a long 
way off, and they appeared first at the stern of the 
boat, then at the bow, with the windings of the river. 
The moist heat rising from all the dank vegetation on 
the river banks was more trying than the higher tem- 
perature of Singapore, and did not serve to cheer us 
greatly. Impatient as we were, we could not fail to be 
distracted by the sampans which were moving up and 
down the river. Many had their huge cocoa-palm-fibre 
sails up, and in spite of a very light breeze they moved 
quickly. They are flat-bottomed, and are managed 
almost entirely by their rudders, which go deep into 
the water. This rudder is manipulated by a native 
squatting at the end of the boat. He holds it under 
his armpit, and bends to right or left as he steers. The 
sampans moving up the river were mostly of medium 
size, and were rowed by Annamese. They row stand- 
ing, and are bent nearly double as they press forward 
their big and heavy oars. I was much surprised when 
I discovered that many of these rowers were not men 
but women, so alike are they in appearance and dress. 
Indeed, it was only after I had been several weeks in 
Annam that I was able to distinguish one sex from the 
other. Both men and women wear trousers and long 
tunics, and twist up their coarse black hair into a 
chignon. The figure is concealed by the long tunic, 
and the fact that the women's chignon is higher up on 
the head than that of the men, and that their tunics are 
longer, does not immediately strike the eye. The 
height of the men seldom exceeds i m. 60, and the 
women are slightly shorter. But in spite of their small 
stature and rather frail appearance, they wield their 



FRENCH INDOCHINA 17 

heavy oars with ease and grace, and their swaying, 
well-balanced movements are pleasing to watch. 

As we moved forward, the increasing number of the 
sampans warned us that we were approaching the 
town, and at last even the Colonials on board, who 
were familiar with these tortuous channels, began to 
break up their bridge parties and the ladies to put 
away their needlework. Suddenly, without warning, 
we found ourselves nearing a quay on which stood a 
white-dressed crowd. What a different reception from 
anything I had imagined ! From my late experiences 
of other Eastern ports, I had merely anticipated the 
usual crowd of sampans rushing out of nowhere, 
anxious to sell their wares, but nothing further. Here, 
however, the arrival of a French steamer seemed to 
be an event, and all Saigon had turned out to welcome 
her. Some expected friends, others came in the hope 
of meeting acquaintances or as mere spectators. One 
was reminded of a fashionable garden-party, for the 
dresses and equipages were worthy of Paris itself. 

The reason of the interest was not far to seek : at 
least two-thirds of the passengers on board were 
French officials destined for service in Indo-China. 
Still, the greater part of the spectators had come, we 
found, merely because it was the recognised thing in 
Saigon to do. We ourselves were not expecting to 
meet any one, and while my husband busied himself 
in having all our luggage transferred to the boat which 
was to take us to Nhatrang in two days' time, I was at 
liberty to watch the animated scene from the deck 
railing. Not only passengers, but sailors and waiters, 
seemed to find some chum, and the greetings, hand- 



1 8 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

shakings and kisses of every degree of warmth, were 
most amusing to watch. Many ladies remained in 
their carriages, but so surrounded were they by one 
group of admirers after another, that it was but seldom 
one could catch a glimpse of their elegant Parisian 
toilettes. 

Distracted by all this finery, I failed at first to 
notice any natives, but at last I was able to distinguish 
dark forms slipping in and out among the clusters of 
Europeans, and running lithely to and fro from the 
boat. I remarked that if by chance one of them hap- 
pened to be on the ship's ladder as a European went 
down it, he crouched down and flattened himself 
against the ship's side so effectually that he really 
blotted himself from view. 

But now, when my husband joined me on deck, my 
curiosity concerning the natives was satisfied, for he was 
followed by five or six Annamese and Chinese. They 
were all tailors, anxious to make him white clothes. The 
Annamese were rather smaller than the Chinese, and of 
a darker complexion. Their lips were red-brown and 
swollen with chewing the betel, and their black lacquered 
teeth made their mouths repulsive. Indeed, I found 
them most unprepossessing in appearance. It was truly 
astonishing to learn that such slight-looking men were 
capable of even greater endurance than our own 
powerful-looking, vigorous countrymen. They will 
row sampans for twenty-four hours at a stretch, only 
stopping for an occasional light meal of rice, or they 
will run with a rickshaw containing a European twice 
their size, for two hours, often covering thirty kilo- 
metres in that time. 



FRENCH INDOCHINA 19 

But to return to the tailors now standing before us. 
One and all promised vociferously to have a dozen 
white suits ready in the next twenty-four hours if 
necessary. For the sake of peace, my husband ordered 
three from the most importunate of the band, though, 
in truth, he was already amply provided. 

When we at length descended the ship's side and 
made our way across the quay, the crowd had begun 
to disperse, having mostly started on the so-called 
tour c inspection, which is the favourite evening 
promenade. 

Having left our luggage at the Pasteur Institute, 
where we were to spend the night, we decided to 
follow their example, and my husband beckoned for 
a conveyance. By this time there were none but 
covered malabars* left, and when one of these queer 
little vehicles drove up, I declared that there was not 
room for two full-grown people (Europeans) inside. 
However, we managed to squash into the tiny wooden 
box with its square holes for windows, and told the 
driver our destination. At first I thought that he had 
not understood, for we continued to stand stock-still. 
Then began a struggle for mastery. The native sai's f 
beat the ponies, pulled at the reins, made queer sounds, 
whether of cajolement or threats I could not tell, but 
nothing was of the slightest avail. The animals only 
set their feet wider apart and took on a still more 

* Malabar was the term for any Indian in Indo-China ; now it is 
also used for the closed carriage driven originally by these Indians. 
This small box-like vehicle on four wheels is the favourite carriage 
of the Annamese. 

f Sai's, coachman ; the name that the French have given to the 
native driver. 



20 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

obstinate air then began to back. It was small 
comfort to be told by my husband that this was a quite 
ordinary occurrence with native ponies, and that I 
should see many similar proceedings in the streets 
before evening, for we were backing slowly but surely 
on to a smart pair of horses harnessed to a neat 
little victoria. The two children sitting inside with 
their native nurse had apparently not noticed, and as 
for their driver, he watched impassively till the side 
of our malabar actually touched his horses' noses. 
Then he yelled out something, our sai's yelled some- 
thing back, until finally two soldiers passing by came 
to the rescue, dragging our recalcitrant ponies a little 
way up the road. Then they suddenly dashed forward, 
nearly upsetting the soldiers, and clattered at full speed 
up the street. The sai's never tried to control them, 
rather he seemed to urge them on, glad to cover as 
much ground as possible while they were in that mood. 
Owing to his adroit steering and blood-curdling yells 
to passers-by, we had no accident, though we galloped 
through groups of natives squatting on the ground in 
the middle of the road, and whisked round corners 
without slackening our pace. We stopped once 
abruptly, all our harness having come to pieces, but as 
it was already mostly tied with string it did not take 
long to put it together again. Fortunately we had 
only to hold out for another ten minutes. 

We found a bedroom prepared for us at the Institute, 
and after a hasty glance at the mosquito curtain (I 
learnt that, in future, that would be the most important 
piece of furniture in a house) we started out again. 
This time the Director lent us his own victoria, and 



FRENCH INDOCHINA 21 

we were able to look about us instead of fixing anxious 
eyes on a horse's ears and wondering how long we 
still had to live. 

Saigon is the capital of Cochin-China ; together with 
Cholen it is the largest town of Indo-China, containing 
over 130,000 inhabitants. 

The tour (f inspection took us down the chief 
streets, through the Botanical Gardens and round one 
of the prettiest districts in the neighbourhood. We 
were charmed with all we saw. Saigon is the Paris 
of the East. Manilla, which the Americans call " the 
Pearl of the Orient," may be more sanitary and show 
greater commercial activity, but it is neither so pretty 
nor so attractive as Saigon. 

The town is well laid out on broad and artistic 
lines. The public buildings, such as the Cathedral, 
the theatre, and the Governor's Palace, are chefs- 
d'ceuvre of architecture, and are set off to advantage 
by their position at the end of some broad avenue or 
grass-covered square. The wide and admirably kept 
streets, with trees planted on either side to give a 
welcome shade, are a striking feature of Saigon. 

There is a conspicuous absence of Annamese 
buildings, whether pagodas, towers, or gates, though 
the town was a native centre long before the French 
arrived. In this it contrasts greatly with Hanoi, where 
native monuments abound, and with Hu6, famous for 
its tombs of the kings and royal palace. On the 
other hand, we have here palatial European residences, 
built apparently regardless of cost. Everywhere an 
atmosphere of lavishness and luxury prevails. 

In imitation of the French capital, the cafe's over- 



22 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

flow into the roads, and the little tables and chairs 
outside hotel and restaurant are never long unoccupied. 
Just as the Englishman's instinct is to make a tennis 
court, a polo ground or a golf links in the colonial 
post where fate may happen to call him, the " gais 
Parisiens," according to their national custom, love to 
sit and drink, laugh, and talk, and watch the passers- 
by, as on one of the Paris boulevards. And here 
they are on the broad pavement in the Rue Catinat in 
Saigon. 

The Botanical Gardens are neither so large nor so 
varied in their collection of animals and plants as 
those of Singapore, but they are pretty and easier of 
access. 

One of the roads along which we drove was planted 
with " flamboyants " (flame of the forest), at that 
moment in full bloom. It was a veritable blaze of 
colour ; such brilliancy is beyond the imagination of 
anybody who has never been in the Tropics, masses 
and masses of red poppies would be pale by com- 
parison. It was during that drive too that I made my 
first acquaintance with the tall cocoa-palm, the graceful 
bamboo and other tropical plants. When I saw 
their luxuriant growth my mind rushed back to the 
picture-books of my childhood, which had painted just 
such a profusion of vegetation. Far truer had they 
been than the caricatures of tropical plants which, 
seen later in conservatories, had proved so dis- 
appointing. Every leaf of the green foliage was 
quivering with life, and the love of light and heat was 
distinctly apparent. 

But the natives on the road demanded our con- 



FRENCH INDO-CHINA 23 

tinual attention. The majority of them were returning 
home to a neighbouring village outside Saigon, after 
their day's work. Amongst them we saw interpreters 
with their hair cut short, wearing black turbans 
arranged in absolutely equal folds around their heads, 
black tunics, white linen trousers, and European 
shoes and socks. It is a curious fact that the boots of 
the Annamese, if they wear them at all, invariably look 
quite new, as though they had just come from the 
shop, and are also of the latest fashion. 

Then there were the nha qut (peasants) in blue 
tunics, often so patched that there was scarcely any of 
the original blue left, and dirty unbleached linen 
trousers. These walked along the side of the road 
one behind the other. They were bare-footed, or if 
occasionally one was the proud possessor of a pair of 
Chinese heelless shoes, he carried them in his hand. 
In the other hand he often had an umbrella, and even 
when the sun had long disappeared, it was still care- 
fully held up. The idea of a solitary individual 
walking solemnly along in the semi-darkness with his 
umbrella still above his head has never ceased to 
amuse me. Instead of a turban, these coolies had a 
handkerchief or dirty rag rolled carelessly around the 
head, showing an untidy chignon below. 

The women, like the men, never walked two 
abreast ; we met little groups of five or six 
hurrying homewards from some distant market. They 
carried their round baskets of plaited cane suspended 
to a bamboo over one shoulder, and in spite of the 
weight being all on one side of the body, they kept up 
a swinging gait. The free arm, bent sharp at the 



24 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

elbow, swung vigorously to and fro to balance the load 
on the other side. In order to change the bamboo 
from one shoulder to the other, they slackened their 
pace, bent the head forward, and slid it over the back 
of the neck. I rarely saw a woman place her burden 
on the ground and pick it up again. 

Native women of the richer class dashed past in 
rickshaws, some with a bright silk handkerchief tied 
under the chin, others whose chignon, adorned by 
native jewellery or pierced by a silver dagger, was too 
elaborate to permit of any head-dress. 

As the last glimmers of sunset shot obliquely from 
the west, the little family groups of Annamese 
assembled outside their huts, and, squatting round 
bowls of fish and rice, partook of their evening meal. 
In cases where all was not ready and the mother was 
busy in its preparation, the father, or even the grand- 
father, was to be seen taking care of the children, 
rocking them in his arms or singing to them. The 
dim light lent poetry and glamour to the little circle. 

With the coming darkness, the altars to Buddha 
inside the huts were lighted up, the rude sculptures or 
highly coloured pictures representing their deity being 
clearly distinguishable from the road. Bright specks 
of light in front of the images showed that tapers were 
burning, sending up fumes which were to give efficacy 
to the prayers of the inmates. Occasionally the 
incense was wafted across the road, and the scent 
mingling with all the other strange and attractive per- 
fumes of a tropical evening added to the pervading 
feeling of enchantment. Little by little the family 
groups broke up and disappeared within. Here we 



FRENCH INDOCHINA 25 

perceived a child rolling himself up in a mat for the 
night, just his top -knot of hair protruding from one 
side of it and his bare feet from the other, there we 
distinguished the faint outline of a woman swinging in 
a hammock, her baby in her arms. Finally, the man 
squatting at the door of the hut, smoking his last 
cigarette, would rise, remove the two bamboo poles 
which raised the door upwards and outwards during 
the day, and fasten it down. Thus in home after 
home silence reigned, except for the crying of a baby 
or the crooning of its mother. The darkness was 
now complete and I felt as if I was lost in some 
unknown world. It was a relief to drive back into 
one of the brilliantly lighted streets of Saigon. 

We dined on the terrace of the Continental Hotel 
in the middle of the town, and though the dinner-hour 
was long past, many tables laden with liqueurs and 
cool drinks were still occupied. The street below was 
silent, though by no means deserted, for the rickshaws 
with their pneumatic tyres and the bare-footed coolies 
made no sound on the smooth surface. The silence 
was broken only by the orders shouted out to the 
Annamese waiters or the rickshaw coolies, and by the 
greetings or farewells of friends as they came or went. 

There were all sorts and conditions of men, from 
the official playing cards or criticising the Govern- 
ment, to strangers like ourselves. But by far the 
greater number were residents of Saigon. These 
entered the hotel as if it belonged to them, moving 
about and talking with a lack of reserve which bordered 
on the insolent. They evidently lived far more in 
such public resorts than in their own homes, and as 



26 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

they lolled at a table or loitered outside in the street, 
they coolly stared the passers-by out of countenance. 
They were men and women who from the moment 
they had set foot in the colony had thrown themselves 
into the spirit of the not too moral town. Freed from 
the restraints of a more conventional life at home, they 
had taken full advantage of the greater liberty of the 
Tropics, flinging themselves headlong into all the 
pleasures to be found there, learning indolence and 
extravagance, and heedless of any effort at self- 
control. 

A little later, as we sped swiftly and silently back to 
the Institute, we saw the streets which in the daytime 
had been so full of light and colour under a new aspect. 
The trees were dark and black overhead and almost 
entirely shut out the moon and stars. The electric 
lights under the arch of branches sent fantastic shadows 
flying backwards and forwards, and shone on the per- 
spiring backs of our rickshaw coolies, changing their 
dark skin to a gleaming white. During this short 
ride, thinking over the events of the day, I felt 
instinctively relieved, in spite of all the fascinations of 
this town, that our destination was only a modest 
little village beside the sea. 

The next morning, my husband being engaged at 
the military hospital, Dr. Noc, the Director of the 
Institute, took some of the English passengers of our 
boat, myself among the number, through the various 
laboratories. We were shown the bacillus of plague, 
the skulls of rabid dogs, the room where hydrophobia 
is treated, and above all we witnessed the interesting 
sight of the extraction of venom from a poisonous 



FRENCH INDOCHINA 27 

serpent. Dr. Noc performed the operation with much 
skill, but it was a very dangerous task and one would 
not desire to see it repeated. Calmette discovered 
here his serum against snake-bites, by which so many 
lives are now saved in all tropical countries. 

We had intended doing some shopping after lunch, 
but found that all shops, banks, and business offices 
were closed between 1 1 A.M. and 2 P.M. This custom 
must be a great pecuniary loss to the town and is 
most inconvenient for those people who do not live in 
the immediate neighbourhood. It also entails much 
hardship on all shop assistants and clerks, who cannot 
for this reason leave their work before six or seven in 
the evening, when it is almost dark. Thus the day is 
ended without exercise or sufficient open air. It is 
true that the French in general do not care for exercise 
in the form of games, and the small section who play 
them, do so rather for the sake of health than out of 
enthusiasm. Moreover, the day's arrangement pre- 
cludes even riding and shooting, and the free Saturday 
afternoon does not exist. The cause of the long siesta 
comes from the French habit of eatingnothing for break- 
fast, which necessitates a big midday meal, after which 
in a ho.t climate one is indisposed for immediate work. 

Directly after dinner on our second evening in 
Saigon we started to explore Cholen, the Chinese 
quarter of the town. As we approached it the streets 
began to get more and more crowded, and when we 
stepped out of the carriage into one of the central 
squares the mass of hurrying pedestrians was quite a 
wonderful sight. In Cholen, as in Canton and other 
Chinese cities, there is but little change between day 



28 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

and night ; work goes on almost without intermission. 
At the moment of our arrival every Chinese merchant 
was in the act of establishing a table or booth outside 
his shop, and as he called out his wares and rattled 
his drum there never seemed any lack of customers. 
An ever-flowing stream of Chinese advanced in either 
direction, the fat and comfortable-looking " Hausfrau " 
with her basket, into which she popped one disgusting- 
looking tart or sausage after another, the ragged 
coolie still covered with the paddy husks in which he 
had been working, or sometimes a whole Chinese 
family father and mother and five or six very young 
children. In the case of numerous families like these, 
the two youngest were carried by the parents, while 
the others clung to their flowing tunics or wide 
trousers, and were continually tumbled over by other 
passers-by as they were dragged along. Then there 
were occasionally rich mandarins walking along singly 
or in groups, who simply glanced here and there at 
the booths but never stopped to buy anything. Their 
gorgeous tunics and silk trousers, their red-tasselled 
satin toques, their richly ornamented slippers and long 
well-groomed pigtails, often interwoven with a silken 
cord, mark them as a distinct class, far removed from 
their poorer compatriots. They move too in a leisurely 
manner, in striking contrast to the busy rushing crowd. 
There was very little bargaining round the booths, 
the main object apparently being to "get on," and not 
a minute was lost in useless chatter. The streets 
were by no means silent however, for a continual low 
hum was distinguishable beneath the shouts of the 
salesmen. The Chinese are by nature great bargainers, 



FRENCH INDO-CHINA 29 

but in a foreign country they seem to practise their 
skill in this respect on the natives rather than on 
their own fellow-countrymen, who have come there 
with the same aim as themselves. The hope of all is 
to gain enough to return to their Fatherland and to 
pass their last days in comfort. 

The booths were illuminated by globe-covered 
candles and Chinese lamps, on the chimneys of which 
little papers were fixed to protect the flame from the 
gusts of wind. This rather feeble light was improved 
by the big isinglass lanterns swinging over the shop 
doors. Most pedestrians carried a similar small one 
in their hands. 

The stalls were chiefly laid out with articles for 
human consumption. We should have been ignorant 
of their nature, had not undeniable proof been fur- 
nished by the way the purchases were tried and tasted 
on the spot, and by the eager eyes and pleading 
whispers of the children as they pointed to some 
highly coloured dainty. There were heads of rabbits, 
feet of chickens, big jars of fruit in rainbow-tinted 
syrup, vegetables which were touched and examined 
by every passer-by, dog-meat sausages, and other 
obnoxious-looking things hanging from strings just 
above the table, about which I thought it safer to ask 
no questions. It was impossible to see whether they 
were animal, vegetable, or mineral. The smells at 
some of these tables, moreover, were most unpleasant. 
Cakes, jellies, and patties were also abundant, but in 
spite of the large choice I could not conquer my 
repugnance sufficiently to bring myself to purchase 
anything. The Chinese, however, evidently had no 



30 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

such reluctance again and again, as fast as the owner 
of a stall could replenish the dish from the store under 
the table, the contents were seized and devoured. At 
last I thought I really had made a discovery of some- 
thing fairly safe to eat some pancakes turned out 
before my eyes and untouched by dirty hands ; before 
venturing to taste one, however, I cautiously peeped 
inside the bowl from which the mixture was taken 
ugh ! the sight of some of the ingredients made me 
quickly change my mind. 

Walking along the roads soon tired us, so difficult 
was it to avoid being jostled against the moving 
crowd, one and all of whom seemed bent on some 
purpose which admitted no delay. And space was 
limited, for the streets were more than half taken up 
with stalls and barrows. Yet by comparison with the 
narrow tortuous alleys of Canton, which I have seen 
since, Cholen comes back to me as a well-ordered, 
hygienic, Chinese centre. In the former town it is 
impossible to go in a rickshaw, as the streets are 
barely a yard and a half wide; even in a chair the 
difficulties are great, for, in spite of all the yells of the 
bearers, many a passer-by carrying a heavy load has 
a narrow escape of a fall in an unavoidable collision. 
The abominable stinks rising from the pools of 
stagnant water, the lack of light and air caused by the 
roofs almost meeting overhead, as well as the much 
denser crowd, make a stroll on foot such as we were 
taking in Cholen quite out of the question. 

When tired of walking we went into the Chinese 
theatre. We had no interpreter, so could not gather 
up the threads of the story, but were told that it was 



FRENCH INDO-CHINA 31 

the third day of the piece, and that the final scene 
was eagerly expected. 

By the time we once more found ourselves in the 
street it was nearly midnight, but notwithstanding the 
hour we made a hurried visit to a hardwood furniture 
and silk shop. I found it difficult to admire the 
famous furniture : it was too dark, solid, and heavy ; 
even with cushions one could hardly imagine oneself 
comfortable in such chairs, There was no display of 
silk, and it needed persuasion before a merchant would 
divest each roll of its paper wrappings and spread it out. 
Chinese often seem to dislike parting with their wares 
at any rate they show them off most reluctantly ; 
how different from our European salesmen, who dis- 
play goods of every shade and colour, both to tempt 
you and help you in your choice ! 

After a lovely drive back to Saigon, the cool night 
air fanning our faces, we reached the local steamer, 
which was due to sail in half an hour. Though we 
were tired out we decided to sit on deck till we should 
have started, for we were loath to shut ourselves up in 
a cabin. After the bustle and clamour of Cholen, the 
calm of the starry night, the noiseless movements of 
the broad river, were most welcome. Near by the 
outline of the quays could be distinguished by the 
electric globes, and farther up the river little lights 
shot out from the port-holes of a warship, making it 
look like some fiery monster. The sampans, so active 
in the day, were now tied together in even lines here 
and there against the banks. Some of them still had 
their fires alight, and occasionally we perceived a 
native, lantern in hand, walking across the attrap 



32 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

roofs of the sampans, jumping lightly from one to the 
other till his own was reached. Not a breath in the 
air, all Nature seemed wrapped in meditation, and 
only from time to time the plaintive notes of a belated 
Annamese, whose boat drifted slowly down the stream, 
broke the stillness of the night. 



CHAPTER II 

LIFE IN AN ANNAMESE FISHING VILLAGE 

Miseries of a coast steamer : An ungraceful landing : 
Nhatrang : The native village : Fishing tactics : Our 
new home : Choosing native servants : Beginning of 
domestic worries : Fight with insects, damp, mould, 
native habits, &c. : Catering of native cook : The mar- 
ket : My neighbour's pigeons : Cooking practices : Daily 
routine 

As the steamer pushed off from the quay at Saigon 
we left our quiet nook on the upper deck, more than 
ready for a good night's rest. Slumber, however, was 
not so easily gained. Before we attempted to undress 
we spent a good hour chasing mosquitoes. The boat 
was unprovided with mosquito curtains, and, having 
been anchored in the Saigon River three days, she was 
swarming with these torments. The cabins, unlike those 
on the luxurious Salazie, were small and stuffy, and 
there was no electric fan. My husband thoughtfully 
hoisted two trunks on to my berth, and my mattress 
on the top of them, so that, being on a level with the 
port-hole, I should get more air. That my feet were 
then raised higher than my head was a trifling matter ; 
but it certainly was disappointing to find so little 
benefit from the new arrangement, for scarcely a breath 
came in from the port-hole after all, and my pillow was 

33 c 



34 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

soon wet with the perspiration running from my face 
and hair. The mosquitoes having collected again, it 
was necessary to keep one's arms under the sheet 
such a detail may seem of no account, but it is real 
agony to anybody encountering great heat for the first 
time. Having put cotton-wool in my ears to deaden, 
if possible, the vibration of the engines and the noise 
of the steering-chain, we settled down to rest. No 
sooner, however, were the lights put out than I heard 
a strange scratching noise on my pillow quite close to 
my face. We turned on the electric light a.gain, and 
saw a huge black-brown beetle about the size of my 
thumb. With a shriek, I had tumbled off berth, boxes, 
and all on to the floor. A hunt was instigated, and 
we discovered not one but many more. The creatures, 
besides being repulsive, were very agile ; they ran up 
the curtains and into impossible cracks under the bed, 
evading time after time our well-aimed blows, We 
had armed ourselves with slippers, but it was not often 
we succeeded in squashing our prey. For my part, I 
preferred missing, for the sight of the white oozy mass of 
the flatten ed-out creature on the sole of my slipper was 
so disgusting. We soon found that as soon as one was 
despatched another appeared, and that we were 
engaged on an endless task. 

It seems a silly thing for a woman to have to 
confess, but so overwrought was I with fatigue, 
heat, want of sleep, noise, and these obnoxious 
insects, that I lay down and indulged in a thorough 
good cry like a child. This somewhat relieved 
my feelings, and at last I fell asleep. No not 
quite though, for just as kind drowsiness was making 





FISHING EXPERTS 



FISHI1 1 G-EOATS IN 'HIE K1VER 





BRINGING THE NETS TO LAND 



A NOVEL MODE OK KISHING 



AN ANNAMESE FISHING VILLAGE 35 

me forget all my miseries, I was roused by a new noise 
above my head chairs were apparently being hurled 
about the deck and received a douche of cold dirty 
water, with which I discovered the sailors were swab- 
bing down the deck. I called out to my husband, but 
he was already asleep, and I had not the heart to wake 
him. In spite of damp and dirt, therefore, I lay still, 
feeling quite unable to do anything for myself. Per- 
haps it was as well, for my damp clothes must have 
refreshed me ; for at any rate, in spite of the extra 
noise, I fell sound asleep at last. 

Our steamer was almost as unpleasant by day as by 
night, the accommodation being so small ; one bath- 
room had to serve for the ladies, we were packed 
like sardines for meals, and there was no room to walk 
up and down on the deck outside. 

We decided to spend the next night on deck instead 
of in our cabin, so soon after dinner we fetched our 
mattresses and installed them in a corner where there 
was little noise and a good breeze. We slept soundly 
and felt entirely refreshed when we woke up after nine 
hours of oblivion. 

It was about five o'clock when I raised myself and 
gazed around. A most glorious scene lay before me. 
I have never forgotten the enchantment of that 
awakening, the delight with which I realised that this 
was the environment of our future home. We had 
left the flat country of Saigon ; high hills and mountains 
rose on all sides, for the most part covered with dense 
forest. These looked dark and gloomy against the 
bright green grass, and stories of Annam's tigers and 
the mysteries of the jungle rushed to my mind. No 



36 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

trace of humanity was visible ; the mountains stretched 
for miles and miles inland, one chain behind the other 
as far as the eye could see. The sun being still on 
the horizon, there were long dark shadows across the 
slopes, and the light had not lost the softness of the 
first hours of the day. The glare which mixes all the 
tints of green, blue, and purple into one hard tone was 
not yet apparent. What excursions might we not 
make into those silent woods ! Surely the discovery 
of new treasures and fresh delights awaited us ! Alto- 
gether ignorant of the difficulties of tropical jungle, I 
imagined exploration could be carried on along shady 
paths, with beautiful flowers and grassy spots on either 
hand, such as one finds in English forests. 

The water of the little bay which we were now 
entering danced and sparkled in the first rays of 
morning light ; the reflections, instead of being trying, 
as they would be later on in the day, had the warm 
azure blue tones of the Mediterranean. To our right 
was a large hilly island, the " He de TreV' which pro- 
tected the bay from the storms of the ocean; round 
about it were many other little green islets, which 
broke the monotony of the long line of sea horizon. 

While I was still gazing enraptured at this scene, a 
rolling, clanking sound warned us that the anchor was 
being dropped ; at the same moment my husband 
came on deck. He was as pleased as I was at the 
outlook, but the hard work entailed by packing had 
kept him all this time too hot and busy to enjoy it. 
I gave him my place and ran down to dress and do 
my share of packing. The last half-hour before 
leaving a ship for good is not pleasant to remember. 



AN ANNAMESE FISHING VILLAGE 37 

You cannot pack your trunk while it is under the berth, 
because there is no space to open the lid ; to pull it 
half-way out is no better ; to pull it right out leaves 
you no room to stand ; the small size of the cabin and 
the weight of the trunk make it very difficult to lift 
bodily on to the berth. Your conscience will not allow 
you to leave your things behind or push them through 
the port-hole, as you are tempted to do in the intoler- 
able heat and aggravation of the moment. 

By the time I got into the fresh air again our 
luggage had been hauled up on deck and was ready 
for landing. A boat was coming towards the ship 
from the little yellow beach, and we now faintly per- 
ceived, with the aid of glasses, a series of low huts 
like ant-hills, apparently built on the very edge of 
the sea. 

No natives in sampans surrounded us, trying to sell 
their fruit, eggs, and fish to passengers or crew, as is 
generally the case when a mailboat anchors in port. 
No women came screaming and gabbling to the ship's 
ladder with offers to take us ashore, All was as silent 
as in the open sea. On this particular occasion we 
were the only passengers to land. 

Soon the boat we had seen approaching came along- 
side, and M. Schein, the veterinary surgeon of the 
Pasteur Institute, introduced himself to us. Our lug- 
gage was let down into a junk to go to Nhatrang by 
sea, and we accompanied M. Schein to Cua-Be, from 
whence we should have a five-mile drive to our desti- 
nation. 

Cua-Be does not even boast of the few planks which 
act as a landing-stage in most fishing villages along 



38 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

the coast, and to get ashore we had to be carried on 
the backs of natives through the breakers. I was 
seized hold of by a man not much more than half my 
size or weight, and though he bore me with ease, I was 
very thankful to find myself once more on firm ground 
without having broken his back or taken an involuntary 
bath. 

As we struggled up the beach, sinking at every step 
into the now burning sand, all the village came out to 
watch us. From the low colourless huts proceeded 
grave, wrinkled old men, women with open eyes and 
mouths, and numbers of little naked children. Boys 
as well as girls, over the age of seven, carried, as a rule, 
a still younger brother or sister, not in their arms, but 
on one hip. These wee mites had often to contort 
themselves to one side in order to make their hips 
large enough to seat the baby, who was frequently not 
much smaller than his nurse. 

The village appeared much less well-to-do than the 
majority of those round Saigon. The squalid homes, 
the sores and ophthalmia of the natives, were a proof of 
misery and poverty, though their spirits did not seem 
much affected by their deplorable condition. 

The crowd did not venture too close at first, but 
when I held out my bag, twenty pairs of small 
hands were eagerly stretched forward, and it was carried 
in triumph up the beach. Soon all our belongings 
were seized, the very umbrella that protected me from 
the sun was snatched from me. The children were 
delighted with this new employment, and even those 
who were nearly blind screwed up their eyes and 
danced round as happily as the rest. But it was 



AN ANNAMESE FISHING VILLAGE 39 

pathetic to see them, and to realise the terrible results 
of ignorance. 

Two American cradle-carts were awaiting us at the 
top of the beach. This type of cart is the most useful 
for Annam, where the roads are often rough and little 
better than bullock-tracks. The carts are suspended 
on chains, so that instead of being jolted over every 
stone or rut, you are simply rocked from side to side. 
Their light weight enables the native ponies to drag 
them through long tracts, where the wheels sink deep 
into the mud or sand, and over plank and branch 
bridges which would scarcely bear a heavier vehicle. 
It is true that one never feels very safe in a cradle- 
cart, and I found it difficult to mount to the swinging 
platform and take my place firmly on the narrow seat. 
The ponies behaved no better than at Saigon, and 
before we reached Nhatrang I had discovered many of 
their tricks. 

Nhatrang (the white house) is a fishing village of 
about three thousand inhabitants. It is the European 
capital of the Province of Khanhoa, but the white 
colony does not number more than twenty or thirty 
persons. Besides the Resident and provincial officials, 
the staff of the Pasteur Institute, and two or three 
colonists, there are few permanent residents. The fort- 
nightly mail service brings a good many Europeans 
through the village, who stay a day or two before start- 
ing for the interior Government surveyors, agents of 
the Public Works Department and of the Customs, &c. 
There was little or no accommodation for travellers 
when we "arrived at Nhatrang, the " Hotel and Res- 
taurant," a broken-down bungalow kept by a Chinese, 



40 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

offering no attractions beyond the words on the 
board. 

Nhatrang is situated at the opening of a valley ; 
the land and sea breezes are permanent, r and cool 
the atmosphere even when the temperature is high. 
Good drinking-water is obtainable from wells, as 
it filters through successive layers of sand. So 
comparatively healthy is this spot, that my husband 
never yet attended a case of malaria or dysentery 
among the Europeans who remain constantly at the 
post. Those, however, who are obliged to go inland, 
even for a short time, often return suffering from one 
or the other, sometimes from both. The healthy 
condition of Nhatrang is due in great measure to the 
segregation of whites and natives ; the importance of 
this hygienic rule can never be too greatly emphasised 
in a tropical climate. 

The Europeans have built their bungalows along 
the shore, quite close to the sea, while the natives 
occupy the right bank of the river for a quarter of 
a mile inland and a strip of land between the sea 
and river. This strip of land forms a natural jetty 
and is a site much envied by the fishermen. But 
though it may be favourable for their trade, it is not 
so for permanent residence, for while the area of 
terra firmd varies, the population is ever increasing. 
Just at the present time this jetty is about half a 
kilometre long, twenty metres wide, and nevertheless 
contains over five hundred inhabitants. During the 
high tides of October and November, the sea often 
washes right over the ridge into the river, and many 
huts are carried away. This never deters the owners 



AN ANNAMESE FISHING VILLAGE 41 

from rebuilding ; they simply crowd into the huts left 
standing, and, as soon as the tides subside, start re- 
building on the old spot. The jetty runs to a point 
where the river joins the sea. Here there is a ferry, 
and numbers of natives, mostly women with their 
goods for the different markets, are continually being 
rowed to and fro at any time between sunrise and sun- 
set. It is amusing to watch the boat coming to land. 
The women squat at the bottom of the sampan, and 
only a jumble of hats and baskets is to be seen. As 
they lift their trousers and step gingerly into the water, 
they look hot after their efforts to extricate themselves 
and their goods. Half a dozen more women than the 
boat will really hold usually squash themselves in at the 
last moment before the start, in spite of the ferryman's 
feeble protest, which they drown in a storm of abuse. 
How can one poor man control so many women, 
especially women who have such shrill voices and 
extensive vocabularies as the Annamese ? All natives, 
both men and women, can swim, so that, although 
there may be many an unpremeditated bath, there is 
seldom any fatal accident. But woe to the ferryman 
who, by upsetting his boat, is the cause of their losing 
an orange or a few handfuls of rice ! 

The sandbank swarms with children ; dozens of little 
naked forms may always be seen lying at the edge of 
the water, or swimming and splashing in the warm 
sea. 

The village displays its greatest animation in the 
early afternoon, when the fishing-boats come home, 
Profiting by the land breeze which blows in the even- 
ing, the fishermen sail out to sea ; they fish all night 



42 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

with torches and nets, returning the next day by 
means of the sea breeze. There is always a plentiful 
supply of fish. As soon as the boats ground 
they are besieged by a chattering crowd of women, 
who wade into the water, and baskets upon baskets 
are rapidly rilled and carried away. It is not a rare 
thing for a shark to be caught in the fishing-nets, 
which is considered a great prize. It is dragged on to 
the sand, and a woman is chosen with some ceremony 
to cut up the carcass. She wields her long knife dex- 
terously, delivering each slashing stroke with a 
precision which shows she is accustomed to the work. 
No sooner is the monster divided, than the various 
pieces are seized by the women standing round, and 
placed with other choice morsels in their baskets. 

Most of the fish is conveyed inland, a great quantity 
to the Citadel, which is the Annamese capital and the 
residence of the great mandarins of the Province. 

Both men and women act as bearers to this populous 
native centre. They tear along the road at a pace 
which appears extraordinary when one considers it is 
maintained over a distance of twelve kilometres. They 
never pause, never turn round, and we, even when 
driving, have much ado to keep up with them for any 
length of time. 

But I have not yet described to you our entrance 
into the European quarter of Nhatrang or into our 
own little bungalow, which was henceforth to become 
our home for two years and more. From afar we had 
recognised the Pasteur Institute a prominent land- 
mark, for it is the only two-storied building besides 
the Post Office and Dr. Yersin's house. Five 



AN ANNAMESE FISHING VILLAGE 43 

minutes' drive from the Institute brought us in 
front of the little bungalow. It was small, but this 
was more than made up for by its beautiful situation 
on the sea-shore. We were unable to persuade our 
pony to go through our gateway, so we alighted on 
the road, crossed the garden and mounted the half- 
dozen cement-covered steps on to the verandah. 

The house was of brick with a red-tiled roof. It 
consisted of three fair-sized rooms provided with a 
large door in the centre of each wall, which took the 
place of windows. A dressing-room at one end and 
two tiny closets -for refrigerator, provisions and 
groceries at the other, completed the building. The 
whitewashed walls and white cement floors gave the 
house a very clean, if monotonous appearance, but a 
touch of colour was lent by the doors, which were 
painted light green. The verandah round the house, 
with the low, slanting roof, protected the rooms from 
sun and rain, and enabled us to keep the doors con- 
tinually open. My experience soon taught me to 
choose as the most comfortable seat in the house, that 
between opposite doors, for the perpetual draught 
kept one comparatively cool. Ours is the typical 
European dwelling of Indo-China, and is very suitable 
for a tropical climate. 

The kitchen, stables, and servants' quarters are 
built away from the house, a few yards from the side 
entrance ; this is for many reasons a convenient 
arrangement ; all the doors being of necessity open, 
the sound of servants chattering would otherwise be 
a continual source of annoyance, and we were also 
spared the smoke and heat of the kitchen. 



44 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

The first few weeks were so taken up with insect 
troubles, and the harm done to all our worldly posses- 
sions by a hot damp climate, that I did not notice the 
deficiencies of my native servants. Before we had 
been in the house two days, ants ran riot in my sugar, 
cakes, and in fact all my eatables ; and a week had 
not passed before I found moths and cockroaches in 
the cupboards among our clothes, a scorpion in our 
bedroom, not to mention the common pests of mos- 
quitoes and flies. I took my husband's advice and 
set the four legs of our sideboard in tins of vinegar, 
which prevents ants ascending them, but this did not 
prevent the advance of thousands in a few seconds if 
a little sugar happened to be spilt on the floor. Much 
of my time was spent in following these ant-trails from 
room to room in search of the object which had 
attracted them ; if not sugar, it was some dead insect, 
a beetle under the cupboard, or a fly in some crack in 
the wall. The advantage of the whitewashed walls, 
which enabled us to see our enemies so quickly, was 
immediately apparent. 

To prevent an inroad from snakes, we found it 
necessary to transplant the bushes which grew too 
close to the house, for they served as a hiding-place 
for these reptiles. This measure was also very effec- 
tive to keep out the scorpions. The damage done by 
moths and cockroaches was minimised by packing up 
all clothes not in use in tin-lined cases. I was 
obliged to paste paper round the openings and over the 
keyholes, or a small cockroach would assuredly intro- 
duce itself, and when next I went to take out my best 
dress, it would be one mass of holes and stains, the 



AN ANNAMESE FISHING VILLAGE 45 

creature having laid its eggs in all the most con- 
spicuous places. The clothes in use have to be laid 
out in the sun at least once a fortnight, and books 
frequently wiped and shaken if their bindings are not 
to be irremediably spoiled. 

The greatest improvement we made was to protect 
our bed- and dressing-rooms by placing wire gauze 
across windows and doors. We were thus enabled 
to dress and undress without being continually bitten 
by mosquitoes. It had this further great advantage, 
that we could sleep at night and lie down in the after- 
noon without the need of a stifling mosquito curtain. 

Meantime the difficulties with my servants were 
increasing. When we had first entered the house, we 
had been greeted by five natives. All had simultane- 
ously gone down on their knees, placed the palms of 
their hands on the floor, touched the ground with 
their foreheads, stood upright again, and then repeated 
the same movements again and again. I was rather 
taken aback, but my husband told me that this was 
the ordinary salutation to a European or a mandarin 
of high rank. They were cooks, "boys," gardeners, 
&c., who had heard of our arrival and wanted to place 
themselves in our service. At first I had taken them 
for young lads, then for women, and could hardly 
believe they were grown men with wives and families. 
They were dressed in short white cotton jackets and 
trousers, as are all natives in European service. 
Their soft eyes and submissive appearance inspired 
me with the hope that they might prove easy to 
manage, in spite of their sex. But I found I was 
mistaken ! 



46 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

We chose out three, one as cook, another as boy, 
and a third as gardener ; with a native soldier who 
was to act as orderly to my husband, we thought we 
should have sufficient. When there are too many, the 
result is that the " boy " hands over all his household 
work to some under-boy, while he sleeps or gambles, 
and that the dinner is cooked by some little scrap of a 
fellow merely engaged to run messages. Though my 
knowledge of housekeeping was small, I nevertheless 
felt confident of my capabilities and started my duties 
with a light heart. 

The first shock came when I discovered that all the 
glass, tea and kitchen cloths that I had given them 
from my nice new stock of household linen were 
destroyed or in rags at the end of the first month. 
The glass-cloth had been used for polishing boots, a 
duster acted as turban on the head of my boy (this did 
not prevent its being used for drying plates), and 
many had been lost or sold. After that experience I 
trusted each boy with two cloths only, which had to 
be washed and shown to me clean every morning. I 
prevented them from letting dirty buckets down into 
the well from which our drinking water came, by 
providing a pump and covering the well, but there 
were some things one could not foresee and many a 
surprise awaited me. If only I could have made them 
understand me things might have been easier, but 
I was quite incapable of turning my classic French 
into the slangy language which was the only sort of 
French they knew. Sometimes I felt desperate at 
what I could not help considering their stupidity, but 
fortunately the comic side of it all appealed to me 



AN ANNAMESE FISHING VILLAGE 47 

irresistibly, or with the heat and aggravation I really 
think I should have gone off my head. 

My cook was the cause of my greatest worries. 
For instance, I found that my provisions from 
England disappeared extremely fast ; being put 
on my guard, I noticed that when I gave him out 
groceries from my pantry in the morning, he contrived 
to unlatch the window on the inside, and no sooner 
had I carefully locked the door, than he as carefully 
climbed in by the unlatched window. Every day it was 
necessary to give out in small instalments the coal, 
sugar, &c., wanted for the different meals, or I was 
most audaciously robbed. 

My cook went to market every day, but instead of 
paying him for what he bought there, we found it 
better to give him seven shillings a week and demand 
three courses for lunch and the same for dinner. This 
plan succeeded admirably, and from that moment I 
never attempted to order our meals. The cook soon 
found out our tastes, and I was saved a good deal of 
trouble. Of the seven shillings we gave him, he 
probably made a profit of half, for all the market 
produce was ridiculously cheap. Soles in season cost 
twopence each, a dozen eggs threepence, a big bunch 
of bananas a penny, a fowl sevenpence. Besides 
that, my cook hit upon many devices for supplementing 
what I gave him. One day a lady, a neighbour of 
ours, came to see me in great distress, saying that, 
while she and her husband had been away, nearly all 
her pet pigeons had disappeared. She had left twenty- 
two, and only three were there to greet her on her 
return. As she spoke, I remembered that pigeons had 



48 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

frequently appeared on our table of late, and was 
guiltily convinced of their fate ! In a later conversation 
with this lady, she happened to mention her menu of 
the evening before. It was, to my astonishment, the 
same as my own, and on comparing notes we dis- 
covered that for some time past one of our cooks had 
operated for both households, while the other took a 
holiday ! This, however, was a less tragic event than 
the disappearance of the pigeons, as neither of us had 
really suffered by the arrangement. 

I tried to train my servants in good habits and 
to teach them to do things in European fashion, 
but it was very often a case of running my head 
against a brick wall. They could never be persuaded, 
for example, to wash up the crockery on the table in 
preference to under it, or to clean the silver and mend 
the linen any where but on the floor. A nice new table 
offered them no attractions except occasionally to sleep 
on. Their manner of ironing the linen scarcely bears 
relation. Their custom was to fill their mouths with 
water, and squirt it over all the parts that were too 
dry. A bowl of water, with a leaf as sprinkler, 
which I suggested instead, and indeed put ready for 
them, they would utterly disdain. An Annamese was 
never yet known to use a mechanical contrivance when 
he could do without it. He will draw a cork out of a 
bottle with his teeth rather than take a corkscrew, or 
put coal on the fire with his hands in preference to a 
shovel. In places such as these, where no carpenter 
or plumber is available, these primitive methods are 
often convenient, but sometimes the mania for them 
exceeds all bounds. One day I happened to go into 



AN ANNAMESE FISHING VILLAGE 49 

the kitchen and surprised my cook forming his rissoles 
by rubbing them up and down his bare body with the 
palms of his hands ! Even when he saw me, he con- 
tinued his work with the utmost complacency. Need- 
less to say, rissoles were omitted from our menu from 
that day forth. I had no appetite for several days, for 
I did not know what similar methods might not be 
practised. I had already heard of a worse discovery 
being made about another cook. He had iced some 
cakes, ornamenting them so artistically that his 
mistress asked him how he had managed it. With 
a smile at the compliment, he raised his hand and 
pointed to his mouth, at the same time bending his 
head and making a hissing sound through his teeth ! 

It was moreover rather annoying to have a cook 
who would sometimes completely disappear, either for 
one day or even for two or three. And when, as 
occasionally happened, people dropped in to some 
meal during his absence, my consternation may be 
imagined ! 

However, most of these troubles occurred during 
our first six months in the country ; before the end of 
that time, I had changed all my servants and engaged 
others, who were better trained and whom we still 
have with us. 

One day was spent in much the same fashion as 
another at Nhatrang, varied only by surprises and 
shocks such as I have suggested, which prevented 
monotony. We used to get up at 6 A.M. and bathe in 
the sea before the sun was too hot. With the water 
warm, the atmosphere cool at this hour, it is one of the 
delightful experiences of the Tropics ; very different 



So ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

from that of a bathe on a fashionable crowded beach. 
To wait an hour for a bathing-machine, to enter into a 
dirty, stuffy, uncomfortable compartment, to shiver for 
ten minutes in icy water, to dress under impossible 
circumstances, to feel cold, sticky and wretched for 
several hours afterwards, is an enjoyment difficult to 
appreciate, having once tried sea-bathing in a hot 
climate. Sharks only lend the necessary spice of 
excitement. 

After breakfast, I often used to accompany my 
husband on his ride or drive to see some patient in the 
neighbourhood. At 8 A.M. he went to the Pasteur 
Institute, and I gardened, sewed, &c., till we met 
again at 12 for lunch. At about 5 P.M. my husband 
was home for good, and we went out driving, shooting, 
or boating on sea or river. Happily we had plenty of 
forms of exercise, for there was little society and we 
had to depend upon ourselves for our own amusements. 
Hobbies, moreover, soon sprang up, of which the chief 
were photography and collecting, but both required 
much patience under adverse circumstances. To 
illustrate : You go into a terrifically hot dark room, 
you are devoured by mosquitoes, you have a difficulty 
to obtain sufficient running water, your ice melts too 
quickly and drowns your developer, and you return to 
light and air only to find that drops of perspiration 
from your forehead have fallen into the middle of your 
best plates. Worse still, the gelatine has sometimes 
dissolved, leaving the plates clean transparent pieces 
of glass. On such occasions, great self-control is 
necessary. 

In spite of the difficulties of making a collection, 



AN ANNAMESE FISHING VILLAGE 51 

we were able to enrich the Museum by two pheasants, 
and with other new birds and mammals, which show 
that our efforts in this direction have not been entirely 
without result ; yet, here again, we have had dis- 
appointments enough to damp the ardour of any 
amateur.* A native engaged to shoot a certain 
mammal goes off with the gun, and we see him no 
more ; another entrusted to prepare a porcupine, steals 
half the quills, or throws away the skull. . . . One 
day my husband brought back some much-prized bird 
at the end of a long and hot day's shooting ; after a 
bath and a change he called for it in order to skin it : 
it was brought to him plucked ! The cook had pre- 
pared it for our dinner together with the snipe and 
quails ! 

* These are the new species determined up till now, the speci- 
mens of which are at the Natural History Museum of London : 

1 . Birds : 

Dryonastes vassali, Ogilvie Grant. 
Cissa gabriellce, Ogilvie Grant. 
Gennceus annamensis, Ogilvie Grant. 
Crocopus annamensis, Ogilvie Grant. 

2. Mammals : 

Hylobates gabriellae, Oldfield Thomas. (Gibbon.) 
Presbytis margarita, Elliot. (Monkey.) 
Nycticebus pygmceus, Bonhote. (Lemur.) 
Tupoia concolor, Bonhote. (Tree- shrew.) 
Sciurus leucopus vassali, Bonhote. (Squirrel.) 
Funambulus rufigenis fuscus, Bonhote. (Squirrel.) 
Lepus vassali, Oldfield Thomas. (Hare.) 

Annals and Magazine of Natural History. 



CHAPTER III 

A TROPICAL PASTEUR INSTITUTE 

Influence of Pasteur's discoveries on tropical medicine : 
The origin of research work : One of Pasteur's pupils : 
Yersin's discovef^ of the plague bacillus : His search for 
a site and foundation of the present Institute : Its work 
and organisation : Suoigiau : A rubber plantation : 
Mosquitoes and malaria : The Institute's cattle : Natives' 
distrust of European doctor : A shark's victim : Diffi- 
culties in treatment of native patients : Escape of a one- 
legged man : Expressions of gratitude after recovery : A 
thanksgiving ceremony : Trials of research work in the 
Tropics 

THE name of Pasteur is connected in the minds of 
many people solely with the terrible disease of hydro- 
phobia, and Pasteur Institutes with its treatment. 
It is true that the discovery of a cure for rabies 
was one of Pasteur's greatest triumphs, and by it 
he has saved thousands of people from a most horrible 
death. Yet neither this, nor the arrest of the silkworm 
disease, nor the cure of anthrax by vaccination, are his 
only credentials to fame. He was above all the 
pioneer of research work, and the marvellous results 
now obtained from the study of microbes are due almost 
entirely to him. The investigations which he began 
alone are now being carried on by all nations in all 
countries. Lister, Bruce,- Laveran, and Ross, whose 

52 




DOCTOR YERSIN'S HOUSE 




THE VERANDAH OF THK PASTKUR INSTITUTE 



A TROPICAL PASTEUR INSTITUTE 53 

names will always be connected respectively with 
the antiseptic treatment of wounds, sleeping sick- 
ness, malaria these men and numbers of others 
acknowledge that their discoveries were stimulated 
by Pasteur's example. 

To these famous names should be added that of 
Dr. Yersin, now director of the Pasteur Institute of 
Nhatrang, who was one of Pasteur's first pupils. After 
studying under the great master for some years at the 
Pasteur Institute in Paris, he left for the East. While 
in Tonking the terrible plague epidemic of 1894 broke 
out in Hongkong and Canton. He obtained permission 
from the French Government to go there and arrived 
when the plague had already claimed thousands of 
victims among the Chinese. 

Dr. Yersin was allowed to establish a small 
laboratory in a hut within the precincts of the 
hospital, and in the very midst of plague infection 
he set to work. The first thing that struck him when 
visiting the wretched overcrowded huts of the natives 
was the number of dead rats. He was told that this 
rat mortality was a well-known forerunner of plague. 
Yersin at once examined their blood under the 
microscope and found that their disease was the 
same as that of the natives. In the bubonic tumours 
the great characteristic of plague he discovered 
immense numbers of an unknown bacillus. This he 
succeeded in cultivating. Healthy rats and mice were 
inoculated with this culture ; they rapidly showed 
typical plague symptoms and died. The bacillus of 
plague was discovered. 

Yersin had no sooner obtained this result than he 



54 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

began to search for the probable medium of infection 
between rat and man. Ultimately he found that the 
infection was carried by fleas, of which there was an 
abundance owing to the hot climate and the filthy 
dwellings of the natives. 

Now famous, he asked for funds to establish an 
Institute in French Indo-China, where he might not 
only prepare the anti-plague serum, but continue his 
other bacteriological work. He was convinced that 
there was a vast field open to research in the Tropics, 
and that the study of microbes would lead to greater 
results here than in Europe. His request granted, he 
began to look out for a favourable site. 

Annam is a narrow band of territory forming the 
eastern boundary of Indo-China. It is almost entirely 
made up of the eastern slope of the " Annamitic 
Chain " which runs right through the colony from 
north to south. Yersin had been one of the first ex- 
plorers of the interior, and though he had discovered 
the Langbian Plateau, which was favourable in many 
respects, he deemed it too much cut off from civilisa- 
tion till roads were made. He was obliged, therefore, 
to confine himself to the plain. He might have joined 
forces with Dr. Calmette, who had established a 
laboratory at Saigon, but he realised that horses and 
cattle, of which he would need a great quantity, would 
be dearer to buy and to keep in a town. 

This scientist therefore determined to settle in one 
of the little villages along the coast, opposite one of the 
beautiful sheltered bays of which Annam can justly 
boast. Nhatrang answered his requirements. It was 
a small village, healthy for Europeans, with plenty of 



A TROPICAL PASTEUR INSTITUTE 55 

cattle and horses, pasturage easily obtainable a short 
distance inland, and with the mail-boats north and 
south calling once a fortnight. 

When we arrived there in 1904, the new permanent 
building of the Institute was just finished. The first 
story was devoted to the laboratories of Dr. Yersin, 
my husband, and the veterinary surgeon, the ground 
floor to the accountant's study and all the rooms for 
weighing, bleeding, and treating of cattle. Close by 
were the different sheds for the ice machine, photo- 
graphy, and for the storing of serum ; also the cages 
for the monkeys, guinea-pigs, and rats, and the stables 
for the horses and cows used by the staff. Farther 
away were those for animals under treatment. The 
manufacture of anti-plague and anti-rinderpest serum 
requires a far greater number of animals than can be 
kept at Nhatrang, where, the soil being sandy, all 
the forage for the animals has to be cut and brought 
by coolies from some distance off morning and evening. 
Large reserves are therefore kept in the He de Tre 
and at Suoigiau, a spot fifteen miles inland, where 
grass is plentiful. 

Suoigiau (or, as it is called on maps, " Concession 
Yersin ") is a large grant of land given to Dr. Yersin 
by the colony on condition that it should be cultivated. 

Yersin first grew tobacco, then coffee, later coca for 
cocaine, and, although the results of each of these 
plantations were very successful, all have now been 
given up for the cultivation of rubber-trees (Hevea 
bresilensis). They have already begun to yield, and 
the plantation produces more than a ton of rubber a year, 
and provides an income of about ,500 for the Institute, 



56 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

There are two Europeans living at this plantation, 
M. Pernin, who is in charge of the cattle and horses, 
and M. Vernet, a chemist who superintends the 
cultivation of the rubber-trees. The house of the 
latter is fitted up with large laboratories containing all 
the newest appliances for the production and prepara- 
tion of rubber. 

Dr. Yersin, by these successive experiments, has 
given undeniable proofs of the varied capacity of the 
Annamese soil and climate. He has endowed the 
colony with new industries. 

Unlike Nhatrang, Suoigiau is extremely unhealthy ; 
its reputation even among the Annamese is such, that 
the chief difficulty of the plantation is a lack of coolies. 
The whites suffered as much as the natives until three 
years ago, when the two Europeans on the Institute 
staff completely protected their houses with wire gauze. 
The effect of this measure was immediate ; since then, 
neither they nor their wives have had fever, though the 
mortality among the natives remains the same as 
before. 

It is now almost universally acknowledged that 
malarial fever is given by mosquitoes. There are 
different species more or less dangerous, but the most 
common in this district belong to the genus Anophelince, 
which are the worst kind. All mosquitoes require 
water in which to lay their eggs, and as they never fly 
a long distance, an absence of water means an absence 
of mosquitoes. It is very difficult in general to get rid 
of all water, but the situation of the Europeans at 
Nhatrang along the sea-shore, where there is a sandy 
soil, little vegetation, and no ponds or fresh water in 



A TROPICAL PASTEUR INSTITUTE 57 

the near neighbourhood, should enable them to be 
entirely free. Great care must nevertheless be 
exercised, for an uncovered well, a tank of water- 
cress, or even the earthenware basin under a flower- 
pot, is sufficient breeding-ground for any number of 
mosquitoes. At Suoigiau all such precautions are use- 
less; the surrounding rice-fields are continually filled 
with water, and the luxuriant vegetation makes the use 
of petroleum or of any system of draining impracticable. 
Other means of protection against mosquitoes must be 
found. 

The Anopheles, as a rule, only come out after dark, 
so all that is necessary is to avoid being bitten after 
that hour. Still one can hardly expect a man to have 
dinner at 5 P.M. and to be in bed under a mosquito 
curtain at 6 all the year round. Therefore the only 
reasonable solution is to have the whole house protected 
by wire gauze. It is astonishing that people do not 
adopt this system more frequently ; the through 
draught is not diminished, the irritation from bites is 
avoided, and above all, it is the only way of being 
preserved from the worst disease of the tropics. 

The cattle are transferred to Nhatrang and back 
again as they are wanted for the different laboratory 
purposes. Those for the serum can only be used for 
a few months at a time ; they must then go back 
to be fattened up again. The cattle which provide 
milk for the staff have also to be changed frequently, 
as native cows give very little milk after their calves 
are three months old, and even during that time not 
more than a pint a day. It is difficult to obtain 
that. The Annamese neither drink milk themselves 



58 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

nor give it to their children, and have therefore to be 
taught the art of milking. They do not think it 
necessary to put the milk in a clean pail, nor to wash 
their hands. The cows for their part resent the treat- 
ment and have to be firmly tied up before it is possible 
to milk them. When my two bottles arrive in the 
morning I have to see the milk is well boiled before I 
dare use it in tea or coffee. 

The cattle on the island of Tre\ allowed to roam at 
will over its large and mountainous surface, return 
almost to their savage state. No European lives 
there, but from time to time Dr. Yersin or my husband 
visits the island to check their numbers. The Anna- 
mese herdsmen, warned a day or two beforehand, will 
then collect them and drive them down to the shore. 
So wild are they, that their transference to Suoigiau 
or Nhatrang involves a certain amount of risk for the 
coolies. Many contrivances and precautions are 
necessary in order to ship them. They are not 
brought the whole way by boat ; about a mile from 
the shore they are pushed overboard. The long 
swim to land so tires them that when they at last 
arrive panting and blowing they stand quite still on 
the beach and are driven into their sheds fairly easily. 
Sometimes they are so exhausted that they can hardly 
drag themselves out of the water. 

My husband was the first doctor to practise at 
Nhatrang. The Europeans naturally hailed his 
arrival with great thankfulness, but the natives, 
whose diseases were likely to be of more scientific 
interest, were loath to take advantage of his services. 
For many months only those on the verge of death 



A TROPICAL PASTEUR INSTITUTE 59 

were brought to him, that is to say, when the Anna- 
mese or Chinese doctors had given them up. 

But a change came at last. A man from Cua-Be 
was brought to my husband bleeding to death and in 
terrible agony. He had been out fishing at night as 
usual, and towards morning he and several companions 
jumped into the water to help with the net. Astride 
on bamboos, as the custom is, they distributed them- 
selves at different points to drag it towards the boat. 
Suddenly they were terrified at the sight of a huge 
shark coming swiftly towards them. It was chasing 
some fish, and both pursuer and pursued swam full 
tilt against the net. The shark, baffled of his prey, 
turned at right angles, passed the first two men with- 
out touching them, but darting at the third, caught 
him by the leg. The man struggled and fought 
desperately, while the shrieks and yells of the men in 
the boat evidently frightened the monster, for after a 
few seconds it let go its hold and disappeared. But 
the jaw of the shark had already done its work. When 
the injured man was hauled into the boat, it was found 
that two enormous pieces of flesh had been torn off 
his leg. With all haste he was rowed to land and 
carried to the medical authority of the village. The 
Annamese doctor gave no hope ; he had seen many 
such cases and was fully aware that even if he suc- 
ceeded in staying the flow of blood, the victim of the 
tiger and the shark always succumbed later. He 
knew nothing of blood-poisoning, and sought no such 
explanation ; the superstitions connected with these 
monsters were sufficient to account for the death of 
any individual who came into contact with them. The 



60 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

wounded man was therefore laid on a palanquin, and, 
accompanied by his mother and some of his comrades, 
was brought to Nhatrang. 

My husband saw that the leg must be amputated 
at once. Such a proceeding had never been heard of 
by the Annamese, and they were in consternation. 
The mother, quite overcome, threw herself down on 
the ground in front of my husband, imploring him to 
save the life of her son but not to cut off his leg. She 
would listen to no explanations, weeping hopelessly 
and continuing to prostrate herself in despair. Such 
behaviour was quite extraordinary in an Annamese 
woman, for even in the face of death the natives 
always maintain their sang-froid ; in cases where there 
is really cause for agitation, they move and speak as 
monotonously as ever. It was pitiable to see her, but 
there was no time to be lost ; my husband was at last 
obliged to bundle her out of the room. As she would 
not consent to the operation, and declared that she 
was the only relative of the patient, my husband was 
obliged to ask the consent of the patient himself, who, 
understanding that it was a case of life and death, 
acquiesced. 

Meanwhile the two Infirmary boys, affected by 
this impressive scene, the terrible stream of blood, 
the cries and screams of the mother, and by the 
helpless and hindering dismay of the coolies, quite lost 
their heads. One pressed the chloroformed handker- 
chief nearly down the patient's throat and almost 
suffocated him ; the other began to finger the sterilised 
cotton-wool, and was forthwith kicked out of the 
Infirmary. In spite of all these adverse circumstances, 



A TROPICAL PASTEUR INSTITUTE 61 

the operation was carried out successfully. I happened 
to arrive on the spot when it was just finished. I had 
waited lunch for my husband for two hours, and at last 
I thought I would go to the Infirmary and see if he 
was there. Through the open door I perceived a 
little crowd round the operating-table, and natives 
holding the limbs of a naked form stretched out on it. 
My husband called out to me cheerfully to come and 
see a hard piece of work the amputation of a leg 
but I retired still farther at his words. As all was 
finished and the bandages were being placed, I sat 
down on the verandah steps to wait until we could 
return home together. It was the first time I had 
been brought into contact with a serious operation, 
and shudders went through me at the little I could see 
and hear. I was quite shocked at the cheerful voice 
of my husband, only understanding later the triumphant 
satisfaction of a successful fight for life. At last the 
patient was carried across the room to his bed and I 
went in to see him. He was only twenty ; it was 
pitiable to think of a youth like that being maimed for 
life. The bed was without pillow or mattress, only a 
bamboo mat being between the patient and the bare 
planks. It seemed so hard and uncomfortable for a 
man who would have to lie there in pain for many 
days, but I recollected that no native was accustomed 
to any greater comfort. As soon as he began to 
recover consciousness, we left the Infirmary. 

The same evening I accompanied my husband when 
he went to have a look at his patient after dinner. We 
found two women attending to him ; one was his 
mother, who had again recovered her composure, the 



62 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

other turned out to be his wife. Contrary to all 
declarations, he was married. His mother had denied 
it in order to prevent the wife consenting to the 
amputation of the leg. 

The return to health and strength of this man was 
known and talked of with wonder all over the province. 
Not only had the Annamese known of few recoveries 
where the shark had been concerned, but they had 
never seen the amputation of a limb, and their aston- 
ishment knew no bounds. 

The doctor's reputation was made. 

A coolie bitten by a dangerous snake, who recovered 
after being inoculated with Calmette's serum, spread 
my husband's fame still farther, and never again did 
he lack native patients. 

Their superstitions and love of independence, how- 
ever, make the Annamese most aggravating in hospital. 
Time after time a native has gone off with his arm still 
in splints, or before the stitches have been taken out of 
a wound. The doctor is thus deprived of the satisfac- 
tion of seeing a perfect recovery. In the middle of 
the treatment, and often at the critical moment of the 
illness, patients disappear. Sometimes, after treating 
an interesting case with the greatest care, and visiting 
the patient a dozen times a day, he would go to the 
Infirmary to find an empty bed and all his investiga- 
tions rendered incomplete. 

One evening we were discussing how we might 
procure a wooden leg for the man whose leg had been 
amputated. My husband had given him some crutches 
that very day, and his manner of using them showed 
how strong and well he was. The leg would only cost 



TROPICAL PASTEUR INSTITUTE 63 

from fifty to sixty francs, and would be an inestimable 
boon to him for the rest of his life. The next morning 
we learned that our discussion of ways and means had 
been futile ; the little present of crutches had enabled 
our friend to vanish, leaving no trace behind. We 
ought to have become accustomed to this finale, but 
this man of all others . . . and without a leg . . . 

There are many natives, however, even among 
those who have disappeared so suddenly, who, though 
they have not seemed grateful at the time, have some- 
times come back bringing a present of bananas or 
eggs. In some cases my husband has been presented 
with some little offering long after the patients have 
recovered their health. Once I saw a wrinkled old 
man come tottering in at the garden gate. His rags 
and his dishevelled grey hair betokened extreme 
poverty. He brought two eggs, which he placed with 
many " lai's " at my feet. My husband did not even 
recollect his case. On opening my boiled egg at 
breakfast the next morning, I was horrified to find a 
young chicken inside. I discovered it was one of 
those given to me by the old man : usually I distributed 
the fruit or eggs which were brought to me to our 
boys as soon as the donors' backs were turned. That 
does not mean we do not appreciate the gifts ; on the 
contrary, they cheer us up in the midst of much work 
which is very disheartening. Even when neither 
words nor gifts convey any sense of gratitude, we have 
had proofs that the benefits received are not always 
forgotten. 

An instance of this came in rather a startling man- 
ner. Just after we had gone to bed one night, I heard 



64 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

dreadful screams, which seemed to be coming nearer 
and nearer, from the direction of the village. I wanted 
my husband to find out the meaning of the noise, but 
he was too sleepy to move. The shrieks at last be- 
came so frantic and piercing that I lay trembling all 
over. Suddenly I was convinced that they proceeded 
from some one in the garden, then from the house 
itself. My husband finally awoke, sprang out of bed 
and hurried on to the verandah. He ran straight 
into the arms of a lady who was staying with us that 
night, and who exclaimed : " Oh, there's an animal in 
my room." They went there together, but instead of 
an animal at bay, as she supposed, they found a poor 
woman lying flat on the ground half under the bed. 
She was bleeding profusely and still uttering inter- 
mittent screams and gasps ; it was evident she had 
been very much injured. My husband was obliged to 
accompany her to the Infirmary, not a very pleasant 
task in the middle of the night, after a hard day's 
work. There he recognised her as a woman on whom 
he had once performed an operation. Though she 
had never said " Thank you " at the time, she 
immediately returned to the doctor when she was 
again in trouble. 

The superstitions of the natives afford too many 
an unexpected and disconcerting surprise for the 
medical practitioner. 

An Infirmary boy fell ill, and as he was a good 
servant my husband took much care and trouble, 
going to see him morning and evening for several 
days. The fever at last began to subside, and his 
recovery was only a matter of days. One evening 



A TROPICAL PASTEUR INSTITUTE 65 

when I accompanied my husband, we were surprised 
to see a large number of people inside the little house. 
The room was in almost total darkness, the flickering 
light of two candles on an altar erected at the far end 
being the only illumination. We made our way 
through the natives to the corner where the boy 
habitually lay. For the first time he was sitting up 
on the plank bed, and appeared very excited. His 
cheeks were flushed, his eyes bright. He explained 
that a great sacrifice was taking place, and the bonze 
who officiated was a most famous man. As our eyes 
grew accustomed to the semi-darkness, we made out 
the altar with its little copper incense-burners, its vases 
filled with sand in which tapers were stuck, its blue 
jars of alcohol, and its offerings of fruit, flowers, 
roasted fowls, ducks, &c. &c. The bonze was an 
oldish man, with hair cut short, dressed in a long 
green silken robe. Every now and then he threw up 
his arms and gesticulated wildly, then he stood abso- 
lutely still, muttering prayers in a guttural tone. 
Suddenly he began making " lai's " before the altar, 
alternately prostrating himself and standing up, fervour 
in every movement. Finally, at a sign from him, he 
was handed a little jar of water ; he raised it to his 
lips, filled his mouth, and then with much dignity 
he bent forward and squirted it over all the fruit 
and roasts. 

The movement in the room after this final rite (was 
it the priestly blessing ?) proved to us that the cere- 
mony was at an end. Complete silence had reigned 
hitherto, but now the awestruck audience began to 
talk in whispers and to change their positions. The 



66 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

priest meanwhile removed his silk tunic and turban, 
and donned his ordinary brown garments. As he 
moved towards the door he said something in a low 
voice to the natives standing near. These imme- 
diately rushed up to the altar, and each seizing a dish 
followed him out. We saw the fruit, eggs, fowls, and 
ducks vanish, a little roast pig bringing up the rear. 
The stripping of the altar broke the last charm, 
and the boy turned to us, saying : " Me well now. 
Priest cure me." Then, in a confidential torte, " He 
eat all." This information upset me altogether. I 
recalled all my husband's attention and care, the 
medicine and food we had sent the lad, and I did not 
know whether to be angry or laugh. And this was 
a boy trained in the Infirmary too! My husband's 
philosophic, " That's all right then, you'll be back at 
work soon," checked the words on my lips, and we left 
the hut. 

Incidents such as this have a comic side which saves 
the situation, but in research work the doctor and 
bacteriologist are without even that consolation. The 
escape of a patient is not so irritating as a temperature 
inaccurately taken, or the washing of microscopic films 
which preserve valuable specimens of blood. There 
is no compensation when you find that the dead 
animal, whose disease you have been studying for 
months, has been buried by a stable-boy before the 
post-mortem examination has been made, or when the 
troughs of two animals whose food must be kept 
entirely separate have been interchanged, or when 
your carefully bred mosquitoes have been allowed to 
escape. The Annamese makes a skilful and fearless 



A TROPICAL PASTEUR INSTITUTE 67 

laboratory boy ; catches and holds the animals adroitly 
while their temperature or a drop of blood is being 
taken, but child-like, does not understand the great 
importance of details, and discovers ingenious methods 
for getting through the routine work in the least 
possible time. 

However, for the enthusiastic investigator, difficul- 
ties exist only to be overcome ; he who works in the 
Tropics under more arduous conditions than in Europe 
must be ready to exercise more perseverance and 
patience. The greater the obstacles the greater the 
reward, when a new discovery can be announced or a 
new theory proved. To Pasteur this was the truest 
joy a human soul could experience. 

Thus, notwithstanding the climate, the isolation, the 
want of sufficiently trained and French-speaking assist- 
ants, the work of this little Pasteur Institute continues. 
It is doing the noblest of all work, alleviating the 
sufferings of humanity, and it is to be hoped that in 
future, deaths from cholera, tuberculosis, cancer, and 
yellow fever will be as infrequent as are now those 
from diphtheria. 



CHAPTER IV 

IN AND ABOUT NHATRANG 

Lessons in riding and shooting : Configuration and out- 
look of Annam : Want of communications : Comparison 
with Cochin China : Beauty and attractiveness of the 
country : A native village : Pagodas and tombs : Water 
buffaloes : Red ants : A brickmaking village 

As soon as I arrived in this country my husband 
began to give me lessons in riding and shooting, and 
it was not very long before I ceased to be terrified 
and to clutch on to my saddle at the slightest move- 
ment of the mare's ears or at the sound of my own 
gun. I rode astride, as my husband thought it was 
safer in this rough, roadless country. At first I had 
missed the games which I had enthusiastically played 
in England, but if I had continued to play them I 
should never have turned to these pursuits which 
alone have brought me into contact with the natives 
in the neighbourhood and enabled me to gain any 
knowledge of the country. Our continual excursions 
took us into many a remote corner. 

Annam is very different from Cochin-China, where 
road, rail, and canal make communication easy. The 
latter colony has been occupied much longer, and its 
latent resources caused the first French settlers im- 
mediately to organise rapid means of transit. There 

68 





THE KETUKN OF THE FISH ING- BO ATS 



IN AND ABOUT NHATRANG 69 

are now good services of motor-cars, canal steamboats, 
and trains, as well as tram-lines round Saigon. 

Annam has none of these advantages. The sea is 
its only convenient highway, and though there are 
safe harbours for shipping, yet there is so little com- 
merce that it is all carried on by junk. But a junk is 
only practicable for those Europeans who have plenty 
of time, and at periods when monsoon and weather 
are favourable. On land there is the mandarin road, 
which follows the coast from north to south, but even 
in the best seasons it is impossible to drive over the 
whole length of it. 

Forty miles to the north of Nhatrang, for instance, 
the road degenerates into a narrow path, which runs 
up a steep hill-side. It forms a natural staircase which 
you can neither ascend nor descend on horseback. 
Even native ponies led by the bridle, though they can 
climb like goats, risk a broken leg. This pass, known 
as the " Col du Deoka," is one of the wildest and 
most picturesque spots in Annam. During the troubles 
in 1908 its defence saved the province of Nhatrang 
from the rebels. 

After the rainy season even the best parts of the 
road along the coast are impracticable, as numbers 
of the bridges are broken down or even entirely 
swept away by the floods. To reach a neigh- 
bouring village you must either ride or be carried in 
a palanquin. 

At present the country is under survey for the 
Saigon- Hanoi Railway, but though the lines are laid 
and trains are running for some distance from either 
terminus, except for a section between Tourane and 



yo ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

Hue" the embankments laid are scarcely begun in 
Central Annam. 

It is natural, however, that little money should be 
spent on the communications of a country which is 
poor and which can barely feed its own population. 
The flat strip of land between mountains and sea is 
fertile, but with a few exceptions so narrow that it will 
only just support the coast villages. The population, 
however, has few needs and is content with little ; 
famine such as is sometimes experienced by richer 
countries is unknown. 

Besides rice the Annamese grow a little maize, 
tobacco, sweet potatoes, and the castor-oil plant, but 
cultivate nothing in sufficient quantities for serious 
exportation. 

If, however, Annam is not rich, it is extremely 
picturesque ; the prettiest spots in Indo-China are to 
be found there. Her jagged coast-line, her rough 
uneven surface, her wild virgin forests, are the most 
striking features ; and not only is the scenery very 
varied, but there are many regions still untrodden by 
the foot of the white man. No country could be more 
interesting to explore, and for our part we determined 
to make as many excursions as my husband's work 
would allow. 

On our evening rides we used to visit the surround- 
ing villages and pagodas, but on Sunday we took our 
guns and went farther afield. 

The Annamese village straggles over a large surface ; 
there is no plan or order, the favourite position for 
huts being round the market. It presents an appear- 
ance very different from that of the Tonking village, 



IN AND ABOUT NHATRANG 71 

which is compact and surrounded by a thick high 
bamboo hedge. These hedges, which are veritable 
fortress walls, were originally planted to protect the 
village from the raids of pirate bands which at one 
time were a scourge to all the northern part of Indo- 
China. As one travels from Haiphong to Hanoi, 
right through the Tonkinese delta, these villages 
dotted here and there alone break the monotony of 
the rice-fields, which extend as far as the eye can 
reach. There is not a single isolated hut on this 
immense bright green plain ; the only buildings to 
be seen are the pagodas, which have been erected 
wherever the rare promontories cannot be levelled 
for the cultivation of rice. No huts or dwellings are 
visible, for the inhabitants still cling to their thick 
hedges, though no hostile tribes are now to be feared. 
This gives the villages an air of mystery which those 
of Annam do not possess. 

Though the Annamese village is not surrounded by 
hedges, yet it may be recognised from a distance by 
its mass of green trees, bamboos male and female, 
cocoa-palms sixty to eighty feet high crowned by a 
tuft of waving feathery leaves, and thick-foliaged 
mango-trees. The fruit of this last is generally pre- 
ferred to any other in the Tropics. Areca-palms (Areca 
catechii] are also never absent near any native dwelling. 
They resemble the cocoa-palm, but the trunks, instead 
of being gracefully curved, are as straight as a wand. 
The areca-nuts grow like the cocoa-nuts, just below 
the crown of leaves at the top. They are chopped up 
and chewed with the betel leaf. For this reason the 
areca-palm is always in request, and is said to be 



72 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

worth a dollar a year to its owner. We Europeans 
eat the soft stem from which the leaves spring ; very 
finely sliced it makes a delicious salad. 

It is only when you are in the midst of these planta- 
tions that you perceive the little native dwellings scat- 
tered here and there, looking all the more diminutive 
by comparison with the high, luxuriant vegetation. 
We often disturbed the inmates by our sudden 
appearance ; little naked brown children sitting in the 
shade of the trees would in their fright throw away 
the pieces of sugar-cane they were intently sucking 
and begin to cry. The women, who were mutually 
assisting one another in the removal of the vermin in 
their long black hair, would look up a minute and 
then continue their task. Unlike the pious Hindoo, 
who places each insect in safety on the ground, the 
Annamese kills it between his teeth. There were 
often several couples thus engaged, or perhaps three 
or four women squatting one behind the other all 
rendering the same service. 

Nearly every dwelling possessed a little garden of 
marketable produce, a patch of maize, tobacco, or 
sugar-cane, a few rows of sweet potatoes, some 
enormous-leaved caladiums, the tubers of which are 
food for swine, cucumbers and pumpkins, and here 
and there a tuft of manioc (tapioca plant) with its 
palm-shaped leaves. Along the barricade are planted 
fruit trees, shaddocks (Citrus decumana), whose fruit 
resembles a magnified green orange, banana-trees 
and jaks, whose fruit is as big as a man's head. A 
few flowering plants are generally cultivated also. 
The owner tends them carefully and trains them 



IN AND ABOUT NHATRANG 73 

symmetrically ; a bougainvillea is often trained in the 
form of a dragon or cock. 

Every habitation, including the village school and 
communal house, has the same bamboo walls and 
thatched roof ; a rich proprietor, however, often lives 
in a house of brick, though such a luxury is rare in 
small hamlets. Brick and stone are reserved almost 
entirely for the pagodas and tombs. The Annamese 
are content with some low hovel for themselves, but 
for their dead and their altars they prefer something 
better. While their own dwellings, too, are grouped 
round some mosquito-infected pond, the pagodas and 
tombs occupy the best sites in the neighbourhood. 
Every hill round Nhatrang has its temple on the 
topmost summit, from which a beautiful view may be 
obtained. In districts where there are obviously no 
suitable spots above the ordinary level, these temples 
are situated in such a manner that the background is in 
harmony with the general plan of the edifice and are 
thus shown off to the best advantage. The tombs 
are scattered about in carefully chosen sites, and 
are generally shaded by some beautiful tree. The 
most common form of the tomb in South Annam is 
that of the tortoise, one of the sacred animals of the 
Annamese. Others represent the bud of the lotus flower 
either upright or lying down, but both are probably 
derived from the emblematic stone of Brahmanism. 

We often dismounted from our horses and climbed 
the little hills round Nhatrang for the sake of 
the view from the different pagodas. As soon as 
we passed through the stone wall or bamboo railing 
with which the temple was surrounded, the bonze and 



74 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

guardians would come running out of their shelters 
close by. Though they would smile and bow, they 
kept their eyes fixed on us the whole time, and per- 
haps did not like the intrusion. Not that there was 
anything of value in these poor little temples: the 
ritual emblems of red painted wood, some earthen and 
porcelain vases on the cement altar for burning tapers, 
and a few bronze bells and gongs usually formed their 
entire wealth. Occasionally we discovered a big bell 
finely carved, valuable on account of its age, but that 
is not an article you can carry away in your pocket. 
Even when hanging from a beam, it does not sway an 
inch under the heavy strokes dealt upon it by the 
bonze with a wooden-headed hammer. 

The caricatures of Buddha and the sacred animals, 
both sculptured and painted, were of great interest to 
us. The stone slab in front of the chief door was 
always a work of art in itself. Every temple has this 
kind of screen a yard or two from its entrance, so that 
you cannot look into the edifice from a distance. 

One day we came upon a pagoda in a most curious 
place. We were snipe-shooting round some pools 
quite close to the river about three kilometres inland, 
when, passing at the foot of some huge boulders of 
granite, I noticed a recently made well. There was 
no village in the neighbourhood. Who had dug it ? 
I was still more surprised on moving forward to see a 
little patch of maize. Suddenly a bonze appeared, 
squeezing himself between two enormous boulders, 
and after many smiles and remarks, none of which I 
understood, made signs for me to follow him. I called 
to my husband, and we in our turn squeezed ourselves 



IN AND ABOUT NHATRANG 75 

through the opening by which the bonze had again 
disappeared. On the other side was a little path 
which mounted upwards right between the rocks. It 
was like a tunnel, and cut into steep uneven steps. 
At first we followed our guide without difficulty. 
Light filtered through interstices here and there, but 
it was impossible to guess from the outside that there 
was any hollow place for a passage. After mounting 
about a hundred metres, twisting and turning, crawling 
under one rock, scrambling over another, we suddenly 
found ourselves in a little open space directly under a 
huge rock which is a landmark for a long distance 
round. This grotto had been furnished as a pagoda. 
Altar, tapers, bell, all was complete there were even 
two little nooks on either side arranged as sleeping 
apartments for the guardians and our guide. We 
entered one of these, a wee hole containing a mat, 
an earthen drinking vessel, and a saucepan of rice, 
but the other required a gymnastic performance of 
which I did not feel capable. 

I then wanted, for the sake of the view, to climb on 
to the top of the rock which formed our ceiling, but the 
bonze shook his head ; either it was really impossible 
or there were other secrets which he did not wish to 
divulge. By craning our necks and contorting our- 
selves we had little glimpses up and down the river 
from the interior of the room, and we had to be 
content with that. 

The bonze reaccompanied us down his curious 
staircase ; he was evidently delighted with all our 
exclamations of surprise at his ingenuity. He 
was like a child with a new toy, and we were 



76 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

again struck with the simple disposition of the 
Annamese. 

One of our favourite evening rides was to a place 
near here where it was possible for the water 
buffaloes to ford the shallow river. At sunset different 
herds might always be seen as they were driven 
across on their way home. The huge size of 
these animals, their enormous horns, which some- 
times measure one and a half metres from tip to 
tip, and above all their defiant attitude, strike one 
with terror. In Annam they are specially dangerous 
to Europeans. I have often felt paralysed when I 
have come upon two or three suddenly ; they look so 
monstrous and savage that it seems futile to run away. 
Probably they are frightened, too, at the sudden 
encounter, but they never show it. They always 
move forward or back simultaneously, ready to stand 
together for defence or attack. If you stand still, they 
will snuff the air and come a step nearer, or a male 
being among them, he will lead the way and the 
others will follow close behind. By the time, how- 
ever, they are upon you, a call for help summons their 
guardian, a little naked brat of eight or nine, who has 
sprung out of space, and with a whack of his little 
bamboo cane has sent them flying to join the rest of 
the herd. The management of these beasts by such 
children is wonderful. They hold them in submission 
with their shrill little voice and bit of stick. Familiarity 
breeds contempt, they have lived with these animals 
since the time when, at the age of three or four, they 
have been put in charge of the little herdsman, a 
brother or friend not much older than themselves. 



IN AND ABOUT NHATRANG 77 

From the shade of some trees they have seen their 
herd graze till the sun grew hot, watched them then 
lumber one by one into some miry pool and roll them- 
selves in it till covered with a thick coating of mud. 
When once the animals have settled themselves in the 
deepest part, they lie stock-still, blinking their blue 
eyes under their long straight lashes, and giving little 
snorts and sighs of satisfaction. There is henceforth 
no fear that they will stray, and the children have only 
to sleep, eat, play, sleep again, or lie on their backs 
gazing at the green branches above their heads the 
livelong day. Sometimes the animals penetrate so 
deeply into the mud that a passer-by does not notice 
them till he suddenly hears noises like pistol-shots, as 
each heavy mass heaves itself out of its mud bed. 

As it gets cool about five o'clock, animals and herds- 
men bestir themselves. The great event of the day 
has arrived. The herd is collected and driven towards 
the river. But the animals take their pleasure more 
soberly than the children. They walk with slow steps 
into the water till they are almost out of their depth, 
and then stand with just their snorting noses and long 
horns above the surface. An inexperienced eye would 
say that a crocodile or some strange serpent was pro- 
truding out of the water. The children meanwhile 
dance about on the bank ; if any one is the proud 
possessor of a garment, it is put aside while they run 
in and out of the shallow water, chasing and splashing 
each other. When it is time for the herd to cross 
they swim out to the nearest buffaloes, mount their 
backs by means of their tails, and from this exalted 
position drive all on to the farther bank. If the water 



78 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

is deep, the buffaloes must swim, but the children are 
all the better pleased, and stand erect in triumph. 
Sometimes the animals refuse to leave the water ; the 
piercing cries of the minute driver and the brandishing 
of his cane are of no avail. He then guides his steed 
to the back of the herd, and passing from one to 
another sets them in motion with a deft stroke here 
and there. 

We were so fascinated by this scene that it was 
often late when we turned our horses' heads home- 
wards. But the darkness gave us another delightful 
and entirely novel spectacle. The road from Cho- 
Moi to Nhatrang was lined on either side with thick 
bamboos, which grew half in the water of the rice- 
fields, half on the embankments of the road. Occa- 
sionally these bamboos were one mass of fireflies, 
which in their millions outlined exactly the form of 
each tree. We were even able to recognise any other 
kind of bush or tree which grew among the bamboos. 
If only the lights had been bigger and more constant 
it would have been like an avenue of Christmas trees. 
The flashes were, however, intermittent, but the fire of 
all the flies on one and the same tree shot into flame 
simultaneously. Tree followed tree in quick succession 
and it was almost as though they were signalling to 
one another. There were about sixty flashes a minute. 
It was a most wonderful sight. I do not know if 
scientists have explained this extraordinary and instan- 
taneous obedience of so many millions of flies to a 
common impulse. 

The picture of these fireflies recalls to my mind the 
croaking of frogs. As soon as darkness falls, the 



IN AND ABOUT NHATRANG 79 

rice-fields seem alive with them ; their monotonous 
chantings never cease or pause, When we had passed 
along this road in the sunlight two hours earlier, the 
rice-fields, like the bamboos, wore their ordinary 
appearance; there was no hint of the intense life 
hidden beneath the still leaves and silent water. Now 
by the evidence of sight and sound we are taken into 
two realms of teeming life undreamt of a short time 
before. 

On Sundays, however, with our guns to the fore, 
we were glad of this intense tropical life. We 
never went out at dawn without coming across 
some game worth having peacocks, jungle-fowl and 
cocks, snipe, quail, barking deer, hares, and pheasants 
of various kinds, and other birds. There were, too, 
many beasts which we did not see (nor did we want 
to), though they probably often saw us. The shock 
of hearing a tiger or panther scuttle out of a bush, or 
of stepping suddenly upon the quite recent traces of a 
wild elephant, was emotion enough, especially when 
we reflected that only shot for snipe was in our 
guns. The hunter hunted is not so rare in this wild 
country. 

Less than five years ago the bursar of the Residence 
at Nhatrang left the village one afternoon to meet a 
friend. He was warned to be back by sunset or to 
remain near some village, for the tigers were at that 
time even more dangerous than at present Twenty 
kilometres from Nhatrang, on the mandarin road, 
while riding round a dark corner overshadowed by 
trees, a tiger and tigress sprang upon him. Either he 
lost his head, or his arm was knocked up, for he shot 



8o ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

his revolver into the air. As soon as his boy, who 
was riding behind him, saw him dragged from 
his horse, he turned round and galloped back 
to Nhatrang nearly mad with fright. A party 
immediately set out, but by the time they arrived 
on the spot the poor young fellow was dead and 
half eaten. 

There is hardly a man who has lived long in 
this part of the country who has not seen the 
tiger. The stories of this animal's habits, his 
misdeeds, his encounters, are continually on the lips 
of the Europeans. Many of them are as thrilling 
as the superstitious narratives of the natives are 
ludicrous. 

There are other inconvenient encounters during 
shooting expeditions, which, if less dangerous, are by 
no means agreeable. One day on our way up 
the river to see the brick-making industry at Logoum, 
I got out of the boat to shoot a cock on some rocky 
ground above the bank. I clambered up, hiding 
behind one boulder and then another, till within twenty 
yards or so, when I stood still to take good aim. But 
the shot was never fired. As I raised my gun to my 
shoulder I was stung on the eyelid, and before I could 
brush the insect away I felt myself being fiercely bitten 
all over. Instinctively I threw my gun away and tore 
off my clothes without a second's hesitation. Under- 
neath my dress I was literally red with enormous red 
ants, which were doubling themselves up in order to 
penetrate into my skin more deeply. It was real 
agony. Happily my bathing-dress was in the sampan, 
and I got into that while we cleared my garments 



IN AND ABOUT NHATRANG 81 

from these terrible insects. My husband happened to 
have a bottle of menthol in his pocket, which so greatly 
diminished the pain of my bites that we were able to 
resume our journey. 

Our sampan was that day in charge of a man 
and his wife who evidently took as much interest 
in us as we in them. For the tiniest bird that 
caught their eye they would stop the boat, being 
anxious to see me shoot something. But soon the wind 
dropped, and they could sit idle no longer. Directly 
the matted cocoa-palm sail began to flap in and 
out both seized it and with great dexterity rolled 
it up. Then the woman, going to the bow, took 
the right-hand oar, and having loosened the rope 
with which it was attached to a raised peg (this 
peg takes the place of the rowlock on our rowing- 
boats), in order to be able to swing it more freely, 
she placed her two feet on the left edge of the 
sampan and began to row. The edge of these sampans 
is by no means broad about an inch but with her 
bare feet she took a firm grip, and in spite of the 
heavy oar swayed backwards and forwards with well- 
balanced movements. Her slight but vigorous young 
figure was distinctly visible every now and then as her 
long tunic first clung round her and then floated out 
on the breeze. Her husband rowed at the stern, 
keeping time with her, one of his feet thrust out 
behind him to steer the heavy rudder. Two of their 
children were also in the boat ; the elder one from time 
to time placed himself beside his mother, his little 
palms on the thick oar. He did not help the work 
in the least, but at any rate he was accustoming 



82 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

himself to a movement by which he would later earn 
his living. 

Between times he came and stirred a saucepan of 
rice which was boiling at the bottom of the boat. I 
had noticed steam and smoke coming from between 
the planks on which we lay, and had feared for a 
minute that the sampan was on fire. But, no : the 
child raised a board, and we perceived the family meal 
being cooked. It is astonishing how the Annamese, 
with their continual fires in hut and boat, manage to 
avoid a conflagration. They seldom extinguish a fire, 
and though from neglect it sometimes goes out, there 
generally remain enough smouldering ashes to enable 
the householder to light his pipe or the wife to fan up 
a flame at a moment's notice. The smoke from the 
present fire in the sampan came in our eyes, and was 
most disagreeable, but as our destination was at hand 
we had not the heart to make them put it out and thus 
spoil their meal. 

We were soon alongside the group of high cocoa- 
and areca-palms, which was all we could see of Logoun. 
Clouds of smoke issued from the tree-tops. This little 
village makes all the bricks for the province. The 
river constitutes its only highway ; there is no road 
leading to it, but ,the inhabitants seem to like their 
isolated position. 

As we stepped ashore, a number of dogs came 
rushing towards us barking furiously. If it had not 
been for one of the children who had followed us from 
the sampan, we should certainly have been bitten. 
Just as the European's dog flies at a native who tries 
to enter his garden, so the native's dog flies at the 



IN AND ABOUT NHATRANG 83 

European, though the beasts are often of identical 
breed and family. 

The barking and noise brought the inhabitants to 
their doors. They neither looked surprised to see us 
nor curious as to the reason of our visit, but all the 
children collected together and followed us at a safe 
distance. Wending our way between the huts, we 
came to an open space where three young Annamese 
girls were mixing the clay with their feet. For such 
a purpose feet are certainly more convenient than 
hands, but Europeans would never have managed to 
raise and twist the sticky earth so easily and deftly 
without any loss of balance. When the clay had been 
brought to the right texture, they cut it into bricks 
and tiles with a piece of string and put these out in 
the sun to dry, pushing them into place with their 
feet. They were left there till the mud oven was 
ready to bake them. The most interesting process is 
that of the lathe, which was just then being worked by 
the oldest woman I have ever seen. Her hair was 
completely white, her eyes dim, her teeth gone long 
since, her face one mass of deep furrows, but in spite 
of this, neither wrinkled hands nor feet had lost their 
cunning. With a sharp movement she set the turning- 
board in motion, and her hands moulded one pot after 
another ; she produced quite a number while we 
stood there. They were taken into the sun by 
children who stood round her, and whenever she 
mumbled something, they all crowded round and 
listened attentively. She seemed to be treated 
with the greatest reverence and devotion. She 
deserved it, for she had handled that lathe for 



84 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

years and years, enriching the village by her toil. 
All the pots were of the same shape, but of different 
sizes, and when baked were of a dirty red-brown 
colour. 

While the women worked thus, the men were 
engaged in digging clay from the banks of the river 
and cutting timber for heating the ovens. The logs 
of wood were placed all round the village and formed 
a veritable barricade. From time to time the bricks 
and pots are taken to neighbouring markets to be 
sold, or sent to the Residence instead of taxes. It was 
surprising that with such a flourishing industry not one 
of the inhabitants of this village had thought of building 
himself a home of brick ; all lived in the ordinary 
bamboo hut. 

On our way to the boat I tried to buy two pretty 
little shrubs which I noticed in a garden near the 
water's edge. I addressed a man standing near them, 
who seemed to be the owner. As we began to discuss 
the price, there appeared an old woman, who un- 
ceremoniously brushed the man aside and took up the 
argument. I saw at once that I had to deal with a 
more formidable adversary, and sure enough a sum 
nearly twice that originally asked was gradually 
extracted from me. This incident is very typical of 
the influence of the older woman in the house, whether 
she be mother or mother-in-law of the real master. 
Though unable to read or write, it is she who is the 
most capable in business matters, and who manages 
all money affairs. Men recognise this quality in their 
womenkind and give it free play. 

When we regained our sampan, the little family 



IN AND ABOUT NHATRANG 85 

were just finishing their meal. There was such a 
variety of dishes that we wondered how they had been 
able to prepare them all at the bottom of a boat. I 
only became aware of the ingenuity of the Annamese 
cook much later, when, on just such a sampan, he had 
turned out meals of five courses three days running. 
His difficulties were even greater on that occasion, for 
there were more occupants in the boat, and his every 
movement was hampered by the legs of the rowers all 
round him. 

This incident happened during an excursion we 
made higher up this same river, where it wound 
through a virgin forest. The journey was not wanting 
in distraction, for every few hundred yards we had to 
mount rapids. The rowers would suddenly fling 
themselves out of the boat, and some towing a rope, 
others pushing, pulling, and dragging the sampan 
itself, they would succeed in getting us into smooth 
water and safety. They gave vent to yell after 
yell during these exciting moments even when they 
slipped and floundered over the stones and took an 
involuntary header they never ceased. If they had 
made more use of their muscles and less of their lungs, 
we should have got along more quickly, but they 
seemed to think noise essential to the boat's move- 
ments. 

I wondered, as each rapid came into view, what 
would happen if the boats were broken up. There 
were no paths through the jungle that surrounded us, 
except those made by wild elephants. Where herds 
had passed, the grass had been trampled down, 
branches of trees broken off and small trees uprooted 



86 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

altogether and thrown on one side. Numbers of 
heavy hoofs had sometimes flattened the surface so 
effectually that it would have been possible to drive a 
pony-cart in their wake. It was an awe-inspiring 
sight. In any case these curiously made paths would 
not have led us to a village, for we were beyond the 
range of the Annamese, who always cling to the coast, 
and the Moi villages were few and far between. So 
inextricable was the undergrowth that the eye could 
not pierce beyond the water's edge, and even above 
our heads the branches from the trees on either side 
were so thickly interwoven that occasionally they 
almost shut out the sky. 

Fortunately we arrived at our destination, a Moi 
hamlet, safely, and our downward course was made in 
something like three hours instead of three days. The 
most expert native of our crew posted himself in the 
stern of the boat, and with a long pole steered us 
dexterously down the rapids. His quickness of eye 
and hand were amazing ; he pushed off a rock to the 
right, then off one to the left, in swift succession, and 
conducted us into calm water each time without 
accident. We had many an exciting moment as we 
dashed along with the rushing water between the huge 
boulders. 

In fact we have met with many adventures on this 
river, but the most common was that of finding our- 
selves stranded, the tide having gone down too quickly. 
On these occasions we have had to wait till rescue 
came in the shape of a very small sampan. We could 
thus be pushed along the deeper channels by the 
natives, who waded knee-deep in the water. The 



IN AND ABOUT NHATRANG 87 

sampans into which we were transferred were often 
not much bigger than a clothes-basket, and the slightest 
movement overturned them. Thus have we often 
arrived at the crowded market-place safe, if without 
dignity. 



CHAPTER V 

DAILY ROUTINE IN THE LITTLE CAI-NHA * 

The awakening at dawn : The rush into light and air of 
the cai-nhds occupants : Tidying up and arranging the 
house for the day : The ba-gia : The baby's meal : 
Occupations of the children : The market : The rice- 
fields irrigating, ploughing, sowing, and planting out : 
Occupations which bring men and women together : 
Evening leisure 

ALMOST simultaneously with the rising of the sun, 
there is a stir in the sleeping Annamese village. No 
sooner have the first horizontal rays of dawn struck a 
small hut than the bamboo door is pushed outwards, 
supported on two sticks, and a man emerges, stoop- 
ing down to avoid the low rafter. He rubs his eyes, 
pushes his fingers through his hair to drag it back from 
his forehead, and re-twists his chignon. His toilet is 
then apparently complete. As he stands at the door, 
the dog, the pig, the fowls, those with chickens cluck- 
ing loudly to their little ones to follow, all scuttle 
quickly between his legs, glad to be out in the light 
and air again. Then come the children, scarcely yet 
awake, stumbling through the narrow opening, the 
elder ones each carrying a younger one on the hip. 
When they catch sight of us sitting on the beach 

* Cai-nha equals " the house," but also means " home." 

88 






OUR HEST KOAI) IN NOVEMIiKR 



ON 'IIIKIK WAV TO MAKKKT. T1IK BASKKTS 
AUK CARKIKD LIKE A PAIR OK SCALES 





PLOUGHING UNDErf \VATEK 



PRIMITIVE METHOD OK IRRIGATION 



ROUTINE IN THE LITTLE CAI-NHA 89 

waiting for a sampan to cross the river, there is a 
series of little screams, and all disappear again in or 
behind the hut, tumbling over one another in their 
hurry to escape. I never can make out how a child 
carrying another nearly as big as himself can scurry 
away so quickly. After a moment, finding we remain 
still, they venture into sight again, and if we take the 
trouble to talk and to encourage them, they will soon 
become quite friendly, They run in and out of the 
water, diving, swimming, rolling each other over in the 
sand, and if we laugh at one of their antics they will 
join in boisterously, repeating the joke again and 
again. 

Clothes, except for an occasional little cotton coat, 
which comes down to the waist, are regarded as 
superfluous in a fishing village, both for boys and girls, 
till about the age of ten. The coat is to protect them 
from the hot rays of the sun. For all ornament they 
have round their necks a piece of string, to which is 
hung a little black cotton pocket about an inch square, 
containing a charm against disease or some other 
misfortune. The charm consists of a paper on which 
signs are made by a bonze, who uses the blood of some 
bird or animal instead of ink. Many of the children 
also wear a copper or silver ring round ankle and 
wrist. 

After the children an old woman (ba-gia) appears, 
industriously sweeping all round the home. The 
Annamese never think of brushing out the corners or 
thoroughly cleaning their one-roomed hut, but they 
make it an absolute rule to clear away all twigs, dried 
fruit-skins, &c. &c., for a yard or two around it. This 



90 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

neat smooth surface in front of every native dwelling 
strikes the eye ; it is swept at least twice a day, and 
when I peer through the semi-darkness at the dust and 
dirt inside, I find the custom rather amusing. 

While the ba-gia is thus occupied, two younger 
women, the wife and sister of the fisherman, are busy 
rolling up the mats on which the family have slept. 
They cover the camp bed a trellis- work of bamboo 
raised a foot from the ground on four legs with bowls 
and pots. Why should not that which serves as a bed at 
night make an excellent shop during the day ? Native 
lentils, haricots, bunches of bananas, are spread out ; 
a jar of white lime and a flat basket containing betel 
leaves neatly arranged in a circle, are placed conspicu- 
ously for the betel chewers ; tablets of cut tobacco, a 
packet of matches, and some cigarette papers await the 
smokers. Finally, a touch of colour is given to the 
stall by a few yards of differently dyed cottons, some 
packets of squibs, or else some tapers wrapped up in 
red paper. The two women regard their stock with 
pride, and when all is in place whisper a few words to 
the ba-gia about the sale of the goods, for they them- 
selves are going to market. When all else is ready, 
the mother calls for her youngest born, in order to give 
it a last meal before starting off. A baby of about ten 
months is immediately brought to her by a youngster 
of eight or nine. She holds it to her breast with her 
right arm, while with the left she gives some last 
touches to the stall. Then finally, after sniffing and 
smelling the infant all over its little body, for the 
Annamese never kiss their children in any other 
manner, she entrusts it to the charge of the ba-gia. 



ROUTINE IN THE LITTLE CAI-NHA 91 

The younger women till now have been wearing the 
usual wide indigo blue cotton trousers, their breasts 
being simply covered with a diamond-shaped piece of 
cotton. This scanty garment, which is only worn in 
the house, is fastened tightly round the neck at the 
top and round the waist at the bottom with strings, 
leaving the arms and back bare. Now, however, they 
don their long blue tunics and put on their latania-leaf 
hats. The bow-like bamboos are taken from a corner 
and given a last polish with a tab of their tunics. The 
women are very proud of these rods, on which they 
carry their baskets hanging like scales to a beam, and 
those with metal ends are sometimes bequeathed as 
heirlooms. Dried fish is the commodity to be carried 
this morning. The smell of it pervades indeed the 
whole village, but we have an extra whiff as the two 
women with their light and springy gait move past us 
and the baskets are swung under our noses. 

On our return from a day's shooting expedition, we 
again peeped into the hut. The younger women were 
still absent, but the ba-gia was there squatting peace- 
fully on the camp bed, her feet on the extreme edge, 
her chin almost touching her knees. A customer had 
just come up. He took one of the green round betel 
leaves, laid it in the palm of his hand, and with the 
stick, placed inside the jar of lime for the purpose, 
pasted the white gluey substance over the leaf, rolled 
it up, and stuck it in his mouth. Not a word was 
spoken, but I observed the keen glance of the old 
woman as he deposited two sapeks on the edge of the 
bed, before continuing his way. As we talked to her, 
at cross-purposes as usual, the youngest child began to 



92 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

cry and was brought to her. His grandmother, stretch- 
ing out her legs among the pots and bowls, took the 
baby and laid it flat on its back across her knees. 
Then she drew near her a bowl of cooked rice and with 
the aid of chopsticks raised a little to her mouth. 
After chewing and masticating it well she spat it 
mouthful by mouthful between the baby's lips. This 
is the common method of feeding a young child, and in 
cases where the mother must absent herself from home 
it is begun within a week of its birth. That a mother 
should feed her child thus is bad enough, but the 
custom seems even more deplorable when carried out 
by a dirty old woman, whose lips and broken teeth are 
discoloured with betel chewing. 

The fisherman sat in company with several others, 
mending his net. When our horses and guns arrived 
in another sampan, and the children, who were still 
playing on the sand, discovered that we had shot a 
peacock, there was great excitement. They clustered 
round, shouting with glee, and when I held out the 
bird so that one of them might carry it to the house, 
a number of hands clutched it eagerly. There was a 
battle royal, in which feathers flew in all directions, but 
at last a little youngster, not much bigger than the 
peacock, secured the prize and bore it in triumph 
homeward. He was followed by a band of small 
friends, but the little girls drew back as soon as the 
end of the village was reached. The boys, however, 
followed as far as the gate, and when he rejoined them 
with ten cents it was very apparent that he was the 
hero of the hour. 

Children lead a very happy and joyous life during 



ROUTINE IN THE LITTLE CAI-NHA 93 

their first years. Crying is very rarely heard, except 
in cases of illness, and the peevish whimper of the 
European child is unknown. Parents are very devoted 
to their children, but they generally have such large 
families that spoiling is impossible. The Annamese 
are very prolific ; if there was less infant mortality the 
race would increase a great deal faster than at present. 

The love'and care of the'mother are not proof against 
her terrible ignorance, the most elementary rules of 
hygiene being unknown. In difficult confinements, the 
ba-gia who acts as midwife resorts to superstitious 
ceremonies. The Annamese doctor is forbidden to 
see his patient, and if consulted must give his advice 
through the closed door. In these ^circumstances one 
may conjecture how utterly against all principles it is 
to call in a European doctor. My husband has, how- 
ever, occasionally penetrated to such cases, and has 
been horrified at the spectacle. As a rule the woman 
has lain in agony three or four days, and it is quite 
impossible to relate all the ba-gia has done to bring 
the baby into the world. During the whole of her 
suffering a charcoal fire has been kept alight under the 
bed, the door of the hut has scarcely been opened, and 
the patient has been covered with all the rugs and tunics 
her friends could lay their hands on. 

The ignorance shown in the treatment of children 
during the first year, the critical period in all climates, 
is not less than that displayed during a confinement. 
Babies are suffered to be bitten by mosquitoes, their 
little bodies are not washed, nor even their eyes, so that 
they are often partially blinded from this neglect. Scabs 
on the head are considered a healthy sign, and many 



94 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

are the superstitious treatments to which the babies 
must submit. Their childhood is happy all the same, 
because of their freedom. If their parents are able to 
send them to school they consider themselves extremely 
fortunate. Never is a child more proud than when he 
walks along the road with a dirty copy-book tucked 
under his arm. It is only at the age of twelve or 
thirteen that he joins his elders in the toils of every- 
day life. 

The little boys about that time accompany their 
fathers fishing, work on the rice-fields, fetch firewood 
from the forest, or look after the buffaloes. The little 
girls go to market or help on the rice-fields, or are 
occupied at home. Every morning and evening one 
sees them running to and fro with a rapid light step to 
the nearest well to fetch water. From the bamboos 
over their shoulders are hung large jars instead of 
baskets, and, when full, these heavy vessels press the 
rods into their flesh and bend them down with their 
weight They seem to like the task, however, for at 
the well they meet their young companions and do not 
always hurry home again. Chattering and laughter 
may always be heard round the wells during the last 
hour before sunset. To pull up the water the girls 
have little square baskets made from a banana-leaf, 
which they let down with a thin cord into the well. 
The first water, however, that they draw up is not 
destined for their jars ; they drink, then raise the 
basket in their upstretched arms and pour the rest over 
themselves, clothes and all. They repeat this two or 
three times, and only when their garments are clinging 
to their slight little forms and they feel cool and re- 




THE NATIVE MARKET 




THE MARKET FLOODED 



ROUTINE IN THE LITTLE CAI-NHA , 95 

freshed, do they fill their jars. A few more laughing 
remarks, and they shoulder their burdens and trot off 
again. 

Going to market is certainly the favourite occupation 
of the Annamese girl and woman, She likes the inde- 
pendence of the day spent in the company of her 
acquaintances and friends from other villages, and 
above all she rejoices in the opportunity of exercising 
the cunning and smartness over a bargain, of which 
she is a past mistress. In the smallest transaction she 
concentrates all her energies to make every sapek she 
can, and if she is able to introduce a rotten mango 
among the good ones that she is selling to a cook, or 
persuade her friend to give her another handful of rice 
for nothing,, she absolutely glories in her astuteness and 
business capacity. She will always ask twenty cents 
for a cocoa-nut when she is willing to take five, and it 
is only when the would-be customer is in the act of 
leaving the market or of seeking elsewhere, that she 
will lower her price. 

Not that I often go to the market. The spectacle 
of all these women sitting on the ground with their 
goods spread on the bare earth does not induce appe- 
tite, nor is the smell of the dried fish, nuoc-mam * and 
choum-choum\ mixed up with that of fruit and vege- 
tables, agreeable. The noise, too, is appalling. None 
of the women stop talking for a single minute, and to 
be heard above the conversation going on close to them 
they have to employ the full force of their lungs. The 
voice of an Annamese woman is never musical, so that 

Condiment, made of fermented fish-water. 
t Rice alcohol. 



96 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

shrill accents and high notes are the rule, and a dis- 
cussion with an angry woman is more to be avoided 
here even than elsewhere. Their menfolk are fully 
aware of this fact and are careful never to raise a 
storm unnecessarily, or if they accidentally do so, they 
absent themselves from the homestead until it has 
spent itself. 

At the market the only masculine forms to be seen 
are those of the Europeans' cooks who are catering for 
their next meal. Except for these men and an occa- 
sional child whom a mother has been unable to leave 
behind, the market is entirely given up to women. 
A mother carries her child in one of her baskets, 
where it makes weight against a sucking pig or a few 
kilogrammes of rice. 

Nhatrang has lately been able to boast of a covered 
market with a cement floor, but as the sellers have to 
pay one or two sapeks to establish themselves and 
baskets there, many prefer to remain on the dusty or 
muddy ground outside. In November, in the midst 
of the rainy season, nearly all use the building, for a 
lake sometimes two feet in depth covers the space 
around it. Yet there are always a few women who 
persist in establishing themselves along the edge of 
the water as near their usual position as possible. 

It is a most curious scene. Some of the women 
have almost had to swim to get to Nhatrang, others 
have to come by boat, lifting their light craft over the 
places where the road was not submerged. The bad 
weather never seems to deter anybody from coming, 
in fact at such times the market is often more crowded 
than ever. The women probably enjoy the novelty 



ROUTINE IN THE LITTLE CAI-NHA 97 

and excitement as children would, and keeping their 
goods dry appears to be their only preoccupation. 
They roll up their trousers to their hips, draw the 
lappets of their tunics over their shoulders, and wade 
through the water courageously. 

Certainly it can be no great pleasure for them to 
stay at home, for in some of the villages, at the rainy 
season, the huts are all flooded. Their owners remain 
in possession, however, as long as possible ; after 
dragging everything on to the camp bed they all 
cuddle there themselves, or if the water rises still 
higher they erect another edifice on the top of the 
bed and climb up another story. We have often 
ridden out to one of these flooded villages, and when 
I have heard voices and laughter coming from under 
some thatched roof under which a high stream is flow- 
ing, I have not been able to believe my ears. That 
inmates should still remain there when only a foot or 
two separates the roof from the level of the water 
passes my comprehension. At any moment the whole 
dwelling may be carried away. Sometimes they have 
lighted a fire and then from lack of space they risk 
being burnt as well as drowned. None seem dis- 
tressed at their situation, they look at and talk of the 
rising water with as much interest as we who have a 
watertight roof to return to. 

Two markets are held at Nhatrang every day, one 
in the morning and one in the evening, but the hours 
are elastic and no sooner has the last comer arrived 
than the first is taking her departure. The women go 
off as heavily laden as they came, for if they have sold 
their goods they have bought others. Their prepara- 



98 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

tions for the long trudge home are soon made. Rising 
from their squatting position, the dust is shaken from 
their long-suffering tunics, the corners of which again 
serve to give a last polish to the treasured bamboos. 
Then the rods are lifted several times to see if the 
baskets are of equal weight, the pointed mushroom 
hats are secured firmly on their heads by pushing the 
red bands which hold them well under the chin, and 
all is ready. They move off singly or in groups. If 
several women start together they always walk one 
behind the other, never two abreast. As they always 
keep within an equal distance, they can still talk, and 
the one right in front will carry on a running conversa- 
tion with the last of the line without ever turning her 
head or slackening her pace. As their gait is more of 
a run than a walk, their heels never touching the 
ground, one would think they had sufficient exertion 
without wasting their breath in conversation. 

It is amusing to watch a woman who makes the 
purchase of a pig. She cannot carry it home alone 
and is obliged to ask assistance from one of her friends. 
The two have hard work to place the struggling animal 
in the bamboo lattice-work basket which is the usual 
means of transport for pigs. Notwithstanding its 
struggles and efforts to get away, it is at last intro- 
duced into its narrow cage and the opening made fast 
with a piece of bamboo string. The poor animal 
pokes its paws through the holes of the basket, and 
is powerless to make a movement. It is not powerless 
to squeal, however, and makes the most of its only re- 
maining resource. The noise is deafening, but the 
women continue their conversation calmly above the 



ROUTINE IN THE LITTLE CAI-NHA 99 

squeals of their charge, and soon he is safely slung to 
a pole which they place between them over their 
shoulders. If the Annamese only adopted the same 
method with their ducks, they would save themselves 
much time and trouble. 

In South Annam it is not rare to meet a herd 
of ducks. The first time we saw any number driven 
together was one evening by moonlight. We were 
preparing for bed in a tram* where we had to 
pass the night, when we heard the soft patter of 
waddling feet on the dusty road, accompanied by 
such a quacking as might announce the assemblage of 
all the ducks of the universe. We went out, and there 
beheld perhaps a thousand or more ducks being driven 
in serried ranks by three or four natives. The latter 
held long canes, and while one directed the foremost 
duck, the others kept its followers in place. The 
outlines of the herd were even, its form symmetrical. 
Suddenly the leading duck was led off the road into an 
open space near us ; the army followed suit, and to 
our disgust we found that they, too, were going to 
spend the night at the tram. However, they were too 
tired with their march to quack long, and when they 
fell asleep, we were allowed to do likewise. 

We made inquiries as to how the Annamese came 
to possess so many ducks at once, for it was impossible 
that they had been hatched out in the ordinary way. 
It appears that the eggs are incubated by being laid 
in flat round baskets and covered with warm paddy, 
which is frequently changed. It is a business which 

* Tram post of relay, where the mail changes hands ; postal 
officials and mandarin travellers can find shelter here. 



ioo ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

needs close attention and an accurate sense of tempera- 
ture by touch, for no thermometer is used. Very few 
natives can manage it successfully, and the whole 
industry seems limited to certain villages. 

When the ducks are old enough, they are distributed 
over the country. They must be driven very slowly 
and carefully and only in the early morning or late 
evening. During the hot part of the day they are 
led into water, and it is curious to see a pond or 
a corner of a rice-field literally moving with ducks. 
They are brown-black (earth colour), so that one is 
struck by the bobbing and flapping before being able 
to distinguish what they really are. 

Besides the market, work on the rice-field has its 
charm for the young girls and women, but this only 
occupies them for short periods and at stated times. 
In Annam it is the men who are chiefly employed. If 
the natural irrigation has been insufficient, it is they who 
bale the water over the banks which separate one field 
from another. These dikes are constructed as much 
as possible at right angles with the stream, and the 
openings are so arranged that the water is distributed 
evenly over the rice-fields, but a slight accident may 
leave one dry, and then the natives must repair the 
mistake. For this purpose three stakes are planted 
on the dike of the unwatered field. These support a 
cord, to which is attached a basket or a bale with a 
long handle made of plaited, bamboo. The instruments 
are primitive. To work the basket, strings are attached 
to either side, and the weight resting on the stakes, 
two men by a twist of their wrists transfer the water 
comparatively easily from a lower to a higher level. 



ROUTINE IN THE LITTLE CAI-NHA 101 

Only one man is necessary if the bale is used ; by 
means of its long handle he swings the water upwards 
without any exertion. But when the field to be thus 
supplied is of any size, the process, as may be imagined, 
takes a good deal of time. 

After the water has soaked well into the ground, 
making the surface soft, the process of ploughing is 
begun. Two buffaloes are yoked to a wooden plough 
and are driven by a man or boy, who cajoles them by 
a series of shrill squeaks, turning them to right or left 
with little taps from a long slender cane. The driver 
is up to his knees in the soft mud, and, like the 
buffaloes, splashed with it from head to foot, but he is 
so intent on keeping control over his clumsy animals 
that he never pauses to wipe his face. 

The stubble and roots of the preceding harvest have 
not yet been removed, but now that they are loosened 
and that the usually hard dry surface is like a slushy 
pond, a harrow is run through. This is also drawn by 
two buffaloes, but the boy who drives in this case 
stands on the low instrument, his feet just above the 
level of the mud. He balances himself by holding on 
to the tails of his steeds. 

The rice is now sown closely in a corner of the field, 
and only when it is four or five inches above the 
ground are the women summoned to plant it out. 
During the whole of its growth, till ready for cut- 
ting, it is a very bright green, of a shade seldom seen in 
Europe, and never over such a large surface. But the 
young shoots before being separated out are of a still 
more vivid colour. They form emerald green patches, 
the brilliance of which is enhanced by contrast with the 



102 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

muddy water extending all around them. When the 
women arrive the young men dig up the shoots, tie 
them into bundles or sheaves, and carry them over to 
one end of the field. Here the women await them, 
standing in a long line, with trousers already rolled 
up and the ends of their tunics fastened round their 
waists or tucked into: their trousers, so that they shall 
not dip into the water. They have also pushed up 
their sleeves as far as the narrow cut of the wrist- 
band permits, but not far enough to prevent them from 
being caked with mud before the day is over. They 
keep on their hats, which hide a great part of their 
bent figures, for they are up to their knees in mud, 
and from a distance they look like a line of giant 
mushrooms. 

As soon as the men give them the bundles they undo 
them and plunge the shoots one by one a few inches 
apart in the soft mud. They work very steadily, seldom 
raising themselves or looking around ; but I have 
caught sight of many a roguish glance from under the 
big hats when the men bend down to place the rice in 
the girls' hands. It is true that, notwithstanding their 
ungraceful attitude and miry task, there is something 
fascinating about them at this moment. Perhaps the 
attraction lies in their tucked-up trousers and raised 
tunics, perhaps in the difficulty of seeing their faces 
under their mushroom hats, or perhaps in the cheeks, 
rosy with exertion, which one sees when standing up- 
right for a second they undo a lappet of their tunic to 
wipe the perspiration and splashes of mud from their 
faces. It may be, too, that as men and women are 
seldom together this work furnishes a favourable oppor- 





ONE OF THE TOWEKS OF THE TCHAM 
TEMPLE AT NHATRANG 



HE BALANCES HIMSELF ON THE HARROW BY 
MEANS OF HIS BUFFALOES' TAILS 





ONE OF THE TRICKS FOR FLOODING 
A RICE-FIELD 



WOMEN PLANTING OUT THE RICE 



ROUTINE IN THE LITTLE CAI-NHA 103 

tunity for love-making. Even a husband and wife never 
walk close together in the village or in any public place, 
still less do men and women speak to each other when 
they meet by accident on the road. Besides the fetch- 
ing of firewood from the forest, work in the rice-fields 
is the only occupation which draws the sexes together. 
Even in returning from the jungle with their stacks of 
wood, custom separates them by at least a hundred 
metres, though it is not likely that in the thick under- 
growth and under the shady foliage they have kept 
that distance apart all the time. 

The day's work done, men and women return to 
the homestead, to find the supper prepared by the 
housewife, and the water fetched by the elder children. 
At last they are at liberty to squat on the ground, their 
elbows resting on their outspread knees. This is the 
woman's favourite position in her leisure moments. 
The male members of the family will often devote 
themselves to their education, poring over dirty little 
books or scraps of paper on which are a few Annamese 
characters. The women, having seldom had the first 
elements of instruction even in childhood, rarely care 
to acquire any later in life. 

When twilight deepens, the big saucepan of rice is 
brought to the fore and the contents divided into a 
number of little bowls, one for each member of the 
family. Other bowls contain broken-up fish, little 
pieces of roast pork, and one or two native vegetables. 
Each person picks up from these common dishes with 
his chopsticks a little morsel here and there, and, after 
first dipping it into the nuoc-mam, without which no 
Annamese meal is complete, flavours his own little 



104 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

bowl to his liking. The Annamese never eat with 
their fingers ; if they have no chopsticks at hand any 
slender pieces of wood picked up on the ground will 
do instead. They never drink while eating, but wait 
till the meal is finished. 

Supper ended, the family generally retires at once ; 
first the chattering of the children ceases, then the 
murmur of voices dies away altogether. Only the old 
man (png-gid) does not sleep, but sits at the hut door 
in contemplation. After a time he too raises himself, 
and after choosing out a taper from a little red packet 
in a corner, lights it at the dying fire, and places it 
upright in the sand-filled vase on the altar. This last 
act of devotion accomplished, he lets down the bamboo 
door and complete silence reigns. 



CHAPTER VI 

THE MANDARIN AT HOME 

How to become a mandarin : The esteem with which 
education is regarded in Annam : The mandarin's house 
and furniture : The Citadel : Visit to the Quan Bo of 
the province : Shaking hands : Refreshments : His 
family : Nicknames of the children : Respect due to the 
family name : The Quan Bo's return call : A brother of 
Thanh-Thai : Illness of one of his wives : The princess : 
A royal infant : A Chinese pipe : Snapshots 

THERE is no permanent Annamese aristocracy, except 
in the Royal Family. Titles are not hereditary; they 
drop one degree with every generation, so that if the 
members of a family do nothing by personal effort to 
deserve a renewal of their former distinctions, the 
family soon loses its honourable estate. Any man in 
the kingdom may become a mandarin or high Govern- 
ment official, as all public offices are open to competition. 
This rule admits of a few exceptions. Those who render 
signal services to the country are entitled to similar 
honours. The citizen, for instance, who has succeeded 
in developing a certain amount of uncleared land, trans- 
forming jungle into rice-fields, is ennobled ; even in 
this land of literary examinations, agriculture is rightly 
honoured. But yet it is the " literary " mandarin who 
of the two is held in the higher esteem. This demand 



106 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

for efficiency should be of good omen for the future of 
the country, but it must be remembered that education 
in Annam is not progressive. The examinations of 
to-day are identical with those of many centuries ago.* 
The subjects are literature, language, the doctrines of 
Confucius. If they could be altered, and some of the 
energy now spent on letters could be devoted to 
science, the nation would make rapid progress. 

The mandarin almost always lives in a brick-built 
house with verandahs running round, after the fashion 
of the European bungalow. The tiled roof is in many 
cases much ornamented, and the crest, instead of being 
a straight line, curves to form the profile of a dragon. 
Butterflies, bats, or lotus flowers are frescoed into the 
lime above doors and windows. As on the tombs, this 
is done by means of broken fragments of blue and 
green porcelain, but it is only on close inspection that 
one can see the hundreds of chips which have been 
required to complete a single design. 

The house is generally whitewashed inside, but in 
spite of this the rooms do not have a clean appearance. 
All the Annamese, rich and poor, chew the betel-nut,t 
which makes a red saliva in the mouth, and this they 
spit out on floors and walls. The red stains are, of 
course, much more noticeable here than on the mud 
floors in the huts of the poorer classes, and give one 
a greater feeling of repugnance. Surely, if civilised 
enough to use whitewash, they ought to have learnt 

* Lately attempts have been made to modernise the programme 
of study. 

f This is really the nut of the areca-palm, cut up and wrapped in 
a leaf of the betel (Piper betle\ which is first smeared over with lime. 




I'RINCESS THUVKN IIOA OUTSIDE HER HOUSK 



THE MANDARIN AT HOME 107 

not to spit on it ! On the contrary, they are proud of 
the distance they can project their saliva, and one often 
sees small children competing with each other at this 
sport. The habit of chewing destroys any claim to 
beauty which the women might be said to possess, for 
it discolours their lips, and, together with the black 
lacquer used to preserve their teeth, makes the mouth 
a most repulsive feature. 

My first glimpse of a mandarin's house was obtained 
the day we returned the visit of the Quan B6> the 
chief Annamese administrator of the province. Annam, 
unlike Cochin-China, is at present only a French Pro- 
tectorate, and in theory the Annamese officials have 
as much to say in the government of a province as the 
French Resident. They take their orders direct from 
the Ministers of the King at Hue. Nevertheless in 
practice they are ready to sanction any reform that the 
Resident proposes. 

The Quan Bo's house, like those of most of the 
other great mandarins, is situated inside the Citadel,* 
fifteen kilometres from Nhatrang. When we came in 
sight of the walls, I recalled incidents which I had just 
been reading in the history of the region. It seemed 
astonishing that such walls and moats could ever have 
successfully withstood an attack. Yet there had been 
fought many a bloody combat in which the Citadel 
had been taken and re-taken events had left their 
mark. The walls were still broken down in places, 
never having been reconstructed after the last assault ; 

* The " citadels " of Annam are rarely fortresses, but towns or 
villages, surrounded by ramparts, which become the centres of 
resistance in time of war. 



io8 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

the stagnant water of the moats was now covered with 
dirty green moss, except where beautiful lotus lilies 
hid the dank vegetation. The general appearance, 
though miserable and dirty, was still picturesque. 

On the narrow bridge over the moat, we came to a 
standstill ; the heavy Citadel door was shut. Some 
youngsters off the roadside had heard the horses' feet, 
however, and came running up, only too pleased to be 
of service to us. When the massive portals had been 
pushed back on their creaking wheels, we found the 
doorway only just wide enough for the passage of our 
cradle-cart. It reminded us of the entrance to a fort- 
ress of the Middle Ages, and as the doors swung back 
behind us, I felt rather like a fly entering a spider's 
web. Above the brickwork of the door was a sentinel's 
tower large enough to hold twenty or thirty men. 
Along the walls five men could walk abreast. 

I was rather disappointed with the appearance of 
the village inside. We had been looking forward to 
the sight of something quite new, but at first discovered 
few novel features. The four roads which led towards 
the four gates of the ancient Citadel were symmetrical; 
they were also broader and in better repair than the 
stony, straggling paths of most villages ; a huge building 
used as a granary in times of siege, and a vast prison, 
stood out conspicuously, but apart from these nothing 
exceptional arrested our attention. The same dank 
ponds, grass, bushes, trees, native huts with gardens, 
the same general disorder, in fact, met our gaze here 
as elsewhere. 

The Quan Bo's house was off the principal road ; as 
we drove into the courtyard in front, the silence and 



THE MANDARIN AT HOME 109 

solitude gave place to life and babble. Coolies ran 
here and there, heads peeped out from the windows, 
and children slid through the doors watching us open- 
mouthed and open-eyed. Many of these little mites 
were in coloured silk tunics, the soldiers wore the 
scarlet coat and little round hat of the bodyguard of 
a high Annamese official, so that touches of bright 
colour made a pleasing contrast to the everlasting 
indigo blue of people on the road. 

By the time we had mounted the verandah steps the 
Quan B6 had made his appearance and was waiting to 
greet us. He gave his hand to my husband and then to 
me. It was the first time I had shaken hands with an 
Annamese, and a shudder went through me when I felt 
in my own the uncanny dry-skinned fingers with their 
long nails. This simple and natural action brought 
home to me more strongly than ever the natural 
antipathy that exists between white and yellow races. 
In theory, I do not mind shaking hands with any of the 
mandarins who will condescend to do me that honour, 
but I can never do so without this consciousness. 

It is true that the Annamese never shake hands 
among themselves, so that the gesture is an unfamiliar 
one ; if equals, they simply bow with arms hanging 
down ; for a respectful greeting they join their hands, 
open palm over closed fist, shaking them slightly up 
and down. The lai, which I have already described, 
is the salute of an inferior to a superior. 

The Quan Bo was dressed in a brilliant sea-green 
tunic, a present from the King. It was a piece of silk 
unique both in dye and pattern, like those sometimes 
made for royalty. This was the only bright spot in 



i TO ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

the room. All else was sombre and even slovenly. 
The furniture consisted of a very ordinary European 
table and a dozen chairs placed in two lines opposite 
each other. There were a few lacquered trays and 
round boxes, whose dark-coloured, highly polished 
wood was entirely inlaid with gleaming mother-of-pearl, 
some ancient blue porcelains and one or two Annamese 
pictures. These last were painted on strong flexible 
Chinese paper and were hung like kakemonos against 
the wall without frames. The subjects were the same 
as those on the tombs and pagoda walls, representations 
of Buddha either walking up a hill-side or sitting under 
a tree, or riding on a buffalo. He held the eternal fan 
in his hand, and an eagle, more resembling a swan or 
a peacock, followed in his footsteps. There were also 
pictures of the dragon, the unicorn, and the tortoise, 
the other three sacred animals. All the drawings 
were primitive and out of proportion. 

I was very disappointed at not finding more Anna- 
mese ornaments, though my husband had warned me 
we should see nothing of any great interest or value. 
All the mandarins of Annam are poor, or, if not, they 
pretend to be so. The native governors of a province 
are not entitled to any fixed official salary ; they are 
considered as the "father and mother " of the popula- 
tion they govern, and the "children " are supposed to 
provide the "parents" with all the necessaries of life. 
This arrangement is far from perfect, for the 
"parents" often take advantage of their position to 
extort large sums of money from their " children." 
But not the most well-to-do native governors, nor 
even the Ministers of Hu6, can boast of wealth or 




AT THE QUAN BOS HOUSE 




TilK QUAN HO I.KNT MIC HIS OHTU IAI. KOHKS 



THE MANDARIN AT HOME in 

houses like those of the rich mandarins in Cochin- 
China or Tonking. 

The Annamese are notoriously hospitable ; we 
were offered champagne, but finally accepted tea. I 
was very thirsty after my long drive : my pleasant 
anticipation of a drink was slightly thwarted when I 
saw the tactics of the eldest son, who was doing the 
honours of the table. Finding the little Chinese tea- 
pot did not pour very well, he took it up, placed the 
spout in his mouth, and blew lustily down. To drink 
or not to drink, that was the question ! 

We asked our host after his wife and family, and 
though he did not offer to introduce us to his wife, he 
at once proposed to show us his children. Six little 
boys were brought into the room, all appearing to be 
between the ages of two and eight. I was ruminating 
over this fact, till I remembered that polygamy was 
both lawful and laudable in Annam. " All boys ? " I 
said, with wonder. " I have four little girls, too," was 
the answer given me through the interpreter, and when 
I asked if they were not coming too, he had them 
fetched, but was evidently surprised at my taking any 
interest in them. Women cannot maintain the cult of 
ancestor-worship ; the birth of a boy is therefore hailed 
with much greater delight than that of a girl. Polygamy 
is the direct result of this faith, for, if a man has no 
son, the link in the chain which binds generation to 
generation is broken. Such a disaster would not only 
affect the childless man, but all the former generations 
of the family. 

I asked the children their names through the inter- 
preter, and found that they were called hai, ba, bon 



ii2 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

(two, three, four), according to the order in which they 
were born. Number one is always reserved for the 
mother. I remembered that I also had a hai and a ba 
among my servants, and realised that these names were 
thus given in every family. They had nicknames 
as well, but all of a most uncomplimentary character, 
such as dirt, slug, snail, pig, manure, &c. This seems 
strange until one remembers that in Annam one can 
never express admiration for a baby without causing 
its mother great anxiety, for if the " Ma" and " Qui " 
(devils) should overhear your remarks, they might 
covet the child and steal it. The congratulations to 
the proud mother on her newborn infant are therefore 
very different from those we are used to in England. 

The family name of an Annamese is never mentioned 
either in speaking of a man or to him. It may be 
written for business purposes on a deed and on the 
ancestral tablets, but never in any ordinary correspon- 
dence. Even students in their examinations are not 
allowed to call a king by his proper name ; it would 
be considered an act of Ihe majestd. They must 
pronounce or spell it wrongly, or explain whom they 
mean by many periphrases. 

When one man quarrels with another, he calls him 
by his proper name, or as the direst insult, he utters 
with contempt all the names of his ancestors. This is 
far worse than to call him a scoundrel, an assassin, 
a blackguard, or dog, and can never be forgiven. 

All conversations between Annamese contain hidden 
meanings ; every expression has a double sense. In 
this art the mandarins excel. The greatest ingenuity 
is displayed, and is highly appreciated by a nation 



THE MANDARIN AT HOME 113 

which denies any virtue to frankness. Indeed, they 
have a superstitious fear of the truth. In trials for 
theft, men will tell lie after lie, and even when 
obliged to confess by torture, it is not of the crime 
itself that they are ashamed, but of the acknowledg- 
ment of their guilt. A woman was once brought to 
my husband's infirmary dying from suffocation. She 
had stolen some jewels, and, to prevent herself reveal- 
ing their hiding-place, whilst undergoing a severe 
beating she had bitten her tongue right through. It 
had swollen so much that it was impossible for her to 
take nourishment, and she could only breathe with 
difficulty. She obstinately refused all the doctor's aid, 
preferring to die rather than to live and be forced to 
divulge her secret. She recovered in spite of herself, 
and had again to be delivered into the hands of native 
justice. We never knew her fate. 

When the children of the Quan Bo had been dis- 
missed, we rose to take our leave. As we mounted 
the dog-cart, I saw our host look round for our 
servants ; he was evidently surprised that we had come 
unattended. He himself on his visit to us had brought 
six or seven followers ; in fact, when I had seen the 
little group coming in at the garden gate, I had 
wondered how I should seat all my visitors. How- 
ever, the native bodyguard who had drawn his rick- 
shaw remained outside, and only his interpreter and 
boy entered the house. The latter is an individual 
much to be pitied. He must always be at hand ; 
wherever his master goes he must follow, often on foot. 
It is not uncommon to meet a mandarin riding or 
driving, his wretched boy running behind with all his 



H4 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

might, often in a great state of exhaustion. It is he 
who carries his master's smoking materials, which do 
not consist of a mere pipe and tobacco-pouch. No 
mandarin travels without a big, oblong, lacquered box 
fitted with trays divided into different compartments, 
in which, besides pipes and tobacco, visiting-cards, 
Chinese pen and ink, betel leaves, lime, and all the 
materials for chewing are carried. The mandarin 
keeps the key of this precious box on his person, and 
from time to time during conversation he calls to the 
boy, opens the box, and provides himself with what he 
needs. It is often said that Europeans are too exact- 
ing with their native servants, but I have seen no task 
imposed by them so arduous as this. 

A short time ago we paid a call on the brother of 
the ex-king, a mandarin of much higher rank. When 
Thanh-thai was deposed in 1907, he and most of his 
family were obliged to leave Hue" and the Court. 
Thanh-Thai himself was sent to the Cap St. Jacques, 
where the residence of the Governor-General was put 
at his disposal till a new palace could be built for him 
in Cochin-China. His family and adherents did not 
fare so well. His brother, Prince Thuyen Hoa, till 
then the highest and most influential mandarin in the 
country, after the king, was brought to Nhatrang. In 
such an out-of-the-way spot he naturally found no 
friends or companions of his own standing, and not 
having been allowed to bring away his horses and 
motors from the capital, he was cut off from the rest of 
the province. His stipend from the Government 
probably does not permit him to buy new ones, he 
feels it beneath his dignity to ride in a rickshaw, and 



THE MANDARIN AT HOME 

he is therefore practically a prisoner in his house at the 
Citadel. It is said that he has scarcely enough money 
to keep up the large retinue of wives and servants 
which he brought with him. 

It was in connection with one of their number that 
we became acquainted with him. He wrote to my 
husband asking him to call and medically attend her 
for a slight illness. Such a demand, even from a 
member of the Royal House who had mixed freely 
with Europeans, surprised us. It was a marked sign 
of progress, as it was for his own wife that he asked 
assistance. 

I accompanied my husband on his second visit to the 
patient, and was introduced to the Prince. He was an 
intelligent-looking youth of about twenty-six, with 
manners almost European and a good French accent. 
His hair was cut short and parted at the side, but he 
still wore the black Annamese turban. He was in 
white cotton trousers and a black openwork tunic, 
something like a very fine black silk mantilla. He wore 
a little thin gold plate indicating his title in Annamese 
characters ; such ornaments in ivory are worn by all 
mandarins. On his breast was also pinned the red 
ribbon of the Le"gion d'honneur. This reminds me 
of a story which illustrates Annamese wit. The same 
honour had been conferred upon the ex-king. When 
the French were taking an inventory of all the valu- 
ables of his palace upon his departure, the king hold- 
ing up the order exclaimed sarcastically, " Here is a 
valuable you have forgotten to include." 

After a few minutes' conversation, his wife (wife of 
the first rank) entered the room, and his little two-year- 



ii6 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

old daughter. Clearly intercourse with Europeans was 
frequent ; it is not Annamese etiquette for a mandarin's 
wife to appear when any but a lady visitor is present. 

The Princess was pretty, with a clear and a very 
white complexion, in fact, as regards colouring, she 
might have been mistaken for a European. Her hair, 
very smoothly brushed back, was done up in a waving 
chignon at the back of her head, in the same manner 
as other Annamese women, but with much more care 
and chic. She wore several tunics one over the other, 
but as all were of light feathery silk, they must have 
caused no inconvenience, and the colours, as perceived 
through the slits up the sides of the tunic, harmonised 
admirably. The top one was a glorious shade of opal 
pink. It was fastened by means of tiny round gold 
buttons instead of the ordinary stuff ones. The sleeves 
were in the height of Annamese fashion, and so 
narrow at the wrist that I could not imagine how the 
Princess had managed to get her hands, slender though 
they were, through them. Her gold bracelets were 
fastened over the sleeves and clung tightly to the arm. 

Her trousers were of black satin, and the tips of her 
toes were slipped into tiny ornamented Annamese 
shoes. A woman's feet are one of her chief attractions, 
and she is careful not to hide them too effectually ; 
though the richer class of women possess slippers, their 
feet lie on them rather than in them. The "carmine 
heel," so much admired, can thus display its full 
charm. 

The little girl, though very shy at first, consented 
after a time to come up to us and say bonjour with the 
quaintest little bow imaginable. Her name, " Bai," 




A MANDARIN IN HIS GARDLN 




TWO MANDARINS WITH THKIR HOUSEHOLD AND RETAINERS 



THE MANDARIN AT HOME 117 

meaning " Little Worry," was truer than most nick- 
names. Bai's head was shaved as clean as the palm 
of one's hand, except for two little triangles at each 
side, where the hair had been allowed to grow and 
hung down to her neck. Though curious, this coiffure 
was not ugly ; in fact it gave her a piquant and rather 
attractive look. It was much tidier than the tuft of 
hair left at the crown of the head of the peasant child. 
She was dressed entirely in yellow, the royal colour, 
which till lately was prohibited to all subjects of the king- 
dom, and indeed is never worn even now. Her nurse 
brought her into the room. Though the child was over 
two years old, she was still being fed from the breast. 
My conversation with the Princess was carried on under 
difficulties, as I could seldom understand the inter- 
preter, and, unlike her husband, she spoke no French. 
The entrance of tea was therefore a welcome interrup- 
tion. Little stands of finely carved wood had already 
been placed in front of us as we sat solemnly round the 
table, and now two more servants appeared, one of 
whom held a tray on which were little blue bowls of 
steaming tea. These were put on the little wooden 
stands. The tea was, I believe, of an ancient and 
priceless blend, but alas ! its charm was lost for me ; 
I cannot enjoy tea without sugar. 

Between the sips of tea, a Chinese pipe, a most 
complicated instrument, made up of a jar containing 
water, a little receptacle above for the tobacco, and a 
long thin piece of bamboo, was brought to the Princess. 
The jar was of jade, very valuable and over two 
hundred years old. As the pipe could not hold more 
than two pinches of tobacco, the Princess was never 



ii8 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

able to take more than one whiff at a time, and was 
therefore constantly requiring the pipe to be brought 
to her. I found it most fascinating to watch the 
servant sliding noiselessly up to her, kneeling down, 
and dexterously putting a match to the tobacco the 
instant that the bamboo touched her lips. 

These interruptions made the process of tea drink- 
ing somewhat slow, but the ceremoniousness of the 
occasion was happily interrupted by the baby Princess. 
She suddenly began talking volubly and emphatically to 
her nurse, and as she had been quiet and shy up to 
that moment I asked the interpreter what she wanted. 
" She demands that her trousers be removed," said 
that official promptly, but with great seriousness. I 
was so taken aback by the unexpected reply that for a 
moment I did not know whether to laugh or be shocked. 
However, I remembered on reflection that the child, 
like her poorer compatriots, generally ran about the 
house without that garment, and had had enough of it. 
Her request, however, could not be granted owing to 
our presence. I had brought my camera with me in 
the hope of getting a few snapshots. All tea-time I 
had anxiously watched the sun getting lower and lower. 
I knew, however, that etiquette is of the greatest 
importance in the eyes of the Oriental, and having 
never seen an Annamese hurry I curbed my impatience 
as best I could. The light was very bad by the time 
the Prince and Princess at last posed themselves 
stiffly on high-backed chairs on the verandah for the 
operation. When they had been taken in several 
positions, the Prince turned to my husband and asked 
him to take a photograph of the whole household. It 



THE MANDARIN AT HOME 119 

had never entered my head that we should have a 
chance of seeing the other wives, and I was very grateful 
for the opportunity. But I was a little disappointed 
when they gathered on the verandah to find that it was 
impossible to distinguish the wives from the servants. 
They were all young and rather nice-looking, but none 
had the distinguished air of the Princess. From the 
short glimpse we had of them, they seemed to be a 
happy and united family no doubt far happier than in 
the days when they lived amid the intrigues of the 
Palace. 



CHAPTER VII 

RELIGIOUS RITES AND SUPERSTITIOUS BELIEFS 

Religious systems of Annam : The scepticism of the 
native : Spirits arid genii : Countryside shrines : The 
shrine to the tiger : Superstitions concerning the tiger : 
Ancestor-worship : The benefits to family life of this 
cult : Its ceremonies : The death and funeral of a 
believer : The practice of polygamy 

RELIGION and superstition are so intermingled in the 
mind of the Annamese and in his performance of all 
rites and ceremonies, that it is impossible to speak of 
one without the other. 

Different religions are recognised in the country, but 
none has a distinct body of adherents : an Annamese 
will worship indifferently at a Buddhist orTaoist pagoda, 
the distance or a pecuniary consideration alone guiding 
him in his choice. It is not, indeed, rare to find on 
the same altar, side by side with the image of Buddha, 
a statue of Confucius and of Laotseu, the founder of 
the Taoist religion. This illustrates the confusion 
which reigns in the religious systems of Annam ; their 
original distinctiveness lost, superstition and sorcery 
have had no difficulty in introducing themselves. 
Europeans can hardly understand this attitude of mind, 
which makes no effort to reconcile conflicting theories. 
It is in a great measure this eclecticism which has 

120 



RELIGIOUS RITES 121 

enabled missionaries to convert such large numbers 
to Christianity. Toleration, a good trait in a nation's 
character, is here so wide as to lead to scepticism and 
apathy. The Annamese is often Buddhist, Taoist, 
Confucianist, all in one, while quite incapable of dis- 
tinguishing the creed and ceremonials belonging to 
each faith. The precepts of Confucius are those 
which make the strongest appeal to his intelligence, 
but none influence his daily actions or call forth 
anything beyond an ignorant veneration. It is the 
worship of the various spirits and genii, which, 
as he believes, hover about him at work or in sleep, 
and still more ancestor-worship, which guide and con- 
trol his whole life. These two creeds embody all the 
hopes and fears of the mass of the population. The 
first regards the elements and all natural phenomena 
as endowed with a living spirit, and assigns not only to 
men and animals, but even to things and places, a rank 
and gender. The spirits commonly worshipped in 
Annam may be divided into three classes : the Celes- 
tial, or those in space, from one of whom all the great 
dynasties declare themselves to be descended ; the 
Genii of the Waters (it is in the depth of the sea that 
the land of departed spirits is placed) ; and the Genii of 
the Earth, who protect certain portions of the country 
as well as the village and the home. 

Every trade again, with the particular tools belong- 
ing to it, is under the protection of some supernatural 
power. The peasant makes a sacrifice not only to the Ce- 
lestial Genii, but to the spirit of his buffaloes ; the fisher- 
man not only to the Genii of the Waters, but to those of 
his nets ; the merchant to those of his baskets, &c. &c. 



izz ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

Small shrines are erected in every conceivable corner 
to these spirits, so that, including the pagodas, where 
Buddha, Confucius, and Laotseu are promiscuously 
worshipped, it requires all the goodwill of the credulous 
Annamese to perform his religious duties properly. 
The number of altars belonging to a single village is 
sometimes very considerable. Moreover, in the large 
pagodas, bonzes officiate who live solely by alms. The 
faithful must therefore bring food for the priests as 
well as their gifts for the altar. 

Shrines are not necessarily in the neighbourhood of 
a village ; indeed, as one wanders through the country, 
one comes upon them in most unexpected places, and 
often quite out of the beaten track. Just as the pagodas 
are generally situated on some hill where there is a 
beautiful view, so the sites of these shrines are never 
wanting in attraction. Sometimes they are right in 
the midst of some bushes, or on the lower branches of 
a tree, so that the halo of green all round sets them 
off to advantage. They never seem neglected ; the 
poorest little edifice can boast of a taper or two, a 
faded flower, or some silver and gilded paper. 

When out hunting we have sometimes lighted on 
one of these small temples in some far-off lonely spot, 
and have suddenly been reminded that we are tres- 
passing on " my Lord Tiger's" domain, for, represented 
on a screen inside, is " Ong Kop " himself. The 
elephant, silkworm, and rat enjoy a real cult, but the 
animal which is most venerated and which inspires 
the greatest number of superstitions and traditions is 
the tiger. He is never mentioned without his title, 
and within the forest the coolie will no longer mention 



RELIGIOUS RITES 123 

him at all ; he makes a clawing sign with his hand if he 
wishes to indicate that the dreaded monster is near. 

More than once the population of a village has libe- 
rated a tiger caught in a trap. When, in the early 
morning, the presence and plight of His Majesty have 
been made known, all the Annamese in the region 
collect round him, and after making lais to him and 
praying him not to take revenge on them for the insult, 
they make a deafening noise with their tom-toms, open 
his prison door, and let him escape ! 

As may be imagined, the organised tiger hunt is 
almost an impossibility in Annam, the few individuals 
who, having no personal fear, might consent to act as 
beaters, being prevented by the rest of the villagers. 
For, even if the tiger was not killed, the mere attempt 
would be such an act of disrespect that later, not only 
those who took part in the hunt, but the whole village, 
would assuredly suffer. There is also another thing 
to be considered. A man caught and eaten by Ong 
Kop would remain unburied, for in all probability his 
family would be unable to find his bones. Such a 
disaster would be worse than death itself, for souls 
abandoned and deprived of burial suffer such terrible 
agony that they become spirits of the most injurious 
kind, revenging themselves on generation after 
generation. 

This anxiety for the funeral ceremonial has some- 
times been known to cause the premature death of a 
sick man. My husband's infirmary boy once arrived 
in the middle of the night, to say that a native patient 
was dead and that his family had come for the body. 
My husband was slightly surprised, as he expected 



124 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

this man to live another few days, but as he is obliged 
to let patients come and go as they please, it was use- 
less to make a protest. The next afternoon a friend 
told us that he had met a procession of natives carry- 
ing the unlucky patient who was then still alive, but 
suffering agonies with every movement of the palan- 
quin. His relations were so desirous of having the 
body, that they could not curb their impatience to 
wait till he was dead ! They preferred taking away 
his last chance of life ! 

But to return to the tiger. He, like other animals, 
undergoes transformations under different circum- 
stances and at different times. For instance, at the 
age of fifty he can change into an old woman, at the 
age of a hundred into a young and beautiful maiden, 
though one who is dangerous to her admirers. There 
are numbers of popular stories of this sort. It is 
natural, therefore, that all the little temples dedicated 
to Ong Kop should be honoured by sacrifices, offered 
rather in the hope of appeasing the deity and winning 
his favour than from any feeling of devotion. In the 
same manner, the evil Genii are revered far more than 
the good Genii, for every misfortune, great or small, 
is attributed to the neglect of one of them. 

All this worship of gods and spirits holds, however, 
a subordinate place in comparison with ancestor-wor- 
ship, upon which is concentrated all the real religious 
fervour of the people. This is the basis upon which 
all morals and customs are founded, and it governs all 
social and domestic life. In the East it is said that 
" the dead rule the living," and there is much truth in 
the statement. Happily the influence of this religion 



RELIGIOUS RITES 125 

is almost entirely good. One of its chief dogmas is 
the care, consideration, and respect due to the older 
members of a family. However old and feeble the 
head of the household may he, he rules with a rod of 
iron. His wish is law. The woman, even, as soon 
as she becomes a ba-gia, enjoys an influence far greater 
than in her youth. A man takes advice from his 
mother more readily than from his wife. 

It is not only in the family that this devotion and 
submission are noticeable. Any individual on the 
road with grey hair or other indication of age is ad- 
dressed by a title denoting great respect. 

Another result of ancestor-worship is a love of chil- 
dren. The Annamese are most devoted parents, and 
if it were not for their ignorance of hygiene, they 
would be model fathers and mothers. 

Children are brought up not only with the idea of 
what is due to their parents in old age, but of what is 
due to them after death. They must strictly observe 
all the rites of ancestor-worship when, on fte days, 
their father performs the ceremonies, for later one 
of them will take his place. The chief ceremonies are 
held just before the Tet (the Annamese New Year) 
and on the anniversaries of the deaths of the parents. 
No member of the family must be absent on this occa- 
sion ; punishments can even be inflicted by law for such 
an offence. The offerings placed on the altar at this 
time are more important than at any other season during 
the year, and in rich families they are increased daily. 
On the day of the ceremony, the head of the family 
dons his best robes, lights the tapers on the altar, and 
before the assembled family goes through a ritual 



126 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

which is punctilious in all its forms. He opens the 
service by pouring wine into three glasses on the 
altar and saying : "I respectfully invite your presence, 
great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, uncles, and 
aunts, to this reception, which your descendants 
humbly offer you with all their heart," or words to that 
effect. He then prostrates himself before the altar. 
A pause follows during which he and each one of the 
assembly must endeavour to think that he is in the 
presence of his ancestors, who have come to the altar 
to take part in the banquet. The service then con- 
tinues, more wine is poured out, other words are pro- 
nounced, and more prostrations follow, in fact, a strict 
ritual is enjoined. 

We see, therefore, that the immortality of the soul 
is firmly believed in by the Annamese ; other cus- 
toms show how death is his constant preoccupation. 
Soon after middle age his chief desire is to provide 
himself with a coffin ; it must be the best that his 
means can procure. When he has found one that 
pleases him, he carries it to his home, where it forms 
the most prominent and richest article of furniture. A 
mandarin of Nhatrang once asked my husband to 
attend his brother in a serious illness. When he heard 
that the patient could not possibly recover, his distress 
was most acute. On a later visit, however, my hus- 
band found him in such a happy, serene frame of mind, 
that he thought a miracle must have happened. The 
mandarin, in joyous excitement, led him to his brother's 
side, and there, at the foot of the bed, was a finely 
carved, brilliantly painted coffin. The patient, though 
ery weak, raised himself to have one more look at 



RELIGIOUS RITES 127 

his treasure, and evidently felt that death had now 
lost all its terrors. He was full of gratitude to the 
donor. The mandarin's distress had been due not 
only to the knowledge that he must lose his brother, 
but to the fact that his coffin was not ready ! Now 
that it had been finished in time, and all preparations 
for death made, he could await the end with calm. 

The death of an Annamese gives rise to a very 
curious custom. It is necessary to capture the soul as 
it leaves the body, in order to place it inside the tablet 
which is conspicuous on every altar. For this purpose, 
when the dying man is about to breathe his last, a 
piece of silk is placed on his breast, into which the 
soul is supposed to pass. As soon as the man is dead, 
the silk is hung inside the " chariot of the soul " which 
in every funeral precedes the coffin. After the funeral 
the silk is taken out and rubbed over the tablet, which 
has meanwhile been inscribed with the names, titles, 
and occupation of the deceased ; the soul by this 
means passes from one to the other. This tablet is 
generally kept in a red lacquered box, and is the most 
revered object on the altar. Rich families carefully 
preserve the different tablets of the family for five 
generations, but it is considered no breach of respect 
if only those of the parents are kept. When the soul 
is safely deposited in the tablet, the piece of silk is 
buried in some spot indicated by a sorcerer, never 
beside the coffin. 

Many are the superstitious rites of a funeral when 
the family can afford to observe them all. It is not a 
very mournful affair, for though the women weepers 
cry and wail, one never forgets that they are paid for 



128 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

the work. The colouring is gay and the discordant 
music has not a melancholy effect. Tom-toms, clari- 
nets, and three or four Chinese violins generally 
precede the procession. Each fiddler scrapes away 
without ceasing, apparently taking no heed of the 
time or tune of his fellows. Then comes the "chariot 
of the soul" borne aloft on poles by half a dozen 
coolies. It is a kind of paper tabernacle. On each 
side are drawings and brilliantly coloured designs, 
dragons and other sacred animals as well as many 
Annamese characters. Behind this come one or 
several altars, on which are placed all the family heir- 
looms, bronze ornaments, porcelain vases, and often a 
picture of the dead person painted by an Annamese 
artist. 

The coffin is carried on a sort of catafalque, which 
is borne by a mass of coolies ; the richer the funeral, 
the greater the number. Each coolie has in his 
mouth a piece of wood, which is supposed to be a 
help to him in carrying his burden. The movements 
of the bearers are directed by a native, a master of the 
ceremonies, who stands on the catafalque itself. From 
this elevated position he can see and be seen by every 
one. In front of him is a glass of water, and his 
whole endeavour is to keep the coffin so level that not 
a drop shall be spilt. From the moment the coffin 
leaves the house till it is safely deposited in the grave, 
he does not cease gesticulating or screaming orders. 
When the ground is uneven or a slope must be 
mounted, he watches the glass at his feet with in- 
creased intensity, and works himself into a frenzy of 
excitement. As a last resort, when all his vocabulary 



RELIGIOUS RITES 129 

is exhausted, and the coolies seem no longer to listen 
to his ejaculations, he offers ten cents, then twenty, then 
a dollar, to each bearer, if not a drop of water is spilt. 

Behind the catafalque walk the bereaved relatives. 
They are dressed in white, with white turbans. Their 
trousers are without a hem round the ankles, for the 
frayed ends of white cotton are a sign of mourning. 
They maintain a grave and dignified attitude, very 
different from that of the hired women weepers who 
follow them. Occasionally they are provided with 
sticks or supported by coolies on either side ; they are 
so bowed down with grief that they can no longer 
walk alone. 

The period of mourning for every relative is pre- 
cisely indicated, and in general faithfully observed. 
The rules of conduct during that time are strict, and 
any disregard of them is punishable by law. Some 
are very severe : for instance, the sons of the deceased 
man are not allowed to marry for three years after 
his death, or, if already married, they must not have 
a child. 

When the head of a family dies, he does not leave 
his money in equal portions to all his children ; the 
eldest son has always the largest share, so that he may 
be* in a position to continue the ceremonies of ancestor- 
worship. Sometimes a large sum of money is be- 
queathed expressly for this purpose, and goes from 
eldest son to eldest son for many generations. The 
law of the land sees that this money is not perverted 
from its original purpose. If a man leaves nothing, 
the family often subscribe a sum which is put into the 
hands of the eldest son. 

I 



130 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANN AM 

To die leaving no son is therefore a terrible 
catastrophe to the Annamese, for the acts of devotion 
of a lifetime are rendered void. Though the richer 
classes practise polygamy willingly, it is this necessity 
alone which causes a poor Annamese to take a second 
wife. He probably cannot afford to have two, and if 
he is not rich enough to please both, the quiet of his 
home is destroyed. Jealousy and discord reign; the 
calm, placid tenor of his existence is ended. There 
is an Annamese proverb, " More than one wife, no 
peace," and not long after my arrival in the country, I 
had a personal proof of the truth of the saying. I was 
taking my siesta in the hot part of the afternoon, when 
I was startled out of my doze by fearful shrieks coming 
from the direction of the kitchen. I jumped up and 
rushed there, supposing that at least a kettle of boiling 
water had scalded two or three individuals. I think 
my boy would have preferred that to the actual fact. 
His wife and the woman he had told me was his sister 
were in violent altercation. Beside themselves with 
fury, their hair down, their tunics torn, they had just 
fallen apart after a hand-to-hand scuffle. At the 
moment of my arrival, their rage had turned on my 
boy. He would have escaped altogether if I had let 
him. With my hands to my ears, I shouted to him to 
make them stop screaming and yelling, but he was 
quite unable to do so. My efforts to drive them both 
out of the garden were vain, so I returned to my bed- 
room, though too agitated to resume my siesta. I 
dreaded lest anybody, attracted by the noise, should 
come and see my helplessness. Fortunately it was 
my husband who was the first to approach the house ; 



RELIGIOUS RITES 131 

in a minute he had put a stop to the disturbance, and 
I saw two coolies carrying the women out of the 
garden gate. Their screams and oaths did not abate 
during this treatment, and I imagined them continuing 
their duel on some isolated spot on the sands till one 
or both dropped from exhaustion. The two coolies 
looked even more dishevelled than usual as they came 
back later, wiping the perspiration from their faces 
with their dirty turbans before replacing them round 
their chignons. They required a big tip after that 
feat! 

There was no need to ask my boy the reason of the 
quarrel. It was apparent. His legal wife, who 
brought him his lunch, had, by mismanagement, met 
his "sister," who brought him his supper. Not only 
had his wife not been invited to choose for him the 
secondary wife, as is the usual custom, but she had not 
even been informed of his intention of taking one. I 
uttered no reproach ; his punishment had begun, and 
who could say where it would end ? 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE SOCIAL POSITION OF WOMEN 

Marriage laws : Betrothal and divorce : Betrothal and 
marriage ceremonials : Polygamy : Social situation : 
Education and occupations : Peculiarities of Annamese 
beauty : Generalities 

ACCORDING to Annamese law, which is of earlier date 
than the French Civil Code, a woman is the equal of her 
husband. The law says literally, " the wife is an equal " 
(The* gia te ra) ; but in practice this is not quite true. 

The Annamese woman at her marriage does not 
necessarily take her husband's name, but may keep 
her maiden name. 

In Annam, as in China, marriage is considered too im- 
portant a matter to be left to the chances of inclination or 
love. It is the parents' business to make the arrange- 
ments and settle the affair, often without consulting those 
most interested. There is good reason for this custom. 
Marriage takes place at a very early age. Advice is 
surely needed between the ages of fourteen and sixteen ; 
and the marriageable age for boys is sixteen, and for 
girls fourteen years. According to the Annamese mode 
of reckoning, these ages may be in reality much less, for 
a new-born baby is reckoned a year at its birth, and two 
at the next Tt, the Annamese new year. 

132 



SOCIAL POSITION OF WOMEN 133 

A long engagement is, however, allowed. The 
betrothal constitutes the first legal contract. It is 
consummated as soon as the fiancee accepts presents. 
Should the young man break off the engagement, he 
loses the presents he has given to his fiancee. Should 
the girl be the defaulter, she can be claimed by her 
first fiance, even though married to some one else. 

Marriages with blood relations are punished with the 
greatest severity. For instance, a man marrying his 
paternal aunt is liable to immediate decapitation. He 
may marry his deceased wife's sister, which appears 
natural enough to all Western nations except the 
English, who have only just managed to pass a Bill in 
its favour. He is even allowed to choose wives from 
among the sisters of his first wife. On the contrary, 
he may incur the sentence of strangulation should he 
marry his brother's widow. 

All sorts of unions are prohibited because they 
might upset the hierarchical basis of the family. The 
primordial authority of the husband must never be put 
in question. 

If the Annamese, with their reserved and sceptical 
nature, do not attach great importance to the cere- 
monies and dogmas of Buddhism, they show at least a 
profound respect for all those relating to ancestor- 
worship. So it comes about that paternal authority 
and tradition constitute the fundamental principles of 
the family. There is in each home an altar and 
a priest, but it is the male only who is qualified to 
officiate. Here is the source of great social inequality. 
As is often the case in other countries man has made 
use of religion to increase his privileges. 



134 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

The birth of a son not only confers a celestial bene- 
diction on an Annamese, as on the Brahman of India, 
but it also imposes on him a stern and sacred duty. 
If Nature is not propitious in granting him a son, the law 
has infinite resources for helping him. In fact, this is 
in every case the excuse for polygamy and adoption of 
heirs. The childless wife may be restored to her 
parents : she who is the mother of girls only may be 
replaced by another wife. 

It is common in Annamfor a man who has only one 
daughter to adopt a son-in-law, as the Hebrews did 
of old, but as a son-in-law cannot be held responsible 
for the ancestral cult it is necessary to adopt a second 
son who will take his place as the head of the family. 
While the Chinese is able to choose whom he will for 
this purpose, the Annamese is limited to paternal 
nephews and cousins, as in Greece and in India. 

In the matter of inheritance, " the portion for the 
incense and the fire " is always provided for ; this con- 
stitutes a sort of tithe which benefits the eldest or the 
adopted son. This arrangement made, the widow 
inherits the estate of her husband. According to the 
letter of the law, daughters are excluded from inherit- 
ance, as are their Chinese sisters, but in practice there 
is an equal division of property irrespective of sex. 

According to the " Dick Kink'' marriage is indis- 
soluble. More modern laws, however, make provision 
for divorce. There are seven permissible excuses for 
divorce, differing only slightly from those prevailing in 
China. They are : sterility, misconduct, theft, jealousy, 
excessive garrulity, want of respect towards parents- 
in-law, and incurable diseases such as leprosy and 



\ ,V1. v. 
i 
kdi i 



A WEDDING PROCESSION 




THE WEDDING PROCESSION ENTERING BRIDE'S GARDEN 



SOCIAL POSITION OF WOMEN 135 

epilepsy. However, there are certain exceptions which 
show wisdom and humanity in the law-makers. It is 
impossible for a man to divorce his wife should they 
have started their married life in poverty and should 
later have become prosperous ; neither can he reject 
her if she no longer has relations to whom she can go. 

No excuse is admitted for adultery; a flagrant 
delit proved, the husband is allowed to kill the guilty 
couple. Formerly a guilty wife was exposed in a 
public place to be trampled to death by elephants. 
She was bound in a kneeling position to a post and 
covered with a black veil. The elephant was then let 
loose, rushed on the unhappy woman, and tore her 
limbs asunder with its tusks. The punishment was 
later reduced to ninety strokes with the cane, and at 
the present time a man sells his wife or even keeps 
her. In Indo-China cases of savage vengeance are 
becoming rarer and rarer, but not long ago a guilty 
couple might be seen bound to a raft and abandoned to 
the current. They were even sometimes crucified one 
against the other, hands and feet nailed together, and 
their mouths united by filling them with melted resin. 
To-day custom admits of divorce by mutual consent. 

The Annamese wife is married under the law of 
community of property. Thus the husband never fails 
in buying or selling land to mention his wife's name. 
The Commune inscribes her personal rights on the 
scroll and the trader does not forget her in important 
transactions. 

The precepts relative to marriage are to be found in 
the " Ly-hi" or memorial of rites, inspired by the 



136 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

doctrine of Confucius. " The marriage rite completes 
a union between two persons of different names, in 
such a manner that they may serve their ancestors of 
the past in their temple and train future generations 
in 'their traditions." Thus we see that Annamese 
civilisation, after borrowing from and being mingled 
with Chinese civilisation during many centuries, tends 
at present to follow an original track. 

The Annamese marriage is, according to Luro, a 
free contract between those desiring it. It is rather 
an agreement between two families. Public authori- 
ties interfere very little. The go-between is not an 
official, but he is legally responsible. The details of 
all marriage ceremonies may be found in the Chinese 
Codes of the twelfth century B.C. They at first com- 
prised six rites, but these have been greatly reduced, 
and few people observe them faithfully. 

The go-between is generally a friend of the two 
families, but in big towns he is often a professional 
and has a big practice, knowing a great many people 
and being well versed in all ceremonials. The man 
first sends him to the home of the girl, where a pro- 
posal is made to the parents, and if the answer is 
favourable, the family of the young man sends them 
his name, age, day of birth, on a red card. The agent 
receives the same notifications from the girl's parents. 
Soothsayers are then consulted in order to know if the 
families and ages of the couple suit each other. This 
ceremony is omitted if the parents of the couple are 
very anxious for the marriage and fear an unfavour- 
able answer. The go-between fixes the wedding-day, 
and meantime the parents redouble their sacrifices and 



SOCIAL POSITION OF WOMEN 137 

prayers to their ancestors. The young man's duties 
then begin. Followed by a procession of relations of 
village chiefs, he presents himself in due course to 
the family of the girl and offers her presents, such 
as betel- and areca-nuts, and choum-choum. If 
these are accepted, the aspirant is from that moment 
considered as a son-in-law. In the case of poor 
families he then lives under the same roof as his 
fiancee. In more prosperous families the young 
man returns to his own home, and does not visit 
his fiancee again till the day fixed for his be- 
trothal. 

This is the second great function. On this occasion 
he again offers betel- and areca-nuts, also bracelets, 
coloured silks, two red tapers, two little cups of rice 
alcohol, and a little roasted pig. 

The procession is very gay and picturesque. All 
are dressed in their richest costumes, many carrying 
parasols, the flute-players playing vigorously. On 
arriving at the dwelling of the fiancee, the presents are 
placed on the altar, the red tapers are lighted, and 
the alcohol is poured into the cups. The two fathers 
get up together and prostrate themselves before the 
altar, afterwards the two mothers. A feast, at which 
all details of etiquette are strictly observed, ends the 
ceremony. 

The wedding-day is even more imposing. The 
father of the young man assembles all the relatives 
of the family in front of the ancestral altar, and there 
presents to them the child he is going to marry. He 
then for the third time directs his steps towards his 
fianceVs home. He is preceded by servants carrying 



138 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

presents and surrounded by a crowd of friends and 
relations. After a parley outside, all enter the house 
and range themselves round the altar. The fianc 
prostrates himself before the altar, and then goes up 
to his parents-in-law and offers them wine and betel- 
nuts. His own father meanwhile reads the inventory 
of the presents. 

The couple are then taken into the room reserved 
for them, and standing before the altar dedicated to 
the divinities of marriage, on which tapers are lighted 
and incense burning, the parents wish them a long 
posterity and exhort them to remain united till death. 
This is the most solemn moment of the whole cere- 
mony. Formerly it was then that the young wife 
raised her veil and the husband pretended to see her 
for the first time. The wife now prostrates herself 
four times before her husband, he once before his wife. 
They exchange cups of alcohol, and the ceremony is 
terminated. A banquet then takes place in which the 
young couple join. 

Marriages among the poor are much less com- 
plicated, and those of wives of a second rank often 
consist of a simple contract of sale. 

The practice of polygamy among the Annamese 
differs widely. The King of Annam has a great 
number of wives, but even the greatest mandarins 
rarely have more than four or five. The poor of 
necessity possess only one, for it is mere worldly for- 
tune that regulates the number of wives. A travelling 
merchant or official generally has a family in each of 
his principal business centres, the wife acting as his 
commercial agent and steward. Some authors say 



SOCIAL POSITION OF WOMEN 139 

that polygamy is due to the preponderance of female 
births, but it is also on account of the desire to secure 
to the richest and most gifted the largest posterity. 

The legal wife is called the wife of the first degree : 
" vo chanh." She takes an important position in the 
household. She is the queen of the hearth. All the 
secondary wives, servants, &c., owe her obedience ; 
all the children respect and honour her. At her death 
mourning is worn for three years, while for the death 
of any of the other wives it is only worn for one 
year, and then only by her own children. At the 
death of the father all the children of the different 
wives receive the same amount. The first legal wife 
retains a life interest in her husband's property. The 
possessions of each mother are divided among her 
own children. 

It may be observed that the social condition of 
the Annamese woman has attained a high standard. 
Many Western civilisations have not recognised the 
rights of women to a greater extent. 

Knowledge is much appreciated by the Annamese, 
who only choose their officials from among their 
scholars. Every degree obtained by examinations 
corresponds to a hierarchical office, so that Annam 
may be quoted as an ideal democracy, in which power 
only belongs to the best educated. Even the very 
poorest peasant is capable of writing some hundreds 
of characters and of wording a petition. In every 
Annamese Commune an elementary school exists, but 
for little boys only. The little girl does not go to the 
village school. This is an important fact to remember 



i 4 o ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

in studying the life of the Annamese woman. There 
seems to be no law to prohibit it, and indeed the law- 
makers of Annam, liberated from Chinese influence, 
have evinced a progressive tendency in the matter of 
women's rights, and would never have committed such 
an injustice. It is simply a question of custom, 
but more than anything it hinders the progress of 
women. 

The little Annamese girl is therefore obliged to get 
what instruction she can at home. If her parents are 
poor and have not time to teach her, she grows up in 
the most complete ignorance. The study of the 
characters is long and difficult ; the memory of youth 
is necessary, as they are not easily acquired after 
childhood. There are some little girls who pick up 
enough characters to enable them later to keep 
accounts or help in a business. 

There are, too, a few women belonging to the noble 
and rich classes who have received a thoroughly good 
education. These are able to read, understand, and 
discuss Confucius. 

Before the French occupation there was not a single 
school for girls in the whole of Annam. Missionaries 
broke through this tradition by educating their girl 
orphans. There are at the present moment women 
in the position of station-masters at Saigon and Hanoi, 
and in the latter town several large silk and incrustation 
manufactories are managed exclusively by women. 

The wives of artisans are noted for being as keen 
and clever in business as their husbands, and it is for 
this reason that it is no uncommon thing for Chinese 
merchants to choose Annamese wives. 



SOCIAL POSITION OF WOMEN 141 

The chief wives of the mandarins do no manual 
labour, as that would be considered below their dignity. 
They occasionally make cakes or sweets for amuse- 
ment, but the daily duties of the household, such as 
the preparation of meals, sewing and cleaning, are all 
left to the other women of the harem. They never 
weave or embroider, in fact, how could they possibly 
do it ? for their nails are allowed to grow to ten or 
fifteen centimetres in length ! They spend a good 
deal of time in music and singing. 

It is rather surprising to find that among the Anna- 
mese women, who are naturally such good and healthy 
mothers, those of the richer classes never nurse their 
own babies, but allow them to be reared by a paid 
wet-nurse. A mandarin told me that only one in a 
thousand nursed her own baby. 

The flowers are arranged by the mistress of the 
house, who is also responsible for the dwarf trees and 
miniature artificial gardens. Another of her principal 
duties is to fill and arrange the box of betel-nuts. 
Much time is also devoted to her toilet, and there 
seems no end to all its details ; her ablutions and all 
sorts of massage, her lips and eyebrows to paint, her 
nails to polish, different costumes to try on, her head- 
dress to change, the different perfumed pomades to 
choose for her hands, and last but not least, the 
smiles to practise in the glass. She smokes numbers 
of tiny thin cigarettes. The wife of a mandarin is by 
no means a recluse, and she often pays visits to the 
wives of other mandarins. But her principal pastime 
is cards, and it is no exaggeration to say that more 
than half her life is spent in games. 



142 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

The numerous wives of the Emperor of Annam 
employ their time in much the same way. These all- 
powerful monarchs have always liked to surround 
themselves with a Court in which the feminine element 
predominates. Men writing on Annam have attri- 
buted hundreds of wives to the king. As a monarch 
has only right to three wives of the first-class rank, 
princesses of the second rank are numerous, for all 
the powerful mandarins wish to have one of their 
daughters in the royal harem. But it would be an 
error to count among the Imperial favourites the 
dancers, actresses, singers, and mimics who frequent 
the Court. The monarch is served by his wives on 
their knees. 

An Annamese proverb says, " Where is the pimento 
that is not peppered ? Where is the woman who is 
not jealous ? " The competition and rivalry among 
the women of the harem is sometimes unbelievable. 
Many are the plots formed, the deceits and tricks 
practised within the Court. In this bevy of young 
women reputed to be the most beautiful in Annam, 
all the resources of intelligence and craft, all the 
artifices of attire, come into play. A certain woman 
is confident of her beauty and charm, for she has been 
chosen out from among her companions for months. 
Efforts, however, are not relaxed, the aim of every 
woman being to please the royal master, to please at 
any price. 

In order to appear in Court ceremonies, costume is 
by no means left to chance. Ancient edicts regulate 
the colour of the silks and the richness of the brocades. 
There is room, all the same, for personal ingenuity. 



SOCIAL POSITION OF WOMEN 143 

When the toilet is finished, cards are brought out, or 
the more intelligent among them ask for the palace 
readers and listen enraptured to tales of adventure or 
love-stories. Cigarettes are smoked continually, while 
at the same time they drink tea and feast on cakes 
and sweetened ginger. The wives of the king arrange 
the flowers in the royal apartments and replenish the 
betel-box. The Imperial favourites are hardly ever 
seen outside the palace gates, or in public. 

Before describing to me the general characteristics 
of beauty peculiar to this country, a mandarin was very 
careful to explain that " moral qualities and virtues 
are of far greater importance than physical beauty 
when it becomes a question of choosing a wife." 
These were his own words. " Besides," he added, 
" it is not the young man who has the most to say in 
the matter." 

All the same, the poets and lovers of this country 
have evolved an ideal somewhat as follows : 

The size of waist must not be conspicuous, for if 
it is too large or too small there will be a lack of 
harmony. 

The blackest and the longest hair is the most 
beautiful. 

The face should be a long oval, and must have 
complete regularity of feature. The Chinese prefer a 
round face. For masculine beauty the Annamese 
demand angular features and projecting cheek-bones. 
To quote, or rather paraphrase, a native poet, " The 
eyes of the beloved one are as brilliant as those of an 
eagle, her eyelashes with their beautiful fine curves 



144 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 
spring forth like a silkworm's. Her heel is as red as 
ink." This has become a popular proverb, perhaps 
one of the best known among the Annamese. 

Mat-phung Eye of an eagle. 

May-tarn Eyelash of a silkworm. 

G6t-son Heel like red ink. 

No great imagination is needed to gauge the beauty 
of a deep dominating glance, powerful as the eagle's ; 
but Asiatics alone thoroughly appreciate the ideal 
curve of an eyelash ! And what shall we say of the 
pink heel, the carmine heel, the little foot red-tinted 
by the light brush of a fairy! This admiration, so 
typically Annamese, is somewhat surprising to us. 
Such a point in aesthetics would have escaped a 
European, whereas to this whole race it is a charac- 
teristic of first-rate importance. This is the reason 
why the Annamese woman who can afford shoes goes 
barefoot, or wears so tiny a sandal that it only just 
covers the tips of her toes. 

Can there possibly be any connection between this 
peculiar taste of the Annamese and that which has 
urged the Chinese to deform the feet of their women ? 
But it is noteworthy that in China women are ex- 
tremely particular as to the foot. It would be con- 
sidered indelicate for the women of the Celestial 
Empire to show their feet, and artists always repre- 
sent them as hidden beneath the dress. The Anna- 
mese do not possess this particular kind of modesty, 
and, as I said before, frankly admire the red heel. 

The hand should be small, the fingers thin and long. 
A round and white wrist is essential. 



SOCIAL POSITION OF WOMEN 145 

The Annamese are critical, too, as to the voice 
they admire soft and harmonious tones. 

The walk and bearing of the Annamese woman is 
most graceful. From an early age she practises 
walking, head up, chest out, without stiffness or 
ostentation, and the arms swinging freely with a 
rhythmic motion. 

The smiles which bring dimples into play are as 
attractive to these people as they are to us. 

History and literature hand down to us the names 
of very few celebrated women. Among the most 
remarkable must be mentioned the heroine of Ton- 
king, Queen Trung-vuong, who, after delivering her 
country from Chinese oppression, reigned from 39 to 
36 B.C. She was helped by her sister Trung-nhi. 
When China again took possession of the country, the 
two Tonking heroines together put an end to their 
days by a glorious suicide. 

In times of distress or famine, or during some great 
national calamity, women of the richer classes have 
often distinguished themselves. Some of the Dowager 
Empresses, whom the Annamese call " Queen- 
Mothers," have taken part in politics. For instance, 
the mother of the King Tu-Duc made a point of 
studying every edict before it was signed. On the 
stage and in poetry, women are often represented as 
exposing themselves to danger and undertaking warlike 
exploits in order to deliver or revenge their husbands. 

There is very little crime among the women, much 
less than among the men. It seems, too, that there is 
less prostitution in Annam than in China. Chinese 



146 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

women are never seen on the stage, the women's roles 
being always taken by men. In Annam, however, 
women take an active part in performances, but never- 
theless both actresses and dancers are looked upon as 
standing very low in the social scale, and are frankly 
despised. 

Annamese women never smoke opium, and it is a 
curious fact that although the man who has acquired 
this habit is treated with indulgence, a woman would 
draw down upon herself the greatest opprobrium should 
she imitate him. 

Infanticide is excessively rare, the natives from 
whom I asked information even considering that such 
a thing could not exist. 

The women pay calls on each other, but never 
receive a visit from a man. Though they are not 
excluded from public ceremonies, they do not take a 
very prominent part in them. 

Not even on her wedding-day, nor at any future 
time, was the wife permitted to eat at the same time 
as her husband. It is natural, therefore, that she 
should never take part with other men in any public 
meal. In the lower classes this severe etiquette had 
perforce to be relaxed, but only then in the face of 
necessity and circumstances. 

Women are allowed to go to the theatre, for which 
they show the greatest enthusiasm ; their seats, how- 
ever, are always separated from those of the men. 

A European visiting an Annamese mandarin is 
unable to ask him after his wives. Unless an intimate 
friend or relation, such a question is regarded as an 
insult. 



SOCIAL POSITION OF WOMEN 147 

In their confinements the women are nursed by 
midwives. A doctor would visit patients for other 
illnesses, but never for this. He does not do much 
more than feel the pulse, and even then he is careful 
to interpose a piece of his tunic between his fingers 
and the skin of his female patient. For an Annamese 
to call a French doctor into the bosom of his family 
shows a great sacrifice of prejudices, and is a proof of 
extreme confidence. 

Thus we see that the Annamese woman seems to 
differ from Western women more in her manners and 
customs than in her social condition. Respect and 
filial piety are assured to her in her home and the law 
recognises her really extensive rights ; when one 
remembers the mutilation sometimes inflicted on 
Chinese women, one realises how much better off the 
Annamese woman is than some of her neighbours in 
the extreme East. 

The Annamese family, governed by such principles, 
should have a prosperous future before it. 

If ancestor- worship has greatly contributed towards 
the solidity of family life and to the greatness of the 
nation, it has also tended to make them exaggerate 
tradition. This religion is not necessarily opposed to 
ideas of progress, as the Japanese have proved. If 
we wish to know the possibilities of the Annamese 
race and realise their moral worth, we have only to 
look at their home-life and the respectful treatment of 
their women. 



CHAPTER IX 

THE ANNAMESE COMMUNE AND THE 
ADMINISTRATIVE ORGANISATION OF THE STATE 

The Annamese Commune : Its independence and its 
functions : Mayor and deputy mayors : Notables and 
the Municipal Council : The Public Hall, goods in com- 
mon and their redistribution : The canton, the district, 
and the prefecture : The Ministers and the Comat : The 
Emperor 

AMONG the social institutions of the Annamese, none 
is more worthy of note than the Commune. This is 
a collection of families, an association possessing a 
portion of the national soil, self-supporting, self- 
governing, and claiming the right to settle the pro- 
portionate amount of taxes due to the State. 

It is called Xd in Tonking, Thon in Cochin- China, 
and consists of one or several hamlets (lang). 

One commune takes its rise from another on account 
of a natural need of expansion. When the family 
increases, new clearings are made and put into cul- 
tivation. The new occupants receive their title-deeds 
from the mandarins of the Superior Administration, 
and are inscribed in the Government Survey Records 
under a new tribal name. Exempt from taxation for 
three years, they become possessors of the soil on 
payment of a sum proportionate to the number of 

148 




A HIGHLY ORNAMENTAL PAGODA DOOK 



THE ANNAMESE COMMUNE 149 

adult males and the cultivable value of the soil. They 
choose one of their number as a representative, whose 
duty it is to transact communal business with the 
Government. He is more a delegate than a chief. 
He is called Ly-trtiong (the mayor). He is assisted 
by Ph6-ly (deputy mayors). The mayor is not, as 
elsewhere, the most important municipal councillor 
As it is his duty to serve as intermediary between the 
commune and the different functionaries of the pro- 
vince, both native and European, his patience and 
diplomatic skill are put to the severest test. He will 
have many disagreeable duties to perform during his 
long year's term of office. His may be an unenviable 
lot indeed, judging from the case of a worthy mayor 
in the neighbourhood of Nhatrang, whose fate was a 
prison. I saw him from time to time on my visits to 
the sick in prison. In spite of his wooden collar, he 
retained a dignified manner and appearance which 
quickly distinguished him from the criminals who sur- 
rounded him. His story was simple enough. One 
evening, a European in search of salt had anchored 
his boat close to the village. The native sailors 
landed and wanted to carry off young village girls 
and take them on board. A fierce quarrel arose, 
accompanied by great noise and disturbance, and the 
villagers hastened to the help of the young girls. The 
tumult became general, the owner of the boat, the 
European, who had himself taken no small share in 
the struggle, was seized, gagged, and bound. The 
weaker sex had found brave defenders, but to the 
detriment of " European prestige." The punishment 
for this offence was visited on the poor mayor, who, 



150 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

needless to relate, profited by an exemption from hard 
labour every time he asked me for it. 

The Annamese Commune is, says Luro, "a moral 
being in the full enjoyment of civil rights, having the 
power of purchase, sale, and free access to justice." 
Nevertheless a royal ordinance from Gia-long forbade 
the sale of goods held in common and only allowed 
the disposal of the usufruct. The Commune managed 
its home affairs as it chose, distributed the revenue, 
levied taxes, dispensed justice, and secured order, 
undertook useful public works with no interference 
from a higher authority. When once the ordinary 
taxation has been settled with the State, the whole 
payment must be made, but no discussion as to the 
means of raising it is permissible. According to the 
importance of the Commune there must be officers 
responsible for the preservation of order, finance, 
public works, &c. There must therefore be police, 
accountants, land - surveyors, &c. But the real 
authority is vested in the "notables" forming to- 
gether with the old men the Municipal Council. The 
notables (elder brothers) are the mandarins, the literary 
class, the soldiers, the ex-mayors, and, of course, the 
mayor and his assistants. They are distinguished from 
ordinary citizens (younger brothers), being exempt 
from all statute labours. 

The Municipal Council meets in the Common Hall 
(Dink), which according to circumstances serves as a 
temple, market, or theatre. It is made as a rule of 
bamboo and straw, but some proclaim the power and 
wealth of the inhabitants by the large size of the 
building, the tiled roof surmounted by dragons, and 



THE ANNAMESE COMMUNE 151 

massive pillars of costly wood. The communal 
officials are all elected by their fellow-citizens. The 
mayor is invested in office by the high provincial 
mandarins, and by the French Government, and he 
receives a diploma and seal which is also that of the 
Commune. His duties are merely honorary. Some- 
times the revenue from a rice-field is allotted to him 
for secretarial expenses, whence the name " rice-field 
of the pencil." 

The Commune in fact possesses goods such as 
meadows, forests and rice-fields. It distributes them 
every three or six years according to the regulations, 
which, though clearly defined by law and custom, are 
none the less fully discussed in practice. Portions of 
land are never drawn by lot but given by selection. 
The old men are given first choice, then the notables, 
and last of all the ordinary citizens according to the 
order of inscription on the rolls. Needless to say 
injustices easily arise. Communal property, however, 
is so constituted that it assures a safe refuge for old 
men and for the disinherited. Every citizen possesses 
the minimum of land to ensure a livelihood. When a 
spendthrift or a gambler has squandered his fortune, 
there always remain to him a few acres which are 
inalienable. Thus begging becomes impossible. In 
fact, beggars are never seen on the roads of Annam. 
The village makes provision for every one, even lepers 
and incurables. 

The Empire of Annam has always maintained an 
army. Recruits are raised by means of one conscript 
to every six adults. As it was the prerogative of the 
"notables" to name the candidates, the children of 



152 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

their neighbours did not fail to be chosen before their 
own. The soldier, being but poorly remunerated by 
the State, remains dependent on his village, which 
grants him an allotment of the common rice-fields. 
The profession of arms has become more and more 
unpopular. What sight could be more pathetic than 
those unfortunate nhaqut* taken to the infirmary for 
the medical examination. They looked more like 
victims going to execution than future warriors proud 
of serving their country. Home-sickness came over 
them almost before they had taken leave of their 
rice-field and their buffaloes, for in many cases it was 
their first exile. Now they stand bewildered between 
a corporal on the one hand, who yells at them in 
Annamese, and a doctor on the other, who speaks 
more gently but in an unknown tongue. Those unfit 
for service could not contain their joy on learning their 
near return to their homes ; they were new men. The 
others look at the doctor with eyes so full of entreaty 
that it overwhelms him with compassion. But when 
they have worn the khaki uniform and the flat cap 
for a few months, their fear will depart, and, if not too 
badly treated or beaten, they will become excellent 
linh,"\ and will soon lose all dislike of their profession. 
Public appointments are in as great request in Annam 
as in other countries less, it is said, for the honour 
attached to them than for the material advantages 
derived from them. However, the Annamese Com- 
mune may be taken as a model by many nations a 
splendid little republic, falling not far short of the 
ideal conception of philosophers. 

* Nhaque = peasants. f Link = Annamese soldier. 



THE ANNAMESE COMMUNE 153 

The union of a certain number of Communes 
generally ten in number constitutes a canton (tong). 
At its head are the chief of the canton and under- 
chiefs elected by the delegates of the Communes, and 
nominated by the French Government and the high 
provincial mandarins. After a period of six years the 
canton chief may bear the title of "chief functionary 
of the canton, ninth degree, second class." He is the 
intermediary between the central power and the various 
Communes he represents. Several cantons constitute 
a district (huyn), and two or three huyens a prefecture 
(pku) governed by the chiefs of the district (quan 
huyen), and of those of the prefecture (quan pku). 
The quan huyen is entrusted with the administration, 
as well as with judicial authority over minor offences. 
He is an important official, for all civil and criminal 
matters are first brought before his tribunal. The phu 
exercises authority over one or several huydn deprived 
of any nominal head. He is an official who could 
easily be dispensed with. The sentence he pronounces, 
as in the case of the huyen, can only be carried into 
execution after receiving the approval of the provincial 
authorities. The chiefs of the districts and of the pre- 
fectures are chosen from among the mandarins or from 
among the literary classes. 

The province (tink) is the largest of the territorial 
divisions of Annam. At its head is a governor (t6ng 
doc], or simply a quan bd, head of the executive 
administration, assisted by a quan an, head of the 
judicial administration, and a lank binh for military 
purposes. The lanh binh has had no effective authority 
since the French occupation. Indeed, the " Militia," 



154 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

a kind of local police, is under the orders of 
"inspectors," all Europeans, whereas the native regi- 
ments are commanded by officers of the colonial 
army. 

It may be remembered that at the head of the 
province, the French Government is represented by a 
" Resident." In the capital of the province, besides 
the Resident, may be found recorders, tax-collectors, 
clerks ; the doctor, heads of the postal and telegraph 
service, officers of the militia, inspector of customs 
and excise, engineer of public works, &c. In the chief 
towns' of the district, and of the prefecture, native 
teachers are busily occupied in the supervision of the 
government schools. No hamlet is without its school. 
The Annamese are very anxious to improve them- 
selves. Moreover, public appointments are open to 
all classes of society, and can be obtained in open 
competition. 

There is no national representation in Annam. The 
Commune, so powerful in itself, appoints its chiefs of 
the canton, it is true, but these pass into the pay of the 
provinces, and owe their promotion to the State alone. 
Between the Emperor and the people there are only 
the mandarins. Otherwise no aristocracy exists. Titles 
of nobility are sometimes granted for some brilliant 
action or distinguished service, but these are no longer 
hereditary. As in each generation the degree of 
nobility is lowered, the privileges conferred are of 
very short duration. The Emperor is at the same 
time supreme head in religion, supreme judge, and 
chief of all civil and military powers. He is the only 
being who has the right to offer sacrifices to Heaven 



THE ANNAMESE COMMUNE 155 

and to Earth. He must be addressed by his people 
on their knees, and no one may look at him. At 
one time the Emperor only left his palace for pur- 
poses of ceremonial ritual, and heralds went before to 
announce his coming, so that the inhabitants might go 
home and shut their doors. 

It is needless to add that these practices have for 
many years fallen into disuse. It would be difficult to 
bring them into harmony with the present government 
of Annam, which is a Protectorate. 

The monarch bears the title of Koang de (emperor), 
but he is usually called vua (king). It is also the title 
he employed in his relations as vassal to China. 

Next to him in authority come the "four pillars of 
the Empire " that is to say, the high chancellors ; and 
the six Ministers of State i.e., of Home Affairs, 
Finance, Rites and Ceremonies, War, Justice, and 
Public Affairs. 



CHAPTER X 

THE TET 

Preparations for the Tet : Gambling propensities of the 
Annamese : Baquan : Festivities during the Tet : Sports 
on water and land : Procession of the Dragon : A thea- 
trical performance : A curious play : An enthusiastic 
audience 

THE Tet is the greatest fete in the calendar ; it is the 
Annamese New Year. It takes place during the new 
moon in February, and extends over a period of ten 
days. There is not a single native in Annam who 
does not celebrate this event ; however rich or how- 
ever poor he may be, he will manage to break his 
daily routine and take part in some sort of merry- 
making. 

The preparations for this occasion are manifold, but 
chiefly of a religious character. All the graves must 
be tended, the dwellings thoroughly cleansed, es- 
pecially around the altar, and the red papers with 
black characters which adorn the inside and outside of 
the house must be renewed. Money is imperatively 
necessary. At this season, therefore, the Annamese 
collect any outstanding debts, drive hard bargains, or 
even steal, if the offence can be committed without 
detection. Every sapek is of value. All the savings 
of the last few months, or maybe those stored up since 

'56 



THE TET 157 

the last Tet, are now expended some on gifts for the 
altar, some on new tunics and turbans, a certain 
amount on squibs and crackers, and all that remains 
on gambling. On the last day of the Tet the whole 
family will be penniless. Indeed they will be fortunate 
if they have not to hand over the clothes on their 
backs, their newly purchased tunics, to pay their 
gambling debts. Gambling is the greatest defect of 
the Annamese character ; they seldom drink, nor are 
they quarrelsome or violent, but their love of this 
vice is inherent in their natures. It is this which 
prevents thrift and results in a hand-to-mouth ex- 
istence, even among the regular and skilled workers. 
The Tet festivities tempt those who do not habitually 
gamble to give themselves up to it. And the un- 
fortunate part about it is that the Chinese outsiders 
reap the benefit of this deplorable habit ; they are cool- 
headed and always manage to empty the pockets of 
the more excitable Annamese. In these few days the 
Chinese often make a greater profit than during all the 
rest of the year. They always trade on the native 
weakness, for though public and private gambling 
is prohibited by the French except during the Tet, 
the Chinese by setting up gambling booths encourage 
the Annamese to evade the law. In other dealings 
also they show the same money-making propensities. 
It is the Chinese, and never the Annamese, who are 
the shopkeepers of Annam, and who make it their 
business to cater for the needs of Europeans. They 
lend money at usurious interest, and have a hundred 
little tricks for extorting any hard-earned cash that 
the happy-go-lucky Annamese may happen to have. 



158 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

Whenever a peasant has cut and brought in his paddy 
he is invariably visited by his Chinese neighbour, who 
sits and chats and accepts the drinks so hospitably 
offered him. He is careful, however, to keep his own 
thirst within bounds, and finally proposes a game. 
Towards dawn, when the visitor takes his departure, 
the poor peasant has probably lost every grain of his 
harvest. 

The most common form of gambling is baquan. 
This game is played on a camp bed, or even on the 
bare earth. A square divided into four compartments, 
marked one, two, three, and four, is drawn in the 
dust, and the players stake so many cents or sapeks 
on one of them. The banker takes a handful of 
sapeks from a bowl and throws them on the ground. 
He then withdraws them again four by four. The 
number left on the ground at the end naturally corre- 
sponds to one of the numbers in the square. The 
lucky individual who has staked his sapeks in that 
compartment sees them quadrupled ; the other stakes 
are pocketed by the banker. 

The best regulated European household is devoid 
of servants during the Te% for no member must be 
absent from the great family gathering at the festival, 
nor will he miss, when that duty is accomplished, any 
of the fun and merrymaking which follow. A friend 
of mine was painting a poor Annamese cripple who 
used to beg on the roadside not far from her house. 
She gave him twenty cents a day, a sum which was 
wealth for him. She fed him, moreover, whenever he 
came, and good meat had probably never passed his 
lips before. The first day of the Tet he did not 



THE TET 159 

appear, and she sent her boy to the miserable hovel 
where he lived to ask after him. His answer came 
back that as it was the Tet he could not sit, but that 
as soon as it was over he would return. He evidently 
considered that during such an important season his 
liberty was of greater value than the shelter, food, and 
payment of his benefactress. 

The Tet ceremonies are not only of a domestic 
character. In towns all sorts of games, sports, races, 
&c., are organised, but in a village like Nhatrang 
they are naturally on a small scale. Owing to the 
close proximity of sea and river the greater part of the 
sports takes place on the water, and we witnessed 
many an amusing event. Some of the races between 
fishing sampans were very pretty ; their huge sails 
of cocoa-palm fibre were all outspread as they swiftly 
bore their cockle-shell of a boat towards the shore. 
But these races were of too quiet a nature to arouse 
much enthusiasm in the onlookers ; the following 
events revealed the excitement and hilarity of which 
the placid Annamese is capable. One was a fight 
between a number of men, all of whom were 
sitting or standing in little round bamboo-plaited 
basket-boats placed at a certain distance from each 
other. 

These baskets were held steady on the water while 
the combatants scrambled into them and found their 
balance. Each was then given one oar to manoeuvre 
his craft. When the signal to start was given, the 
friends of each competitor released the boat. No 
sooner had they done so than many of the baskets 
turned turtle and their owners vanished silently below 



160 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

the water. A burst of laughter came from the shore. 
Many others, as soon as they began to use their oars, 
followed suit. At each fresh disappearance there were 
shrieks of uproarious laughter ; he who made the most 
frantic efforts to recover his balance, and therefore 
went under with the greatest splash, caused most 
mirth. When two men got close enough to attack 
each other, it was always the one who stood on the 
defensive who remained master of the situation, for 
the act of raising and swinging his oar always upset 
his opponent. A man would see his enemy vanish 
before he attempted to parry a stroke or had his boat 
touched. The last struggles and contortions to regain 
equilibrium when they felt themselves going were 
sometimes most ludicrous. In the end the water was 
strewn with overturned baskets, their owners having 
forsaken them to swim ashore after their involuntary 
dive. Naturally the man who remained last on the 
surface was he who gained the prize. 

Another race in which sampans were rowed by sets 
of ten men showed us some magnificent types of 
natives. The rowers were chosen entirely for their 
strength, and they were all, without exception, big and 
brawny, quite unlike the light wiry build of the ordi- 
nary Annamese. We had had no idea before that day 
that the province could produce such men. An unre- 
served burst of excitement greeted each boat as it 
arrived at the finish, but changed into a real tumult 
when the umpires confessed they did not know to 
whom to award the first prize. The sampans all 
resembled each other, being of the same size, and 
having no distinctive marks. Like all sampans in 





A SAMI'AN HACK 



THE TET 161 

Indo-China, they were tarred black and had an eye 
whitewashed on either side of the stern a certain 
charm against the dangers of the deep. The rowers 
themselves looked alike, as they were all naked to the 
waist. Directly the crowd perceived the hesitation 
amongst the judges, opinions and advice were shrieked 
from all sides ; the difficulties were increased by some 
of the boats having passed inside instead of outside 
the posts, and being thus disqualified ; each crew natu- 
rally denied this, and claimed that they were first, or 
at least second. 

After this there were swimming races and diving 
and wrestling matches ; but it was as much the aspect 
of the onlookers as the feats of the competitors which 
interested me. Till I witnessed the first Tet, I had 
never seen an Annamese smile frankly, much less laugh 
outright, and I certainly never believed him capable 
of such enthusiasm. It is true that the children who 
made up half the crowd were chiefly responsible for 
the excitement, but over and over again their elders 
heartily joined in. 

In the afternoon Europeans and natives assembled 
near the village on an open space which had been sur- 
rounded by a palisade. The native school had been 
arranged as a pavilion for the Europeans, and this 
building was the starting-place and finish for the races. 
Nhatrang itself boasts only about thirty Europeans, 
but on this occasion many had come from the sur- 
rounding country, and the assembly was quite a large 
one. There were Custom-house officers from isolated 
salt-fields and from small islands off the coast, men 
from lonely lighthouses, railway superintendents on the 



162 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

projected line from the middle of the tropical jungle, 
and colonists who owned plantations or were timber- 
cutting in the interior. Men, and even women, ap- 
peared from regions we thought entirely uninhabited. 
We, who considered ourselves isolated and far from 
the comforts and distractions of civilisation at Nha- 
trang, began to realise what real isolation meant. 
Some of these people had been months without seeing 
their nearest neighbour, so difficult were the means of 
access ; and they were sometimes a long distance 
even from an Annamese hamlet. A visit to Nhatrang 
would never be made except to see a doctor, or for a 
rare festivity such as the present. Their timidity 
alone made it clear what a lonely life they led. Many 
of these men were married, and their wives had either 
braved the sea in a sampan, or the jungle in a palan- 
quin, perhaps even a night in a native hut, for the 
sake of a little society. Their difficulties were not 
always ended on their arrival, as Nhatrang boasts of 
no suitable hotel or inn, and the rooms that a Chinese 
lets out are not all that could be desired in the way of 
cleanliness. They were not difficult to please, how- 
ever, for to them our little village was a centre of 
civilisation. 

The races on land were as varied and numerous as 
those on the water ; there were races on horseback, 
on foot, with rickshaws, with live frogs on native 
wheelbarrows, &c. &c. The horse-race was the most 
amusing ; the Annamese always experience great diffi- 
culty in sticking on their ponies, though their animals 
are generally so small and ill-fed that one would think 
them incapable of offering much resistance. Very 



THE TET 163 

few of the competitors, it is true, had saddles, and 
many not more than a piece of old rope as bridle. 
The ponies were excited at their own numbers, and in 
consequence the Annamese found it harder than usual 
to mount and keep their seats. Many were thrown 
soon after starting, but others kept on manfully, catch- 
ing hold of the mane or clasping their steed round the 
neck and righting themselves after slipping nearly to 
the -ground. Those who did get safely to the goal, 
their bare legs swinging up and down with the gallop 
of the pony, fully deserved prizes. 

One of the items on the programme was rather 
gruesome. The children were made to squat in front 
of the pavilion and compete for prizes to be given to 
those who made the worst grimaces. The Annamese 
are by no means a good-looking race, but the children, 
with their round faces, dark eyes and serious expression, 
are sometimes almost pretty. Happily it needs the 
incentive of a reward for them to make themselves as 
hideous as they were on that occasion. There were 
naturally differences of opinion as to the ugliest gri- 
maces, and the competition had to be repeated again 
and again. 

The great feature of the afternoon's festivities was 
the arrival of the native Governor's elephant, a magni- 
ficent beast with huge tusks. He was led in front of 
the pavilion, and there performed lais to us. The 
Annamese cornac, looking like a little monkey on 
his neck, tapped him on the head when he was in 
position, and forthwith the elephant bent his fore- 
legs till he was on his knees. Then, curling up his 
trunk, he lowered his head and touched the ground 



164 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

several times, making a very good imitation of the 
Annamese lai. 

In the evening there was a reception for Europeans 
at the Residence. From the verandah of the house 
we witnessed the great procession of the Dragon, the 
culminating ceremony of the Tt, and one which is 
never absent from any important Annamese or Chinese 
fe'te. It is a very effective spectacle. The enormous, 
brightly coloured head is rather startling in the day- 
time, but at night, when lighted up by torches inside 
it, and when flames literally spout out from its mouth 
and nostrils, it is truly weird and terrifying. The man 
who carries it is so well hidden that even his feet are 
indistinguishable ; he is always well versed in the 
traditional movements, and the dragon tosses his head 
up and down and from side to side as he walks along. 
The body is borne by a number of men, who walk 
inside it, a yard or two apart ; they are of unequal 
height, so that the curves of the scaly back are most 
realistic. The torches in their hands bring out well 
the designs and colours painted on the transparent 
skin. The dragon I saw was about forty yards long, 
but they are sometimes even longer. 

As he wound round the twisting paths of the 
Residence garden, the illumination from his body 
lighting up the crowds who surrounded him, one felt 
oneself back in the mythical ages. The weird effect 
was augmented by the squibs and crackers which were 
let off in front of him ; he never faltered, however, and 
was sometimes walking through a very tempest of 
fiery darts. Plenty of accidents from burning and 
scorching occur on such occasions, but this does not 



THE TET 165 

hinder the eagerness of the natives to take part in the 
procession. Many instruments of music, if drums, 
gongs, and Chinese violins can be so called, accom- 
panied the dragon. Their discordant notes made the 
scene even more unearthly. The children were 
fascinated as well as frightened by the dragon, and 
ran across his path the whole time, uttering excited 
shrieks. 

When the procession had disappeared, to make the 
tour of the village, there followed a display of fireworks 
made by a native of the province. They were not 
bad ; at any rate the Annamese approved of them, and 
every manifestation of delight was heard whenever 
the rockets sent down their showers of many-coloured 
stars. 

The evening ended up with a theatrical performance. 
These generally take place in some large pagoda. On 
this occasion we had only to keep our seats on the 
verandah, however, for instead of our going to the 
theatre, the theatre came to us. Now that the dragon 
had taken its departure, the garden was in total dark- 
ness. The darkness of a night without stars in the 
Tropics is incomparably greater than the darkness of a 
starless night in Europe, and I feared we should see very 
little of the acting. But we were to have footlights, 
and those of a very novel kind. A number of men 
provided with torches were told to squat down in a 
ring. When they had placed themselves in position, 
they were also provided with saucers full of petroleum 
for the purpose of improving the light of the torches, 
which at first gave forth more smoke than flame. 
Without hesitation each man lifted his saucer to his 



166 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

lips, and having taken a mouthful of this obnoxious 
liquid, squirted it adroitly on to the lighted end of the 
torch. We were a little astonished at such a proceeding, 
but the men themselves seemed too intent on the play 
to find it either dangerous or disagreeable. When the 
actors stepped into the magic circle, we were able to 
see them fairly well, and every now and then, as the 
torches flared up high, we had a glimpse not only of 
the stage but of the crowded audience. Anxious little 
faces of children who had sidled in between the 
petroleum spitters came into view ; I do not know 
where they had tucked their little bodies, but only their 
round faces with wide-open eyes were distinguishable. 
Behind them, as each jet of flame shot up, a compact 
mass of black knobs of hair was visible, men and women, 
all with eyes bent on the spectacle in front of them. 
The fitful glare, as well as the black acrid smoke 
blowing now and then in our faces, did not recom- 
mend this mode of illumination, but it seemed in 
keeping with the weird and curious scene we were 
witnessing. 

The Annamese drama consists of tragedies, comedies, 
and pantomimic farces, and it was a pantomime that we 
had the pleasure of watching. Pieces in general last 
three days and nights, the actors only stopping for 
their meals. Nevertheless the Annamese are such 
enthusiastic playgoers that a good audience is never 
wanting. I cannot tell whether we saw the beginning ) 
middle, or end of a piece, but at any rate I found it 
most entertaining. As the tom-toms and drums 
began to beat, the actors made their appearance ; they 
represented first of all a tiger, a cock, and a man. 




TYPES OF MOI MEN 




ANNAMESE ACTORS 



THE TET 167 

The acting seemed to consist of making the queerest 
contortions imaginable with faces, hands, and feet. 
They would stand on one foot, with the other in the 
air, spreading out their toes and at the same time con- 
torting fingers, hands, arms, and bodies to impossible 
angles. In this position they would stare at somebody 
with such intensity that their eyes would become blood- 
shot. After a few seconds, or even minutes, they would 
suddenly give a blood-curdling shriek and go whirling 
and twisting in fantastic antics round the wee circle 
which constituted the stage. Sometimes the man 
would hunt for the tiger, and as he turned and craned 
his neck from side to side, the tiger, rolling himself 
into a veritable ball, would revolve at his heels. He 
kept so close to his pursuer that the two seemed to be 
one, yet his movements were so supple and agile that 
for a long time he never actually touched him. When 
they finally came into contact a fight would ensue, but 
in the struggle a mass of arms and legs was all that 
could be distinguished. There was great excitement 
at these moments ; the children shrieked, their elders 
laughed, only the mandarins kept a dignified silence. 
Every now and then little boys, dressed in various 
costumes and carrying flags, walked among the 
principal actors, giving a series of little cries and 
grunts. Later the cock and tiger disappeared and a 
woman and child came in. They, like the man, had 
their faces whitened, dark eyebrows were painted on 
their foreheads, and red angular marks on their cheeks. 
All wore high, gaudy head-dresses. There seemed to 
be some semblance of conversation after the appearance 
of the actresses, but the screams and strange gestures 



i68 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

continued at intervals. Sometimes there were long 
pauses in which the players remained absolutely still, 
not the fluttering of an eyelid, nor the slightest 
breathing movement, could be detected, in fact they 
displayed a lifelessness of which Europeans would 
probably be incapable. Strange to say, it was the 
contortions which caused most enthusiasm amongst the 
squatting spectators, the least human calling forth the 
greatest admiration. 

Applause is not manifested, as with us, by clap- 
ping. A gong is placed near the actors, and 
every time a spectator sees anything he thinks 
worthy of praise, he gets up, goes to the gong and 
strikes it. Needless to say, the gong was sounded 
almost incessantly, and after an antic worse than the 
ordinary the noise was deafening. We, on the 
verandah, were given little pieces of shaped wood, 
such as are used for good marks in the Annamese 
schools, and were told to throw them to the actors 
who acquitted themselves best. They were, as a 
matter of fact, however, always picked up by one 
of the audience, the actors themselves not deigning 
to notice these signs of our approval which fell at 
their feet. 

At midnight, when we left to go home, the play was 
still in full swing, and both audience and actors were 
as ardent as ever. Perhaps the voices were a little 
hoarse, but certainly there was no flagging in the wild 
whirlings or the disfiguring contortions of hands and 
feet. Long into the night we heard their shrill screams 
and cries, intermingled with the sound of gongs and 
drums and the crackling of squibs and crackers. Only 



. , THE TET 169 

towards dawn did the village relapse into its habitual 
quiet, broken only by the beating of the waves on the 
shore. Even then peace did not reign long, for, very 
early in the morning, the splendours and pomps of the 
Tt began again. 



CHAPTER XI 
OUR GARDEN 

Laying out and planning a garden in the Tropics : Our 
coolie gardener : Tropical shrubs, bougainvilleas, filaos, 
agaves : Tropical fruits : Cultivation of European garden 
flowers : Enemies lizards, crabs, birds, ants 

WHEN we arrived at Nhatrang, the enclosure round 
the house, known as "the garden," was as sandy and 
dry as the beach itself. Our first care was to buy 
good earth from a village situated on the banks of the 
river, and when the sampans had brought us a plentiful 
supply, we made out a plan with prettily shaped beds 
and curving paths. But it was easier to make the 
plan than to carry it into execution. The coolie we 
engaged as gardener had never worked in a European's 
garden before, and his knowledge of agriculture was 
limited to the rice-field. It was on this model that he 
made our beds instead of letting the earth slope 
gently down towards the edges he persisted in keeping 
it at the same level with beaten banks of hardened 
mud all round. There were certainly advantages in 
this arrangement, for in summer the water was retained 
longer, and in winter the earth was prevented from 
being swept away by the heavy rains. Luckily we 
soon discovered a little red leafy plant which fell over 

170 



OUR GARDEN 171 

and completely hid the sun-baked banks. Then, too, 
we were so glad to get our beds in the right places 
that we offered no objections to the coolie's methods, 
for as soon as our heads were turned he made beds 
where we intended to have paths, and paths where 
beds had been carefully marked out. 

He could not understand a word of French, so that 
all my orders given to him by signs and without ex- 
planation seemed to him a little mad. The use of 
manure astonished him, for the Annamese do not 
trouble to improve the earth of their rice-fields. He 
evidently thought a winding instead of a straight path 
absurd, and to him curves were neither practical nor 
beautiful. However, he always set to work with a 
placid countenance. 

In Europe there is little discomfort and much plea- 
sure in superintending the work of a garden, but here 
with a blinding sun in one's eyes and a furnace heat 
on one's back the case is very different. But the 
reward is greater too, for the delicate verdure and rich 
colours make a garden here an oasis in the midst of 
a desert, whereas in England the surrounding fields 
and wayside hedges prevent such a striking contrast. 
Two years have gone by since our first arrival in 
Nhatrang, and now as I write, what was once a sandy 
waste has been changed into a glory of colour with 
patches of green grass here and there. The roller, 
mower, and shears were implements that had never 
been seen in the neighbourhood, and our coolie was 
rather taken aback at having to tend ordinary grass. 
When smooth little green lawns, however, made their 
appearance, even he began to appreciate his task ; 



172 :: i ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

they reminded him perhaps of the early green shoots 
of rice. 

The four "Flames of the Forest" (Cczsalpinia pul- 
cherrima) at the end of the garden are in bloom, and the 
masses of brilliant red flowers make a wonderful show. 
The coffee-trees nearer the house are wafting in their 
delicious scent through the open doors. The pure 
white, but rather artificial-looking flower of this tree 
never lasts more than two days at a time, but to make 
up for the shortness of its life it blossoms on an average 
once or twice a month and then it is covered with a 
mass of blooms like flakes of snow. These trees 
always flower quite suddenly, no sign of buds is visible 
one evening, yet the next morning we wake up to 
find their perfume filling the room. 

In one corner of the garden is a group of Filaos 
(Casuarina equisetifolia), a tree that has been imported 
from Turkey. These tropical pines have been planted 
by some past Resident all over the village and add 
greatly to its charm. In a garden they are not alto- 
gether desirable, as the thousands of dry needles which 
continually fall from them prevent plants from thriving 
beneath. We eventually found a sort of purple peri- 
winkle which will grow there a flower which, at 
certain seasons, makes purple patches all over the 
beach. The only other tall trees besides the Filaos 
and the silver-leaved Grevilleas are three Ceara 
(Manihot Glaziovii) india-rubber trees and several 
Japan Lilacs. The flower of the latter is a mixture of 
white and pale violet, and has a suave and penetrating 
perfume. Its blossoms are less conspicuous than 
those of European lilacs, but its foliage is more 



OUR GARDEN 173 

abundant and of a more delicate green. We have 
taken advantage of the very real shade obtained by 
these trees to cultivate underneath them young canes, 
arborescent ferns and other jungle plants. From 
their branches hang boxes of orchids. Cycas also, 
which require shade if they are to thrive well, spread 
out their long finely cut leaves here and there. These 
Cycas are the most attractive evergreen plants of 
the Tropics. In Annairf I have seen one thirty feet 
high and at first mistook it for a cocoa-palm, but as a 
rule one does not see them above four feet. New 
shoots spring forth from the trunk every six months 
or so, and as the old leaves die the growth of the new 
ones is extremely rapid. We have often noticed a 
difference with the naked eye between dawn and 
sunset. 

Many of these bigger trees we found apparently dead 
on our arrival, and it was only after the axe had been laid 
to their roots that we discovered that they were still 
alive ; only a little water was needed to revive them. 
There were Agaves too, but they took up so much 
room in front of the house that we wanted to destroy 
them. To transplant them to the back was impossible ; 
their stiff powerful leaves, with thorns as sharp as a 
sword-point, stretched out in all directions and defied 
approach. We were told, however, that they would 
soon flower, and as this happens but once in their 
lifetime we decided to let them remain. Sure enough 
some months later a stem pushed its way up from the 
middle of the plant. In a few weeks it was about 
five metres high and thirty centimetres in diameter at 
its base. When it had attained full growth a small 



174 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANN AM 

whitish flower burst forth at the extreme top, most 
inconspicuous, and neither beautiful in colour nor form 
a disappointing result of so many years of preparation ! 
But it had accomplished its destiny and proceeded to 
die ; however, it took so long about it that at length I 
lost patience, and one day five natives and a bullock 
dragged them all up by the roots and they were seen 
no more. Some smaller ones which were not so bulky 
were transplanted to the farther end of the garden, for 
the blue tint of the leaves made a pleasant contrast with 
the different shades of green. Some people use these 
agaves as a garden fence or hedge, and they certainly 
make a more effectual one than even the prickly cactus. 
But it is the flowering shrubs which give colour to 
the garden, the Hibiscus, scarlet, pink, and pale mauve, 
the blood-red blossoms of the Pomegranate trees, the 
red and yellow Acacias which so often surround the 
Annamese pagodas, and the Bougainvilleas. These 
last, when kept watered, will flower all the year round. 
The rich tone of their deep purple blossoms is far 
finer than the pale little flowers seen in the conserva- 
tories in England. Two growing on either side of the 
garden gate will soon join in an arch over it ; already 
the purple cuts against the blue sheet of sky and 
sea, making a dazzling contrast. All these shrubs are 
from three to six feet high, for they have grown to 
twice their size since I bought them from natives and 
planted them. Once a woman brought me a sweet- 
smelling frangipanier (Plumeria alba) which seemed 
to be in good condition with plenty of earth all round 
the root. However, before paying her I made her put 
down her basket and gave a tug at the plant. It 



OUR GARDEN 175 

immediately came out of the earth my pretty little 
shrub was made up of cut branches carefully arranged. 
Later on another woman offered me a beautiful little 
rose-tree, I looked at the roots, paid her and let 
her go. The next day our neighbour told me that 
he had had a rose-tree stolen from his verandah ! 
We have now more than a dozen rose-trees, and 
no morning goes by, winter or summer, without my 
being able to cut a dozen blooms for the house. 
There are big pink ones with a delicious scent, and 
small scarlet ones without any odour, both indigenous 
to Annam. All our efforts to grow the European 
varieties of the Langbian were unavailing. I must 
not forget to mention, too, the cocaine shrubs with 
their bright green leaves, minute white flowers, and 
scarlet seed-pods, nor the mimosas, with their little 
yellow balls, whose perfume on a moonlit night has 
often been a delight to us. 

But our garden is not limited to flowering shrubs ; 
we have many tropical fruit-trees scattered here and 
there. Banana-trees, with their strong, broad leaves 
of a tender green and their heavy bunches of fruit, 
papaya-trees (Carica papaya], whose curiously growing 
fruit, apparently stuck on to the trunk itself, looks as 
if it would fall to the ground every moment. This 
fruit is supposed to be easily digested, and is taken by 
some Europeans before nearly every meal. We have 
also eaten custard apples from our own tree (Anona 
squamosa) ; they are hard to find, for they are exactly 
the same shade as the leaves. The custard apples of 
Annam have a much more delicate flavour than those 
of India or Burmah ; they are neither so sweet nor so 



176 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

coarse. There are also orange- and lemon-trees, pine- 
apple plants, and the ornamental grass-like leaved 
balm-mint (Cymbopogonschananthus, Citronelle). The 
leaves of the balm-mint are often infused here to 
make an after-dinner drink for people who do not 
care for tea or coffee. 

Every six months we used to receive fresh seeds 
from Paris or London. Those that come up at all 
thrive better than in their native country ; we have had 
balsams like small roses, and dahlias five feet high. 
Our nasturtiums, cannas, Indian and Chinese carna- 
tions (the scented ones will not flower), zinnias, chrys- 
anthemums, and petunias are really beautiful to behold. 
Every winter for a month or six weeks I have had, too, 
about a dozen violets every day. All these flowers 
have to be watered twice a day, but as our coolie is 
always anxious to have the most beautiful flowers in 
Nhatrang, he actually waters even when he is not 
being watched ! Many beds are bordered with 
Amaryllides (Imantopkyllum), which are very much 
like Florence lilies, except that they do not have 
absolutely upright stems. 

The growth of both bulbs and seeds is extremely 
rapid. For instance, we once ate mustard and cress 
five and four days respectively after it had been 
sown. These little delicate shoots sometimes heave 
up a cake of earth half an inch thick, if they have been 
unable to pierce it, so full of life and vigour are they in 
this climate. Seeds have to be sown in cases perched 
on four legs in tins of vinegar, or they are devoured by 
ants. Ants are the great enemies of gardeners here ; 
some flowers one cannot pick without being stung by 




OUR PET DEER KEGGING FOR BANANAS 




AM AGAV:: .S:-K:N<;:NG UP 



OUR GARDEN 177 

them. Little white, almost transparent crabs, too, 
with protruding black eyes, occasionally scratch up 
plants here and there. They come up from the beach, 
but the garden is a dangerous hunting-ground for them, 
for though they move quickly, they cannot escape, if 
they have once attracted the blue eyes of our Siamese 
cat. Lizards make their home in one of our beds from 
time to time. The sandy coast of South Annam is 
swarming with these many-spotted, rainbow-tinted 
creatures. As one drives along, those on the road 
raise themselves on their front paws, and gaze in our 
direction till we are only a few yards away, then they 
scuttle over the sand and pop into their holes. They 
are most amusing to watch when we are motoring, for, 
unused to the vibration and noise, they evidently do 
not realise what is going to happen. We rush upon 
them so quickly that it seems they will be squashed 
under the wheels while they are still listening and 
searching for the danger. But they always escape 
in the nick of time, disappearing like a flash of light- 
ning. The Annamese catch them for food. They 
trap them with bamboo rings, which they place 
over the holes ; by the same process our garden 
was kept fairly free from them. The domestic 
lizard, the curious little animal which runs over the 
ceilings and the walls of all houses in the Tropics, 
we never tried to destroy. They are supposed to eat 
mosquitoes and spiders, and at any rate I can vouch 
for the moths and ephemera which come buzzing 
round the lamps in the evening. The small insects 
they snap up and swallow whole, the larger ones they 
seize, and by a dexterous movement detach the wings, 

M 



1 78 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

which fall to the ground before the struggling fly goes 
down their throats. The uninitiated is in constant 
dread of these lizards falling on him, but it is very 
rarely that they lose their hold. They are grey, and 
much smaller than the Tokai of pagodas or the sand- 
lizards. 

There were some birds which during a month or two 
nearly drove me wild. A number of them used to 
come regularly at the same hour every morning, fly 
direct on my beds of cannas, and settling at the tops 
of the long straight stalks pick at the round calyx till 
the blossom, losing its base, fell to the ground. 

A bed with thirty or forty yellow blossoms would 
reveal itself in the early morning in all its splendour, 
but by the time I had finished dressing sometimes not 
a single one was left. These " birds with Annamese 
hats," as we used to call them, because of a little tuft 
of feathers on their heads, looked so perky and pleased 
when they had completed their work that they made 
me much more indignant than if it had been ordinary 
smooth-headed sparrows or blackbirds. First of all I 
tried shooting them, but besides the awkward hour (I 
was generally in my bath when they first made their 
appearance) I so riddled the big green leaves with 
shot that I did more damage to the beds than the birds 
themselves. Then I made a scarecrow with hat, arms, 
and legs, but after the first day it did not frighten them 
at all. Then I had a big pole stuck in the midst of 
the bed, with a Swiss cow-bell on the top. I tied a 
string to the bell, and every time a bird approached my 
precious flowers I pulled it. After a day or two I got 
tired of that, as being continually on the look-out to 



OUR GARDEN 179 

pull the string I could never read or write in peace, so 
I tied my end of the string to the kitchen table. The 
boys were then responsible for my flowers. They 
seemed rather to enjoy the job, for they displayed a 
good deal of energy over it. Often when the bell 
rang more violently than usual, I used to dash out of 
my chair, thinking I was at school again and late 
for prayers or a lesson, but it was the choice of the 
lesser evil, and I preferred that to the loss of my 
flowers. 

Our homing pigeons and peacocks occasionally 
devastated our kitchen garden, but we naturally pre- 
ferred a little destruction to being without them. They 
made our meals amusing by their disputes with the 
Siamese cats for every morsel of food we threw from 
the table. 

However, in spite of such drawbacks, the garden 
flourishes. It is difficult to picture to a European the 
wonderfully rapid growth and bright colours of the 
flowers, or the blazing sun which renders them still 
more brilliant. I do not say that I would not prefer 
the English garden, with its verdure, its soft light and 
subdued colours, and its freedom from all obnoxious 
insects, but at any rate here it may be enjoyed all the 
year round, instead of for a bare six months. If, too, 
a garden is such a real pleasure in Europe, it can be 
readily understood how much more so it is to those 
who are far from their fatherland. It makes a house 
home, and in a great measure softens the hardship of 
exile. 




History of the Tchams and their conquest : Tcham 
dress : Their temples : Po Nagar's temple : Its archi- 
tectural beauty : The goddess Po Nagar : Tcham curios 
and hidden treasures : A Tcham legend 

AMONG the numerous races who have lived in Indo- 
China there are none comparable to the Tchams. 
They have left monuments scattered over the country 
which give an idea of their high civilisation. After 
having dominated in Annam they disappeared before 
the Annamese. Now there are only a few represen- 
tatives left, who live grouped in villages round Chaudoc 
and Phan Rang. 

The existence of the ancient kingdom "Cyamba" 
was revealed in Europe by Marco Polo, who visited it 
in 1280. The Tchams are probably a race of Malay 
extraction and Indian civilisation, and though not the 
aboriginal people of Annam, they had been there 
many centuries when the Chinese first came into 
contact with them after their conquest of the Giao- 
Chi at the end of the second century B.C. At 
that time the Tchams, as described by the Chinese 
records, were not only a very civilised race, but 
rich and prosperous. Their country extended from 

180 




INSIDE THE PRINCIPAL TOWER OF THE TCHAM TEMPLE OF NHATRANG 
ARRANGED FOR ANNAMESE WORSHIP 



THE TCHAM TEMPLE 1 8 1 

Saigon to the north of Tonking, and on the west 
to Siam. 

In the quarrels between the Giao-Chi (who were 
now called Annamese) and the Chinese, the Tchams 
gave help first to one side and then to the other, 
and it was largely owing to them that the Annamese 
finally shook off the Chinese yoke for ever in the 
tenth century. No action could have injured them 
more. The Annamese, free from Chinese rule, were 
at liberty to devote their attention to quarrelling with 
and plundering the Tchams. 

From this time forward severe fighting took place 
constantly between the two nations. Dumoutier has 
shown that the Annamese showed genuine military 
qualities in this campaign against the Tchams, who 
were slowly driven farther and farther back. The 
only intervals of peace enjoyed by Tchampa during 
this time were when the Annamese were engaged in 
war with China. In the fifteenth century the Tchams 
were finally subdued, and from this moment till the 
French conquest of the country the work of assimila- 
tion began, and the original race declined. 

The first French missionaries who arrived in the 
country at the end of the seventeenth century gave the 
name of Tchampa to the province of Khanh-Hoa, but 
at the present time it is necessary to go as far as 
Phan Rang to see a Tcham of pure origin. 

Some of the women are quite beautiful; a fine 
specimen of a Tcham woman may be seen in my 
photo of a market-place at Phan Rang. The head-dress 
is quite different from that of the Annamese ; it is 
twisted round the hair, and the two ends are allowed 



1 82 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANN AM 

to fall on either side of the face to the shoulder. The 
dress is very much like the cai ao of the Annamese, 
but instead of being a wide flowing garment it fits the 
figure much more closely. Their favourite colour 
seems to have been green. Occasionally one comes 
across a Tcham type in the midst of a squalid Moi 
village. Though the intermarrying of Mois and 
Tchams must have taken place many generations 
ago, the Tcham element constantly reappears without 
deterioration. It was quite pathetic to see a young 
Tcham girl, tall, lithe, beautifully made a remnant of 
this ancient race wearing the same clothes and living 
in the same manner as such savages as the Mois. 

The religion of the Tchams was Islamism, or Brah- 
manism namely, the worship of one of the three 
Indian gods, Brahma, Vishnu, or Siva, together with 
that of the " caktis," or wives of the last two, Uma 
and Laksmi. But local superstitions have now super- 
seded everything. They still offer sacrifices, though 
they have forgotten the names of the ancient gods 
whom they thus honour. Neither can they now read 
the Koran. 

Wonderful Tcham monuments and temples may 
still be found dotted about Annam and Tonking. 
The sites chosen for these temples were always 
on hills in the most beautiful parts of the country. 
The views from the temple of the goddess Po Nagar 
(Bhagavati) at Nhatrang are the best to be had in 
any part of that district. The temples of the Circle 
of Mi-son (Quang-Nam) are perhaps more com- 
plete, but ours at Nhatrang is by far the most 
interesting and beautiful. We had the opportunity of 



THE TCHAM TEMPLE 183 

visiting it very often during our stay at Nhatrang, 
and it was my favourite spot in the whole neighbour- 
hood. It is situated on a hill about thirty metres 
high close to where the river runs into the sea. It 
overlooks the whole bay as well as the villages of 
Nhatrang and Culao, and from there you can see the 
river winding in and out along the valley. On the other 
side may be seen two lakes or lagoons surrounded 
by undulating land overgrown with dense tropical 
vegetation, and in the background mountains covered 
with forest. The colours on sea, river, and mountains 
at sunset are the most glorious that I have ever seen. 
Sitting on the steps under the portal of the temple 
I love to dream of the hundreds of men and women 
of this ancient race who have mounted them to 
worship at its shrine and to evoke the weird religious 
pageants and ceremonies of which it has been the 
centre. 

The temple was probably built in the third century 
A.D. A Sanskrit inscription on one of the stones proves 
that Brahmanism was then the prevailing belief of the 
Tchams. The temple was destroyed in A.D. 774 by 
" very dark and thin men coming from another country 
in ships." They were pursued by Satiavarman, the 
Tcham king, who gained a naval victory over them, 
and in 784 he rebuilt the temple and cut the inscription 
which gives us these details. Another inscription 
mentions that Indravarman erected a golden statue 
to the goddess Bhagavati which "the avaricious 
Cambodians took away, but they died in consequence," 
and in 965 King Jaya Indravarman put a stone statue 
of the goddess in its place, which is probably the very 



i8 4 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

one that is now there. The last king to leave 
his name on any inscription was Rudravarman. 
He made a gift of precious objects to the temple 
of the great goddess in 1064. From the eleventh 
century onwards Sanskrit learning is less and less 
in evidence owing to the decadence of the race, 
but inscriptions in the Tcham language become 
more numerous. 

The temple, like all the Tcham monuments, faces 
due east. It is composed of two brick towers with 
stone doors covered with inscriptions, and several 
small edifices are grouped round them. The tower to 
the left is the larger, and is consecrated to the goddess 
Uma. It is twenty metres long from east to west, in- 
cluding the porch by which one enters ; the width 
from north to south is fourteen metres, the height 
about eighteen metres. Above the door is sculptured 
a dancing god, which may be clearly seen in my photo- 
graphs ; two little musicians playing fifes are on either 
side of him. In the interior is the splendid statue of 
the ten-armed goddess Po Nagar, which is protected 
by a wooden construction. The goddess is rather 
bigger than life size, and is sitting Indian fashion on 
her stone altar. The breasts, which are rather large, 
seem to indicate that she represents maternity. All 
the ten arms have bracelets on them, the lowest ones 
on either side are resting on her knees, the left 
hand is open, with the palm upright ; the right is 
shut. The others are raised and hold objects repre- 
senting different attributes, such as a mace, a sword, a 
dish, a lance, and a stone about the size of an orange. 
A diadem is on her head ; she is apparently dressed 



THE TCHAM TEMPLE 185 

in a "sarong," which probably covers tight-fitting 
trousers. 

There is another statue in this same tower repre- 
senting a woman seated ; she is much smaller than 
the goddess and less finely sculptured, but the two 
statues are probably contemporary. She is called 
" the little goddess " in the inscription. A sentence in 
Tcham is cut on her back. 

The tower to the right only measures ten metres 
from north to south, and thirteen from east to west, in- 
cluding the porch. Here the divinity is a " linga," 
crowned with a network of sculptured pearls, and 
placed on a brown stone slab. 

All round on the outside of these towers there are 
many busts of women, their hair arranged in a diadem 
of three rolls, one above the other. Their hands are 
joined as if in prayer. From the bust the stone ex- 
tends at right angles backwards for about the length 
of a metre. This shape enables these decorative 
figures to be fixed and built into the tower. 

The surrounding buildings are themselves little 
temples containing either lingas or small statues of 
goddesses, the whole was probably surrounded by a 
wall, of which there are now very few traces. 

The interior of the towers is quite small, that of the 
largest would not hold more than five or six persons. 
It is supposed that only the priests worshipped inside, 
the congregation remained standing or kneeling with- 
out. All are very dark, no light entering except 
through the door. The Annamese custodians used 
to light torches for our benefit, but a good examination 
of the sculptures and inscriptions was not easy partly 



1 86 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

on account of the apparent unwillingness of our guides, 
partly also because the flaring torches gave so unsteady 
a light. 

The reason why custodians were appointed by the 
Annamese people is that they have appropriated the 
goddess Po Nagar as their own divinity under the 
name of Ba-Chua-Ngoc. She is very much venerated, 
and twice a year, namely, in the second and eighth 
months of the Annamese year, fe^tes with music and 
dancing are held in her honour. The sailors and 
fishermen make offerings to her continually of shoes, 
clothes, candles, and lanterns, and though the wor- 
shippers may have received no benefit from this 
veneration, yet at least it has been the means of 
preserving the temple from ruin. 

The following is the Annamese legend relating to 
the goddess Ba-Chua-Ngoc. The goddess had no 
father or mother, but was born in a tree. Its owner 
was an old man who made his living by the sale of 
water-melons. He was vexed at finding that his fruit 
was continually stolen, and watched night and day for 
the chance of catching the thief. Qne day he suc- 
ceeded in surprising a young goddess, whom he found 
so beautiful that he made her his adopted daughter. 
For a long time no man asked for her- hand, but at 
last a king came from the north who fell in love with 
her the moment he saw her. He married her and 
took her back to his own country and there they had 
two children. Then one day she deserted her hus- 
band and children and came back to Nhatrang, 
where she asked a mason to build her a temple. The 
king, having found out her hiding-place, sent an 




THE MARKET 

THE CKNTKAI. FIGUKK IS A TCHAM WOMAN 



THE TCHAM TEMPLE 187 

ambassador to bring her back. Should she refuse, 
he was ordered to chop off her head and bring that. 
The goddess, knowing this, cut off her own head and 
gave it to the ambassador when he arrived, who went 
off with it to his ship. Winds and storms came out of 
the head, and the ship sank with the ambassador and 
all its crew. From this moment the goddess became 
the object of adoration. 

In 1906, M. Parmentier, of the " Ecole franchise 
d'Extr&ne Orient," arrived at Nhatrang in order to 
undertake the work of preserving the temple and to 
search for its hidden treasures. He built a little bun- 
galow for himself and his wife on the spot, so that no 
brick should be dislodged nor clod of earth displaced 
without his personal supervision. The Annamese 
naturally did not like this invasion into their place of 
worship, but they were propitiated in one way or 
another, and the guardians themselves were tactfully 
appointed as police over the workmen. All the Anna- 
mese offerings which at different times had been placed 
in the towers were naturally left untouched. 

One day, when we went to call on M. and Madame 
Parmentier, we had the good fortune to arrive just as 
a treasure had been discovered. It had been found 
about ten feet below the altar in one of the towers. 
Before the work of excavation could be begun, the 
tower had to be strengthened, or it would inevitably 
have fallen, and when at last the digging started 
M. Parmentier himself watched every spadeful thrown 
out and listened for the hollow sound which would 
indicate the approach of a cavity. 

In the case of the particular treasure we saw, there 



1 88 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

were several small objects, none of any great value, 
which had evidently been placed there as an ex voto 
offering by some pious Tcham. The first article we 
were shown was a heavy gold ring set with a green 
stone ; the claws which held the jewel were rather big 
and clumsy, but the setting was not unlike those of 
to-day. There was also another stone, rather like a 
dull opal, lying loose. It might have been glass, but 
M. Parmentier did not think that the Tchams knew 
of its manufacture. A metal teapot, green with age, 
from which the thin handle had fallen, and an orna- 
mental silver bowl, with a cover rather like a silver 
sweet-dish, were next placed before our admiring eyes. 
Then came the inevitable rice-bowl and betel-box, and, 
what interested M. Parmentier more than anything, 
some grains of fresh-looking paddy. This showed 
that these things had not been hidden away, that, in 
fact, the offering had not been touched since placed 
there. M. Parmentier intended to sow some of the 
paddy but hardly expected it to germinate. The burial 
of this treasure he calculated dated from about the end 
of the eighth century. It awed me to be one of the 
first to look at and touch things which had not seen 
the light for over a thousand years. 

When he had drawn, painted, and measured these 
Tcham curios, M. Parmentier was hoping to start ex- 
cavating to the right of the big central tower. The 
original tower was not on the exact site of the present 
one, and it was beneath the altar of the first that he 
expected to find the most important treasure. 

Many of the richest Tcham treasures, however, such 
as jewelled weapons and crowns, gold and silver plates, 



THE TCHAM TEMPLE 189 

altar ornaments, women's jewellery, are rarely found 
in the temples they were entrusted to the Mois by 
the Tcham kings when obliged to flee from the 
conquering Annamese. The Mois buried them in 
lonely spots among the hills. The hiding-places are 
only known to some Moi chief, who hands down the 
secret at his death to his successor. The confidence 
of these Mois must be gained before further investiga- 
tion can be made. They guard their secret jealously, 
for although a Tcham treasure owes nothing of its 
origin to Moi religion or race, they have a superstitious 
faith in it and believe that it protects them from all 
evils. Up till now no discoveries of treasure have 
been made beyond a few in the Province of Phan 
Rang and Phan Ri. Those investigated by Pere 
Durand and M. Parmentier are of great interest for 
the history of the Tchams. 



CHAPTER XIII 

TO THE INLAND HILLS NHATRANG TO DABAN 

Preparations for a two-hundred kilometre journey : Trials 
of a tri-car : Catastrophe to a group of native women : 
Meeting an elephant : Arrival in a village whose inhabitants 
had never seen a motor-car : Commotion wrought among 
oxen, fowls, pigs, &c. : Frightful state of roads : Safe 
arrival at Banghoi : Phan Rang : Breakdown : Return 
to Phan Rang : New start in pony-cart : No relays ready : 
Balat : Change of scenery as we approached the hills : 
Exhaustion of the last pony : Deluge of rain : Shelter at 
Daban : In the land of the tiger 

A YEAR after our arrival in Annam my husband 
thought a change of air was necessary for my health. 
The Langbian plateau in the south of Annam naturally 
suggested itself. My husband knew it well ; he had 
been sent some time before by the Government to 
study its climatic conditions, and had been most 
favourably impressed with the healthiness of the 
situation. But how to get there ? If the journey 
could be arranged, the Director of the Agricultural 
Station on the farther edge of the plateau would make 
me welcome at his house. M. d'Andre" was a friend 
of my husband, and would be glad of any visitor 
for the sake of the companionship for his wife and 
daughter. 

Over two hundred kilometres had to be traversed, 



TO THE INLAND HILLS 191 

however, to get there, not by train or coach, but in a 
cradle- cart or rickshaw, to the foot of the hills ; after- 
wards it was a choice of horseback and a palanquin up 
the mountain-side. It was no small matter, especially 
as my husband could not obtain sufficient leave of 
absence to take me the whole way. But the longing 
for a cool atmosphere got stronger and stronger, and I 
urged on the preparations. It was useless to look out 
for a fellow-adventurer among the ladies of Nhatrang ; 
either they had children whom they could not leave, 
or the undertaking was too unprecedented for their 
liking. 

The day before we left Nhatrang, my husband 
decided to take me as far as possible in our tri-car. 
Perhaps the decision was rather rash ; but people with 
new motor-cars have these little failings. But he 
wisely maintained arrangements already made for the 
pony-cart, so that we could be picked up in case of a 
breakdown. 

The sea made a black, straight line on the horizon 
against a sky of silver and orange when we started off 
at dawn, and before the roads were much frequented 
we had done our first ten kilometres. Then, with the 
first rays of the sun, the women began to appear, their 
baskets laden with goods for market. They were 
generally in little groups, and walked as usual one 
behind the other. As a rule, they stopped when they 
saw us coming, and waited with averted faces till we 
had gone by ; but one of these little processions, com- 
posed of about ten women, seemed so absorbed in 
conversation that they did not see or hear us. The 
hooter was of no avail, and though we slowed down as 



192 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

we came near them, the first woman was so startled 
that she jumped aside and fell into the rice-field. 
I was rather taken aback by such a catastrophe, 
but still more horrified when I saw the other nine 
follow suit. Each one, following on the heels of her 
predecessor without looking round or about her, had 
instinctively imitated the jump to the side without 
being aware of the reason for it. When we heard 
their ejaculations and screams as they extricated them- 
selves from the mele and picked up their overturned 
baskets, we thought it better not to stop. Nobody 
was hurt, and we could not re-divide their goods again. 
I was sure that each one would claim a little more 
than she had before, and that the wrangling which 
would ensue would divert their anger from us, even 
if they had so much as realised the cause of their 
disaster. 

A few minutes later another encounter resulted in 
an equal fright to both parties. We were mounting a 
small incline, and coming sharply round a corner at 
the top, found ourselves nearly under the feet of the 
"Quan B6's " enormous elephant. The two natives 
who were conducting it to the river immediately let go 
their hold and made off. Fortunately, just at the 
critical moment when we thought we were going to be 
trampled underfoot, the elephant also decided on 
flight, took a half-turn, and started at full speed across 
the rice-fields. 

After we had bumped over the ruts and lumps 
between the few huts which compose the village of 
Suoigiau, we ventured on to a road on which pneu- 
matic tyres had never rolled, and through villages 




THE QUAN BO'S ELEPHANT 






TO THE INLAND HILLS 193 

whose inhabitants had never yet seen, or perhaps 
hearcTof, the " fire machine." But the natives we met 
did not seem grateful to us for giving them what must 
have been an entirely novel sight. Those in rickshaws 
found themselves suddenly transported into the rice- 
fields by their terrified coolies, and were lucky if they 
remained sitting on the cushion instead of in water and 
mud. I turned round once and saw a Chinese merchant 
picking himself slowly out of the mud and looking 
first at us and then at his coolie, as if uncertain whether 
to thank the latter for saving his life, or to beat him 
for having been the cause of his dirty trousers. For a 
mandarin who was advancing on horseback we stopped 
dead, waiting for him to pass us. The precaution was 
useless : the horse turned tail and galloped off at such 
speed that we never knew whether the horse or rider 
had been the first to be seized with fright. 

It was high time to reach a village, for we needed 
water. When Hoatan came in sight we dared go no 
farther, and alighted. I ran in front in search of a 
native, but the village at first seemed deserted. No 
children were playing in the road, no women squatting 
beside their baskets ; but on closer observation I saw 
numbers of heads peeping cautiously out from behind 
the slightly lifted doors. They evidently had been 
warned that a great danger threatened them. Nobody 
could be persuaded to approach, and it seemed that if 
we wanted water we should have to go and draw it 
from the well ourselves. My husband finally turned 
off steam, and, with the cessation of noise and vibration 
their fear suddenly vanished. First the children, then 
the older natives, gradually came forward, and soon 

N 



194 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

ther was a crowd round the tri-car, those behind 
pressing forward, those in front pushing back, not liking 
the too close contact. We at last obtained a jar of 
water with half a cocoa-nut shell attached to a stick as 
scoop, but it was difficult to get enough elbow-room to 
fill the reservoir. When the engine was again put in 
motion there was a general scuffle and disappearance ; 
those who had been lying on their stomachs or backs 
to peer between the wheels, apparently in the hope of 
discovering horses or other animals, rolled away like 
ninepins. At the first vibration we were left masters 
of the situation ; no other soul remained in sight. The 
buffaloes, native dogs, black curved-back pigs, the 
fowls in fact, all the animals with which the Annamese 
live, and which had not taken the precaution of staying 
at home like their masters, had narrow escapes. In 
some villages we created the greatest commotion. 
Only the oxen remained undisturbed ; even when we 
went within an inch of their noses they did not budge ; 
one, indeed, turned round and jumped some palings 
into a little native garden, causing considerable tumult, 
but the occurrence was exceptional. 

Since Suoigiau the road had been bad, but after 
Hoatan it became worse than ever. There were places 
one or two hundred yards in length where we sank 
deep into the sand and stuck fast. Occasionally we 
managed to tug the car out ourselves, but more often 
it was impossible to move it an inch, and we had to 
wait till some natives should appear along the road. 
Even then it was useless to hail them, and we had to 
run after them and drag them to the spot. The bridges 
also had enormous gaps in them, but as they were 



TO THE INLAND HILLS 195 

mostly made with branches the tri-car jumped with 
safety where a pony would have inevitably caught his 
feet. This had actually happened to one traveller, 
whom we found struggling to extricate his poor animal. 
We helped to unharness the pony, but it was only after 
giving its legs support from under the bridge that it 
could be liberated. We exchanged notes concerning 
all the other bridges before separating. Though there 
were many places where the car had literally to be 
hauled out of sand or mud, and we had several narrow 
escapes on the bridges, all went well till within two or 
three kilometres of Banghoi. There it stopped, and 
finally refused to start off again, in spite of all we could 
do. We were in the midst of the salt-marshes that 
surround Banghoi, so that there was little vegetation. 
As I was of no use with the car, I made for the only 
stunted tree within reach, and, sitting down in four 
square inches of shade, mopped my brow. What were 
we going to do ? The sun was pouring down ; the 
glare on the whitened sand was almost unbearable ; it 
seemed impossible to wait three or four hours till the 
trap should catch us up, but it was also impossible to 
walk two kilometres in that tropical sun. Remember- 
ing that some bottles of St. Galmier and some bars of 
chocolate were stowed away under the seat of the tri- 
car, I summoned enough resolution to leave my scrap 
of shade and return to the highway. My husband 
was still working away with desperate energy, en- 
deavouring to re-start the car ; it was not a time for 
speech, and silently I lifted the seat. Imagine my 
feelings when I found the St. Galmier at boiling-point 
and the chocolate all melted away among the tools. 



196 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

This was the last straw ; to wait three hours without 
food could be done, but without drink ! Our spirits 
were at their lowest when three natives appeared. 
They unwillingly put down their baskets and com- 
menced to push the curious vehicle, from which they 
probably supposed the horse had escaped. At the top 
of the slope on which we had stuck, my husband made 
another effort to put the car in motion. No sooner did 
the natives hear the first rumble of the engine than 
they fled. Calling would not bring them back, so our 
chance of making them drag the car to Banghoi, if we 
failed to move, was lost. After many fruitless attempts, 
the car, making a deafening noise, at last moved forward 
at its lowest speed, and we had to be content. The 
last two kilometres took us half an hour to accomplish. 
When we finally entered the primitive little inn where 
we were to stop the night, it was only n A.M., though 
it seemed as if we had done quite a day's work 
already. Nobody could believe that we had come 
from Nhatrang that morning without a boy or any 
sort of help except that which turned up along the 
road. Europeans were as interested as natives in 
examining the little car which had performed such 
a feat. 

My resolution to continue by a surer if slower 
method was broken through by my husband, who 
before nightfall had readjusted the car and received 
satisfactory assurances about the road. T^e whole 
population of the district surrounded us as we made 
our preparations to start the next morning, and by the 
time the motor started forward, the natives had lost 
their first fear and came running along on either side 



TO THE INLAND HILLS 197 

of us. But soon the last lithe little runner dropped 
behind. For the first forty kilometres we had the 
same bad roads as the day before ; the natives per- 
haps were even more frightened, and the consternation 
we caused as we ran through some of the villages 
greater. It was only when within twenty kilometres 
of Phan Rang that we came upon a really good surface. 
We flew along at our quickest pace ; no collapsed 
bridges, no bumps to stun us, no deep sand or mud. 
The trials of the preceding hundred kilometres were 
forgotten, and when we reached Phan Rang we had 
but one idea, to go straight on to Daban. By 9 A.M. 
we had entered the hotel and surprised its inmates by 
the noise of our car. My husband immediately 
telegraphed to Dr. Yersin to obtain another day's 
leave of absence, and by twelve the answer had come 
telling us not to break our victorious run. 

But about ten kilometres from Phan Rang we had an 
accident. Four or five bullock-carts lumbering along 
ahead of us were at length drawn to the side (actually 
the same side) after vigorous hooting. The passage 
was still narrow, as piles of stones had been placed on 
the other side for road-mending. We did not go 
particularly slowly, however, as all the coolies were 
standing at the heads of the bullocks, and no obstacle 
stood in our way. Our dismay can be imagined, 
therefore, when we saw the coolies of the last cart let 
go their animals and run off. The noise of the motor 
frightened the bullocks and they turned at right angles, 
completely blocking the way. Already my hands 
were stretched out to protect my head from the 
collision which must ensue, when the tri-car suddenly 



198 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

ran up to the top of a pile of stones and came to a 
standstill. My husband, in order to prevent my head 
being broken under the cart (I was seated in front, 
much lower than himself), had to choose between 
smashing down into the rice-fields or guiding the 
machine as evenly as possible up the hillock of stones. 
He took the latter course. Fortunately the car neither 
overturned nor toppled over on the farther side. We 
dragged it down on to the road, but the insult of this 
treatment was evidently too much for it. This time 
the breakdown was permanent. It was settled that I 
should take the first opportunity of getting back to 
Phan Rang. When a wretched old malabar* came 
along driven by a small Chinese boy, I was only too 
thankful for the lift, although I was squeezed between 
two dirty old women chewing betel. From the hotel 
I immediately sent off a rickshaw and coolies, but it 
was dark before the sad little procession made its 
appearance. How different from the triumphal entry 
in the morning ! 

My journey was not interrupted by this accident, 
for the Resident arranged that I should join forces with 
an astronomer, M. Lecadet, who was starting for 
Dankia the next morning. He was commissioned to 
inspect the meteorological installation there. I was thus 
very fortunate in getting a companion for the whole 
journey. 

Early the next morning my husband, after giving 

us many instructions about relays, coolies, baggage, &c., 

started towards Nhatrang, M. Lecadet and myself 

towards Daban. For the first fifteen kilometres or so 

* Malabar, a small closed carriage. 



TO THE INLAND HILLS 199 

all went well, but just before we reached the first tram * 
we came upon a pony being led by a coolie. Our 
little sais jumped down from behind us and proceeded 
to harness it in the place of the one we were driving. 
We were surprised that it had not waited for us at the 
tram, but as neither sai's nor coolie understood French 
no explanations were possible. A little farther on, we 
caught up two more ponies. It was then apparent 
that our relays had not been sent out early enough 
from Phan Rang, or that the coolies had been gam- 
bling in some cai-nha near the village instead of 
taking up their appointed posts. 

The road from Phan Rang followed the Song Cau 
River ; from time to time we saw its flowing water at 
a bend in its course, but at Balat, the last Annamese 
village we were to pass, we crossed it by the famous 
iron bridge, and saw it no more. This bridge was built 
for the railway when quick means of transit to the 
Langbian had been thought desirable. If it did not 
fulfil its original intention, at least it was most useful 
to us. 

Up till now the road had been fairly frequented, 
there seemed plenty of movement between the different 
hamlets dotted about among the green carpet of rice- 
fields. We also met many natives of Tcham origin, 
easily distinguishable from the Annamese by their 
straight noses and different carriage, even if they had 
not been wearing their full turbans and green tunics. 
After Balat, where we arrived dragging our relays 
behind us, the character of the country changed ; no 
more signs of cultivation, no rice-fields, no natives on 
* Tram, a station where relays of coolies or ponies may be had. 



200 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

the roads, no thatched roofs sheltered by high cocoa- 
and areca-palms. On either side lay a forest of stunted 
trees, with here and there a great mass of rounded 
granite, which had the form and colour of a sleeping 
elephant. We were reminded that later we might very 
likely see the real thing ! The continual look-out we 
were obliged to keep up saved us from monotony. 

Ten kilometres from Daban the last pony was 
exhausted and we were forced to unharness it and let 
it rest. It was already after midday, so the hope of 
getting up to Dran before nightfall began to vanish. 
Was there any place to sleep at Daban ? My husband 
had noticed a chalet there, and we had since heard 
that an agent of the Public Works Department was 
living in it. Would he be able and willing to give us 
shelter, if there really was no possibility of making the 
ascent to Dran ? Having stopped at the bottom of a 
slope near a wooden bridge, we descended into the 
dried-up river-bed where the sand and shade made 
a comfortable resting-place, and there prepared our- 
selves a little lunch. I boiled water in my alcohol 
lamp to make bovril, M. Lecadet carved the chicken, 
and we had a very good meal, ending up with some 
refreshing tea. It was a pretty spot for a picnic ; as 
I looked round me I became aware that the scenery 
had again changed and that the vegetation differed 
from anything we had come across before. Instead 
of stunted oaks and scrubby bushes there were huge 
massive trunks which seemed to stretch up to the 
sky. Below was a dense mass of tropical foliage ; 
every plant seemed to be making an effort to rise 
above its fellows and expand its leaves to the sun and 




THE WHOLE VILLAGE IN OUR WAKE 




ON THE KUGIi OK THE TROPICAL FOREST 



TO THE INLAND HILLS 201 

air. They vied and struggled with each other for pre- 
dominance. It was an inextricable tangle, impossible 
to penetrate. We had reached the thick vegetation 
of the lower slopes of the mountain, and had seen 
deer, peacocks, jungle fowls, from time to time along 
the road, but fortunately no elephants. There were 
many traces of them, however, on the dry river-bed 
where we were seated, and they must recently have 
come to drink there. In spite of the silence one 
did not forget the teeming animal life that the thick 
foliage hid. 

A drop of rain brought us back to realities. We 
jumped up, bundled our lunch things into the trap 
and harnessed up. Our little sais had been left 
behind some way back, as we dared not tire the 
last pony more than was absolutely necessary. 
Between walking and trotting we managed to cover 
a few more miles, and then the pony refused to 
advance farther. We both alighted, and leading 
our exhausted animal, started to trudge the last part 
of the road. But the heavy rain soon soaked my 
mackintosh and skirts. I could not walk and was 
obliged to get into the trap again and sit down in 
the pool on the cushion. M. Lecadet continued to 
haul along the poor pony, which at every step was 
less and less willing to move. At last we came to a 
long wooden bridge, which, from my husband's 
itinerary, seemed to be less than a kilometre from 
Daban. The sight of it gave us new courage. The 
pouring rain, high trees, and thick undergrowth lining 
the narrow road made it so dark that it was impossible 
to help feeling a little nervous. One exaggerates 



202 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

dangers when soaked to the skin, and really this un- 
known road seemed full of mystery. Our delight was 
great when we suddenly saw a thatched roof peeping 
out from between the trees a little higher up. The 
last hundred metres mounted a steady slope, but the 
pony smelt the stable and made a noble effort. At 
the top we found ourselves on a flat open space where 
the trees had been cut down quite close to the ground. 
There were several sheds or Annamese huts on one 
side, and on the other a wooden bungalow built on 
piles. We went towards the latter, and were met on 
the steps by an Annamese interpreter, who, in answer 
to our questions, told us that a European was at that 
moment at Daban. He pointed to a bungalow a little 
way up the mountain-side, where M. Landon, of the 
Public Works Department, was living. We imme- 
diately clambered up the slope as fast as our wet clothes 
and the path, which was a slippery stream, would 
allow us. The rain made so much noise that for some 
time nobody heard our calls and knocks. At last 
M. Landon himself came out, and at once put the 
lower house at our disposal. It contained three large 
rooms, only the middle one being occupied by the 
interpreter. M. Landon also asked us to dine with 
him that evening. 

My boy Sau had put in an appearance, and by the 
time I had collected my luggage, which had arrived on 
a bullock-cart from Nhatrang a few days before, he 
had brought me two steaming petroleum-tins of hot 
water. I did not take the trouble to unpack my bath, 
for as the planks were not very close together, it was 
quite easy to take a hot shower-bath without doing 



TO THE INLAND HILLS 203 

any harm. The water ran away between the boards, 
and the floor was soon dry again. 

We took tea on the verandah, seated on wooden 
cases ; my spirit-lamp balanced on the verandah 
railing. Warm and dry, we were at last able to laugh 
over all our adventures of the morning. 

During dinner our host told us many a thrilling 
story of the tiger. Its presence was a continual source 
of danger, not only at night but in the day, for where 
M. Landon was road-surveying in the forest, its huge 
form was often seen prowling between the trees. Only 
a week before it had secured a victim. The small 
brother of M. Landon's cook had been carried off 
while sleeping with several companions in a hut quite 
close to his house. Familiarity breeds contempt the 
door had been left open. Towards morning, when the 
fire had burnt low, the tiger had ventured near, clawed 
the child, dragged him a few yards, and then, seizing 
him by the shoulder between his teeth, had bounded 
with him into the jungle. The screams of the poor 
little lad awoke the other coolies, who, brandishing 
their clubs and hatchets and uttering wild yells, started 
in pursuit. The tiger, startled by the noise, dropped 
its prey and made off. But the boy's shoulder was 
almost bitten through by the monster's teeth and there 
was little hope of saving his life. We were told that 
the same tiger was still hovering round and we should 
very likely hear its war-cry during the night. 

On descending the hill again we found that our two 
boys, who had left Phan Rang at the same time as our- 
selves, had arrived, so an early start could be made 
the next morning. 



204 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

I was soon in the land of dreams a tiger was 
harnessed to the trap instead of a pony, and two 
others were being towed behind. I was terrified at 
having their noses so close to my back, but dared 
not cut them loose, as I felt that they would be 
wanted later on. 



CHAPTER XIV 

TO THE INLAND HILLS (continued) FROM DABAN 
TO DANKIA 

The Mois' physical appearance ; their baskets : A " tailed 
race" : A steep climb on horseback : The pines : A 
snake : Dran : Isolation of Europeans in this district : 
A second long climb : General view of the plateau : M. 
Canivey's escape from a tiger : His punitive expedition 
to a Moi village : Moi bows and arrows : A Moi woman : 
Dankia 

ON awaking on the next morning it took me some 
time to realise where I was. As soon as I remembered 
the two past days' events I rolled gingerly out of 
my camp bed and seized my watch. Half-past eight ! 
yet we were to have started at six ! Dressing in 
feverish haste by the light coming in through the 
persienne doors (there were no windows in my large 
room) I rushed out on to the verandah. M. Lecadet 
was sitting there writing a letter to his wife and looking 
as if he meant to spend the rest of his life in Daban. 
And not without reason, for he had just discovered 
that contrary to what we had understood the previous 
evening neither his coolies nor the horse with which 
he was to make the rest of the journey had arrived. I 
had probably enough coolies for the baggage of both 
but another pony was indispensable. While we were 

205 



206 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

discussing the situation, we saw a little procession 
winding through the trees down the mountain path. 
When it emerged into the open, we distinguished six 
or seven Mois with a pony (saddled and bridled) led by 
an Annamese who proved to be one of M. d' Andre's 
servants. We were saved ! 

Although it was not the first time I had come across 
a Moi, the sight of the twenty or so naked rough-headed 
individuals who were to accompany us was not a re- 
assuring one. The word "Moi" in Annamese means 
"savage " and really the term was not misapplied. All 
the same we had not gone far before I was more fascinated 
by these hillmen than I had ever been with the Anna- 
mese. As soon as they saw us astride on our ponies, 
they came forward, and pouncing on the different pack- 
ages strapped them to bamboo boles with long strips 
of cane. The strongest naturally got hold of the lightest 
burdens, but as we had divided them off pretty equally, 
there was not really very much difference. We had 
been told that no Moi must be given more than thirty 
kilogrammes to carry or he may drop his burden en 
route and refuse to pick it up again. There were two 
Mois to each bamboo and soon all was hoisted on to 
their shoulders and the little cavalcade started off. 
They were big solid fellows, well-proportioned and of 
an upright carriage, very different from the slight wiry 
Annamese. Their height ranged from one metre sixty- 
five to one metre seventy or more. They looked far 
more capable of conquering the Annamese than the An- 
namese of conquering them, but as I caught sight of the 
contemptuous glances of our boys towards the savages, 
there was no doubt as to the real position. The Mois 



TO THE INLAND HILLS 207 

were darker than the Annamese, in fact some of them 
were almost copper colour. Their coarse black hair was 
done up at the back of the head in a chignon through 
which was often stuck a long-handled bamboo pipe. 
Sometimes the chignon was fastened with a black 
wooden comb, which served, I found later, to support 
little bundles of tobacco carefully wrapped up inside 
the hair. When their tobacco had come to an end, they 
smoked dry grass which they picked up along the path. 
Their expression was much franker than that of the An- 
namese and they laughed and talked freely to each other 
the whole time. Brass anklets and bracelets on legs and 
arms, and a loin-cloth into which a wooden sheathed 
knife was thrust, composed their whole costume. Only 
two among our convoy were the proud possessors of 
short Annamese cotton jackets. Attached to each 
bamboo that the Mois carried were two rolled-up mats 
of dry grass. At the first drop of rain they all put 
down their burdens, unstrapped these grass mats, which 
were about a yard square, and placed them on their 
heads. They were thus well sheltered down to the 
waist. Their appearance was most comic, one could 
not see their faces and they looked like so many 
minute thatched roofs walking along. All their food 
and drink was carried by two Mois who had accom- 
panied them for this purpose. They had large 
bamboo plaited dossers on their backs, which held all 
the little sacks of rice and earthenware vessels. It is 
rare to meet a Moi without one of these baskets, for 
when on his way through the forest his hands are occu- 
pied with either lance or bow and arrows. When he 
goes any distance he takes all his possessions on his 



208 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

back, carrying several baskets one on the top of the 
other a veritable scaffolding which towers up much 
above his head. It looks as if the whole erection 
might come clattering down any minute, because he is 
quite unable to balance or rearrange it with his hands. 
It is fixed up when he starts and must thus remain till 
he arrives at the sleeping-place. For this reason a 
stout stick is dragged along tied with string to the 
bottom-most basket, so that as soon as he stands still 
he has only to put out his hand behind him, catch hold 
of the stick and prop it under his baskets. His load 
thus supported, he can at least lean back and rest his 
shoulders if unable to sit down. A story goes that the 
first Europeans who travelled beyond the coast of 
Annam returned declaring that they had seen a race 
of men with tails. If there is any truth in it, these 
sticks were perhaps the " tails " ! 

For the first mile or two after leaving Daban, the 
path was so steep that our ponies could advance no 
quicker than the Moi bearers. There was no need for 
haste, however, as we should have to break our 
journey again at Dran. The scenery and vegetation, 
moreover, were so glorious that it would have been a 
pity not to have given ourselves enough time to enjoy 
them. We had been climbing about an hour when 
M. Landon suddenly appeared, his pony scrambling up 
the side of the ravine like a cat clambering up a tree. 
He said that as it was Sunday (I had quite lost count 
of days) he had finished his work for the day and would 
accompany us to Dran, where he was going to lunch. 

At about five hundred metres, we discovered a pine 
here and there among the rich tropical foliage, a sight 



TO THE INLAND HILLS 209 

which promised a speedy change of atmosphere. But 
already the air was cooler and more invigorating than 
the plain. Nearly all the trees had orchids or other 
parasitical plants growing on them, and occasionally one 
was in full bloom. There were numbers of coloured 
creepers, too, which made an impenetrable wall as they 
fell to the ground from the topmost branches of 
higher trees. Sometimes the silence was broken by 
the shrill cries or loud wails of monkeys, and the 
branches above our heads shook and rattled as a family 
party took flight. We could not always see them 
distinctly through the leaves, but my boy shot two and 
brought them to me in triumph. They -were both 
Gibbons, which are the only representatives of the man- 
like apes in Annam. One was entirely black except for 
a buffy gular patch, with long thick fur. It has since 
been named Hylobates gabriella, after me. It was a 
new species. The other, Hylobates leucogenys, was also 
black, but had white whiskers. My boy himself pointed 
out the separation of the thumb and big toe from the 
rest of the digits. He mimicked their way of walking 
erect and the manner in which when he had shot them 
they had held their gaping wounds together with their 
taper fingers to prevent the blood gushing forth. Their 
tortured expression when wounded prevents most 
Europeans from shooting them. The next day he 
killed a long-tailed Presbytis. It had thick grey fur 
of a lovely shade of colour with white trousers and 
was almost as big as the Gibbons. 

For the last two or three kilometres before reaching 
Dran we passed through forests of pines, short grass 
covered with cones took the place of the tangled 

o 



210 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

undergrowth, so that the open space between the 
straight trunks gave a more extensive view. Every 
now and then we got glimpses into the distant blue 
valley and were able to follow the flat road we had 
taken the day before. 

Once when in advance of our party my pony had 
suddenly started back, and on looking down I saw 
a huge snake with its head upraised, hissing with 
fangs extended. It so frightened me that, instead of 
pulling my pony round as I ought to have done though 
the path was very narrow, I dismounted. But in try- 
ing to jump as far away from the snake as possible, I 
slipped and fell under my pony's legs and on to the 
reptile's curled-up body. The fright was reciprocal, 
both it and I scrambled out of the way, but my boy 
coming up discovered it in the long grass a few yards 
from the path. I took my gun and aimed point-blank 
at it. When dragged on to the path it was found to 
be a python seven feet long. 

After crossing the Danhim, the chief tributary of the 
Donai, on which Saigon is situated, our path ran across 
the flat valley till we reached Dran on the slope at the 
farther side. Living here were two more Europeans 
of the Public Works Department. It appeared that 
Sunday was their " At Home " day, and that all the 
isolated Europeans of the hills made an effort on that 
occasion to share their luncheon. We were invited to 
join the party. The conversation was a contrast to 
what one hears in Europe ; instead of cricket matches, 
the new play at His Majesty's, or politics, the subjects 
were tigers, new modes of making cartridges, and the 
difficulties of work with bad weather or lack of coolies. 



TO THE INLAND HILLS 211 

What a different life was led here to the only one I knew 
before coming to the East. All had brought their own 
bread, all those at least who knew the art of baking it 
in an earthen oven. To the less skilled it was an 
unobtainable luxury. Many, too, had a shoulder of 
venison or a jungle fowl attached to their saddles when 
they arrived, and the meal consisted chiefly of game 
from the forest. 

Directly after lunch many were obliged to start off 
again, for it would be dangerous to be caught by the 
darkness and their ponies could not be hurried on the 
steep and rocky paths. 

With the first streak of dawn the next morning I 
was astir ; yet M. Lecadet was standing by his pony's 
head ready to mount when I appeared. We had sixty 
kilometres to do before Dankia could be reached, so 
there was no time to be lost. After a steep climb of a 
few hundred metres, the path continued with very little 
difference of level, following ridge after ridge and 
twisting in and out anidi% the pines. We took a last 
look into the valley of the Danhim. The mist was 
thick when we started but it was being gradually 
absorbed by the sun, and as one veil after another was 
mysteriously drawn away we were able to see every 
detail of the beautiful valley the broad river flowing 
between flat bright green meadows, with vast pine 
forests on the slopes at either side. Now that our 
path was fairly level it had also become much broader 
and we seemed to be wandering through an immense 
park, the pines were more and more splendid and not 
too close to one another, the grass quite short, the 
slopes gently rounded off without any abrupt lines. 



212 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

Every now and then, however, we had glimpses of other 
ranges of mountains with deep valleys between, and 
the extent and magnificence of the view at these 
moments reminded us we were in Central Annam. 

It was about midday when we saw the plateau for 
the first time. What an unexpected discovery ! What 
a contrast to anything we had already seen ! Over a 
vast extent lay a mass of small rounded hillocks, tree- 
less but covered with short grass. They were all very 
much of the same shape and height. It was like a sea 
with rippling green waves. In the midst, the elevated 
peaks of Mount Langbian rose up like a rocky island. 
Dankia was situated at the foot of this mountain, on 
the other extremity of the plateau. The difficulties of 
our journey must be at an end. The plateau is so 
peaceful and soothing, no steep slopes, no impenetrable 
tangles of undergrowth, only pine groves in the gorges 
between the hillocks. 

The roofs of the little chalets of Dalat in the fore- 
ground glistened in the sun. They were situated some 
distance apart, all on the slope or the summit of some 
hillock. Outside one of these chalets was a group of 
Mois. They were engaged on their midday meal and 
were too occupied even to look up at us. Taking 
handful after handful of rice from the little bamboo- 
plaited sacks which they carried, they stuffed it all into 
their mouths at once. Monkeys could not have gobbled 
more voraciously, they never swallowed one mouthful 
before taking another, but kept pressing the rice 
between their teeth till I thought their cheeks would 
burst. When the sacks were nearly empty, they raised 
them to their mouths and shook the last few grains 



TO THE INLAND HILLS 213 

down their throats, just like a horse with his nosebag. 
It was a very different way of eating from that of the 
Annamese, who, if he has not got chopsticks, takes any 
two odd pieces of stick rather than touch the food with 
his fingers. Though these Mois made no sign, we 
thought they must be our second relay of coolies and 
stopped to inquire. M. Canivey, the government 
delegate to whom the chalet belonged, invited us in, 
and his wife insisted on giving us lunch. As all our pro- 
visions had remained behind with the bearers, we were 
very glad to accept. During the meal we heard from 
M. Canivey himself the story of their terrible encounter 
with a tiger. He and his wife were out snipe-shooting 
one day not far from the house when they saw a tiger 
on the confines of the forest. M. Canivey levelled his 
gun and fired. There was a roar and the animal 
bounded into the forest. In spite of the entreaties of 
his wife and his own better judgment, for he knew the 
tiger could not be seriously wounded with such small 
shot, he started in pursuit. One link armed with a 
French military rifle followed him ; the other stayed 
with his wife. As soon as the two men entered the 
wood, there were sounds of a scuffle and then the words 
rang out, " Je le tiens, tue-le." Through the branches 
Madame Canivey saw the tiger with its two front paws 
on her husband's shoulders, its teeth dug into his gun, 
which he had held out crosswise when the animal sprang 
upon him. As the man and beast stood thus, she saw 
the link advance, place the muzzle of his rifle close to 
the tiger's head and pull the trigger. With a half-groan, 
half-yell, the monster fell and Madame Canivey dashed 
forward. She found her husband bleeding profusely 



214 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 
from different wounds where the tiger's claws had torn 
his flesh. He was able to walk home, but neither my 
husband nor any other doctor of the province had been 
able to mount to the Langbian plateau at that moment, 
and for a few days he lay between life and death. 
Madame Canivey told us that though this adventure 
took place four years previously, she still trembled at 
the growl of a tiger in the night. 

We heard also many stories about the Mois, for 
M. Canivey knew them well. He had been the first 
European on the plateau and still collects the Govern- 
ment taxes from the tribes in submission to French rule. 
They were not always as friendly and jovial as we had 
imagined from our short acquaintance with them. 
While on a punitive expedition, M. Canivey had been 
attacked and wounded by arrows. Fortunately they 
were not poisoned, but many precautions have to be 
taken before visiting the independent tribes and the 
method followed is one of patience rather than of 
force. 

As we were about to start off again, Madame Canivey 
offered me her chair for the rest of the way. Wrapped, 
therefore, in a big rug, for the wind was cold, I crossed 
the plateau in lazy fashion. I had four bearers, but it 
was only after a minute that I discovered one was a 
woman. She looked quite as strong and capable of 
the physical exertion as the men ; indeed, it is the Moi 
wife who bears the brunt of the day's work while her 
husband smokes his pipe in peace. Her muscular 
arms and shoulders and big calves were as fully 
developed as those of the stronger sex. Her black 
coarse hair was done up in an untidy chignon, through 



TO THE INLAND HILLS 215 

which was stuck one end of a long flexible stem. The 
other end was continually in her mouth, and was used 
alternately as a magnified toothpick or for scraping 
out her little wooden pipe. A straight unstitched 
piece of cloth, about half a yard wide, was twisted 
round her waist and came down to her knees. This 
cloth, the only kind worn by the Mois near the plateau, 
is woven by themselves at a certain village. It is 
blue, and striped with little lines of white and red 
threads about half an inch apart. It has a border of 
many colours, but the effect of the whole cloth is in 
no way gaudy, and if the material was less narrow 
it would do well for a lady's winter coat and skirt. 
The woman had adorned her neck with numerous 
strings of glass beads, which reached down to her 
waist, and her legs and arms with bracelets and anklets. 
On one leg the stiff brass ornament was at least six 
inches high. It had made a deep wound above her 
ankle-bone, which was kept open and irritated by 
every step she took. 

The tone of voice, accent, the rolling of the"r," 
was so European that it seemed to me that if only I 
listened attentively enough I should understand what 
they said. It was the greatest contrast to the mono- 
tonous sing-song of the Annamese. Later I found 
that a European can pick up any of the Moi dialects 
very easily. The language has none of the intonations 
which make Annamese so difficult ; the vocabulary 
among such a primitive people is naturally, too, very 
small. They laughed and joked in an open manner, 
and would often run me down the slopes, enjoying 
themselves like children. Going up hill, they woul 



often stop and give a sort of low whistle between half- 
closed lips. This was evidently their way of showing 
they were out of breath, but they never opened their 
mouths widely or panted, as we do after any great 
exertion. 

From time to time they pointed to right or left, and 
I saw elks on the gently sloping grassy hillocks ; there 
were sometimes groups of five or six together. The 
beautiful animals just raised their heads, looked at us 
a minute, and then went on grazing quietly. 

The only person we met while crossing the plateau 
was a Moi driving a herd of small pigs. He was 
probably taking them down to the plain to ex- 
change them with the Annamese for a few hand- 
fuls of salt. He did not seem in any hurry, for 
he was lying at full length on the ground, watching 
his little black charges out of half-closed eyes. It 
was the Bible picture of the Prodigal Son. This 
one human creature made the loneliness of the 
region more marked. He had evidently lighted a fire 
close to him, but the friendly flame was extinguished, 
leaving only a bare patch of blackened grass. Whether 
he had lost patience with his swine, for driving them 
with a long flexible cane is more difficult than carrying 
them in baskets in Annamese fashion, or whether their 
short legs would bear them no farther that day, 1 do 
not know. But if he meant to spend the night there 
where he lay, he would have to relight his fire, and 
keep his animals close to it, or he would find their 
number reduced in the morning. 

About 4 P.M., as my chair rounded a hill, the Agri- 
cultural Station came into view. There was no doubt 



TO THE INLAND HILLS 217 

possible ; the even outlines of cultivated fields and 
ploughed land were not traced by the hand of a Moi. 
Two chalets with thatched roofs stood on the highest 
part of the plantation ; lower down were other roofs, 
probably of sheds, stables, paddocks, &c. M. Lecadet 
must have arrived some little time, for he had soon 
out-distanced my chair. It was a great relief to think 
that the journey was safely accomplished, but I pitied 
my road companion, who had to do it again in two 
days' time. 

When refreshed by a bath and a change of clothes, 
lent me by my kind hostesses, I was able to tell them 
all our adventures on the road. We talked on till the 
light waned on the green hills all around us, and the last 
streaks of red and yellow faded in the sky. Then 
they led me into the dining-room, where the shut 
doors, the stove in the corner of the room, and roses 
on the dinner-table gave me the impression of being 
in some country far away from Annam. On retiring 
to bed I was thankful for my hot- water bottle and four 
blankets. The next morning, as the cool invigorating 
air came through the window and I saw the bright 
sunshine and clear atmosphere, it was obvious that my 
husband's statements about the plateau were not 
exaggerated. Anybody whose health was run down 
by the heat of the plains could not but benefit by the 
change; a month here would be equal to a month 
spent in Europe. 



CHAPTER XV 

IN THE KINGDOM OF THE MOIS 

A Moi village : Children decorticating and winnowing the 
rice : A Moi hut : Darkness and smoke : Moi furniture : 
Men and women round the fire : Hygiene among the 
Mois : A Moi woman's confinement : A Moi funeral : 
Moi tombs : Sacrifice of a buffalo : The priest's oration : 
The slaughter : The banquet which follows : Moi jus- 
tice : The Sorcerer : Methods of discovering the 
culprit 

IN Dankia we were in the midst of the Mois ; no 
Annamese village was within a hundred kilometres, 
and the last European fifteen kilometres farther back ; 
consequently we had plenty of opportunities of visiting 
the Moi villages and watching the life of these savages. 
The three hamlets close to the station knew the 
d'Andr family, and even the dogs ceased to bark 
when they recognised their friends climbing over the 
palisade. Every Moi village is surrounded by a strong 
fence, not only to keep out the tigers and other wild 
beasts, but to prevent the pigs from straying. Not 
long ago this fence used to act also as a fortification 
against attacks from neighbouring tribes, but, even 
before the French arrived, the Mois on the plateau 
had established their supremacy over all others in the 
region. In the unexplored districts to the north and 
west the tribes still continue to fight among themselves ; 

218 



IN THE KINGDOM OF THE MOIS 219 

it is their chief sport as well as the easiest means of 
obtaining food, weapons, and wives. 

Dankia was the first village I visited. It lay just at 
the foot of the Langbian Peaks. Unlike most Moi 
villages, which are generally built in the most inacces- 
sible spots near some precipice or torrent and can only 
be reached by dangerous rocky paths, Dankia is quite 
easy of access. After crossing a flat strip of land on 
which paddy and maize were growing, we came upon 
a group of children busily engaged in decorticating 
the rice. Lifting their long wooden poles, they 
brought them down with all their small strength into 
the hollow tree-trunk, into which were put a few 
handfuls of paddy. The Annamese method is less 
arduous : they simply employ a heavy piece of wood 
worked up and down with their feet by means of a 
lever. Other children winnowed the rice by placing a 
little at a time on flat baskets, throwing it deftly 
into the air and catching it again. The husks were 
thus blown away. No child seemed to be over thir- 
teen or fourteen, but they worked steadily and at the 
same time looked after their smaller brothers and 
sisters. I took snapshots of these tiny mites cuddled 
together on the ground, but when the camera was 
raised they were afraid, and hid their faces in each 
other's laps. One even started screaming, and an elder 
child had to leave her work and pick it up to reassure it. 
All the little girls over five or so had a piece of cloth 
round their waists, but the little boys were naked. 

The village was very irregularly laid out ; the long 
huts, with their thatched roofs, nearly reaching the 
ground, were disposed here and there without or der 



220 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

so that the fence had to make many turns and angles 
to enclose them all. We climbed over and made our 
way between the dwellings. The ground was black 
and slushy, and the quantities of pigs, buffaloes, and 
goats did not improve the smell nor cleanliness of the 
place. Very few inhabitants were to be seen outside ; 
here a woman sat on the bare earth, her legs stretched 
straight out, one child tied on her back, two others by 
her side ; there stood a man with a red blanket thrown 
over his left shoulder in the antique style. His 
splendid limbs, powerful and well-proportioned, his 
erect and calmly defiant attitude, gave him all the 
dignity of an ancient Roman. We asked him if we 
could see \\\epkoly* but it appeared that he was absent 
from the village. After I had taken snapshots of all 
that was to be seen outside the huts I was eager to 
venture inside one of them. Mademoiselle d' Andre* 
said she had never entered without the pholys com- 
pany ; she thought, however, that we might just peep 
inside. We did so. At first it seemed as if all the 
huts were empty, but on listening attentively we 
heard a low murmur of voices proceeding from one 
long dwelling, and stooped down to enter at the low 
door, which was little more than a hole in the thatched 
roof. There was a furious barking and scuffling round 
my legs, but before any dog's teeth had found their 
way through my gaiters some one flung stones at the 
animals, and they dispersed again into the darkness. 
The little light which filtered in through the door 
revealed no human being. I moved forward a few 
steps, stumbling over articles on the floor, and then, 
* The chief of a Moi village. 



IN THE KINGDOM OF THE MOIS 221 

my eyes getting accustomed to the darkness, I per- 
ceived a flickering flame at the other end of the hut. 
Every now and then dim forms squatting round the 
fire were lighted up. One figure, evidently a woman, 
was stirring a big cauldron suspended over the fire, and 
the piercing eyes in the strange face often turned from 
the pot to fix themselves on us. The group recalled 
to my mind the witch scene in Macbeth. Mademoiselle 
d' Andre" had now joined me, and though we were both 
nervous we advanced towards the "witches." We 
stumbled against bamboos and baskets, knocked our 
heads against jars hanging from the low roof, finally, 
after what seemed a long distance, groped our way to 
the little circle and squatted down beside them. Till 
now they had not interrupted their conversation, but 
as soon as we sat down among them they evidently 
addressed us. It was most disappointing that we 
could not understand what they said. 

Even when our eyes grew accustomed to the dim 
light it was difficult to make out the features round us 
distinctly. There were both men and women, the 
latter generally nursing an infant. All were smoking, 
but as there was a limited number of pipes each one 
after a few whiffs passed it on to his neighbour. The 
firelight glistened and sparkled on the jewellery with 
which the women were covered, and especially on 
many large brass and pewter rings hanging, as I 
thought at first, from a string round their necks. I 
was horrified to find that they were ear-rings, and 
were hanging actually from the ears themselves. I 
had heard how the women of this tribe disfigured 
their ears, but never imagined that they carried the 



222 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

practice to this extent. The ear-lobes had been so 
stretched that the flesh around the cavity made in 
them was no thicker than a piece of string, and they 
were dragged down by the weight of their metal rings 
to the shoulder. The big heavy ear-rings themselves 
hung down as far as their breasts and jangled against 
their necklaces. It seemed impossible for a piece of 
skin so slender to bear such a weight ; and indeed the 
wearer takes a very necessary precaution against its 
breaking, either by replacing the ear-rings by a round 
piece of polished wood when she goes out to work, or 
by holding and supporting them with both hands. In 
spite of all her care, however, a sudden jerk some- 
times tears the skin, and woe to the young unmarried 
woman to whom such a catastrophe occurs, for she 
will never find a husband ! All the suffering she has 
endured from childhood, as she has gradually increased 
the size of the wedge of wood in the ear-lobe, will 
have been in vain. The older women of the village, 
whose ears were in youth their greatest ornament, 
are the most repulsive in their old age, for either one 
ear or both are broken, and the two bits of dirty black 
skin hanging down on either side of their face are 
loathsome to behold. 

There is another tribe whose men adopt this 
practice, but to a smaller extent. The hole they make 
in their ears is large enough to hold a medium-sized 
cork, which is the ornament they prefer ; they rarely 
wear metal ear-rings. Around the plateau a man's 
claim to beauty is gained by grinding down his front 
teeth. We saw this operation being performed : a lad 
was lying with his head firmly grasped between the 




A SOCIABLE GATHERING 




MOI LANCKS MAVK DONE THKIK WORK 



IN THE KINGDOM OF THE MOIS 223 

operator's knees while he filed away the teeth with a 
piece of sharpened pumice-stone. It is a most painful 
process, and one that lasts several days, but a youth 
rarely shrinks from it, for he is from that time forward 
looked on as a man and no longer as a boy. 

After we had been in the hut about ten minutes, a 
man stretched out his hand, picked up a log of wood, 
and placed it on the fire. The flames leapt up, and 
had we not seen the unmoved expression on the faces 
around us we might have feared a conflagration. For 
hearth there were but a few stones with a layer of 
ashes on the top ; there was no chimney or window to 
let out the smoke. It was in fact the dense atmosphere 
as much as the darkness which prevented us from 
seeing anything clearly. Then, too, all the different 
objects of the hut lay in such inextricable confusion 
that it was difficult to distinguish one thing from 
another. Dossers of all sizes, some of which were 
smoked as black as ink, had been thrown carelessly here 
and there, jars Sternum* stood piled one on the other 
in a corner. Here lay a bundle of sugar-canes, there 
a small mound of unshelled maize, near to us were all 
their implements of work and war, hatchets, lances, 
unstrung bows, knives ; a little farther off brass gongs, 
drums, and pipes, all the Moi instruments of music. 
It is by the number of brass gongs and the size of the 
jars of ternwn that the wealth of a village is gauged. 
As I stared into the farthest recesses under the 
slanting roof, I could just make out the forms of other 
women with children on their backs or knees. Why 

* Ternum, the alcoholic drink of the Mois, made from fermented 
rice. 



224 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

did they sit aloof ? Were they the wives of a secondary 
rank, and not allowed nearer, or did they prefer the 
greater silence and darkness ? 

Nobody had moved an inch all the time we had 
been in the hut, and we left it as we found it. Not 
even a child came running after us to the doorway. 
We saw other children outside, however, who were 
induced to come up to us for lumps of sugar. All the 
children over three or four seemed strong, well-formed 
little mites, but with the Mois, the " survival of the 
fittest " is the irrevocable law. The ignorance of the 
Moi woman is much greater than that of the Annamese, 
and here in the hill country the mother has two extra 
difficulties to contend with hunger and cold. The 
children are naked, and the only covering they have 
when they go out is the cloth with which they are tied 
on to their parents' backs, so that the continual change 
of temperature from a hot smoky hut to the cold air 
outside is too sudden for them. Also the Mois, like the 
Annamese, stuff their babies with rice from an early 
age ; it is painful to see how deformed their little 
bodies become after a meal, when the skin is distended 
to its utmost capacity. Further, the dictates of the 
village sorcerer, who is consulted on the most trivial 
occasions, are often fatal. Another reason for infant 
mortality and the decay of the race is the treatment of 
women before and during their confinements. As 
Moi dwellings are common to numbers of families (in 
no tribe does a family have a hut to itself, though in 
some the young unmarried men live together apart) 
the woman must get up immediately after her confine- 
ment, for the hut is taboo while she is still lying down. 




A FUNERAL AMONG THE SAVAGES 




IN A MOI VILLAGE 



IN THE KINGDOM OF THE MOIS 225 

A woman, too, continues her ordinary outdoor occupa- 
tions till the very last moment, and it therefore occa- 
sionally happens that she is confined some distance 
from the village and returns in the evening herself 
carrying her baby. The result is that her health is 
often impaired, and that her subsequent children, if she 
has any, are feeble and die. The birth of a child, 
male or female, is, however, greeted with joy, for it is 
a source of wealth and security to the village. 

As we returned home, we met men with lances in 
their hands and dogs at their heels. They had been 
out hunting, a clear indication that food was scarce in 
Dankia. A characteristic of all Moi tribes is their 
want of thrift they never sow enough rice for the 
whole year, and the six months of prosperity after the 
harvest are followed by six months of starvation. 
During the latter time, if neither deer, wild buffaloes, 
nor other forest game can be shot or trapped, they fall 
back on rats, grasshoppers, frogs, spiders, and other 
insects, and they go far afield even to grub for roots 
and search for berries. 

Most ingenious traps are laid by the Mois all the 
year round, for beast, bird, and fish. Even in war, 
traps play an important part. The Mois hide them in 
jthe undergrowth or the branches of some overhanging 
tree along the path leading to the village, and as soon 
as the unwary enemy brushes against the mechanism, 
he is pierced by a poisoned arrow. This is the 
greatest drawback to visiting the independent tribes. 
There are quite enough difficulties on the precipitous 
mountain paths, without falling into a trap or being 
poisoned by an arrow from a hidden bow. 



226 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

One day, from the verandah of the Dankia chalet, 
M. d'Andre" pointed out to me a long line of men and 
women climbing up a little rounded hill on which grew 
a grove of trees. So vast was our horizon from the 
house, that this grove looked scarcely more than a 
clump of trees ; yet it was very conspicuous, for, with 
this one exception, no trees grew on the summits of 
the hills. The Mois from time to time set fire to the 
plateau when the grass is dry, but they take care that 
the flames do not destroy this sacred grove, which 
has been a burial-ground for ages. It was a funeral 
procession that we now saw mounting there. Through 
our field-glasses we could see the coffin, and as quickly 
as possible I seized my camera and followed. 

There was no heed for hurry, for, when I reached 
the top of the hill panting for breath, no ceremony had 
begun the grave had not even been dug. The grass 
was so long just outside the wood that I saw no one 
till I was upon them. They were squatting there, 
their elbows on their knees, no expression of sadness 
or any other emotion on their faces. As it was too 
wet for me to sit down near them, I determined to 
look at the other tombs while awaiting further develop- 
ments. The greater part of the graves were only 
marked by earthen jars half filled with rain-water, but 
over those of the chiefs were built miniature huts. 
The thatched roof was ornamented with pieces of 
wood shaped like the horns of a buffalo. Some were 
quite overgrown with grass and creepers, but I 
determined to enter one that seemed to have been 
recently built. I was obliged to crawl on hands and 
knees through the narrow opening, and even inside 



IN THE KINGDOM OF THE MOIS 227 

one could not stand upright or see anything distinctly. 
I called to my boy to pass me matches. There 
was a cupboard of rough planks dyed with buffalo's 
blood, in which was a jar of ternum, two gourds, an 
Annamese porcelain bowl, a hatchet, and some clothes. 
By means of the last match I discovered an umbrella, 
the savage's great luxury and his first effort towards 
civilisation. If I had had a whole box of matches at 
my service I could not have stayed a minute longer. 
The smell and damp, and the fear that the Mois 
might resent my curiosity if they discovered me, made 
me scramble quickly back into the open. I remem- 
bered, too, M. d'Andre"'s warning to keep close to the 
Mois, as the grove is a well-known refuge of tigers. 
On my return to the burial, two men and a woman 
provided with rough hoes were standing up and non- 
chalantly hewing up clods of earth. After each move- 
ment they took a few minutes' repose, and seemed 
lost in contemplation ; the rest of the spectators had 
not changed their position and were not even watching 
the progress of the work. It was impossible to 
examine the coffin closely because of the smell, but I 
could see that it was made from a hollowed-out tree 
trunk and that a few rough strokes with black and red 
dye had been laid on with a brush here and there. 
Lying on the top with its legs tied was a small 
chicken about a week old, cheeping piteously. If the 
poor little thing constituted a sacrifice it was not a very 
generous one. The dead woman was a wife of the 
pholy. The chicken was not killed, but left to die, and 
I learned later that the Mois always abandon some 
living animal on the tomb of a newly buried person, so 



228 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

that the soul shall enter into it and not return to 
disturb the village. 

At last the coffin was laid in the shallow grave ; on 
the top, over the head of the dead body, was deposited 
a bowl of rice and a little jar of ternum, both of which 
were carefully covered with big leaves before the 
earth was thrown over. A hollow bamboo was placed 
upright and allowed to emerge above the earth from the 
rice-bowl so that it could be replenished from time to 
time. The Mois revisit their dead and continue to 
provide them with food for about a year. In some 
tribes, however, when a certain time has elapsed they 
open the grave and scatter the ashes to the wind. 
This custom is probably a simple pretext for robbing 
the dead of the jewellery that has been buried with 
them. 

As I returned with my Annamese servant through 
Benur, a high pole was being raised there. The Mois 
were ornamenting it with rough sculptured wooden 
birds, making symmetrical cuttings in it, &c., using 
only for the purpose their curious awkward-looking 
hatchets. This meant that the funeral ceremony was 
not yet terminated and that a buffalo sacrifice was to 
follow. This is a typical custom among all Moi tribes 
and is frequently practised. Whenever there have 
been several deaths in a village, the epidemic is thus, 
as they believe, stopped ; it takes place also on other 
important occasions when the rice is harvested, 
at the marriage of the pholy, or after a victory 
over a neighbouring tribe. The following morning 
Mademoiselle d'Andr and I wended our way towards 
Benur and climbed the hill overlooking the village. 







THE HfFFAl.O SACRIFICE 
THK MOI CIIIKF OFFICIATES DRESSKI) IN ANNAMKSK COSTUME 



IN THE KINGDOM OF THE MOIS 229 

We wanted to see this rite, of which everybody speaks 
who has visited the Mois. The buffalo designed by 
the sorcerer for the sacrifice was already tied to the 
pole which had been erected the day before. As soon 
as the sun appeared over the hill behind us, a chief, 
dressed for the occasion in Annamese tunic, trousers, 
and turban, came forward, and placing the palms of 
his hands together, began a long monotonous oration. 
Sometimes he turned towards the victim, sometimes 
to the villagers, who were watching from round about. 
Suddenly, before we were aware of what had happened, 
the buffalo was dead. Two men had run forward with 
hatchets from either side and had hacked at its front 
legs so that it fell on its knees, the chief immediately cut 
its throat with a dagger, while other Mois pierced it in 
twenty places with their lances. The animal had not 
had time to groan or struggle. The blood which 
streamed from the wound in its throat was caught up in 
a brass bowl and carried away with pomp. Then the 
improvised priest began his oration again, till he was 
interrupted by the sound of pipes and gongs from the 
nearest hut. As soon as he disappeared, men, women, 
and children came from every side and began to skin 
and cut up the animal for the victim of a sacrifice is 
always eaten afterwards. Nearly all the meat was 
carried into the hut from which the music proceeded, so 
probably the feast was to be held there. 

By the time we had clambered down the hill-side, a 
pool of blood on the ground and the buffalo's horns 
attached to the pole under which it had been sacrificed 
were all that was left to view. The banquet was in 
full swing close by. The smoke not of one but of 



230 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

about a dozen fires was blown in our faces as we 
peeped into the hut, but nevertheless we could make 
out the squatting groups and the pieces of buffalo 
meat which were hanging over the flames ; in one 
corner the jars of ternum were already to the fore, and 
the priest with a favoured few was squatting among 
them and smacking his lips in pleasant anticipation. 
One jar was provided with a bamboo, the thicker end 
of which was steeped in the beloved beverage, the 
other in the mouth of the connoisseur. After a few 
sips the drinker with a sigh of satisfaction passed it 
on to his neighbour. We knew that the whole village 
would be soon thus engaged and that before morning 
not a drop of the precious liquid would be left. At 
such a moment a Moi village is somewhat dangerous. 
No idea of preserving the buffalo meat for the days to 
follow occurs to them, though food is so scarce. Such 
thrift is quite contrary to their nature. They gorge 
themselves like wild beasts (the children making 
themselves quite ill), and then return to starvation 
diet as before. 

So engrossed were all in their fete that nobody had 
seen our heads at the hut door, but as we turned 
away we met the village sorcerer. He beckoned to 
us to follow him, making signs of drinking with a 
bamboo, but his movements were so rough and his 
voice so brutal and hoarse that we thought he was 
drunk already and did not respond to his invitation. 
In fact we felt very frightened of him for a moment. 

The sorcerer plays a very important part in Moi 
village life. He is more feared than the pholy him- 
self. It is he who performs cures by drawing stones 



IN THE KINGDOM OF THE MOIS 231 

from the stomach of the patient with his teeth and 
spitting them on to the ground with the utmost 
gravity. It is he who appoints the time and place for 
a burial or a marriage and foretells victory in war. 
He, again, denounces the thief when a robbery has 
been perpetrated. If his prognostications are false or 
his medicine futile, he lays the blame on some un- 
fortunate member of the community, who, he declares, 
has cast a spell over the village or patient. But he 
does not always point out the culprit at once. Holding 
an egg in his hand, he makes all the inhabitants of 
the village pass in front of him one by one. As the 
guilty person walks by, the egg breaks. This scene 
naturally impresses the savages and heightens the 
sorcerer's reputation for magic. The culprit is almost 
always a woman ; she is forthwith sold as a slave to 
the Laotians or Annamese. If, however, the sorcerer 
is foolish enough to designate some woman who can find 
friends and defenders, the tables are often turned. It is 
then he who falls into disgrace, or else both man and 
woman are made to submit to certain tests. There are 
two which are considered particularly efficacious, that of 
water and hot metal. In the first accuser and accused 
are thrown into the river nearest the village. They must 
stay under the water as long as possible ; he who first 
shows his head above the surface is the guilty person, 
the other goes free. The whole population assemble 
on the bank to watch this curious scene, which calls forth 
the greatest excitement. In the ordeal by hot metal, 
the burning liquid is poured into the hands of each, 
and the one who holds it longest has spoken the 
truth. 



232 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

Such courts of justice, more than anything else, 
show the primitive nature of the Mois ; though all 
tribes are gentle and unaggressive as a rule, they 
sometimes break out into acts of savagery, which 
remind one that is wise not to despise their superstitions 
or to hurt their susceptibilities when living or travelling 
among them. 



CHAPTER XVI 
THE AGRICULTURAL STATION 

The discovery of the plateau : The proposed sanatorium : 
Foundation of the Agricultural Station : Temperate and 
tropical fruits and flowers : Cattle-breeding : The Mois 
as farm labourers : Moi slaves : Their hatred of the 
Annamese : Wages paid in kind : Good-bye to the 
Station : Visit to a Moi village : Hospitality of Moi 
women towards their sex : Arrival at Dran : An adven- 
turous ride : An incident on the homeward drive 

IT was in 1898 that Dr. Yersin, when on an exploring 
expedition through the interior of Annam, first 
discovered the Langbian plateau. He was greatly 
surprised after traversing so much rough country to 
arrive at a completely open undulating plateau across 
which flowed two peaceful streams. It was fifteen 
hundred metres above the sea, measured twenty by 
fifteen kilometres, and had a cool and invigorating 
climate. He immediately saw the advantages of this 
most unexpected discovery, and recognised the benefit 
the colony might derive from a sanatorium built on 
such a spot. He communicated with M. Doumer, 
then Governor-General of Indo-China, who visited 
the plateau and immediately fell in with the 
suggestion. 

M. Doumer never did things by halves, and within 
a year of his visit, a road was in course of construction 

233 



234 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

and ood being cut from the surrounding pine 
forests for the erection of bungalows. Then and 
there he chose Dalat as the European centre and 
appointed the sites for the Residence, Post 
Office, &c. Fifteen miles away from this small town 
which he had planned, at the farther end of the 
plateau, he selected a spot for the foundation of 
a model Agricultural Station which should ultimately 
supply the Sanatorium with meat and vegetables. 
In the meantime experiments were to be made 
with European cereals and vegetables. The average 
yearly temperature was found to be 18. 7, and the 
rainfall not too heavy in the summer months ; water 
could be brought from one of the rivers in small 
canals for the purposes of irrigation ; in fact everything 
seemed favourable to the enterprise. Till means of 
transport were available, the station was also to 
supply food to the Europeans whose work should 
bring them to the plateau. 

M. d' Andre", an agriculturist from the south of 
France, was appointed director ; and now after nine 
years' effort he is rewarded by the most marvellous 
results. Magnificent crops, green and gold, extend 
over the slope ; there are fields of oats, barley, maize 
six feet high, sugar-cane, and black wheat. 
Round the chalets flowers make masses of colour ; 
along the garden paths magnificent roses, carnations, 
dahlias, nasturtiums, violets, balsams English spring 
and autumn flowers all growing together among 
tropical shrubs. The kitchen garden filled with 
beans, peas, carrots, lettuces, and egg-plants, has 
the advantage over a European one in that it produces 




IN' DANK I A VILLAGE 




STATION COOLIES 



THE AGRICULTURAL STATION 235 

a succession of these crops all the year round. Straw- 
berries, unknown anywhere else in this hot, insect- 
infested Annam, flourish here. They were growing 
on the very same slope as pineapples and banana- 
trees, and you have your choice between tropical 
fruits and those of a temperate climate. Avenues of 
pine-trees contrast strangely with the banana-trees, 
the rose with the bougainvillea, in this enchanted 
land. 

The cattle-breeding experiments have also proved 
very successful. M. d' Andrews first move in this 
direction was to import some Breton cows and a bull 
from France. Not only was he able to keep them up 
to their original standard of excellence, but, by cross- 
breeding, he enormously improved the native cow. 
There are now cross-breeds which give as much milk 
as the Bretons, and in size might be taken for European 
animals. 

It is a very pretty sight to see the different herds 
returning over the hills in the evening. Though they 
are all widely separated during the day for grazing 
purposes, they appear on the horizon at the same 
moment towards sunset, coming from every direction, 
and each herd enters its stable within a minute or two 
of the last. This operation of stabling the various 
herds, which only takes five minutes, in spite of the 
number of cattle, was one we liked to watch. The 
punctuality of the Moi herdsmen, who had no watches, 
was astonishing ; they never erred, neither keeping 
their cattle waiting nor hurrying them up at the last 
moment. 

The Mois make good herdsmen ; they seem fonder 



236 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

of animals than the Annamese, and treat them more 
humanely. Their agility and dexterity in driving or 
securing the fierce Breton bull or a huge dangerous- 
looking water-buffalo is most surprising. But though 
they seem admirably suited to this kind of work, they 
will never remain long enough in service to become 
really expert. This is the great disadvantage of Moi 
labour. Their love of independence makes them 
unwilling to come to the station for more than three 
or four weeks at a time, and in no case can they be 
persuaded to sleep on the premises. The Mois 
never work for themselves unless it is absolutely 
necessary. Every year they suffer famine because 
they are too lazy or improvident to sow enough 
paddy for themselves, and therefore it is not 
surprising that they dislike to work for others. 
Unless requisition were in force, a European would 
never be able to hire a coolie. As it is, only 
the slaves or the very poorest inhabitants of the 
village are available. The slaves of these com- 
munities do not suffer physical hardship from their 
subordinate position, they eat and sleep in the same 
hut with their masters and are allowed to marry ; 
only when paddy must be sown, salt fetched, or 
a requisition obeyed, they it is who are sent forth. 
When there are not enough slaves the pholy sends the 
women of the village, and it is only after a refusal to 
employ women and when the village is threatened with 
punishment that the men will take the place of their 
wives. On the station women are not objected to ; 
they work as well as the men. But neither slaves 
nor women will consent to stay very long, and 



THE AGRICULTURAL STATION 237 

they are allowed to go as soon as substitutes are 
forthcoming. 

The new contingent has to be taught to handle each 
tool, for the Moi possesses no instrument of agricul- 
ture beyond a very primitive plough. In general he 
uses nothing but a stick ; with this he makes holes in 
the ground, in which to sow his paddy, after having 
first burnt down the trees and grass. 

The Mois perhaps less dislike the work and fixed 
hours than the contact with the Annamese. The 
two races have been sworn enemies for centuries 
the civilised Annamese have always plundered the 
savages and driven them from one fertile valley after 
another. Since the French regime open warfare has 
been stopped, but robbery and plunder still go on in 
secret. While I was at the station several cases of 
petty thefts were brought to the notice of M. d' Andre* 
by Mois who had confidence in him. One day the 
pholy of Benur came to say that Mink, the Annamese 
cook, had committed a robbery in his village. He had 
been driving four small pigs through and had stopped 
to eat and rest there. At his departure he left the 
small pigs but took four big ones. To find out the 
truth, the pigs were driven back to the village accom- 
panied by Mink, the pholy, and M. d' Andre". No 
sooner were the animals beyond the palings, than 
with one accord they all scuttled as fast as their 
short legs would carry them into the different huts 
where it was quite apparent they lived. The four 
small pigs, on the contrary, were wandering about 
disconsolately, not knowing which way to turn. 
The evidence was conclusive ; Mink was punished 



238 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

by having to leave one of his pigs in the village as 
compensation. 

Though the Annamese makes a considerable profit 
out of the timid, much despised Moi, he never comes 
willingly to the plateau. He dislikes leaving the 
plains, and his health is apt to suffer in the higher 
regions ; the hope of supplementing already high 
wages can alone attract him. 

The Moi wage is twenty cents a day for a man, 
fifteen for a woman, but though this is the official rate, 
they generally prefer to be paid in kind, in matches, 
cloth, or above all salt. Many tribes to whom salt is 
almost unknown use the ashes of a plant called 
"Yamkam." The inhabitants of the villages in 
close proximity to the station now recognise the 
value of money, but the slaves often sent from 
the surrounding hamlets under their control have 
no use for the little bits of metal, and prefer 
something more tangible. Some of them before 
coming to Dankia had never seen a white man f 
no European having visited their district. In order 
to count the number of days they worked, they tie 
knots in a piece of string or cut notches in a 
bamboo at every sunrise. No Moi is able to tell his 
age or has any idea of time. Writing is an absolutely 
unknown art. 

The Mois at Dankia soon became as familiar with 
me as with the d'Andre" family ; when I passed by, 
they used to call out for tobacco, and the children for 
pia (sugar). If I had something to give them they 
grinned with satisfaction ; if I had nothing they still 
grinned. Their expression was always frank and 



THE AGRICULTURAL STATION 239 

open, far more expressive than the taciturn unemotional 
face of the Annamese. 

After having mounted the Langbian Peaks and 
visited the near villages I was very anxious to go 
farther afield, but just as we had planned an excursion, 
a telegram came from my husband telling me to start 
back on the following day ; he would meet me at Dran. 
It was therefore decided that if I could come up again 
during the dry season we would then fulfil the 
programme already traced out. 

Mademoiselle d'Andre" accompanied me to Dalat- 
Afterwards I was alone with the Mois, my boy having 
been sent in advance with a pony for my husband. 
I had had to get rid of our other boy a few days after 
my arrival, his commercial instincts having caused so 
many disturbances in the Moi villages around. 

As my chair was being carried away from the plateau, 
I suddenly determined to go a little out of my way to 
visit a village where all the blades for hatchets and 
knives in the district were said to be made. The path 
was so overgrown that soon the chair could get no 
farther, and I continued my way on foot with two of 
the Mois. The village was farther off than I had 
imagined, and I might have thought it deserted if 
the pigs and chickens had not been evidence to the 
contrary. My guides quickly disappeared into a hut 
and I was left standing in the empty central square. 
Soon heads peeped out of the different dwellings and 
from behind the barrier ; first men, then women and 
children appeared. When the women were quite 
certain that I was one of their own sex (that was 
evidently the great question for them), they came up, 



240 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

seized me by both hands and dragged me quite forcibly 
through the village to a certain hut. There they 
spread a mat on the mud floor and tapped and 
beckoned me to squat on it. The dwelling, empty 
when we had entered it, soon filled with women, but 
not a single man approached. It was strange to find 
myself confronted by all these curious pairs of eyes. 
They talked me over from head to foot, as was 
apparent by the way they touched my gaiters, hat, 
hair, watch-chain. . . . Then they made me spread 
out my hand and placed their own beside it, comparing 
colour and size. Their touch was in no way timid, 
rather was it rough, but not as if they wanted to hurt 
me. Finally a woman brought some lighted logs and 
placed them nearly on my toes. Perhaps they thought 
I was cold. But no, they were for the purpose of 
lighting the pipes with which another woman followed ! 
I was offered one and did not like to refuse the 
hospitable gift. 

As soon as it was possible without offending them 
I made a step towards the door and crawled out. 
My guides were nowhere to be seen, and it was 
only after much expostulation (in English) that a 
man from the crowd left off staring at me, entered 
a hut, and brought them forward. They had evi- 
dently been treated even more hospitably than myself, 
and I was suddenly filled with fear for my walk 
back. I entirely forgot all about the iron and steel 
manufactures that I had come to see, and have never 
discovered till this day if I even went to the right 
village. 

On reaching my chair I sat down in it and waited 



THE AGRICULTURAL STATION 241 

to be lifted, but the rest of the cavalcade seemed as 
little inclined to move as my two guides. How I 
longed to have somebody with me whom they feared 
and who could thus make himself obeyed, were it only 
an Annamese boy. Once again on the move it was 
only when the valley of the Danhim spread out again 
below us that I dared to stop the Moi who was carrying 
the provisions. Till then I had been afraid either to 
rest or eat, for fear the Mois should sit down and refuse 
to get up again as before. By the time our little caval- 
cade reached the pine- wood h ouse, where my husband said 
he would meet me, it was half-past six and almost dark. 
My husband had not arrived. Very soon I should be 
obliged to give up all hope of his coming, for nobody 
can travel in these regions after dark. With the help 
of the Annamese, who was in charge of the house, I 
prepared our beds. As soon as that was done, he 
disappeared without warning and left me entirely alone. 
The Mois in a shed close by would be of no use if I 
wanted help, and the two Frenchmen whom we had 
met on our way up were nearly a mile down the hill. 
By the light of a single candle which stood in con- 
tinual danger of extinction from the draughts, I ate and 
went to bed. Just as I had groped my way under the 
mosquito-curtain, steps resounded on the verandah. 
Impossible that my husband could arrive at that time 
of night ! yet it was not the bare feet of a native that 
I heard, but the nailed boots of a European. Then 
came a thundering knock at the door, but till my name 
was called I was too frightened to answer. It was 
indeed he, but he had encountered so many difficulties on 
the road that he had only reached Daban at 4 P.M. He 

Q 



242 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

had refused the offer of Mois with torches, as it would 
cause him too much delay, and in spite of advice to 
the contrary he had mounted my pony. Borrowing 
another for the boy, he had started up the moun- 
tain path as quickly as possible. Sau, terrified, had 
tried to turn back more than once, but as it was 
much more dangerous for one than two, my husband 
had forced him to keep alongside. For the last 
two hours they had ridden in complete darkness 
as fast as the ponies would carry them ; occasion- 
ally my husband's hand found its way to the 
revolver in his pocket, but fortunately it was not 
needed. 

We passed one cool delicious day at Dran, then we 
were obliged to start down again. We had a pleasant 
journey back, unmarked by any extraordinary incident 
except just outside Phan Rang. There, while driving 
along in the dark, we collided with a bullock-cart. 
We heard it coming, but nobody responded to our 
warning yells. We jumped down just in time, for 
the wheels became entangled, and the bullocks and 
pony went on pulling in opposite directions till 
the bullock-cart was dragged clean over the trap. 
Another bullock-cart in tow did the same thing 
was hoisted up and banged down on the other side. 
We naturally thought to see our cradle-cart smashed 
up, but no! the iron axle-tree had resisted the 
heavy wheels and no irreparable damage was done. 
The bullock-carts had no driver, or he had made 
good his escape as soon as he saw what was about 
to happen. 

In the heat of Nhatrang we thought with longing of 



THE AGRICULTURAL STATION 243 

our day spent among the pines in the refreshing 
atmosphere of Dran, but we could only congratulate 
ourselves on the success of the expedition, for my 
month spent among the flowers and fruit of the 
Agricultural Station had quite fulfilled its aim. 



CHAPTER XVII 

A TIGER HUNT 

A tiger seen on the station : Surrounding his hiding- 
place, a clump of bamboos : A courageous dog : First 
sight of the monster : Wounded : Hunting him in the 
long grass : Escaped : Reappearance at the house itself : 
A night watch under a bridge : The tiger by moonlight : 
Killed at last 

ON our return from the Langbian I was so enthusiastic 
about the beauties and delights of the plateau that a 
lady promised to accompany me, if I went up there 
again. Madame Schein, the mother of the veterinary 
surgeon of the Institute, was in need of a change of 
air, and, by the time the dry season had come round, 
all our arrangements were complete. Madame and 
Mademoiselle d' Andre" had returned to France, so it 
was settled that we should live in the little chalet a 
hundred yards from M. d'Andre's house. 

We were very glad when the journey was at an end 
and we were safely ensconced in the little wooden 
house. Like M. d' Andrews, it was built on piles, with 
a verandah running all round, and was very comfort- 
able except for the rats. 

The very first evening we received a slight shock. 
On preparing to leave after dinner, M. d'Andr6 rang 
a bell and we were not permitted to start till our two 

244 




OUR CONVOY EMERGING FROM THE FOREST 



A TIGER HUNT 245 

boys and two Moi coolies had made their appearance, 
all furnished with lanterns. This procession accom- 
panied us without exception every evening. The 
tigers were so dangerous in this lonely spot that every 
precaution was necessary even when walking from one 
building to another. In such regions the tiger alone 
can wander where he will with impunity after dark, 
and if man rules by day he at all events rules by 
night. 

The second day after our arrival, I was out riding 
with M. d'Andr6 and a friend of his, M. Agostini, 
when we heard shouts, and turning round saw two 
Mois racing after us. They brought a note from the 
interpreter of the station saying that a tiger had taken 
refuge in a clump of bamboos a short distance from 
the house. We immediately left the elk that we were 
pursuing, called the dogs and turned homewards. 

M. d'Andr looked preoccupied, but I could see 
that M. Agostini was as excited as myself. My dis- 
may can be imagined when on asking M. d' Andre" if I 
might go with them, he at first refused, saying that it 
was too dangerous for a woman, that he was respon- 
sible for me to my husband, &c. &c. I was quite 
determined not to lose such a unique opportunity, but 
having let him see my disappointment I bided my 
time till we got home. Then trying to appear as calm 
as himself, I used all my powers of persuasion and 
argument, and with M. Agostini's help at last drew 
forth a rather reluctant consent. 

I rushed to tell Madame Schein, who was horrified 
to hear that a tiger was so close, and still more so 
when I told her that M. d' Andre" had consented to my 



246 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

accompanying them. She tried to dissuade me in 
vain, and finally wished me good luck. 

The two sportsmen were ready and waiting when I 
returned ; they seemed amused to see me with a 
kodak as sole weapon. I would much rather have 
had a gun, and longed to borrow one, my own being 
quite useless for this day's sport, but there had been 
too much difficulty in my coming at all for me to dare 
to ask for anything further. 

We started off about nine, followed by a dozen or so 
Mois coolies armed with lances and poles, the only 
other gun being that of the interpreter. 

Though the impending encounter was uppermost 
in my mind, I could not help being amused at the 
appearance of our hunting-party. The almost naked 
but much-bejewelled Mois looked so incongruous beside 
the two sportsmen with their modern clothes and rifles, 
that they seemed better prepared for a native fte 
than anything else. They had been abundantly faith- 
ful to their custom of borrowing all the possessions of 
their hut companions when absenting themselves from 
the village, and some of them wore a perfect armour 
in necklaces, bracelets, and anklets. One or two had 
even managed to secure some clothes. 

I was very much astonished when the clump of 
bamboos in which the tiger had taken shelter was 
pointed out to us. It seemed too small a hiding-place 
for a tiger, and being entirely isolated on a bare hill- 
side, there would be no other cover for some distance 
when he was forced to fly. 

This was all the better for us, and we stationed our- 
selves above the bamboos so as to be able to shoot 



A TIGER HUNT 247 

downwards when the tiger should make his appearance. 
Whichever way he came out we should see him well. 
Once in the most favourable position, the Mois were 
told to advance slowly, beating the ground and making 
a noise. The last of these injunctions only they 
obeyed, for they would not go a step nearer the 
bamboos than we ourselves. 

The Mois are more courageous in the presence of 
the tiger than the Annamese, but they are not 
less superstitious, so it was probably their reverence 
for a supernatural being rather than physical fear 
which made them reluctant to advance. 

Fortunately the dogs did not share the sentiments 
of the Mois, and one of the three went unhesitatingly 
forward ; soon by his excited snorts and the wagging 
of his tail, which we could just see above the long 
grass, we were certain he was face to face with the 
tiger. The other two, when they found the nature of 
our prey, preferred the shelter of our legs, but " Bob," 
who had already the scar of a tiger's claw on his back, 
seemed determined to be quits with his ancient enemy. 
Every now and then he kept jumping back, and we 
knew that a duel had begun between them. M. 
d'Andre", fearing that he might lose his favourite dog, 
began to call him back. It required several minutes 
of threats and persuasions before he could be got on 
the leash again. 

Now that we knew the probable position of the tiger, 
M. Agostini determined to see if a chance revolver 
shot would not bring him out. He started firing. No 
response ! 

The Mois meanwhile had remained on the same 



248 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

spot. M. d'Andre" was obliged to place himself in 
their midst in order to persuade them to advance at 
all. He was very much annoyed at having to do this, 
as the tiger would in all probability come out on the 
opposite side of the beaters, and he would thus lose 
his best shot. This was exactly what happened. After 
another quarter of an hour of shrieking and pole- 
brandishing, a more vigorous yell provoked a growl. 
The tiger suddenly came out. . . . He stopped, turned 
his head, and looked up at us, a yard or two from the 
bamboos. M. Agostini and I were standing alone. 
That moment was an exciting one. The tiger was only 
thirty yards away. After glaring at us for half a minute 
with the evident desire to spring, a louder yell than 
usual from the Mois, who had not as yet seen him, 
made him change his mind ; turning round, he jumped 
a barricade surrounding some rice-fields, and made off 
slowly across the valley. We could follow his move- 
ments for over half a mile. 

M. d' Andre", being behind the bamboos, did not get 
a shot at him till he had jumped the barricade and was 
at least a hundred yards away. Even at that distance his 
first shot told. The tiger gave a roar of pain, stopped 
and looked back, then continued his course. The 
other four shots all went within a yard or two of him. 
We could see them as they touched the water, with 
which the rice-fields were full at that moment. 

M. Agostini had failed to shoot, and I to take my 
snapshot. It is true I raised my kodak as the tiger 
appeared, but as he looked at us, I forgot everything, 
my hands dropped to my side, and I was completely 
spellbound. Though he was so near and ready to 



A TIGER HUNT 249 

spring, I cannot say that I felt frightened ; my chief 
thought was that, in spite of his enormous size, his 
head seemed far too large in proportion to his body. 
If I had only photographed him as he stood in front of 
us or as he jumped the barricade, I should have had a 
most memorable snapshot. I was fearfully disappointed 
at having missed such an opportunity. 

We immediately started in pursuit, but once within 
a certain circumference we were nonplussed how to 
proceed. One cannot look for a tiger as one looks 
for any other animal, the grass was very long, and 
we should have been within his clutches before we 
were aware of his presence. We therefore decided 
to go home for lunch, while the Mois followed up 
the traces of blood and tried to find out his exact 
position. 

It was only on our way home that I perceived my 
kodak was still in my hands, but that the case was 
missing. It was very annoying to lose it, and I felt 
certain I must have dropped it at the moment I saw 
the tiger. M. Agostini offered to accompany me, while 
M. d' Andre" continued homewards. We started off, 
but not knowing the country at once found ourselves 
in difficulties marshes to go through, barricades to 
get over, and streams to cross. Eventually we found 
the kodak case, and being so near the lair of the tiger, 
we desired to have a look at it. It was very thrilling, 
but very imprudent, to enter the bamboos, and in the 
darkest spot to see the flattened-down grass of the 
place where he had lain. 

The Mois had discovered the hiding-place of the tiger 
on our return after lunch. As they had approached, 



250 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

he had got up and moved a few yards farther. He 
was now on the bank of a river in some long grass. 
We could not see him, and having tried a few in- 
effectual shots across the water, we decided to go over 
on to his side. There was no bridge, and as the river 
was pretty deep, the whole bevy of Mois was needed 
to carry us. M. d' Andre" crossed first on the back of 
the strongest Moi, two others held his feet above the 
water, and the rest supported the one who was carry- 
ing him, for fear he should stumble or be carried 
away by the current. Then came my turn, and, lastly, 
M. Agostini. Needless to say, I did not accept their 
kind offers to hold my kodak for me during the 
operation. Before the evening we had crossed and 
recrossed the river so often that the manner of doing 
so seemed most natural. 

We could see no better from the other side, and the 
Mois were told to begin yelling and beating down the 
grass. They put so very little enthusiasm into their 
work that M. d' Andre" made up his mind to send for 
twenty or thirty more from the village of Dankia. 
The interpreter, however, came back alone ; in spite 
of threats of punishment and promises of reward, not 
one could be persuaded to take part in a hunt which, 
according to him, would bring disaster on the village. 
M. d' Andre" was not surprised, and told us that at the 
beginning even the coolies on the station were the same, 
and that it was only after he had killed his third or 
fourth tiger that they consented to accompany him. 
We were even lucky to have so many station coolies. 

It is useless to relate all our different devices and 
movements to get a glimpse of our prey. Once only, 




A DANGEROUS SEARCH IN THE LONG GRASS 




BRINGING HIM THROUGH A F1KI.U OK MAIX.K 



A TIGER HUNT 251 

a random shot of M. Agostini touched him. He 
sprang up with a growl, and for the fraction of a 
second we saw him above the long grass, then he 
immediately disappeared into a new hiding-place. We 
found that we had only been four yards away from 
him at that moment, but the danger of a wounded 
tiger at that distance only dawned on us later. 

At 5 P.M., when the showers of the afternoon turned 
into a steady downpour, the shivering, unclothed Mois 
seemed to like their task less and less. An hour later, 
as darkness set in, we started for home. We had not 
got far when we discovered Bob was not with us 
and were obliged to go back. The plucky little beast 
was as eager for his revenge as in the morning ; he 
was lying down at a safe distance from his enemy, 
but had evidently decided to keep watch alone all 
night. 

We were very glad to get into dry things ; we had 
been drenched to the skin for some hours, and had 
often walked through the rice-fields with the water up 
to our knees. 

The next morning I rushed to M. d' Andrews house 
to find that the two men had started off at dawn. 
Hearing that I was still asleep, they had not liked to 
wake me. I quickly called my boy and went off in 
pursuit, but half-way to the spot of the evening's 
events I met them. The tiger had gone off in the 
night. M. d' Andre" was persuaded that with both a 
revolver bullet and a Winchester bullet inside him, if 
nothing more, he had just had the strength to crawl 
away into some dark corner to die. 

Subsequent events showed that he was wrong. 



252 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

It was a disappointing end to our hunt, but M. 
Agostini and I were too pleased at having seen the 
tiger to feel anything but elation. For us it was 
a new and exciting experience. 

M. Agostini left the station a few days after this. 

A fortnight later I was awakened about 5 A.M. by 
voices beneath my window. I jumped out of bed and 
looked out. There I saw M. d'Andre" in the midst of 
a gesticulating group of natives ; his servants and half 
a dozen Moi coolies armed with every imaginable 
weapon were having an excited discussion. It ap- 
peared that the tiger had been to M. d' Andre's very 
house, had strolled twice round it, had gnawed one of 
the sheep-skins on which the dogs slept and had 
dragged it a little distance from the house. His 
hunger unsatisfied, he had made a large hole in the safe 
that hung from the verandah, and would have eaten the 
meat inside but that it swung to and fro and thus pre- 
vented him taking a firm hold. The cook, on open- 
ing the door in the morning, had come face to face 
with him ; instead of giving the alarm, he had quickly 
and quietly shut himself in again. My boy, who slept 
with him, had also watched the proceedings from a 
crack in the door. It was only after the tiger had dis- 
appeared some little time that they had dared to come 
out and wake M. d'Andre. 

All the available hands had been called together 
and had been temporarily provided with the ancient 
and modern weapons that adorned the walls of M. 
d' Andrews dining-room. Among others there were 
two French swords, Moi lances, Tcham sabres, modern 
rifles, and a kitchen knife. A search was now in 



A TIGER HUNT 253 

progress in the immediate neighbourhood of the two 
houses. - I dressed quickly and joined in the hunt. 
At first nobody dared to separate himself an inch from 
his neighbour, and each bush was visited by the whole 
band en masse. However, though we found numerous 
tracks, especially round the house and safe, where 
I saw his saliva still on the wire gauze, we could not 
ascertain in what direction he had gone. M. d' Andre" 
decided therefore to give up the search for the moment 
and find other means of catching him. The surest 
way entailed the sacrifice of one of his animals, but he 
determined nevertheless to put it in practice. When- 
ever a tiger makes a victim which is too heavy for him 
to drag off, he eats what he can and returns the follow- 
ing night to finish his meal. A poor cow was accord- 
ingly attached to a stake quite close to a bridge, so that 
in the case of the tiger killing it, we should have a con- 
venient hiding-place to lie in wait for him afterwards. 

The cow was found dead the next morning, its hind 
legs eaten. It was immediately covered with wire 
netting to prevent the vultures finishing it ; M. d' Andre" 
told me that he had heard that even the tigers them- 
selves sometimes take precautions against these birds, 
tearing up grass and earth to cover their victim when 
unable to drag it into the undergrowth. 

There was nothing to be done but to wait for the 
evening. My excitement was so great that though I 
went out snipe-shooting to get as much gun practice 
as possible before nightfall, I thought the day would 
never end. Sleep was out of the question, though I 
tried to have a nap in the afternoon, not knowing what 
time we should get to bed. 



254 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

We had dinner at 5 P.M. and, before we had finished, 
it had begun to rain. Though I did not really hesitate 
a moment in my resolution to go, this steady down- 
pour, the darkness, and above all the fear that we 
might have to sit motionless on the wet ground till the 
early hours of the morning, did somewhat damp my 
enthusiasm. M. d' Andre" said there was no doubt as 
to the fact of the tiger's coming some time or other 
during the night, if no noise disturbed or frightened 
him. He added meaningly that if anybody made him 
miss the tiger, he wouldn't miss them, and glanced at 
his revolver. He was more than half serious, and I 
was perfectly well aware that, once in our hiding-place, 
I could not possibly come away and that I should be 
in for it till the bitter end. 

Madame Schein was determined that at all events 
no harm should come to me through cold or wet. I 
was made to put on two mackintoshes, two pairs of 
stockings, besides my ordinary equipment of riding- 
boots, gaiters, &c. She told us to bring back the 
tiger, but I think her chief desire was to see us return 
in safety as quickly as possible, tiger or no tiger. 

There were three guns amongst our party of twelve : 
M. d' Andre" had a Winchester, the interpreter a 
sporting, and I a military rifle, a "Gras." There was 
still a glimmer of light as we started out ; by the time 
we let ourselves down from the bridge and crawled 
under it complete darkness prevailed. We were 
allowed three minutes to shoulder our guns and make 
ourselves comfortable, then the light was put out and 
all was deadly quiet, except for the rain pattering on 
the bridge above our heads. One little stream fell on 



A TIGER HUNT 255 

my gun and I was afraid it might damp my bullet. I 
moved it an inch and, though I practically made no 
sound, M. d' Andre heard me, my arm was pinched, 
and I could feel two eyes glaring at me in the darkness. 

Before we had been in position ten minutes, I had 
pains in my back and pins and needles in my legs, but 
naturally did not dare to move a muscle. 

About seven the moon rose and I heard M. d' Andre 
give a sigh of relief. We could now see for the first 
time the body of the cow which was only three yards 
from us, and I began to fix my eyes on the small 
illuminated circle. Suddenly it seemed to me that at 
one place it looked a bit blacker than a moment before. 
I strained my eyes until they hurt me, and felt certain 
I saw a shadow ; then, before it had completely taken 
shape, I was convinced that it was the tiger. I touched 
M. d' Andre, and immediately afterwards I was touched 
by the interpreter, who was on my other side. The 
tiger walked slowly up to the dead cow ; instead of 
beginning to eat at once, he planted his two front paws 
on his victim and, head up, calmly surveyed his sur- 
roundings. His attitude was most majestic, he looked 
like a king whose whole kingdom lies within his gaze. 
It was a magnificent sight and one I shall never forget. 
In our position we were a little lower than the tiger; 
he was therefore outlined above the mountains against 
the sky and could be seen perfectly. His head alone 
seemed to fill my whole horizon. He was not more 
than three yards from us. 

It had been settled that M. d' Andre" should fire 
first, and we afterwards. There was no reason to 
have made the arrangement, because until I heard the 



256 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

report close to my ear I had entirely forgotten that I 
had a gun in my hands, I had been so hypnotised by 
the spectacle. In less than a second I had realised 
the situation. My gun was already at my shoulder, 
my finger on the trigger, I pressed and fired. My 
shot rang out simultaneously with that of the inter- 
preter. When the smoke of our guns had cleared 
away we thought to see the dead tiger in front of 
us, but no all was the same as a few minutes pre- 
viously, the mutilated cow alone lay stretched out 
on the grass before us. We, however, heard growls 
quite close to us, but were unable to make out from 
which direction they came. After waiting a few 
minutes we lighted a lantern and all clambered on to 
the bridge. The half-dozen Mois whom we had taken 
with us, on whose long lances we counted if we should 
be attacked from behind or in case the tiger made a 
dash for us, began to believe more firmly than ever in 
the supernatural power of their enemy. It was sur- 
prising to us that three shots fired at three yards had 
not brought him down. We waved lanterns about 
from the top of the bridge. Nothing to be seen. It 
was far too dangerous even to make a few steps into the 
grass, and we were obliged to go home empty-handed. 

M. d'Andr was certain that we should find him 
dead in the morning, but I could not share his optimism. 

On arriving home and relating our adventures to 
Madame Schein, M. d'Andre" proposed a game of 
piquet to console me. I was thunderstruck at the 
suggestion and would not believe it was only 8 o'clock. 
We seemed to have been weeks under that bridge. 

The next morning we found the tiger just two yards 




THE KIVKR MiAK SUOIGIAU 



A TIGER HUNT 257 

away from the cow, hidden by the long grass. Though 
wounded mortally he had just been able to make one 
bound. 

He was a magnificent animal measuring 3 metres 2 1. 

We wanted to find out where he had been hiding. 
To our horror, on tracing his steps in the direction from 
which he had come, we discovered that he had been 
lying all the previous day in some long grass not 
twenty yards away and quite close to a path. Had he 
wished to do so, he could have had anybody who 
passed along the path, which is much frequented by 
the Mois. I myself had been quite close to the spot 
snipe-shooting. 

On examining the tiger's wounds, we could not make 
out all the different bullet-holes and at last came to 
the astonishing conclusion that it was the same tiger 
that we had hunted a fortnight earlier. Our surmise 
became a certainty when at the skinning one of the 
bullets of M. Agostini's revolver was found. 

This animal, which had been previously wounded 
in three places, had had the strength to kill a cow and 
the impertinence to haunt the very surroundings where 
he had been attacked. We congratulated ourselves 
on our luck at not having approached him any nearer 
than we did during our first hunt. We might easily 
have thought that having bled so profusely he was no 
longer dangerous. Contrary to all our conjectures he 
must have been as vigorous as ever, for a fortnight 
later his wounds were nearly healed. 

All the station coolies and many Mois from the 
village of Dankia came to look at the dead tiger. 
During the operation of skinning there were many 



258 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

quarrels for the possession of certain pieces of his 
flesh and intestines, which were eagerly sought after 
as charms. It was even difficult to keep his whiskers 
and claws intact. 

Going into the kitchen later, we found the Anna- 
mese cook in the act of pounding up and boiling the 
two eyes. His little nephew was made to swallow 
this concoction, and he told us triumphantly, " Now 
he always see My Lord Tiger before My Lord Tiger 
see him." 



CHAPTER XVIII 

THROUGH HINTER-ANNAM 

Preparations for our novel journey : The pholy of 
Dankia promises to accompany us : Scenery beyond 
the plateau : Difficulties of mountain and jungle paths : 
Our first night : Strange quarters : Cockroaches : A 
tremendous descent : Great welcome to a Moi village : 
The pholy's hut : Ternum : Sleeping to an audience : 
A hasty departure : Mois' accurate shooting : Leeches : 
Crossing a river : Moi weavers : A narrow escape from 
a fight : The gradual extinction of the Moi race : Dankia 
again 

WHEN the excitements of the tiger hunt were over, 
we urged M. d' Andre to undertake the great excursion 
which we had been prevented from making six months 
earlier. We were to explore a region into which 
M. d'Andre" himself had never yet penetrated, and 
where probably no white person had been seen before. 
No danger, however, was to be feared, for the pre- 
sence of two women in the convoy would reassure the 
savages, also the pholy and chief Mois of Dankia 
were to accompany us. These, who knew M. d' Andre" 
well, would explain our peaceable intentions to the 
Mois and parley for a hut when we wished to spend a 
night in their villages. We should take coolies from 
each village as we came to it to carry our baggage 
and send them back again so as not to keep them 

259 



26o~ ^ ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

away from their homes too long. By this means we 
should also obtain trustworthy guides, for the Mois of 
Dankia could not be relied upon as soon as we got 
beyond the immediate vicinity. Paths change their 
course at different times of the year owing to the 
difficulties of fording streams ; if we were taken along 
a path which had not been recently used, we should 
find ourselves in great difficulties. Long discussions 
with the pholy of Dankia were required before we 
could start on our novel journey, but finally one 
evening, about fifty Moi coolies made their appearance, 
ready for an early start the following morning. They 
were our carriers, for though we were only to take 
what was absolutely necessary, it must be remembered 
that we should not find the most primitive con- 
trivances for sleeping or washing en route. To run 
short of a candle would be a real disaster. People 
who travel in Europe and are used to finding beds, 
sheets, lights, and drinking water wherever they go, 
and who, if they have left any necessary article of 
toilet behind, can replace it from a shop, little guess 
what the business of packing is in this country, even 
for a short excursion. In Moi territory neither love 
nor money can procure the forgotten tooth-brush, 
matches, or boot-lace. 

Bedding, food, kitchen utensils, clothes, medicines, 
&c., had been packed in readiness and were now 
divided off among the different coolies. The packages 
had to be of an equal weight and as compact as possible, 
because the paths would be rough and narrow. 

We had decided to take only one Annamese 
boy each, for whenever disturbances arise between 



THROUGH HINTER-ANNAM 261 

Europeans and Mois it is generally the fault of the 
Annamese servants. The murders of the Adminis- 
trator, M. Odenthal, in 1902, and of the colonist 
M. Paris in 1908 were probably both due to the mis- 
behaviour of their boys. Mink, Mr d'Andre's cook, 
Dae, Madame Schein's boy, and Sau, my own, were 
therefore the only Annamese to accompany us. They, 
like myself, were to ride, M. d' Andre" and Madame 
Schein had decided to be carried in chairs. 

It was a glorious morning when the start was made 
about 6 A.M. As the Mois never walk two abreast 
even over the plateau where the short grass would 
allow of it, the little cavalcade of fifty coolies looked in 
the distance like some huge serpent crawling slowly 
over the hill-side. I had a good view of it, for we who 
were riding had been left behind to shut up the 
houses, but it was not long before we started in 
pursuit. About a mile away we had a stream to 
cross, which, though not deep, was very marshy, and 
the horses sank in too deeply to ride them across. 
The ponies had not been out of the stable for a fort- 
night, and it was difficult for one person to hold all 
three while a passage was found and I was carried 
across. We had lost so much time at this crossing 
that on remounting our party was no longer in sight. 
Not a single Moi had been left behind to guide us, so 
Mink galloped on in front to reconnoitre and make 
inquiries at a village. He got no answer, for all the 
inhabitants rushed into their huts and shut the doors. 
It was an anxious moment. Luckily we caught sight 
of a line of figures on the crest of a hill and were able 
to follow in the right direction without the help of the 



262 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

villagers. M. d'Andr6 and Madame Schein had 
hardly noticed these streams, for the Mois had simply 
lifted their chairs a little higher and waded through 
without hesitation. I understood then one of the 
advantages of a chair. 

After lunch we said good-bye to the plateau and 
plunged almost immediately into thick jungle, dark 
and cold, for the sun and sky were quite shut out. 
Moss, ferns, and magnificent orchids of every descrip- 
tion and shade of green met our eyes, but the atmo- 
sphere was so mysterious that one hardly liked to 
speak above a whisper. The scenery varied con- 
tinually. Thick jungle of this sort would give way to 
a forest of pines, then to a descent down to a river bed 
in the open, or a steep ascent. Often there were 
traces of big game, but we seldom saw anything. 

The path was always narrow, and on some days 
Mois had to go in front using their hatchets, for it had 
entirely disappeared. This was due to the neighbour- 
ing village having migrated, and the small human 
track no longer in use had become entirely grown 
over. Sometimes it seemed that the horses could not 
possibly climb up certain places ; not only was the 
narrow path almost vertical, but they had to scramble 
over enormous granite boulders or fallen trunks of 
huge trees. There was no means of skirting such 
obstacles, for a deep precipice often gaped on one side 
and a wall of rock loomed on the other. It was often 
impossible to dismount, in such places one had simply 
to loosen the reins and let the pony choose its steps. 

The first day we reached our destination about 3.30. 
It was a small village of nine or ten large huts, on the 



THROUGH HINTER-ANNAM 263 

border of a forest. The/^/j/ of Dankia went on in 
front and began parleying for one of these huts to sleep 
in. The chief at last consented to give up the smallest, 
and as soon as all the inhabitants, bending low, had 
made their way out through the narrow hole which 
served as door, we penetrated inside. The smoke 
and smells brought me quickly out again, and calling 
in to M. d' Andre" through the opening, I asked if I 
could not sleep in the open air, for it seemed impossible 
to spend a night in such an atmosphere. The question 
brought him to the door, and for a moment he looked 
rather taken aback, but with a shrug of his shoulders, 
he said I could sleep where I liked, and that if I 
expected first-class hotels, I should not undertake such 
journeys. I saw I should have to make the best of it, 
for the folly of trying to sleep outside became only too 
evident. Barricades were already being made to 
protect the horses, and fires lit to keep off the tigers. 
Gathering courage, I again entered our sleeping abode. 
M. d' Andre" had had the fires swept out, and this was 
already an improvement. 

The first thing I did after creeping through the door 
was to knock my head violently against the roof. It 
was impossible to stand upright, quantities of maize, 
hanging from the roof to dry, made the space even 
less than it would otherwise have been. The floor 
was composed of strips of bamboo laid down at slight 
intervals at about one foot above the earth. As the 
Mois poured all the remains of their food and drink 
between these strips, the strange odour was easily 
accounted for. Another drawback about them was 
that I kept catching my heel between them and nearly 



264 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

falling down. M. d' Andre" had already unpacked, 
and was busily engaged arranging his mattress on the 
floor. Finding no mosquitoes, he had not taken the 
trouble to put up his camp bed. I asked where I 
should put up ours. He said he thought we should 
be more comfortable at the farther end of the hut, as 
the Mois and our boys were continually going in and 
out. 

The hut was partly partitioned off ; so calling Sau, 
I set him to work to put up my bed and that of Madame 
Schein, who had not yet arrived. The fire was still 
burning in our part of the hut, and though I demanded 
of the pholy that it should be put out, my request 
was emphatically refused, and I came to the conclu- 
sion that there was some superstition connected with 
it and thought it useless to insist. If we had to submit 
to dust and ashes, I was determined at any rate not to 
tolerate the smoke, and as soon as the Mois had dis- 
appeared I confess to stamping on the sacred flame till 
it was extinguished. 

It is difficult to unpack, put up camp beds, and 
arrange mosquito curtains by the light of a single 
candle, especially when one is knocking one's head 
and tripping up continually, but at last it was done. I 
had even washed and changed by the time Madame 
Schein arrived. She was not so horrified as I had feared 
at the sight of our sleeping apartment, but then she 
had not seen its former inhabitants ; and now indeed, 
with beds made up and the air less smoky, the place 
looked more habitable. When all was ready for the 
night we took a stroll round the village. The women 
on our arrival had disappeared like rabbits into holes, 




A WKLL-MADE MOI DWELLING 




A CURIOUS STAIRCASE 



THROUGH HINTER-ANNAM 

and very few men were to be seen ; but we soon became 
aware of innumerable heads peeping at us from every 
side. Many women and children had hidden them- 
selves in the shadow of the trees surrounding the vil- 
lage, others were crouching in their hut doors, so that 
we could not get a good view of our savage hosts. 
The idea of holding out a piece of sugar proved a 
happy one, for at length one youngster had the courage 
to come and take it. A little nibble proving satisfac- 
tory, he divided it generously among his companions, 
and many others were thereupon emboldened to follow 
his example. At last we had little naked children 
coming towards us from every corner. Some of only 
three or four years were pushed forward by their 
mothers, but were too frightened to approach and 
began to cry. This forced the mothers to carry 
them to us, and thus we at last had a good view of the 
Moi women. Some of them seemed to be wearing 
gloves, which struck us as a curious garment considering 
they were naked to the waist, but on closer inspection 
we saw that the skin from elbow to finger-tips was 
of a dark blue colour. This village was apparently 
engaged in dyeing the blue cloth which the natives of 
this region wear. 

On our return we found that Mink had prepared us 
a good dinner just outside our hut ; the table was a 
plank supported on two scooped-out tree trunks which 
the Mois use for shelling rice, our chairs were impro- 
vised in like manner. The whole -village collected 
round to see us eat, curious eyes peering out from 
among the trees and from every shadow. 

About seven it began to get chilly, and we decided 



266 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

to retire. We felt more cheerful over our sleeping 
accommodation after a good meal, but alas ! our worst 
discovery was still to come. We had noticed a few 
beetles when it was still light. Now after dark the 
hut was moving with them ! It was an indescribable 
sight. There were fifty drowned in the basin on the 
floor that we had washed in. Every time I knocked 
my head against the roof, I got half a dozen in my 
hair. M. d' Andre was obliged to put up his bed after 
all, and even our mosquito curtains had not entirely 
protected ours from their inroads. 

Oh, the difficulties of undressing in a Moi hut ! It 
is impossible to set one's bare feet on the dirty bamboo 
floor, yet there is nothing to sit on ; one cannot leave 
one's clothes at the mercy of cockroaches and vermin, 
yet there is no place to put them in safety. We finally 
tied them to a string and suspended them from the 
ceiling. Our heads were frightfully bruised and full 
of maize husks by the time we at last crawled under 
our mosquito curtains. We were unpleasantly re- 
minded of the story of a man who in similar surround- 
ings awoke to find that his finger and toe nails had 
been eaten off by cockroaches. But even the thought 
that the same fate might be awaiting us did not keep 
us awake long, and we slept as well as if we had been 
safe at home. By seven the next morning we were up 
and dressed, our beds packed and all ready for a start. 

The scenery was magnificent and ever-changing. 
Emerging from the forest we found ourselves at one 
time overlooking a deep valley. From where we 
stood the mountain descended almost vertically and at 
the foot was a fast-flowing stream. We had not been 



THROUGH HINTER-ANNAM 267 

aware of the gradual ascent, and the beautiful view 
from such a height over a vast stretch of country was 
a most welcome surprise. All the more so that for 
several hours we had been shut in by the forest, ex- 
hausting ourselves by stumbling over fallen trunks 
and catching our clothes in branches. Although it had 
begun to drizzle and there was a drifting mist, this, 
instead of spoiling the landscape, seemed to add to it 
new beauty and mystery. 

We had glimpses of the mountain on the farther side 
of the valley, with its forests, its huge granite boulders, 
its waterfalls. On our side of the valley there were 
also waterfalls, and one was quite close to us, for we 
could hear it distinctly. It was rushing down with 
many others to the river below, and occasionally we 
could see between the trees the white foam as it dashed 
over stones and rocks. 

I shall never forget that steep and slippery descent 
into the valley. Waiting for the coolie who was carry- 
ing my mackintosh, I had fallen behind the rest of the 
party, and on remounting found myself with only a 
single Moi, outdistanced by a mile or so. I had not 
gone more than a few steps before my pony slipped and 
only regained his balance after much stumbling and 
staggering. I dismounted, handed the reins to the Moi, 
and prepared to descend on foot. The poor animal slid 
on all fours, and it was with the greatest difficulty that it 
could be brought to a standstill at intervals. I was in 
great distress lest it should be lamed or damaged, and 
longed to be able to talk to my companion or to catch 
up the rest of the party. My own difficulties were 
equal to those of the pony, and I had even less power 



268 

of balance. I was thankful when at the bottom of the 
ravine we came upon the other horses and coolies. 
The whole party was covered with mud from head to 
foot. 

We now had to cross the torrent. There were 
rough tree trunks placed from boulder to boulder, but 
as they were high above the water it was rather 
nervous work. In the end we took off our boots, 
which might have made us slip, and passed over in 
stockinged feet. 

One day, on approaching our destination,* we heard 
the sound of gongs and drums. The village had evi- 
dently been informed of our coming, and all this noise 
was either to fete us or forbid our entry. The huts 
were built on piles or simply on trunks of trees cut 
down four or five metres from the ground, but which 
for the most part had sprouted again. While in con- 
sultation as to whether we should advance, a crowd 
began to descend from the biggest hut and make its 
way towards us. We could distinguish the pholy by 
his umbrella, and were soon aware that he was 
welcoming us in his most amicable manner. He led 
us back to his hut, from which the gongs were still 
thundering, and taking the hand of M. d'Andr6 helped 
him to mount the narrow plank of wood which served 
as staircase. Then the pholy s wife descended and 
did the same for Madame Schein and myself. Her 
services were needed, for it was not easy to get our 

* I regret to be unable to give the names of the villages we 
visited, or the rivers we crossed, but no map of this district has as 
yet been made, and the pronunciation by the natives often differed 
so much that it seems useless to write down words which have little 
chance of being correct. 



THROUGH HINTER-ANNAM 269 

nailed boots into the small niches made for the supple 
bare feet of the Mois. 

As soon as we had made our way through the crowd 
at the entrance into the hut, a pig was presented to us, 
its four legs tied to the pole on which it was carried. 
Its yells, together with the noise of the musical instru- 
ments, were deafening. We were also blinded by the 
smoke ; but when I attempted to make my way to the 
door for fresh air, I was told that the pig was being 
killed there in our honour, so I returned to my seat. 

The hut was divided into two parts : the first, where 
we were sitting, was apparently common to all, groups 
of men, women, and children were squatting here and 
there. The other part consisted of a sort of dormitory. 
There were different compartments, like small cubicles, 
each containing its mat, circle of ashes for a fireplace, 
and its saucepan for the use of one family. Some were 
empty, in others a woman was squatting with her 
children. No partition was shut off except the chiefs, 
but nevertheless no man entered his neighbour's 
domain. The women of this tribe, we understood, 
themselves chose their husbands, and if the lucky man 
refused the honour he was obliged to pay a fine ! 
Even his acceptance was onerous, for he had to serve 
his parents-in-law a year, unless he could give them a 
present such as a buffalo or a full-grown slave. The 
children took, moreover, their mother's name. 

After our inspection we were invited to partake of 
the national beverage. Many large jars of ternum 
had already been dragged into the middle of the 
room. The pholy was the first to drink. Squatting- 
down, he thrust one end of the bamboo into the liquor, 



ayo ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

the other into his mouth. With a smile of satisfaction 
he then handed the bamboo on to me, who happened 
to be standing next him. I would willingly have 
passed it on, but he made signs for me to drink. It 
was impossible even to wipe the end surreptitiously 
with my handkerchief with so many pairs of eyes fixed 
on me. So perforce I boldly placed it in my mouth. 
I tasted nothing until I obeyed the Mois' signs to 
squat as they did : then, with the bamboo curved 
downwards, a flow of their precious liquid rushed 
through my lips and down my throat. I had enough 
to last me a lifetime ! When the bamboo had been 
passed round several times, and faces had begun to 
get red and their manners to each other less courteous, 
we asked permission to retire. The pholy wanted us 
to stay all night drinking with them, and great pressure 
was needed before he would allow our beds to be put 
up in a neighbouring hut. What a funny night that 
was ! All the inhabitants of the village who were not 
engaged in the drinking banquet were gathered round 
our walls. They watched us with the greatest curiosity 
as we dined and made our preparations for the night. 
Their interest did not wane when we retired to bed. 
They were at least four deep round the hut, peeping 
in through the cracks. We found them in exactly the 
same position in the morning. Those who had a good 
view would no more have thought of giving up their 
places than would Londoners who have succeeded in 
getting the front row of the pit. I could not make up 
my mind whether it was better to undress in the dark 
and risk treading on a scorpion (one of these poisonous 
vermin had walked across our table-cloth as we were 



THROUGH HINTER-ANNAM 271 

sitting on the floor at dinner) or light a candle and 
brave the eyes of the multitude. Once in bed we did 
not mind whether we were watched or not. 

The next morning with the first streak of dawn we 
were astir, hurrying our preparations for departure. 
The festive music still continued at intervals, but 
hoarse ejaculations and bursts of laughter were now 
intermingled with it. All the Moi men, women, and 
children were evidently drunk, but the feast (in our 
honour) was not yet terminated ; fresh jars of ternum 
had been brought. We thought it wiser to omit our 
farewells to our rather too hospitable hosts and to 
retire as quickly and quietly as possible. 

The inhabitants of this village were great adepts 
with the bow and arrow at any rate if the following 
story of Mink's is true. He had been left behind to 
pack up the breakfast things, and saw a Moi hunter 
perched up in a tree lying in wait for monkeys. Just 
as the Moi was about to shoot he dropped his quiver. 
Without a moment's hesitation his comrade down 
below shot up some of his own arrows into the 
hunter's thick chignon of hair. Both seemed to 
regard the action as natural. The hunter simply 
withdrew the arrows from his chignon and continued 
his sport. 

Occasionally on this expedition we were much 
troubled by leeches. There would sometimes be 
numbers of them during a space of about four or five 
kilometres, then they would disappear again. If one 
stood still on a spot where there was no grass the little, 
black worm-like creatures immediately began to come 
from all quarters, raising themselves and advancing 



272 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

rapidly, and if one took a step to right or left they 
would all change their direction and another circle 
would be formed. They even dropped down on to us 
from the trees. Their bite is not felt at once, and it 
is only when they are quite full of blood and swollen to 
ten times their original size that they leave off sucking 
and let themselves fall to the ground. Our Moi carriers 
had trickles of blood running down their naked bodies 
where the leeches had been torn away. They carried 
little sticks dipped in lime with which they knocked 
the vermin off each other. Here the Mois had the 
advantage, for it was not so easy for us to get rid of 
them if once they made their way inside our clothes. 
We tied handkerchiefs round the sleeves of our coats 
so that they could not get up our arms, strangled our- 
selves to protect our necks, tightened our gaiters, but 
none of us escaped entirely. 

We occasionally had some exciting moments in 
crossing rivers, for some were deep, with a strong 
current. The Mois having forded it here and there, 
and found the shallowest part, the luggage was carried 
across and deposited on the farther bank. Then they 
all trooped back for us and we were carried across one 
by one in a chair. They supported the chair on their 
shoulders, holding it in place with one hand while in 
the other they held a pole to help to keep their 
balance. The water sometimes came up to their 
waists. If one of them lost his foothold he would 
cling on to the chair till he had regained it. I confess 
I was quite surprised to find myself on terra firma 
once more instead of floating down stream in a 
wicker chair. 



THROUGH HINTER-ANNAM 273 

Whenever we came to a quiet brook the Mois with 
one accord threw down their baggage and rushed 
into the water, drinking, lying down flat and splashing 
themselves and each other. It was a scene of rustic 
simplicity. The well-proportioned naked forms, half 
hidden by the green branches and waving pampas- 
grass, was a picture from the antique wherein man and 
Nature were in perfect harmony in their primitive 
beauty. 

Our journey drew to a close. We had completed 
the two corners of a triangle and were now in a 
straight line for Dankia. We spent our last night in 
a village of spinners. All the strips of cloth worn by 
the women of the plateau round their hips were made 
here. The women worked outside their huts in the 
open air. They sat on the bare ground with legs 
straight out and wide apart. Across the soles of their 
feet a rounded piece of wood about a yard long was 
laid. This was kept in place by a cord attached to 
the two ends and tied behind their backs. A stretched- 
out frame was thus formed, and both hands were left 
free for arranging the cotton and plying the shuttle to 
and fro. The contrivance was primitive, but the 
shuttle and all the wooden rods were carefully rounded 
and finished off and sometimes even ornamented. 
We saw, too, all the process of picking the cotton from 
the trees, shelling it, separating it from the seeds, and 
finally drawing it out into a single thread and winding 
it into balls ready for weaving. 

This flourishing industry made the village look very 
different from all the others we had seen. The in- 
habitants not being able to sit in the dark and smoky 






274 ON AND OFF DUTY IN ANNAM 

atmosphere of their huts, looked far healthier in con- 
sequence. Although the men did nothing, for it was 
the women who were chiefly occupied in winding and 
weaving, yet they refused to accompany us the follow- 
ing morning. We promised them good pay, but for a 
long time they could not be induced to take up our 
luggage. Our last relay of coolies had already re- 
turned to their own village, and the dozen Dankia 
men, whom we had kept with us all the time, could 
not possibly manage even the chairs alone. In every 
village there had been some demur, but here it looked 
as if we should get stranded. After many threats 
intermingled with bribes, the chief of the village 
promised us forty carriers. But still the men were 
not forthcoming, and at last our faithful Dankias 
forced their way into the various huts and dragged 
out a few strong young men from each. A fight 
seemed almost inevitable at one time. We were 
really frightened, for if a scuffle had begun, one 
could not tell how it would have snded. We were 
thankful that this should have happened on our last 
morning instead of earlier, or we should have been 
nervous at every village we passed through. 

As we recalled all our interesting experiences 
among the Mois, we could not but regret that this 
race, so physically fine, in character so much more 
sympathetic than the Annamese, should be destined to 
die out. Yet that is probably their fate. They must 
have been far more prolific in times past than they are 
at present to have survived the massacres of the 
Tchams, Kmers, and Cambodians, and later of the 
Annamese. They must, too, have possessed an extra- 



THROUGH HINTER-ANNAM 275 

ordinary vitality to have been capable of adapting 
themselves to the rough animal life of the hills and 
forests to which they were driven. The conquest of 
Indo-China by the French may have temporarily 
checked their downward course, but when the Saigon- 
Hanoi railway is complete and the country is thus 
opened up, these savages who cannot submit to 
civilisation will not find sufficient territory for their 
needs and will be unable to continue their arduous 
struggle for existence. Inter-tribal wars, alcoholism, 
low birth-rate, besides small-pox and other diseases, 
are still causing ravages. Only those who intermarry 
will survive, and they will be no longer Mois. 

Having seen them in their wild fastnesses and been 
welcomed and well treated by them, it was a sad thing 
to contemplate. At the end of this journey we felt as 
if we had known them for a great part of our lives. 
Nevertheless, it was with the greatest pleasure that 
we found ourselves again on the plateau and saw in 
the distance the Agricultural Station. That patch of 
well-laid-out fields and gardens, after our experiences 
of barren mountain-sides and uncared-for villages, 
was a feast to the eyes. Our weary limbs forced them- 
selves to one last effort in order to regain as quickly 
as possible the little wooden chalets which seemed to 
us at that moment the acme of civilisation. 



KWANG-S1 



Tai- Nguyen HI 
o 

\ T \N G'X I N G 






Batlfimbafig \\GmndLoJa t \ LangOian , ' 



MAP OF 
INDOCHINA 



5C>4if Of Af/^f^. I 

50 100 200 300 




GLOSSARY 

Cai-nha. Cat = the, nha house. The word signifies, home 
dwelling, building, &c. 

Nha que = peasant. 

Sais coachman. The name that the French have given to the 
native driver. 

Nuoc-mam is a condiment made from fermented fish-water. It 
is easy to recognise the village which makes it. The smell pro- 
ceeding from the enormous barrels placed in the open air in some 
central spot is quite appalling. There are different qualities of this 
condiment, but the poorest man's fish and rice are always flavoured 
by a few drops. 

Choum-choum is the native alcohol made from fermented rice. 

Link is the Annamese word for a native soldier. 

Trams are the stations or resting-houses along the mandarin 
roads. The system of trams was organised by the Emperor Gia- 
long for the transport of the post and for the convenience of travellers. 
They composed the different stages of a journey where a fresh relay 
of coolies or ponies might be obtained. Anybody found interfering 
with the tram coolies was put to death, so that even when 
piracy and plunder were rife in the land, the post going from 
tram to tram was unmolested. The French have continued to use 
this tram organisation both for the mail and for French officials 
travelling overland. 

Sapeque. About 6000 sapeques go to a dollar. This is the most 
current coin of the native markets ; the Annamese divide them into 
ligatures (one ligature = 1000 sapeques) which are threaded on 
separate pieces of string and carried over a stick or in a basket. The 
dollar in Indo-China varies generally between 2 frs. 25 and 2 frs. 90. 

Malabar was the term used for any Indian in Indo-China ; now 
it is also used for the closed carriage driven originally by these 

277 



278 GLOSSARY 

Indians. This small box-like vehicle on four wheels is the favourite 
carriage of the Annamese. 

Kilometre, i metre = i yard 3 inches. 8 kilometres = 5 miles. 

Pholy. A Moi word to designate the chief of a village. 

Ternunt. The alcohol made by the Mois from fermented rice. 
It is not made in the same way as the Annamese choum-choum and 
is less palatable. 



INDEX 



ADMINISTRATION, local and State, 

148-155 

Adoption, custom of, 134 
Adran, Bishop of, 8 
Adultery, punishment for, 135 
Age, respect for, 125 
Agostini, M., 245, 246, 247, 248, 

249, 250, 251, 252 
Agricultural Station, Langbian 

Plateau, 233-7 

Ancestor-worship, 124-6, 133, 147 
Andre", Mademoiselle, 220, 221, 

228, 234, 244 
Andre, M., 190, 206, 226, 227, 234- 

5, 237, 244, 245, 247, 248, 249, 

250-7, 258, 261, 262, 263, 264 
Angkor, 8 

Animal- worship, 122-3 
Annamese language, 2 1 5 
Annamitic Chain, i 
Anopheles, 56-7 
Ants, 44, 80, 176-7 
Archery, 271 
Aristocracy, 104 
Army, constitution of, 151-2 

BA-CHUA-NGOC see P6 Nagar 

Bac-L6, battle of, 9 

Bac-Ninh, capture of, 9 

Balat, 199 

Baquan, native game, 158 

Batambang, 8 

Beau, M., ii 



Beauty, standard of, 143-5 
Beetles, 34 
Bernard, Colonel, 8 
Bert, Paul, 10 
Betel- chewing, 106 
Binh-Dinh, valley of, i 
Birds, native, 51 

damage caused by, 178-9 
Boats, native, 16, 81, 159, 160 
Botanical Gardens, 22 
Brahminism, 182 
Brickmaking, 82, 83, 84 
Bruce, Dr., 52-3 
Buddha, 122 
Buffaloes, 76-8 

sacrifice of, 228-30 
Burmah, i 

CALMETTE, Dr., 27, 54 

Cambodians, i, 2, 183, 275 

Camranh, 5 

Canivey, M. and Madame, 213-4 

Canton, 27, 30 

Cap St. Jacques, i, 15, 114 

Card-playing, 141 

Carriages, native, 19-20, 39 

Cast or- oil plant, 70 

Cattle-breeding experiments, 235 

Chaigneau, 8 

Chaudoc, 2, 180 

Children, native, 38, 41, 88-9, 90, 

92, 93. 94-5. i" Il6 ~7 "8, 
125-6, 141, 163, 219, 224 

279 



280 



INDEX 



China, conquest of Annam by, 6 

alliance with, g 

treaty with France, 10 
China Sea, i 
Chinese, status of, in Indo-China, 

3. 37-31. 157-8 
Cholen, 21 

description of, 27-31 
Cho Moi, 78 

Christians, massacres of, 8, 10 
Citadel, 42, 107-9 
Coca, 55 

Cochin-China, i, 3, 8, 68-9 
Cockroaches, 44, 266 
Coffee, 55 
Colombo, 15 

Commune, functions of, 148-155 
Communication, ways of, 68-9 
Confucius, 6, 120, 121, 122 
Constans, M., 10 
Cost of living, 47 
Costume, native, 22-3, 24, 91, 116, 

1 8 1-2 

Courbet, Admiral, 9, 10 
Courcy, General de. 10 
Crabs, 177 
Cua-B, 37-8 
Culao, 183 

DABAN, 200, 202-4 

Dae, native boy, 261 

Dalat, 212, 234 

Danhim, river, 210 

Dankia, 219, 220 

Dayot, 8 

Diet, native, 18, 24, 85, 103 

Dinh dynasty, 6 

Divorce laws, 134-5 

Djibouti, 15 

Doctors, native attitude towards, 

60, 62-4, 66, 93, 147 
Dogs, 82 
Domine, 9 
Donai, river, 1,210 
Dong- Khan, King, 10, n 



Doumer, M., 4, n, 233 
Drama, native, 145-6, 165-9 
Dran, 210, 242 
Ducks, 99-100 
Dumoutier, 181 
Durand, Pere, 189 

EAR-RINGS, 221-3 
Education, 106, 139-40, 154 
Elephants, 163 
Emperor, functions of, 155 

FAIFO, 5 

Ferry, Jules, 9, 10 

Formosa, blockade of, 9 

Fou-Tche'ou, bombardment of, 9 

French residents, 25, 27, 210-11 

Frogs, 78-9 

Fruit-trees, 175-6 

Funeral customs, 123-4, 126-9, 

226-8 
Furniture, no 

GAMBLING, 157, 158 

Game- shooting, 79, 80 

Garden, description of author's, 

170-9 

Gamier, Francis, 9 
Gialong, 8 
Giao-Chi, 5, 6 
Great Lakes, 2 
Greeting, modes of, 109 
Grimacing competition, 163 

HAINAN Straits, 4 
Haiphong, 4, 5, 71 
Hanoi, 7, 21, 71 
Harem, Imperial, 142-3 
Hindoo civilisation, 7 
Historical sketch, 5-11 
Hinter-Annam, journey through, 

259-75 

Ho dynasty, 6 
Hoatan, 193-4 
Hong Bang dynasty, 6 



INDEX 



281 



Horse-racing, 162-3 
Hotel Continental, Saigon, 25 
House, author's, described, 43 
Housekeeping difficulties, 44-49 
Housing accommodation, 88, 89, 

1 06 

Hue", i, 4, 5, 10, 21, 70 
Hylobates gabriella, 209 

INDO-CHINA, physical features, i 

population, 2-3 

climate, 4 

system of government, 4 
Inheritance laws, 129, 134 
Insects, 177 
Islamism, 182 

Jv-Su, Emperor, n 

KEP, battle of, 9 
Khanh-hoa, province of, 39, 181 
Khas see Mois 
Khmers, 2, 275 
Klobukowski, M., n 

LANDON, M., 202, 203, 205, 208 

Lanessan, M. de, 10 

Langbian Plateau, i, 54, 190, 212 

Lang-Son, battle of, 9 

Laos, 2 

Laotsen, 120, 122 

Laveran, Dr., 52, 53 

L dynasty, 6, 7 

Lecadet, M., 198, 199-203, 211 

Leeches, 271-2 

Legion of Honour, 115 

Lei Tcheou, 4 

Le-Soi, 6 

Lister, Lord, 52-3 

Lizards, 177-8 

L6c Tuc, 5 

Logoun, 82 

Louis XVI., 8 

Ly dynasty, 6 

Lying, native addiction to, 113 



MAIZE, 70 

Mammals, native, 51 

Mandarins, status and home life 

of, 105-119 
Manilla, 21 
Marco Polo, 180 
Markets, 95, 96, 97, 98-9 
Marriage customs, 132-3, 135-8 
Marseilles, 14 
Mayors, functions of, 149 
Meals, etiquette of, 146 
Mekong, river, i, 2 
Milk, 57-8 
Ming-Mang, 8 
Ministers of State, 155 
Mink, native cook, 261, 265 
Missionaries, 140, 181 
Moi language, 215 
Mois, 2-3, 7, 182, 189, 206-208, 

212-13, 214-16, 218-32,235-40, 

274-5 

Monkeys, 209 

Mosquitoes, 34, 44, 45, 56-7 
Motoring experiences, 191-8 
Mourning customs, 129 
Municipal Councils, 150-1 
ownership, 151 

NAM NGHI, King, 10 

Names, family, 111-12 

New Year's Day celebrations, 

156-69 

Nguyen dynasty, 8 
Nhatrang, 4, 5, 12, 14 

description of, 39-42 

life at, 49-51 

temples of, 182-6 
Noc, Dr., 26-7 
Norodom, 8 

ODENTHAL, M., 261 

Olivier, 8 

Operation for shark-bite, 59-62 

Opium-smoking, 146 

T 



282 



INDEX 



PARIS, M., 361 

Parmentier, M,, 187-9 

Pasteur, 52-3, 67 

Pasteur Institute at Nhatrang, 12, 

37. 42, 53-67 
at Saigon, 19, 20, 26-7 
Penongs see Mois 
Pernin, M., 56 
Pescadores, Island of, 9 
Pha.n-Ra.ng, 2, 5, 180, 181, 189, 197, 

242 

Phan-Ri, 189 
Phan-Tiet, 2, 5 
Philippines, 3 
Pholy of Dankia,f259, 260, 263, 264, 

268, 270 

Photography, 118, 219, 249 
Physique, native, 16, 18 
Picquet, M., 10 
Plague in Hongkong and Canton, 

53 

bacillus of, 53-4 
Polygamy, 130-31, 134, 138-9 
P6 N.agar, cult of, 182, 186-7 
Poor-relief, 151 
Port Said, 15 
Potatoes, sweet, 70 
Pottery, 83-4 
Public Works, 1 1 

QUAN Bo, 107-113 
Quan-Si, 5 
Quan-Tch6ou, 4 
Quan-Toung, 5 
Quang-Nam, Valley of, i 
Qui-Nhon, 5 

RAILWAY, Saigon-Hanoi, 69-80, 

275 

Reading habit among natives, 103 
Red River, i, 2 
Religion of natives, 24, 73-4, 104, 

120-131, 182-6 
Revenue, 5 
Rice industry, 70, 100-103, 219 



Richaud, M., 10 

Rigault de Genouilly, Admiral, 8 

Riviere, Commandant, 9 

Ross, Dr., 52-3 

Rousseau, M., 10 

Roux, Dr., 12 

Rubber, 55, 56 

SACRIFICE, buffalo, 228-30 
Saigon, 4, 5, 8, 15, 17, 21-25 

river, i, 15 

Salazie, life on board the, 14-15 
Salt, substitute for, 238 
Sanskrit, 184 
Satiavarman, King, 183 
Sau, native boy, 202, 242, 261, 

264 
Schein, Madame, 244, 245, 254, 

256, 262, 264, 268 
Schein, M., 37 
Serum, 27, 54, 55, 62 
Servants, native, 45-49, 113-14 
Shark tragedy, 59-62 
Shops, 90 
Siam, 1,8 
Singapore, 15 
Sisowah, King, 8 
Smoking materials, 114, 117-18 
Snakes, 27, 44, 210 
Song Ca, valley of, i 
Song Cai, river, i, 199 
Song-Hau, river, 5 
Song Ma, valley of, i 
Son-tay, capture of, 
Sorcerers, Moi, 230-2 
Spinning industry, 273 
Spitting habit, 106-7 
Sports, native, 159-63 
Stiengs see Mois 
Suoigiau, 55, 56, 58, 192 
Superstitions, 59, 64-66, 89, 112, 

224, 227, 257-8 

TAY SON, 8 
Tchampa, 181 



INDEX 



283 



Tchams, 2, 7, 180-89, 275 
Tea-drinking, in, 117 
Temples, 73-4, 183-6 
Ternum, 269-70 

Tigers, 78-80, 122, 123, 124, 203, 
213-14 

author's tiger-hunt, 245-58 
Thanh-Hoa, i, 5 
Thais, 2, 6 
Thanh-Thai, King, n 

Prince and Princess, 114-19 
Thanh-Tong, 7 
Thuan-An, Forts of, 10 
Thuyen Hoa, 114 
Tobacco, 55, 70, 114, 117-18 
Tombs, 73 

Tonking, i, 3, 5, 8, 10 
Tourane, 5, 69 
Towns, chief, 5 
Tran dynasty, 6 
Tranninh, i 

Traps, game and man, 225 
Travelling, coast steamer, 32-7 

by river, 85-7 

from Nhatrang to Dankia, 190- 
217 

return journey, 239-243 

through Hinter-Annam, 259-75 



Tr, island of, 36, 58 
Trial by ordeal, 231-2 
Trung-nhi, Princess, 145 
Trung-vuong, Queen, 6, 145 
Tsousblma, battle of, 5 
Tu-Duc, 8 
Tuyen-Quang, defence of, 9 

UMBRELLAS, 23 

VAN-LANG, 6 

Vannier, 8 

Vernet, M., 56 

Vegetation, 22, 71, 172-6 

Vermin, 72 

Village life, routine of, 88-104 

Vinh, province of, i, 5 

Vung-Khisna, lives of, 10 

WAGES paid in kind, 238 
Women, condition of, 16, 84, 93, 

95. 96, 97-9. I0 , 102-3, !25 

132-47, 214-15, 269 
costume of, 181-2 

YUNNAN, 5 

Yellow a prohibited colour, 117 

Yersin, Dr., 53-6, 58, 197, 233 



Printed by BALLANTVNB & Co. LIMITED 
Tavistock Street, Coveot Garden London