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ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 



MRS. ANNA H. LEONOWENS, 





?W<73 



<£ 



,.•' 






^ # 



£%£_ (jiAATUj> i\JL \J> • 



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1872, 

BY JAMES R. OSGOOD & CO., 

in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington. 



JUN 28 i«u 



University Press: Welch, Bigelow, & Co., 
Cambridge. 



PREFACE. 



" nniiUTH is often stranger than fiction," but so 
J- strange will some of the occurrences related in the 
following pages appear to Western readers, that I deem it 
necessary to state that they are also true. Most of the 
stories, incidents, and characters are known to me per- 
sonally to be real, while of such narratives as I received 
from others I can say that " I tell the tale as it was told 
to me," and written down by me at the time. In some 
cases I have substituted fictitious for real names, in order 
to shield from what might be undesired publicity persons 
still living. 

I gladly acknowledge my indebtedness to Mr. Francis 
George Shaw for valuable advice and aid in the prep- 
aration of this work for the press, and to Miss Sarah 
Bradley, daughter of the Eev. Dr. Bradley of Bangkok, 
for her kindness in providing me with photographs, 
otherwise unattainable, for some of the illustrations. 

New Brighton, Staten Island, 
September 13, 1872. 




DEDICATION. 



To the noble and devoted women whom I learned to know, 
to esteem, and to love in the city of the Nang Harm, I dedicate 
the following pages, containing a record of some of the events con- 
nected with their lives and sufferings. 



.r 
9 




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. 



I. The Idol of Buddha Frontispiece. 

II. The Emerald Idol ligneue. 

III. A Siamese Slave-Girl Page 32 

IV. A Siamese Flower-Girl "48 

V. Guard of Amazons "64 

VI. Palm-Trees hear the New Road, Bangkok " 80 

VII. A Youno Siamese Nobleman " 104 

Vin. Smayatee "120 

IX. A Royal Actress "128 

X. Runoeab, the Cambodian Proselyte . • "144 

XI. Ladies of the Royal Harem at Dinner . " 160 

XIL A Laotian "168 

XIII. Crenellated Towers of the Inner City . " 176 

XIV. An Amazon of the Royal Body Guard . "184 
XV. Queen of Siam "240 

XVI. Kino of Siam "264 

XVII. Temple and Ruins or Kampoot ..." 270 



CONTENTS. 



— ♦— 

Chapter Pin 

I. "Huang Thai," oe the Kingdom of the Free . . l 

II. Tupmc : A Tragedy of the Harem .... 14 

III. Tuptcm's Trial 25 

IV. The King changes his Mntlr 85 

V. Slavery in the Grand Royal Palace of the "Invincible 

and Beautiful Archangel" 42 

VI. Ehoon Thow App, the Chief of the Female Judges . 58 

VIL The Rajpoot and his Daughter 65 

VIII. Among the Hills of Orissa 72 

IX. The Rebel Duke P'haya Si P'hd?oor .... 77 

X. The Grandson of Somdetch Ono Yai, and his Tutor 

P'hra Chow Saduman 84 

XI. The Heroism of a Child 102 

XII. The Interior of the Duke Chow P'haya Mandtree's 

Harem 107 

XIII. A Night of Mysteries 112 

XIV. " Weeping may endure for a Night, but Joy oometh n? 

the Morning" 118 

XV. The Favorite of the Harem 122 

XVI. May-Peah, the Laotian Slave-Girl 145 

XVIL An Accidental Discovery of the Whereabouts of the 

Princess Sunartha Vismita 151 

XVIIL Lady Thieng, the Head Wd?b and Superintendent of 

the Royal Cuisine 155 



Vlii CONTENTS. 

XLX. The Princess 8unartha Vismtta 100 

XX. Pax Laut, ob the Mouth of the Ocean ... 165 

XXL Narrative of the Princess of Chienqmai ... 171 

XXII. " BlJREPURSE," OR THE DIAMOND ClTT .... 175 

XXIII. The Deaf and Dumb Changeling .... 180 

XXIV. Witchcraft in Slam in Eighteen Hundred and Butt- 

Six, COMPARED WITH WITCHCRAFT LN ENGLAND IN SEV- 
ENTEEN Hundred and Sixteen . . . .184 

XXV. Trial for Witchcraft 188 

XXVI. The Christian Village of TAmseng, or of Thomas the 

Saint 202 

XXVII. Nang Rungeah, the Cambodian Proselyte . 218 

XXVIII. Ad ogni Uccello suo Nmo k bkllo,— "To every Bird 

its own Nest is charming" 221 

XXIX. Stray Leaves from the Royal School-Room Table 287 

XXX. The Siamese System of Slavery 257 

XXXL The Royal Proclamations 264 



A Legend of the Gold and Silver Mines of Sum ... 271 




ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 



CHAPTER I. 

"MUANG THAI," OR THE KINGDOM OF THE FREE. 

STAM is called by its people " Muang Thai " (the king- 
dom of the free). The tippellation which we employ 
is derived from a Malay word saydm (the brown race), 
and is never used by the natives themselves ; nor is the 
country ever so named in the ancient or modern annals 
of the kingdom. 

In the opinion of Pickering, the Siamese are of Malay 
origin. A majority of intelligent Europeans, however, 
regard the population as mainly Mongolian. But there 
is much more probability that they belong to that power- 
ful Indo-European race to which Europe owes its civiliza- 
tion, and whose chief branches are the Hindoos, Persians, 
Greeks, Latins, Kelts, and the Teutonic and Sclavonic 
tribes. The original site of this race was in Bactria, and 
the earliest division of the people could not have been 
later than three or four thousand years before the Chris- 
tian era. Comparative philology alone enables us to trace 
the origin of nations of great antiquity. According to 
the researches of the late king, who was a veiy studious 
and learned man, of twelve thousand eight hundred Siamese 
words, more than five thousand are found to be Sanskrit, 
or to have their roots in that language, and the rest in the 

Indo-European tongues ; to which have been superadded a 

1 ▲ 



2 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

great number of Chinese and Cambodian terms. He says : 
u The names of temples, cities, and villages in the king- 
dom of Siam are derived from three sources, namely, San- 
skrit, Siamese, and Cambodian. The names which the 
common people generally use are spoken according to the 
idiom of the Siamese language, are short and easily pro- 
nounced ; but the names used in the Court language and 
in the government documents, which receive the govern- 
ment seals, are almost all of Sanskrit derivation, apt to be 
long ; and even though the Sanskrit names are given at 
full length, the people are prone to speak them incor- 
rectly. Some of our cities and temples have two and even 
three names, being the ancient and modern names, as they 
have been used in the Court language or that of the people." 

As the words common to the Siamese and the Sanskrit 
languages must have been in use by both peoples before 
their final separation, we have here a clew to the origin 
and degree of civilization attained by the former before 
they emigrated from the parent stock. 

Besides the true Siamese, a great variety of races in- 
habit the Siamese territories. The Siamese themselves 
trace their genealogy up to the first disciples of the Bud- 
dha, and commence their records at least five centuries 
before the Christian era. First, a long succession of dynas- 
ties, with varying seats of government, figure in their 
ancient books, in which narrations of the miracles of the 
Buddhas, and of the intervention of supernatural beings, are 
frequently introduced. Then come accounts of matrimo- 
nial alliances between the princes of Siam and the Impe- 
rial family of China; of embassies to, and wars with, the 
neighboring countries, interspersed with such relations of 
prodigies and such marvellous legends as to surpass all 
possible conception of our less fertile Western imaginations. 
It is only after the establishment of Ayudia as the capital 
of Siam, A. D. 1350, that history assumes its rightful 







"MUAXG THAI," OR THE KINGDOM OF THE FiiEE. 3 

functions, and the course of events, with the regular suc- 
cession of sovereigns, is registered with tolerable accuracy. 

The name of Siam was first heard in Europe — that is, 
in Portugal — in the year 1511, nine years after Alfonso 
d' Albuquerque, the great Viceroy of the Indies, had 
landed on the coast of Malabar with his soldiers, and 
conquered Goa, which he made the seat of the Portugo- 
Indian government, and the centre of its Asiatic opera- 
tions. After establishing his power in Goa, D'Albuquerque 
subdued the whole of the Malabar, the island of Ceylon, 
the Sunda Isles, the peninsula of Malacca, and the beau- 
tiful island of Ormuz, at the entrance to the Persian Gulf. 

It was here that 1)' Albuquerque is said to have received 
the ambassadors of the Emperor of Persia, sent to collect 
the tribute formerly paid to him by the sovereigns of the 
island, and, instead of the customary gold and silver, to 
have laid before them iron bullets and a sword, with: 
" This is the coin in which Portugal pays those who de- 
mand tribute from her." Whether this incident really 
occurred or not, it is certain that D'Albuquerque made 
the name of Portugal so feared and respected in the East, 
that many of the potentates in that region, and among 
them the kings of Siam and Pegu, sent embassies to him, 
and sought his alliance and protection. The profitable rela- 
tions anticipated from this opening were interrupted, how- 
ever, by the long and bitter war which shortly broke out 
between Siam and P>imiah,and the intercourse between the 
Siamese and Portuguese was not renewed for a long time. 
As early as the fifteenth century the celebrated German 
traveller, Mandelslohc, visited Ayudia, the capital of Siam, 
and called it the Venice of the East, — a title equally appli- 
cable to the modem capital, Bangkok. The Portuguese 
explorer, Mendez Pinto, who was in Siam in the sixteenth 
century, gives a very favorable accotmt of the country, 
and, in my opinion, deserves more credit for the truth of 



4 ROMANCE OF THE HAItEM. 

his statements than was accorded to him by his contem- 
poraries. In 1632 an English vessel is said to have 
reached Ayudia, and to have found it in ruins, the coun- 
try having been laid waste by successive incursions of the 
Birmese. 

The great river Mcinam is the Nile of Siam. Rising 
among the southern slopes of the snow-covered moun- 
tains of Yunan, it traverses the whole length of the val- 
ley, receiving in its course the waters of many other 
streams, the most important being the Meikhong, which 
in its length of nearly one thousand miles drains the 
eastern provinces of Laos and Cambodia. Ancient an- 
nals relate that in the fifteenth and as late as the seven- 
teenth century, Chinese junks ascended the river as far 
as Sangkalok, nearly one hundred and twenty leagues 
from its mouth ; now, owing to the increasing alluvial 
deposit, it is not navigable more than fifteen leagues at 
most 

In the month of June, the mountain snows begin to 
melt, the deluging rains of the wet season set in, the strong 
southerly winds dam up the waters of the Meinam, and it 
begins to rise, — an event most eagerly looked for by the 
people, and hailed by them as a blessing froni Heaven, 
In August the inundation is at its height, and the whole 
vast valley is like one immense sea, in which towns and 
villages look like islands, connected by drawbridges, and 
interspersed with groves and orchards, the tops of which 
only are seen, while boats pass to and fro without injury 
to the rice and other crops starting beneath them. The 
whole valley is intersected by canals, some, of great size 
and extent, in order to distribute as far as possible the 
benefits of this grand operation of nature ; but the lands 
situated about the middle of the great plain derive the 
greatest advantage therefrom. 

When the inundation is supposed to have reached its 




« 



» 



MUANG THAI, OR THE KINGDOM OP THE FREE. 



height, a deputation of Talapoins, or priests, sent by the 
king, descend the river in magnificent state barges, and 
with chants and incantations and movements of magical 
wands command the waters to retire. Sometimes, how- 
ever, the calculations prove to have been incoiTect, the 
river continues to rise, and it is they who are compelled 
to retire, filled with chagrin and disappointment 

The popular river festival, which takes place after the 
waters begin to subside, both in origin and character be- 
longs to the Hindoos., rather than to the Buddhists. It is 
an annual festival held at night, and the scene which is 
exhibited during its celebration is exceedingly beautiful. 
The banks of the Meinam are brilliantly lighted up ; 
accompanied and announced by numerous flights of rock- 
ets, a number of floating palaces, built on rafts, come sail- 
ing down the stream, preceded by thousands of lamps 
and lanterns wreathed with chaplets of flowers, which 
cover with their gay brilliancy the entire surface of the 
flashing water. The rafts, which are formed of young 
plantain-trees fastened together, are often of considerable 
extent, and the structures which they bear are such as 
Titania herself might delight to inhabit Towers, gates, 
arches, and pagodas rise in fantastic array, bright with a 
thousand colors, and shining in the light of numberless 
cressets, — so the fairy-like spectacle moves on, while ad- 
miring crowds of men, women, and children throng the 
banks of the river, not only to join the brilliant pageant, 
but to watch their own frail little bark, freighted, per- 
chance, with a single lamp, yet full of life's brightest 
hopes, as it floats unextinguished down the rapid stream, 
glimmering on with ruddy flame amidst the shadows of 
night 

The products of Siam, as may be supposed from its 
range of latitude, its tropical heats, its variety of climate, 
and the fertility of the valley, annually renewed by the 



G ROMANCE OF THE IIAUEM. 

inundation, are very diversified, and almost unlimited in 
quantity. Its rice, of which there are forty varieties, is 
excellent, and its sugar is esteemed the best in the world. 
Among the other exports are cotton, tobacco, hemp, cutch, 
dried fish and fruits, cocoanut-oil, beeswax, precious 
gums, spices, dye and other woods, especially teak, ivory, 
and many articles too numerous to mention. The min- 
eral riches of the country are still almost entirely in an 
undeveloped state. 

The search for sparkling gems has in all ages been ea- 
gerly engaged in ; diamonds and other precious stones are 
frequently offered for sale, but the precise locality in 
which they are found is kept secret by the natives. The 
thousand-fold more valuable seams of coal and iron have 
remained unsought and most imperfectly worked as yet 
A beginning has at last been made by the present king, 
and the last and best, though poetically maligned, age of 
iron is about to spread its blessings over the Siamese 
Empire. 

The population of Siam cannot be ascertained with 
correctness, owing to the custom of enumerating only the 
men. When I was in Bangkok, the native registers gave 
the mimber of them as four million Siamese, one million 
Laotians, one million Malays and Indians, oue million five 
hundred thousand Chinese, three hundred and fifty thou- 
sand Cambodians, fifty thousand Peguans, and the same 
number of mountain tribes ; in all, nearly eight millions. 
If these figures are even approximately correct, and the 
women and children bear the same proportion to the men 
as in other countries, the total population of Siam far ex- 
ceeds the numbers which have hitherto been assigned 
to it 

No people in the world exhibit so many exceptional 
developments of human nature as the different races occu- 
pying the eastern peninsula of India. The most impres- 



it 



MUANG THAI," OR THE KINGDOM OF THE FREE. 7 



sible of races, ideas and views of life take root among them 
such as would find no acceptance elsewhere. Supple and 
pliant in their bodily frames, they are equally so in their 
mental and moral constitution; and upon no other race 
has the force of circumstance and the contagion of ex- 
ample so potent an influence in determining them towards 
good or evil Royalty, therefore, to them, is not a mere 
name. It has taken such hold on their affections that it 
usurps the place of a religious sentiment The person of the 
king is sacred. He is not only enthroned, he is enshrined. 
His rule may be called despotic, but it is tempered by 
law and by not less revered custom. He may name his 
successor by Will, but the Royal or Secret Council will 
determine whether that Will shall be canned into effect 
A second Icing, selected, like the first or supreme king, 
from the royal family, is also appointed by the Secret 
Council. Whatever may have originally been the func- 
tions of this second king, his exercise of them appears, 
from incidents of the late reign, to be dependent upon the 
disposition of the supreme king, and his desire cr disin- 
clination to concentrate in his own person all the powers 
of the throne. 

The whole empire is divided into forty-nine provinces, 
with their respective Phayas, or governors; and these again 
are subdivided into districts under inferior officers, respect- 
ing whose administration but little that is good can be 
said. 

Every subject, even the most humble, has by law the 
right to complain to the king in person against any official, 
however exalted ; and the king sits in public at the eastern 
gate of the palace to receive the petitions of his people. 

Two or three centuries after Brahmjjrism and caste had 
been authoritatively established in the Hindoo code, there 
arose a new religion which totally ignored the old one, 
and almost immediately supplanted it as the state religion 



8 BOMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

of India. This was Buddhism, founded by Gotama, other- 
wise called Sakya Muni, a Kshatrya Prince of Oude. A 
high-priest of the Abstract, and believing that the only 
possible revelation from the Supreme is that which comes 
from within, Gotama educed a new faith from the 
luminous depths of his own soul. His object was not 
only a religious but a social revolution. A good deal of 
what was venerated as religion he found to be merely 
Social usage, for which a Divine sanction was feigned. 
Gotama, without hesitation, rejected all this, by denying 
the inspiration of the Vedas, the existence of the poptilar 
gods, and the spiritual supremacy of the Brahmins. His 
greatest blow to the old religion, however, was in his ex- 
plicit repudiation of caste. He offered his religion to all 
men alike, Brahmin and Sudra, high and low, bond and 
free ; whereas, for a Sudra even to look on the Vedas, or 
to be taught their contents, was strictly forbidden by the 
Brahminical system. Buddha boldly expounded to the 
people that, according to their own books, all men were 
equal ; that Brahma himself, when asked to whom all the 
prayers of the different nations and races of the earth were 
addressed, replied : " I bear the burden of all those who 
labor in prayer. I, even I, am he who prayeth for them 
through their own lips ; and they, even they, who involun- 
tarily worship other gods believingly, worship even me." * 

He also did away with the endless formalism of the old 
faith, and enjoined only a simple observance of the funda- 
mental points of morality ; and it was only after he had 
aided in removing the social and spiritual shackles that 
oppressed the people, that he directed their attention to 
the simple and weightier matters of religion. 

Hence the popiferity it attained, spreading among the 
low caste as well as among the rich and great, until it has 
become the dominant faith from the Himalayas to Ceylon, 

• Sec the Siamese work, " Phra thi Sang." 




"MUANG THAI," OR THE KINGDOM OF THE FREE. 9 

and thenco to Siam, China, Japan, and the neighboring 
isles. 

Buddhism, therefore, the religion of the Eastern world, 
as Christianity is that of the Western, is the state religion 
of Siam and that of most of its inhabitants, but all re- 
ligions are tolerated and absolutely free from interference. 
All the pagan sects who inhabit this part of India agree 
excellently, and each frequently takes part in the festivals 
of the other ; and I also observed that not a few Buddhists, 
his late Majesty included, wear on their foreheads the 
sectorial mark of Vishnu and Siva united. 

The doctrine of Buddha inculcates a belief in one God, 
Adi Buddha.* This I infer, not only from the universally 
avowed conviction of the Buddhists with whom I havo 
conversed, but from Buddha's own words, where he says : 
" Without ceasing shall I run through a course of many 
births, looking for the maker of this tabernacle,+ who 
is not represented by any outward symbol, but in a series 
of Buddhas, who have been sent with divine powers to 
teach the human race and lead it to salvation." These are 
represented by images, often of colossal size and great 
beauty, and to them the prayers of worshippers are ad- 
dressed. It inculcates, also, a belief in the law of retri- 
bution or compensation, and of many births or stages of 
probations, through which the human soul may finally 
attain beatitude. Buddhism has its priests and nuns, 
separated from the world, and vowed to poverty, celibacy, 
and the study of the Divine law. Unlike the silent and 
long-forsaken temples of Egypt, Greece, and Italy, the 
architectural grandeur of the Buddhist pagodas and tem- 
ples is enhanced by the presence of thousands of en- 
thusiastic worshippers. The sound of #bell, or gong, or 

• Supreme Intelligence. 

t See Siamese work, " Pbra thi Sang," and Lecture on Buddhist Nihil- 
inn, by F. Max Miiller. 



10 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

of the sacred shell, indicates the hours of the priestsf 
attendance at the temples. At such times the priests are 
to be seen officiating at the shrines, where, amid the noise 
of many instruments playing in concert, the smoke of 
fragrant incense, and the perfumes of fresh flowers, they 
are uttering sacred invocations or incantations, and pre- 
senting the offerings of the worshippers. In the sermons 
preached daily in these immense temples, thronged with 
men and women, the chief themes are humanity, endur- 
ance, patience, submission. Among the practical precepts 
are these: "Love your enemies. Sacrifice your life for 
truth. Be gentle and tender. Abstain from war, even in 
self-defence. Govern yourselves in thought, word, and 
deed. Avoid everything that may lead to vice. Be 
obedient to your parents and superiors. Iteverence old 
age. Provide food and shelter for the poor, the aged, and 
the oppressed. Despise no man's religion. Persecute no 
man." 

But alas ! in Siam, as in all the rest of the world, the 
practice falls far short of the precept 

Nevertheless, I have found among the Siamese, also, 
men and women who observe faithfully the precepts of 
their religion, whose lives are devoted to charity and good 
works ; and there were some — not one alone, but many — 
who during the years I lived in Bangkok sacrificed their 
lives for truth, and even under the torture and in death 
showed a self-sacrificing devotion and a courage not to 
be excelled by the most saintly of the Christian martyrs. 

Polygamy — or, properly speaking, concubinage — and 
slavery arc the curses of the country. But one wife is 
allowed by law ; the king only may have two, a right and 
a left hand wife,4» these dual queens are called, whose 
offspring alone are legitimate. The number of concubines 
is limited only by the means of the man. As the king 
is the source of all wealth and influence, dependent 




"MUANG THAI," OB THE KINGDOM OF THE FREE. 11 

kings, princes, and nobles, and all who would seek the 
royal favor, vie with each other in bringing their most 
beautiful and accomplished daughters to the royal harem. 

Here it is that the courage, intrepidity, and heroism of 
these poor, doomed women are gradually developed. I 
have known more than one among them who accepted 
her fate with a repose of manner and a sweet resignation 
that told how dead must be the heart under that still 
exterior ; and it is here, too, that I have witnessed a forti- 
tude under suffering of which history furnishes no parallel. 
And I have wondered at the sight Though the common 
people have but one wife, the fatal facility of divorce, 
effected by the husband's simply taking the priestly vows, 
which can be revoked at will, is often the cause of great 
suffering to tha women. The husband and father have 
unlimited power, even of life and death, over the wife and 
children, but murders are extremely rare. Woman is the 
slave of man ; but when she becomes a mother her posi- 
tion is changed, and she commands respect and reverence. 
As a mother with grown children she has often more 
influence than her husband. Hence maternity is the 
supreme good of the woman of Siam ; to be childless, the 
greatest of all misfortunes. 

As was ancient Ayudia, so is Bangkok, the present 
capital of Siam, the Venice of the East Imagine a city 
with a large network of water-roads in the place of 
streets, and intersected with bridges so light and fanciful 
that one might almost fancy them to have been blown 
together by the breatli of fairies. A large proportion of 
its inhabitants live in floating houses, which line both 
banks of the M6inam, and, tier upon tier, extend for miles 
above and below the walls. The city itself is surrounded 
by a battlemented and turreted wall, fifteen feet high and 
twelve feet broad, which was erected in the early part of 
the reign of Phaya Tak, about 1670. The grand palaces 



12 ROMANCE OF THE HAIIEM. 

and royal harem are situated on the right hand as you 
ascend the river, on a circular plot of ground formed by 
a sudden bend of the river, enclosing it on the west; 
while the eastern side is bounded by a large, deep canal 
This plot of ground is encompassed by two walls running 
parallel to each other. Within the outer of these walls 
are the magazines, the royal exchange, the mint, the su- 
preme courts of justice, the prisons, temples, and fantastic 
pleasure-grounds, dotted with a multitude of elegant 
edifices, theatres, and aviaries, some of which are richly 
gilt and ornamented. In the centre of a very handsome 
square rise the majestic buildings of the Maha Phra Saat, 
the roof of which is covered with tiles, beautifully var- 
nished, and surmounted by gilded spires, while the walls 
are studded with sculptures, and the terraces decorated 
with large incense vases of bronze, the dark color and 
graceful forms of which stand in beautiful relief against 
the white marble background of the palace. 

Not far from this is another semicircular space sur- 
rounded by a high wall, which defends all entrance to the 
part enclosed by the inner of the two parallel walls before 
mentioned ; and here stands the city of the Nang Harm, 
or Veiled Women. In this city live none but women and 
children. Here the houses of the royal princesses, the 
wives, concubines, and relatives of the Icing, with their 
numerous slaves and personal attendants, form regular 
streets and avenues, with small parks, artificial lakes, and 
groups of fine trees scattered over miniature lawns and 
beautiful flower-gardens. These are the residences of the 
princesses of Siam. On the east, high above the trees, 
may be seen the many-towered and gilded roofs of the 
grand royal palace, brilliant as sapphire in the sunlight, 
and next to this is the old palace, to both of which is a 
private covered entrance for the women ; at the end of 
each of these passages is a bas-relief representing the head 



"MUANO THAI," OR THE KINGDOM OF THE FREE. 13 

of an enormous sphinx, with a sword through the mouth, 
and this inscription: "Better that a sword be thrust 
through thy mouth than that thou utter a word against 
him who ruleth on high." Not far from this are the 
barracks of the Amazons, the women's hall of justice, and 
the dungeons (where, as in the days of old, female judges 
daily administer justice to the inhabitants of this woman's 
city), the beautifid temple, with its long, dim gallery and 
antique style of architecture, in which I taught the royal 
children, the gymnasium, and the theatre, where the prin- 
cesses and great ladies assemble every afternoon to gossip, 
play games, or watch the exercises of the dancing-girls. 

In the southern part of this strange city, which is the 
most populous, the mechanical slaves of the wives, con- 
cubines, and princesses live, and ply their trades for the 
profit of their mistresses. This woman's city is as self- 
supporting as any other in the world : it has its own laws, 
its judges, police, guards, prisons, and executioners, its 
markets, merchants, brokers, teachers, and mechanics of 
every kind and degree ; and every function of every na- 
ture is exercised by women, and by them only. Into this 
inmost city no man is permitted to enter, except only tha 
king, and the priests, who are admitted every morning 
under guard, in order that the inmates may perform tha 
sacred duty of giving alms. The slave women aro 
allowed to go out to visit their husbands, or on business 
of their mistresses ; but the mistresses themselves never 
leave it except by the covered passages to the palaces, 
temples, and gardens, until they have by age and position 
attained to a certain degree of freedom. The permanent 
population of this city is estimated at nine thousand. Of 
the life passed therein, volumes would not give an exact 
description ; but what I am about to relate in the pages 
that follow will give the general reader, perhaps, some idea 
of many of the stirring incidents of that life. 



14 EOMAXCE OF THE IIARE1L 



CHAPTER II. 

TUF7IM: A TRAGEDY OF THE HAREM. 

THOSE of my readers who may recur to my late work, 
" The English Governess at the Siamese 001111," will 
find on the 265th page mention of "a young girl of fre3h 
and striking beauty, and delightful piquancy of ways and 
expression, who, with a clumsy club, was pounding frag- 
ments of jittery — urns, vases, and goblets — for the 
foundation of the Watt (or Temple) Rajah IJah ditt Sang. 
Very artless and happy she seemed, and as free as she 
was lovely ; but the instant she perceived that she had 
attracted the notice of the king, — who presided at the 
laying of the foundation of the temple, and flung gold 
and silver coins among the workwomen, — she sank down 
and hid her face in the earth, forgetting or disregarding 
the falling vessels that threatened to crush her ; but the 
king merely diverted himself with inquiring her name 
and parentage, and some one answering for her, he turned 
away." This is all that is there said of her. 

A week later I saw the girl again, as I was passing 
tlirough the long enclosed corridor within the palace on 
my way to my school-room in the temple. She was lying 
prostrate on the marble pavement among the offerings 
which were placed there for the king's acceptance, and 
which he would inspect in his leisurely progress towards 
his breakfast-hall. 

I never went that way without seeing something lying 
there, — bales of silk ou silver trays, boxes of tea, calicoes, 
velvets, fans, priests' robes, precious spices, silver, gold, 
and curiosities of all kinds, in fact, almost anything 




TLTTIM: A TRAGEDY OF THE IIAUEM. 15 

and everything that money could purchase, or the most 
abject sycophancy could imagine as likely to gratify the 
despot Every noble, prince, and merchant sought to ob- 
tain the royal favor by gifts thus presented, it being fully 
understood between the giver and receiver that whoever 
gave the most costly presents should receive the largest 
share of royal patronage and support But the most pre- 
cious things ever laid upon that pavement were the young 
hearts of women and children. 

Two women were crouching on either side of the young 
girl, waiting for the entrance of the king, in order to pre- 
sent her to liim. I was hardly surprised to see her there. 
I had grown accustomed to such sights. But 1 was sur- 
prised at the unusual interest 9he appeared to excite in 
the other women present, who were all whispering and 
talking together about her, and expressing their admira- 
tion of her beauty in the most extravagant language. 

She was certainly very beautiful by nature, and those 
who sent her there had exhausted all the resources of art 
to complete, according to their notions, what nature had 
begun, and to render her a fitter offering for the king. 
Her lips were dyed a deep crimson by the use of betel; 
her dark eyebrows were continued in indigo until they 
met on her brow ; her eyelashes were stained with kohl ; 
the tips of her fingers and her nails were made pink with 
henna ; while enormous gold chains and rings bedizened 
her person. Already too much saddened by the frequency 
of such sights, I merely cast a passing glance upon her 
and went my way ; but now, as I see in memory that tiny 
figure lying there, and the almost glorified form in which I 
beheld it for the last time, I cannot keep the tears from 
my eyes, nor still the aching of my heart 

About three months or so later we met again in the 
Bame place. I was passing through to the school-room, 
when I saw her joyously exhibiting to her companions a 



1G ROMANCE OF T1IK HAREM. 

pomegranate which she held in her hand It seemed to 
be the largest anil finest fruit of the kind I had ever seen, 
and I stopped to get a closer view both of the girl and of the 
fruit, each perfect in its kind I found, however, that the 
fruit was not real, only an imitation. It was a casket of 
pure gold, the lids of which were inlaid with rubies, which 
looked exactly like jthe seeds of the pomegranate when 
ripe. It was made to open and shut at the touch of a 
small spring, and was most exquisitely moulded into the 
shape and enamelled with the tints of the pomegranate. 
It was her betel-box. 

" Where did you get this box ?" I inquired 

She turned to me with a child's smile upon her face, 
pointed to the lofty chamber of the king, and said, " My 
name, you know, is Tuptim" (Pomegranate). I under- 
stood the gift 

Afterwards I saw her frequently. On one occasion 
she was ciying bitterly, while the head wife, Thieng, was 
reproving her with unusual warmth for some fault I 
interrupted Thieng to ask for some paper and ink for the 
school-room, but she paid no attention to my demands. 
Instead of complying with them at once, as usual, she 
inquired of me, " What shall I do with this Tuptim ? 
She is very disobedient Shall I whip her, or starve hex 
till she minds ? " 

"Foigive her, and be good to her," I whispered in 
Thieug's ear. 

" What ! " said the offended lady in an angry tone, 
° when she does wrong all the time, and is so naughty 
and wilful ? Why, when she is ordered to remain up 
stairs, she runs away, and hides herself in Maprang's or 
Simlah's rooms, and we are taken to task by his Majesty, 
who accuses us of jealousy and unkind treatment towards 
her. Then we have to search all the houses of the Choms 
(concubines) until we find her, either in hiding or asleep, 




TUrTIM : A TRAGEDY OF THE HAREM. 17 

and bring her to him. The moment she comes into his 
presence she goes down upon her knees, appearing so very 
bashful and innocent that he is enraptured at the sight, 
and declares that she is the most perfect, the most fasci- 
nating of women. But as soon as she can get away, she 
docs the same thing again, only finding some new hiding- 
place, and so she makes an infinity of trouble. Now, she 
says she is ill, and cannot wait upon the king, while tho 
physicians declare that there is nothing whatever tho 
matter with her. I really don't know what to do or what 
to say, for I don't dare to tell the truth to the king, and 
I 'm in constant fear that she will come to a bad end, if 
she does n't follow my advice and make up her mind to 
bear her life here more patiently." 

I pitied the poor girl, who really looked either sick or 
unhappy. Child as she was, there was a great deal of 
quiet dignity about her, as, with eyes filled with teal's, sho 
protested that she was utterly sick at heart, and could not go 
up stairs any more. I was sure that Thieng's sweeping 
reproof did not indicate any malice or real anger towards 
the girl, and, putting my arms around the elder lady, I 
succeeded in soothing her indignation, and at length ob- 
tained permission for Tuptim to be absent from duty for 
a few days. A grateful smile lit up the girl's tearful face 
as she crept away. 

" That girl is too artless/* said kind-hearted Thieng to 
me, as soon as the child was out of sight ; " and she will 
not even try to like her life here. I pity her from my 
very heart, mam dear, but it would not do to show it 
She would take advantage of my kindness, and keep away 
from the king altogether, as Marchand does ; and in all 
such cases we head wives have to bear the brunt of tho 
king's displeasure, and are thought to be jealous and in- 
triguing, when the holy Buddh in heaven knows tliafc 
there is only kindness in our hearts." 



18 ROMANCE OP THE HAKEM. 

Not long after the above conversation, Tuptim began to 
come to school. She wanted to learn to write her namo 
in English, she said, and she came to nic once or twice a 
week until she had acquired that accomplishment, which 
seemed to give her immense satisfaction. After she had 
done this, she asked me if 1 would write the name 
"Khoon Fhra llfilat" for her in English. I wrote it for 
her at once, without asking her why she wanted it or 
whose name it was. I did not even know if it was tho 
name of a man or a woman, as the Siamese have no mas- 
culine and feminine terminations to their names and titles. 
She immediately began to trace the letters for herself, and 
I could see a world of tenderness in her large dreamy 
eyes as she copied and recopied the name in its English 
characters. 1 cannot rightly remember how often or 
liow long she came to the school, for she was but one 
among many ; but, whenever she found me engaged with 
the princes and princesses, she would sit for hours on the 
marble floor, and listen to our simple exercises of trans- 
lating English into Siamese or Siamese into English, with 
increasing interest and delight expressed in her pure, 
guileless face. I do remember that she was never alone, 
but always accompanied by two or three young compan- 
ions of al)out her own age, who were as listless and idle 
as she was absorbed and interested 

Perhaps this was the reason — with her extreme youth, 
for she was still but a child, and seemed even younger 
than she really was — why I never attempted to enter 
int > conversation with her, or to lcam anything about her 
hist >ry and her feelings. If I had done this, I might have 
succeeded in winning her confidence, and perhaps havo 
been the means of reconciling her to her life in the pal- 
ace. That I did not, will ever be a source of poignant 
regret to me. 

One afternoon, as I was about leaving the palace after 




TOTTIM : A TRAGEDY OF THE HAREM. 19 

school, she came running up to me, took a scrap of 
paper from under her vest, and held it silently before 
my eyes, while I read what was written upon it. It was 
the name " Khoon P'hra Bftlfit," carefully written in Eng- 
lish characters, and she seemed delighted with the praise 
I bestowed on the writing. 

" Whose name is it, Tuptim ? " I asked. 

She cast down her eyes and hesitated for a moment ; 
then, raising them to mine, she replied : " It is the name 
of the favorite disciple of the high-priest, Chow Khoon 
Sah ; he lives at the temple of Rajah Bah ditt Sang, and 
sometimes preaches to us in the palace." 

The expression of deep reverence that animated her 
face as she spoke revealed to me a new phase in her 
character, and I felt strongly attracted towards her. I 
nevertheless left the palace without further conversation, 
but, on my way home, formed a vague resolution that I 
would endeavor to become better acquainted with her, and 
attempt to win her confidence. 

My half-formed resolve was without result, however, 
since, for some reason unknown to me, she never came to 
the school-room again ; and, as I did not chance to meet 
her on my visits to the palace, she soon passed from my 
thoughts, and I forgot all about her. 

Some nine months, or perhaps a year, after my list en- 
counter with Tuptim, I became conscious of a change in 
the demeanor of my elder pupils ; they were abstracted, 
and a 4 peared desirous to get away from their studies as 
soon as possible. It seemed as if there were some secret 
they had been ordered to conceal from my boy and me. My 
imagination immediately took the alarm, and I became 
possessed with the idea that some grave calamity was 
impending. 

One day, when breaking up school for the afternoon, I 
heard one of the princes say to the others in Siamese: 
"Come, let's go and hunt for Tuptim." 



20 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

" Why ! where has she gone ? " 

As soon as I askeel the question, Princess Ying Yonwa- 
lacks angrily seized him by the arm and hurried hiui 
away. I had no wish to inquire further. What I had 
heard was enough to excite my imagination afresh, and I 
hurried home full of anxiety about poor little Tuptim, thus 
suddenly brought back to my remembrance. 

On the following evening, it l>eiug Sunday, one of my 
servants informed me that a slave-girl from the palace 
wished to speak with me in private. When she came in, 
her face seemed familiar, but I could not remember where 
I had seen her or whose slave she was. She crawled 
up close to my chair, and told mc in a low voice that 
her mistress, Khoon Chow Tuptim, had sent her to ma 
•' You know," she added, " that my mistress has been 
found." 

" Found ! " I exclaimed ; " what do you mean ? " 

She repeated my question, and in great astonishment 
asked : " Why ! did you not know that my mistress had 
disappeared from the palace ; that his Majesty had offered 
a reward of twenty caties (about fifteen hundred dollars) 
to any one who would bring any information about her; . 
and that no trace of her could be discovered, though every- 
body had been searching for her far and near ? " 

" No, I have never heard a word about it. But how 
could she have got out of the palace, through the three 
rows of gates that are always bolted, and not be seen by 
the Amazons on guard ? " 

" Alas ! my lady, she did get out," replied the girl, who 
looked very wan and weary, whose eyes seemed to have 
been shedding tears for a long time, and who was on the 
point of breaking down again. She then went on to tell me 
that two priests had that morning discovered her mistress 
in the monastery attached to the temple of llajah Bah 
ditt Sang, and had brought the information to the king, by 




TUPTIM: A TRAGEDY OF THE nAREM. 21 

whose order she had been arrested and imprisoned in one 
of the palace dungeons. 

" But what good can I do, Phim ? " I asked, sorrow- 
fully. 

" O mam dear, if you don't help her, she 's lost, 
she 11 be killed ! " cried the girl, bursting into a passion of 
tears. " Oh ! do, do go to the king, and ask him to for- 
give her. He '11 grant her life to you. I 'm sure he will. 
Oh ! oh ! what shall I do ! I 've nobody to go to but 
you, and there 's nobody but you can help her ! " And 
her tears and sobs were truly heart-rending. 

I tried to soothe her. " Tell me, Phim," I said, " why 
did your mistress leave the palace, and who ]0tyed her to 
get away ? " 

The girl would not answer my question, but kept re- 
peating, " Oh ! do come and see her yourself ! Do come 
and see her yourself! You can go to the palace after 
dark, and the gate-keepers will let you in. Nobody lieed 
know that you are going fctfiee my dear mistress." 

As there was np^Cner method of quieting the poor girl, 
I finally made the promise, though I did not see what 
good m^going could do, and was fully convinced that 
Phin^ad abetted Tuptim in her wrong-doing, whatever 
th^Pnight have been. 

iter the slave-girl had left me, I sat by my window 
and watched the stars as they came out, one by one, and 
shone with unusual splendor in the cloudless sky. It was 
a lovely night, and I felt the soothing influence of the 
Christian Sabbath even in that pagan land ; but the one 
idea that took possession of my mind was : " Poor little 
Tuptim, in that dreadful dungeon underground." Still, 
and notwitlistanding my promise, I felt a strong reluctance 
to respond to the cry which had reached me from her, and 
wished that I had never heard it I was tired of the pal- 
ace, tired of witnessing wrongs I could not remedy, and 



22 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

half afraid, too, to enter that weird, mysterious prison- 
world after nightfall So I sat still in dreamy uncertainty, 
till a warm hand was laid upon mine, and I turned my 
eyes from the stars above to the poor slave-girl's sad, tear- 
stained face at my feet 

" The gates are open for the prime-minister, mam dear," 
said she, in a low, pleading voice, " and you can get in now 
without any difficulty." 

I rose at once, resolutely cast my cowardly fears be- 
hind me, told my boy where and why I was going, put 
twenty ticals in my purse, wrapped my black cloak about 
me, and hurried towards the palace gate. Pliim had run 
back at once, for fear of being shut out for the night The 
women at the gates, who were all friendly to me, admitted 
me without question, and, as I passed, I dropped two 
ticals into the hand of the chief of the Amazons on 
guard, saying that I had been called into the palace on 
important business, and begging her to keep the inner 
gates open for my return. « 

"You must be sure and come back before it strikes 
eleven," said she, and I passed on. As soon as I entered 
the main street witliin the walls, the slave-girl joined me, 
and led the way, crouching and running along in the deep 
shadow of the houses, until we reached the gate of the 
prison in which Tuptim was immured, when she immedi- 
ately disappeared. 

The hall I eutered was immense, with innumerable 
pillars, and a floor which seemed to be entirely made up 
of huge trap-doors, double barred and locked, w]ufo'the 
lanterns by which it was dimly lighted were hung>o high 
that they looked like distant stars. There were about a 
dozen Amazons on guard, some of whom were already 
stretched in sleep on their mats and leather pillows, their 
weapons lying within reack The eyes of all the wakeful 
custodians of the prison were fixed upon me as I entered. 



TUPTIM : A TRAGEDY OF THE IIAREM. 23 

A courteous return was made to my polite salutation, and 
Ma Ying Taplian — Great Mother of War — addressed me 
kindly, inquiring what was my object in coming there at 
that time of night I told her that I had just heard of 
Tuptim's having got into trouble and being imprisoned, 
and had come to ascertain if I could be of any assistance 
to her. 

" The child is in trouble, indeed," replied Ma Ying 
Taphan ; " and has not only got herself into prison, but 
her two young friends, Maprang and Simlah, who are con- 
fined with her." 

" Can I not help them in any way ? " I asked. 

" No," said the Amazon, gently, " I fear you cannot 
Her guilt is too great, and she must take the conse- 
* quences." 

" What has she been doing ? " 

To this question I could get no answer ; and after vainly 
attempting to persuade Ma Ying Taphan to tell me, I 
tried to indflce her to let me go down and visit poor Tup- 
tim. " Myde " (impossible), was the reply, " without an 
v express order from the king. When you bring as that, we 
will let you in, but without it we <*nnot" And " myde " 
-* was the only answer I could get to my repeated and 
urgent entreaties. I sat there, hopelessly looking at the 
Amazons, who, in the <ttm light of the distant interns 
overhead, seemed to me % be changed from tender-hearted 
women, as they were, into fierce, vindictive executioners, 
and at the huge trap-door at our feet, beneath which the 
three cliildren, as the Amazon had rightly called them, 
were imprisoned, but from which no sound, no cry, no 
indication of life escaped, until, tired and despairing, I 
rose and left the place. 

As soon as I was out of the building I saw Phim, the 
slave-girl, crouching in the shadows on the opposite side 
of the street, and keeping pace with me as I went towards 



24 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

• 

the palace gate. When I turned into another street she 
joined me, and I found that she had been hidden under 
the portico of the prison, and had heard all my conversa- 
tion with the Amazons. Prostrating herself till her fore- 
head touched my feet, she implored me, in the name of 
the Fhra Chow in heaven, not to forsake her dear mis- 
tress. "She is to be brought before the court in the 
outside hall of justice to-morrow," she said. " Oh ! do 
come early. Perhaps you can persuade Koon Thow App 
to be merciful to her." And, with a sickening sense of 
my utter powerlessness, I promised to be present at the 
triaL 



\ 




TUPTIM'S T1UAL. 25 



A 



CHAPTER III. 

tupttm's trial. 

BOUT seven o'clock on the following morning I was 
in the Sala or San Shuang, which is within the 
second enclosure of the palace, but outside of the third 
or inner wall, which is that of the harem. This building 
is of one story only, and totally unlike that occupied for 
similar purposes in the interior of the grand palace. The 
main entrance was through a long, low corqcUtoftm both 
sides of which opened apartments of different? dimensions, 
so dilapidated as to be scarcely habitable, looking out 
upon the barracks, the magazine, and the fantastic grounds 
of the palace gardens. On entering the hall one was at 
once struck by the incongruities that met the eye ; the 
windows were large and lofty, aud might have served for 
the casements of a royal residence, while the doors were 
very narrow and mean, and the floor merely a collection 
of worm-eaten boards roughly nailed down. One inter- 
esting and picturesque peculiarity was the monstrous size 
of the spiders, who must have had undisturbed possession 
of the walls and ceiling for at least a century. Altogether, 
it was very dark, dull, and dreary, even depressing and se- 
pulchral, when not illumined by the direct rays of the sun. 
Several of the men and women judges were already 
there, interchanging greetings and offerings of the con- 
tents of their betel-boxes. Phayaprome Baree Itak, the 
chief of the men, and Khoon Thow App, chief of the 
women judges, sat apart, the latter with her head bowed 
in an attitude of reflection and sadness. Before them 
were low tables, on which lay dark rolls of laws, Siamese 

2 



26 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

paper, pens, and ink. Some lower officials and clerks 
crouched around. They all eyed me with curiosity as I 
entered and took a seat at the end of the hall, near the 
two priests who were present as witnesses ; but no one 
made any objection to my stay. 

I had not been there long when a file of Amazons ap- 
peared, bringing in Tuptim and the two other girls under 
guard. These were Maprang and Simlah, Tuptiin's most 
intimate friends, whom I had always seen with her when 
she came to the school-room. 

But was that Tuptim ? I sat stupefied at the trans- 
formation that had been wrought in the Tuptim I had 
known. Her hair was cut close to her head, and her 
eyebrows had been shaved off. Her cheeks were hollow 
and sunken. Her eyes were cast down. Her hands were 
manacled, and her bare little feet could hardly drag along 
the heavy chains that were fastened to her ankles. Her 
scarf was tied tightly over her bosom, and under it her 
close-fitting vest was buttoned up to the throat Her 
whole form was still childlike, but she held herself erect, 
and her manner was self-possessed. When she spoke, her 
voice was clear and vibrating, her accent firm and un- 
flinching. 

The Amazons laid before the judges some priests' gar- 
ments and a small amulet attached to a piece of yellow 
cord. The vestments, such as are worn by a nain (young 
priest), were those in which Tuptim had been arrested, 
and in which she had probably escaped from the palace ; 
the amulet, in appearance like those worn by all the 
natives of the country, had been token from her neck. 
On opening the yellow silk which formed the envelope of 
the latter, a piece of paper was found stitched insidq^with 
English letters written thereon. Khoon Thow App was 
sufficiently versed in English to spell out and read aloud 
the name of " Khoon Fhra Balat" 




tuptim's trial. 27 

Tuptim was then ordered to como forward. She 
dragged herself along as well as she could, and took her 
place in the centre of the hall. She made no obeisance, 
no humble, appealing prostration, but neither was there 
any want of modesty in her demeanor. She sat down 
with the air of one who su fibred, but who was too proud 
to complain. I caught a glance of her eyes ; they were 
clear and bright, and an almost imperceptible melancholy 
smile flitted across her face as she returned my greeting. 
I was more astonished than before ; the simple child was 
transfigured into a proud, heroic woman, and, as she sat 
there, she seemed so calm and pure, that one might think 
she had already crystallized into a lovely statue. 

Simlah and Maprang were examined first, and, without 
apparent reluctance, confessed all that poor Tuptim had 
ever confided to them; and a great many other irrelevant 
matters. But when Simlah spoke of her friend's escape 
from the palace as connected with Khoon Fhra Balat's 
coming in for alms,* Tuptim interrupted her, telling her 
to stop, and saying : " That \s not true. You are wrong, 
Simlah, you know nothing about it. You know you don't 
And it was not at that time." Then, as if recollecting 
herself, she added, proudly : " No matter. Go on. Never 
mind me. Say all that you want to say n ; and resumed 
her former position. 

" Well S " said Fhayaprome Baree Eak, the chief man 
judge; "if your companions know nothing about it, 
perhaps you will tell us exactly how it was." 

" If I tell you the whole truth, will you believe me and 
judge me righteously ?" asked the girl-^% 

"You shall have the bastinado apJfe&to your bare 
back if you do not confess all your «P&I|> 4$pce,'' replied 
the judge. ^y 

Tuptim did not speak immediately ; bufrDy the expres- 



« <« 



The English Governess at the Siamese Court," p. 05. 



28 ROMANCE OF THE HAHEM. 

8ion of her eyes aiul the alternate flushing and paling of 
her face it was evident that she was debating in her own 
mind whether she should make a full confession or not 
Finally, with an air of fixed determination she turned 
towards Khoon Thow App, and, addressing her exclusively, 
said : " Khoon Fhra Bfilfit has not sinned, my lady, nor is 
he in any way guilty. All the guilt is mine. In the 
stillness of the nights, when I prostrated myself in prayer 
before Somdetch Fhra Buddh, the Chow, thoughts of es- 
caping from the palace often and often would distract me 
from my devotions and take possession of my thoughts. 
It seemed to me as if it were the voice of the Lord, and 
that there was notliing for me to do but to obey. So I 
dressed myself as a priest, shaved off my hair and my 
eyebrows — " 

" Now," interrupted P'hayaprorae Baree Itak, " that 's 
just what we want to hear. Tell us who it was got the 
priest's dress for you, and shaved off your hair and your 
eyebrows. Speak up louder." 

" My lord, I am telling what I did myself, and not what 
any one else did. Hear me, and I will speak the truth, so 
far as it relates to myself; beyond that I cannot go," re- 
plied Tuptim, a sudden flush covering her face, and mak- 
ing her look lovelier than ever. 

" Go on," said the dreadful man, with a scornful smile 
at the childish form before him ; " we shall find a way to 
make you speak" 

" Dick nak " (she is very young), said Khoon Thow App, 
gently. 

Tuptim was silent for some moments. The sunlight, 
streaming across the hall, fell just beliind her, revealing 
the exquisite transparency of her olive-colored skin, as, 
with a look more thoughtful and an expression more 
serenely simple still, she continued : — 

" At five o'clock in the morning, when the priests were 




tltttm's trial. 29 

admitted into the palace, I crawled out of my room and 
joined the procession as it passed on to receive the royal 
alms. No one saw me but Simlah, and even she, as she 
has told me herself, did not recognize me, but wondered 
why a priest came so near to my door." 

" That is true !" broke in Simlah ; " I never even knew 
that Tuptim had run away until Khoon Yai (one of the 
chief ladies of the harem) sent to inquire why she was 
absent froui duty so long, and then I began to think that 
the young priest I had seen had something to do with it 
But I was afraid to say anything of this to the women 
who searched the houses, lest we should be accused of 
having helped her to escape." 

When Simlah had done speaking, Tuptim contin- 
ued: — 

" I know not why, but, when I found myself outside of 
the palace walls, I went straight to the temple of Rajah 
Bah ditt Sang, and sat down at the gate. Towards evening 
the good priest, Chow Khoon Sah, came out, and, on see- 
ing me, asked me why I sat there. I did not know what 
else to say, and so I begged him to let me be his disciple 
and live in his monastery. ' Whose disciple art thou, my 
child ? ' he asked. At which I began to cry, for I did not 
wish to deceive the holy man. Seeing my distress, he 
turned to Fhra Balfit, who was following him with other 
* priests, and bade him take me under his charge and in- 
struct me faithfully in all the doctrines of Buddha. Then ' 
P'hra Balat took me to his cell ; but he did not recognize 
in the young priest I seemed to be the Tuptim he had 
known in his boyhood, and who had once been his be- 
trothed wife." 

At this part of Tuptim's recital, the women held up 
their hands in profound astonishment, and the men judges 
grinned maliciously, displaying their hateful gums, red 
with the juice of the betel-nut 



30 ROMANCE OF THE HAKEM. 

The poor giiTs pale lips quivered, and her whole faoo 
testified to the immensity of her woe, as with simple, 
truthful earnestness she asseverated : " Fhra Balat, whom 
you have condemned to torture and to death, has not 
sinned. He is innocent The sin is mine, and mine only. 
I knew that I was a woman, but he did not If I had 
known all that he lias taught me since I became his dis- 
ciple, 1 could not have committed the great sin of which 
I am accused. I would have tried, indeed and truly, I 
would have tried to endure my life in the palace, and 
would n #t have run away. O lady dear! lndieve that I 
am speaking |thc truth. I grew quiet and happy J>eeause 
1 wa* near him, and he taught me every day, and I tan 
say the whole of the Nava d'harma (Divine Ijiw) by 
heart. You can ask his other disciples who were with 
me, and they will tell you that I was always modest and 
humble, and we all lay at his feet by night Indeed, dear 
lady, I did not so much want to be his wife after he be- 
came a p'hra (priest), but only to be near him. On Sun- 
day morning, those men," pointing to the two priests who 
sat apart, " tame to the cell to see P'hra Bfdat, and it so 
happened that I had overslept myself. I had just got up 
and wa; arranging my dress, thinking that I was alone in 
the tell, when I heard a low chuckling lauglt In an in- 
stant I turned and faced them, and felt that I was de- 
graded forever. ' 

" Believe me, dear lady," continued Tuptim, growing 
more and nr>re eloquent as she tiecame still more earnest 
in her recital " I was guilty, it is true, when I lied from 
my gracnus master, the king, but I never even contem- 
plated the sin of which I am accused by those men. I 
knew t ? at I was innocent, and I begged them to let me 
leave the temple, and hido myself anywhere, telling them 
that P'hra Balat did not know who I was, or that I was a 
woman ; but they only laughed and jeered at me. I fell 




tuptim's trial. 31 

on my knees at their feet, and implored them, entreated 
them in the name of all that is holy and sacred, to keep 
my secret and let me go; but they only laughed and 
jeered at me the more; they would not be merciful," — 
here the poor girl gasped as if for breath, while two large 
tears coursed down her cheeks, — 4< and then I defied them, 
and I still defy them," she added, shaking her manacled 
hands a' them. 

The two priests looked at the girl unmoved, chewing their 
betel all the while ; the judges listened in silence, with an air 
of amused incredulity, as to a fairy-tale. She continued : — 

"Just then P'hra Mliit and his other disciples returned 
from their morning ablutions. I crawled to his feet, and 
told him that I was Tuptim. He started back and re- 
ceiled to the end of the cell, as if the very earth had 
quaked beneath him, leaving me prostrate and over- 
whelmed with horror at what 1 had done. In a moment 
afterwards he came back to me, and, while weeping bit- 
terly himself, lagged me that I would cry no more. But 
the sight of his tears, and the grief in my heart, made me 
feel a s if I were being swallowed up in a great black 
abyss, and I could not help crying more and more. Then 
he tried to soothe me, and said, ' Alas ! Tuptim, thou hast 
committed a great sin. But fear not. We are innocent; 
and for the sake of the great love thou hast shown to me, 
I am ready to suffer even unto death for thee.' This is 
the whole truth. Indeed, indeed, it is !" 

" Well, well ! " said P'hayaprome Baree Iiak, " you have 
told your story beautifully, but nobody believes you. Now 
will you tell us who shaved off your hair and your eyebrows, 
and brought you that priest's dress you had on yesterday ? " 

The simple grandeur of that fragile child, as she folded 
her chained hands across her bosom, as if to still its tu- 
luultu -us heaving, and replied, "I will not!" delies all 
description. 



32 ROMANCE OF THE 1IAKEM. 

I liad drawn quite near to Tuptim when she began her 
6imple narrative, and was so much absort>ed in attention 
to what she said, and in admiration of the fearlessness as 
well as of the beauty and majesty of tliat little figure, 
that I had remained rooted to the spot, standing there 
mechanically, and hardly noting what was going on 
around me. I>ut the effect of that reply was startling; 
it brought me suddenly to my senses and to a full appre- 
ciation of the scone lie fore me. 

There was a child of barely sixteen years hurling defi- 
ance, at her own risk and peril, at the judges who appeared 
as giants beside her. To make such a reply to those ex- 
ecutors of Siain s cruel laws was not only to accept death, 
but all the agonies of merciless torture. As her refusal 
fell like a thunderbolt upon my startled cars, she seemed 
a very Titan among the giants. 

" Strip her, and give her thirty blows," shouted the in- 
furiated Fhayaprome ttarec Ilak, in a voice hoarse with 
passion ; and Khoon Thow App looked calmly on. 

Presently the crowd opened, and a litter borne by two 
men was brought into the halL On it lay the mutilated 
form of the priest Pialat, who had just undergone the tor- 
ture, in oi-der to make him confess his guilt and that of 
his accomplice, Tuptim ; but as the minutes of the eccle- 
siastical court stated, " it had not been possible to elicit 
from him even an indication that he had anything to con- 
fess." His priestly robes had been taken from him, and 
he was dressed like any ordinary layman, except that his 
hair and eyebrows were closely shaven. They laid him 
down beside Tuptim, hoping that the sight of her under 
torture would induce him to confess. 

The next moment Tuptim was stripped of her vest and 
bound to a stake, and the executioners proceeded to obey 
the orders of the judge. When the first blow descended 
on the girl's bare and delicate shoulders, I felt as if bound 




tuptim's trial. 33 

and lacerated myself, and losing all control over my ac- 
tions, forgetting that I was a stranger and a foreigner 
there, and as powerless as the weakest of the oppressed 
around me, I sprang forward, and heard my voice com- 
manding the executioners \o desist, as they valued their 
lives. 

The Amazons at once dropped their uplifted bamboos, 
and " Why so ? " asked the judge. " At least till I can 
plead for Tuptim before his Majesty," I replied. " So be 
it," said the wretch ; " go your way ; we will wait your 
return." * Tuptim was unbound, and the moment she 
was released she crouched down and concealed herself 
under the folds of the canvas litter in which the priest 
lay motionless and silent 

I forced my way through the curious crowd, who stood 
on tiptoe and with necks outstretched, trying to get a 
sight of the guilty pair. On leaving the hall, I met the 
slave-girl Phim, who followed me into the palace, wring- 
ing her hands and sobbing bitterly. The king was in his 
breakfast-hall, and the smell of food made me feel sick 
and dizzy as I climbed the lofty staircase, for I had eaten 
nothing that day. Nevertheless, I walked as rapidly as 
possible up to the chair in which the king was seated, 
fearing that I might lose my courage if I deliberated a 
moment. "Your Majesty," J began to say, in a voice 
that seemed quite strange to me, " I beg, I entreat your 
pity on poor Tuptim. I assure you that she is innocent 
If you had known from the beginning that she was be- 
trothed to another man, you would never have taken her 
to be your wife. She is not guilty ; and the priest, too, 
is innocent Oh! do be gracious to them and forgive 

# I cannot account for the regard paid to my words on this and other 
occasions by the officers of the court, except from the fact of the general 
belief that I had great influence with the king, and the supposition en- 
tertained by many that I was a member of the Secret Council, which is, 
in reality, the supreme power in Siam. 

2* « 



34 B0MAXC3E .OF TQE flABEM.. 

them both ! I pray your Majesty to give me a scrap of 
writing to say that she is forgiven, and that the priest, 
too, is pardoned, through your goodness ; only let me — ? 
My voice failed me, and I sank upon the floor by the king's 
chair. "I beg your Majesty's pardon— -" "You are 
mad," said the monarch ; and, fixing a cold stare upon me, 
he burst out laughing in my face. I started to my feet 
as if I had received a blow. Staggering to a pillar, and 
leaning against it, I stood looking at him. I saw that 
there was something indescribably revolting about him, 
something fiendish in his character which had never struck 
me before, and I was seized with an inexpressible horror 
of the man. Stupefied and amazed quite as much at 
finding myself there as at the new development 1 wit- 
nessed, thought and speech alike failed me, and I turned 
to go away. 

" Madam," said that man to me, " come back. I have 
granted your petition, and the woman will be condemned 
to work in the rice-milL You need not return to the 
court-house. You had better go to the school now." 

I could not thank him ; the revulsion of feeling was 
too great I understood him perfectly, but I had. no 
power to speak. I went away without a word, and at the 
head of the stairs met one of the women judges bringing 
some papers in her hand to the king, Instead of goipg 
to the school I went home, utterly sick and prostrated. 




THE KING CHANGES HIS MIND. 35 



CHAPTER IV. 

> • * 

THE KING CHANGES HIS MIND. 

ABOUT two o'clock that very afternoon I was startled 
to see two scaffolds set up on the great common in 
front of my windows, opposite the palace. A vast crowd 
of men, women, and children had already collected from 
$yeiy quarter, in order to see the spectacle, whatever it 
might happen to be. A number of workmen were driv- 
ing stakes and bringing up strange machines, under the 
hurried instructions of several high Siamese officials. 
There was an appearance of great and general excitement 
among the crowd on the green, and I became sufficiently 
aroused to inquire of my maid what was the reason of 
all this preparation and commotion. She informed me 
that a B&dachit (guilty priest) and a Nangharm (royal 
concubine) were to be exposed and tortured for the im- 
provement of the public morals that afternoon. It was 
afternoon already. 

As I afterwards learned, I had no sooner left the king 
than the woman judge I had met at the head of the 
staircase laid before him the proceedings of both the 
trials, of Bfll&t and Tuptim. On reading them he repented 
of his promised mercy, flew into a violent rage against 
Tuptim and me, and, not knowing how to punish me 
except by showing me his absolute power of life and 
death over his subjects, ordered the scaffolds to be set up 
before my windows, and swore vengeance against any 
person who should again dare to oppose his royal will and 
pleasure. To do justice to the king, I must here add that; 
having been educated a priest, he had been taught to re- 



36 EOMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

gard the crime of which Tuptim and B&l&t were accused 
as the most deadly sin that could be committed by man. 

The scaffolds or pillories on which the priest and 
Tuptim were to be exposed were made of poles, and about 
five feet high ; and to each were attached two long levers, 
which were fastened to the neck of the victim, and pre- 
vented his falling off, while they were so arranged as to 
strangle him in case this was the sentence. 

All the windows of the long antechamber that filled 
the eastern front of the palace were thrown open, and I 
could see the hurried preparations making for the king, 
the princes and princesses, and all the great ladies of the 
court, who from there were to witness the exquisite tor- 
ture that awaited the hapless Tuptim. 

Paralyzed by the knowledge that the only person who 
could have done anything to mitigate the barbarous 
cruelty that was about to be perpetrated — her Britannic 
Majesty's Consul, T. G. Knox, now Consul-General — was 
then absent from Bangkok, I looked in helpless despair 
at what was going on before me. I longed to escape 
into the forest, or to take refuge with the missionaries, 
who lived several miles down the river; but so dense 
was the crowd and so horrible the idea of deserting poor 
Tuptim and leaving her to suffer alone, that I felt obliged 
to stay and sympathize with her and pray for her, at the 
least I thus compelled myself to endure what was one 
of the severest trials of my life. 

A little before three o'clock the instruments of torture 
were brought, and placed beside the scaffolds. Soon a 
long, loud flourish of trumpets announced the arrival of 
the royal party, and the king and all his court were visible 
at the open windows ; the Amazons, dressed in scarlet and 
gold, took their post in the turrets to guard the favored 
fair ones who were doomed to be present and to witness 
the sufferings of their former companion. 




THE KING CHANGES HIS MIND. 37 

Suddenly the throng sent up a thrilling cry, whether of 
joy or sorrow I could not comprehend, and, the moment 
after, the priest was hoisted upon the scaffold to the right, 
while Tuptim tranquilly ascended that to the left, nearest 
my windows. I thought I could see that the poor priest 
turned his eyes, full of love and grief, towards her. 

I need not attempt to depict the feelings with which I 
saw the little lady, with her hands, which were no longer 
chained, folded upon her bosom, look calmly down upon 
the heartless and abandoned rabble who, as usual, 
flocked around the scaffold to gloat upon the spectacle, 
and who usually greet with ferocious howls the agonies 
of the poor tortured victims. But, on this occasion, the 
rabble were awed into silence ; while some simple hearts, 
here and there, firm believers in Tuptim's innocence, were 
so impressed by her calm self-possession, that they even 
prostrated themselves in worship of that childish form 

My windows were closed upon the scene ; but that tiny 
figure, with her scarle't scarf fluttering in the breeze, had 
so strong a fascination for me, that I could not withdraw, 
but leaned against the shutters, an unwilling witness of 
what took place, with feelings of pain, indignation, pity, 
and conscious helplessness which can be imagined. 

Two trumpeters, one on the right and one on the left, 
blared forth the nature of the crime of which the helpless 
pair were accused. Ten thousand eyes were fixed upon 
them, but no sound, no cry, was heard. Every one held 
his breath, and remained mute in fixed attention; in order 
not to lose a single word of the sentence that was to fol- 
low. Again the trumpets sounded, and the conviction of 
the accused, with the judgment that had been passed upon 
them, was announced. Then the spell was broken, and 
some of the throng, as if desirous to propitiate the royal 
spectator at the window, made the air ring with their 
shouts; while others, going still further, showered all 



88 ROMANCE OF THE HABEM. 

manner of abuse upon the poor girl, as she stood calmly 
awaiting her fate upon those shaking wooden posts. 

Nothing could surpass the dignity of demeanor with 
which the little lady sustained the storm of calumny from 
the more mercenary of the rabble around her; but the 
rapidity with which the color came and went in her 
cheeks, which were now of glowing crimson and now 
deadly pale, and the astonishment and indignation which 
flashed from her eyes, showed the agitation within. 

The shrill native trumpets sounded for the third tima 
The multitude was again hushed into a profound silence, 
and the executioners mounted a raised platform to apply 
the torture to Tuptim. For one moment it seemed as if 
the intense agony exceeded her power of endurance. Shfc 
half turned her back upon the royal spectator at the 
window, her form became convulsed, and she tried to hide 
her face in her hands. But she immediately raised her- 
self up as by a supreme effort, and her voice rang out, 
like a clear, deep-toned silver bell: "Chftn my di phit; 
Khoon Fhra B&l&t ko my me phit; Fhra Buddh the 
Chow sap mot" She had hardly done speaking when she 
uttered an agonized cry, wild and piercing. It was pecu- 
liarly touching ; the cry was that of a child, an infant 
falling from its mother's arms, and she fell forward in- 
sensible upon the two poles placed there to support her. 

The attendant physicians soon restored her to con- 
sciousness, and, after a short interval, the torture was 
again applied. Once more her voice rang out more 
musical still, for its quivering vibrations were full of the 
tenderest devotion, the most sublime heroism : " I have 
not sinned, nor has the priest my lord Balat sinned. The 
sacred Buddh * in heaven knows all" Every torture that 

# The Siamese in their prayers and invocations abbreviate the titles 
of the Buddha ; the more educated using the word " Buddh," and the 
common people " Fhnth." 




THE KING CHANGES HIS MIND. 39 

would agonize, but not kill, was employed to wring a con- 
fession of guilt from the suffering Tuptim ; but every tor- 
ture, every pang, every agony, failed, utterly and com- 
pletely failed, to bring forth anything but the childlike 
innocence of that incomparable pagan woman. The honor 
of the priest Balat seemed inexpressibly more precious 
to her than her own life, for the last words I heard from 
her were : u All the guilt was mine. I knew that I was a 
woman, but he did not." 

After this I neither heard nor saw anything mora I was 
completely exhausted and worn out, and had no strength 
left to endure further sig*ht of this monstrous, this inhuman 
tragedy. Kind nature came to my relief, and I fainted. 

When I again looked from my window the scaffolds 
were removed, the crowd had departed, the sun had set. 
I strained my eyes, trying if I could distinguish anything 
on the great common before the house. There was a 
thick mist loaded with sepulchral vapors, a terrifying 
silence, an absolute quiet that made me shudder, as if I 
were entombed alive. At last I saw one solitary person 
coming towards my house through the gathering darkness. 
It was the slave-girl, Phim, whose life had been saved 
by the resolute bravery of her mistress ; for it was she 
who had bought the priest's dress and aided her mistress 
to escape from the palace. She came to me in secret to 
tell me that the most merciful and yet the most dreadful 
doom, death by fire, — which is the punishment assigned 
by the laws of Siam to the crime of which they were 
accused, — had been pronounced upon the priest and Tup- 
tim by that most irresponsible of human beings, the King 
of Siam ; that they had suffered publicly outside of the 
moat and wall which enclose the cemetery Watt Sah 
Kat&; and that some of the common people had been 
terribly affected by the sight of the priest's invincible 
courage and of Tuptim's heroic fortituda With her low, 



40 ROMANCE OF THE HABKlf. 

massive brow, her wild, glistening eyes, and her whole 
soul in her face, she spoke as if she still beheld that fra- 
gile form in its last struggle with the flaming fire that 
wrapped it round about, and still heard her beloved mis- 
tress's voice, as she confronted the populace, holding up 
her mutilated hands, and saying: K I am pure, and the 
priest, my lord Bal&t, is pure also. See, these fingers 
have not made my lips to lie. The sacred Buddh in 
heaven judge between me and my accusers ! " 

The slave-girl's grief was as deep and lasting as her 
gratitude. Every seventh day she offered fresh flowers 
and odoriferous tapers upon the spot where her mistress 
and the priest had suffered, firmly believing that their 
disembodied souls still hovered about the place at twi- 
light, bewailing their cruel fate. She assured me that she 
often heard voices moaning plaintively through the mellow 
evening air, growing deeper and gathering strength as she 
listened, and seeming to draw her very soul away with 
them; now tenderly weeping, now fervently exulting, 
until they became indistinct, and finally died away in the 
regions of the blessed and the pura 

I afterwards learned that the fickle populace, convinced 
of the innocence of B&lat and Tuptim, would have taken 
speedy vengeance on the two priests, their accusers, had 
they not escaped from Bangkok to a monastery at Pak- 
nam ; and that the twenty caties offered for the capture 
of Tuptim had been expended in the purchase of yellow 
robes, earthen pots, pillows, and mats for the use of the 
bonzes at Watt Bajah Bah ditt Sang, no priest being 
allowed to touch silver or gold. 

The name Bfil&t, which signifies "wonderful," had been 
given to the priest by the high-priest, Chow Khoon Sah, 
because of his deep piety and his intuitive perception of 
divine and holy truths. The name which his mother be- 
stowed upon him, and by which Tuptim had known him 




THE KING CHANGES HIS MIND. 41 

in her earlier years, was Dang, because of his complexion, 
which was a golden yellow. On being bereft of Tuptim, 
to whom he was tenderly attached, he entered the monas- 
tery, and became a priest, in order that, by austere devo- 
tion and the study of the Divine Law, he might wean his 
heart from her and distract his mind from the contempla- 
tion of his irreparable loss. 

For more than a month after Tuptim's sad death I did not 
see the king. At last he summoned me to his presence, 
and never did I feel so cold, so hard, and so unforgiving, as 
when I once more entered his breakfast-halL He took 
no notice of my manner, but, as soon as he saw me, be- 
gan with what was uppermost in his mind. "I have 
much sorrow for Tuptim," he said ; " I shall now believe 
she is innocent I have had a dream, and I had clear ob- 
servation in my vision of Tuptim and B£l&t floating to- 
gether in a great wide space, and she has bent down and 
touched me on the shoulder, and said to me, ' We are 
guiltless. We were ever pure and guiltless on earth, and 
look, we are happy now.' After disccursing thus, she has 
mounted on high and vanished from my further observa- 
tion. I have much sorrow, mam, much sorrow, and re- 
spect for your judgment ; but our laws are severe for such 
the crime. But how I shall cause monument to be erected 
to the memory of B&l&t and Tuptim." 

Any one who may now pass by Watt Sah Kat& will 
see two tall and slender Fhra Chadees, or obelisks, 
erected by order of the king on the spot where those 
lovely Buddhists suffered, each bearing this inscription : 
' Suns may set and rise again, but the pure and brave 
B&l&t and Tuptim will never more return to this earth." 



42 BOMANCB OF TH1 HABEM. 



CHAPTER V. 

8LAVEBY IN THE GRAND BOTAL PALACE OF THE "INVIN- 
CIBLE AND BEAUTIFUL ABCHANGEL." * 

ONE morning in the early part of May, 1863, 1 went 
at the usual hour to my temple school-room, and 
found that all my pupils had gone to the Maha Fhra 
Saat to attend a religious ceremony, at which I also was 
requested to be present 

Following the directions of one of the flower-girls, I 
turned into a long, dark alley, through which I hurried, 
passing into another, and keeping, as I thought, in the 
right direction. These alleys brought me at last into one 
of those gloomy walled streets, into which no sunlight 
ever penetrated, and which are to be found only in Bang* 
kok, the farther end of which seemed lost in mist and 
darkness. 

Stone benches, black with moss and fungi, lined it at 
intervals, and a sort of pale night-grass covered the path- 
way. There was not a soul to be seen throughout its 
whole length, which appeared very natural, for it did not 
seem as if the street were made for any one to walk in, 
but as if it were intended to be kept secluded from pub- 
lic use. I walked on, however, looking for some opening 
out of it, and hoping every moment to find an exit But 
I suddenly came to the end It was a cul-de-sac, and a 
high brick wall barred my further progress. 

In the middle of this wall was set a door of polished 
brass. The shadow of a tall and grotesque fagade rested 
upon the wall and on the narrow deserted street, like an 

* This is the official title of the royal palace at Bangkok. 




SLAVERY IN THE GRAND ROYAL PALACE. 43 

immense black pall The solitude of the place wag 
strangely calm. With that frightful din and roar of the 
palace life so near, the silence seemed almost supernatu- 
ral It cast a shadow of distrust over ma I almost felt 
as if that wall, that roof with its towering front, were 
built of the deaf stones spoken of in Scripture. All at 
once the wind rattled the dry grass on the top of the 
wall, making a low, soft, mournful noisa I started from 
my revery, hardly able to account for the feeling of dread 
that crept over ma , Half ashamed of my idle fears, I 
pushed at the door with all my might Slowly, noise- 
lessly, the huge door swung back, and I stepped into a 
paved court-yard, with a garden on one side and a building 
suggestive of nocturnal mystery and gloom on the other. 

The facade of this building was still more gloomy than 
that on the outside of the walL All the windows were 
closed. On the upper story the shutters were like those 
used in prisons. No other house could be seen. The 
high Wall ran all round and enclosed the garden. The 
walks were bordered with diminutive Chinese trees, plant- 
ed in straight rows; grass covered half of them, and 
moss the rest 

Nothing could be imagined more wild and more de- 
serted than this house and this garden. But the object 
that attracted my immediate attention was a woman, 
the only animate being then visible to me in the apparent 
solitude. She was seated beside a small pond of water, 
and I soon discovered that she was not alone, but was 
nursing a naked child about four years old. 

The moment the woman became conscious of my pres* 
ence, she raised her head with a quick, impetuous move- 
ment, clasped her bare arms around the nude form at her 
breast, and stared at me with fixed and defiant eyes. Her 
aspect was almost terrifying. She deemed as if hewn out 
of stone and set there to intimidate intruders. She was 



44 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

large, well made, and swarthy ; her features were gaunt 
and fierce, but looked as if her face might once have been 
attractive. I relaxed my hold of the door; it swung 
back with a dull, ominous thud, and I stood half trem- 
bling beside the dark, defiant woman, whose eyes only 
gave any indication of vitality, hoping to prevail upon 
her to show me my way out of that dismal solitude. 

The moment I approached her, however, I was seized 
with inexpressible dismay ; pity and astonishment, min- 
gling with a sense of supreme indignation, held me speech- 
less for a time. She was naked to the waist, and chained, 
— chained like a wild beast by one leg to a post driven 
into the ground, and without the least shelter under that 
burning sky. 

The chain was of cast-iron, and heavy, consisting of 
seven long double-links, attached to a ring, and fitted close 
to the right leg just above the ankle ; it was secured to 
the post by a rivet. Under her lay a tattered fragment 
of matting, farther on a block of wood for a pillow, and 
on the other side were several broken Chinese umbrellas. 

Growing more and more bewildered, I sat down and 
looked at the woman in a sort of helpless despair. The 
whole scene was startlingly impressive ; the apathy, the 
deadness, and the barlmrous cruelty of the palace life, were 
never more strikingly brought before me face to face. 
Here there was no doubting, no denying, no questioning 
the fact that this unhappy creature was suffering under 
some cruel wrong, which no one cared to redress. Naked 
to the waist, her long filthy hair bound in dense masses 
around her brow, she sat calmly, uncomplainingly, under 
a burning tropical sun, such as we children of a more 
temperate clime can hardly imagine, fierce, lurid, and 
scorching, nursing at her breast a child full of health and 
begrimed with dirt, with a tenderness that would have 
graced the most high-born gentlewoman. 




SLAVERY IN THE GRAND ROYAL PALACE. 45 

I remained long and indignantly silent, before I could 
find voice for the questions that rose to my lips. But at 
length I inquired her name. "Pye-sia" (begone), was 
her fierce reply. 

"Why art thou thus chained? Wilt thou not tell 
me?" I pleaded. 

a Pye " (go), said the woman, snatching her breast im- 
patiently from the sucking child, and at the same time 
turning her back upon me. 

The child set up a tremendous scream, which was re- 
echoed through the strange place. The woman turned 
and took him into her arms ; and as if there were an in- 
dwelling persuasiveness about them, he was quieted in an 
instant 

Booking him to and fro, with her face resting against 
his unwashed cheek, she was no longer repulsive, but glo- 
rious, clothed in the beauty and strength of a noble human 
love. I rose respectfully from the low wall of the pond, 
where I had seated myself, and took my place on the 
heated pavement beside the woman and her child ; then 
as gently and as kindly as I could I asked his name and 
age. 

" He is four years old," she replied, curtly. 

" And his name ? " 

* His name is Thook " (Sorrow), said the woman, turn- 
ing away her face. 

" And why hast thou given him such a name ? " 

u What is that to thee, woman ? " was the sharp re- 
joinder. 

After this she relapsed into a grim silence, seeming to 
gaze intently into the empty air. But at length there 
came a sob, and she passed her bare arms slowly across 
her eyes. This served as a signal for the little fellow to 
begin to scream again, which he did most lustily ; the 
woman, after quieting him, turned to me, and to my great 






46 BOMAKCE OF THE 1IAREM. 

surprise began to talk of her own accord, with but few 
questions on my part 

"Hast thou come here to seek me, lady? Has the 
Naikodah, my husband, sent thee ? Tell me, is he well f 
Hast thou come to buy me ? Ah ! lady ! will thou not 
buy me ? Will thou not help me to get my pardon ?" 

" Tell me why thou art chained. What is thy crime ?" 

This seemed a terrible question for the poor woman. 
In vain she attempted to speak; her lips moved, but 
uttered no sound, her features quivered, and with one 
convulsive movement she threw up her arms and burst 
into an agony of tears. She sobbed passionately for some 
time, then, passing into a quieter mood, turned to me and 
said, bitterly : " Do you want to know of what crime I 
am accused ? It is the crime of loving my husband and 
seeking to be with him." 

" But what induced you to become a slave ? " 

"I was born a slave, lady. It was the will of 
Allah." 

" You are a Mohammedan then ? " 

" My parents were Mohammedans, slaves to the father 
of my mistress, Chow Chom Manda Ung. When we 
were yet young, my brother and I were sent as slaves to 
her daughter, the Princess Fhra Ong Brittry." 

" If you can prove that your parents were Mohamme- 
dans, I can help you, I think ; because all the Moham- 
medans here are under British protection, and no subject 
of Britain can be a slave." 

"But, lady, my parents sold themselves to my mis- 
tress's grandfather." 

" That was your father's debt, which your mother and 
father have paid over and over again by a life of faithful 
servitude. You can insist upon your mistress accepting 
your purchase-money." 

" Insist," said the woman, her large, dark eyes glowing 




SLAVERY IN THE GRAND ROYAL PALACE. 47 

with the tears still glistening in them u You do not 
know what you say. You do not know that my mistress, 
Chow Chom Manda Ung, is mother-in-law to the. king, 
and that her daughter, Princess Phra Ong Brittry, is his 
favorite half-sister and queen. My only hope lies in a 
special pardon from my mistress herself." 

" And your friends," said I, " do they know nothing of 
your cruel captivity ? " 

"Nothing, indeed. I have no opportunity to speak 
even to the slave-woman whose duty it is to feed us 
daily. And her lot is too sad already foi her to be willing 
to run any great risk for me. The secrecy and mystery 
of my sudden disappearance have been preserved so long 
because I am chained here. No one comes here but my 
mistress, and she only visits this place occasionally, with 
the most tried and trusted of her slave-women." 

v Eleven o'clock boomed like a death-knell through the 
solitude. The woman laid herself down beside her sleep- 
ing boy to rest, apparently worn out with a sense of her 
misery. I placed my small umbrella over them ; and this 
simple act of kindness so touched the poor thing, that she 
started up suddenly, and, before I could prevent her, pas- 
sionately kissed my soiled and dusty shoes. 

I was so sorry for the unhappy creature that tears filled 
my eyes. u My sister/' said I, " tell me your whole story, 
and I will lay it before the king." 

The woman started up and adjusted the umbrella over 
the sleeping child. Her eyes beamed with a fire as if 
from above, while with wonderful power, combined with 
sweetness and delicacy, she repeated her sad tale. 

u There is sorrow in my heart, lady, where once there 
was nothing but passive endurance. In my soul I now 
hear whisperings of things that are between heaven aria 
earth, yea, and beyond the heaven of heavens, where once 
there was nothing but blind obedience. Unconscious of 



48 ROMANCE OF THE HABEM. 

the beauty of life, my heart was as if frozen and inert 
until I met the Naikodah, my husband. Lady, as I told 
you, I and my brother were born slaves ; and so faithful 
were we, that my brother obtained, as proof of the trust 
my lady reposed in him, the charge of a rice plantation at 
Ayudia, while I was promoted to be the chief attendant 
of the Princess Fhra Ong Brittry. 

" One day my mistress intrusted to my care a bag of 
money, to purchase some Bombay silk of the Naikodah 
Ibrahim. As it was the first time for many years that I 
had been permitted to quit the gates of the gloomy pal- 
ace, I felt on that day as if I had come into the world 
anew, as if my previous life liad been nothing but a 
dream ; and my recollections of that day are always pres- 
ent to my mind, and saying to me, ' Remember how happy 
you were once, be patient now/ 

" Oh ! On that day the Meinam splashed and rippled 
more enchantingly, seemed broader and more beautiful, 
than ever ! The green leaves and buds seemed to have 
burst forth all of a sudden. How beautifully green the 
grass was, and how clearly and joyously the birds on the 
bushes and in the trees poured forth their song, as if pur- 
posely for me, while from the distant plain across the 
river floated the aromatic breath of new-blown flowers* 
filling me with inexpressible delight ! I was silent with 
a feeling of supreme happiness. On that day a new light 
had risen in the east, a light which was to enlighten and 
to darken all my coming life. 

" We moored our boat by the bank of the river, and 
made our way to the shop of the Kaikodah, which my 
companions entered, while I sat outside on the steps until 
the bargain should be completed. My companions and 
the merchant could come to no terms. I entered with 
the bag of money, hoping by the sight of the silver to 
induce him to sell the silk for the price offered ; but on 




SLAVERY IN THE GRAND ROYAL PALACE. 49 

entering I seemed to be dazzled by something, I know 
not what The merchant's eyes flashed upon me, as it 
were, with a look of recollection, and by their expres- 
sion reminded me of some face I had seen in my in- 
fancy, or, perhaps, in my dreams. I drew my faded, 
tattered scarf more tightly around my chest, and sat down 
silent and wondering, not daring to ask myself where 
I had seen that face before, or why it produced such 
an effect upon me. 

" After a great deal of talking and bargaining about the 
silk, we came away without it, but the next day went 
again to the merchant and purchased it at his own price. 
I was surprised, however, to find that, when I paid him 
the money, he left five ticals in my hands. ' That is our 
kumrie ' (perquisite), said the women, snatching the ticals 
out of my hand and pocketing them. Time after time 
we repeated our visits to the merchant, who was con- 
stantly kind and respectful in his manner towards me. 
He always left five ticals for us. My companions took 
the money, but I persistently refused to share in this 
pitiful kind of profit. 

" The merchant began to observe me more closely, and, 
as I thought, to take an interest in me, and one day, after 
we had purchased some boxes of fragrant candles and 
wax-tapers, and I had paid him the full price for his 
goods, he left twenty ticals on the floor beside me. My 
companions called my attention to the money ; when the 
merchant, observing my unwillingness to receive it, took 
up fifteen ticals, leaving the usual kumrie of five upon 
the floor, which my companions picked up and appropri- 
ated. 

" We returned, as was our custom, by the river, slowly 
paddling our little canoe down the broad and beautiful 
stream, and enjoying every moment of our permitted 
freedom. I was sorely unwilling to return to the palace ; 



50 BOMAKCE OF THE HAREM. 

I was even tempted to plunge into the water and make 
good my escape; but the responsibility of the money 
intrusted to my care made me hesitate, and the tranquil 
surface of the M6inam, broken only by its circling ripples, 
helped to dissipate my wicked thoughts. Still I indulged, 
though almost unconsciously, the hope of obtaining my 
freedom some day, without even forming a thought as to 
how it could ever be accomplished. How or why I began 
to think of getting free I know not I seemed to inhale 
a longing for freedom with the fragrance of flowers wafted 
to me on the fresh, invigorating air ; every tree in blossom, 
every wild flower clothed in its splendor of red and 
orange, made me dream as naturally of liberty as it did of 
love ; and I prayed for freedom for the first time in my 
life, even as for the first time I felt the strength of a 
supreme emotion overpowering me." 

Here the woman paused for a few moments, and I was 
surprised to find that she expressed herself so well, until 
I remembered that the princesses of Siam make it a 
special point to educate the slaves born in their house- 
hold, so that in most Oriental accomplishments they 
generally surpass the common people who may have be- 
come slaves by purchase. There was something very 
simple and attractive in the way she spoke of herself, and 
throughout our whole interview she manifested such 
gentleness and resignation that she completely won my 
affection and pity. 

After a while she smiled sadly, and said softly: "Ah, 
lady ! we all love God, and we are all loved by him'; 
yet he has seen fit to make some masters and others slaves. 
Strange as the delusion may appear to you, who are free 
and perfectly happy, while the slave is not happy, the 
more impossible seemed the realization of my hope of 
freedom, the more I thought of it and longed for it 

"One day a slave-woman came to my mistress with 




SLAVERY IN THE GRAND ROYAL PALACE. 51 

some new goods from the Naikodah, and on seeing me she 
begged for a drink of water and some cere (betel-leaf). 
As I handed her the water, she said to me in a low tone : 
' Thou art a Moslem ; free thyself from this bondage to 
an unbelieving raca Take from my master the price of 
thy freedom ; come out of this Naiwang (palace) and be 
restored to the true people of God.' 

" I listened in amazement, fearing to break the enchant- 
ing spell of her words, and hardly believing that I had 
heard aright She quitted me suddenly, fearful of excit- 
ing suspicion, and left me in such a disturbed state of 
mind as I had never before experienced. My thoughts 
flew hither and thither like birds overtaken by a sudden 
storm, flapping their silent and despairing wings against 
the closed and barred gates of my prison. I found com- 
fort only in trusting to the Oreat Heart above, and with 
the instinct of all sufferers I turned at once to him. 

" When I saw the woman a second time I embraced 
the opportunity to say to her, ' Sister, tell me, how shall 
I obtain my purchase-money ? Will not thy master hold 
me as his slave ? ' 

" ' He will give thee the money, and will never repent 
having freed a Moslem and the daughter of a believer 
from slavery/ 

"'0 thou angel of life!' said I, clasping her to my 
throbbing heart, ' I am already his slave.' 

"She released my arms from around her neck, and, 
taking some silver from her scarf, tied it firmly into mine 
* without another word ; and I, fearing lest I should be dis- 
covered with so much money in my possession, came here 
by night and hid it under this very pavement on which 
we are seated. 

" Some weeks after we were sent again to the Naiko- 
dah to buy some sandal-wood tapers and flowers for the 
cremation of the young -Princess Fhra Ong O'Dong. I 



52 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

never was so conscious of the shabbiness of my dress as 
when I entered the presence of the good merchant We 
made our purchase, paid the money, and as I rose to de- 
part, my friend D'hamni, the slave-woman who had been 
employed by the Naikodah to speak to me, beckoned me 
to come into an inner chamber. I was followed by her 
master, who addressed himself to me, and said, — I remem- 
ber the words so well, — ' L'ore ! thou art of fonn so 
beauteous, and of spirit so guileless, thou hast awakened 
all my love and pity. See, here is the money thou hast 
just paid me ; double the price of thy freedom, and foiget 
not thy deliverer.' 

" ' May Allah prosper thee ! ' said D'hamnL 

" I was overwhelmed ; my astonishment and my grati- 
tude at his goodness knew no bounds. I tried to speak; 
my tongue clave to the roof of my mouth as if held back 
by an evil genius ; I could not give utterance to a single 
word in expression of my feelings. My heart heaved, 
my eyes glowed, my cheeks burned, my blushes came and 
went, showing the depth of my emotion, and I burst into 
tears. I returned to the palace, hid the money, and 
waited my opportunity. 

" Thus I lived in bondage within and bondage without 
Freedom within my grasp and slavery in my heart * I 
am more a slave than ever/ said I to myself; 'alas! the 
servitude of the heart, the sweet, feverish servitude of 
love, who will ransom me from these ? Who can buy me 
freedom from these ? Henceforth and forever I am the 
good merchant's slave/ 

" I waited my time like a lover lying in wait for his 
mistress, like a mother watching the return of an only 
child, and I waited long and anxiously, praying to God, 
calling him Allah ! calling him Buddha 1 Father ! Good- 
ness ! Compassion ! praying for liberty only, praying only 
for freedom. 




SLAVERY IN THE GRAND ROYAL PALACE. 53 

" One day my mistress, Chow Chom Manda Ung, was 
so kind and pleasant to me that I believed my opportu- 
nity had come. I seized it, threw myself at her feet, and 
said, 'Lady dear, be pitiful to thy child, hear but her 
prayer. It is the only desire of her heart, the dream of 
thy slave's life. As the thirsty traveller beholds afar off 
the everlasting springs of water, as the dying man has 
foretastes of immortality, even so thy slave I/ore has, 
through thy goodness, tasted of freedom, and would more 
fully drink of the cup, if thou in thy bountiful goodness 
would but let her go free. Here is the price of my free- 
dom, dear lady ; be pitiful, and set me free/ 

" € Thou wert born my slave/ said my lady, ' I will take 
no money for thee/ 

" ' Take double, lady dear, but 0, let me go ! ' 

" ' If thou wishest to be married/ said my mistress, # I 
will find thee a good and able husband, and thou shalt 
bear me children, even as thy mother did before thee; 
but I will not let thee go free/ 

" In my despair I prayed, I entreated, with tears blind- 
ing my eyes. I promised that my children yet unborn 
should be her slaves, if she would only let me go. 

" It was all in vain. I gathered up my silver and re- 
turned to my slave's life, hopelessly defeated. I soon 
recovered from my disappointment, however, because I 
was strengthened by the determination to escape at the 
first opportunity that offered itself to me. This enabled 
me to bear my captivity bravely. My mistress distrusted 
me for a long time ; my companions, seeing that I had 
fallen into disgrace, pitied me, but I did my best to show 
myself willing, obedient, and cheerful, until, when nearly 
two whole years had passed away, my mistress gradually 
took me again into her confidence, and at last arranged a 
marriage for me with Nai Tim, one of her favorite men- 
slaves. To all her plans I offered not a word of objection. 



54 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

I pretended that I was really pleased at the prospect of 
being free to spend six months of every year with my 
husband 

"The day before my marriage I was sent to see Nai 
Tim's mother, with a small present from my mistress. 
Two strong women accompanied me. Hidden in my plia 
nung (under-skirt) was my purchase-money. As soon as 
we entered my future mother-in-law's house, I requested 
permission to speak with her alone. Supposing that I 
had some private communication to make to her from my 
mistress, she took me into the back part of the house, and 
I seated myself on the edge of the bamboo raft, which 
kept her little hut afloat on the M&nam, rushing by so 
strong and swift. Without giving her time to think, I 
told her my whole story from beginning to end, put the 
money into her hands, and before the startled woman 
could refuse or remonstrate I plunged with one sudden 
bound into the bosom of the broad river. I heard a 
shriek above me as I disappeared under the waters that 
received me into their cool, refreshing depths. 

" How desperately I swam through the strong currents, 
coming up to the surface from time to time to draw a 
long breath, then diving back into its protecting shelter 
again ! Finding my strength failing me, I made for the 
opposite bank, climbed its steep sides, and dried my 
clothes in the soft, delicious breezes that came upon me 
as if just let free from the highest heavens. Filled with 
the iaspiration of freedom and of love, I had accom- 
plished that which had been the beginning and the 
ending of all my thoughts for so long a time. For one 
moment it seemed to me an impossibility, but on the next 
my joy was so excessive that I stooped down and kissed 
the earth, and then laughed outright. 

" From day to day my soul had been slowly withering 
away, now it blossomed forth afresh as if it had never 




SLAVERY IN THE GRAND ROYAL PALACE. 55 

known a moment of sorrow. My glad laughter came back 
to me, and in very truth, lady, I shall never again rejoice 
and sing in the desert places of my heart, or in the solitary 
places of my native land, as I did on that day. In my 
extreme emotion I forgot that night was a possibility. I 
could do nothing but rejoice. Suddenly the sun set. The 
night descended Darkness covered the earth as with a 
mantle ; the wind began to blow in gusts ; I heard strange 
sounds, — sounds which seemed to come, not from the 
earth, but from some frightful realm beyond. But I knew 
there were angels who heard the cries of human distress. 
I prayed to them to come and hover near me, and as I 
prayed a deep sleep came upon me. 

"When I woke the stars were in the sky, but the 
strange noises disturbed me so that I fell on iny knees 
and cried, ' God ! where art thou ? 0, bring the day ! 
come with thy swift chariot and bring the light ! come 
and help thy unworthy handmaiden ! ' 'To believe/ says 
the prophet, 'is to have the world renewed every day/ 
So in answer to my prayer came the angel Gibhrayeel and 
snatched away the dark mantle of Fhra Kham (the god 
of night), and swift came Fhra Athiet (the god of day), 
scattering the shadowy monsters of the world of night, 
and making his glory fill my heart with praise, even as it 
filled my glad eyes with light. 

" I had been dazzled with the idea of liberty, I had 
thought only of getting free. But now came the ques- 
tions, Where shall I go ? Who will employ me ? And 
the answer was clear to me. There was no one in all this 
vast city to whom I could turn but the merchant and his 
slave-woman D'hamni, and to them I went. It was even- 
ing when I entered the hut of the slave D'hamni, footsore, 
•hungry, and weary. D'hamni was overjoyed to see me ; 
she gave me food and shelter and her best robe. 

" Some days after the good merchant came to visit me. 



56 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

I felt dimly that the hardness of my heart would be 
complete if I resisted his kindness. To his celestial 
tenderness I opposed no word of doubt, yet I could not 
believe that the rich merchant would marry an outcast 
slave like me. 

"One morning I found robes of pure white in my 
humble shed, in which D'hamni proceeded to array ma 
After which she brought me into the presence of the 
Moolah (Mohammedan priest), the merchant, and a few 
trusty friends. 

"The Moolah quietly put down his hookah (pipe), 
stood up, and, putting his hands before his face, uttered 
a short prayer. After this he took the end of my saree 
(scarf) and bound it securely to the end of the mercliant's 
angrakah (coat), gave us water in which had been dipped 
the myrtle and jessamine flower, placed a ring of gold on 
my finger, blessed us, and departed. That was our mar- 
riage ceremony. 

" During all the days that followed I moved about as 
one drunk with strong wine ; I enjoyed every moment; I 
thanked God for the sun, the beautiful summer days, the 
radiant yellow sky, the fresh dawn, and the dewy eve. 
light, pure light, shone upon me, and filled my soul with 
intense delight, and it blossomed out into the perfect 
flower of happiness. 

" One day, about three or four months after my mar- 
riage, as I was seated on the steps of my home, I thought 
I heard a voice whisper in my ear. I had hardly time to 
turn when I was seized, gagged, bound hand and foot, and 
brought back to this place. As soon as I was taken into 
her presence, my mistress had me chained to this post, 
but caused me to be released when my time of delivery 
approached. A month after his birth," pointing to the 
sleeping boy, " I was chained here again, and my child 
was brought to me to nurse ; this was done until he could 




SLAVERY IN THE GRAND ROYAL PALACE. 57 

come to me alone. But they are not unkind ; when it is 
very wet the slave-woman takes him to sleep under the 
shelter of her little shed. 

"I could free myself from these chains if I would 
promise never to quit the palace. That I will never do." 
She said this in a feeble and almost inarticulate voice. It 
was her last effort to speak. Her head drooped upon her 
breast as if an invisible power overwhelmed her at a 
blow; she fell exhausted upon the stones, her hands 
clasped, her face buried in the dust. 

It was a strange sight, and possible only in Siam. 
Certainly great misfortunes as well as great affections 
develop the intelligence, else how had this slave-woman 
reached the elevation to which she had evidently attained ? 

But excess of sorrow had made her almost visionary. 
When I tried to comfort her, she turned her haggard face 
with its worn-out, weary look upon me, and asked if she 
had been dreaming. Her brain seemed to be in such an 
abnormal yet frightfully calm condition, that she half be- 
lieved she was in a dream, and that her life was not a 
frightful reality. It was out of my power to comfort her, 
but I left her with a hope that grew brighter as I retraced 
my steps out of that weird place. 

After some tiresome wanderings I found my way out of 
the place at last. When I reached the school-room it was 
twelve o'clock, and my pupils were waiting. 

In the afternoon of the same day I went to the house 
of the Naikodah Ibrahim, and told him that I had seen 
his wife and child. He was much affected when he heard 
they were still alive, and was moved to tears when I told 
him of their sad condition. 

That night a deputation of Mohammedans, headed by 
the Moolah H&djee BaM, waited upon me ; we drew up a 
petition to the king, after which I retired, thankful that 
I was not a Siamese subject. 

3* 



58 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 



CHAPTER VI. 

KHOON THOW APP, THE CHIEF OF THE FEMALE JUDGES. 



v 



NEXT morning, as if some invisible power were work- 
ing to aid my plans, I was summoned early to the 
palace. I carried my petition and a small book entitled 
" Curiosities of Science " with me. 

The king was very gracious, and so pleased with the 
book that I took the opportunity of handing in my 
petition. He read it carefully, and then gave it back 
to me, saying, " Inquiry shall be made by me into this 
case." 

On the day after I received the following little note 
from the king : — 

Lady Leonowens : — I have liberty to do an inquiry 
for the matter complained, to hear from the Princess Fhra 
Ong Brittry, the daughter of the Chow Chom Manda Ung, 
who is now absent from hence. The princess said that 
she knows nothing about the wife of Naikodah, but that 
certain children were sent her from her grandfather ma- 
ternal, that they are offspring of his maid-servant, and 
that these children shall be in her employment. So I 
ought to see the Chow Chom Manda Ung, and inquire 
from herself. 

S. P. P. Maha Mongkut, Ex. 

His Majesty was as good as his word, and when the 
Chow Chom Manda Ung returned, he ordered the chief 
of the female judges of the palace, her ladyship, Khoon 
Thow App, to investigate the matter. 

Khoon Thow App was a tall, stout, dark woman, with 




KHOON THOW APP. 69 

soft eyes, but rather a heavy face, her only beauty being in 
her hands and arms, which were remarkably well formed. 
She was religious and scrupulously just, had a serious and 
concentrated bearing. Everything she said or did was 
studied, not for effect, but from discretion. A certain air 
of preoccupation was natural to her. She knew every- 
thing that took place in the harem, and concealed every- 
thing within her own breast. By dint of attention and 
penetration she had attained to her high office, and she 
retained it by virtue of her supreme but unassuming fit- 
ness for the position. She was like a deaf person whose 
sight is quickened, and like one blind whose sense of 
hearing is intensified. That hideous symbolical Sphinx, 
with a sword drawn through her mouth, babbled all her 
secrets and sorrows in her ear. She inspired confidence, 
and she never decided a case in private. She lived alone, 
in a small house at the end of the street, with only four 
faithful female slaves. The rest she had freed. It was 
before this woman that, by order of the king, I brought 
my complaint in behalf of L'ore; she raised her eyes 
from her book, or rather roll, and said, " Ah ! it is you, 
mam. I wish to speak to you." 

" And for my part," said I, with a boldness at which I 
was myself astonished, " I have something to say to your 
ladyship." 

" 0, 1 know that you have a communication to make, 
which has already been laid before his Majesty. Your 
petition is granted." 

" How ! n said I, " is L'ore really free to leave the pal- 
ace?" 

"0 no; but his Majesty's letter is of such a charac- 
ter that we have the power to proceed in this matter 
against the Chow Chom Manda Ung. Though we are 
said to have the right to compel any woman in the palace 
to come before us, these great ladies will not appear per- 



60 ROMANCE OF THE HABKK. 

sonally, but send all manner of frivolous excuses, unless 
summoned by a royal mandate such as this." 

She then turned to one of the female sheriffs, and de- 
spatched her for the Chow Chom Manda Ung, Fhta Ong 
Brittiy, and the slave-woman L'ore. 

After a delay of nearly two hours, Chow Chom Manda 
Ung and her daughter, the Princess Fhra Ong Brittiy, 
made their appearance, accompanied by an immftiiflfl 
retinue of female slaves, bearing a host of luxurious 
appendages for their royal mistresses' comfort during the 
trial, with the sheriff bending low, and following this 
grand procession at a respectful distance. 

The great ladies took their places on the velvet cushions 
placed for them by their slaves, with an air of authority 
and rebellion combined, as if to say, " Who is there here 
to constrain us ? " 

The chief judge adjusted her spectacles, and as she 
looked fixedly at the great ladies she asked, " Where is the 
slave- woman L'ore ? " 

The old dowager cast a malicious glance at the judge; 
but there was still the same silence, the same air of defi- 
ance of all authority. 

All round the open sala, or hall, was collected a ragged 
rabble of slave women and children, crouching in all sorts 
of attitudes and all sorts of costumes, but with eyes fixed 
on the chief judge in startled astonishment and wonder 
at her calm, immovable countenance. Superciliousness 
and apparent contempt prevailed everywhere, yet in the 
midst of all the consciousness of an austere and august 
presence was evident ; for not one of those slave-women, 
lowly, untaught, and half clad as they were, but felt that 
in the heart of that dark, stern woman before them there 
was as great a respect for the rights of the meanest 
among them as for those of the queen dowager herself 

The chief judge then read aloud in a clear voice the 




KHOON THOW APP. 61 

letter she had received from the king, and, when it was 
finished, the dowager and her daughter saluted the letter 
by prostrating themselves three times before it. 

Then the judge inquired if the august ladies had aught 
to say why the slave- woman L'ore should not have been 
emancipated when she offered to pay the full price of her 
freedom. 

The attention of all was excited to the highest degree ; 
every eye concentrated itself on the queen dowager. 

She spoke with difficulty, and answered with some 
embarrassment, but from head to foot her whole person 
defied the judge. 

" And what if every slave in my service should bring 
me the price of her freedom ? " 

All eyes turned again to the judge, seated so calmly 
there on her little strip of matting ; every ear was strained 
to catch her reply. 

" Then, lady, thou wouldst be bound to free every one 
of them." 

" And serve myself ? " 

"Even so, my august mistress," said the judge, bowinglow. 

The dowager turned very pale and trembled slightly 
as the judge declared that L'ore was no longer the slave 
of the Chow Chom Manda Ung, but the property of the 
Crue Yai (royal teacher). 

"Let her purchase-money be paid down," said the dow- 
ager, angrily, " and she is freed forever from my service." 

The judge then turned to me, and said, " You are now 
the mistress of L'ore. I will have the papers made out 
Bring hither the money, forty ticals, and all shall be 
settled." 

I thanked the judge, bowed to the great ladies, who 
simply ignored my existence, and returned perfectly hap- 
py for once in my life to my home in Bangkok. Next 
day, after school, I presented myself at the court-house. 



62 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

Only three of the female judges were present, with some 
of the p'ha khooms (sheriffs). Khoon Thow App handed 
me the dekah, or free paper, and bade one of the p'ha 
khooms go with me to see the money paid and L'ore 
liberated. 

Never did my feet move so swiftly as when I threaded 
once more the narrow alley, and my heart beat quickly 
as I pushed open the ponderous brass door. 

There was L'ore, chained as before. In the piazza sat 
the Princess Flira Ong Brittry and her mother, surrounded 
by their sympathizing women. 

The p'ha khoom was so timid and hesitating, that I ad- 
vanced and laid the money before the great ladies. 

The queen dowager dashed the money away and sent 
it rolling hither and thither on the pavement, but gave 
orders at the same time to release L'ore and let her go^ 

This was done by a female blacksmith, a dark, heavy, 
ponderous-looking woman, who filed the rivet asunder. 

In the mean time a crowd had collected in this solitary 
place, chiefly ladies of the harem, with some few slaves. 

So L'ore was free at last ; but what was my amazement 
to find that she refused to move ; she persistently folded 
her hands and remained prostrate before her royal 
persecutors as if rooted to the spot. I was troubled. I 
turned to consult the p'ha khoom, but she did not dare to 
advise me, when one of the ladies — a mother, with a 
babe in her arms — whispered in my ear, "They have 
taken away the child." 

Alas ! I had forgotten the chili 

The faces of the crowd were marked with sympathy 
and sadness; they exchanged glances, and the same 
woman whispered to me, " Gq back, go back, and demand 
to buy the child." I turned away sorrowfully, hastened 
to Khoon Thow App, and stated my case. She opened a 
box, drew out a dark roll, and set out with ma 




KHOON THOW APP. 63 

The scene was just as I had left it There sat the au- 
gust ladies, holding small jewelled hand-mirrors, and 
creaming their lips with the most sublime air of indiffer- 
ence. L'ore still lay prostrate before them, her face hid- 
den on the pavement. The crowd of women pressed 
anxiously in, and all eyes were strained towards the 
judge. She bowed before the ladies, opened the dark 
roll, and read the law: "If any woman have children 
during her bondage, they shall be slaves afeo, and she is 
bound to pay for their freedom as well as her own. The 
price of an infant in arms is one tical, and for every year 
of his or her life shall be paid one tical." This declara- 
tion in terms so precise appeared to produce a strong im- 
pression on the crowd, and none whatever on the royal 
ladies. Ever so many betel-boxes were opened, and the 
price of the child pressed upon me. 

I took four ticals and laid them down before the ladies. 
The judge, seeing that nothing was done to bring the child 
to the prostrate mother, despatched one of the p'ha 
khooms for the boy. In half an hour he was in his 
mother's arms. She did not start with surprise or joy, 
but turned up to heaven a face that was joy itself. Both 
mother and child bowed before the great ladies. Then 
I/ore made strenuous efforts to stand up and walk, and, 
failing, began to laugh at her own awkwardness, as she 
limped and hobbled along, borne away by the exulting 
crowd, headed by the judge. Even this did not diminish 
her happiness. With her face pressed close to her boy's, 
she continued to talk to herself and to him, " How hap- 
py we shall be ! We, too, have a little garden in thy 
father's house. My Thook will play in the garden ; he 
will chase the butterflies in the grass, and I will watch 
him all the day long," etc. 

The keepers of the gates handed flowers to the boy, 
saying, "Fhoodh tho, dee chai nak nah, dee chai nak 



64 ROMANCE OF THE HABEH. 

nah " (pitiful Buddha ! we arc very glad at heart, very, 
very glad). 

The news had spread, and, before we reached the river, 
hosts of Malays, Mohammedans, and Siamese, with some 
few Chinese, had loosened their cumberbunds (scarfs) and 
converted them into flags. 

Thus, with the many-colored flags flying, the men, 
women, and children running and shouting along the 
banks of the M&inam, spectators crowding into the fronts 
of their floating houses, L'ore and her boy sailed down 
the river and reached their home. 

The next day her husband, Naikodah Ibrahim, refunded 
the money paid for his wife and child, whose name 
changed from Thook (Sorrow) to Urban& (the Free). 




THE BAJPOOT AND HIS DAUGHTER. 65 



CHAPTEE VII. 

THE RAJPOOT AND HIS DAUGHTER. 

BANGKOK is full of people. Every day crowds of 
men and boys are pouring into the great metropolis 
from all parts of the country to have their names enrolled 
on the books of the lords and dukes to whom they belong. 

There are no railroads, no steamboats, so the vast com- 
panies of serfs travel together, — the rich by means of 
their boats and gondolas, and the poor on foot, following 
the course of the great river M6inam 

Sometimes caravans of whole tribes may be seen en- 
camped during the intense noonday heat by the banks of 
the stream, under the shade of some neighboring trees. 
These weary inarches are always commenced at sunset, 
and continued till noon of the next day, when the over- 
powering heat forces man and beast under shelter. 

There existed in Siam under the late king a mixed 
system of slavery, in part resembling the old system of 
English feudal service, in part the former serfdom of Rus- 
sia, and again in part the peonage of Mexico. 

In the enrolment, called S&k, an institution peculiar 
to the country, every man is obliged to receive an indeli- 
ble mark on his arm or side, denoting the chief to whom 
he belongs. 

The process is exactly like tattooing. The name of the 
chief is pricked into the skin with a long slender steel 
having a lancet-shaped point, just deep enough to draw a 
little blood ; after which the bile of peacock mixed with 
Chinese ink is rubbed over the scarifipation. 

This leaves an indelible mark. / 



66 ROMANCE OF THE HABEM. 

All the male children of those so marked are obliged 
at the age of fourteen to appear in person to have their 
names enrolled on their master's books, and themselves 
branded on their arms. 

The king's men, that is, those who have to attend on 
royalty as soldiers, guards, or in any other capacity, are 
marked on the side, a little below the armpit, to distin- 
guish them from the other serfs of the princes, dukes, or 
lords of the realm. 

Among the vast crowds who were pouring through the 
many gates and avenues into the city in July, 1862, was 
seen a stately old Rajpoot, weary and travel-stained, lead- 
ing a low-sized, shaggy pony on which was seated a close- 
ly veiled figure of a young woman. A stranger could not 
but observe the proud, forbidding look of the old man as he 
urged and stimulated his weary beast through the crowd. 

Behind the veiled figure were two leathern bags which 
contained some wearing apparel and a supply of provis- 
ions to serve them during their stay in the capital. 

There are no such places as inns or caravansaries to 
lodge the multitude who are thus forced into Bangkok 
every year. Those who have boats live in them on the 
river and its numerous canals, others take refuge in the 
Buddhist monasteries, while the poorer classes have the 
bare earth, dry or wet as the weather may be, for their 
couch. 

It was not until they were quite exhausted, and could 
no longer maintain the pace at which they had been 
making their way through the crowded city, that the old 
man began to look around him for some spot where they 
could encamp. The place at which they had arrived 
was the southern gate of the citadel, called Patoo Song 
Khai (Grate of Commerce). Here they came upon the 
haunts of commerce and traffic, — market and trades- 
women were hurrying to and from the inner city. All 




THE RAJPOOT AND HIS DAUGHTER. "" 67 

around was noise and confusion, and here, beneath the 
shadow of a projecting porch and wall, the old man sud- 
denly halted, and, lifting the girl lightly to the ground, 
said in a low, deep, and not unmusical voice, " Let us 
abide here, my child; and though we can call nothing 
our own, we shall live like the bright gods, feeding on 
happiness." 

There was something tender in the way he said this, 
but the girl did not appear to heed him. Looking about 
her with a startled and bewildered gaze, she seemed to be 
haunted by apprehensions of being led captive to some 
gloomy place, where she would be chained and scourged, 
and, worse than all, where she would never see her father 
but through iron gratings and bars. Her terrors at length 
became so real that she wrapped her faded " saree " more 
closely around her, and burst into tears. 

"Art thou afraid?" inquired the old man. "Why, 
thou hast less to fear here by my side than if I had left 
thee behind in the mountains of Prabat." 

He then proceeded to unpack his beast, while the girl 
timidly made ready to cook their evening meal of boiled 
rice and fish. 

There was a certain sense of safety in the shadow of 
the grand royal palace that seemed to restore the girl to 
a state of moderate tranquillity, and the Amazons who 
loitered round the gate watched the travellers with some 
degree of interest, which arose partly from curiosity and 
partly from want of something better to do. The old 
man seemed a sombre sort of being to them ; but the girl 
was an object of wonder and delight, as, though she replied 
to her father in a language foreign to the listeners, she fre- 
quently intermingled her remarks with the Siamese word 
" cha " (dear), which pleased the stout-hearted guardians 
of the gate so much that they made no objections to 
the travellers' resting there. 



68 BOMANCE OF THE HAEEM. 

In such a spot as this there was, indeed, more of dan- 
ger than of safety both for father and child, if they could 
but have known it; but the poorer class of strangers 
clung to the name of the great king Maha Mongkut 
as a babe clings to its mother's arms, and the old man 
felt as safe as if lodged in an impregnable castle, sur- 
rounded by a million of guardian angels ; while the girl, 
gathering courage from the satisfaction that settled on her 
father's face, began to take note of what was passing 
around her, and her fears soon gave place to a variety 
of happy thoughts. 

The freshness of the evening air, the song of the merry 
birds, the beauty of the wild flowers that grew among 
the tangled bushes on the banks of the river, and, above 
all, the constant stream of richly gilded boats and gondo- 
las that glided past on the limpid waters, now glittering 
in the roseate hues of the setting sun, soothed and glad- 
dened, as with tender, loving words, the heart of the 
lonely mountain girl 

At sunset the Amazons shut the gates and disappeared. 
The old man unrolled a small carpet, covered himself 
with a worn-out old cloth, and, taking his daughter under 
his stalwart arm, he laid himself down to rest beneath 
the canopy of the wide sky. The girl, from her place 
near the corner made by the gate and the wall, could only 
see one star overhead, and the shadow in which she slept 
seemed so dark that her heart sunk within her, as she 
silently prayed to the angel of the sky not to desert them. 
But, tired and weary, she soon slept as soundly as her 
father. 

Meanwhile the city of the " Invincible and Beautiful 
Archangel " slumbered, and " the great stars globed them- 
selves in heaven," and seemed to bridge the gulf that 
separates the infinite from the finite with their tender, 
loving light Who can say but that the fond spirit of a 




THE RAJPOOT AND HIS DAUGHTER. 69 

dead wife and mother beamed in love and pity over the 
father and child sleeping thus alone in the heart of a great 
city? for the girl dreamed a dream which seemed a 
warning to her. Suddenly she started in her sleep, and 
saw in the distance a company of men armed with swords 
and spears, carrying lanterns in their hands, marching 
slowly towards the spot where they lay. 

These were the night-guards patrolling outside the 
walls of the inner city. 

While she looked they seemed to expand. They were 
now colossal, — monsters that filled the earth, air, and 
sky. Full of dismay, she clung closer to the side of her 
father. Their heavy tramp came nearer, and she could 
hear them stop. How desperately her heart beat under 
the covering ! What if they should find her out ! The 
captain of the guards approached, passed his lantern 
slowly over the face of the old man, and perceiving that 
he was one of the many strangers called into the city at 
this time of the year, he and his company went on their 
rounds. 

No sooner had the glimmer of their lanterns vanished 
in the distance, than the girl sprang up, and, casting a cau- 
tious glance all round, drew out in the darkness a small 
brass image of Indra, which she wore within her vest, 
and placed it at her father's head ; then, loosening a silk 
cord from her neck, to which was attached a silver ring 
inscribed with the mystic triform used by the Hindoo 
women, she proceeded to implore the protection of the 
gods, and to describe several weird circles and waves over 
herself and her father. 

This done she slept sweetly, feeling in the presence of 
that brass image a sense of security that many a Christian 
might have envied. 

Just at this moment, one of the guards in passing on 
the other side of the city remarked that they ought to 



70 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

have aroused the old khaik (foreigner) and exacted a toll 
from him for taking up his quarters so near the walls of 
the royal palace. 

"That very thought has just crossed my mind," said 
the captain, " and mine, and mine/' echoed a number of 
voices. "It is hardly midnight yet; let us turn back 
and see what we can squeeze out of the old fellow." 

No sooner said than done. The chief led the way, and 
the whole company rapidly retraced their steps to where 
the travellers slept 

It would be difficult to reproduce the picture that must 
have presented itself to the captain of the night-guards, 
who, after having stationed his men at a little distance, 
advanced noiselessly, approached the old man, and drew 
off lightly the covering that wrapped the sleeper, in order 
to make some guess from liis dress and appearance as to 
the amount of money they might demand from him. 

The eye turns instinctively to the faintest glimmer of 
light So the light reflected from the calm face of the 
mysteriously beautiful dreamer as she lay beside her 
father, her head resting on his arm, and her face turned 
mutely up to the dark sky, staggered the captain, who 
started back as if he had received a sudden blow, or as if 
some unexpected event had forced him into the presence 
of a supernatural being, while the brazen image of Indra 
gleamed with a lurid brightness that reddened the pale 
atmosphere around, as if in the vicinity of some confla- 
gration. 

Buddhist as he was, he had a sort of ancestral rever- 
ence for the gods of the Hindoos. He also believed in 
the ancient tradition that no one could injure the inno- 
cent The shadow of the shade grew darker, and he 
thought the eyes of the god were fixed intently upon 
him. All his unrighteous desires quelled, he stood trans- 
fixed reverently to the spot A serious smile, almost 




THE RAJPOOT AND HIS DAUGHTER. 71 

stern in its expression, passed over the girl's face, as he 
stood contemplating her. That seemingly slumbering 
statue was conscious of an intruder, and she quietly 
opened her eyes on him. 

The captain's lantern lighted up his face, and, stout- 
hearted, fearless man that he was, he trembled as he met 
that calm, inquiring look But before he could retire or 
bring himself to speak, the girl uttered a sudden cry of 
terror, so pathetic and terrible that the old man sprang to 
his feet, and the guards, who heard it in the distance, felt 
their blood run cold with horror and dismay. 

There was a moment of hesitation as the old Rajpoot 
confronted the guardsman face to face. The next instant 
the lantern was dashed from his trembling hand, and he 
lay prostrate on the ground, while his enemy grappled at 
his throat with the fury of a wild beast. The remainder 
of the guards rushed to the scene of conflict, but even 
they stood confounded for a second or two at the sight of 
the strange, terrified girL They soon recovered from their 
astonishment, however, and proceeded to capture the old 
man, when Sm&yatee sprang to her feet at once, like some 
spectre rising from the ground, and, pushing back the sol- 
diers with all her might, clasped her father round the 
neck. Thus clinging to him, she turned a face of defiance 
on the guardsmen of the king. The aspect of the girl, 
who thought to restrain by an electric glance an armed 
force, excited such derision in the breasts of the soldiers, 
that they rudely tore her from her father, bound her with 
the silken bridle-reins that had served for her pony, and 
carried them both off to separate cells, while a party of 
them remained behind to restore their fallen chief 



72 ROMANCE OF THE HABEM. 



CHAPTEE VIII. 

t 

AMONG THE HILLS OF OBISSA. 

BEFORE proceeding further, it will not be amiss to 
give the reader some account of this Rajpoot and 
his daughter. And that he may better understand the 
personal anecdotes of bravery, honest zeal, and devoted- 
ness that distinguished him in life, I must turn to the 
still broader and deeper historical incidents which are the 
marked characteristics of the race to which he belonged. 
I do not undertake to treat of this portion of India at 
large, but only to look at the small corner of it in which 
Rama the Rajpoot was born. 

In the district of Orissa stands on a cluster of hills, in 
the midst of an arid and undulating plateau, the city of 
Megara, composed for the most part of houses of mean 
aspect, with only a few handsome mansions and stately 
edifices to relieve their monotonous insignificance, possess- 
ing few fine trees large enough to afford shade, with the 
exception of the sacred groves dedicated to the earth-god- 
dess D&vee and the sun-god Dhupya; and with water 
barely sufficient to quench the excessive thirst of its 
parched inhabitants, alternately swept by piercing blasts 
and scorched by intense heats, Megara would certainly 
present but few attractions to the traveller but for the 
mysterious reverence which has rested ever since the time 
of Alexander over the illimitable plains of Hindostan. 
Tragic and terrible are the memories that poetry has 
woven about this land of undefined distances and nearly 
fabulous magnificence, where men adopt, from father to 
son, the professions of murderers, highwaymen, robbers, 




AMONG THE KILLS OF OBISSA. 73 

soldiers, warriors, and priests, where each man lives as 
if surrounded by internal and external enemies, and ex- 
pects from every circling point of the horizon a foeman 
instead of a friend. 

From the remotest times there has been a ceaseless 
march of tribes into this vast peninsula, from which there 
is no outlet Pouring across the Indus or straggling down 
through the passes of the Himalaya, each wave of immi- 
gration pushed its predecessors farther into the country. 
Thus the Aryan nations followed in their turn, at the 
same time reacting powerfully on the creeds and usages 
of the primitive people. But various remains of the ear- 
lier and rude aboriginal tribes are still found here among 
the hilly regions and woody fastnesses of the peninsula 
Many of them are quite distinct from one another, evi- 
dently belonging to different eras of an indefinitely re- 
mote and abysmal past. 

The Eajpoots are the most remarkable of these abo- 
riginal tribes, and they are described as a noble race, tall 
and athletic, with symmetric features, half-way between 
the Roman and Jewish types, large eyed, and with fine 
long hair falling in natural locks upon their shoulders; 
high-bred, though with the decline of their country under 
British rule the decline of their character has kept pace. 
Revolutions have done their work upon them, if, indeed, 
the word " revolution " may be applied to the insurrections 
and mutinies that have kept this portion of India in a 
state of petty warfara for the last three hundred years. 

The comparatively treeless character of the hills where 
they dwell appears to indicate that, in former times, large 
spaces had been laid under cultivation, whereas at present 
they lead a savage life as freebooters and robbers. 

Around these desolate hills and valleys cluster a variety 
of tribes and races, of diverse tongues and customs, creeds 
and religions, — worshippers of Mohammed and of the 

4 



74 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

Buddha, followers of Brahma and of Indra, of Vishnu 
and Siva, of the many-breasted and teeming Davee, and 
the triple-headed and triple-bodied Dhupyft. Oyer all 
these different peoples the Rajpoot, or warrior caste, has 
held for centuries an undisputed sway. Among all these 
tribes the " Meriah " sacrifice prevails, as the only means 
of propitiating the earth-goddess. 

The victims for these yearly sacrifices are furnished by 
a regular class of procurers, who either supply them to 
order or raise them on speculation. They are bought from 
their parents in hard famine times, or they are kidnapped 
on the plains. Devoted often in their childhood to the 
earth-goddess Davee, they are suffered to grow up as con- 
secrated privileged beings, to marry, to hold lands and 
flocks and herds and other worldly goods, and are cher- 
ished and beloved by the community for whom they are 
willing to be offered up to serve as mediator and friend in 
the shadowy world beyond the grave for the short space 
of one year, when the insatiable earth-goddess is said to 
demand a fresh victim. 

I ought not to omit to say here, as a faithful recorder of 
the facts that have reached me, that in spite of the tre- 
mendous doom that overshadows the victims consecrated 
to Davee's altar, they lead resigned and even joyous lives 
up to the last moment of their existence ; and the saying 
is, that the soul of a god enters the martyr, and transfig- 
ures him into a divine, ineffable being, incapable of feel- 
ing any pain or regret at the moment of death. 

For unnumbered centuries the vast hilly province of 
Ori8sa verging on Gondwana, and comprising all the east- 
ern portion of the Vindhya chain, has been the scene of 
this revolting and inhuman custom ; and from time imme- 
morial thousands of men whom we in our enlightenment 
call " savage hordes " have offered themselves up for the 
good of their fellow-men. Surely an effluence from the 




AMONG THE HILLS OF OBISSA. 75 

Divine Soul must have passed over these strange mystic 
mediators, as they stood trembling upon Davee's altar, 
clutching the sharp knife in their uplifted hand, their 
faces turned towards the darkening earth, singing the su- 
preme song, and uttering the supreme cry, " Davee ! do 
all thy acts to me. Spend all thy fury upon me. Spare my 
race from the hungry grave (earth). Drink of my blood, 
and be appeased." And as the echoes of this cry of tri- 
umph and of despair die away in the distance, the self-sac- 
rificing victim plunges the bright steel into his own warm 
heart, bends forward to sprinkle with his life's blood the 
insatiable earth, repeating his song in whispers that grow 
fainter and fainter as he slowly draws out the fatal steel 
and falls dead upon her bare bosom. 

The Eajpoots are still the chiefs. They levy a tax on 
the various tribes who inhabit these hilly regions, and who 
are, in great measure, dependent upon them, trained war- 
riors from their childhood, for their protection. They are 
not distinct from their neighbors, so far as the ceremonials 
of religion are concerned. The number of marriages 
among them is, however, contracted by the exclusion of 
all but their own peculiar clan or caste. Marriage itself 
is an expensive thing, from the costly usages with which 
it is attended among them, while at the same time celi- 
bacy is disgraceful An unmarried daughter is a reproach 
to her parents and to herself; therefore it has been an es- 
tablished custom with the Eajpoot to preserve the chastity 
of his daughter and the honor of his house by doing away 
with his female children a few hours after their birth. 
When a messenger from the Zenn&nfi, announces to 
him the birth of a daughter, the Eajpoot will coolly 
roll up between his fingers a tiny ball of opium, to be 
conveyed to the mother, who thereupon, with many a bit- 
ter tear, rubs on her nipple the sleep-giving poison, and 
the babe drinks in death with its mother's milk, 



76 BOMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

Here again we find a striking anomaly in the Hindoo 
character. The parental instinct is as strong in the people 
of India as in any people of the world ; and even where 
no parental tie exists, the tenderness with which strong; 
bearded men devote themselves to the care of young chil- 
dren is as touching as it is remarkable. A childless 
woman, too, is a miserable creature, a hissing and a re- 
proach among men, and barrenness is only accounted for 
as a punishment for some grievous sin committed against 
the gods in a pre-existent state. Nevertheless, among the 
high-caste Eajpoot tribes female infanticide is universally 
practised ; so that, in the district in which Kama was born, 
owing to its decline from the prosperity of former years, 
a high-born girl was rarely if ever heard of 

On a high and projecting rock, whose scarped and 
rugged outlines bid defiance to the pedestrian, stood the 
stately mansion of Dhotee Bhad, the chieftain of Megara, 
and the father of Eama, recognizable by its grand appear- 
ance, its balconies of fretted stone, and its long windows, 
which commanded for miles the surrounding country. It 
is a wild and solitary spot, and out of the direct road to 
any place ; but it had two advantages, — it was almost in- 
accessible, and it overlooked valleys which were as luxu- 
riant with verdure as the hills around were sterile and 
barren. Two miles from this spot rises the Ghat Meri&h, 
crowned with a grove of stately trees, whose profound 
brown shadows and lurid gloom is said to be caused by 
the spirits of the victims offered up yearly there, and 
whose grand proportions are dimly visible at points here 
and there as you approach the grove. At the foot of this 
Ghat, in a thick and all but impenetrable forest, are sev- 
eral magnificent ponds from which the inhabitants draw 
their water. 

Such was the home and the birthplace of our hero 
Eama. 




THE REBEL DUKE P'HAYA SI P'HIFOOR. 77 



CHAPTEE IX. 

THE REBEL DUKE P'HAYA SI P'HIFOOR 

FT the year 1831 a revolutionary war broke out in the 
northern provinces of Siam. The ringleader of this 
disaffected part of the country was the Duke Fhaya Si 
Fhifoor, a man who, from his high position, great warlike 
talents, and immense wealth, possessed an unbounded in- 
fluence over the inhabitants of the northern provinces. 
It is said that even from his infancy the demon Ambition 
had taken such possession of him that he used to imagine 
himself a king, and that, from that time to the fatal ter- 
mination of his life, he dreamt of nothing but the sceptre 
and the supreme sway. 

It was one of his first efforts, therefore, to gather from 
distant lands all the disaffected and ambitious spirits he 
could muster together, — men who would be brave and 
skilful enough to take the helm in the storm that must 
follow his inexorable bidding. 

In 1821 he sent secret agents by an Indian merchant 
ship to Calcutta to enlist for him a troop of hardy war- 
riors of the Eajpoot tribe. Among this troop hired in Cal- 
cutta and transshipped to Siam was our prisoner, Bama 
Singalee, — Eama the lion. He, with the rest of his party, 
had been implicated in some incipient rebellion against 
the British government, and had fled for concealment to 
the densely populated city of Calcutta, where, after sev- 
eral years of hard struggling to obtain some means of 
livelihood not derogatory to their high caste, they were 
induced to sell their services to the agent of the Duke 
Fhaya Si Fhifoor. This band of hired mercenaries landed 



78 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

secretly in the Gulf of Martaban, at the mouth of the 
Irrawady, whence by night travel they arrived at Fhia 
Batt Here portions of land in the tenure of the duke 
were allotted to them, and they were dispersed until a 
fitting opportunity should offer for striking the final blow 
which was to place their master on the throne of Siam, 
and themselves in offices of trust in the kingdom. 
. So things went on for several years, when Rama fell in 
love with a Loatian girl of singular beauty, but could not 
collect money enough to satisfy the demands of her 
parents. 

It was the custom of the Duke Fhaya Si Fhifoor to 
make an annual visit to Fhra Batt, ostensibly with varied 
offerings to the footprint of Buddha, from which the 
whole mountainous district is named, but in reality to 
muster his retainers, give them presents, and exact fresh 
promises of service, or to traverse the entire country gain- 
ing fresh adherents to his cause. 

On one occasion a dreadful fever ravaged his party; 
many of them had to be left at the different monasteries 
to be cared for, while Rama and a few followers only ac- 
companied him. Just as the sun was setting behind the 
mountains, Rama, who acted as pioneer, heard the sound 
of some animal in the thick underwood. He crept quick- 
ly back, motioned his companions to halt, and advanced 
alone. A few yards from him he saw a tiger, immovable, 
yet stealtliily watching his opportunity to make a spring. 
Night was fast approaching, and so was death ; but Rama 
drew near, his eyes fixed steadily and unfalteringly on 
those of the beast. At last he took his position, and for 
a moment or two they glared one upon the other. Then 
in the distance the rest of the party, breathless, their 
hearts beating quickly, heard the dismal roar of a goaded 
and infuriate animal, and the heavy blows of a battle-axe. 
Their terror was only equalled by their joy when they 




THE EEBEL DUKE FHAYA SI FHIFOOR. 79 

saw the huge creature extended before them in death. 
The duke came up, and instantly rewarded the brave war- 
rior with a hundred pieces of gold. 

Gold enough to buy Malee, the beautiful Loatian girl ! 

Next morning he prostrated himself before the duke, 
and requested permission to return at once to Fhra Batt, 
which was granted him. Thus did the Eajpoot obtain to 
wife the woman he loved. 

Meanwhile the duke, still cherishing his darling ambi- 
tion, consulted all the astrologers in the courftry, who 
drew auguries from ants, spiders, and bees, and predicted 
for him a brilliant career. This so worked upon the 
already inflamed imagination of Fhaya Si Fhifoor, that 
he was led, in an unguarded moment, to throw down the 
gauntlet and declare open war against the king of Siam, 
whom he branded with the titles of fox and usurper. 

Through his secret emissaries he caused edicts to be 
proclaimed everywhere, nominating himself in the name 
of the people and of heaven as the lawful successor to the 
throne. 

The entire army of the priesthood and the people were 
on his sida Hosts of men from all parts of the country 
flocked to his standard. The duke, mounted on a white 
elephant, headed the rabble crowd. Before him, on horse- 
back, rode the hired Rajpoot band of warriors. 

Tidings of this alarming insurrection soon reached the 
enraged monarch at Bangkok, who instantly summoned a 
council of war, and sent trumpeters all over the land to 
blast forth a direful malediction, in the name of all the 
hosts of heaven, upon the rebel duke and his followers. 

The rebel duke and his frenzied legions made rapid 
progress, however. They could be seen covering the 
entire face of the country, rushing on with shouts and 
cries and furious bounding of elephants and horses, with 
flourish of trumpets and of banners, — a terrible, undisci- 



80 BOMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

plined, myriad-faced monster, being neither burnt up with 
the scorching rays of Suriya, nor scattered by the thunder- 
bolts of Indra. The king, who had stormed so loud and 
so lustily from behind the purdah-curtain of his throne, 
now trembled and cowered in the midst of his fifteen 
hundred wives, and let the duke ride triumphantly, almost 
to the very gates of his palace at Ayudia. 

In this emergency the prime minister, Somdetch Ong 
Yai, the father of the present premier, assumed the com- 
mand of the army, transshipped all the guns he could 
muster into small crafts, — the river at Ayudia being too 
shallow for ships of great tonnage, — taking with them an 
ample supply of ammunition, and with hardly twelve 
thousand men sailed up the river, amid the shouts and 
prayers of the terrified inhabitants. 

On their arrival at Ayudia the guns were conveyed on 
trucks to the point whence the attack was expected. 
Here Somdetch Ong Yai hastily erected several batteries, 
and awaited the attack. 

Scarcely four hours had elapsed after the completion of 
these preparations, when the whole neighborhood was 
aroused by the war-cry of the rebel army, which appeared 
in sight, headed by the duke. The Rajpoot cavalry, 
armed with long rifle-guns, bows and arrows, and poisoned 
lances, prepared to storm the batteries. There was a mo- 
ment of fearful silence, followed by a flash and the 
thundering roar of the artillery from the other side. The 
monster army of the rebel duke reeled, scattered, and gave 
way, all but the Rajpoot cavalry, almost every one of 
whom lay dead or dying on the field. The prime minis- 
ter, Somdetch Ong Yai, rushed forward and captured the 
rebel duke, wounding, in the attempt, one gigantic, des- 
perate soldier, who fought with a recklessness of daring 
in behalf of his misguided leader that won the admira- 
tion of friend and foe. 




THE REBEL DUKE FHAYA SI P'HIFOOR. 81 

Where was the monster army now ? 

Of the dead and dying there were a thousand or more, 
of living captives only two, — the Duke Fhaya Si Fhi- 
foor, and one faithful soldier, Eama Singalee. The rest 
had, at the first sound of the cannon, fled far beyond its 
range. Like a wave of the ocean it had swept out of 
sight. Fhaya Si Fhifoor was carried to Bangkok, tried, 
and sentenced to death. A general amnesty was pro- 
claimed, and the generous premier, Somdetch Ong Yai, 
took Rama into his own household, had him cared for and 
promoted to a place of trust. As for the wretched duke, 
on his arrival at Bangkok he was condemned first to have 
his eyes put out, and then to be placed in an iron cage, 
which was suspended from a scaffolding in the middle of 
the river, so that the unfortunate captive could manage 
just barely to touch with the tips of his fingers the 
waters as they rippled under it. 

Here he was left by that most inhuman of the kings 
of Siam, Fhendin Klang, without food or raiment, ex- 
posed to the burning heat of the noonday sun, to 
suffer from the acutest agonies of thirst, within hearing 
and touch of the waters that flowed in perpetual eddies 
beneath his feet. 

How ardently must that poor, unhappy man have 
prayed for death ; and that dark angel, at all times too 
ready to come unbidden to the good and happy, stood 
aloof, and seemed to mock at his misery for many and 
many a weary day and night, until at length it began to 
be whispered among the people — many of whom would 
gladly have brought him food and drink, but for the dread- 
ful punishment threatened on all such as should attempt 
in any way to mitigate his tortures — that the angels, 
pitying his sufferings, brought him nightly portions of 
the " amreeta," on which they feed so plentifully in heaven. 

But the truth was, that Rama Singalee was the stout- 

4» P 



82 ROMANCE OV THE HAREM. 

hearted angel who battled nightly with the strong currents 
of the M&inam, and brought, at the risk and peril of his 
life, some boiled rice and water in the hollow of a bam- 
boo cane, which, as he floated beneath the iron cage, he 
held up to his late master's mouth, who sucked therefrom 
the scanty portion of food it contained. 

The last night of the unfortunate prisoner's life, Rama 
set out as usual, ignoring the pain of his wounds, and, 
swimming manfully against the strong tide that threat- 
ened to bear him away with it, he reached the spot about 
three o'clock in the morning, stealthily approached the 
cage, keeping his head under water, but his heart above 
the clouds, with those heroic souls who follow in the path 
of the Son of Heavea He swam right under the cage, 
and looking up in the darkness towards it, saw no shadow 
there. He held up the long bamboo, and rested it against 
the iron bars, but no eager, trembling hand grasped it, as 
it was wont to do. He called out in hoarse whispers, 
" Fhakha, p'hakha, soway tho " (master, master, pray eat). 
No sound, no movement, reached his anxious ears. 

Ah, happy man ! the loving voice of his devoted fol- 
lower reached his ears, and penetrated far into his sinking 
heart, as he lay in his last agonies, coiled up on the floor 
of his cage, and in the double darkness of night and sight- 
lessness, he saw the brave; strong face of this one great 
soul that loved him in spite of all his sin and misery ; and, 
even as he caught the vision, a smile such as would have 
irradiated the throne of God, passed over that blind, dis- 
torted face, and the soul flitted away rejoicing, leaving 
behind it an expression of serenity and peace, as if that 
proud, turbulent, and ambitious spirit had at last been 
taught the meaning of a higher love, and through it had 
breasted the waters, and gained the shore "Where the 
wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest" 
After some years of service in the army, the premier, 




THE REBEL DUKE PHAYA SI FHIFOOR. 83 

Somdetch Ong Yai, being dead, Rama, having been regu- 
larly branded as the vassal of his eldest son, Chow Fhaya 
Mandtree, obtained permission to return home to his wife. 
Just eight years after these events, and the very year after 
his return home, there was born to this brave man a 
daughter, who, as it sometimes happens, by some singular 
freak of nature, or, perhaps, by some higher law of devel- 
opment, was so wondroualy beautiful, that when Rama, 
faithful to the custom of his ancestors, handed to his wife, 
a few hours after her delivery, a ball of opium to be 
rubbed on her breasts, she turned up to him a scared and 
wondering look, muttering, " She is, — she i$ the smile of 
God," the deadly ball dropped from her pulseless hands, 
and her spirit passed away ; and he, broken hearted and 
baffled, rightly interpreted the significance of her dying 
words, not only spared the child's life, but named her 
Devo Sm&yatee (the God smiles). Thus a new life stole 
into the heart and the arms of the old warrior of Orissa. 



84 bomangk or the habkk. 



CHAPTER X. 

THE GRANDSON OF SOMDETCH ONG YAI, AND HIS TUTOR 

P'HRA CHOW 8ADUMAN. 

XTTHEN Rama and his daughter were carried off to 
YY prison, poor Smayatee hardly realized what was 
going to happen. But when a couple of Amazons forced 
her away from her father, and she understood the full 
meaning of what had befallen them, she began to shout 
and scream aloud for help. But none came. 

A child of the mountains and hills, she had as yet de- 
veloped none but the natural instincts of what civiliza- 
tion would call a savage. Combined with her fine organi- 
zation, she inherited a passionate nature, and an intense 
love for the mountains and woods, the earth and sky, 
which were to her so many beautiful gods. To some she 
had been accustomed to offer flowers, to others fruit, oil, 
wine, honey, water. She always set apart a portion of 
every meal for her favorite god Davee, the earth-goddess. 
To such a nature only to live was worship. To see, to 
hear, to gather thoughts and pictures, to feel the throbbing 
pulses ; to fill the eye with images of beauty, the heart 
with impulses of love and joy ; to place the mind face to 
face with the unwritten mysteries wliich nature unfolds 
to it, — is, indeed, the highest sphere of contemplation and 
worship, as well for the savage as the child of civilization. 

The Amazons who guarded the cell chatted together in 
a low tone, while Smayatee, exhausted by her cries and 
screams for help, had sunk into a deep sleep. They re- 
marked on the beauty of her skin, the roundness of her 
limbs, the softness of her cheeks, and the superb lashes 




THE GRANDSON OF SOMDETCH, AND HIS TUTOR. 85 

that rested so lightly upon them, and wondered who she 
could be ; for though her dress bespoke her of the peasant 
class of the Loatians, her form and face betokened high 
birth. 

" He must have stolen her," said one of the women ; 
"she cannot be his daughter, though she calls him father." 

" He has brought her here for sale, of course," added 
another ; " else why should he have chosen such a place as 
this, so near the royal palace, for encampment" 

" Ah, well ! whatever be her lot, poor child, let us not 
add to her sufferings ; she will have enough of them in 
this life," rejoined the kind-hearted chief officer. 

The bell above the prison gate, with its brazen tongue, 
tolled out twelve (i. e., five in the morning) ; the girl, aroused 
as it were by the voice of an angel, started, rubbed her eyes, 
and looking around seemed to recall the events of the last 
night She then made several profound salutations and 
invocations to a gleam of sunlight that came straggling 
into her cell, wrapped her saree over her head and face, 
and placed herself near the door, so as to be able to pass 
out the moment it should be opened. 

" Take something to eat, child," said the chief of the 
Amazons on guard, who was partaking of a breakfast of 
cold rice and fish, " and wait till the sun is higher in the 
heavens, and I will go with you ; it is not fit that one so 
young and beautiful should go out alone and unpro- 
tected." 

She was too kind-hearted to tell her that she was a 
prisoner, and no longer free to go in and out. 

Sni&y&tee had hardly swallowed a few mouthfuls of 
rice, when the guardsman of the previous night appeared, 
with orders to the Amazons to take her to the Sala of the 
Grand Duke, Chow Fhaya M&ndtree ; as they, on discov- 
ering from the mark on the old man's arm that he was a 
vassal of that nobleman, had resigned him to the cus- 
tody of his officers. 



86 ROMANCE OV THE HAREM. 

The Amazons led the way, and Sm&y&tee followed with 
faltering steps. Nobody noticed her. Everybody seemed 
excited and eager. Every one hurried towards the same 
spot 

In her uncertainty the girl could see nothing in the 
world but the river running strong, yet running calmly 
on. After a little while she began to trace the opposite 
bank ; a little way to the left something hanging midway 
in the sky, as she supposed, or rather in mid-distance ; 
there being as yet no sky, no heaven, no earth ; nothing 
but the river. This was a bridge ; they cross the bridge. 
Where does it lead to ? Whither flows this mysterious 
stream, of which the coming and the going are equally 
full of wonder and dread to her ? What mysterious, en- 
chanted palaces and temples are those looming out yonder 
on the other side ? To her ignorance they are but in- 
finitude and the unknown. Now they near the duke's 
palace ; the odors of orange-flowers and spice-groves reach 
them, like airs that breathe from paradise. 

Having come to the great hall, the Amazons take their 
places on one of the lowest steps, Sm&y&tee seated between 
them ; they are contented to chew their betel and to wait 

The hall is full of men. The work of branding and 
enrolling goes briskly on under the orders of a young 
nobleman, called Nai Dhamaphat, the grandson of Som- 
detch Ong Yai. Every now and then some persons are 
brought forward to be admonished, fined, or whipped. 
Sometimes from among this crowd a boy is dragged out 
forcibly, and branded. 

Through the masses of men, lighted up now by the full 
blaze of sunlight, Sm&y&tee sought one form and one 
figure only, and he was nowhere to be seen. 

Suddenly the Grand Duke was announced ; he entered 
the hall with conscious swagger, followed by a long train 
of attendants and slaves. 




THE GRANDSON OF SOMDETCH, AND HIS TUTOR. 87 

No words could express what there was in the face and 
figure of this man, as he rolled rather than walked into 
the centre of the hall 

Work instantly ceased; all around crouched and hid 
their faces. This did not rouse his huge, drowsy nature 
into even a look of recognition ; he growled rather than 
spoke the orders for the workers to continue, and turned 
to his son and said, "Dhamaphat, what is this about Rama 
Singalee having attacked the captain of the royal guards ? " 

" My Lord," replied the latter, " the captain, as far as I 
can learn, is as much to blame as the old soldier, who 
says he only struck him in defence of his daughter." 

" A daughter, eh ! I did not know the old fellow had a 
daughter." 

At this point in the conversation Sm&y&tee, who had 
been listening with deep attention, leaned forward, and 
fearlessly addressed the duke, said, " Do you want that 
I should tell you how it happened, my lord ? " 

"Well, speak out!" said the duke, turning savagely 
upon the girl for having dared to interrupt him unbidden. 

He checked himself, however, as his eye fell upon the 
graceful, veiled figure, and said rather more gently, " Go 
on, how was it ? " 

Smayatee threw back her covering, sat up, and re- 
peated the story of her long journey, her father's fears to 
leave her alone at home, their encampment near the royal 
palace, her fearful alarm, and how it was to save her that 
her- father struck the captain of the king's guard. 

The girl never looked so beautiful, so fearless ; there 
was in her look the innocence and the ignorance of a 
babe. It was not the words she uttered, but the face she 
presented, the look so sad and yet so full of trust, which 
served to rouse the drowsy nature of the duke, and to 
change his repulsiveness into something more hideous still 

Dhamaphat listened, too, with intense interest; it 



88 KOMANCE OF THE HAREX. 

seemed as if his whole soul were concentrated into his 
eyes and ears. 

The duke was puzzled what to say. He turned to 
exchange a few words, in an undertone, with his son, and 
then dismissed the Amazons, charging them, on the peril 
of their lives, not to lose sight of the girl, and promising 
the latter to have the matter investigated on the following 
day. 

In Siamese life the lights and shadows are equally 
strong. At once brilliant and gloomy, smiling and sombre, 
lighted as by the radiance of dawn, and at the same 
time enveloped in the darkness of night 

The branding and enrolling for the day was over. The 
crowds dispersed to their various homes. 

When the young man, Nai Dhamaphat, went out, he 
had but one thought ; it was to follow that girl, and try, 
if possible, to see her face and hear her voice again. 

There was something in that face that had changed the 
whole current of his being, and had set him, charged with 
a new force, in the midst of a little world all by itself, 
the horizon of which was bounded by her possible smile. 

He turned his steps towards the grand palace, and 
gazed upon the place where she was imprisoned ; he was 
almost at the gate. He wavered in his mind ; custom 
and his natural reserve forbade him to speak to a strange 
woman ; with a bewildered air he retraced his steps and 
went home. 

That part of Bangkok in which Chow Fhaya M&nd- 
tree lived was laid out in small squares, each walled in 
by low ramparts, enclosing the residence and harem of 
some great noble ; but the duke's palaces were surrounded 
by a wall only on three sides, from which ran, parallel to 
the river-front, several streets, and among them the gold 
and silver streets, so designated from their being inhabited 
by artists skilled in the working of those metals. 




THE GRANDSON OF SOMDETCH, AND HIS TUTOR. 89 

The snn had set when Dhamaphat reached his home, 
but it was already night. Here there is no twilight, — that 
soft messenger that lingers, unwilling, as it were, to usher 
in the darkness of night. 

Moonlight, with its silvery touches, rested on the palace 
roofs and made even ugliness and decay beautiful The 
tall' cocoa and betel palms, moved by the wood-nymphs, 
fluttered and waved their branches to and fro, beckoning 
him nearer and nearer, and presenting a spectacle, strange, 
yet lovely in the extreme. 

The bright moon was soon lost to view, except where it 
penetrated the thick, overhanging foliage. On the gate- 
way the pendent branches of the bergamot gave forth a 
rich perfume. The shrill chirping of myriads of grass- 
hoppers, which seem never to sleep, with the sounds of 
distant music, fell upon his ear, as his father's temples and 
palaces burst upon his view, a mingled scene of fairy 
beauty, artificial elegance, and savage grandeur, — domes, 
turrets, enormous trees, and flowers such as are met with 
nowhere else beneath the sun. The oldest temples in 
Siam stood here, containing strange and wonderful objects, 
with stranger and more wonderful recollections attached 
to them. That one on the right was once, in the reign of 
the usurper, Fhaya Tak, the principal stronghold of his 
ancestors, and where, even after long years, they were still 
wont to repair, at a particular moon in every year, to pray 
beside the golden pagoda that enshrined the charred bones 
of his forefathers. That gray palace had witnessed many 
a gay assemblage, held by the old duke, Somdetch Ong 
Tai, his grandfather. 

He entered the temple, beneath the portal of which 
were some deeply graven rhymes from the Vedas, to him 
equally dark as the dark image of Buddha that had slum- 
bered for centuries at the base of the glittering altar. Yet, 
wonderful as were the objects that met the eye of the 



90 BOMANCS OF THE HABX1C 

young man, he simply prostrated himself before the altar, 
and turned to his father's palace. 

A low, open verandah faced the entrance. Choice birds 
were singing in their cages, and soft lights* of cocoanut-oil 
were gleaming down upon them. A number of noblemen 
were lounging on cool mats, some playing chess, others 
engaged in conversatioa Slaves were passing round 
tempting fruits, and refreshing drinks of spiced wines and 
cocoanut nectar. 

Dhamaphat prostrated himself before his father, and 
took his place on a low seat He had no sooner done so, 
than he was startled by the entrance of some armed men, 
who brought in the old Rajpoot, and stationed him and 
themselves at the extreme end of the verandah. 

There was something particularly interesting about the 
prisoner. He was a tall, slender, alert-looking man, about 
sixty, fair, with aquiline features, and expressive and 
determined countenance. There were lines on his face 
that told of hardship and suffering, though these seemed 
in no degree to have depressed his spirits, or to have im- 
paired his youthful vigor and activity. He wore a blue 
cloak, and an ample turban of blue silk. 

The duke at length addressed the prisoner, and said : 
" Eama, you have committed a crime which, if you had 
not been my slave, would have handed you over to the 
criminal's prison for life, or to instant death; and now, 
since your daughter has told us with her own lips, that it 
was in her defence you struck the captain of the royal 
guards, I am going to pay him a heavy fine, and smother 
this affair. But only on one condition, however, — " 

The duke paused for a reply, or some expression of 
thankfulness. 

None came. 

The old soldier turned his head, and looked at h™ in 
serious doubt 




THE GRANDSON OF SOMDETCH, AND HIS TUTOR. 91 

After waiting a little while he repeated, " Only on one 
condition ; that thou sell to us, for our service and pleasure, 
this daughter of thine, and we will take better care of 
her than thou art able to do." 

It was fully half an hour before Rama seemed to com- 
prehend the meaning of his master's words. He had 
never thought of his daughter occupying such a position ; 
he had hardly realized that she was no longer a child. 
Now his feeling of caste and race rose up within him ; 
his strong nature was moved, as he saw her snatched 
away from him. All manner of recollections and reveries 
full of tenderness came whispering at his heart, and the 
words: "My lord, to this I can never consent," came 
slowly, brokenly forth, as if out of a heart struggling for 
mastery over some great emotion. 

The duke sprang to his feet, staggered — for he had been 
drinking heavily — up to the chained prisoner, and, clench- 
ing his palsied, trembling hand, he cried in a thundering 
voice : " You dare to refuse me ! By the gods, I will neither 
eat nor drink until I have seized and given her to my 
lowest slave ! and if you do not quickly repent of your 
rash refusal, you shall be cast into prison for the rest 
of your life. Do you forget what my father did for you, 
you ungrateful dog?" and his dark face became purple 
with rage and fury. 

The old warrior trembled in every limb, not from fear, 
but from horror. He knew what to expect from the 
eldest son of his late master. His heart burned with 
indignation. But what could he do? How could he 
defend her ? He thought bitterly of the weakness that 
had placed the honor of his house and race at the mercy 
of a stranger ; that little ball of opium would have saved 
her from all possible insult. He groaned aloud, feeling 
that this was a just retribution for his innovation upon 
the ancient custom of his house, and large tears rolled 
down his' rugged face. 



a 



ROMANCE OF THI HAREM. 



The drowning man, overtaken by the supreme agohy, 
lives, in an instant, through all his happy and unhappy 
past In a single moment he sees the whole drama of 
his life reacted before him. Thus it was with Rama ; he 
recalled with anguish the scenes of Smay&tee's childhood, 
her youth and growing womanhood, all her early glad- 
ness, all her bright hopes and illusions, all her gifts of 
beauty and affection, wliich made one picture with her 
present degradation, and served only to darken the riddle 
of her life to him. 

The courage that had withstood a hungry tiger now 
gave way before the picture of the deeper degradation 
that might, because of his refusal, befall his child. He 
flung himself on the ground, and muttered: "She is 
yours, my lord." 

" Sa-baye " (good), said the duke, clapping his hands ; " I 
knew you would give in ; you are no fool, Bama. It is 
the women whom we find so difficult to manage, when 
they take an idea into their heads. Take him away to 
his cell now," said he, addressing the guards, " to-morrow 
we will make it all right, and when the girl comes to the 
Sala, we shall apprise her of the high honors in store for 
her. Here," said he, throwing some money to the jailers, 
" g° yo u and make merry till morning, and be sure and 
give the prisoner as much as he can eat and drink." 

The guards departed, leading away a fierce, revengeful- 
looking old man. 

When they were gone, the duke, addressing Nai Dhama- 
phat, said : " What think you of our clemency to our 
slaves, my son ? We would not take possession of this 
beautiful girl without the old fellow's consent." 

He then began to laugh, and added : " Ah, she shall be 
my cup-bearer, and my good friends here will have an 
opportunity of admiring her beauty ! " 

The son simply bowed his head, in seeming acknowl- 




THE GRANDSON OF SOMDETCH, AND HIS TUTOR. &* 

edgment of his father's goodness, and after a while re- 
tired from the pavilion, passed over the bridge, and out 
of the palace gates. 

There could not be a greater difference of character 
than that which existed between the duke and his eldest 
son ; the one gross, sensual, cowardly, the other proud and 
domineering, yet withal brave, generous, religious, and 
impulsive. 

Every year found them farther apart in education, 
thought, feelings, hopes, and aspirations. The one stand- 
ing, as it were, with his foot on the first step of a ladder 
that was to lead him towards the highest ideal of Chris- 
tianity, the other sunk beyond all hope in the ignorance 
of a savage barbarism. 

But now this last scene was too much for the former. 
It snapped asunder the fragile cord that still bound him 
to his father, and placed him in the position of an antag- 
onist 

Every nation has certain constitutional peculiarities 
which give rise to practices and phases of thought very 
startling to others, who are, in such points, differently 
constituted. The most remarkable peculiarity of tliis 
kind is the reverence with which parents are regarded in 
Siam No matter how unjust, capricious, cruel, and re- 
pulsive a parent may be, a child is bound to reverence his 
or her slightest wish as a sacred obligation. 

For Dhamaphat, therefore, even to question his father's 
actions was, he felt, a moral dereliction. He was full of 
remorse and regret, and thought with despair of the fate 
that awaited him. 

He had gained a little wooden bridge, which, thrown 
across a canal, led him into a lonely field ; here he 
motioned back the slaves who attempted to follow him, 
and strode rapidly out into the open country, where he 
no longer heard the sounds of revelry, feasting, and Iicen- 



94 KOMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

tious mirth. Rambling through the many tangled forest- 
paths, he gradually emerged into a low, wooded expanse. 
The air was full of delicious fragrance, and alive with 
strange noises. He saw in the distance the calm, majes- 
tic river, all aglow with its myriads of lights and lanterns, 
yet it failed to call forth a single reflection; he could 
picture nothing but the face of the strange girl, and that 
haunted him all the way. He pressed on, tired, feverish, 
with sad and troubled thoughts ; he reached the wall that 
skirts the city ; throwing some silver to the guards, who 
knew him well, he passed out of the gate, and out of the 
city of the "Invincible," to the visible archangel of 
nature. 

Here the solitude was startling ; no more streets, no more 
lights, no more houses. Even the quiet river seemed to 
hush on her white and shining bosom the soft light of the 
moon, as if it were the face of a beloved child, until she 
caught a reflection of its beauty, and was transfigured 
down a hundred feet deep, as far as light could penetrate, 
into a clear, translucent soul, in its first dreamless sleep. 

Moved by some secret purpose, he hurried on through a 
profusion of flowering plants and trees ; he passed un- 
noticed the slender betel and cocoanut palms, and the 
numerous species of huge convolvuli " that coiled around 
their stately stems, and ran e'en to the limit of the land," 
the long lance-leaves of the wild plantains, the rich 
foliage of the almonds, the gorgeous oleanders that broke 
through the green masses in every variety of tint, from 
the richest crimson to the lightest pink. Presently he 
dashed aside a huge night-blooming cereus, and stood 
before a long, low building, a partly ruined monastery, 
adjoining an ancient and dilapidated Buddhist templa 

The monastery was a sort of long, low corridor or hall, 
lined on each side with chambers, each about ten feet deep, 
and lighted by a small aperture in the wall. 




THE GRANDSON OF SOMDETCH, AND HIS TUTOR. 95 

It was a gloomy place, old and unhealthy. Poisonous 
plants, creepers, and flowers reigned jubilant here, with 
ruin and desolation for companions. 

Yet, dismantled, worm-eaten, and ruined as the building 
appeared, it had been the school of young Dhamaphat for 
nearly ten years, and it was the home of a solitary old 
man, who had spent forty years of his lifetime forget- 
ful of friends, affections, food, sleep, and almost of exist- 
ence in his contemplations of the mystery of things 
beyond, and that still greater mystery called life; his 
friends and relations had endeavored by every artifice, 
the allurements of beauty and every other imaginable 
gratification, to divert him from the resolution he had 
adopted. Every attempt to dissuade him had been in 
vain. And now he had gained a fame as widespread as 
the most ambitious heart could desire. Among the peo- 
ple he was known under the title of Fhra Chow S&du- 
man, the sainted priest of heaven. Prodigious stories 
were afloat about him Born of noble parents, he had 
from his early youth practised an asceticism so rigorous 
and severe that it had prepared him, it was thought, for 
his supernatural missioa It was not only alleged, but 
believed, that at the sound of his inspired voice the dead 
arose and walked, the sick were healed; that diseases 
vanished at the touch of his hand ; sinners were con- 
verted by his simple admonition; wild beasts and ser- 
pents were obedient to his word ; and that in his moments 
of ecstasy he floated in the air before the eyes of his dis- 
ciples, passed through stone walls and barred gates, and, in 
fact, could do whatsoever he willed. 

The crumbling old door of the cell was partly open ; 
no light was visible ; and, as Dhamaphat stood there hesi- 
tating whether he would enter, a low, faint, tremulous sound 
came out of the darkness within, and floated upward on the 
silence of night like the voice of some celestial chorister. 



96 ROMANCE OF THE HAEEK. 

It was the Buddhist's evening hymn, or chant, and the 
familiar words — 

" Nania BudcUa phakava thouraha, 
Saraa Boodhsa that&a Phutthang 
Puriaa thamma sarathi 
Sangkhang saranang ga cha mi," etc, 

freely translated, 

" O thou, who art thyself the light, 
Boundless in knowledge, beautiful as day, 
Irradiate my heart, my life, my night, 
Nor let me ever from thy presence stray ! M — 

touched his better nature and melted his heart He 
stooped forward, and listened to it lovingly as it rose 
higher and higher, growing more and more exultant till it 
caught Ids trembling spirit, and bore it away beyond the 
confines of this world face to face with a Divine Ineffa- 
ble Presence full of harmony and beauty. 

His anger and his grief were forgotten. 

So Dhamaphat turned his face to the sky. One moment 
he stood erect in an absolute halo of light, the next he 
was combatting darkly with the blind shadows of lovd 
and hate, cause and effect, merit and demerit, the end- 
less evolutions of the " wheel " of an irresistible law into 
which all things are cast 

He felt something cold pass over his hand ; he started, 
and became aware that the good priest had finished his 
devotions. He tapped gently, and was told to enter, 
which he did hesitatingly. 

In the middle of the cell sat the priest, who seemed, 
even in his old age, full of the vigor of manhood ; his legs 
were crossed, his arms folded, and his eyes cast down ; 
he did not even raise them at the entrance of the young 
man ; he was in that semi-stupor commonly called con- 
templatioa In one corner a narrow plank, quite bare, and 
a wooden pillow served for his bed ; beside it an old fan, 
a pot for water, an earthen vessel for rice, some rude old 




THE GRANDSON OF SOMDETCH, AND HIS TUTOR. 97 

instruments and books ; beyond these the cell was bare, 
damp, cold, slimy, and unhealthy. It was without any 
light, save where the moonlight fell in ghastly lights and 
shadows through the slits in the wall 

"My father, said the young man, as he reverently 
prostrated himself before the priest, who half opened his 
dull eyes, and said : " S'amana phinong " (peace, brother). 

" Alas ! " replied Dhamaphat ; " in this life there is no 
peace, no rest, no freedom from suffering; the endless 
revolutions of the wheel only crush out life, to reproduce 
it again in another form." 

"'Take the reins, and ride over it, then," said the priest, 
meditatively. " What says the Dharma padam ? * 

" Stop the chariot valiantly ; arrest the horses of desire. 
When thou hast comprehended that which is made, thou 
wilt understand that which is not made, — the uncreate. 
Some do not know that we must all come to an end here ; 
but some do know it, and with them all conflicts cease. 
He who lives for pleasure only, his passions uncontrolled, 
immoderate in his enjoyments, idle and weak, him will 
the tempter overcome, as the wind overcomes a worm- 
eaten tree/ 

" If we could live a thousand years, it would be worth 
our while to struggle after the pleasures of this world. 
Death comes too soon. There are many beginnings, but 
no ending to life. Let us practise the four virtues, my 
brother ; they alone are real, satisfactory, the true illumi- 
nators of the mind ; without this inward illumination, 
what is life but darkness, storms, wild, unconscious tu- 
mult, the ceaseless tumbling of the fierce tides of passion ; 
and death, but exhaustion ? " 

" Alas ! " cried the young man, in a voice full of emo- 
tion ; " is life indeed such an empty void ? Is there no 
compensation anywhere ? " 

• Dharma padam, the " Path of Virtue." — Buddhist Bible. 
5 o 



98 ROMANCE OF THE HAKEK. 

The priest opened wide his half-dosed eyes, looked 
full into Dhamaphat'8 face, and remarked: "Thou ait 
strangely disturbed to-night, my brother. Is it not well 
with thee ? " 

Dhamaphat made no reply. 

There was sympathy, and a touch of tender feeling in 
the voice of the priest, as he bent close to his young 
pupil, and said : " What is thy suffering ? Speak freely 
to me, and I will aid thee to the utmost of my ability." 
Saying this, the priest arose, and passed his hand slowly 
over the clefts in the wall Instantly the moon withdrew 
her light 

At this moment the night-owl suddenly gave a harsh 
and prolonged cry. 

" That bird answers to thy thoughts," said the priest 

Dhamaphat shuddered ; he believed that in the cry of 
the bird he heard an echo of his own wild desire to frus- 
trate his father's plans. 

Then in a few stirring words he told the priest of his 
love for the Rajpoot's daughter, of her present situation, 
and of his desire to help her and her father to escape. 

At the words, " Bajpoot's daughter," the old man started, 
and there passed over his face, unseen, an expression of 
regret mingled with desire, with which a thirsty man sees 
afar off, out of his possible reach, a cup of cold water, for 
which he is dying, but which is not for him. Then, as 
suddenly, he sat down, and resumed his calm exterior. 

A full hour passed in complete silence ; the old man 
and the young man sat in the darkness, with their faces 
turned to one another, each on his side thinking over the 
same things, and feeling the same impulses. 

* This is very strange," said he, at length ; " when I 
made my annual pilgrimage to Fhra Batt, last year, a 
lovely girl, Kama the Bajpoot's daughter, who called her- 
self Devo Sm&y&tee, brought me food every morning, and 



THE GRANDSON OF SOMDETCII, AND IIIS TUTOR. 99 

washed my feet every evening. She was then hardly a 
woman, but she filled my heart with a fragrance which is 
all-abiding. But/' added the priest, in an undertone, as 
if for himself, " death carries off a man who is gathering 
flowers, as a flood sweeps away a sleeping villaga He 
in whom the desire for the Ineffable (Nirwana) has sprung 
up, whose thoughts are not bewildered by love, he is the 
' Ordhvamsrotas/ borne on the stream of immortality ; he 
will stand face to face with the Infinite." He spoke 
slowly and deliberately, repeating each word as if they 
conveyed some peculiar meaning to his mind and some 
subtle charm to his senses. 

"Nay, father," rejoined the young man, interrupting 
him, "you do not tell me how I can help her." 

The good old priest — for good he was in spite of the 
strong natural man within him — turned on Dhamaphat 
a look partly of sorrow and partly of affection. Then, 
drawing towards him one of his mysterious books, he 
placed it on his head; with his hands spread out to 
heaven, he gradually moved his body to and fro, until his 
gyrations became rapid and grotesque, uttering strange 
prayers and incantations. After a short time he began to 
prophesy, and said, in fitful spasms : " Thy father's days 
are numbered ; the long night for him is at hand ; fear 
not, this mountain flower will blossom in spring-time on 
thy bosom." 

For more than an hour a cloud had darkened the sky ; 
the moment the priest had done prophesying, a ray of 
moonlight suddenly lighted up his pale face, and was re- 
flected from his smoothly shaven head like a luminous 
circle. 

After gazing upon it for some ten minutes, Dhamaphat 
began to tremble, and turned deadly pale ; feeling that he 
was in the presence of a supernatural being, he once more 
prostrated himself, and withdrew. Some secret influence 



100 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

from the priest had for the moment benumbed into icy- 
coldness and even indifference his ardent love for 
Sm&y&tee. 
It was almost dawn when he sought his couch for rest 

A DREAM OF THE NIGHT. 

Meanwhile the prisoner Rama had had a plentiful re- 
past, and was sleeping heavily, with fatigue and despair 
for a pillow, on the damp floor of his celL 

Towards morning a cold sweat broke out on his brow. 
He felt creeping over him an indefinable horror, a sort 
of nightmare, which he struggled in vain to shake off 
He groaned, panted, and at length sat up with a tremen- 
dous effort 

In a niche in the wall he fancied he saw a pale, blue, 
misty outline of a human figure, so indistinct that at first 
he could only distrust his own vision, but gradually it 
began to take form ; at length it was as clear and palpable 
as a shape of life. It was the face and figure of the 
priest Fhra Chow S&duman, whom he had met a year 
ago in the mountains of Fhra Batt He was dressed in a 
loose robe of cloudy yellow; his legs were crossed, his 
arms folded across his breast, his eyes cast down; he 
seemed to be praying. The shadow of the shade in the 
background grew darker, and the form grew lurid, as if 
surrounded by fire. 

Rama stared, rubbed his eyes ; plainer did the figure 
of the priest appear, until it seemed to rise and swell and 
fill the whole cell A dark, heavy mist settled on the 
prisoner's .face, but the apparition grew brighter. He 
could bear it no longer ; shuddering with horror, he cried : 
" Speak, whoever thou art, and tell me thy commands ; 
they shall be obeyed." 

Suddenly he felt a violent shaking of the ground on 
which he was seated; each moment he expected to be 




THE GRANDSON OF SOMDETCH, AND HIS TUTOR. 101 

hurled into an abyss below ; he clung to the earth, and 
cried again : " Speak ! For by the gods D&vee and Dhupiy & 
I vow to fulfil thy behest, even if it be to offer thee a 
human sacrifice/' 

He then perceived a soft cloud filling the cell, and in 
the centre of the cloud were luminous characters, which 
he read thus : " Sell not thy daughter to the duka" 

The apparition vanished almost as soon as he had deci- 
phered the words. Kama fell back against the wall of 
his cell, and awoke. 

It was long before he could collect his scattered facul- 
ties, and what were left to him seemed steeped in illusion ; 
he could only wonder, and bow in mystified adoration 
before the niche in his cell 



102 BOMANGE OF THE HASH. 



CHAPTER XI. 

THE HEROISM OF A CHILD. 

r' was morning. All were assembled once more in the 
great hall, eager for a termination of their work 

Fresh troops of men to be enrolled and branded arrived 
every moment 

Then came Nai Dhamaphat ; the Kromathan, or overseer; 
and lastly the Grand Duke, followed by an army of slaves, 
attendants, scribes, and cup and punka bearers. As he 
looked about him he saw, with a gleam of satisfaction, 
the veiled figure seated at her post, guarded by Amazons. 

After a few minutes of conversation with the scribe 
who sat at his side, he ordered the prisoner Kama Singa- 
lee to be brought in. 

No one remembered when the old, white-headed stran- 
ger was ushered in. But every one heard the wild ay 
of joy that seemed to die away on the lips of the strange 
girl, as, throwing off her saree, she sprang across the hall, 
and clasped the old man about the neck. After the first 
paroxysm of joy was over, she realized that her father was 
a prisoner ; she looked still hopefully into his face, but, 
seeing no light there, laid her head upon the fetters that 
bound his feet, as if the iron had entered into her very 
soul 

Dhamaphat started, as if struck, and gazed sadly at the 
girl and her father. 

Never scene so touching had been presented in that 
hall before. It arrested every eye, and filled every heart 
with sympathy ; and it was no wonder, — the girl was a 
creature such as that country had never before produced 




THE HEROISM OF A CHILD. 103 

Her beauty was of the purest Indo-European type, rich 
brown complexion, delicate almond-shaped eyes, finely 
arched eyebrows, nose almost Greek in the purity of its 
outlines. Her feet, which had never worn either sandals 
or shoes, were large and perfect in shape ; her arms, slen- 
der as those of a very young girl, were set off to great 
advantage by the metallic and glass bangles she wore ; her 
rich black hair hung in long braids over a coarse .blue 
bodice, which revealed a form of faultless proportions ; 
on her breast, suspended by a yellow cord, was a flat silver 
ring, on which some mystic characters were inscribed. 

The wondrous beauty of the prostrate girl filled the 
father and the son first with pleasure, then with fascina- 
tion, afterwards with rapture; drawn on by irresistible 
steps, they both arrived, unknown to the other, at that 
stage of passion which blinds the sensibilities to every- 
thing else. 

But the desire of one was to possess, the other to res- 
cue. 

The old soldier did not attempt to raise his daughter, 
but, taking off his turban, buried his face in it 

The duke was transported, stupefied ; he paused, hesi- 
tated, then, suddenly, without knowing what moved him, 
he said, in a gentle, tender voice : " Why, girl ? Baise up 
your head. See ! your father is now going to be set free." 

Smayatee lifted up her head, and looked at the speaker 
with an expression of childlike gladness and trust that 
brought to the heart of the wretch before her the long- 
lost sense of shame, and he could not for the moment 
give utterance to the iniquity he was about to perpetrate 
against her ; he beckoned to an attendant, however, a sort 
of treasurer, with a heavy box, who approached, crawling, 
and at his instructions counted upon the floor forty pieces 
of gold, — sixteen times the value of an ordinary slave- 
woman. 



104 ROMANCE OF THE HAEEM. 

Kama still covered his face with his turban, so that 
none could have told what was passing within him 
His daughter laid her hand upon his arm, saying: w O, 
my father, the good duke gives us all this gold and 
promises us freedom ! take it, and thank him, that he may 
permit us to return home." 

The unhappy Rajpoot turned a look full of mournful 
tenderness upon his child At the same moment the 
scribe, who had been industriously writing, laid a paper 
before him, and said, in rather an authoritative manner: 
" Tham Ehai khat thedeo " (make the sale good, L e., sign 
the paper). 

Even now it did not occur to the girl what the paper 
and the forty pieces of gold meant 

To her mind they brought visions of freedom, as her 
heart yearned for the hills and groves of her native land. 
She once more whispered to her father to "take the 
money, and thank the duke, that he may let us go back 
home." 

But the old man looked at her in silence, seemingly 
unable to utter a single word ; his breathing came quick 
and hard, and all at once he gasped out : " The gods far- 
bid me to sell my daughter to thee, my lord. India) 
Agni, and the Maruts, at whose roaring eveiy dweller 
upon earth trembles, forbid me. 0, pardon thy servant, 
my lord, and let us depart hence in peace." 

The duke was doubly enraged, because of his last 
night's promise and the forty pieces of gold with which 
he had hoped to bribe him into an easy parting with his 
child. He turned to the bewildered Smay&tee, and said : 
" Come hither, girL" But as she only looked at him, and 
made no attempt to go nearer, he added : " One thing is 
certain ; this old fool, thy father, is still drunk, and knows 
not his mind ; he sold you to me last night, and now he 
refuses, saying the gods forbid it." 



THE HEROISM OF A CHILD. 105 

Smayatee turned from the duke to her father, her look 
changing from incredulity to surprise, from surprise to 
anguish, while the duke continued : " Now it is you who 
must decide for him ; shall I hand him over to the royal 
judges to be tried and executed for the crime he is ac- 
cused of, or will you consent to be my slave for life ? I 
will mak£ you rich and happy, and I will give him this 
gold, and he shall return in safety to his home." 

He uttered these sentences in a loud, harsh voice, veiy 
different from that in which he had spoken to her a few 
minutes before. 
When he had finished, the crowd cheered the speech. 
The girl looked at them, and, not knowing why, began 
to cry. 
This exasperated the duke. 

He blew a small silver whistle; instantly a band of 
armed men entered the hall, and he gave orders that the 
prisoner should be conveyed to the supreme court to be 
tried for attacking the chief officer of the royal guard, 
with intent to murder him, while he was on duty. 

At this instant the girl seemed to take her resolution ; 
she crawled up to the savage duke's feet, laid her head 
down upon them and kissed them, saying : " I consent to 
be thy slave, my lord. 0, give not my father up to the 
king's officers." 
The duke countermanded his orders. 
" Yes," said she, her face suddenly transfigured, beam- 
ing with the twofold radiance of beauty and nobility of 
soul, "strike off his chains, and let him go free, dear, 
good lord." 

There were no longer any arms being pricked with 
lancet-shaped needles. There were no longer any scribes 
enrolling the people's names. There were only fixed 
eyes, listening ears, and beatings of sympathetic hearts. 
The crowd was dimly conscious of the sublimity of the 

5* 



106 BOMANCK OF THE HAREM. 

act; they were thrilled, awed, as much by her beauty as 
by the simplicity of her heroic self-sacrifice. 

But Dhamaphat, who felt more deeply than the rest, 
noted how suddenly she had overcome her horror, how 
readily she had sacrificed herself for her father, and 
thought he saw in her face the effulgence of a heavenly 
light • 

The order was given, and the Bajpoot was free. One 
final embrace, one look of triumph and despair from the 
girl, and she was led away by some female attendants. 

Kama disappeared in the crowd, regardless of the gold, 
and the paper which his daughter had signed. 

The work of branding and enrolling went on again, and 
the red light of the noonday sun shone upon the walls of 
the palace as if no young heart had been broken within its 
halls that day. 

Dhamaphat left his work and went away, cursing the 
old priest, his tutor, and himself, in the impotency of his 
rage and sorrow. 




INTERIOR OF DUKE CHOW FHAYA MANDTSEFS HABEM. 107 



CHAPTEE XII. 

THE INTERIOR OF THE DUKE CHOW P'HAYA HAND- 
TREE'S HA TERM, 

EVEKY harem is a little world in itself, composed en- 
tirely of women, — some who rule, others who obey, 
and those who serve. Here disinterestedness vanishes 
out of sight. Each one is for herself, They are nearly 
all young women, but they have the appearance of being 
slightly blighted. Nobody is too much in earnest, or too 
much alive, or too happy. The general atmosphere is 
that of depression. They are bound to have no thought 
for the world they have quitted, however pleasant it may 
have been ; to ignore all ties and affections ; to have no 
care but for one individual alone, and that the master. 
But if you became acquainted with some of these veiy 
women under favorable conditions, — very rare, however, 
— you might gather glimpses of recollections of the outer 
world, of earlier life and strong affections, of hearts 
scarred and disfigured and broken, of suppressed sighs 
and unuttered sobs, that would dispose you to melancholy 
reflections and sad forebodings, and, if you were by nature 
tender, to shedding of tears. Their dress and manners 
often betray all sorts of peculiarities, and yet all is har- 
monious outwardly. They are unconscious of the terrible 
defacement they have undergone. Yet it sometimes hap- 
pens that this same little world has its greatness, and al- 
ways when a woman becomes a mother her life changes ; 
she passes from the ignoble to the noble ; then she be- 
comes pure, worthy, honorable. 
The wall that surrounded the duke's palaces and 



108 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

temples enclosed also about five hundred houses, with 
gardens and artificial lakes and fountains and aviaries. 
Most of the houses were built of solid masonry, with here 
and there a theatre of carved wood ; the streets were nar- 
row, and the covered bazaars in no way remarkable except 
for the shops of female jewellers, gold and silversmiths. 
All the palaces and temples faced the river. The oldest 
Hindoo temple stood here, beside a Buddhist temple and 
monastery, from which the priests who officiated in the 
duke's household were supplied. The most remarkable 
edifice, however, was the duke's tower, or summer-house, 
of four lofty stories, opening all round into arches, made 
entirely of carved wood, and richly gilt It commanded 
a magnificent view of the river, and overlooked more 
than one half of the city of Bangkok. When you mount 
the highest chamber, you open your eyes upon a scene too 
solemnly and mysteriously beautiful to be adequately de- 
scribed. You seem to be midway in the air, looking 
down upon a city of temples and palaces, gardens, lakes, 
minarets, pagodas and p'hra-chai-dees ; thousands of boats 
glide noiselessly over the silver floor that winds on for- 
ever. The great height hushes out even the joyous voices 
that are hushed nowhere else. In the gloom at the upper 
end of the river many a boatman, perched on the prow of 
his boat, seems like the Angel of Death guiding some help- 
less passenger to the silent shore. And overhead the 
sky looks like some blue door, such as must lead straight 
into heaven. 

In every ducal or royal harem there are a great many 
buildings designed and built for the express purpose of 
training and educating the women, and every girl has to 
go through certain forms and observances before she is 
admitted among the favored ones. 

The female teachers, physicians, and judges, who are 
placed over them, generally receive a careful professional 




INTERIOR OF DUKE CHOW FHAYA MANDTREFS HAREM. 109 

education, — the best the country can supply. Mere chil- 
dren are often taken into these places and trained to be 
actresses, dancers, musicians, and singers. 

Every department has a superintendent, who is general- 
ly a lady of high rank, and is responsible to the duke 
only. 

The mode of teaching in the schools is peculiar; no 
books are used by the pupils, who are placed in rows, 
with female officers in attendance to administer the rattan 
in all cases of inattention. The teacher either reads or 
sings the first line of a poem, or plays the first bar of an 
air ; the head pupil repeats it after her, and so on to the 
last girl in the class ; then all together, until they have 
learned it by heart Dancing and gymnastics are taught 
in the same way. 

Often a hundred different airs and poems are committed 
to memory by very young girls, who are thus converted 
into walking libraries. 

Smay&tee was led into the adytum of the duke's pal- 
ace, conducted to a small chamber, and left there ; while 
her guards betook themselves to their dinner. Very 
soon, the rumor of her great beauty having spread, nearly 
all the lovely girls in the harem rushed in to get a 
glimpse of her ; but finding her closely veiled, and that 
no persuasion could prevail with her to uncover her fape, 
they gradually departed, one young woman only remain- 
ing behind, sitting apart in silent sympathy. 

After a while two female physicians came in, talking 
in low tones one to the other. They then proceeded to 
question the girl, and to all of their questions she re- 
turned modest replies ; after they were satisfied they bade 
her unrobe, which she did with some little hesitancy. 
When she laid aside her veil, her eyes met those of her 
silent visitor; an indescribable something beamed from 
every feature <5f the stranger, and they became friends. 



110 ROMANCE OF THE HABEM. 

The physicians then examined the girl, just as if she 
were an animal ; having finished their inventory of her 
perfections and imperfections, they dropped a few 
pleasant words, and departed. Sm&y&tee had no sooner 
dressed herself and taken her place olose to her new 
friend, and they had in the brief moment exchanged 
names, when another batch of women appeared, and 
told her to follow them. She rose, and went out, holding 
her new friend's hand. After passing through a dark 
and silent street, they brought her to a marble building; 
with baths and fountains all round it Here she was 
again told to undress, and take her place on a marble 
couch. With her eyes she pleadingly besought her 
friend to stay, who did so, seated, leaning against a pillar. 
The bathers then anointed Sm&y&tee's person with a 
fragrant preparation ; when she was completely besmeared 
they suspended their labors, in order to let die stuff dry 
on the poor girl, who knew no more what was going to 
be done to her than if she had been a little kitten ; and 
as she sat there, her skin glowing and her heart palpitat- 
ing, she heard herself discussed by the bathers, whose 
language she only partially understood. But she heard 
enough to realize the life in store for herself After half 
an hour they seized her again, rubbed off briskly the 
dried paste, and showered buckets of hot and cold water 
upon her. Another set of women now took charge of 
the poor girl, and dressed her in beautiful silk robes, like 
those worn by the Loatian women of high rank. Her 
hair was combed, perfumed, and ornamented with flowers, 
finally she was conducted to a pretty little house, luxu- 
riously fitted up, and left in the charge of a number of 
female slaves. 

Smayatee now wore a new veil of Indian gauze, but she 
would rather have kept the old one. She cowered down 
in a corner, and laid her tired head in the lap of her new 



INTERIOR OF DUKE CHOW FHAYA MAHDTREE'S HAREM. Ill 

friend, who began patting and soothing her, without utter- 
ing a single word. 

Most girls, as soon as they have overcome the horror 
which such a life must naturally inspire in the young 
and enthusiastic, begin to calculate on their chances of 
promotion to the highest place in the harem. 

As for Sm&y&tee, no thought but of escape presented 
itself to her mind; her nature was too wild and untamed 
to be flattered by the luxuries that now surrounded her ; 
she looked upon them only as so many fetters. All kinds 
of wild plans for running away took violent possession 
of her brain ; but the soothing influence of the bath, com- 
bined with the exhaustion of the day, overcame her, and 
she was soon sound asleep. 



112 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 



CHAPTEE XIII. 

A NIGHT OF MYSTERIES. 

MAI CHANDRA., Sm&yatee's new friend, redoubled 
her tenderness and sisterly love for the poor, for- 
lorn girl when she found that she was asleep. As mid- 
night approached, she gently placed her head on a 
cushion, and then went home to her supper, deeply in 
love with the beautiful stranger. 

The Duke Chow Fhaya M&ndtree's pavilion was 
thronged, as usual, with courtiers and nobles. All manner 
of attractions and diversions were there. The duke him- 
self, partly intoxicated, sat amidst them, boasting of the 
rare purchase he had made that day : " She is so beautiful," 
said he to one of his boon companions, " that she in- 
spires me as this glass of English brandy does." And he 
filled and refilled the jewelled goblet out of which he 
drank. 

This man, in his whole person, was a type of many who 
may be seen any day in Siam, — a human being sunk in the 
lowest depths of sensualism and savage barbarity. From 
his hair, which was a dull gray, his wrinkled brow, his 
livid lips and watery eyes, there breathed forth an atmos- 
phere which would have repelled even the mother who 
bore him. 

At one time it was his intention to have Sm&yfttee 
brought into the pavilion, that his friends might judge of 
her beauty ; but, with his faculties already greatly enfeebled 
by the immoderate use of English br&ndy, he foigot his 
purpose. 

At length the distant sounds of trumpets, conch-shells, 




A NIGHT OF MYSTERIES. 113 

and the ringing of multitudinous pagoda-bells proclaimed 
the last hour of day, — i. e. midnight The nobles, cour- 
tiers, and friends retired and some elderly female atten- 
dants appeared ; to them the duke gave orders to have the 
new slave-girl conducted to the upper story of his sum- 
mer tower. 

The day had been hot and sultry ; no clouds were to be 
seen, except low on the eastern horizon, where they 
stretched in lengthened ridges of gold and purple, like 
the border between earth and sky. 

As the women departed on their mission, a dark, heavy 
mass of clouds rose in the black outline of the distant 
hills. A sudden gust of wind, in fits and starts and 
snatches, came sweeping up the river, and tossed its 
waters wildly against the banks ; then flashed incessant 
lightnings, and the winds rang and roared as though they 
heralded with joy the coming thunder-storm. Suddenly 
the moon was blurred with clouds, and the tempest raged 
outright In the midst of the storm the poor terrified 
girl was roused from her slumbers, led to the lofty cham- 
ber, and left alone, while the attendants retired to one of 
the little alcoves to be in waiting. 

Rama — who had that day made a circuit of the walls, 
and had promenaded every nook and corner in the vain 
hope of finding some means of getting, unseen, into the 
duke's palace, had hired a boat, and was sailing wildly 
up and down the river in front of it, laying desperate 
plans of finding his daughter and carrying her off at 
any risk and peril — was at the same moment, by one 
mighty sweep of the water, dashed on the banks that 
bounded op one side the gardens and temples of the pal- 
ace. He staggered to his feet, and raised his head to the 
dreadful sky. A sudden flash of lightning revealed the 
gilded top of the lofty summer tower and the tapering 
summits of the Buddhist and Hindoo temples. 



114 BOMANCE OF THE HABEM. 

With a dreadful purpose burning in his heart, he 
walked straight on to the latter building, which was dim- 
ly lighted, and stood open as if inviting him to take 
shelter under its sacred roof, He entered Happy mem- 
ories, every sweet emotion he had known, came crowding 
upon him, as he once more recognized, in the partial dark- 
ness, the faint outlines of the images of his long-forgotten 
gods, D&vee and Indra and Dhupiyk 

There is compensation in all things. He had lost his 
child, and found his gods. Joy and sorrow are bound up 
in every event of life, — even as opposite poles are in- 
separable in the magnet The pity is that the night of 
trouble is at times so dark that the interwoven gold with 
which Providence relieves the woof of calamity remains 
undiscovered. 

Thus it was with Kama ; there was joy and sorrow in 
his heart as he bowed before the gods of his fathers, but 
there was hatred and revenge there too, mingled with 
dark and bloody thoughts. , 

" Life is now a useless gift, an insupportable burden," 
groaned Rama. 

In how many lives there lurks a hidden romance 
or a hidden terror. No one was near to mark the 
secret workings of this terrible man's nature. He re- 
called his home on the hills of Orissa, the yearly sacri- 
fice that his fathers had been wont to offer up on D&vee's 
altar, and he suddenly resolved that he would himself be 
the sacrifice to his long-forgotten and neglected gods. 

Only one person could have saved him from his rash 
purpose, and she was sitting up there alone, midway be- 
tween earth and heaven. He slowly drew out from his 
cumberbund a glittering knife, and his expression became 
exultant as he felt its sharp edge. 

Not all the gods, not all the love-lit eyes, not all the 
bilk of Orissa, can move him from his purpose now. He 




A NIGHT OF MYSTERIES. 115 

laid the knife upon the altar, and cried aloud to the in- 
satiable Earth Goddess. 

"0 D&vee, thou hast been unworshipped for years; 
multitudes crowd thy sister temples, but thine they pass 
unnoticed by. Behold my child now in the grasp of the 
spoiler. Defend, preserve her, that her honor may shine 
bright among men, and I will pour out to thee the life 
of my heart Drink of my blood, and be revenged on 
the defiler of my house and my race." 

Then, snatching up the knife, he waved it thrice over 
his head, and thrust it into his side. Leaning forward, he 
tried to picture his child's face, but could not for the light 
that love threw around her, and the mist that death 
wrapped round him ; he drew nearer to his childhood's 
God, and, drawing out the knife, fell down at its feet, turn- 
ing up his face to it, reverently, lovingly; and there 
was joy — joy of conscious strength, of victory — ming- 
ling with the life-blood of the heart that was fast flowing 
away forever. 

It is two o'clock. The night is changed. The storms 
and clouds and darkness are all dispersed. The blue sky 
has thrown aside her veils, and the moon rides serenely 
in limitless range, undimmed by a single fleck of cloud. 
The very air breathes sweetness and perfume and peace. 

But of all the mysteries of the night there is one yet 
to be solved. 

Sm&y&tee still sits on one of the sills of the arches in 
the topmost chamber of the summer tower, nearest to 
where the women have retired out of sight. She hears 
them whispering. She hears, too, some one slowly mount- 
ing the stairs ; the footsteps are heavy, and sound like 
those of an aged man. She looks around to see if there 
is any way by which she may escape. The tower has 
but a single spiral stairway. She remains still and mo- 
tionless. In a few minutes the sound of the footsteps 



fcL6 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

comes nearer ; through the archway opposite, the totter- 
ing figure of a dark, heavy man enters and approaches 
her. In the dim light she looks up at him with a terror- 
stricken, pleading face, daring neither to breathe nor speak ; 
she shrinks away to the other side, where the women are 
in waiting. The duke, rather admiring her coyness, 
laughs a drunken laugh, and attempts to follow her. In 
crossing the threshold he stumbles. In trying to recover 
his footing he is thrown back. His head strikes violently 
against a massive gold spittoon. 

A wild cry, and Smay&tee rushes from her hiding- 
place, springs across the prostrate figure, down the flights 
of stairs, and through the labyrinths of flowering shrubs 
and plants, to hide herself beside a low tank of water. 

The attendants and slaves who were lying around 
heard wild cries for help proceeding from the summer 
tower, and hurried to the spot with lamps and lanterns. 
All the piazzas, streets, gardens, and avenues are alive 
with anxious faces and inquiring looks. 

The duchess's fears are aroused. She too summons her 
maidens with their lanterns, and sets out for the tower. 

Suddenly she stops. 

A few steps from her she sees an object dressed in 
bright colors, crouching in a pool of rain-water by the 
tank. She stooped to scrutinize the figure, and found it 
was that of a young and strange girl. She bent over her 
again, and said, gently, " Why art thou hiding here, my 
child ? " 

" I am afraid of him, dear lady," replied the girl, point- 
ing to the lofty chamber. 

" Afraid ! art thou, indeed ? " said she, a little coldly, 
remembering the news of the day ; " didst thou not sell 
thyself to the duke in spite of thy father's wishes ?" 
i " yes, I did, dear lady," replied Sm&y&tee ; " but — " 
and she began to cry bitterly, and could not say another 
word for her tears and sobs. 




A NIGHT OF MYSTERIES. 117 

The true woman triumphed in the " wife," for she put 
out her arms, and raised the forlorn stranger to her bosom, 
and comforted her with such words as women who have 
great and loving hearts only can. Then, confiding her to 
the tender care of her own women, she went on her way 
to find out the meaning of those dreadful cries. 

Nai Dhamaphat, who had been watching in sadness 
and despair the marvellous expression of Nature's tears 
and smiles, was the first to mount the spiral staircase, to 
find his father in the last agonies of death. He takes 
him up gently, with the assistance of the women, and 
places him on his luxurious couch. 

The duke is dead. 

Everything is forgotten. He sees the pale face of the 
duchess, his mother, that silent woman, and, catching a 
glimpse of the bitter sorrow of that patient soul, who 
was so worthy of his father's love in her right of youth 
and beauty, — the foremost to love him, the last and only 
woman of all those whom he had wronged to mourn him, — 
he bows his head and weeps. The son and the mother 
are drawn closer than ever. They two had suffered in 
silence apart Now they sorrowed together. 



118 KOMANCE OF THB HAEEM. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

"WEEPING MAT ENDUBE FOR A NIGHT, BUT JOT 
COMETH IN THE MORNING." 

A YEAR has passed since the occurrence of the fear- 
ful events here related. 

The river in front of the palace is thronged with a 
numerous procession of gayly gilded boats and barges. 

It is the morning after the cremation of the Duke 
Chow Fhaya M&ndtree. 

The king, with sixty or more nobles and princes of the 
land, all armed and in regal attire, presides in the grand 
hall of the late duke's palace. 

The duchess and her two sons, and a fair sprinkling of 
Siamese ladies and children, are here assembled. A vast 
number of serfs, soldiers, pages, and women are in wait- 
ing. 

Around the deep embrasure formed by the windows in 
the massive wall, there ran a low seat, the space thus 
occupied being raised as a kind of dais above the general 
level of the floor. Here were seated on either side of the 
wall the principal officers, male and female, of the duke's 
household, headed by the priests of Brahma and of Bud- 
dha, who were to play a part in the important drama of 
the day. 

The hall is hung with tapestry of the most original 
design, for the birds and beasts and flowers which are 
pictured there had surely never prototypes, unless in 
some lost geological formation, though patterns very like 
them seemed to be unanimously adopted as models by all 
the fair embroideresses of Siam. 




"WEEPING MAY ENDURE FOE A NIGHT." 119 

In the middle of the dais were two ducal chairs of 
state. On one was seated a young girl, very closely veiled, 
on the other the young duke, now Chow Fhaya Dhama- 
phat ; over them is spread a canopy of white muslin, dec- 
orated with the sweetest white flowers. 

The girl, beneath her white veil, thinks it all perfection, 
and her eyes light up, and her cheeks burn, and her heart 
beats in perplexing fashion ; and Dhamaphat believes that 
he alone holds the key to the temple of Elysium. 

It is one of those rare occasions when the whole as- 
sembly is rapt in the regions of fancy. 

The old priest, Fhra Chow S&duman is there too, and 
he often raises his eyes in admiration, and his heart in 
prophecy of a propitious marriage. At length he begins 
the grand, old, harmonious nuptial chant, and all the 
priests of Buddha and of Brahma join in sonorous concert, 
and through the canopy over the happy couple the typi- 
cal waters of consecration, in which had been previously 
infused certain leaves and shrubs emblematic of purity, 
sweetness, and usefulness, are gently showered. 

And now Sm&yatee's earnest friend, Mai Chandra, with 
her tender mother-in-law, the duchess, conduct her, all 
dripping, by a screened passage, to a chamber magnificent- 
ly appointed, where she is divested of her former apparel, 
and arrayed in robes becoming her now lofty station. 

Then Chow Fhaya Dhamaphat is ushered in At the 
moment of his entrance Smfiy&tee rises to throw herself 
at his feet, according to the custom of the country; 
but he prevents her, embraces her in the European 
manner, and presents her, standing upright by his side, 
to his relatives, with which the ceremony for the day 
terminates. 

There is a general move towards the gateway by 
which Fhra Chow Sfiduman is to pass. All, even the 
king, press to the front and fall on their knees to ask his 



120 BOMANCE OF THE HABEM. 

blessing. He blesses them in a broken voice; he is 
strangely moved to-day. 

Yet another year, and in this same palace nowhere 
will you find a trace of either Dhamaphat, Sm&y&tee, or 
the gentle duchess. A younger brother fills his place, 
and is lord over all, following closely in the footsteps of 
his late father. 

Far away, near the suburbs of BiJTee Puree, i e. the 
Diamond City, stands a lovely little cottage, where the 
ex-duke, his mother, and his sweet wife reside. He has 
freely resigned all the splendor and state of his position 
for the quiet and peace of a country life ; and nothing is 
wanting here. The grand old trees are dressed in tender 
green, and the bright sun touches with its golden-yellow 
light every nook and corner of the lovely scene around. 

The cottage within is furnished partly in the European 
and partly in the Oriental style. There are here no 
slaves, but hired servants, who have an air of freedom, 
loyalty, and comfort about them very delightful to 
witness. 

In an inner chamber is Sm&y&tee, rocking a little boy 
to sleep in a rude Laotian crib, with a mystic Hindoo 
triform suspended over it, — she cannot make up her 
mind to put him into the European cradle which stands 
close by ; she fears some secret evil influence may lurk 
about its pretentious aspect, — and the boy, with his 
finger in his mouth, looks at his mother as if he felt she 
was divinely beautiful, and could not bring himself to 
shut his dreamy eyes for the light upon her face. 

Nai Dhamaphat has become a convert to the Soman 
Catholic faith, but his pagan wife cannot be persuaded to 
forsake the gods who have brought her so much happi- 
ness, to whom her father sacrificed his brave life, and 
therefore she has raised an altar in her nursery to 
D&vee and Dhupiya and Indra. Her father's ashes, too, 




"WEEPING MAY ENDURE FOR A NIGHT." 121 

rest here in a golden pagoda ; but with the true, loving, 
tender veneration of her womanly nature, she has exalted 
over them all, in a niche on either side of the altar, an 
image of the Christ, and another of the Virgin Mary with 
her infant Son in her arms. These, in their symmetry 
and beauty, are to her the most beautiful of the gods 
upon her altar. In those porcelain images of the Christ, 
and the Mother with her tiny Infant, she feels that there 
is something higher, purer, loftier, than in the forms of 
her own dear gods, and she bows in worship, and trembles 
at the height to which her thoughts of that Mother and 
her Son elevate her soul 

Her religion, you can see at a glance, is not a gloomy 
one like that of her ancestors. There is a smile all over 
the chamber, and happiness all over her sweet face. Lov- 
ing everything in her purity, worshipping everything in 
her humility, morning and evening she raises her eyes 
and her heart from those sombre old gods of hers to the 
tender ones of her husband; and this quiet pagan city 
has never before been lighted up with such a gleam of 
heaven upon earth as when her evening prayer bursts 
into song: — 

" To Thee are all my acts, my days, 
And all my love, and all my praise, 
My food, my gifts, my sacrifice, 
And all my helplessness and cries. 

Davee ! leave my spirit free, 
And thy pure soul bequeath to me 
Unshackled. Let me in thine essence share, 

Let me dweU in thee forever, 
And thou, Davee ! dwell in me." 



122 BOHANCB OF THE HAREM. 



CHAPTER XV. 

THE FAVORITE OF THE HAREM. 

THE morning on which his Majesty set out on his 
annual visit to Pitchaburee was one of those which 
occur in the climate of Siam at almost any season of the 
year, but are seen in their perfection only in October. 
The earth, air, and sky seemed to bask in a glory of sun- 
light and beauty, and everything that had life gave signs 
of perfect and tranquil enjoyment Not a sound broke the 
stillness, and there seemed nothing to do but to sit and 
watch the long shadows sleeping on the distant hills, and 
on the warm golden fields of waving corn. 

Reluctantly quitting my window, I turned my steps 
toward the palace, leaving all this beauty behind me in 
a kind of despair ; not that my temple school-room was 
not in itself a delicious retreat, but that it always im- 
pressed me with a feeling I could never analyze ; when 
there, it seemed as if I were removed to some awful dis- 
tance from the world I had known, and were yet more 
remotely excluded from any participation in its real life. 

Taking out my book, I sat down to await the coming of 
such of my pupils as might not have accompanied the 
king on his visit 

In the course of an hour, only one presented herself; 
she was a young woman called Choy, a fair and very 
handsome girl of about twenty summers, or perhaps not 
so many, with regular features, — a very rare thing in a 
Siamese woman ; but the great beauty of" her face was in 
her large lustrous eyes, which were very eloquent, even in 
their seeming indifference. Her hair, which was so long 



THE FAVORITE OF THE HABEM. 123 

that when unbound it covered her whole person, even to 
her feet, was tied in a large knot behind, and ornamented 
with the jessamine and Indian myrtle. She had a care- 
less, and I might almost say even a wicked, expression 
in her face, which was slightly marked with the small- 
pox. 

Choy was the youngest sister of the head wife (or con- 
cubine) Thieng, and had been my pupil for about six 
months. This morning she brought me a flower; it was 
a common wild-flower, that grew up everywhere in great 
profusion, making a lovely carpet, blossoming as it did in 
every nook and crevice of the stone pavements within 
the palace. It was just like her to snatch up the first 
thing that attracted her, and then to give it away the 
very next moment But I received it with pleasure, and 
made a place for her at my side. She seemed to be out 
of humor, and, jerking herself impatiently into the seat, 
said abruptly : " Why don't you despise me, as all the rest 
of them do ? " Then, without waiting for an answer, she 
went on to say: " I can't be what you wish me to be ; I 'm 
not coming to school any more ! Here 's my book ! I 
don't want it, I hate English ! " 

" Why, Choy, what is the matter ? " I inquired. 

" I am tired of trying to do so much ; I am not going 
to learn English any more," she replied. 

"Don't say so, Choy," I said, kindly; "you can't do 
everything at once ; you must learn by degrees, and little 
by little, you know. No one grows good or clever at 
once." 

" But I won't learn any more, even to grow good and 
clever. There 's no use, no one will ever care for me or 
love me again. I wish they had let me die that time," 
she continued. " Bah ! I could kill that stupid old con- 
sul who saved my life. It were better to be quartered, 
and cast to the crows and vultures, than to live here. 



124 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

Every one orders me about as if I were a slave, and 
treats me like a dog. I wish I could drown myself 
and die." 

"But, Choy, you are here now, and you must tiy to 
bear it more bravely than you do," I said, not fully 
understanding the passionate nature of the woman. 

" Mam," she said, suddenly, laying her hand upon my 
arm, " what would you do if you were in my place and 
like me?" 

" Like you, Choy ? I don't quite understand you ; you 
must explain yourself before I can answer you." 

" Listen, then," she said, passionately, " and I will tell 
you." 

" When I was hardly ten years old, — 0, it seems such 
a long, long time ago ! — my mother presented me, her 
favorite child, as a dancing-girl, to his Majesty. I was 
immediately handed over to that vicious old woman, 
Khoon Som Sak, who was at that time the chief teacher 
oi the dramatic art in the palace. She is very clever, 
and knows all the ancient epic poems by heart, especially 
the Bamayana, which his Majesty delighted to see drama- 
tized. 

" Under her tuition we were subjected to the most 
rigorous training, mentally and physically; we were 
compelled to leap and jump, to twist and contort our 
bodies, and bend our arms, fingers, and ankles in every 
direction, till we became so supple that we were almost 
like young canes of rattan, and could assume any posture 
the old hag pleased. Then we had to learn long passages 
from all sorts of poets by heart, with perfect correctness, 
for if we ever forgot even a single word, or did not put it 
in its right place, we were severely beaten. What with 
recitations, singing, dancing, playing, and beating time 
with our feet, we had a hard life of it ; and it was no 
play for our instructress either, for there were seventy of 




THE FAVORITE OF THE HAREM. 125 

us girls to be initiated into all the mysteries of the Siam- 
ese drama. 

u At length, with some half-dozen of my companions, 
I was pronounced perfect in the art, and was permitted 
to enter my name among the envied few who played and 
danced and acted before the king. 

" I would not have you think that the tasks imposed 
upon me were always irksome, or that I have always felt 
so depressed and unworthy as I do now. The study of 
the poets, and above all of the Eamayana, opened to me 
a new world as it were ; and it was a great gain to have 
even this, with the half-smothered yearning for life in the 
outer world that it inspired It helped me to live in a 
world of my own creation, a world of love, music, and 
song. Rama was my hero,- and I imagined myself the 
fair and beautiful Sita, his wife. I particularly delighted 
to act that part of the poem describing Rama's expedition 
to Lanka* to rescue Sita from the tyrant R&wfin&, and 
their delicious meeting in the garden, where Kama greets 
her with those beautiful lines, — 

' 0, what joy ! abundant treasures 

I have won again to-day, 

0, what joy ! Of Sita Yanee t 

Now the hard-won prize is mine. 
0, what joy ! again thou livest, within this breast. 
So mighty, armed with love, and with the wealth of heaven beyond X 
Soon shall Sita, Indara's fairest daughter, 
Stand by my side, as stands her matchless mother, 
Aspara, in heaven refulgent by the great Indara.' 

"My face is slightly pock-marked I know ; but when 
painted and dressed in the court jewels I looked remark- 
ably well as Sita, with my hair floating away over my 
shoulders and down to my feet, bound only by an ex- 
quisite crown of gold, such as Sita is supposed to have 

• The Sanskrit name of Ceylon. + Blessed. 

X Highest heaven. 



126 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

worn. On the very first occasion of my performing be- 
fore the king I had to take part in this drama As soon 
as we had got through the first scene, the king inquired 
my name and age. This set my heart beating in great 
wild throbs all through the rest of the play. But after 
this weeks passed by, and I heard nothing more from his 
Majesty. He had foigotten me. 

" I grew tired of reciting, and keeping time, and sing- 
ing my sweetest songs for no one's amusement but that 
of the old hag, who made me work like a slave for the 
benefit of the rest of her pupils. 

"I began to wish there would be some great fete 
outside of the palace, where all the court, nobles and 
princes, and the king, would assemble, and where I could 
act Sita and sing like Naraw&ke,* and dance like Tha- 
wadee.f 

" Then father and mother might see me too, and 0, 
how pleased they would be! I thought You do not 
know how dull it is to be acting before women, and with 
women only, dressed in robes of kings and princesses. 
If it were only a real king, or a prince, or even a noble, it 
would not be quite so bad ; but all that mockery of love, 
bah ! it is too stupid. I was sick of my life. I wished 
mother had kept me at home, instead of Chand. I could 
then have done just what I had a mind to, and have been 
just as gay and idle as she was. 

" Well ! the day came at last I was all but sixteen 
when that great and eventful day arrived. The ftte was 
in honor of the king's grandson's hair-cutting. 

" Though I had performed several times at the court, 
his Majesty had taken no further notice of me, and I was 
sorely discontented with myself, piqued at the indiffer- 
ence of the king, and enraged against the old ladies, who 
seized every opportunity to snub me, and take down my 

• A famous sieger. + The goddess of motion. 




THE FAVOBITE OF THE HAREM. 127 

9 

pride, declaring that a pock-marked face was not a fit 
offering for the king. 

" The longed-for day arrived at length. How elated I 
was ! I had to represent the character of the wondrously 
beautiful Queen Th&w&dee in one of those ancient dramas 
of Maha Nagkhon Watt, whose beauty is said to have 
entranced even the wild beasts of the forest, so that they 
forgot to seize upon their prey as her shadow passed near 
them. My dress was of magnificent silk and gold, cov- 
ered with precious gems ; my crown was an antique and 
lovely coronet, one that had graced the brows of the 
queens of Cambodia. It was richly studded with rubies 
and diamonds. The first day of my rehearsal in this 
costume, all my companions declared that I looked en- 
chantingly beautiful, that my fortune was made, and that, 
if I would only look and act thus, I could not fail to cap- 
tivate the king. The bare idea of being elevated above 
my hateful old teacher, and above some of the proud 
women who domineered over me, half intoxicated me. 
In this mood I began to realize my future as already at 
hand, and, growing impatient with my doubts and fears, I 
sought at nightfall a crafty old female astrologer named 
Khoon Hate Nah. She took me into a dark and dismal 
cell underground, and, putting her ear to my side, num- 
bered the pulsation of my heart for a whole hour ; she 
then bound my eyes, and bade me select one of the dark 
books that lay around me. This done, she expounded to 
me my whole future, out of her mysterious book of fate, 
in which all my romantic visions of greatness were as 
clearly predicted as if the old fiend himself had revealed 
to her my secret and innermost thoughts. I was troubled 
only at one part of the old woman's revelations, which 
said, that, though I was destined to rise to the greatest 
honors in the realm, a certain malignant star which 
would greatly influence my destiny would be in ascen- 



128 ROMANCE OF THE I1AKEM. 

dency during the month of Duenjee,* and that if I neg- 
lected to pass the whole of that period in deep fasting, 
prayer, and meditation, I should sink at once from the 
highest pinnacle of my grandeur into the lowest and 
most terrible abyss. 

" I resolved that I would fast and pray for that entire 
month every year of my life. How I wish now that I 
had never consulted the old hag, because my confidence 
in her predictions made me proud and defiant to the old 
duennas, who are now my bitterest enemies ! 

" Alas ! dear father and mother. It were better to 
have cast your daughter Choy into the M&inam than to 
have given her to amuse a king. 

" On the day of tliefetc, I awoke at five o'clock in the 
morning, and began anointing my person with the per- 
fumes and unguents provided for us at the king's expense. 
I then spent the rest of the forenoon in making my hair 
glossy and lustrous, which I did by rubbing it with the 
oil of the doksarathe.f How I gloried and exulted to see 
it floating away in long shining masses, waving over my 
shoulders and covering my feet! The afternoon come, 
and with it the old hags bearing my dress and the costly 
jewels I was to appear in. They opened the box and 
laid them before me. I had never seen anything so 
beautiful. The boxes absolutely sparkled like the stare 
of heaven in one blaze of light and beauty. 

" When I saw these jewels I was seized with a fit of 
temporary madness. I could not help skipping and dan- 
cing in a sort of frenzy about my chamber, saying all sorts 
of absurd things and foretelling my future triumpha 
My slave-women looked on amazed at the wildness of 
my spirits ; and as for the old women who had the care 
of robing me for the evening, they were wrathful and 
silent 

* December. f Flower of excellence. 




THE FAVORITE OF THE HAREM. 129 

" We were all ready at last. A small gilt chariot of a 
tower-like form, made of ivory and decorated with gar- 
lands and crowns of flowers, drawn by a pair of milk- 
white ponies, and attended by Amazons dressed superbly 
in green and gold, conveyed me, as the Queen Thewadee, 
to the grand hall where we were to perform. My com- 
panions, similarly attended, followed me on foot. His 
Majesty, the princes, and princesses, surrounded by all 
the courtiers, were already there. The king and royal 
family were seated on a raised dais under a tapering 
golden canopy. 

" The moment the king saw me approach, my ponies 
led gently forward by Amazons, he rose and, before the 
whole court of lords and nobles and princes assembled, 
inquired my name of one of the duennas. This recalled 
me once more to his memory, for he said aloud, ' Ah ! we 
remember, she is the one who dances so beautifully.' 0, 
what a moment of triumph that was for me ! I felt as 
if my heart in its wild, ecstatic throbs would burst 
through its gorgeous fetters of silk and gold. I rose up 
in my chariot and bowed low before him three times. 
'But, how now!' he exclaimed angrily, looking around; 
' where are the nobles who are to lead the ponies ? Let 
those Amazons fall back to the right and left' In an 
instant there emerged from the crowd two most dis- 
tinguished-looking noblemen, dressed in flowing white 
robes, threaded with gold and sparkling with gems ; they 
took their places beside the ponies on either side of my 
chariot One was Fhaya* Eatani, the other was a 
stranger to me. 

" They did homage to me, as if I were a real queen, 
and stationed themselves at my ponies' heads. 

" At this moment I was saluted with a burst of music 
and the curtain felL Fhaya R&tani bent his head close 

•Duke. 
6* i 



130 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

to mine and whispered, 'How beautiful thou art!' I 
turned a frowning look upon him for his presumption, 
and replied, ' Have a care, my lord, a word from me may 
be too much for thee ' ; but he immediately assumed so 
humble and penitent an expression that I forgave him. 
I was both flattered and piqued, however, at the other 
nobleman's conduct ; for though he looked admiringly at 
me, he said not a word. I would have given my eyes if 
it had been he who said I was beautiful ; for there was a 
majesty of youth, strength, and manly beauty about him 
that made a blinding radiance around my chariot, and 
excited an oblivious rapture in my heart I panted, I 
was athirst, for one word of recognition from him, At 
length I became so vexed at his silence that I asked him 
what he was looking at. He replied more cautiously 
than his companion, ' Lady, I thought that I beheld an 
angel of light, but thy voice recalls me to the earth again/ 

" I was so enraptured at this speech, that I could hardly 
contain myself. A flood of delight swept over me, my 
breast heaved, my eyes glowed, my lips parted, my color 
came and went through the maize-colored cream that 
covered my face and concealed my only deformity. 

" When the curtain rose, I, with this new life rushing 
through my veins, looked triumphantly at the troop of 
my companions who did me homage. This new existence 
made me so joyous that I must have been beautiful 
Thus inspired I acted my part so wondrously well that a 
deep murmur of applause ran throughout the haH His 
Majesty's eyes were riveted upon me in startled astonish- 
ment and evident admiration. I acted my part with a 
keen sense of its reality, and gave utterance to the burn- 
ing passion of my heart. As if I were really a queen, I 
commanded my courtiers to drive away the suitors who 
wooed me, declaring that anything beneath royalty would 
stain my queenly dignity and beauty. 




THE FAVORITE OF THE HAREM. 131 

" But when the banished prince, my lover, appeared, I 
rose hastily from my gilded and ivory chariot, and with 
my hair floating round my form like a deep lustrous veil, 
through which the gems on my robe shone out like 
glorious stars of a dark night, I laid myself, like the 
lotus-stem uprooted, prostrate at his feet. I pronounced 
his name in the most tender accents. I improvised 
verses even more passionate than those contained in the 
drama: — 

' Instantly I knew my lord, as the heat betrays the fire, 

When through the obscuring earth unclouded 

Shining out thou didst appear 

Worthy of all joy ; my soul is wrung with rapture, 

And it quivers in thy presence, as the lotus petals before a mighty wind.' 

" The courtiers raised me up from the floor, and led me 
back to the chariot The prince, who was no other than 
' Murakote/ took his, or more properly her, place beside 
me, and the curtain felL The play was over. With 
nothing but the memory of a look, I returned to my now 
still more dismal rooms. I disrobed myself of all my 
glittering ornaments with a sigh, bound up my long, 
shining hair, and sat down to enjoy the only happiness 
left me, — my proud, swelling thoughts. I was just 
losing myself in soft, delicious reveries, which illumi- 
nated as with a celestial light the whole world within me, 
when I observed a couple of old duennas, who came 
fawning upon me, caressing and praising me, while telling 
me that his Majesty had ordered that I should be in at- 
tendance in his supper-chamber that evening. 

" I listened in mute pain. The power of the new pas- 
sion that now filled my heart seemed to defy all authority, 
and the very thing for which I had so long worked and 
longed had become valueless and as nothing to me. But 
I dared not excuse myself, so I silently followed my con-. 
ductresses, and for the first time in my life ascended to 
his Majesty's private supper-chamber. 



132 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

" How changed I was ! that which had been my sole 
ambition ever since I was ten years old came down upon 
me with a gush of woe that I could hardly have believed 
myself capable of feeling. 

" I sat down to await the coming of the king ; but I 
could have plucked out the heart that had rushed so 
madly on, casting its young life away at the feet of a 
man whose name even I did not know, whose face I had 
not seen till that day, but the tones of whose voice were 
still sounding through and through my quivering pulses. 

"Well, my forehead, if not my heart, I laid at his 
Majesty's feet ' I am your slave, my lord/ said my voice, 
the sound of which startled my own ears, so hollow and 
deceptive did it seem. 

" ' Do you know how fascinating you were this even- 
ing?' said the king. 'Older by forty years than my 
father/ thought I, as, dissembling still, I replied, ' Your 
slave does not know/ ' But you were, and I am sure you 
deserve to be a queen/ he added, trying to play the gal- 
lant ' My lord is too gracious to his slave/ I murmured. 

" ' Why, Thieng ! ' he said, speaking to my eldest sister; 
' why have you hidden this beauty away from me so long ? 
Let her not be called Choy * any longer, but Chorm/ f 
I would weary you if I tried to tell you how he praised 
and flattered me, and how before a week was over I was 
the proudest woman in the palace. 

" I became a stranger to my dismal rooms in the street, 
to my slave-women as well as to my companions. I 
lived entirely in his Majesty's apartments, and it was only 
when he was asleep or in the council hall that I rushed 
down to plunge into the lotus-lake or to ramble in the 
rose-garden. But I never stopped to think. I would not 
give my heart a moment to reflect, not a moment to the 
past, not a moment to the future. I was intoxicated with 

* Surfeit t Delight 




THE FAVORITE OF THE HAREM. 133 

the present Eveiy day gifts rare and costly were brought 
to me from the king ; I affected to despise them, but he 
never relaxed his endeavors to suit my taste, to match 
my hair and my complexion. The late proud, insolent 
favorite, who used to order us girls about as if we were 
dogs, knelt before me, as half from ennui and half from 
coquetry I feigned illness and inability to rise from my 
master's couch I cannot tell you how well I acted my 
part ; I was more daring than any favorite had yet been. 

" In the tumult and excess of the passion I felt for a 
stranger, I was able to make the king believe that he was 
himself its object ; and he was so flattered at my seeming 
admiration and devotion, that he called me by the tender 
name ' Look " (child), and indulged me in all my whims 
and fancies. 

" But at length I grew tired of so much acting, and the 
intensity of my manner began to flag. I complained of 
illness in order to escape to my own room, where I flung 
myself down upon my leather pillow, and drove my teeth 
through and through it in the after-agony that my falseness 
brought upon me. I was worn with woe, more than wasted 
by want of food. My sister observed my paleness, and said, 
half in earnest and half in jest : ' Don't take it so much to 
heart, child ; we have all had our day ; it is yours now, but it 
can't last forever. Eemember, there are other dancing-girls 
growing up, and some of them are handsomer than you are.' 

" ' What do you mean ? ' I retorted, fiercely ; ' do you 
suppose I am sorrowing because of my grandfather? 
Bah ! take him, if you want him.' ' Hush, child/ she 
replied, ' and don't forget that you are in a lion's den.' 

" ' lion or tiger,' I said, laughing bitterly, ' I mean to 
play with his fangs, even if they tear my heart, until I 
am rich as you at least' ' Do you, indeed ? ' she rejoined. 
4 Be quick, then, and give him a p'hra ong.' * With that 

* Sacred infant. 



134 ROMANCE OF THE HAREK. 

she left me to my own wild, bitter, maddening, condemn- 
ing self. 

"Months of triumph, rage, agony, and despair wore 
away, and my day was not over I was acknowledged 
by all to be the wilful favorite ' Chorm/ In the mean 
time I had one ray of comfort I found out the name of 
the man I loved, from a new slave-woman who had just 
entered into my service. It was Fhaya Fhi Chitt That 
very day I took a needleful of golden thread and worked 
the name into a scrap of silk which I made into an amu- 
let and wore round my neck. This greatly solaced me for 
a little while, after which I began to crave something mora 

" The new slave-woman who had entered my service, 
just because I was the favorite, seemed so kind and at- 
tentive, and was such a comfort to me, whenever I rushed 
to my rooms for a respite, that I determined to employ 
her in obtaining information of the outside world for ma 
'Just to beguile me of my weary hours/ I said. She 
seconded the idea with great alacrity. ' To whose house 
shall I go first ? ' she inquired. ' 0, anywhere/ I replied, 
carelessly ; then, as if suddenly remembering myself, I 
said, ' Boon, go to Fhaya Fhi Chitt, and find out how 
the groom of the Queen Th&w&dee lives in his harem.' 

" When she returned, which was close upon nightfall, I 
was impatient to hear all she had to tell me ; but after 
she had told me all, I became more impatient and restless 
still Her face lighted up as she expatiated on the manly 
beauty of Fhaya Fhi Chitt, and her voice trembled 
slightly — she did it on purpose, I thought — as she went 
on to say that ever since the day he had met the lovely 
Th&wadee he had become so changed, and had grown so 
melancholy, that all his dearest friends and relatives 
began to fear some secret distemper, or that some evil 
spirit had entered into him. This was ample food for me 
for months. It comforted me to think that he shared my 
misery. 




THE FAVORITE OF THE HAKEM. 135 

" Then I drooped and languished once more, and began 
to long for some more tangible token of his love for me. 
I grew bolder and bolder, and the tender-hearted slave- 
woman sympathized with my passion for him. At last I 
sent her out with a message to him. It contained but 
two words, Kit-thung,* and he returned but two more, 
Kak-mak.-f- 

" All this while I still visited the king, and was often 
alone with him ; he continued to indulge me, giving me 
costly rings, betel-boxes, and diamond pins for my hair 
Every petition I made to him was granted. Every woman 
in the palace stood in awe of me, not knowing how I 
might use my power, and I was proud and wilful My 
father was created a duke of the second rank in the king- 
dom, my brothers were appointed governors over lucrative 
districts. I had nothing left to wish for but a child. If 
I had had a child, I might have been saved. A child^nly 
could have subdued my growing passion, and given to my 
life a fairer blossom and a richer fruit than it now bears. 
At last, I don't know what put it into my head, but I 
began to solace myself by writing to Fhaya Fhi Chitt 
every day, and destroying the letters as soon as they were 
written. 

" My next step was to send one of these letters to him 
by Boon. He was very bold, and it makes my heart ache 
even now to think how brave and fearless he was. He 
wrote to me at once, and implored me in a depth of an- 
guish and in words as if on fire to disguise myself in 
Boon's clothes, to quit the palace, and go out to meet him. 
I burnt the letter as soon as I had learned it by heart 
My heart was set on fire ; and I pondered over and over 
the proposition of my lover, until it became too fascinat- 
ing for me to resist much longer. 

" So I took Boon into greater confidence than ever, put 

* I remember. + I lore much. 



136 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

a bag heavy with silver into her hands, and, moreover, 
promised her her freedom if she would assist me to escape. 
' Keep the silver till I ask you for it, lady/ she replied, 
' but trust me to help you. I will do it with all my 
heart' 

" Her devotion and attachment surprised ma It could 
not have been greater had she been my own sister. Poot- 
tho ! * could I have seen the end I would have stopped 
there. I saw nothing but the face that had kindled a 
blinding fire in my heart 

" The faithful Boon served me but too well It was all 
arranged that I should go out at the Patoo-dinf the next 
evening at sunset, with my hair cut off, and disguised as 
Boon. Fhaya Fhi Chitt was to be there with a boat 
ready to convey us to Ayudia, and Boon was to remain 
behind until the whole thing should have blown over. 
This last was her own proposition. I tried in vain to 
urge her to accompany us in our flight She said it would 
be safer for us both to have a friend in the palace, who 
could give us information of whatever took place. 

" In the agitation in which I wrote these last instruc- 
tions to my lover, I made so many blunders that I had to 
write the letter all over again. Boon implored me to put 
no name to it, for we still feared some discovery. I gave 
it, sealed with my ring, to Boon, who carried it off in great 
delight ; and I laid myself down upon my couch to dream 
of an overflowing happiness. In the blessedness of the 
great love that absorbed every feeling of my heart, I loved 
even the king, whom I had most injured and deceived, 
with the loving devotion of a child. 

" In the midst of my ecstatic dreams I fell asleep, and 
dreamed a dream, 0, so different ! As plainly as one sees 
in broad daylight, 1 saw myself bound in chains, and 
Fhaya Fhi Chitt flung down a dreadful precipice. 

• Pitiful Buddha. t Gate of earth. 




THE FAVORITE OF THE HAREM. 137 

"My chamber door was thrown rudely open, I was 
seized by cold hands, harsh voices bade me rise, and I 
opened my eyes upon that woman who is called by us 
Mai Taie.* There was Boon, tied hand and foot, lying 
before my door. It was all over with us. ' If I could 
only save him/ was my only thought. 

" They were putting chains on my hands, and jostling 
me about ; for so benumbed and prostrated was I at the 
sight of Boon that I could not rise. I did not dare to 
ask her a single question for fear of implicating ourselves 
all the more, when my sister Thieng rushed into my room 
screaming, flung herself upon my bed, and clasped me 
around the neck. 

" ' Hush ! sister,' I said. ' Make these women wait a 
little, and tell me how they came to find it out.' 

"'0 Choy, Choy!' she kept repeating, wringing her 
hands and moaning piteously. 

" ' Sister Thieng, do you hear me ? I don't care what 
they do to ma I only want to know how much you 
know, how much he knows.' 

" ' A copy of a letter you wrote to some nobleman was 
picked up about an hour ago, and taken to the chief 
judga She has laid it before the king.' 

" Then, if that is all, he does not know the name,' I 
said with a sigh of deep relief. 

" 'Ah ! but he '11 find it out, sister,' said Thieng. ' Throw 
yourself upon his mercy and confess all, for he still loves 
you, Choy. He would hardly believe you had written 
the letter/ 

" Has Boon said anything ? ' I next inquired. 

" ' No, not a word, she is as silent as death,' said my 
sister. ' But where did you get her ? Who is she ? 
She was taken on her return, because you had mentioned 
your slave Boon in your letter. Now I must leave you 

* Mother of death, or female executioner. 



138 ROMANCE OF THE HABEK. 

and go back to the king/ said my sister. Then, weeping 
and abusing poor Boon, she went away. 

"Boon and I were chained and dragged to the same 
cell you visited the other day. 

" As soon as we were left alone, I asked Boon if she 
had confessed anything. ' No, my lady/ she replied with 
great energy, ' nothing in this world will make me confess 
aught against Fhaya Fhi Chitt' At the instant it flashed 
upon me that this woman, whoever she was, also loved 
him, and I looked at her in a new light She was young 
still, and well formed, with small hands and feet, that told 
of gentle nurture. 

"' Boon, ch&/ * said I, in great distress, 'who are you ? 
Pray, tell me, it is of no use to conceal anything from me 
now. Why are you so happy to suffer with me ? Any 
one else would have left me to die alone/ 

" ' my lady ! ' she began, folding her hands together 
as well as she could with the chains on them, and drag- 
ging herself close to me, ' forgive me, 0, forgive me ! I am 
Fhava Fhi Chitt's wife/ 

" I was silent in amazement. At length I said, ' (Jo on 
and tell me the Test, Boon.' 

" ' 0, forgive me ! ' she replied, humbly. ' I cried bitterly 
the night he returned from the grand fete because he told 
me how beautiful you were, how passionately he loved 
you, and that he should never be happy again until he 
obtained you for his wife. He refused to eat, to drink, or 
to sleep, and I vowed to him by my love that you should 
be his. But I found you were the favorite, and that it 
would be a more difficult task than I had at first thought; 
so rather than break my promise to my husband, nay, 
lady, rather 'than meet his cold, estranged look, I sold my- 
self to you as your slave. Every ray or gleam of sunshine, 
every beautiful thought that fell from your lips, I treas- 

•Dew. 




THE FAVORITE OF THE HAEEM. 139 

ured up in my heart and bore them daily to him, that I 
might but console my noble husband. You know the 
pest If I deceived you, it was to serve both you and 
him, while my heart wept to think that I was no longer 
beloved. Gifted with unnumbered virtues is my husband, 
lady; and my heart, like his shadow, still follows him 
everywhere, and will follow him forever/ 

" I was so sorry for Boon, I had not the heart to re- 
proach her. I crept closer to her, and, laying my head 
on her bosom, we mingled our tears and prayers together. 
And I marvelled at the greatness of the woman before me. 

"Next morning — for morning comes even to such 
wretches as my companion and me — we were dragged 
to the hall of justice. The king did not preside as we 
had expected. But cruel judges, male and female, headed 
by his Lordship Fhaya Promfe Phatt and her Ladyship 
Khoon Thow App. Not knowing what chaige to make, 
they read the copy of my letter over and over again, 
hoping to guess the name of the gentleman to whom it 
was sent. Failing to do this, they subjected Boon to a 
series of cross-questionings, but succeeded only in elicit- 
ing the one uniform reply, ' What can a poor slave know, 
my lords ? ' 

" Her feet were then bastinadoed till the soles were raw 
and bleeding. She still said, 'My lords, be pitiful 
What can a poor slave know?' 

" After a little while, Khoon Thow App begged Boon 
to confess all and save herself from further suffering. 
Boon remained persistently silent, and the lash was ap- 
plied to her bare back till it was ribbed in long gashes, 
but she confessed not a word. At last the torture was 
applied to her thumbs until the cold sweat stood in great 
drops on her contorted and agonized brow ; but no word, 
no cry for mercy, no sound of confession, escaped her 
lips. It was terrible to witness the power of endurance 



140 BOMANCE OF THS HABKM. 

that sustained this woman. The judges and executioners, 
both male and female, exhausted their ingenuity in the 
vain attempt to make her betray the name of the man 
to whom she had carried the letter ; and finally, when 
the lengthening shadows proclaimed the close of day, they 
departed, leaving me with poor Boon bleeding and almost 
senseless, to be carried back by the attending Amazons to 
our celL 

" I tried to comfort poor Boon. She hardly needed 
comfort ; her joy that she had not betrayed her husband 
was even greater than her sufferings. 

" Another day dawned upon us. Boon was borne in a 
litter, and I crept trembling by her side, to the same hall 
of justice. Boon was subjected once more to the lash, 
the bastinado, and the thumb-screws, till she fell all but 
lifeless on the ground. It was all in vain ; that woman 
possessed the heart of a lion ; if they had torn her to 
pieces, she would not by the faintest sound have betrayed 
the only man she had loved in her sad life. 

"The physicians were sent for to restore her to life 
again. She was not permitted the luxury of death. 
Then, when this was over, they bound up her wounds 
with old rags, gave her something to revive her, and laid 
her on a cool matting. My turn came, and her eyes 
fixed themselves upon me with an, intensity that fairly 
made me shiver. They seemed to cry aloud to my in- 
most soul, saying as plainly as lips could speak, ' What 
is suffering, pain, or death, compared to truth ? Be true 
to yourself. Be true to your love. If you love another, 
you love not yourself. Flinch not Bear bravely all 
they can inflict* I shuddered as the judges began to 
question me, but I shuddered more whenever I met 
Boon's eyes, so fixed, so steadfast, so earnest, so appeal- 
ing. I prevaricated. I told the judges lies. ' That letter 
was written as a joke to frighten my youngest sister. 




THE FAVORITE OF THE HAEEM. 141 

I was only playing. I know no man in the world but 
my father and brothers and my gracious master the king.' 

"My sister was summoned^ If I could have spoken 
with her, she might have helped me in my Strait ; but 
the women who were sent to bring her questioned her 
before she knew what they were about, and she plainly 
exposed my lies to the judges. 

" A messenger was despatched to the king. The judges 
feared to proceed to extreme measures with me, who had 
so lately been the plaything of their sovereign. After 
half an hour's delay the instructions were received, and 
I was ordered to bare my back. A feeling of shame pre- 
vented me. I would not obey. I resisted with what 
strength I had. 'You may lash me with a million 
thongs/ I said to them, ' but you shall not expose my 
person.' My silk vest was torn off, my scarf was flung 
aside, my slippers were taken from my feet. My arms 
were stretched and tied to a post, and thus I was lashed. 
Every stroke that descended on my back maddened me 
into an obdurate silence. Boon's eyes searched into my 
soul I understood their meaning. My flesh was laid 
open in fine thin stripes, but I do not remember flinching. 
My feet were then bastinadoed, and I still preserved, I 
know not how, my secret. Then there was a respite, and 
they gave me something to drink. 

" In fifteen minutes I was once more exhorted to con- 
fess. The judges, finding me still unsubdued, ordered 
the thumb-screws to be administered. Not all the 
agonies, not all the horrors I have ever heard of, can 
compare with the pain of that torture. It was beyond 
human endurance. '0 Boon, forgive me, forgive me!' 
I cried ; ' it is impossible to bear it' With Boon's eyes 
burning into my soul, I gasped out the beloved name. 
Boon threw up her arms, gave a wild shriek of terror,, 
and became insensibla 



142 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

"I was released from further punishment Two of 
the pha-koons* were despatched for Fhaya Fhi Chitt 
He was betrayed to the king's officers for a heavy reward, 
and before noon was undergoing the same process of the 
law. When Boon was once more brought to life, she 
saw her husband in the hands of the executioners. She 
started upright, and, supporting herself on her rigid arms 
and hands, cried out to the judges and to Koon Thow 
App : ' my lords ! my lady ! listen to me. 0, believe 
me ! It was all my doing. I am Fhaya Fhi Chitt's 
wife. It was I who deceived the Lady Choy. It was I 
who put it into his head. Did I not ? You can bear 
testimony to my guilt ! ' An ineffable smile beamed on 
her pale lips and in her dim eyes as they turned towards 
her husband. 

" There was profound silence among the judges. 
Fhaya Fhi Chitt, I, and even the rabble crowd of slaves, 
listened to her with astonished countenances. There was 
an incontestable grandeur about the woman. Khoon 
Thow App, that stern and inflexible woman, had tears in 
her eyes, and her voice trembled as she asked, ' What 
was thy motive, Boon ? ' There was no reply from 
Boon. There was no need to torture Fhaya Fhi Chitt 
He was chained and conveyed to the criminals , prison, 
and we were carried back to our cell. 

" The report of our trial and the confessions elicited 
were sent to the king. That very night, at midnight, the 
sentence of death was pronounced by the Secret Council 
upon us three ; but the most dreadful part of all was the 
nature of the sentence. Boon and I were to be quartered ; 
Fhaya Fhi Chitt hewn to pieces; and our bodies not 
burned, but cast to the dogs and vultures at Watt Sah 

Kate.f 

* Sheriffs. 

t The rite of burning the body after death is held in great veneration 
by the Buddhists, as they believe that by this process its material parts 




THE FAVORITE OF THE HAREM. 143 

u My sister Thieng implored the king in vain to spare 
my life. My poor mother and father were prostrated 
with grief. As for Boon, she never uttered a single word, 
except, in answer to my inquiries if she were suffering 
much, sh6 said very gently, ' Chan cha lah pi thort ' 
(Let me say farewell, dear). Her pallor had become ex- 
treme, but her cheeks still burned ; all the beauty of her 
spirit trembled on her closed eyelids. She appeared bs 
one almost divine. 

" On Sunday morning at four o'clock the faithful and 
matchless Boon was taken from our cell to undergo the 
sentence pronounced upon her and her husband. The day 
appointed for my execution, which was to be private, ar- 
rived, and I had no wish to live, now that Fhaya Fhi 
Chitt and Boon were gone ; but the women who attended 
me said that no preparations were as yet made for it I 
wondered why I was permitted to live so long. 

" After two weeks of cruel waiting to join my beloved 
Boon, I was removed to another cell, where my sister 
visited me, with the good Princess Somawati, her daugh- 
ter, at whose earnest request, as I was told, the British 
Consul * had pleaded so effectually with the king that my 
life had been granted to his petition. 

" Alas ! it was Boon who deserved to live, and not I. 
I am not grateful for a life that is little better than a 
curse to me. God sees that I speak the truth. Woe 
still hovers over me. It is the doom of guilt committed 
in some former lifetime. I am an outcast here, and in 
this world I have no part, while every day only lengthens 
out my life of sorrow." 

are restored to the higher elements. Whereas burial, or the abandon- 
ment of the body to dogs and vultures, inspires a peculiar horror ; since, 
according to their belief, the body must then return to the earth and 
pass through countless forms of the lower orders of creation, before it 
can again be fitted for the -occupation of a human soul. 

* Choy's life was spared at the intercession of Sir Robert J. H. Schom« 
bergk, her Britannic Majesty's Consul at Bangkok. 



144 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

Here the poor girl broke off, laid her head on the table, 
and wept, as I never saw a human being weep, great teen 
of agony and remorse. 

As soon as Choy left me, I hurried home and wrote 
down her narrative word for word, as nearly as I could ; 
but 1 encountered then, as always, the almost insuperable 
difficulty of finding a fit clothing for the fervid Eastern 
imagery in our colder and more precise English. 

We became better friends. I maintained a constant 
oversight of her, and persuaded her gradually out of her 
griefs. She learned in time to take pleasure in her 
English studies, and found comfort in the love of our 
Father in heaven. Without repining at her lot, hard as it 
was, or boasting of her knowledge, but with a loving, 
humble heart, she read and blessed the language that 
brought her nearer to a compassionate 




MAY-PEAH, THE LAOTIAN SLAVE-GIRL. 145 



CHAPTER XVI. 

MAY-PEAH, THE LAOTIAN SLAVE-GHUL 

ON the evening of the 10th of August, 1866, 1 found 
myself suddenly and unexpectedly, and almost with- 
out being aware of it, involved in a conflict with the king, 
who thenceforth regarded me with distrust and suspicion, 
because I declined to affix my own signature to a certain 
letter which he had required me to write for him. 

I began heartily to wish myself out of j3iam, though 
still deeply interested and absorbed in my work of edu- 
eating the prince, — the present King of Siam, — for I 
felt that, with regard to foreigners, there existed no laws 
and customs to restrain and limit the capricious temper 
and extravagant demands of the king, and I had every- 
thing, too, to fear from the jealousy with which certain 
royal courtiers and judges watched my previously growing 
influence at court The heat of the day had been intense, 
the atmosphere was sultry and oppressive, and every now 
and then a low, rumbling sound of distant thunder reached 
my ears, while the parched trees and leaves drooped and 
hung their heads as if impatient of waiting for the prom- 
ised rain. Nervous, and undecided what to do, I returned 
home, where I remained prostrated with a sense of ap- 
proaching danger. From time to time I had had similar 
conflicts with the king, which very greatly disturbed my 
already too much impaired health. All manner of fears 
which the mind so prodigally produces on such occasions 
came crowding upon me that evening, and I felt, as I had 
never before, weighed down by the peculiar sadness and 
isolation of my life in Siam. 



146 ROMANCE OF THE HABEM. 

In this frame of mind I sat and pondered oyer and over 
again the only course remaining open to me, — to with- 
draw from the court, — when I was suddenly recalled to 
what was passing around me by what I at first imagined 
must be an apparition or some delusion of my own mind. 
I started up from the spot where for hours I had been 
seated like a statue, and, looking more attentively, per- 
ceived a pair of bright black eyes watching me with the 
fixedness of a basilisk, through the leaves*of some flower- 
ing shrubs that grew over my window. My first impulse 
was to scream for help ; but I was soon ashamed of my 
fears, and, summoning all my courage, I demanded, " Who 
is there ? " 

" It is only me, your ladyship," said a strange, low 
voice. " I have been waiting here a long while, but your 
servants would not let me in ; they say you have for- 
bidden them to let any Siamese person enter your house 
after sunset." 

" It is true," said I ; " I don't want to see any one this 
evening ; I am ill and tired. Now go away, and, if you 
have any business with me, come to me in the morn- 
ing. 

" Fhoodth tho ! " said the woman, speaking still in the 
same low tones ; " I am not a Siamese, and you do not 
know that I have rowed thirty miles against the tide to 
come and see you, or else you could not have the heart to 
send me away." 

" I don't want to know anything," I said a little im- 
patiently ; " you must go now, and you know it is not safe 
for you to be away from home at this late hour in the 
day." 

" lady ! do let me in ; I only want to say one word 
to you in private ; please do let me in," whispered the 
woman, more and more pleadingly. 

" Then say what you have to tell me at once, and firom 




MAY-PEAH, THE LAOTIAN SLAVE-GIRL. 147 

where you are," I replied ; " there is no one here to over- 
hear you ; for I cannot let you in." 

" Alas ! " said the voice, plaintively, as if speaking to 
herself, " I would not have come all this long distance 
but that I heard she was a good and brave woman, — 
some people indeed said she was not so, — still, I thought 
I would try her, and now she says she cannot let me in, 
a poor fugitive and desolate slave-girl like me ! dear ! 
dear ! " 

" But I am afraid I cannot help you, whatever you* 
trouble may be," I said more gently, touched by the 
woman's despairing tones. "The king is offended with 
me, and the judges know it, and I have no more influence 
with them now." 

As I said this, the girl sprang through the window and 
came forward, and exhibited not only her bright eyes but 
her full figure and somewhat singular dress, for she was, 
as she had stated, not a Siamese, but a Laotian. She held 
her head erect, though her hands were clasped in the 
attitude of wild supplicatioa The symmetry of her form 
was enhanced by a broad English strap or belt which was 
buckled round her waist, and which had the effect of 
showing off her beautiful figure to the best advantage. 
She was unusually tall, and altogether a most pleasing- 
looking young woman. 

The moment she stood before me she commenced talk- 
ing with a volubility and an amount of action which it 
would be almost impossible to describe. Her face became 
so animated, and her tears and sobs flowed so sponta- 
neously, that I stood bewildered, for, in truth, I had 
rarely seen so interesting and so natural a woman in 
Siam. 

She watched my countenance during the whole time 
she was speaking, with the quickness of the native char- 
acter; and I began at length to suspect that she prolonged 



148 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

her statements for the sole purpose of forming an idea of 
her success, so that she might vary her line of action 
according as circumstances revealed themselves; and 
even while I had a glimmering perception of this, and 
also that perhaps she. was only acting, my interest in her 
increased so rapidly that she became convinced in her 
own mind, I think, of having gained my entire sympathy. 

" Ah ! I knew you had a kind heart," said the woman, 
as she came forward with the graceful salutation of her 
country, and laid a thick Oriental letter, enveloped in vel- 
vet and fastened with silken cords and sealed with Eng- 
lish sealing-wax, at my feet. 

She then dropped on her knees, and knelt before me in 
an attitude of mute supplication. 

I was never more embarrassed in my life, with that 
mysterious letter, enveloped in crimson velvet, and written 
on the outside in characters I had never before seen, 
lying at my feet, and this woman kneeling there with 
such strange, wild energy in her manner, such vehement 
pleading in her dark, passionate eyes, imploring my aid in 
a secret, daring scheme which I had neither the courage 
nor the ability to undertake, nor yet the stoutness of heart 
to refuse point-blank. 

I therefore told the woman, with as much gentleness as 
I could summon, that it was impossible for me to aid 
her, and almost as much as my life was worth to become 
the bearer of her letter to any prisoner in the palace. w It 
is not for my own personal safety I fear so much, but for 
my son's, whose young life depends on mine." 

As I was speaking, the woman's face grew still and 
cold, her features became rigid and fixed as stone, large, 
dewy drops of perspiration broke out on her forehead, and 
there fell upon her face such an expression of blankness 
and utter desolation that I thought she was absolutely 
dying from the pain of her disappointment 




MAY-PEAH, THE LAOTIAN SLAVE-GIRL. 149 

This produced such a revulsion of feeling in me that I 
started from my seat in terror, and, taking her chilled, 
moist hands in mine, said, anxiously : " Does what I have 
said distress you so much ? Why won't you speak ? If 
there is any way by which I can help or comfort you, tell 
me. Please tell me, and I Tl try to do my best for you." 

The effect of this promise was immediate, but it was 
some time before the woman could recover her voice ; 
then, laying her hand upon my arm, she spoke hurriedly, 
but in the same soft, low tones and fervent manner. 

" You have not asked me my name and who I am/' 
she said. " But I '11 tell you ; I am sure you will not be- 
tray me, and it may be this is the last opportunity I shall 
have of serving my dear foster-sister." 

As she uttered these words the hope and courage 
which had evidently been revived by the sympathy she 
saw in my face now seemed to forsake her ; tears and sobs 
burst from her afresh, and she crouched at my feet as if 
utterly overwhelmed with her grief. At last, by a strong 
effort, she turned to me, and said : " My name is May-Pe&h ; 
my home is in the city of Zienmai, L e. Chiengmai ; my 
father, Manetho, is one of the most trusted councillors 
and friends, though a slave, of the Prince Fhra Chow 
Soorwang. My mother was a household slave in the 
family of the prince when my father obtained her for his 
wife, and I was only a month old when she was asked 
to be the wet-nurse and mother of the little infant 
daughter of the prince, whose wife had died in child- 
birth ; and thus it was that I became the life-long com- 
panion and friend and foster-sister of the young Princess 
Sunartha Vismita. But alas ! dear lady, she is now, and 
has been ever since the death of her husband, the second 
king, a prisoner in the palace of the supreme king, and 
neither does her brother nor any one else know whether 
she is alive or dead. 



150 ROMANCE OF THE HABE1C. 

" This letter has nothing in it that will bring you into 
any trouble. It is only one of greeting from her brother, 
my master, the Prince O'Dong Karmatha. O, dear 
lady, don't say no ! the gods will bless and reward you, 
if, sooner or later, you will put it into her hands ; but it 
must be done with the greatest caution and secrecy, and 
it may be the means of saving her life. O, think of 
that, of saving her life ! for, if alive, she must be dying of 
grief and pain to think that we have never yet replied to 
a letter she sent us almost a year ago." 
"And where is the prince, your master ?" 
" He is on a visit to the governor of Pak-lat" 
Saying this, she almost instantaneously sprang out of 
the window, and fled towards the river, as if conscious 
of having delayed too long her return home ; as she did 
so, I noticed that she wore in the folds of her skirt a 
small Laotian dagger attached to her English belt 

The storm which had been gathering in strength for 
hours now burst forth, and for full three hours the 
thunder and lightning and rain were the only things that 
could be seen or heard ; and I sat in the same spot, lost in 
anxious fears for the safety of that solitary woman bat- 
tling with the tremendous currents of the Mother of 
Waters. 

It was an awful night. Sick at heart, and full of natural 
and unnatural fears, I locked up the letter at last in my 
drawer, and tried to forget in sleep the disturbing events 
of the day. 




THE PRINCESS SUNARTHA VISMITA. 151 



CHAPTER XVII. 

AN ACCIDENTAL DISCOVERY OF THE WHEREABOUTS OF THE 

PRINCESS SUNARTHA VISMITA.* 

FOR some time afterwards the mysterious letter re- 
mained locked up in my drawer, as nobody whom I 
knew seemed to be aware even of the existence of such 
a person as the Princess Sunartha Vismita, much less of 
her imprisonment in the palace, and I was afraid to open 
my lips on the subject before a stranger, lest I should in- 
advertently say something that might still more imperil 
her health and safety. 

The king was once more reconciled to me, and had 
taken me into greater confidence than ever. Just at this 
time he was laid up with an illness which confined him 
to his topmost chamber, where I was summoned every 
day to write notes, or translate, with the help of the na- 
tive female secretary, English documents into Siamese. 

On one occasion, as I was at work in a room adjoining 
the royal bedchamber over a mass of perplexing manu- 
scripts iii the king's own handwriting, to be arranged for 
publication in the " Bangkok Recorder," the chief of the 
Amazons brought in the intelligence that the •prisoner, 
Princess Sunartha Vismita, was very ill ; and, his Majesty 
being in the best possible humor, having just finished the 
above-mentioned manuscript, which completely refuted, as 
he fondly believed, Dr. Bradley's theory of Original De- 
pravity, gave orders that the princess should take an 
airing in the palace gardens, and be removed to another 

• See " The English Governess at the Siamese Court," p. 288. 



152 ROMANCE OF THE HABEM. 

cell, and that the chief lady physician should attend her 
without delay. 

The Amazon made haste to cany out her instructions, 
and I quietly left my desk to follow her. 

I shall not attempt to enter into a particular descrip- 
tion of the prison in the interior of this strange city. 
Indeed, it would be impossible to describe with any de- 
gree of accuracy so irregular and rambling an edifice. 
The principal features consisted of a great hall and two 
courts or enclosures, one behind the other, in which the 
prisoners were permitted to walk at stated times. Three 
vaulted dungeons occupied three sides of the enclosures ; 
immediately below these were the cells already described 
in my former book.* 

The upper cells were used more or less for the recep- 
tion of women convicted of petty crimes, such as gam- 
bling, stealing, immodest language, etc. Besides these, 
there were other dungeons under the floor in various 
parts of the prison, some of them quite dark, and closed 
by huge trap-doors, designed for those whom it might be 
expedient to treat with peculiar severity. The prison 
was approached by two long corridors, opening into the 
courts ; here were several small secret apartments, or cells, 
in which prisoners condemned to death, either by the 
Supreme Court or by the still more supreme will of the 
king, passed the last days of their existence. It was in 
one of these that the princess was confined 

The opening of the prison doors attracted, as usual, 
a crowd of idle slave women and girls, who hailed the 
slightest event that broke the monotony of their lives 
with demonstrations of the liveliest joy ; and as I stood 
there a guard of Amazons appeared, marching in file, and 
in the centre was the Laotian princess, followed by two 
of her countrywomen. She did not seem to notice the 

• See " The English Governess at the Siamese Court," p. 107. 




THE PRINCESS SUNAKTHA VISMITA. 153 

general sensation which her appearance created, nor the 
eager curiosity with which she was regarded, but walked 
on wearing the depressed and wearied look of one who 
sought to meditate on her sorrows in silence and privacy. 
Her features were remarkably stern, however, and she 
moved along with a firm and steady step. 

I followed with the crowd, who kept at a respectful 
distance. 

When the procession arrived at one of the nearest 
gardens, laid out in the Chinese style, the princess, with a 
proud intimation that she could go no farther, took her 
seat on the edge of an artificial rock beside a small pond 
of water in which gold and silver fish sported merrily to- 
gether. She hung down her head, as if the fresh air had 
no power to remove the smallest portion of her sorrows 
and sufferings. 

A deep murmur of compassion now rose, not only from 
the idle crowd of women and girls, who gazed awe- 
stricken into her face, but from the " Amazonian Guard," 
those well-disciplined automatons of the royal palace 
of Siam. 

I could see that she just raised her dark, sad eyes to us, 
and then cast them down again ; and that their expres- 
sion, as well as that of her whole attitude, was one of 
mute and touching appeal against this most ungenerous 
usage. 

After the lapse of an hour the procession resumed its 
course, and the crowd, who had by this time exchanged 
looks and whispers of sympathy to their hearts' content, 
— while some poor half-palsied and aged slave-women 
had lifted up their hands and prayed aloud for the happi- 
ness of the ill-fated princess, — brought up the rear, till 
they saw the same prison doors open and close once more 
on the noble lady and her attendants, when they dis- 
persed to their various abodes. 

7* 



154 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

When I returned home, the scene would constantly 
produce itself, and my thoughts would unceasingly revert 
to those sad eyes of which I. had only caught a hasty 
glance ; and that utter friendlessness, expressed in a few 
brief, slight actions, dwelt in my memory like the im- 
pressions of childhood, never to be wholly forgotten. 

I could not help picturing to myself how those eyes 
would brighten if I could but put that letter into her 
hands, and tell her of one earnest friend at least whose 
love and sympathy knew no bounds. 

This feeling at length urged me, now that with the re- 
stored favor of the king there could be no real danger to 
myself and my boy, to find some means of gaining access 
to the poor, sad prisoner. 

I immediately put the letter into my pocket, and pinned 
it carefully there, and determined that after my school 
duties were over I would advise with my good friend 
Lady Thieng, of whom mention has already been made. 
Only one circumstance troubled my mind greatly, and 
it was how to broach the subject to her in the presence 
of the number of women who always attended her at all 
times and in all places. 




LADY THIENG, THE HEAD WIFE. 155 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

LADY THIENG, THE HEAD WIFE AND SUPEBINTENDENT OP 

THE ROYAL CUISINE. 

LADY THIENG was a woman of about thirty, fair 
even to whiteness, with jet black hair and eyes ; by 
nature enthusiastic, clever, and kind, but only partially 
educated when compared to many other of the cultivated 
and intellectual women of the royal harem. 

She was the first mother, — having brought his Maj- 
esty four sons and eight daughters, — for which reason 
she was regarded with peculiar veneration and ranked as 
the head wife in the palace, the queen consort being 
dead. All these considerations combined entitled her 
to the lucrative and responsible position of superintend- 
ent of the royal cuisine. 

She contrived to be always in favor with the king, 
simply because she was the only woman among all that 
vast throng who really loved him ; though at no period 
of her life had she ever enjoyed the unenviable distinction 
of being the " favorite." 

Her natural enthusiasm and kindliness of disposition 
made her generally loved, however; while, despite her 
immense wealth and influence, no woman's life had a truer 
and deeper purpose. She was always ready to sympathize 
with and help her suffering sisters, whatever their short- 
comings might have been, or whatever the means she was 
obliged to resort to in order to render them the smallest 
assistance. 

She reconciled all her little plots, intrigues, and decep- 
tions to herself by saying : " Surely it is better for him 



156 ROMANCE OF THE HABEM. 

not to know everything; he knows too much already, 
what with his Siamese and his English and his Pali and 
his Sanscrit I wonder he can ever get to sleep at all 
with so many different tongues in his head." 

It was after school that I accompanied one of my most 
promising pupils, the Princess Somawati, one of Thiengfs 
daughters, to her mother's house. Being the head of the 
royal cuisine, Thieng had two houses. One was her home, 
where her children were born and brought up, — a quaint, 
stately edifice with stuccoed fronts, situated in the ladies 9 
or fashionable part of the inner city, and in the midst 
of a pleasant garden. In the other, adjoining the royal 
kitchen, she spent the greater part of each day in select- 
ing, overlooking, and sometimes preparing with her own fair 
hands many of the costly dainties that were destined to 
grace the royal table. 

Thieng received me with her usual bright, pleasant 
smile and hearty embrace ; to give me the latter, she 
put down her youngest baby, a boy about two years old, 
to whom I had, during my repeated visits to her house, 
taught a number of little English rhymes and sentences, 
and who always accosted me with, "Mam, mam, how 
do do ? " or " Mam, make a bow, make a bow " ; while he 
bobbed his own little head, and blinked his bright eyes at 
me, to the infinite delight of his mother and "her hand- 
maids. 

Little " Chai " settled himself in my lap, as usual, and 
the host of women, like children eager to be amused, 
gathered around to listen to our baby-talk ; and great was 
the general uproar when Chai would mimic me in singing 
scraps of baby-songs, or thrust an orange into my mouth, 
or put on my hat and cloak to promenade the chamber, 
and say " How do do ? " like a veritable F,ngliglm»m ; 
then his fond mother, in ecstasies of joy, would snatch 
him to her arms and cover him with kisses, and the 




LADY THIENG, THE HEAD WIFE. 157 

delighted spectators would whisper that that boy was as 
clever as his father, and must surely come to the throne 
some day or other. 

In the midst of these fascinating employments one of 
the lady-physicians was announced 

Thieng retired at once with her into an inner chamber, 
carrying her beloved Chai in her arms, and beckoning me 
to follow her. Here she consigned Chai to me for further 
instruction in English, and laid herself down to be sham- 
pooed 

I felt that now was my opportunity ; but I waited a 
little in order to make sure whether the doctor was to be 
trusted 

The ladies were silent for a little while ; no word was 
spoken, with the exception of a sigh that now and then 
escaped from poor Thieng, partly to indicate the responsi- 
bilities of her position, and partly to show that the par- 
ticular member which was being manipulated was the one 
most affected "Whatever might have been the question 
between the ladies, the doctor waited for Thieng to give 
the word, and Thieng evidently waited for the termination 
of my visit But seeing that I made no attempt to go, 
she at length turned to the doctor, and said : " My pen 
arai, phot thoe, yai klu& " (Never mind, speak out, don't 
be afraid), all of which I understood as perfectly as I did 
English. 

The doctor ceased her manipulations, and, after having 
cast a cautious glance round the room and shaken her 
head sorrowfully, remarked : " I don't think she '11 live 
many weeks longer." 

Thieng sat bolt upright, and, clasping her hands to- 
gether, said, " Phoodth thfi ! " * 

" It is impossible," added the doctor, very earnestly. 

* An ejaculation in frequent use among the Buddhists, and which 
means, "dear Buddha," or "dear God." 



158 . ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

" It were better to put her to death at once than to kill 
her by inches, as they are now doing." 

" Fhra Buddh the Chow, * help us ! " cried Thieng, still 
more agitated. " What shall I do ? What can I do to 
save her ? " 

"Something must be done, and at once/' replied the 
doctor, suggestively. 

" Well," said Thieng, "why don't you draw up a paper 
and give it to Mai Ying Thaphan ? " (the chief of the 
Amazons.) " And now mind that you say she cannot live 
a day longer unless she is removed from that close cell 
and allowed to take an airing every day." 

" Poor child ! poor child ! " repeated Thieng, tenderly, to 
herself. " With such a noble heart to perish in such a way ! 
I wish I could find some means to help her to live a little 
longer, till things begin to look more bright" 

" He has forgotten all about her by this time," rejoined 
the doctor. 

The physician then took her leave of Thieng, and I 
inquired if they had been speaking of the Princess 
Sunartha Vismita. The good lady started and looked at 
me as if she supposed me to be supernaturally endowed 
with the art of unravelling mysteries. 

" Why ! how do you know the name," said she, " when 
we never even mentioned it ? " 

I then told her of the visit I had had from May-Pe&h, 
and begged of her to help me to deliver the letter to the 
dying princess as soon as possible. 

" We are all prisoners here, dear friend," said Thieng, 
" and we have to be very careful what we do ; but if you 
promise never to say a word on this subject to any one, 
and in case of discovery to bear all the blame, whatever 
that may be, yourself, I '11 help you." 

I gave her the required promise gladly, and thanked 
her warmly at the same time. 

# One of the names of the Buddha. 




LADY THEING, THE HEAD WIFE. 159 

" You must not think me weak and selfish, dear mam," 
said she, after a little reflection. "You are a foreigner, 
he has not the same power over you, and you can go away 
whenever you like ; but we who are his subjects must 
stay here and suffer his will and pleasure, whatever hap- 
pens." 

"With that she told me to come to her after sunset, and 
I bade her a grateful adieu and returned home. 



160 ROMANCE OF THE HAB£M. 



CHAPTER XIX. 

THE PRINCESS SUNARTHA VISMTTA. 

AN hour after dark I again sought the good and ten- 
der-hearted Thieng, who not only hurried me oft, 
telling me in a voice of great exultation that the physi- 
cian's report had in a great measure ameliorated the 
rigorous confinement to which the royal prisoner had 
hitherto been subjected, but bravely sent two of her 
women to tell the Amazons to show me the apartment 
to which the sick princess had been removed. 

The small apartment into which I was ushered was 
dimly lighted by a wick burning in an earthen vessel. 
The only window was thrown wide open. Immediately 
beneath it, on a pair of wooden trucks which supported a 
narrow plunk, covered with a flowered mat and satin pil- 
low, lay the wasted form of the Princess Sunartha Vis- 
niita. Her dress was that of a Laotian lady of high 
rank. It consisted of a scarlet silk skirt falling in firm 
folds to her feet, a black, flowered silk vest, and a long 
veil or scarf of Indian gauze thrown across her shoulders ; 
some rings of great value and beauty and a heavy gold 
chain were her only ornaments. Her hair was combed 
smoothly back, bound in a massive knot behind, and con- 
fined by a perfect tiara of diamond-headed pins. She 
was not Ixsautiful ; but when you looked at her you never 
thought of her features, for the defiant and heroic pride 
that flashed from her large, dark, melancholy eyes fixed 
your attention. It was a face never to be forgotten. At 
her feet were two other truckle-beds; on these were 




THE PRINCESS SUNARTHA VISMITA. 161 

seated the two young Laotian women who shared her 
captivity, and who looked very wan and sad. 

Advancing unannounced close to this mournful group, I 
sat down near them, while the dark, depressing influence 
of the place stole upon my spirits and filled me with the 
same dismal gloom. 

The princess, who had been gazing at the little bit of 
sky, of which she could only get a glimpse through the 
iron bars of the open window, turned upon me the same 
quiet, self-absorbed look, manifesting neither surprise nor 
displeasure at seeing me enter her apartment. 

It was a look that spoke of utter hopelessness of ever 
being extricated from that forlorn place, and a quiet con- 
viction that she was very ill, perhaps .dying, yet without 
a trace of fear or anxiety. 

The air was heavy and difficult to breathe, and for a 
moment or two I was silent, confounded by the unex- 
pected bravery and fortitude evinced by the prisoner. But, 
quickly recovering my self-possession, I inquired about 
her health. 

"lam well," said the lady, with a proud and indifferent 
manner. " Pray, why have you come here ? " 

With a sense of infinite relief I told her that my visit 
was a private one to herself. 

" Is that the truth ? " she inquired, looking rather at 
her women for some confirmation than at me for a reply. 

" It is indeed," I answered, unhesitatingly ; " I have 
come to you as one woman would come to another who 
is in trouble." 

" But how may that be ? " she rejoined, haughtily. " You 
must know, madam, that all women are not alike ; some 
are born princesses, and some are born slaves." She pro- 
nounced these words very slowly, and in the court lan- 
guage of the Siamese. 

" Yes, we are not all alike, dear lady," I replied, gently ; 



162 ROMANCE OF THE HASBK. 

" I have not come here out of mere idle curiosity, but be- 
cause I could not refuse your foster-sister May-Pe&h's re- 
quest to do you a service." 

" What did you say ? " cried the lady, joyfully rising 
and drawing me towards her, putting her arms ever so 
lovingly round my neck, and laying her burning cheek 
against mine. " Did you say May-Pefth, May-Pe&h ? n 

Without another word, for I could not speak, I was so 
much moved, I drew out of my pocket the mysterious 
letter, and put it into her hands. 

I wish I could see again such a look of surprise and 
joy as that which illuminated her proud face. So rapid 
was the change from despair to gladness, that she seemed 
for the moment supremely beautiful 

Her lips trembled, and tears filled her eyes, as with a 
nervous movement she tore open the velvet covering and 
leaned towards the earthen lamp to read her precious 
letter. 

I could not doubt that she had a tender heart, for there 
was a beautiful flush on her wan face, which was every 
now and then faintly perceptible in the flickering lamp- 
light. 

A smile half of triumph and half of sadness curved 
her fine lip as she finished the letter and turned to com- 
municate its contents to her eager companions in a lan- 
guage unknown to me. 

After this the three women talked together long and 
anxiously, the two attendants urging their mistress to do 
something to which apparently she would not consent, 
for at last she threw the letter away angrily, and covered 
her face with her hands, as if unable to resist their argu- 
ments. 

The elder of the women quietly took up the letter and 
read it several times aloud to her companion. She then 
opened a betel-box and drew out of it an inkhorn, a 



THE PRINCESS SUNAETHA VISMITA. 163 

small reed, and long roll of yellow paper, on which she 
began a lengthy and labored epistle, now and then rub- 
bing out the words she had written with her finger, and 
commencing afresh with renewed vigor. When the letter 
was finished, I never in my life saw a more unsightly, 
blotted affair than it was, and I fell to wondering if any 
mortal on earth would have skill and ingenuity enough to 
decipher its meaning. But she folded it carefully, and 
put it into a lovely blue silk cover which she took from 
that self-same box, — which might have been Aladdin's 
wonderful lamp turned inside out, for aught I knew to 
the contrary, — and, stitching up the bag or cover, she sewed 
on the outside a bit of paper addressed in the same mys- 
terious and unknown letters, which bore a strong resem- 
blance to the Birmese characters turned upside down, and 
were altogether as weird and hieroglyphic as the ancient 
characters found in the Pahlavi and Deri manuscript 
When all her labors were completed, she handed it to me 
with a hopeful smile on her face. 

Meanwhile the princess, who seemed to have been 
plunged in a very profound and serious meditation, 
turned and addressed me with an air of mystery and 
doubt : " Did May-Pe&h promise you any money ? " 

On being answered in the negative, " Do you want any 
money ? " she again inquired. 

" No, thank you," I replied " Only tell me to whom I 
am to carry this letter, for I cannot read the address, and 
I '11 endeavor to serve you to the best of my ability." 

When I had done speaking she seemed surprised and 
pleased, for she again put her arms round about my neck, 
and embraced me twice or thrice in the most affectionate 
manner, entreating me to believe that she would always 
be my grateful friend, and that she would alwayB bless 
me in her thoughts, and enjoining me to deliver the 
letter into no other hands but those of May-Pe&h, or her 



164 BOMANCE OF THE HABXK. 

brother, the Prince O'Dong Karmatha, who was concealed 
for the present, as she said, in the house of the Governor 
of Pak Lat 

I returned her warm embraces, and went home some- 
what happier ; but I seemed to hear throughout the rest 
of the night the creaking of the huge prison door which 
had turned so reluctantly on its rusty hinges. 




PAX LAUT, OB THE MOUTH OF THE OCEAN. 165 



CHAPTER XX. 

PAK LAUT, OR THE MOUTH OF THE OCEAN. 

PAK LAT, or, more properly, Pak Laut, is situated a 
few miles above Pak Nam, and is in itself a pic- 
turesque village containing from six to seven thousand 
inhabitants. The most important portion of the town 
faces a beautiful bend of the great river M6inam, and 
is rather irregularly built, and surrounded by a great many 
rude houses and shops, some of them quite old, and 
others quite new. 

A magnificent new Buddhist temple is seen gradually 
raising its head close by the side of an ancient one which 
has so far crumbled to decay that the bright sun pours down 
unchecked a flood of golden light on the tapering crown 
of a huge brass image of the Buddha, which sits with its 
hands folded in undisturbed and profound contemplation 
on its glittering altar. On the other side, as far as the 
eye can reach, stretch unlimited groves of bananas and 
extensive plantations of cocoanut and betel-nut palms. 
The mango, tamarind, banyan, and boh, or bogara, trees 
here are of wonderful size and beauty, ponderous and 
overshadowing, as if they had weathered a thousand 
summers and winters, and would live unimpaired through 
a thousand more ; and as you wander through the deep 
cool shade which they afford, you find that many of them 
must have served hundreds of years ago — before Buddh- 
ism was introduced into Siam, and at a period when 
both the " Tree " and " Serpent " worship prevailed here, 
as in other parts of the Old World — as altars to a gen- 
eration long gone by. 



166 BOMANCE OF THE HABEK. 

Many of their huge old trunks have been hollowed 
out and carved in the form of oriel chapels or windows, 
in the inmost recesses of which may still be traced the 
faint remains of what was intended to represent the 
cobra-de-capello, or hooded snake of India, now covered 
over with tender leaves and brilliant flowers, and forming 
at once the cosiest and most delicious of couches for the 
weary traveller to rest upon. 

Pak Laut, with all its ancient splendor and attractive- 
ness, had one drawback, and that was a very serious one. 
Among the village edifices was an open sala, or hall, 
which had long been the favorite place of rendezvous 
for all the rough and riotous seamen, English and Ameri- 
can, the crews of the merchant vessels trading to Bang* 
kok; and it was in consequence set down in the code 
of etiquette observed by the dozen or so of the Aiit of 
the English and American foreigners who resided at 
Bangkok "as a dreadfully improper place for a lady to 
visit alone." 

Thus it was quite out of the question that I should go 
there without an escort, and not be tabooed by those 
good people as one utterly outside of the pale of their 
society. 

Luckily, at this time Monsieur M , an attach/ to the 

French consulate, had been sent by Dr. Campbell to Pak 
Laut for change of air, and Monsieur L , the com- 
mander of the king's guard, and his wife, were going to 
see him. Being acquainted with the invalid, I obtained 
their permiasion to make one of the party. 

Notwithstanding the perplexity of friends, who could 
not imagine my motive for going there, and who made 
themselves quite merry at my expense, I found myself 
in a boat, with the blue letter pinned in my pocket, my 

boy at my side, and Monsieur and Madame L- opposite 

me, at five o'clock one morning, sailing down with the 
tide to ut 




PAK LAUT, OB THE MOUTH OF THE OCEAN. 167 

When I arrived there, I made a hasty breakfast with 
the sick man and his friends, and leaving my boy at play 
in charge of the lady, I hurried off in the direction of the 
governor's palace. 

Fhaya Keean, the governor, was a Peguan prince by 
birth, and the father of my dear friend, whose name, 
translated into English is " Hidden Perfume." 

He received me so kindly and looked so benevolent 
that I felt encouraged to tell him the object of my visit 
at once. 

Taking my hand in his, and keeping the smile of ap- 
preciation on his honest face, he led me through several 
long halls and corridors, which brought us at length to a 
very queer-looking old tower, covered with moss and 
black with age, with narrow loopholes for windows, and 
surrounded by a deep moat or ditch full of stagnant 
water. 

From the roof of this extraordinary building descended 
two flights of steps built in the wall, and leading directly 
to two ruinous old drawbridges that spanned the moat 
The one communicated with the governor's palace, while 
the other led to a low arched gateway which opened im- 
mediately on a canal, and thus had access to the river. 

What the moat was intended for I could in no wise 
imagine, unless it were especially designed to connect 
the tower, independent of the bridges, with the river, 
and thus, in cases of necessity, afford the inmates an op- 
portunity of immediate flight by water. There were two 
boats on the moat, ready for any such emergency. 

The governor left me standing outside of the low wall 
that skirted the moat, crossed one of the crumbling old 
bridges, and entered the tower through an arched door- 
way, solemn and ponderous as if it had withstood the 
storms of many a dreadful siege. 

In a few minutes May-Pe&h, the Laotian slave-girl, came 



168 ROMANCE OF THE HABEM. 

running out, crying, " O, I love you dearly ! I love you 
dearly ! I am so happy. Come in, come in and see the 
prince ! " So saying, she pulled me after her into that 
singular, toppling-down-looking old edifice, which I 
must confess inspired me with a dread that I could not 
overcome, nor could I divest myself of the feeling that I 
was under the influence of some wild, fantastic dream. 

The only floor of the old tower (for there was but one) 
consisted of three rooms ; one was rather large, and might 
have been in its l>est days of a vermilion color, but was 
now utterly discolored by great patches made by rain- 
water, which had changed it to a dull, yellowish, muddy 
hue. It was an ancient and gloomy-looking apartment* 
with all manner of rusty and antique Indian armor, shields, 
banners, spears, swords, bows and arrows, and lances 
ranged along the wall, which seemed to have been wielded 
by men of gigantic stature, and pointed to an epoch be- 
yond the memory of the present race. Passing through 
this hall, we entered another and smaller room, the walls 
of which had also once been painted with gigantic 
flowers, birds, and beasts, among which the figure of the 
crocodile was most conspicuous. It contained a bed of 
state which looked like Indian, i. e. Bombay, workmanship, 
lifting to the ceiling a high, solemn canopy of that pon- 
derous flowered silk called kinkaub. 

I cannot depict the scene : how the glimmering light 
within and the changing lights without, reflected from the 
dark green waters, touched upon and singled out for a 
momentary illumination one after another the pictu- 
resque arms and the gigantic pictures on the walls, and 
diffused an air of mystery over the whole. 

" "Welcome, welcome, brave friend ! " said one of the 
three dark young men I found seated witliin, who rose 
and came to meet me with a singular gesture of courtesy 
and respect, and whom I at once recognized, from his 




PAK LAUT, OR THE MOUTH OF THE OCEAN. 169 

strong likeness to the Princess Sunartha Vismita, to be 
the Prince Fhra O'Dong Karmatha. The prince, for it 
was he, with an excitement he could not quite control, 
inquired if I had seen his sister. As I spoke, May-Pe&h 
drew near and listened to what I said, with intense in- 
terest and anxiety expressed in her fine face. But when 
I handed the prince the letter, they were all inexpressibly 
delighted. All the others waited anxiously, turning silent 
looks of sympathy and affection on him, as he read it first 
to himself, and then aloud to the party. 

" May-Peah " were the only two words I understood of 
its contents ; but I saw two big drops like thunder-rain 
fall suddenly from the eyes of Fhra O'Dong on the 
blotted yellow paper, and his voice died away in a hoarse 
whisper as he concluded the strange epistle. 

After which the party, were silent, saying nothing for 
nearly a whole hour, as it appeared to me, and absorbed 
each with his own thoughts. 

Then Fhra OT)ong cast an upward glance as if in 
prayer, and May-Pe&h crept quietly to his side and looked 
at him with the calm, deep determination of high and noble 
resolve depicted on her fine face. The two faces presented 
the strongest contrast possible, — the one dark, troubled, 
impetuous, and weak ; the other resolute, passionate, un- 
changeable, and brave. I wanted no further proof of the 
nature of the friendship which May-Pe&h bore to the young 
prince and his sister. There are times when one almost 
knows what is passing in the mind of another. Thus it 
was that I was able to form some glimmering conception 
of the elevated character of the slave-woman before ma 

It was time for me to go. The prince begged me to 
take something from him by way of compensation, but I 
declined, thanking him all the same, and carrying away 
with me only loving words of comfort and hope to his 
long-imprisoned sister and her companions. 

8 



170 ROMANCE OF THE HABEM. 

May-Peah followed me out, and her fine face — for the 
oftener I saw it the finer it looked — was never more 
expressive than when she thanked me, and bade me 
tell her beloved mistress to keep a stout heart, adding 
in a whisper : " I do not know what I am going to do, 
but something shall be done to save her, even if I die 
for it" 

It was in vain that I urged her to be patient, and not 
to do anything so rash as to attempt the rescue of the 
princess ; notliing that I could say would move her from 
her purpose. 

The day, though it commenced brightly, now began to 
be overcast, and the tide was turning for Bangkok, so I 
left her. As we parted, she was standing in one of the 
long corridors, with her hands folded and raised high 
above her head, and a flood of tender emotions brimming 
over into her eyes. 



NARRATIVE OF THE PRINCESS OF CHIENGMAI. 171 



CHAPTER XXI. 

NARRATIVE OF THE PRINCESS OF CHIENGMAL* 

MY good Mend Thieng arranged another interview 
for me with the princess, who seemed wonderfully 
improved in health and spirits, and who related to me, 
almost word for word, the following narrative. 

"The Prince Fhra O'Dong Karmatha and I are the 
only children of the Prince P'hra Chow Soorwang, the 
brother of the present king of Chiengmai. Chiengmai is 
now tributary to Siam. But there was a time when my 
ancestors were the independent sovereigns of all the land 
lying between Pegu and Birmah on the one hand, and 
Siam and the mountains of Yunan on the other. 

"It was the Prince P'hra Chow O'Dong Karmatha, 
after whom my brother was named, who founded the 
beautiful city of Chiengmai, and built those stupendous 
works which bring water to its inhabitants. 

"My poor mother died at the time of my birth, and 
May-Peah's mother brought me up as if I were her own 
child ; and thus May-Peah and I became sisters in the flesh, 
as we are indeed in spirit. 

" My brother, the Prince O'Dong, is just seven years my 
elder. He was fond of pleasure, but he loved glory and 
honor and independence still more, and it was ever a 
source of mortification to him that our house should be 
obliged to pay the triennial tribute which the sovereign 
of Siam exacts as our homage of fealty. 

" It was on one of these occasions, when my brother 
became the representative of our uncle, and the bearer of 

* Chiengmai is the capital of Laos country. 



172 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

the gold and silver trees to the court of Siam, that h£ met 
with his Royal Highness Fhra Somdetch Pawarendr 
Ramasr, the second king of Siam. Being both fond of 
the chase, and experienced hunters, they formed a strong 
friendship the one for the other. 

" God forbid that I should disparage the supreme king 
of Siam, but every one who knows them will admit the 
superiority of the younger brother," said the lady, proudly. 

" Soon after this the second king came on a visit to our 
home, and accompanied my brother on many a hunting 
expedition. I cannot describe to you my first meeting 
with the prince, whose praises had already inflamed my 
imagination. If I could coin words of deeper meaning, 
or if I could learn from the angels some new language 
wherein fitly to clothe the higher and purer joy that fell 
upon me in his presence, I might reveal to you something 
of the charm and the spell of that hour. 

" When he at length returned to Sarapure, I was as 
one who had lost the key-note of her existence. 

" My brother, apprehending the cause of my grief, sent 
May-Peah, unknown to me, to Sarapure, to serve in any 
capacity whatever in the palace of the prince, and to dis- 
cover, if possible, the state of his affections. 

" May-Peah and her mother set out for the palace of 
Ban Sitha. Having arrived there, she contrived to get 
admission into the harem of the prince, in order to visit 
some of her friends. While there, she drew out of her 
vest a silver flute, and played it so exquisitely — for she 
is the best musician in our country, and can perform on 
ten different instruments — that she charmed her hearers, 
who at once introduced her to the chief lady of the 
' harem/ Khoon Klieb, who purchased her from her mother, 
and presented her to the prince, her master. 

" She was then invited to perform before the prince ; he 
too was delighted with her wonderful skill and power, 




NABRATTVE OF THE PRINCESS OF CfflENGMAL 173 

and being at the time in ill health and feeble in body, he 
hardly ever left his palace, and retained her almost al- 
ways by his side. 

"On one occasion, seeing that she had soothed and 
charmed the unhappy and suffering prince with her 
melodies, she begged permission to sing him a song of 
her own composition, set to his favorite air of ' Sah 
M&nee Chaitee ' (The Lament of the Heart).* The prince 
smilingly assented, not without, as he afterwards told me, 
surprise and wonder at the singular hardihood and fear- 
lessness of the young stranger. 'But/ to use his own 
words, 'she sang her wonderful song with such power, 
such a sweet mixture of the fragrance of the heart with 
the melody of touch, that the memory of it lingers still 
with me as a dream of a day in Suan Swarg (para- 
dise). Then I snatched from her hand the lute, and 
struck on it in wild and imperfect utterances the burden 
of my love for thee, dear Sunartha Vismita/ 

" Just three months from the time of May-Pefih's de- 
parture, when I had become weary and disconsolate be- 
cause of her unaccountable absence, she returned home, 
bearing letters and presents from the prince ; and a month 
afterwards I set out, a happy bride, for the beautiful palace 
of Ban Sitha. 

" When we arrived at Sarapure, my brother went on 
before to announce my arrival to the prince — " Here 
she ceased suddenly, and gave way to a burst of passion- 
ate tears. 

After a little while she resumed her story, saying: 
" And so we were privately married. The prince, how- 
ever, had long been failing in health, and after a few 
short months of unalloyed happiness he again fell griev- 
ously sick, and exhorted me to return home to my father, 

* The late second king was passionately fond of music, and was him- 
self a skilful performer on several of the Laos instruments. 



174 ROMANCE OF THE HABKK. 

lest by his death I should fall into the power of his elder 
brother. But I refused to leave him, and followed him 
to his palace at Bangkok, where he sickened rapidly and 
died. His last words to me were : ' Fare thee well, Su- 
nartha ! thy presence has been to me like the light of the 
setting sun, illumining and dispersing the dark clouds 
which have hitherto obscured my sad lifa Fear not ; I will 
keep the memory of thy face bright and unclouded before 
my fading eyes, as I pass away rejoicing in thy love.* 

" A short time after my husband's death I found my- 
self a prisoner in his palace, and as time passed on I was 
removed to this palace, where a residence befitting a 
queen was appointed to me, and where I first had the 
honor of receiving and entertaining the elder brother of 
my husband, the great king Maha Mongkut, who, ignor- 
ing my deep sorrow and deeper love for my late husband, 
offered me his royal hand in marriage. 

"Openly and proudly I rejected the cruel offer, for 
which reason I am here again a prisoner, and perchance 
will remain forever." 

She ceased speaking, and the Amazon entered to say it 
was time to shut the prison door. With her lips firmly 
pressed together, her nostrils quivering, and her head bowed 
in her strong grief, she motioned me her adienx. I saw 
her once or twice afterwards, sitting leisurely among the 
palace gardens, under the watchful eyes of the Amazo- 
nian guard, as self-absorbed, but, I thought, more hope- 
ful than she used to be. 




"BIJREPUREE." OB THE DIAMOND CITY. 175 



CHAPTER XXII. 

"BIJREPUREE," OR THE DIAMOND CITY. 

"Tl 1T1ANWHILE his Majesty was better, and it was 
J3JL the last day of October. So the court and I, with 
my boy, and all the most favored of the royal family, set 
out for our annual visit to Bijrepuree, — leaving the In- 
vincible City and the disconsolate princess with her pale- 
faced companions to the care of the high officials Mai 
Ying Thaphan within, and the Kroma Than Song Wang 
without. 

Bijrepuree, or Petchabury, as it is commonly called, is 
the third city in size, and second in importance, in Siam, 
and is situated nearly one hundred and fifty miles in a 
south-westerly direction from Bangkok, on a river of the 
same name, which waters a country a thousand-fold more 
picturesque and beautiful than that around Bangkok. 
As you ascend the river, a chain of mountains varying 
from seventeen to nineteen hundred feet in height rises 
above the surrounding country, the loftiest of which is 
called Khoa L'huang, or Eoyal Mountain. This is one of 
his Majesty's most favored country residences. A splen- 
did palace has been built on its summit, on which five 
hundred laborers have been employed daily for ten years, 
and it is still (1866) unfinished. A winding path which 
leads up to it has been admirably contrived amid the 
volcanic rochs wliich cover the surface of this mountain 
district. I climbed to no such favored spot during my 
residence in Siam. 

On the hither side far away stretches from north to 
south a chain of mountains called Khoa D&ng, and in- 



176 KOMANCE OF THE HAEE1L 

habited by many rude and independent tribes of the 
primitive Kariengs. Beyond these again rises another 
chain of lofty liills, the outlines of which appear like 
misty clouds in the distant horizon. 

On the slopes and in the valleys are immense forests 
of magnificent trees, hiding in their dark recesses myriads 
of unknown plants and lesser forests of ferns, with palm- 
trees, rice-fields, tobacco and sugar plantations looking 
intensely dark in the setting sun, and dividing the lights 
and shades into numl>erless soft radiating shafts which 
fall in a red haze of different degrees of strength on the 
pellucid river that flows gently through them. 

Then to the south and east stretches another plain, and 
beyond this lies the Gulf of Siam, on whose waters, fad- 
ing away in the distant horizon, were sometimes sparkingly 
revealed a few scattered sail, outward and homeward 
bound. 

On the peaks of several mountains adjoining the royal 
residence rise stately temples and p'hra-cha-dees. All 
over these mountains the workmen are still toiling, laying 
out the grounds into gardens and shrubberies. In the 
centre of many of them may be seen beautiful stone 
vases of Egyptian form, cut out of the selfsame rock, 
and filled with gorgeous flowers. Attached to the palace 
is a school-house and a residence for the teacher, with 
a private chapel for the ladies ; but no distinct " harem," 
or woman's city, as at Bangkok. Those of the women 
who accompany the king on his annual visits have 
rooms allotted to them in the western wing of the palace, 
which is only curtained off by a wall and guarded by 
Amazons. 

We, that is the young Prince Somdetch Chow Fa, 
my boy, and I, made the most of our visit to this delight- 
ful region, rambling over the hills and forests, gathering 
wild flowers, and visiting the hot springs, caves, and 




11 



BIJREPUREE," OR THE DIAMOND CITY. 177 



grottos, which form some of the more interesting features 
of the neighborhood. In the foreground, near the school- 
house, stood a clump of ferns full of pictures ; a little 
farther on was a cave, over the mouth of which trailed 
huge convolvuli ; and immediately above it an overhanging 
rock variegated with natural tints and colors, the effect 
of which was most wonderful 

From this spot there were tempting walks through 
groves of dark green trees, opening upon wide terraces 
which commanded exquisite views of the country, rich 
with cultivation or dotted with houses and gardens, or 
the still more fertile valleys, winding amongst which 
might be traced the silvery thread of the Diamond River. 

Not far from the Royal Mountain are several grottos, 
two of which are of surprising extent and great beauty, 
an exact painting of which would be looked upon with 
incredulity, or as an invention of fairy land. 

Whatever may have been the origin of these grottos, 
owing to the moisture continually dropping through the 
damp soil of the rocks they have been clothed with the 
richest and most harmonious colors, and adorned with 
magnificent stalactites, which rise in innumerable slender 
shafts and columns to support the roof and walls. The 
setting sun reveals a gorgeous mass of coloring, ending in 
dark blue and purple shadows in the distant chambers 
and hollows. 

I never witnessed such wonderfully illusive transforma- 
tions as the sunlight effected wherever it penetrated these 
subterranean halls. No human hands have as yet touched 
their marvellous walls and roofs and pillars. All that 
has been done by man is to cut a staircase in the rock, to 
aid the descent into the grottos, and enable the visitor 
to see them in all their regal beauty. 

The largest grotto has been converted into a Buddhist 

temple; all along the richly tinted rock-walls are con* 

8* l 



173 ROMANCE OF THE HABE1L 

templative images of the Buddha, and in the centre, just 
where is concentrated the richest depth of coloring, lying 
on a horizontal bed of rock, is a large sleeping idol of the 
same inevitable figure, with the same mysterious expres- 
sion about the closed eyelids, as if he were in the habit* 
even in sleep, of penetrating distant worlds, in his longing 
to gaze upon the Infinite. 

Lower down the mountain lies a calm lake, with its 
smooth silvery surface ever and anon broken by the leap- 
ing of a fish, as if to prove that it is water and not glass, 
and beyond the lake are more mountains rolling up into 
the sky in purple and green folds, with the faintest of 
blue borders and crimson-tipped edges, for they axe many 
miles off. 

It was evening, and we had just spent a delicious fort- 
night here, teaching in the mornings and rambling in the 
evenings, and his Majesty had assured me, to my great 
delight, that we should stay yet another while among the 
mountains ; my boy and I had retired to our little rocky 
nest, around which there was an impression of savage 
grandeur and of loneliness almost overpowering, and 
where I used to imagine the " Hill Giants," of whom I 
had heard so much, lurking in secret in the caves and 
hollows, as ready to tear the Royal Mountain from its base 
and cast it into the gulf beyond, for the pitiless way in 
which the monarch doomed those poor five hundred slaves 
to toil on and on, without any prospect of ever coming to 
an end, in smoothing and shaping its rugged sidea And 
it was here that I first realized and appreciated the belief 
of the simple people about me in ghosts and spirits, 
pleasant and unpleasant : — 

" Genii in the air, 
And spirits in the evening breeze, 
And gentle ghosts with eyes as fair 
As starbeams through the twilight trees." 




"BIJREPUREE," OB THE DIAMOND CITY. 179 

But in spite of them all we were sleeping soundly that 
night in the third story of our little eyry, when, about 
three o'clock in the morning, the sound of tocsins, gongs, 
and trumpets was flung out all over the distant hills and 
mountains, and re-echoed tauntingly, like the ciy of so 
many demons full of mad sport, in the multitudinous 
voices of the rocky solitudes. We were suddenly trans- 
ported from deep sleep to wide-awake realities, to find the 
royal palace all alive with lights and sedans and horse- 
men, and torch-bearing, shadowy phantoms, issuing from 
dark portals, gliding hither and thither among the rocks, 
and coming towards us. 

What did it all mean ? 

The whole thing looked so mysterious that I at first 
thought the king was dead, or that the palace was be- 
seiged, or that the " favorite," Peam, taking advantage of 
the mountain fastnesses, had run away. 

The torchlight phantoms proved to be veritable brawny 
Amazons, who came to inform us that the court would 
return to Bangkok within an hour. "What! not stay 
another fortnight ? " I inquired, sadly. 

" No, not another hour. Get ready to follow/* was the 
peremptory order. And so, on the third day succeed- 
ing, we were all settled down in our respective places at 
Bangkok. 



180 ROMANCE OF THE HABKM. 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

THE DEAF AND DUMB CHANGELING. 

IN the next morning's cheerful daylight I set out to re- 
sume once more my school routine within the aombie 
walls of the " invincible " city. But, as we proceeded on our 
way, we were surprised to see knots and clusters of people 
reading with absorbing interest huge placards written in 
Siamese, Pali, Cambodian, Birmese, Peguan, and eveiy 
other language spoken by the many distinct peoples who 
inhabit the mountains and valleys watered by the great 
river Meinam, and posted all along the imperial walla. 

Here was another mystery. 

I could read printed Siamese and Pali tolerably wdL 
But the written characters, wherein every scholar in- 
vents an orthography of his own, baffled all my lin- 
guistic efforts, and not a glimmering of light could the 
numberless questions I put to many of the curious 
readers procure for me ; they were as afraid to speak of 
royalty as of the devil, lest he should appear. So I went 
on to school to find the same mysterious announcements, 
which had sprung up like mushrooms during the night, 
running zigzag over all the walls, and playing hide and 
seek along the dark, narrow lanes and streets, only to 
elude my strictest inquiries. 

Now, to tell the truth, as I was treasonably disposed 
against slavery and polygamy and several other gross 
abuses that grew out of them, and had stoutly set my face 
against them from the veiy first day of my installation 
as teacher in the palace, I began to fear that these 
placards might concern me and my teachings ; so when 




THE DEAF AND DUMB CHANGELING. 181 

school closed I went to see my friend, Lady Thieng. But 
she was even more mysterious than the unintelligible 
hieroglyphics on the walls, looking at me curiously, and 
shaking her head in a solemn manner, and feeling me all 
over in a pathetic way, so as to reassure herself that I 
was not a spirit, but made of flesh and bones like herself, 
and could not have been, as she had begun secretly to 
suspect, at Bijrepuree and at Bangkok at the same time. 

She then gravely asked me if I had ever practised 
sorcery or witchcraft. My lips trembled with irrepres- 
sible laughter as I assured her I had not as yet enjoyed 
the good fortune of knowing a real witch; but that 
nothing in the world would please me better than to be 
introduced to one who would give me lessons in that art 
She admonished me sternly for my levity, and went on to 
say that there had really been a very powerful sor- 
ceress in the palace during the king's absence at Bijre- 
puree, who had, unseen by human eye, conjured away the 
beautiful and disconsolate princess, anH left in her place 
a rustic deaf and dumb slave-girl 

Amazed and altogether taken by surprise, I looked into 
my friend's face in unspeakable sorrow. My heart whis- 
pered to me the last words of May-Pe&h, " I do not know 
what I am going to do, but something shall be done to 
save her, even if I die for it." I could not bring myself 
to ask another question, I was so afraid of confirming my 
worst fears. I had learned to love that slave-woman 
better than her mistress, and would have braved a thousand 
perils if I had thought I could save her through them. 

" I wish," cried Thieng, at last, in a sudden burst, as if 
her thoughts had been going on in this strain and only 
broke from her when she could restrain herself no longer, 
— "I wish that this deaf and dumb slave-girl could be 
exorcised and made to speak, and then we would know 
how it happened, and how the old witch looked. 



182 ROMANCE OF THE HABEM. 

" dear ! dear ! I am afraid for my life and the 
lives of my poor children ; and even the very stones out of 
which this dismal city is built inspire me with dread and 
horror" said poor Thieng, ruefully; " and do you know?" 
she added, — her eyes growing rounder and rounder every 
moment, as the awfulness of the situation presented itself 
to her mind, — " his Majesty has shut himself up in his 
topmost chamber, and guards are set at all the doors and 
windows, lest any suspicious-looking person should enter, 
and no one but only the old lady-physician, Khoon Maw 
Prang, is allowed to see him to serve his meals, and he 
won't come down till the palace and whole city has been 
exorcised And there will be no school to-morrow/ she 
continued, growing more and more communicative, " for he 
lias ordered all the royal children to be shut up in their 
homes until noon, when the old devil shall have been 
driven out by the priests of Brahma ; and the priests of 
Buddha will then purify the city with burning incense 
and sprinkling the houses, walls, and all its inhabitants 
with holy water " 

Up to the last moment a natural cause for the disap- 
pearance of the Princess Sunartha Vismita never even 
presented itself to the mind of my simple-hearted Mend, 
and I was not a little comforted, for the sake of the 
strange Laotian woman, to find that it was thought so ab- 
solutely the work of some supernatural agent For 
Thieng also told me that the court astrologers and wiz- 
ards were trying to unravel the mystery ; that large re- 
wards had been promised to them if they could throw 
any light on the subject ; and, lastly, that the two Laotian 
captives, w T ith the deaf and dumb changeling, were to be 
exorcised and examined in the ecclesiastical court on the 
following day by the "wise" men and women in the 
country. 

After which the poor unhappy lady laid her head down 




THE DEAF AND DUMB CHANGELING. 183 

upon her pillow, utterly grieved and terrified by her fears. 
I tried in vain to comfort her. But what between her , 
dread of the supernatural and her misgivings that to- 
morrow the chances were that certain accusations against 
herself and me, as secret agents of some devilish sor- 
ceress, might be brought forward with unanswerable logic, 
she was quite inconsolable and greatly to be pitied. 

I believe she would have been content to give her life, 
ere day broke, only to catch a glimpse of the poor unfor- 
tunate princess whom the demon had thus maliciously 
kidnapped and carried off. 

The only thing I could say, that seemed in the slightest 
degree to soothe her, was that I would endeavor to be 
present at the ecclesiastical court at the time appointed 
for the exorcism, and obtain such intelligence of its pro- 
ceedings, and the facts elicited during the trial, as my 
imperfect knowledge of the technical language and for- 
malities of the Siamese courts would enable me to gather 
for her. 



184 ROMANCE OP THE HAREM. 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

WTTCnCRAFT IN siam in eighteen hundred and 

SIX, COMPARED WITH WITCHCRAFT IN ENGLAND IV 
SEVENTEEN HUNDRED AND SIXTEEN. 

IT might bo difficult, at the present time, anywhere ia 
any enlightened Christian community, to find persons 
of the most ordinary intelligence who entertain tba 
smallest faith in witchcraft. 

But yet there are thousands upon thousands who im- 
plicitly believe in spirit-rapping and in table-turning, in 
mesmerism and animal magnetism, and in Mr. Joseph 
Smith and Brigham Young, his successor, who exhibits 
such extraordinary powers in prophecy and sensualism 
at Utah ; and in fact it would seem that the doctrine 
of " Credo quia impossible " never had more earnest dis- 
ciples than it now numbers. 

Yet we all alike, with one accord, profess our utter dis- 
belief in witchcraft. 

This scepticism on our part, however, is of very modem 
date ; for even in the early part of this century the belief 
was not quite eradicated in England, and we have only 
to step back a century more to find it acknowledged 
without shame by a civilized and highly enlightened 
people, and at a time, too, when the literary intellect of 
England shone as brightly as ever in her history ; when 
the memory of Dryden was still fresh in the minds of 
many of his most cherished friends and admirers ; when 
Pope had risen, and Addison was painting his genial 
portrait of Sir Roger de Coverly ; when the bewitching 
" nightingale at Twickenham" poured forth his sweetest 




WITCHCRAFT IN SUM. 185 

songs, and kind-hearted Steele and Swift, stern, incor- 
rigible, and lonely, domineered over the proudest of Eng- 
lish peers and statesmen. Nothing can ever be more 
touching than the sad record of those dark days when 
the fair Eleanor Cobham, the wife of a duke, and the 
aunt of a king of " Great Britain," did penance for her 
"witchcraft," and walked "hoodless save her 'kerchief" 
through all the crowded streets of London and West- 
minster, taunted and hooted at by a ragged crowd, to offer 
a "consecrated taper" at the high altar of St. Paul's, 
and thence to her cruel, life-long imprisonment at Ken- 
ilworth, while her wretched accomplice, Bolingbroke, 
expiated his crime on a gibbet at Tyburn. And there 
are those seemingly darker days when Archbishop Cran- 
mer, a high-priest of the tender Jesus, directed his 
clergy at large to make " strict inquiry into all witch- 
craft and such like craft invented by the devil"; and 
when that very honorable personage, the Lord Chief 
Justice Coke, uttered these memorable words : " It would 
be a great defect in government if so great an abomina- 
tion had passed with impunity." Then no one cast 
even the shadow of a doubt on the existence of witch- 
craft, or even questioned the extraordinary powers which 
were at the time imputed to a witch. And one becomes 
sensible of the dark superstitions that must have per- 
vaded even the general atmosphere of the immortal poet 
Shakespeare, when he makes Ford lay his cudgel across 
the shoulders of Fabtaff, supposing him to be the " wise 
woman of Brentford," and embodies the grander and 
more terrible idea of witchcraft as no man has ever done 
before or after him in the tragedy of " Macbeth." 

Almost every page of ecclesiastical history of ancient 
times is full of monstrous relations of the powers of the 
devil, or of those who had entered into copartnership 
with him ; and, emerging thence into the light of more 



186 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

recent times, we shall find the same superstition in such 
men as Matthew Hopkins, the "witch-finder"; in Matthew 
Hale, presiding at the trial of the Bury St Edmunds 
witches ; and in Sir Thomas Browne, author of the " Beli- 
gio Medici," and of the " Inquiry into Vulgar Errora," giv- 
ing the evidence on which so many wretched old and young 
women were sent to the gallows. But, alas ! what shall 
we say when we hear such holy men as Baxter and Wesley 
asserting that the belief in witchcraft was essentially 
connected with Christianity, and one of its most im- 
portant points ; and, down almost to our own day, find 
Johnson half doubting and half believing in the exist- 
ence of witches and in their supernatural powers ? 

It was not until the close of 1763 that the statute 
which made witchcraft a felony punishable by death was 
repealed ; and so lately as 1716 the curious reader will 
find in Gough's Brit, Vol I., p. 439, an account of a sub- 
stantial English farmer, named Hicks, who publicly ac- 
cused his wife and child — a girl of only nine years of 
age — of witchcraft ; and, what seems more incredible 
still, that they were actually tried at the assizes at Hunt- 
ingdon before a learned judge, and visited by pious and 
God-fearing " divines " to whom the poor victims con- 
fessed the belief — which was forced into their own con- 
victions by the strong current of public opinion, and still 
more by the unnatural conduct of a father and a husband 
— " that they were witches " ; for which the unhappy 
wife and tender child were hanged at Huntingdon, on the 
28th of July, 1716. 

Can any page in the history of Siam be more appalling 
than this ? Let the reader turn from England in her 
light and glory, her civilization, refinement, and power, 
from her altars raised to the true God, and centuries after 
her baptism in the matchless name of Christ, to be- 
nighted Siam still bound in the iron fetters of paganism, 




WITCHCRAFT IN SIAM. 187 

idolatry, and slavery, and he will find there in many re- 
spects just such a picture as England presented in the 
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. 

Nothing can be more appalling than the incurable 
superstition of the Eastern mind, and even while their 
belief in the supernatural inspires them with perpetual 
horror, they cannot be brought to give it up. In fact, it 
seems a part of their nature to cherish in their secret 
hearts the belief that there are spirits, good and bad, who 
walk the earth unseen, and delight either to bless or to 
cheat and abuse mankind; and that there are witches 
and wizards in the country who have the power of turn- 
ing men into any shape they choose. 

Kational and reasonable on all other points as the 
Siamese are, the moment you try to approach them 
through their religious senses they appear like a world 
coming suddenly under an eclipse of the sun; slowly 
and surely the disk of their mind is darkened, and the 
gloom and perplexity increase, till it becomes completely 
obscured. 



188 ROMANCE OP THE HARM. 



CHAPTER XXV. 



TRIAL FOR WITCHCRAFT. 



NO one who has had the good or bad fortune to alight 
in the northeastern portion of the city of Bangkok 
can ever forget the temples and monasteries of Brah- 
manee Wade. They are situated by themselves, at the 
northeastern extremity of the city walls, where not a 
modern building is to be seen, for even the few houses 
which were erected as lately as yesterday have been 
fashioned after the ancient model prescribed by the Hin- 
doo architect ; and in no part of the world is there seen 
so perfect an historical picture of the ancient Brahminical 
architecture as in this part of the city of Bangkok. The 
varied gables, the quaint little windows, the fantastie 
towers and narrow doorways, with the endless effects of 
color, make this spot a perpetual delight to the curious 
traveller ; and the Brahmins who occupy this part of the 
city, allotted to them from time immemorial by the kings 
of Siam, still preserve the ancient costume of their fore- 
fathers, which makes the picture complete. 

On the morning of the 20th of November, 1866, three 
women, half stupefied by the foul air of the damp cells in 
which they had been immured, were conducted through 
the silent, sleeping streets of the palace and city to a 
small room or " black hole " adjoining the great court- 
hall of the temple of Brahmanee Wade, and locked up 
therein, while the file of Amazons and the troop of 
soldiers in charge took their places around it 

Wliile the Invincible City was being disenchanted by 
one set of Brahmins to be purified by another set of 




TRIAL FOB WITCHCRAFT. 189 

Buddhist priests, I set off on horseback, attended only by 
my Hindostanee syce, or groom, to the scene of the trial 

November here is the pleasantest month in the year ; 
and the morning sun shone brightly, but not too warmly, 
as we approached the walls of the temples and monas- 
teries of Brahmanee Wade, — so wild, so isolated, so set in 
contrast by oddness of architectural effects to the general 
order and appearance of the rest of the town, as to seem, 
indeed, to belong to another age and another world. The 
dark walls and huge trees were covered with parasitic 
plants. A deep, narrow valley, through which a tiny 
streamlet runs, over a stony bed, betwixt sloping sides 
of grass and furze-clad steeps, is crossed by a stone bridge, 
black with time, which leads to the portals of Brahmin- 
ism The little mad stream roared and fled darkly on, as 
it will perhaps forever. 

There was a dreadful loneliness about the place, and a 
sort of darkness, too, whether in my mind or in the place 
I cannot say, but it spoke of all kinds of magic and 
witchcraft, and even of devilcraft. 

Deep in the glen, sloping down to the stream, amid 
picturesque and romantic surroundings, stood the old 
temple of Kalee Durga ; and running along, like a huge, 
jagged shadow, dark even in the brightest sunlight, rose 
the roofs of the monastic dwellings of the Brahmin as- 
cetics, from which the place is named. 

I alighted, and told my syce to wait outside for me ; 
but lie, being a pious Hindoo, bestrode the pony and rode 
off, to return in a quarter of an hour with oil and fresh 
flowers and sweetmeats enough to propitiate a great 
many dark goddesses. 

There was not a soul to be seen anywhere, whether of 
Brahmanic or Buddhistic faith. ' So I followed my syce 
into the temple, and while he prostrated himself at full 
length before each one of his gods, I took out my note- 



190 ROMANCE OF THE HAfiElL 

book and occupied myself in making sketches and memo- 
randa of the strange scene before me. 

Vishnu, Siva, Krishna, and the goddess Kalee, were 
the chief deities of the place, and figured as the heroes 
and heroines among the numerous grotesque and mon- 
strous myths sculptured on the walls. 

Here was Vishnu lying comfortably on the thousand- 
headed snake Shesha, or sporting as a fish, or crawling 
as a tortoise, or showing his fangs as a wild boar, or shak- 
ing his head in liis last and fifth avatar as a dwarf, all 
admirably executed. Here too was Krishna, like another 
Apollo, whipped out of heaven for playing tricks on the 
lovely shepherdesses of Muttra, whose tender hearts he 
stole away, and whose butter he found so tempting that 
he perpetually ran off with it in secret, and whose jars 
of milk it was this madcap's pleasure roguishly to upset 
In another compartment, crumbling with age, he is seen 
again in his last mad prank, perched on a stony tree with 
the milkmaids' stony habiliments under his arm, and an 
unmistakable grin on his stony, greasy * face, while the 
owners of the dresses are standing below in various atti- 
tudes of bashfulness imploring their restoration. Be- 
fore them in different places stands the Iingam. Here 
was also a beautiful sculpture of Siva and his wife Par- 
vati, with the sacred bull Nandi lying at their feet, and 
Kalee in combat with the monster Mahashasura; and 
close by again she is seen caressing a Nylghau/f* that is 
looking up to her. 

The figures of the goddesses are wonderfully spirited, 
and of exquisite symmetry, conveying the idea of per- 
fect and beautiful womanhood. And yet Kalee is repre- 
sented elsewhere in the same temple as a black and 

* The Hindoos besmear these sculptures with oil on festive occasions. 
t A large short-horned antelope found in Northern India. The male* 
are of a beautiful slaty blue, and the females of a rusty red* 




TBIAL FOB WITCHCBAFT. 191 

terrible being, covered with symbols of the most ferocious 
cruelty. 

Having finished my notes, I passed out by another 
entrance, and tried to quiet my fears for May-Pe&h by 
continuing my rambles and explorations until Breakfast- 
time. Instead of returning home for that meal, I de- 
spatched the syce to buy from the small Hindoo vil- 
lage close by an earthen lota of milk and a flat cake of 
B&jree bread, of which I made a pleasant repast, sitting 
under the deep shadows of the temples and trees dedi- 
cated to Brahma, of whom there is rarely, if ever, any 
representation. 

Very soon I was repaid for my patient waiting, for I 
heard the sound of drums beating and martial music 
playing ; and, rushing to the side whence it proceeded, the 
queerest and most weird-looking procession met my 
astonished eyes, — old women dressed in scarlet and yel- 
low, and old gray headed men in eveiy variety of costume, 
combining all the known and unknown fashions of the 
past, some on foot and others on horseback, with embroi- 
dered flags of the same multiplicity of colors Hying before 
the wind ; and in the centre of all, clad in black and crim- 
son vestments, riding on white mules, a band of about 
twenty men and women, some quite young and others 
extremely old, advancing with slow and solemn steps. 
These were the royal astrologers, wizards, and witches 
who, incredible as it may seem, are supported by the 
supreme king of Siam, and receive from the crown large 
and handsome salaries. I observed that the whole pro- 
cession was composed of persons of the Hindoo religion. 

In the rear came some Chinese coolies hired for the 
occasion, carrying two boxes and two long planks, which 
excited my curiosity. As they drew near they were 
joined by large numbers of well-dressed Siamese and a 
host of ragged slaves, which completed the motley scene. 



192 ROMANCE OF THE HA REM. 

I stepped out of the solemn shade of the boh and 
peepul trees, and took my seat on a broken stone pillar, 
still under shelter, and commanding a view of the grand 
hall. The roof, which was fast crumbling away, was an 
inferior imitation of that of the wondrous temple of Maha 
Nagkhon Watt, and liad scarcely been touched for cen- 
turies, for there still figured the inevitable Siva and Kalee, 
and all the rest of the Hindoo gods and goddesses, dis- 
mantled and broken, but still in sufficient preservation to 
show the wild grotcsqueness of the Hindoo imagination, 
which seems to have grown riotous in the effort to embody 
all its imperfect conceptions of the Divinity. 

When this strange and solemn procession entered 
the purf.?l 01 Iirahmanee Wade they suddenly halted, 
threw up their arms and folded their hands above their 
heads, and repeated oue of the most magnificent utterances 
of Krishna : " thou who art the life in all things, the 
eternal seed of nature, the understanding of the wise and 
the weakness of the foolish, the glory of the proud and 
the strength of the strong, the sacrifice and the worship, 
the incense and the fire, the victim and the slayer, the 
father and the mother of the world, gird thy servants with 
power and wisdom to-day to slay the slayer and to van- 
quish the deceiver," * etc. After which they marched to 
the sound of music into the temple, and offered sacrifices 
of wine and oil, and wheatcn cakes and fresh flowers, and 
with their eyes lifted to the dark vaulted roof they again 
prayed, calling upon Brahma the father, the comforter, 
the creator, the tender mother, the holy way, the wit- 
ness, the asylum, the friend of man, to illumine with the 
light of his understanding their feeble intellects to discern 
the devil and to vanquish him. 

At length the astrologers, wizards, and witches took 

* A prayer from the " Hindoo Liturgy," embodying tome of the re- 
markable formulas of the Brahminical worship. 




TRIAL FOR WITCHCRAFT. 193 

their places in the hall, with eager crowds all round them, 
standing in rows on all the steps of the building. Then 
came two officers from the king with a royal letter, — 
one was the chief judge of the Supreme Court, and the 
other his secretary to report the trial After this lordly 
personage had taken his seat, the prisoners — the two 
handmaids of the princess and my friend May-Pe&h, 
who, as I feared, was the deaf and dumb " changeling " — 
were brought in. She was deadly pale, and there was $ 
wild light as of madness or intense suffering in her eyes. 
They were placed at the end of the hall, strongly guarded 
by as many as fifty Amazons, while the Solders scattered 
themselves all round about the building. "Not a word 
was spoken, and the strange assembly looked ' ito one 
another's faces, as if each knew his neighbor's thoughts. 
I trembled for the unhappy prisoners ; and the crowd, who 
seemed to look upon poor May-Pe&h as a veritable witch, 
were silent in breathless expectation. 

It was a frightful spot, and a still more indescribably 
terrifying scene, where one might indeed say with Has- 
san of Balsora, " Lo ! this is the abode of genii and of 
ghouls and of devils." I had half a mind to slip down 
from my rocky perch and run away. But very soon 
my anxiety for poor May-Pe&h absorbed every other 
feeling. 

The three prisoners sat profoundly silent, waiting in 
sadness to hear their doom. 

But why did they not begin the trial ? There were 
the boxes and the planks with little niches cut into them, 
deep enough to enable any nimble person to climb with 
the tips of their toes, and scale any wall against which 
they might be placed. I turned to a soldier who was 
standing close by, and asked him why they still delayed 
the trial. 

" They are waiting," said he, as if he knew all about it, 

9 M 



194 ROMANCE OF THE HABEM. 

and had witnessed many such scenes before, "for the 
' sage/ or holy man of the woods ; it is for him that they 
have blown the conch-shells these three times." There 
was, to me, nothing improbable in the soldier's stoiy. 
He told me that this holy man, or yogi,* lived in a 
cave, in the rocks adjoining, all alone, and that he rarely 
issued from his unknown retreat during the day, but that 
pious Hindoos, while performing their ablutions in the 
stream after the close of their labors, could see him 
moving in the moonlight, and hear him calling upon God. 
Feeding on tamarinds and other wild fruits, he slept 
during the day like a wild animal, and prayed aloud all 
night, oppressed by his longing and yearning after the 
Invisible, as by some secret grief that knew no balm. 
Even the cool evening air brought him no peace; for, 

" At night the passion came, 
Like the fierce fiend of a distcnijwred dream ; 
And shook him from his rest, and led him forth 
Into the darkness, to pray and pray forcvennore*" 

By and by a man appeared on the opposite banks of 
the stream, plunged into it, and emerged on the hither 
side ; shook the wet from his hair like a veritable beast, 
and made his way towards the hall, where he sat him- 
self shyly down near the prisoners. This strange mortal, 
who lived the life of an " orang-outang," had a remark- 
ably fine, sensitive face, and a noble head, around which 
his long, matted, unkempt hair fell like dark clouds. 
He was meagrely clad, and his wiry frame gave evidence 
of great muscular power. There was, to my thinking, 
a gleam of a better and higher humanity in his fine, 
dark face, that shot out in irrepressible flashes, and con- 
vinced me, in spite of his filth and nudity, of a noble and 
impressive nature. 

The soldier assured me, in a tone of the utmost rever- 

* A Hindoo mystic. 




TRIAL FOB WITCHCRAFT. 195 

ence, " that this man's eyes were opened, that he could 
Bee things which the paid mercenaries of the court could 
not begin even to comprehend ; and that therefore they 
always made it a point to invite him to aid them in their 
spiritual examinations." 

I somehow drew comfort from the yogi's shy and fas- 
cinating face. 

And now the trial commenced by the judge reading the 
king's letter, which spoke of the mysterious and impor- 
tant nature of the accusation made against some unknown 
person for the abduction of a state prisoner, a lady of 
high rank and unflinching integrity, and called upon the 
assembly to do their utmost to unravel the inexplicable 
affair. 

After the royal letter had received its customary saluta- 
tions, and at the command of the judge, the two Amazons 
who were on duty on the night of the abduction of the prin- 
cess testified to the following facts : " That on the night 
of the 12th, on a sudden a strong wind arose that extin- 
guished their lanterns, leaving them in utter darkness, and 
immediately afterwards they were sensible that a tall, dark 
figure enveloped in a black veil entered the hall, and that 
as she approached them they saw, somewhat indistinctly, 
that she held a short dagger in one hand and a ponderous 
bunch of keys in the other; that never before having 
known themselves liable to any illusion of the senses, 
the horror which fell upon them at the moment deprived 
them of all power of speech or action ; that, as the 
strange being stood over them brandishing her glittering 
knife, there flashed all round about her a hideous light ; 
that by this light they saw her proceed to the cell in which 
the Princess Sunartha Vismita was confined, open it with 
one of her mysterious keys, and lead the princess forth, 
pulling her forcibly along by the hand, and as the flashes 
died away a double darkness fell upon them ; that after 



136 ROMANCE OF THE HABEM. 

an interval of nearly two hours, as they were still para- 
lyzed and unable to move from the spot, the strange figure 
reappeared, pallid, and more ghastly than before, but with- 
out the veil, or the dagger, or the bunch of keys ; that she 
passed quickly by them into the cell, and drew the prison 
door so forcibly that it closed upon her with a dismal ay 
ot pain. 

Then the two Laotians stated " that on the night of the 
12th they were awakened by the slamming of the cell 
door, and, on looking in the darkness towards the bed on 
which the princess slept, they saw a figure sitting on it; 
on which they lit the lamp, and found it was not their mis- 
tress, but a dumb slave-woman in her place, and that they 
instinctively shrank away from her in fear and honor lest 
she should metamorphose them also into some unnatural 
beings." 

As for the Amazons, it could readily be seen that their 
imaginations had been so vividly impressed that they were 
prepared to swear solemnly to their having seen a super- 
natural l)eing twice the size and altogether unlike the 
deaf and dumb creature before them. The unnatural 
light of pain or madness or frenzy, or whatever it waa» 
burned still more brightly in May-Pe&h's eyes. Her red- 
dish-brown dress seemed to be stained here and there 
with darker spots, as if of blood, and her face grew mora 
and more colorless every moment But to all the num- 
berless questions put to her by every one of the crafty 
wizards and witches, she returned no reply. Her lips 
were of an ashy whiteness, and they really seemed to 
have been closed by a supernatural power. 

I recalled her volubility of speech when I first met 
her, and her impassioned song, by which she won for her 
mistress the acknowledgment of a deep and undying love ; 
and I asked myself the question over and over again, " Is 
it possible that she can be acting?" At a signal, an 




TRIAL FOR WITCHCRAFT. 197 

alarm-gong was struck, and so suddenly and immediately 
behind her that the whole assembly started, and May-Pe&h, 
taken by surprise, turned to see whence the sound came. 
" Now," shouted the wily judges, " it is plain that you can 
speak, for you are not deaf." 

No sooner was this said than the feeling against the 
accused ran high, on account of her obstinacy, and 
she was forthwith condemned to all the tortures of the 
rack But the humane yogi, on hearing this, raised his 
bare arms on high, and uttered the wild cry of " Yah " 
(forbear) so commandingly that it rang through the 
temple, and arrested the cruel process. 

He then turned to the poor girl, and, placing his huge, 
bony hands upon her shoulders, tenderly whispered in her 
ear something which seemed to move the prisoner for she 
raised her burning eyes, now filled with tears, to his face, 
and, shaking her head solemnly and sadly to and fro, laid 
her finger on her mouth to indicate that she could not speak. 

A tender light kindled the dark face of the yogi, as he 
informed the assembly that " the woman was not a witch, 
nor even obstinate, but powerless to speak, because under 
the influence of witchcraft." 

The tide of feeling was again turned in the prisoner's 
favor. " Let her be exorcised," said the chief judge of 
the Supreme Court, whose secretary was making minutes 
of all that took place during the trial 

On which the queerest-looking woman of the party, 
an old and toothless dame, drew out a key from her 
girdle and opened the wooden boxes, from which she 
took a small boat, a sort of coracle,* — such as are still 
found in some parts of Wales, made by covering a wicker 
frame with leather, — a long gray veil of singular texture, 
an earthen stove, whereon to kindle a charcoal fire, and 
some charcoal ; out of the second box she produced some 

* Similar boats were used by the ancient Egyptians. 



IDS ROMANCE OF THE HABEK. 

herbs, pieces of flint, cast skins of snakes, feathers, the 
hair of various animals, with dead men's bones, short 
brooms, and a host of other queer things. 

At any other time I should have been highly amused 
at the grotesqueness of the figure, and the comically ludi- 
crous manner in which she drew, one after another, her 
mysterious ingredients out of her boxes ; but now I was 
too anxious, and too much pained by the situation of 
May- Peal 1, and by what seemed to me diabolical jugglery, 
to think of the comical side of the scene. 

With the charcoal the old woman proceeded to light a 
fire in her earthen stove ; when it was red-hot she opened 
several jars of water, and, muttering some strange incan- 
tations, threw into them portions of her herbs, repeating 
over each a mystic spell, and waving a curious wand which 
looked like a human bone, and might have been once the 
arm of a stalwart man. This done, she seated the pris- 
oner in the centre of the motley group, covered her over 
with the veil of gray stuff, and handing the short hand- 
brooms to a number of her set, she, to my intense horror, 
began to pour the burning charcoal over the veiled fonn 
of the piisoncr, which the other women, dancing around, 
and repeating with the wildest gestures the name of 
Brahma, as rapidly swept off. This was done without even 
singeing the veil or burning a hair of May-Peah's head 
After this they emptied the jars of water upon her, stall 
repeating the name of Brahma, She was then made to 
change her clothes for an entirely new dress, of the 
Braluninical fashion. Her dressing and undressing were 
effected with great skill, without disclosing her person in 
the least. And once more the yogi laid his hands upon 
her shoulders, and whispered again in her ears, first the 
right, and then the left. But May-Peiih returned the same 
intimation, shaking her head, and pointing to her sealed 
lips. 




TRIAL FOR WITCHCRAFT. 199 

Then the old wizard, Khoon Fhikhat, — literally, the 
lord who drives out the devil, — prostrated himself be- 
fore her, and prayed with a wild energy of manner ; and, 
rising suddenly, he peremptorily demanded, looking full 
into the prisoner's face, " Where did you drop the bunch 
of keys ? " 

The glaring daylight illuminated with a pale lustre the 
fine face of the Laotian slave, as for the third time she 
moved her head, in solemn intimation that she could not 
or would not speak. 

To see her thus, no one would believe but that, if she 
willed, she could speak at once. 

" Open her mouth, and pour some of the magic water 
into it," suggested one of the " wise women." 

But they who opened her mouth fell back with horror, 
and cried, " Brahma, Brahma ! an evil fiend has torn out 
her tongue." And immediately the unhappy woman 
passed from being an object of fear and dread to one of 
tender commiseration, of pity, and even of adoration. 

So sudden was the transition from fear and hate to 
love and pity, that many of the strong men and women 
wept outright at the thought of the dreadful mutilation 
that the fiend had subjected her to. 

Now came the last and most important question, " Was 
the exorcism effectual ? " To prove which a small taper 
was lighted and put into the witches' boat; and the 
whole company betook themselves to the borders of the 
stream to see it launched. The boat swept gallantly down 
the waters, and the feeble lamp burned brightly, without 
even a flicker, — for it was a calm day, — till it was 
brought to a stand by some stones that were strewn 
across the stream. 

Then the yogi raised a shout of wild delight, and all 
the company re-echoed it with intense satisfaction and 
pleasure. And, in accordance with the king's instructions, 



200 ROMANCE OF THE IIAREK. 

being fully acquitted of any complicity with the devQ 
in the abduction of the princess, the prisoners received 
each a sum of money, and were set at liberty. 

The planks, which in any other court would have been 
one of the most tangible evidences that some person had 
thereby scaled the palace walls, were never even thought 
of during this singular trial. So irrational and so super- 
stitious is the native character, that they preferred to be- 
lieve in the supernatural rather than in any rational cause 
for the disappearance of the princess ; and for once in my 
life I was led to rejoice in their ignorance. 

It was sunset More this inconceivably grotesque and 
self-deluded and deluding set of maniacs dispersed. The 
yogi went back to the solitude of his unknown cave to 
sleep by day and pray alone by night -And I sent my 
syce home, and remained behind under a jamoon-tree, to 
which my pony was tied, in the hope of getting an op- 
portunity of speaking alone with the women who still 
lingered with May-Peah in the halL 

When May-IYAh at length saw me, she rushed into my 
arms, and laid her head upon my shoulder, uttering the 
most doleful and piteous of cries; they were not cries 
of sorrow, but of the wildest joy ! I embraced her with 
something of the tenderness and sorrow with which a 
mother takes a brave but reckless child to her heart 

May-lYslh's friends then told me, what I had all along 
surmised, that it was she who scaled the walls by means 
of the two planks, terrified the Amazoiis, opened the 
prison doors with the keys she had provided, and led her 
mistress forcibly out. After assisting her to climb the 
walls on the inner side, she sat on the top of the outer 
wall until she saw her safely on the other side. She then 
dropped the keys to her, to l>e flung into the river. Here 
the prince and his two friends received the princess, and 
led her to a small craft that was ready to convey them to 




TRIAL FOR WITCHCRAFT. 201 

Maulmain. In vain they entreated May-Pe&h to come 
down from the wall and join their flight She resolutely 
refused to leave the companions of her beloved mistress 
in peril, and, full o£ dread lest, by the dreadful torture 
which she knew awaited her, she might be forced to be- 
tray those who were dearer to her than her own life, she 
with one stroke of her sharp dagger deprived herself for- 
ever of the power of uttering a single intelligible sound. 

" 0, but why did you not all go off with the princess ? " 
I inquired. 

" Because we were too many, and we should have only 
delayed and perhaps imperilled the success of the enter- 
prise," said the women ; " and May-Pe&h had promised not 
to leave us to bear the penalty of her doings." 

It was difficult to tear myself away from her. I was 
at once proud to be loved by her, and heart-broken to 
think that she would never speak again. 

But at length we parted, and she, raising her hands high 
above her head, waved them to and fro, and smiled a joy- 
ful adieu, in spite of the pain she still suffered from her 
cruel mutilation. 

They took the way to the river to hire a boat for Pak 
Laut, whence they were to sail to Maulmain to join the 
fugitive prince and princess. 

Assuredly, so long as men and women shall hold dear 
human courage and devotion in what they believe to be 
a just cause, so long will the memory of this brave and 
self-sacrificing slave- girl be cherished. 



9» 



202 ROMANCE OF TUB HABBL 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

THE CHRISTIAN VILLAGE OF T&MS£nG, OR OF THOMAS 

THE SAINT. 

IT was on a bright Sunday morning in the month of May 
that a handsome boat with four young women at the 
oars conveyed me and my boy to the residence of Mis. 
Itosa Hunter, situated in the village of T&ins&ng. 

My friend Mrs. Hunter was a native of Siam, but of 
Portuguese parentage. Her husband, Robert Hunter, was 
private secretary to the supreme king. She had two sons, 
who had been taken away from her in their infancy by 
their Protestant father, — lest they should be brought up 
in the Roman Catholic faith, — and shipped off secretly 
to Scotland, in order that they might be educated under 
the influences of the Free Church of Scotland, in which 
he had himself been brought up. This occasioned a 
breach between the husband and wife which led to their 
ultimate separation, and Rosa returned all but heart- 
broken to the home of her childhood, where I visited her 
at short intervals to write the long, loving letters which 
she dictated to me in Siamese, and which I wrote in Eng- 
lish to her absent boys. 

A day at her house was always a pleasant change. 
On one of these visits, which I remember well, the table 
had been spread by the window that looked up the river, 
and lost it amid high banks and the projecting spires of 
the Roman Catholic and the Buddhist temples adjoining. 

I had finished and sealed her loving messages to her 
absent children ; the moon was rising, and we needed no 
other light, as the conversation between us, often fthiffcing 




THE CHRISTIAN TILLAGE OF TAMS&NG. 203 

and often pausing, had gradually become grave, and we 
fell into confiding talk of what we hoped and what we 
feared, as we saw the future of our children stretched 
before us in deep shadows. 

" There is so much power in faith," said Eosa, " even in 
relation to earthly things, that I am surprised you are not 
a Roman Catholic. I believe in my church ; when I go to 
confession and receive the holy communion, I am filled 
with peace and trust, and have no fears for the future." 

" There is a great deal in what you say, Eosa," I replied ; 
" but I am afraid that I should not make a good Catholic, 
since I am disposed to question everything that does not 
accord with my own perceptions of the right and the true." 

" Well, I suppose," said Eosa, " that our natures differ ; 
all my life has its roots in the Eoman Catholic Church. 
I never doubt, therefore I never question. The Holy Vir- 
gin and her Son are sufficient for me, and the good priest 
who absolves me from my sins. My only one sorrow is 
that my children are cast out of the pale of salvation by 
the foolish prejudices of their father." 

This was said in a voice of much feeling, and tears 
gathered to her eyes. I moved to her side, and tried to 
comfort her by saying, " After all, Eosa, you seem to let 
your fears for your children cloud your faith in that 
Saviour who died for them as well as for you." 

While I was speaking, my eyes fell upon a long, nar- 
row canoe, called by the natives Eua Keng, in which wa9 
seated a tall, slender, aud shapely young girl, who was 
slowly, with the aid of two short paddles, making her 
way towards us through the water, while her face was 
raised to the moonlight that fell brightly upon her. It 
was nearly liigh tide ; a fleet of canoes, boats, and barges 
was moving in all directions over the broad waters. 

We watched the girl as her paddles rose and fell softly 
and slowly, silver-tipped by the moonlight, now dipping 



204 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

into the water, now rising above it, like the white wings 
of some lazy bird. Nearer and nearer came the long 
boat, and clearer shone the fair face that was still up- 
lifted, and reflected back the moonlight, till it almost 
looked as if divinely inspired. It is impossible to do 
any kind of justice to this beautiful moonlight picture. 
Gently the boat shot under our window, and was lost to 
our sight 

I bade my friend adieu, and hastened to the pier, 
where I met the girl again. She had fastened her canoe 
to one of the posts that supported the quay, and was 
crossing the street : in one hand she held a bunch of 
lilies, and in the other a lotus-shaped vase full of flowers. 

Yielding to the impulse of the moment, instead of 
stepping into my boat I took my boy's hand and followed 
her graceful figure. 

It was not yet seven o'clock A number of people 
were in the squalid, dirty streets of Tamseng. The 
twinkling evening lights were stealing out one by one, 
and the girl drew over her face a veil or covering which 
was attached to her hair by a large and beautiful pin. A 
dozen or more steps, and we stood in the porch of the 
lioman Catholic chapel dedicated to " Tomas the Saint" 

Lights were buming on the altar, over which were two 
figures of the Christ: one suspended above it with a 
crown of thorns, bleeding, and nailed to the cross ; the 
other, of magnificent stature, was enveloped in a costume 
as gorgeous as the coronation robes of an emperor, the 
vestment being a sort of Indian brocade of woven gold 
arabesqued with jewels and scented with spikenard; a 
diadem lavishly adorned with emeralds and diamonds 
pressed its forehead, in some measure confining the hair 
which streamed down in abundant tresses upon the shoul- 
ders, and mingled with a beard no darker than the glossy 
hue of the chestnut. On either side of the altar were 




THE CHRISTIAN VILLAGE OF TAMS&NG. 205 

two other figures, one of the Virgin Mother, in the same 
regal attire, and crowned as the queen of heaven ; while 
the other was the patron saint, with a flowing beard and 
a benevolent face. Suspended over the altar was a grand 
Japanese lamp. 

The priest, a dark, heavily built man, a native, but of 
Portuguese parentage, was standing before it, with his cap 
on his head and his back to the congregation. 

The moment the girl beheld the glory of the altar and 
the lights that shot up and quivered and were reflected 
in a thousand beautiful tints upon the magnificent figure 
of the Christ, she dropped on her knees and held down 
her head in mute adoration. After a little while she 
rose, and, advancing a few steps nearer, placed her golden 
lotus-shaped vase of flowers on the bare floor, dropped on 
her knees again, and, holding the white lilies between her 
folded hands, seemed absorbed in her devotions. 

In her attitude and bearing there was a depth of feel- 
ing which, harmonizing with her beautiful figure, arrested 
the eye of the observer, and cast every other object in the 
shade. 

I withdrew reluctantly and returned to my boat, won- 
dering who she could be. On my way home I gathered 
from the women at the oars that she was known by the 
name of Nang Eungeah (Lady Eunge&h) ; * that her 
parents were Buddhists and Cambodians, proprietors of a 
large plantation east of Tams&ng. Her father, Chow Suah 
Fhagunn, was a distinguished noble, and her mother a 
Cambodian lady of high birth, who claimed to be de- 
scended from the rulers of that ancient and almost 
unknown kingdom, and that her only brother was a 
Buddhist priest. But the Nang Eungeah had become 
deeply impressed with the beauty of the Christian re- 

* Runge&h, a sort of magenta-colored lotus, found in the pools and 
marshes of Slam. 



206 ROMANCE OF THE HABEK. 

ligion, and was at this moment the only candidate who 
had ottered herself, for a number of years, for baptism 
into the Roman Catholic Church. 

"Toinas Saint/' the founder of the beautiful church 
around which hail grown up this Christian village, was a 
Portuguese gentleman renowned for his piety and his 
wealth. He had obtained the title of "saint," even in his 
lifetime ; but the good people, fearing to arouse the jealousy 
of the Apostle of Christ, after whom he was named, 
placed the title after, instead of before, his name, and out 
of it had grown the name of " Tdmseng." 

On the very next Saturday following, it being the first 
holiday that ottered itself to me, I set out with my boy 
very early in the morning to explore the village of TAm- 



seng. 



Wtt chose for our head-quarters one of the most beau- 
tiful Huddhist temples in the neighborhood, the grounds 
and monasteries bounded the Catholic village on the 
northeast side of the river. 

This temple, called Adi Buddha Annando, Le. The 
First Buddha, or The Infinite, was embowered in a grove 
of trees of luxuriant growth, affording a delicious shade. 
It must have been, in its best days, a magnificent build- 
ing ; for even now, though much of its beauty was obliter- 
ated, it was covered from its massive base to its tapering 
summits with sculptures, and frescoed within and without 
with marvellous effect, so that wherever you turned your 
eyes the impression of a more subtle and a finer spiritual- 
ity dawned upon you, as it was meet it should, in a 
temple dedicated to One whom the pious Buddhists will 
never even name, so great is their reverence for the First 
or Supreme Intelligence. 

After a simple breakfast of fruit and milk, we strolled 
about the village and its surroundings, making notes and 
sketches of all that could be seen. 




THE CHKISTIAN VILLAGE OF TAMSfcNG. 207 

It was surprising to me that it looked so well in the 
early sunshine. The places that had struck me as foul 
and repulsive in the dim twilight now wore a different 
aspect, as if bent on looking their brightest and best in 
acknowledgment of the prodigal sunlight. 

But the farther we penetrated into the heart of the 
village the more we were disappointed, and my first im- 
pressions were more than realized. We soon came upon 
scenes of the most squalid misery and filth, poverty and 
destitution, amid heaps of refuse and puddles of mud that 
caused us to shrink aside with disgust. 

It is natural to demand that beautiful ideas should be 
clothed with beautiful forms. It was therefore to me an 
outrage on the name of Christianity to find that while all 
around lay scenes of luxuriant beauty which brightened 
the eye and cheered the heart, the only Christian village 
in the vicinity of Bangkok, which should have been an 
embodiment of all that is pure and lovely, had been trans- 
formed by the greed and oppression of the local officers 
to a pestilential spot to fester and poison the pure air of 
heaven. Some few native Christian women were about 
milking their goats, others were seated on their doorsteps, 
unwashed and uncombed ; they seemed even to have lost 
the virtue of personal cleanliness, which with the Indian 
covers a multitude of sins. Stray packs of pariah dogs 
and herds of swine were barking and grunting in the ill- 
kept streets, and all kinds of poultry were picking a 
scanty breakfast from the heaps of garbage. Every now 
and then we were compelled to cross a stagnant pool or a 
muddy gutter alive with insects. 

I never saw anything like the mud; it was a black 
liquid, sticky, slimy, and yet hard, hurting like hail when 
it struck the flesh 

And now we reached the quaint little chapel of " Tomas 
Saint" Its glories were sadly obscured by wet and damp, 



208 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

and the painting and gilding on the outside looked cold 
and dull. 

A colored priest, a descendant of the renowned Tomas, 
-was oiliciating. It was some saint's day. An assem- 
blage of moil, women, and children was seated on the 
floor, some in groups and some on rude benches. The 
priest l>ends over his missal, and pours forth in execrable 
Latin the exquisite prayers of the Church of Rome ; and 
all the congregation, in their silks, and in their rags and 
wretchedness, are hushed and silent, with bent heads and - 
folded hands, while the sound of the prayers — which they 
do not understand, beyond that it is the voice of prayer — 
fills their unenlightened but reverent hearts with myste- 
rious dread and worship. 

On quitting the chapel, we were at once beset by a 
numerous horde of beggars. It was not food or money 
that they craved, but, strange to say, it was justice. They 
followed us all the way back to the temple, importuning 
me to redress their wrongs and find a remedy for their 
grievances. Some of the poor wretches were half-witted, 
and not a few were crazed. An elderly lady, evidently 
once of superior rank, came crawling up to me, and clasped 
my feet, making a painful noise in a language that I could 
not understand, and piteously gesticulating some incom- 
prehensible request. The people of the place denied all 
knowledge of her. At last she insisted on my giving her 
a leaf out of my note-book full of writing, which she 
apparently considered as a charm, for she attached it to a 
cord round her neck, and seemed to be perfectly happy in 
its possession. God only knows what the poor thing 
wanted to tell me, but likely enough her story was one 
of some great wrong, of some cruel injustice. If the 
smallest details of what I heard that day might be cred- 
ited, the wrongs of these people were of the most harrow- 
ing nature, and altogether without hope of remedy under 



THE CHRISTIAN VILLAGE OF TAMS^NG. 209 

the twofold and inveterately vicious system of Siam- 
ese and Portugo-Siamese administration that prevailed 
there. 

I was alarmed when I found that my visit was thought 
to be one secretly intended " to spy out the land," in the 
servidfc of the king of Siam, and that I was expected to 
wipe away the tears from all eyes. In vain I protested 
to the contrary ; no one would listen to me, but the crowds 
kept coming and going, and pleading and praying, and 
promising me fabulous sums of money if I would only 
see their wrongs redressed. 

Many a heart-rending tale was told to me that day, 
with quivering lips and streaming eyes, as I rested beneath 
the porch of the temple of Adi Buddha Annando, by 
women who had been plundered of all they once pos- 
sessed, their children sold into slavery or tortured to 
death, their habitations despoiled, merely because they 
happened to have property, and presumed to live inde- 
pendently upon lands which their more powerful neigh- 
bors coveted. 

The greater number of these depredators were Siamese 
of influence, who had enrolled themselves as Christians 
under the French or the Portuguese flags, and unless the 
sufferer could claim the protection of either the one or the 
other, it seemed a cruel mockery to refer them for redress 
to any existing local authority, so long as Fhaya Visate, 
a high but unprincipled Roman Catholic dignitary, was 
the governor of this district ; and the saddest part of it 
all was, that the sufferers themselves felt there was no use 
in applying for justice to him. 

In talking with some Buddhist men and women who 
were land proprietors in the vicinity, they told me that 
they were afraid of their Christian brethren, and would 
not, if they could prevent it, permit them to lease farms 
on their estates. 



210 ROMANCE OF THE HABEK. 

" Wliy ? " I asked 

" Because, if they once get hold of a house or a farm, 
they manage in time to turn us out" 

"But how?" 

" Well, they lease small bits of land, year after year, 
expend money on it, and then, when they have a suffi- 
ciently large plantation to settle upon, they refuse to pay 
rent, go to law, and bring false witnesses to prove they 
have purchased the land of the owners, while the local 
authorities either take the part of the wrong-doers or im- 
prison both parties until they have squeezed all they can 
out of them. The Buddhist does not dare/' said they, 
" to lay his hand upon the sacred tree * and swear falsely, 
because the god who lives in it sees all, and he dreads 
his vengeance. But the Christian may swear to as many 
lies as he pleases, for the priests of the Fhra Jesu will 
give him absolution for them. Where, then, is the hazm 
to him ? " 

I observed among the crowd a highly respectable looking 
and handsomely dressed woman, who sat apart, taking no 
share in the conversation, but listening with apparent 
interest to all that was said. Her eyes were very dark 
and very line, but fdled with rather a sad expression. 

Towards evening she rose to go away, but, as if on sec- 
ond thought, she turned to me and greeted me in a 
peculiarly sweet voice, that sounded like music to my 
ears after all the voices of the crowd, inviting us to go 
and take our evening meal at her house, to which she at 
once led the way. 

A narrow, gravelled walk led to the house, situated in 
a lovely garden, and separated by a wilderness of wild 
plants and prickly-pears from the neighboring Christian 
village. A long veranda with stone steps led down to the 
gravelled path. Just in front stood an old banyan-tree, 

* Boh, or bogara-tree. 




THE CHRISTIAN VILLAGE OF TAMS^NG. 211 

• 

lusty and burly in the full strength of its gnarled trunk, 
and vigorous, long boughs and branches forming arched 
and leafy bowers all round it. 

The pathway ran through a shrubbery luxuriant with 
oleanders, jessamine, roses, laurel, and the Indian myrtle. 
Beneath these small wild rabbits had formed a colony, 
and it was curious to see a leaf moved upwards myste- 
riously, a head and ears protrude themselves, or a tail and 
legs, and then disappear as suddenly. This road ran to a 
great distance behind the house, and led through nearly 
three miles of ground, laid out in sugar, rice, cocoanut, 
and tobacco plantations. A small stream trickled through 
these, stagnating here and there into deep, green pools. 

In passing near one of these pools I noticed that my 
hostess turned away her face, and in answer to my ques- 
tions, she told me that it was once a large tank, but was 
now called Talataie, the Pool of Death. On further in- 
quiry, I learned that this name had been given it from a 
tragic circumstance which had happened in her family ; 
that shortly after her eldest daughter's engagement to a 
young Siamese Christian, the betrothed pair went out for 
a ramble along the banks of the streamlet. Night de- 
scended, and the shadows deepened into midnight, but 
her daughter and her lover did not return. At length 
her fears were aroused, and the whole household set out 
with lanterns to search the grounds ; but nowhere could 
they find a trace of the absent couple until morning 
dawned upon their fruitless search, when her daughter 
was found lying on her face in the dark pool, stripped of 
all the beautiful jewels in which she had arrayed herself 
on the previous evening; and her Christian lover was 
never seen or heard of again. " But her spirit still haunts 
the spot," said the sad mother to me, " and on moonlight 
nights I see her pale form floating in the pool and crying 
to us for help." 



212 ROMANCE OF THE HABEH. 

The lady then wiped away her tears with her blade 
p'lia horn, or scarf, and led us into the house. Her hus- 
band, a much older and more melancholy-looking person, 
now appeared, and the slaves brought us a great many 
delicacies on silver trays. 

While we partook of them, our hostess asked me a 
numl>er of questions about my home, friends, children, 
and relatives. She then informed me that her family now 
consisted of one son and a daughter, and that the former 
was a Buddhist priest, serving in the very temple where 
she had met me. 

" Where is your daughter now ? " I inquired. 

She pointed to a window which opened into an inner 
chamber. I looked in, and to my glad surprise saw 
seated on a low stool, holding an open book in which she 
seemed wholly absorl>ed, the same girl who had so at- 
tracted me on the Sunday evening previous. 

Her face was very fine and seemingly full of spiritual 
beauty, and her figure surpassingly beautiful While we 
stood gazing at her, some sudden and apparently painful 
emotion flitted rapidly across her face as she read in the 
book, like the shadow of a dark cloud over the quiet water. 

The mother was silent, evidently making an effort to 
master the feelings which this sight occasioned in her 
breast, so as to speak calmly about it 

I sat down again, and inquired the name of the book 
in which her daughter was so absorbed. 

" It is a book called Beeble," said the woman. " What 
kind of a book is it ? " 

I assured her that it was a very good book, the Book 
above all others ever printed ; that her daughter did well 
to read it, and that it would help to develop her into a 
lovely and beautiful character. 

I then left my kind hostess, satisfied and yet saddened 
by my trip to T&ms&ng. 



NANG KUNGEAH, THE CAMBODIAN PROSELYTE. 213 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

NANG RUNGEAH, THE CAMBODIAN PROSELYTE. 

TAMS^NG presented a picture of the sea at the mo- 
ment when the tide is on the turn : there is always 
a lull, and sometimes a profound calm, before the mighty 
currents shift and set in another direction. The eager 
child who is piling up castles of sand one upon another 
on its shores pauses in wonder and astonishment at the 
sight That strong angel, the tide, that he had watched 
in breathless delight advancing resistlessly, ever onward, 
nearer and nearer, rushing on to kiss with its foaming 
mouth his wayward feet, then rolling back, and " laughing 
from its lips the audacious brine," is suddenly arrested. 
The dull, surging roar that filled his ear, as if it were the 
voice of some mysterious sea-god, is hushed ; the great 
sea has become silent and still, and the strong angel has 
expired. His last faint effort, and his feeble dying moan, 
fall upon the child's attentive eye and listening ear like 
a death-knell, for he has been told that this " tide " keeps 
the salt sea fresh and its shores healthful. He sets up a 
shout of despair, and prays the strong angel to return and 
trouble again the still waters, to renew the life which has 
passed away, and prevent that in-setting of stagnation 
that must bring with it mortal disease to the earth. 

Eeligions have their tides as well as the ocean, and all 
life has its grand cyclical currents, whether in the church, 
the state, the individual, 01 the nation. Thus this little 
village of Tams&ng seemed long since to have arrived at the 
period of that reaction which marks the disappearance of 
the tide from the sea, and the influx of that sluggish in- 



214 ROMANCE OF THE HABEK. 

sensibility which foretells the beginning of the stagnation, 
which, if not removed, must inevitably end in mortifica- 
tion and death. 

Hut now, after the torpor of nearly half a century, and 
through the death-like stagnation of the decaying village, 
there is heard a voice of general rejoicing. The main 
features of the place undergo a slight change ; a gentle 
flow of life stirs its corpse-like visage; a beautiful and 
wealthy Camlxxlian heiress, the Lady Nang Eungeah is a 
candidate for luptisni in the Roman Catholic Church. 

On the 25th of June, it being the morning of her first 
confessional, the hells are set in motion and ring all day 
till sunset, as is the custom for a new convert, resounding 
in the glens and hollows and amid the spires of the 
Buddhist and Roman Catholic temples. 

The chamlier into which I had looked at a young girl 
reading with her heart and eyes a copy of the New Testa- 
ment — translated, not by a Roman Catholic, but by an 
American Presbyterian missionary, the Rev. Mr. Mattoon 
— is now the centre of a most animated scene. Khoon 
P'hagunn and his wife Jethamas are seated in the little 
room in earnest conversation. They are interrupted by 
their daughter Rungeah, who comes quietly in, throws 
her arms around her mother, kneels before her and lays 
her head in her lap. The mother folds her aims tenderly 
around her cliild, and caresses her lovingly, smoothing 
her soft hair. 

" Ah ! Rungeah, art thou dressed already ? Thou dost 
not need much adornment" And the old man's eyes 
brightened with pride and love as they lighted on the 
pleasant beauty and the graceful proportions of his 
daughter. 

Nang Rungeah, the bright lotus-flower, was indeed 
pleasant to look upon. Hers was the half Indian and 
half Cambodian beauty so rare in Siam, — the large, long, 




NANG RUNGEAH, THE CAMBODIAN PROSELYTE. 215 

drooping eye, round, oval face, and clear complexion, with 
a touch of healthful ruddiness in her cheeks, purple-black 
hair, soft and rich, falling loosely in long curls over her 
shoulders. The charms of her face and feature, however, 
were as naught to the brightness and kindliness that 
played over them like a sunny gleam. Her figure was 
remarkable, tall and lithe, yet perfectly rounded, and 
swelling fairly beneath the graceful bodice and the full 
skirt that fell in soft folds to her sandalled feet The pin 
by which her veil was fastened was set off with a number 
of brilliants ; her arms were ornamented with gold bangles, 
and on her neck she wore a new chain, a gift from her 
sad and loving mother, a rosary of gold and black coral 
beads, to which was attached a massive gold figure of the 
Christ on the cross. 

" Alas ! my child," said the mother at length, " I pray 
Fhra Buddh the Chow that no harm will come to thee 
through this new religioa" 

" I wonder to hear you speak thus, dear mother ." re- 
plied the young girl, lifting her eyes reproachfully to her 
mother's face. " 0, I wish you could be brought to see 
how much more beautiful this religion of P'hra Jesu is 
than that of Buddha; and then think of the beautiful 
' Marie/ his Holy Mother, who is ever at his side, ready to 
whisper words of tender love and pity in behalf* of such 
poor sinners as we are. I feel as if I should never go 
astray, or do any evil thing, now that I have the good 
priest to pray for me, and the Holy Mother and her Son 
to be my gods." 

"Fhra Buddha forbid that I should mistrust your 
gods, my child ; but I do mistrust the priests and my own 
heart," said the anxious mother. 

In spite of her love and her faith, Rungeah's cheek 
grew pale and her eyes filled with tears as she reached 
the chapel of Tams&ng. With a palpitating heart she 



216 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. • 

knelt at the confessional-box, waiting for the priest to 
take his place within, and open the small window through 
which he heard the confessions of the congregation. 

She hoars a footstep on the other side. The priest ea- 
ters, he shuts the door upon himself and takes his place; 
he then pulls a cord which opens the little window of the 
confessional-l>ox, and shuts at the same time the door 
which she had left ajar as she came into the chamber. 

The confessional window is open, and the priest coughs 
a slight cough ; but Bungeah kneels there with her heart 
beating and her hands folded, gazing on that ideal and 
perfect manhood who lias given up his life to save here. 

After a long interval of silence, the voice of the priest 
breaks upon her ear, like the boom of a cannon amid a 
garden of flowers. 

u My daughter," said the voice, " confess your sins." 

" My father," replies Bungeah, her love and joy breath- 
ing from her heart and struggling for utterance on her 
lips, " whenever I think of Him, His goodness and His 
love, of which I never tire reading, I am filled with glad- 
ness and praise ; I am now never weary, never cast down, 
never aillicted, nor does my heart or my pulse ever fail 
me in loving and adoring Him." 

" My daughter," interrupted the priest, suddenly, "this 
is not confession ; you must tell me of your secret sins> 
the guilty thoughts, words, and acts you have cherished, 
spoken, or committed, when you were still a believer in 
the false and horrible doctrines of the Buddha." 

A deep flush of pride, which the girl herself does not 
quite understand, overspreads her beautiful face, and her 
lips, still quivering, remain parted in surprise. Her secret 
sins and guilty thoughts ! Why blame her for not re- 
membering them ? 

She was as pure as the snow-flake upon the mountain- 
top. - 




NANG RUNGEAH, THE CAMBODIAN PROSELYTE. 217 

She turned her thoughts upon herself, and tried to re- 
call some sin; she would have given the world to find 
some grave fault which she could justly own as hers, to 
pour into the ears of the impatient priest But she could 
not recall a single one. 

" My memory is treacherous, good father," said she ; " I 
cannot now recall any one of my sins in particular, though 
I must have done many, many wrong things, unless, in- 
deed, it is the one I have committed in forsaking my dear 
old god Buddha, whom I did truly love and reverence 
until I heard and read of the beautiful Fhra Jesu." 

" This is not satisfactory," said the priest, dryly ; " you 
will have to do penance for such thoughts as these ; and 
where did you read of Fhra Jesu ? " 

" Ah ! " said the girl, " I have a beautiful book which 
tells me all about him." 

" But who gave it to you ? " persisted the priest 

" I found it in the temple of Adi Buddha Annando, 
where it was left for my brother by an American priest" 

The priest of Tanis&ng turned uneasily in his seat, and 
coughed a low cough preparatory to what he was going 
to say. 

" My daughter," said he at length, in a voice of grave 
reproof, " this last is a dreadful sin. That book is dan- 
gerous, and those American priests are our enemies. 
They lie in wait to deceive the children of the true 
Church. They deny the divinity of the Holy Mother 
of God, and they go about the country preaching their 
false doctrines and giving away their books only to de- 
lude the simple-hearted natives. Be sure that you never 
listen to them, and that you abstain from looking into 
that book again. Bring the book to me, and you will be 
saved from this great temptation." 

The girl listened, abashed, hanging down her head, and 

with tears of repentance in her eyes. 

10 



218 ROMANCE OF THE HABEM. 

lie then proceeded to state the penance she would have 

to perform. 

To repeat fifty paternosters, walk, on the following 
Sal )1 Kith morning, barefooted, and dressed in her meanest 
garb, to the chapel of T&mseng, and he admitted thus by 
baptism into the true Church. 

The priest again pulled the cord ; the window was shut, 
the door stood ajar, and the girl rose and passed out to 
join her attendants. Her bright face was overcast, un- 
bidden tears were in her eyes, and all her love and joy in 
the l>eautiful Saviour she had found blighted like au- 
tumn leaves l>efore the wind. When she gained her boat, 
great black clouds lowered in the sky, the winds rose into 
a squall, and the waves tossed and tumbled and rolled 
high upon the banks. It was one of those sudden hurri- 
canes that are so common in Siam. The boat proved 
unmanageable, and, in spite of all the combined efforts of 
the three women, she was capsized in the middle of the 
angry, surging waters. Long and desperately the women 
struggle for life, again and again they try to swim towards 
the bank, but the stronger waters carry them away in 
their irresistible grasp. 

The high-priest of the temple of Adi Buddha Annando 
has taken shelter beneath the porch of his temple. He 
sees the empty boat and the struggling women ; he hesi- 
tates. His vows forbid him to touch a woman, even his 
own mother, and still hold his office as a priest of Buddha. 
He sees the women throw up their arms as if imploring 
his aid. He casts aside his upper yellow robe, and plunges 
in to their rescue, regardless of his vows, his office, of 
everything else. 

And now a sudden dizziness veils the eyes of the Nang 
Rungcah; while her companions are safe on the bank, 
she relaxes her efforts ; a sickness like that of death over- 
comes her, and she sinks. But again the strong man 




NUNG RUNGEAH, THE CAMBODIAN PROSELYTE. 219 

plunges and dives deeper and deeper, and at last holds her 
firmly in his herculean arms. She hears, or she thinks she 
hears, the voice of the priest reproving her, and the jubi- 
lant chimes of Tams&ng clang at her fainting heart as she is 
borne out of the dark waters and laid upon the flowery 
bank ; but at length she opens her eyes on Maha SSp, the 
chief priest of the temple of Adi Buddha Annando, her 
brother's tutor and guide. A slight shudder, and then a 
blush of shame passes over her as she recognizes her early 
religious teacher. But he, stooping, gathers a handful of 
flowers, hands them to her, and says : " Sadly and heavily 
did my heart ache to see thee in the grasp of the strong 
demons of the storm, and to save thee I have violated the 
vows of my order. But if thou wilt return to me one of 
these flowers as a token, I will neither regret the loss of 
my sanctity nor yet of my priestly office, but rejoice in 
the fates that have blessed me with a new life." 

To the sonorous rushing and wild dash of the waters 
is joined the deep melodious voice of the priest, urging 
her to give him a token from his flowers ; and the chimes 
now seem to swell into joyful choruses of jubilant an- 
thems as she gives him the sweet token. 

After the fury of the storm had abated, the priest left 
them and set off to confess himself to the Archbishop of 
the Ecclesiastical Court ; and the women returned home. 

The first thing Nang Eungeah did was to relate to her 
mother all that had befallen her from the time she entered 
the chapel of Tamsfeng to her return home. She then 
took the " dangerous book " from under her pillow and 
laid it on a high shelf out of her reach, but put in its 
place her crumpled flowers. Then she knelt down and 
repeated her fifty paternosters with lessening fervor, and 
tried to believe that she was a better woman. But how 
was it that her thoughts would stray from the morrow's 
bright vision, when she would publicly be baptized into 



220 BOXANGE Or THE HABEK. 

the Church of Christ, to the dark face of Maha Sftp and 
the tenderness she had seen in his eyea. 

She shut herself up in her chamber to weep and pray 
in agonizing doubts and fears, because of that grunptfni^ 
wliich has come between her and her beautiful Fhia 
Jesu. 




TO EVERY BIBD ITS OWN NEST IS CHARMING. 221 



CHAPTER XXVIII. 

AD OGNI UCCELLO SUO NIDO k BELLO, — "TO EVERT BIRD 

ITS OWN NEST IS CHARMING." 

A If HEN Rungeah awoke on the following morning, it 
W seemed to her that she had just thrown off some 
wondrous and powerful spell that had somehow girt its 
strong and mysterious illusions about her heart A new 
soul from within that inmost chamber had started into 
life. She faltered, hesitated, and dropped on her knees 
and raised her eyes towards heaven, and felt as she had 
never done before. 

In her visions — strange contradiction of human nature 
— and in her holiest thoughts of the beloved Mother and 
her Son, the face of the priest of Buddha would intrude. 

Her prayers finished, she put on her most faded and 
meanest robe, laid aside all her customary adornments and 
jewels, save only her veil and her rosary, and, attended 
by a host of fond relatives and slaves, and among them 
the priest her brother, and Maha S&p in a layman's dress, 
went her way barefooted to the chapel, where she sol- 
emnly recanted the errors of Buddhism, and was baptized 
into the church of Christ. 

Again the merry bells were rung, and on the dark face 
of the priest of T&ms&ng might be seen 

" The slow wise smile, that round about 
His dusty forehead dryly curled, 
Seemed half within and half without, 
And full of dealings with the world.*' 

A month after her baptism, MariH, as Eungeah was now 
named, was selected, on account of her great piety and 



222 ROMANCE OF THE HABEU. 

devotion, to be one of the female wardens of the 
chapel. 

This distinction she enjoyed with six other girls, whose 
duty it was to dust and sweep the chapel, clean the lamps 
and the gold and silver candlesticks, and to dress the altar 
with fresh flowers.* 

Saturday was the day appointed to Mari& to serve in 
the chapel, and a lovely warden was the gentle Cambo- 
dian girl. She had given up the dangerous book to her 
father confessor. But the handful of crumpled flowers 
still nestled under her pillow, and her secret preference 
for Maha-Sup was deeply hidden in her heart ; and yet it 
proved an impenetrable barrier, as long as she lived, be- 
tween her and her confessor. 

It was touching to see this girl at her duties in the 
chapel. After the floor had been swept, and the candle- 
sticks polished and replenished with fresh candles, and 
the flowers arranged in the vases in the niches, and the 
garlands hung over the images of the gods and the saints, 
she would kneel at the foot of the sad Christ, after having 
touched with her lips the nailed and bleeding feet, pray- 
ing to him to make her as noble and as self-sacrificing 
as himself, and to the tender Mother to intercede for her 
at the throne of grace. 

One Saturday evening, Mariii, having spent a comfort- 
less day within herself, repaired to the chapel as usual, 
attended only by the oars- women, to open it for the even- 
ing service. She opened wide the doors, and sat herself 
down under the cross. There were rays of comfort ema- 
nating from that figure nailed on it forever, that had now 
become very precious to her. 

Long after the congregation had dispersed, she knelt on 

* This is one of the Buddhist customs adopted by the Catholics for 
the pur]X)se of securing the daughters of rich natures as servants of the 
Church. 




TO EVERY BIRD ITS OWN NEST IS CHARMING. 223 

the floor of the sanctuary. All the religion of the place 
and the hour came over her, and a strange yearning sor- 
row, for which she could not account. And as she knelt 
there she fancied that a shadow darkened the lights that 
streamed down from the altar upon her, but only for a 
moment, for the next found the shadow gone, and tears 
gathering in her eyes. " Alas ! what is it that steals my 
thoughts from Thee to Buddha, and the temple in which 
I once loved to worship ? " muttered the girl, conscience- 
stricken at her own depravfty. ' * 

The chapel bell suddenly " flung out " the hour of five, 
L e. ten o'clock She rose from her knees, put out the 
lights, and, locking the doors, turned into the dark de- 
serted street ; but somehow a sudden fear overcame her, 
and a feeling that somebody was watching her, perhaps 
following her. She drew her veil over her face and ran 
breathlessly towards the river, where she gained her boat 
and returned home for the night. 

The Eoman Catholic Missionary Society at Bangkok 
consisted of one bishop and from fifteen to twenty priests, 
besides a number of proselytes from the Siamese and the 
Chinese, who also were admitted into the priesthood. 
Of the former, most of the priests were endowed with 
every talent that a strict collegiate education could fur- 
nish; but the latter were particularly useful, because, 
besides being professing and, some of them, sincere Chris- 
tians, they possessed the power of expounding the doc- 
trines of the Church to their native brethren in a lan- 
guage natural to themselves from their birth. Nor was 
this all ; they were nearly all well skilled in medicine 
and surgery, which gave them more power than the 
French priests in winning over the discontented follow- 
ers of the Buddha to lend a willing ear to the marvellous 
facts of the Christian faith. And, moreover, as the teach- 
ings and ceremonies of the Roman Catholic Church are 



224 ROMANCE OF THE HABKK. 

in many respects almost identical with the Buddhist 
teachings and ceremonies, the Soman Catholic priests are 
more successful in making proselytes than their Protes- 
tant eolaborers in the same field. 

When a poor ignorant Buddhist goes into his temples 
he sees the images of the Buddha, and he sees certain 
forms and prostrations practised, the burning of incense, 
the bowing before the well-lit shrines, and hears prayers 
uttered in an unknown tongue, and he knows also that 
the most heinous sin that can be committed by the 
Buddhist priest is the violation of his oath of celibacy. 
And if from idle curiosity he should be induced to enter 
a Roman Catholic chapel or church, to his surprise and 
delight he observes not only forms and ceremonies veiy 
nearly approaching to those used in his own temple, bat 
also images and pictures far more beautiful and attractive 
than those of his own gods. On inquiring he finds that 
the priests of this faith also do not marry, that they have 
the marvellous power to absolve the transgressor from the 
consequences of his deadly sins, and that the only thing 
necessary to escape the irresistible " wheel of the law" is 
faith in Christ. So the poor, timorous, trembling soul, 
that feels a certain consciousness of a fearful retribution 
awaiting his sins, and yet knows not where or to whom 
to fly, hails with joy the name of Christ, the all-atoning 
sacrifice, as a rock on which to rest his weary wings, and 
fears no more the inexorable "wheel" of the Divine 
vengeance. 

It is not to be wondered at, then, that the Siamese, 
Peguans, and Cambodians readily give ear to the native 
Catholic priests, and particularly when even the French 
and Portuguese priests adapt themselves, in many in- 
stances, to the usages and customs of the natives them- 
selves, the most striking of which are in employing the 
children of the rich as wardens and keepers of the 




TO EVERY BIRD ITS OWN NEST IS CHARMING. 225 

churches, and of never wearing any covering on their 
heads. 

On the morning following the night on which Marft 
had lingered so late in the chapel, Khoon Jethamas had 
risen at daybreak ; for ever since the day of the eventful 
thunder-storm she had troubled dreams accompanied with 
signs and omens that foretold approaching calamity ; and 
now she sat alone on the doorstep, meditating sadly on 
the future of her dear child. 

It had been predicted by a wise old man, in the days 
of Kungeah's infancy, that " she was born under the fatal 
star Sathimara, who would assume the form of a fair and 
beautiful angel to lead her on to her own destruction." 

The pagan mother could not discern between the heav- 
enly and the earthly church of Christ, nor between the 
true and the false ministers of the gospel. And now the 
prophecy seemed in a way of being fulfilled, but, like all 
prophecies, in the most unlooked-for manner. 

Suddenly the dark priest of Tamseng with a band of 
officers appeared on the gravel walk. The lady gave a 
cry of alarm that brought nearly the whole household to 
her side, and, as the priest with the officers persisted in 
forcing an immediate entrance into the house, there 
ensued a violent scuffle between the officers of the law 
and the slaves of Fhagunn. 

" Very good," said the padre, doggedly ; " it is certain, 
however, that the chapel of Tams&ng has been plundered 
by Maria and a vile pagan who was seen lurking in its 
vicinity last night." 

On hearing this the blood rushed violently to the 
mother's temples, and she fell back in a death-like swoon. 

Fhagunn and his numerous attendants were also stupe- 
fied by horror and dismay at this dreadful accusation ; and 
the officers, headed by the padre, proceeded coolly to search 

the house for the missing jewels and the gold and silver 

io» o 



226 ROMANCE OF THE HABKK. 

candlesticks, censers, and vases that had ornamented the 
altar of the chapel of Tams&ng. 

At last they reached Mari&'s chamber. She had just 
risen, and was now on her knees before the open window. 
The door was burst open, and she turned, still Imping 
and holding her breath, her fixed and terrified gaze upon 
the intruders. 

The chapel and the convent bells struck six. It was 
the hour when she usually set out to perform her small 
round of sacred offices and to open the church doors. But 
she had no power to move. She saw the padre dash aside 
her pillow and then her mattress, and with it her crum- 
pled flowers. One of the men came towards her and 
demanded the key of the chapeL But she could not 
open her lips to speak ; she knelt there petrified in the 
morning sunlight 

" To think that you should have connived at such an 
outrageous sacrilege upon the altar of God f " said the 
padre ; and he ordered the men to handcuff her and cany 
her away to the prison at T&ms&ng. 

She made no resistance, but let them do whatever they 
wished with her ; she seemed even to have lost the power 
of comprehension. She sees the trees, the thatched roofs, 
the plantations, the fields, the tapering spires of the 
Temple of the Infinite, and a thousand small objects ; she 
hears voices and cries that would have escaped her at 
another time, as she is dragged from the home of her 
parents to the prison cell of the doomed, but she cannot 
speak, or cry, or even think where she put the key. She 
knows that her mother is seated outside of the prison 
door, wailing and crying, and protesting that her child is 
innocent of the dreadful crime of which she is accused; 
and this is all that is clear to the stricken girl. 

Twilight was falling just as I was coming out of the 
palace, — for I had been detained there all day help- 




TO EVERY BIED ITS OWN NEST IS CHARMING. 227 

ing the secretary to despatch the royal mail, — when 
Khoon Jethamas came running up to me, took both my 
hands in hers, and told me the story of her daughter's 
imprisonment. 

What was to be done ? The woman was frantic with 
grief, and I was almost as much confounded as she. 

" You must come with me to-night, dear lady, this very 
evening. I cannot rest till I get her out of that dreadful 
place." 

I at last persuaded her to come to my house and take 
a cup of tea, and when I had soothed her so that she 
could make herself intelligible, I thought the affair did 
not look quite so hopeless as she supposed, and I tried 
to make her take a more cheerful view of the matter. 
The only thing that seemed strange was that Marifi, could 
give no account of what she had done with the key of the 
chapel door. 

Whoever robbed the chapel had got possession of the 
key. The locks on the chapel were of European manu- 
facture, and there were only two keys that could open 
them, one in the possession of the padre Tomas, and the 
other in the keeping of the young wardens, who trans- 
ferred it to the next person on duty after the morning 
service. 

In a short time Khoon Jethamas and I were rowing 
against the tide for the village of T&ms&ng. On cross- 
questioning the lady, I discovered that the late priest 
Maha-Sap had been seen prowling about the chapel when 
Rungeah, as the mother still called her, was at her devo- 
tions, and that on the following morning he was going 
towards the same spot when he was taken prisoner. 

I confess that now I began to feel anxious, for the value 
of the jewels, etc., that were stolen was fixed at several 
laks or millions of ticals, an incredible sum which no per- 
son could pay. I hardly knew what to think. 



228 ROMANCE OF THE HABEK. 

Amid hopes and fears, and innumerable plans, which 
were abandoned as soon as formed for new ones that 
seemed equally impracticable, we reached the prison of 
Tamseng. 

What a dreadful spot it was in the night-time ! And 
the very darkness was aggravated by the people around, 
who looked more savage and fiercer than wild beasts. Be- 
fore and behind and on all sides there were rags and filth 
and wretchedness crowding upon us with the double dark- 
ness of night and misery. Some hideous women were 
jailers ; for a few ticols and a promise not to tell upon 
them, they allowed us to go in and see the girL 

Kungeah sat as one entranced, with her eyes fixed upon 
the ground, as if she expected Jesus or the Mother to rise 
up out of it to vindicate her cause. We could not get 
her to say a word, to utter a cry or even a moan. We 
were almost as much overwhelmed at her grief as she 
was by the padre's accusation. 

What was to be done ? 

Leaving Kungeah, we set off for the convent of Tftm- 
seng. 

The clock had long before struck eight, when we came 
to the convent gate, and we were full of hope. But no 
light was to be seen, and a high wooden fence ran all 
round the house. Groping our way, we came to a gate at 
last, but it was locked. We began to knock, and we 
knocked loudly for a quarter of an hour, and then we 
waited to see if any one would come to open it No one 
came. We were uncertain what to do, the night came on 
full of clouds, clotliing with darkness even the star-filled 
depths. The convent clock struck nine, and the thought 
of poor Kungeah struggling with her anguish came with 
redoubled force upon the mother's heart, and again we 
both knocked together more and more loudly. At length 
lights appeared amid the gloom, and three women with 




TO EVERY BIRD ITS .OWN NEST IS CHARMING. 229 

lanterns approached and demanded who we were and 
what we wanted. On hearing that I was a Christian 
woman, they opened the gate, and after surveying us 
' carefully, passing their lanterns up and down our persons 
from head to foot, they led the way to the apartments of 
the Lady Abbess. When we entered, we found a morose- 
looking old lady of Portuguese descent seated on a tall 
high-backed chair, with nine or ten young women, mostly 
Siamese, sewing scapulars. All round the room were 
dreadful pictures of the Christ and the Mother in all 
kinds of agonizing attitudes. 

We proceeded to make our business known, which was 
only to go bail for Eungeah until the trial should come 
off, and to ask the Abbess's influence with the padre 
Tomas in urging our request 

The old lady coolly replied that it was her duty to 
wait upon the Lord Jesus, and not to rush about the 
country, as some folks did, intermeddling with other peo- 
pled business. 

We left her with clouded hearts, and set out for the 
house of the padre. As we were women, which we in 
our distress of mind had quite forgotten, the servants 
or slaves of this holy individual drove us from the door- 
step with scorn and contemptuous language for our in- 
' delicacy in going there at all. 

We then, but less hopefully, turned our almost fainting 
steps to the house of the Governor Fhaya Visate. Khoon 
Jethamas was afraid to enter, but I was not going away 
without seeing him. I climbed the steps and entered the 
veranda ; two slaves went before to report our arrival. I 
saw the great man seated on a cushion in a room adjoining, 
with women and men crouching in all sorts of abject atti- 
tudes before him. I walked in, ready, at the mother's 
request, to double and treble the bail if necessary. As 
soon as he saw me approaching, the governor rose, retired 



230 ROMANCE 07 THX HABKK. 

to his bedchamber, and shut the door violently in my 

face. 

I came away completely cast down and defeated ; u 
for the poor mother, she wrung her hands and wept 
piteously. It was now nearly eleven o'clock, and we 
went back to the prison. The unhappy Khoon Jethamu 
took up her abode near the only window of the cell when 
her daughter was immured. I left her sitting on a strip 
of matting, with her hands over her face, shutting out the 
outer darkness, in order to realize the utter darlm^ that 
hail Allien upon her life and upon the light of her home. 

Nights and days succeeded each other in regular suc- 
cession, and day after day I went to the prison to find 
the patient, loving mother living under the shadow of 
its roof, so as to be ever near her child, and once a day 
she was admitted to see her loved one visibly wasting 
away. The only change that had taken place in the pris- 
oner, that was hopeful, was, that now it was she who 
comforted her mother every day, by relating to her her 
bright visions, and assuring her that she felt the time 
was not far distant when the Mother and her Son would 
come down from heaven to proclaim her innocence ; that 
the holy angels descended at night to bless and comfort 
her with loving promises of speedy justice, and that now 
the prison-house had been transformed by them into a 
paradise. 

There are mysteries in all religions, which the unini- 
tiated cannot penetrate, and we stood abashed and silent 
on the other side of the veil that was lifted for the spirit- 
ual consolation of this strange girL 

The burning July sun shone daily on the tiled roof of 
the prison of Tamseng. The ground on one side was full 
of muddy pools, and the river on the other was the cess- 
pool of the village, — a liquid mass of poison from which 
rose the pestilence and the cholera that brooded with their 




TO EVERY BIRD ITS OWN NEST IS CHARMING. 231 

deathlike wings over the inhabitants of T&ms&ng. The 
evening air was either heavy with noxious vapors or it 
came in fitful burning gusts across the river, and brought 
no balm to the suffering prisoners within. 

Rungeah languished day after day, for the case was to 
be tried before the International Court of Siam, and the 
days and the weeks and the months passed away like 

" A stream whose waters scarcely seem to stray, 
And yet they glide like happiness away." 

With them poor Kungeah's bright faith began to grow 
dim, and her nightly prayers to the Mother and her 
holy Son were less and less hopeful, but yet she still 
strove with each returning day to revive her drooping 
spirits, and with sweet self-deceit " to paint clysium" 
upon the darkness of her prison-walls. 

The mother bribed the jailers to take to her daughter 
some little delicacies every day, for the coarse prison food 
disgusted the girl, and she was gradually being starved 
to death ; and now a low cough and a hectic fever had 
set in. 

The judicial courts of Siam, one and all included, were 
neither better nor worse than that of other Oriental and 
despotic kingdoms ; and the judges of the outer city, with 
the exception, as far as I know, of only one man, his 
Highness Mom Kratai Eajoday, were very far from being 
model judges. They aimed no higher than the traditional 
policy of the empire, " the good old rule " that " might 
makes right," which had guided the rulers of Siam ever 
since Siam began to exist as a kingdom and a nation ; so 
that everybody preyed upon his weaker neighbor, and 
everybody was obliged to suffer, without hope of redress, 
the wrongs which one stronger than himself could inflict 

Meanwhile the mother grew more and more impatient 
for her daughter's trial, which seemed to her as if pur- 
posely delayed, and in an unguarded moment she accused 



232 ROMANCE OF THE HAREIL 

the padre Tomas of having secreted the jewels and orna- 
ments of the altar of Tamseng, and of having made a false 
accusation against her daughter for the sole purpose of 
laying claim to her estate. The padre became exasper- 
ated and brought a charge of libel against the mother; 
and poor Rungcah was more and more hopelessly a pris- 
oner. 

The timid P'hagunn shut himself up in his house, and 
left it to his brave wife to threaten the Christian officials, 
and to taunt the courts with her complaints, expending 
large sums of money, but without result 

At length, as Rungeah was really veiy ill, and I feared 
she would die, I accompanied Khoon Jethamas on a pri- 
vate visit to his Highness Mom Kratai Rajoday, the chief 
judge of the International Court, taking with me a pri- 
vate letter from the king, which simply stated that I 
wished to be made personally acquainted with him. 

The judge received us very cordially indeed, and the 
unhappy Jethamas threw herself at his feet, and with 
tt ar.s and sobs implored of him to hasten the trial of her 
child, which he most kindly promised to do. 

It was now December, and three days after our visit to 
the chief judge the trial came on. 

I could not attend on the two first days, but on Satur- 
day, the 10th of December, 18G4, 1 accompanied Khoon 
Jethamas and the feeble and wasted Rungeah to the 
court, where I was rejoiced to see his Highness Mom 
Kratai Rajoday presiding in person. All the prelimina- 
ries had been gone through with on the two previous daya 
The court-house was crammed with native Christians, 
Buddhists, and Cambodians, so that there was not even 
standing room to be had anywhere. 

After going through a great many forms and ceremo- 
nies, such as laying the right hand on a branch of the 
boh-tree, and thence on his left side, and taking the 




TO EVERY BIRD ITS OWN NEST IS CHARMING. 233 

Buddhist's oath, Maha-S&p's innocence was clearly proved. 
He confessed, however that he was in the habit of re- 
pairing to the chapel morning and evening, but that his 
sole motive was to be near by to protect Rungeah horn. 
any danger that might threaten her. 

The judge then turned and asked Rungeah to relate 
again all that she had done on the night of the rob- 
bery. 

All her natural grace of feature, all her excellences of 
mind and soul, shone out as she calmly repeated her story ; 
the only thing she could not account for was where she 
had dropped the key. " But," said she, " my soul and my 
conscience acquit me of this sin. How then shall I plead 
guilty to that which I have not done ? Will it not be 
accounted a sin against myself by P'hra Jesu and his 
Holy Mother in heaven ? " 

The beating hearts of the crowd were suspended in 
breathless expectation; some being interested for and 
some against the prisoners. The next moment the judge 
declared that Rungeah and Maha-S&p had been impris- 
oned on insufficient grounds; that their innocence was 
quite apparent, even without or rather before the trial, 
and that the case was dismissed. 

Scarcely were these words articulated, when a shout 
like that of a great hurricane broke from the excited 
masses of the people ; the boarded floor seemed to thrill 
and ripple as with the throes of an earthquake, and the 
crowd staggered to and fro as if inebriated with the sud- 
den paroxysm of joy. It was to them not so much the 
cause of a young and beautiful Cambodian lady of high 
rank, as the cause of Buddhism against Roman Catholi- 
cism. 

I was stunned with their deafening roar. But poor 
Rungeah was too feeble to bear the sudden and over- 
whelming joy of her acquittal ; an exclamation of the 



234 ROMANCE 0? THE HABBL 

wildest delight broke from her pale lips, and she fell back 

insensible. 

The excited crowd unable to master their now as 
sudden agony at the sight of the apparently lifeless giri, 
were hushed, and a lull as profound as death succeeded. 
They bore her to the boat and laid her down in it, and 
her mother implored me to go home with them. In the 
fresh air, as we rowed slowly along, the girl soon revived, 
and, putting out her arms, drew her mother down to her, 
and held her firmly to her breast 

Maha-SAp, her brother, both noble-looking men, and a 
crowd of people, followed in another boat. 

As we approached the temple of Adi Buddha Ann&ndo, 
llungeah whispered to her mother to take her in there to 
rest ; that she was weary, and that it would comfort her 
to enter its sacred precincts once more. 

The sun is near his setting, and broad lights and shad- 
ows are lying upon and veiling the grand proportions of 
the temple of the " Infinite." 

Now the boats are fastened to the pier, and a little 
group follows the women who are bearing the form of 
Itungeah into the temple. 

It is the hour of the Buddhists' evening prayer. They 
bring a small mat, and she is laid in the middle of the 
temple, while the bonzes are seated on either side, wait- 
ing for the high-priest to open the vesper service. 

During the service the girl lies there with her eyes 
closed. 

Sunshine is reflected in wonderful glory from the head 
of the great silver image of the Adi Buddh. Sunshine is 
flooding the temple, glorifying the stolid idols that are 
standing around, and streaming on the floor and over the 
quiet figure of the girL Her face assumes an ashy hue, 
and she again puts out her arms and draws her mother 
down to her. 




TO EVERY BIRD ITS OWN NEST IS CHARMING. 235 

" O mother, pray to the Virgin Mother for me," says 
the girl, " to tell Fhra Jesu that I am innocent" 

The pagan mother makes no reply, but bends an agonized 
look on her dear child's face, and the girl's face becomes 
grayer in the floods of sunlight. Her fingers twitch and 
quiver around her mother's neck 

The priests are hushed, and the temple is more and 
more flooded with light ; and the faint, sweet, pleading 
voice of the girl is again heard : " Mother, dear mother, 
pray to Fhra Jesu that he shut not the heavenly gates 
upon me " ; and the strong love of the mother conquers 
her religious scruples, and, lying there with her head 
cushioned on the bosom of her dying child, she raises her 
voice and prays : — 

" thou who art called Fhra Jesu, free my child from 
sin. forgive her, sacred One. She has loved thee to 
the last. She believes in none but thee. Be thou her 
God, and shut not, shut not thy heavenly gates upon 
her, even though they shut her out forever from my sor- 
rowing heart and eyes." 

At the utterance of those strange syllables falling from 
the lips of a Buddhist mother in the most solemn of the 
temples of the Buddha, a marvellous change passed over 
the face of the dying girl ; the gray pallor of death gave 
place to a heavenly light, and a faint but lovely smile 
irradiated her pale lips. She opened her eyes and gazed 
enraptured upon some vision that seemed to float before 
her. " mother, mother," cried the exulting voice of the 
girl, " I see Fhra Jesu and Fhra Buddha ; Ph'ra Jesu is 
above and Fhra Buddha is below, and the two mothers, 
Marie and Maia * are sitting side by side, and they are 
all smiling and calling me upward, upward." And Eun- 
geah stretched out her arms and closed her eyes, the 
gray pallor returned ; her spirit fluttered for a moment, 

* One of the names of the mother of the Buddha. 



236 ROMANCE OF THE HABOL 

and then was gone forever. Bat the smile never left her 

lips. 

She was buried with the rites of the Roman Catholic 
Church, with her rosary and the golden image of Christ 
on her bosom, by a French priest from the other side of 
the village of Tamseng. 

Two years after, a man was taken in the act of plun- 
dering the jewels of a princess of Siam, as she was trav- 
elling in her boat to Ayudia, and on his trial he con- 
fessed that he was a Christian, that he had been betrothed 
to liungeah's sister, whom he had murdered for the sake 
of her jewels, and then fled to Ayudia, whence having gam- 
bled away all the proceeds of his spoils, he once more re- 
turned to Bangkok and robbed the chapel of T&mseng. He 
offered to deliver up the jewels, etc., if his life should be 
spared. His request was granted, but he was condemned 
to lifelong imprisonment, while the crown and the diadem 
are once more to be seen on the brows of the figure of 
the Christ and the Virgin Mary, and the gold and silver 
candlesticks again light up the altar of the little chapel 
of Tainseng. 



STRAY LEAVES FROM THE ROYAL SCHOOL-ROOM TABLE. 237 



CHAPTER XXIX. 

STRAY LEAVES FROM THE ROYAL SCHOOL-ROOM TABLE. 

THE three temples around which the city of the Kang 
Harm had taken root and gradually grown to its 
present dimensions were especially remarkable. The 
one in which I taught, Watt Khoon Chom Manda Thai, 
— Temple of the Mothers of the Free, — was formerly 
dedicated to the mother of the Buddha, as its ancient 
name Manda Maia Goudamana clearly shows; and the 
other was dedicated to the " Buddha Thapinya," Buddha 
the Omniscient, and the third and most beautiful to the 
"Buddha Annando,"* Buddha the Infinite, — all names 
from the Pali. The general effect of each of these build- 
ings is that of some great church in the southern part of 
Europe. The basement story is a square mass of about two 
hundred feet on each side, with double rows of windows 
flanked by pilasters and crowned with a curious flam- 
boyant spiral canopy, in what may be called the French- 
Gothic style. These pilasters and this canopy are the 
two most marked and universal features in the Buddhist 
architecture ; at the middle of each side of the basement 
rises a lofty porch or ante-hall, terminating in an immense 
gabled facjade, pilastered and canopied like the windowa 
These halls or vestibules convert the temple into a vast 
Greek cross. Over the basement rise a number of dimin- 
ishing terraces with small pagodas at the angles, the 

* I would here remark that all intelligent Buddhists make a very 
marked distinction between the Buddha and the Buddh. Buddh, or aa 
he is sometimes called, Adi Buddha, is the Supreme Intelligence, from 
whom Buddha is only an emanation, has existed from all eternity. 



238 BOMAKCB OF THE HAKKM. 

whole culminating in a pyramidal steeple like the Hindoo 
shivala ; and lastly the steeple itself is crowned with a 
chayatree, or tapering umbrella of gilt iron-work, rising to 
nearly two hundred feet from the ground. 

The interior consists of two great concentric corridors 
with large recesses for the images. Most of the images 
are standing figures ; the Buddha alone is either seated or 
reclining, in various attitudes of benediction, or preach- 
ing on elevated lotus-shaped pedestals. The vaulted cells 
in which the Buddha is seated reach up to the second and 
sometimes to the third terrace, and from a small window 
in the roof there streams a flood of sunlight downwards 
on the head and shoulders of the colossus, with wonderful 
effect. 

There is great uncertainty about the dates and buildere 
of these three temples, and I know nothing more inter- 
esting and beautiful than the legend which is attached to 
the spot on which they stand In the Siamese annals, 
however, it is stated that these temples have stood here 
for nearly twelve hundred years, embedded in what was 
once a sacred grove of olive, palm, and boh trees, before 
Bangkok was ever settled, and in the palmy days of the 
ancient and beautiful city of Ayodhya or Ayudia; that 
they then attracted pilgrims from all parts of the world, 
particularly women, who came to perform vows or to offer 
votive sacrifices at their shrines. 

It was P'hra P'huthi Chow I/huang, a usurper, who^ 
in order to establish more securely his throne, selected the 
vicinity of these triad temples as the seat of government, 
removed his palace from the west to the east bank of the 
Meinam, founded a city, surrounded it with triple walls, 
and called it the abode of the beautiful and invincible 
archangel. 

As often as I sat in the porches of these temples, the 
chanted prayers of the worshippers boomed through 




STRAY LEAVES FROM THE ROYAL SCHOOL-ROOM TABLE. 239 

the aisles and inspired me with feelings of the deepest 
devotion; and whenever I passed along the dim, silent 
corridors, and came unexpectedly in front of one of the great 
golden images with its folded arms and drooping eyelids, 
looking down upon me in monitory sadness, with the wis- 
dom of ages stamped upon its brow, amid the gloom of a 
never-ending twilight, while the head and shoulders were 
illuminated by a halo of light from the unseen source 
above, the effect was strangely mystical, solemn, and pro- 
found. 

The character of these buildings I do not exaggerate in 
calling them sublime ; they prove unmistakably that the 
architect, whoever he was, 

" Wrought in a sad sincerity ; 
Himself from God he could not free ; 
He builded better than he knew : 
The conscious stone to beauty grew." * 

This impression was deepened every time I visited them, 
and, though I knew every inch of the temples and their 
surroundings, the meanings of some of the symbols re- 
mained mysterious and incomprehensible. If I succeeded 
in unravelling one portion, the remainder was lost in in- 
extricable perplexity and doubt 

My pupils in that wonderful city numbered from twen- 
ty to twenty-five boys and girls, the loveliest and most 
remarkable of whom were the heir-apparent, the Prince 
Somdetch Fhra Paramendr Maha Chulalonkorn, his youn- 
ger sister, the little fairy^like creature Fa Ying,* the Prin- 
cesses Wanee, Ying- You Wahlacks, Somawati, the Prince ' 
Kreta-Bhinniharn, the only son of Hidden-Perfume, Fhra 
Ong Dwithwallabh, and KabkTanockratin, the sons of the 
child-wife ; and in addition to these were several gentle- 
women of the harem. 

We always began school immediately after the Buddh- 

• See " English Governess at the Siamese Court," Chap. XIII. p. 116. 



240 BOMANCE OF THE HABEK. 

ists' morning sendee, wliich I was obliged to attend,* 
as to muster my pupils together in good aid. and wttek 
was held precisely at nine o'clock in the temple of As 
Chom Munda Thai. The long inlaid and richly gflfe i* 
ble on which we pursued our studies day after day 
the same on which had been laid every morning fbr 
dreds of years offerings to the priests of Bnddha» 
whereon stood the bronze censers and the golden 
from which ascended clouds of fragrant incense amid tifa 
perfume of still more fragrant flowers, while the briOiafc 
colors of the silks, satins, diamonds, and jewels that adonoA 
the regal worshippers relieved the gloom. 

The studies that took the most absolute possession of 
the fervid Eastern imaginations of my pupils were geog- 
raphy and astronomy. But each had his or her own idea 
about the form of the earth, and it needed no small «"«wifc 
of patient repetition to convince them that it was neither 
flat nor square, but round. 

The only map — and a very ancient one it was — which 
they had ever seen was one drawn and painted about a 
century l>efore, by a Siamese who was thought to 
great scientific and literary attainments. 

This map was five feet long by three wide; in the 
trc was a great patch of red, and above it a small patch 
of green. On the part painted red — which was in trn dod 
to represent Siam — was pasted a comical-looking human 
figure, cut out of silver paper, with a huge pitchfbzk in 
one hand and an orange in the other. There was a crown 
on the head and spurs on the heels, and the sun was shin- 
ing over all. The legs, which were of miserably thin di- 
mensions, met sympathetically at the knees. And this 
cadaverous-looking creature was meant for the king of 
Siam, -— indicating that so vast were his strength and 
power they extended from one end of his dominions to 
the other. In the little patch of green, intended to rep- 




STRAY LEAVES FROM THE ROYAL SCHOOL-ROOM TABLE. 241 

resent Birmah, was a small Indian-ink figure, consisting 
of a little dot for the body, another smaller one for the 
head, and four scratches of the pen for the legs and arms ; 
this was meant for the king of Birmah. A legion of little 
imps, in many grotesque attitudes, were seen dancing about 
his dominions ; and these almost unintelligible hieroglyph- 
ics were to show to the uninitiated in what a disturbed 
state the Birman Empire was, and what an insignificant 
personage in his own dominions was the king of that 
country. On the north side of the green patch was 
painted a huge Englishman, sporting a cocked hat with 
red feathers, clasping in his arms what was meant for a 
vast tract of land. This was marked as British Birmah, 
and the Englishman was Lord Clive, holding on to it The 
rest of the map was all blue, and all around the Siamese 
territories richly painted and heavily freighted ships were 
sailing to and fro. But the poor Birmese monarch had 
not a boat to display. My simple pupils knew just so 
much as this map taught them, and no more. Birmah on 
the north, and Siam on the south, and the sea all around, 

— this was the world to them. 

But of their celestial geography they could tell me a 
host of interesting particulars, all of which they would 
relate with the accuracy and picturesque vividness of a jl 
fairy tale ; and whenever a dispute arose as to the heights 
of some of the mountains or the depth or breadth of 
the oceans in the celestial worlds, they would at once 
refer to a Siamese book, called " Tri Loke Winit Chai," 

— a book which settles all questions about the three 
worlds, of angels, of demons, and of gods, — and find 
therein a satisfactory solution of their difficulties. In 
their celestial chronology they were all equally well 
grounded. A little fellow of nine years old, when speak- 
ing of " time," stood upright in his chair and informed me 

that he was " time." His name signified a period of time 

u p 



242 ROMANCE OF THE HAKEK. 

appointed for the creation or the destruction of a world. 
He then proceeded to tell me with wonderful clearness for 
one so young, " that the first time, or Kap, is reckoned by 
the Siamese from the appearance of a certain cloud called 
god-thirst, which was the harbinger of a creative rain, and 
which brought into existence the worlds and their attend- " 
ant suns and moons ; that the second K&p, or time, is the 
period between the creation of these worlds and the coming 
of another great cloud denominated the dissolving cloud, 
and which is the third Kap and the forerunner of the dis- 
solution of the worlds ; and the fourth K&p is the period 
when matter remains in a chaotic mass, waiting for the 
generative cloud, — god-thirst, — which again pours forth 
the creative rain, and life once more springs into being: 
These four periods added together make a Maha-K&p." 

When I pressed him to state the number of years con- 
tained in a Maha-Kap, he became indignant, and replied, 
" that as the length of a single K&p could not be com* 
puted by the gods themselves, it was unreasonable for me 
to suppose that he could give me any correct estimate of 
their actual duration." 

I soon found that my pupils were in some respects 
much wiser than I, and thenceforth we exchanged 
thoughts and ideas. I gave them sound realities in re- 
turn for their poetic illusions and chimeras, which had 
for me a certain charm and a great deal of odd reason- 
ableness, for it was their way of explaining the incom- 
prehensible. 

When a Large English map and globes of the celestial 
and terrestrial spheres arrived, they created quite a sensa- 
tion in the ancient temple of the " Mothers of the Free." 
His Majesty caused the map to be set in a massive gold 
frame, and placed it with the globes on ponderously gilt 
supporters in the very middle of the temple, and for nine 
days crowds of women came to be instructed in the sci- 




STRAY LEAVES FROM THE ROYAL SCHOOL-ROOM TABLE. 243 

ences of geography and astronomy, so that I found my 
hands quite fulL It was hard for them to see Siam re- 
duced to a mere speck on the great globe, but there was 
some consolation in the fact that England occupied even 
a smaller spaca After the first excitement had worn off, 
my pupils began to enjoy their lessons ; they would clus- 
ter round the globes, delighted with the novel idea of a 
world revolving in space, and some of them were as keen 
as any Arctic explorer for the discovery of the North 
Pole, where they could some day sit astride, as they 
thought, with perfect ease and security, and satisfy their 
doubts about the form and the revolution of the earth. 

I found them always full of eager inquiry, unlike most 
"Western children, about the sun and moon and stars ; but 
they preferred to have them peopled with demons, ghosts, 
and hobgoblins, rather than to have them uninhabited. 

On one occasion, when I informed them that the moon 
was supposed to be uninhabited, all the little eager faces 
were clouded, and their interest flagged, and little Wanee 
declared, " that for her part she was convinced that the 
moon was the beautiful daughter of a great king of Ayu- 
dia, who lived many thousands of years ago, and the head 
wife -of the sun, and not a great stupid ball of earth and 
rock rolling about in the sky to no purpose but for the 
sun to shine upon." 

One day the steamer " Chow Fhaya" brought his Maj- 
esty a box of ice from Singapore, and I obtained some 
for an object-lesson. The women and children found no 
difficulty in believing that it was water frozen ; but when 
I went to tell them about snow, the whole school became 
indignant at what they considered an evident stretch of 
my imagination, and my dear simple friend, Hidden-Per- 
fume, laid her hand gently upon my arm, and said, 
" Please do not say that again. I believe you like my own 
heart in everything you have taught to me, but this 



244 ROMANCE OF THE HAEEM. 

si minis like the story of a little child who wishes to say 
something mure wonderful than anything that was ever 
said before." So my lesson of the snow proved a stum- 
Ming-Uoek to me for several days; my pupils' imagina- 
tions had taken alarm, and they could not be brought to 
believe the .simplest statements. 

I informed his Majesty of my dilemma; he came to 
my aid, and assure*! the royal children that it was just 
possible that then* was such a thing as snow, for English 
iiuuks of travel spoke frequently of some phenomenon 
whieh they designated as "snow." 

< >n another occasion, as we were all busily engaged in 
tracing the river Nile on an ancient map of Egypt, there 
f« -11 suddenlv from the vaulted roof above our heads, and 
upon the very centre of our chart on the table, a coil of 
something that looked at first like a beautiful thick silk 
cord neatly rolled up; in another instant, however, the 
coil unrolled itself, and began to move slowly away. I 
screamed, and fled to the extreme end of the temple. But 
what was my surprise to see oil my pupils sitting calmly 
in their seats, with their hands folded in veneration and 
their eyes iixed in glowing admiration on the serpent as 
it moved in tortuous curves along the entile length of the 
taMe. With a blush of shame and a sense of inferiority 
I returned to mv seat and watched with them the beauti- 
ful creature ; a certain feeling of fascination dawned upon 
me as I looked into its clear, bright, penetrating eyes; 
the upper part was of a fine violet color, its sides covered 
with large scales of crimson edged with black ; the abdom- 
inal parts were of a pale rose-color edged likewise with 
black ; while the tail terminated in tints of a bluish ash 
of singular delicacy and beauty. As the snake slowly 
dragged itself to the end of the table I held my breath in 
terror, for it dropped on the arm of the chair on which 
the Prince Somdetch Choufa Chulalonkorn was seated, 




STRAY LEAVES FROM THE ROYAL SCHOOL-ROOM TABLE. 245 

whence it fell on the floor, trailed itself along through the 
dim corridor and down the steps, and finally passed out 
of sight under the stone basement of the temple. • 

On the moment of its disappearance my pupils jumped 
up from their seats and clustered around me in the wild- 
est joy, caressing me, and declaring that the gods loved 
me dearly, else they would not have sent me such an aus- 
picious token in favor of my teaching. I was told that 
the gliding of the snake all over the table was full of 
happy omens, and that its dropping on the arm of the 
Prince's chair was an unmistakable sign that he would 
one day become famous in wisdom and knowledge. All 
the old and young women congratulated me, as did even the 
king himself, who, when he heard of the singular visitor 
we had had, caused the circumstance to be made known 
to the wise men and women of the court, and they all 
united in pronouncing it to be a wonderful and inspiring 
recognition of favor from on high. From this time I 
was treated with great consideration and respect by the 
simple-hearted women and mothers of the harem, but I 
nevertheless felt not a little uncomfortable for days after 
the sudden descent of the snake, and secretly hoped I 
might never again be so signally favored by the gods. 

I afterwards learned that this snake has three names. 
In Sanskrit it is celebrated as the Sarpa Eakta, the red 
snake, who brings secret omens from the gods ; in Pali, 
as the Naghalalvana, the crimson snake of the woods, 
who carries on his person in glowing letters the name of 
his great master; and in Siamese, Gnuthongdang, the 
crimson-bellied snake, who brings with its appearance all 
that is good and great to the beholder. 

I leave it with my readers to decide which is the bet- 
ter, our inherited dread of and desire to destroy the ser- 
pent race, or the Siamese custom of idealizing, though 
with a certain superstitious reverence, the meanest of the 
works of nature. 



24G ROMANCE OF THE HABEM. 

Among the ladies of the harem, I knew one woman 
who more than all the rest helped to enrich my life and 
to render fairer and more beautiful every lovely woman I 
have since chanced to meet Her name translated itself 

— and no other name could ever have been so appropriate 

— into " Hidden rerfume." Her clear, dark eyes were 
clearer and calmer, her full lips had a stronger expression 
of tenderness aliout them, and her brow, which was at 
times smooth and open, and at others contracted with 
pain, grew nobler and more beautiful as the purposes of 
her life, strengthened by new elements, grew deeper and 
broader each day. 

She had been deprived of her opportunity of loving as 
a wife and a woman, and the sorrow that had broken up 
the fountains of her nature now caused them to flow into 
deeper channels, for she had become an earnest and de- 
voted mother. 

Our daily lessons and talks had become a part of her 
happiest moments. They gave her entrance into a new 
world, without requiring that she should abandon any 
part of the old world she had known, or that she should 
accept any new religious feelings or dogmas. Her aim 
was to lind out all things that are pure, noble, brave, and 
good, and to adopt them, whether Pagan or Christian in 
their origin, and to leave dogmas, creeds, and doctrines 
to those who were inclined to them by temperament 

One day, it l>eing the Siamese Sabato (Sabbath), I called 
at her house on my way home. In passing into the little 
room that she had fitted up to receive me, and which we 
had dignified with the title of "the study/' I saw that 
my friend, in the room adjoining, was at prayer, kneel- 
ing before her altar, on which was a gilt image of the 
I>uddha, while on either side hung pictures of the king 
and her little son. The room in which she knelt was a 
gay one, covered with Birmese paper, on which were seen 



STRAY LEAVES FROM THE ROYAL SCHOOL-ROOM TABLE. 247 

huge trees, some standing, and others uprooted and car- 
ried away by the inundation of a mighty tropical river, 
here and there drifting along passive and lifeless, and 
anon covered with gay flowers. Thousands of miles dis- 
tant the sun left open his golden gates, that his waves of 
light might rest in benediction and with protecting fond- 
ness on her dark, upturned face and colored brow. There 
was a mysterious joy in her worship, which transfigured 
by its soft inner light her otherwise not beautiful face, 
and she seemed as if she were holding direct communion 
in her inner soul with the Infinite Spirit I stepped into 
the study and waited until her prayer was offered up. 
In a little time after I heard her clear voice calling me, 
and in another moment I was seated beside her at the 
foot of her pretty little altar. She then asked me to look 
at her paper, which I did, telling her that I thought it 
was a very gay one indeed for her little oratory. 

" I see you do not understand the meaning of it." And 
she proceeded to explain the allegory to me in her quaint 
and broken English. 

" That big green tree there," said she, " is like unto me 
when I was young and ignorant, rejoicing in earthly dis- 
tinctions and affections ; and then I am brought as a gift 
to a great king, and only think how grand and how rich 
I may become ; and there you see that I am drooping and 
my leaves are all withering and begin to fall ; here I am 
shattered and uprooted by a sense of sorrow and humilia- 
tion, drifting along an impetuous river, but by and by a 
little flower stops my downward course. That little flower 
is my child; he springs out of the very waters which 
threatened my destruction ; and now he grows into a gar- 
den of flowers, to hide away from me that which would 
make me sad and sorrowful again ; and now I am always 
glad." 

After a little while, desirous of knowing what the glit- 



248 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

tering image of Buddha really was to her, I said kindly: 
" Soiin Klean, you were praying to that idol ?" 

She did not reply at once, but at length, laying her 
hand gently upon my arm, said : "Shall I say of you, dear 
friend, that you worship the ideal or image which you 
have of your God in your own mind, and not the God ? 
Even so say not of me that I worship the golden image 
up there, hut the Great One who sent me my teacher 
Buddha, that he might be the guide and the light of my 
life." 

On another oceasion when she read and translated the 
Sermon on the Mount, she suddenly exclaimed with 
great emotion : " O, your sacred P'hra Jesus is veiy beau- 
tiful ! Let us prom ise one another that whenever you 
pray to P'hra Jesus you will call him Buddha, the En- 
lightened One ; and I, when I pray to my Buddha, I will 
call him Fhra Jesu Karuna, the tender and sacred Jesus, 
for surely these are only different names for the one and 
the same God." 

Her favorite book, however, was "Uncle Tom's Cabin," 
and she would read it over and over again, though she 
knew all the characters by heart, and spoke of them as if 
sin* had known them all her life. 

On the *M of January, 1867, she invited me to dinner, 
and she sent to me, in the course of the day, so many 
messages, telling me to be sure to come, that I began to 
suspect it was going to be a very grand entertainment 
So I put on my best dress, and made myself as fine as I 
could. 

My friend was looking down the street, with her head 
and shoulders out of her window, as we appeared, and the 
moment she saw us she rushed to greet us in her own 
sweet, cordial manner. Dinner was served in the study, 
for it boasted of one table and five chairs ; but our party 
numbered six in all, so my boy and the Prince Ejreta 




STRAY LEAVES FROM THE ROYAL SCHOOL-ROOM TABLE. 249 

B'hiniharn were obliged to squeeze themselves into one 
chair, and then there was one apiece for the rest of us. 
We were served by Peguan slave-girls in the Peguan 
fashion, on little silver plates, the slave-girls kneeling 
around us. Fish, rice, jelly, and a variety of sweetmeats, 
came first, then different kinds of vegetables ; after them 
a course of meat, venison, and birds of all kinds, and we 
finished with sweet drinks, preserves, and fruit. 

When dinner was over, my friend, in concert with her 
sisters and slave-girls, performed on several musical in- 
struments with wonderful effect. At last all Sonn Kle- 
an's slave-women with their children appeared in a group, 
one hundred and thirty-two in all, in nice new dresses, 
all looking particularly happy. 

" I am wishful to be good like Harriet Beecher Stowe," 
— or Stow&, as my friend persisted in pronouncing that 
name, — "and never to buy human bodies again, but only 
to let go free once more, and so I have now no more 
slaves, but hired servants. I have given freedom to all of 
my slaves to go or to stay with me as they wish. If they 
go away to their homes, I am glad ; if they stay with me, 
I am still more glad ; and I will give them each four ticals 
every month after this day, with their food and clothes." 

Thenceforth, to express her entire sympathy and affec- 
tion for the author of " Uncle Tom's Cabin," she always 
signed herself Harriet Beecher Stowe ; and her sweet voice 
trembled with love and music whenever she spoke of the 
lovely American lady who had taught her, "even as 
Buddha had once taught kings," to respect the rights of 
her fellow-creatures. 

During a severe illness which confined me a month or 

more to my room, I used to receive the most affectionate 

letters from this dear lady, signed Harriet Beecher Stowe ; 

and when I once more returned to the palace, she took 

all the credit of my recovery from an illness so fatal as 

11* 



250 BOMAXCE OF THE HABEK. 

cholera as due to her intercessions and prayers. In one 
temple she had vowed that she would save seven thou* 
sand lives if mine were granted to her prayers. 

I was perplexed and curious to know how she would per- 
form the conditions of such a vow, but she assured me there 
would be no diiticulty about it, and forthwith despatched 
her servant-women to the market to purchase seven bas- 
kets, containing each a thousand live fish, which, with 
great }Hjinp and ceremony, were set free again in the river, 
and the seven thousand lives were thus actually saved. 

One day, when I was sitting with my friend in her lit- 
tle study, she learned that I had recently lost a very dear 
relative, and she related to me, in a voice full of the ten* 
ilerest sympathy and affection, the following Buddhist 
legend, which I give here as nearly as possible in her 
own words. 

" In the village of S&rv&thi there lived a young wife 
named Keesah, who at the age of fourteen gave birth to 
a son ; and she loved him with all the love and joy of the 
possessor of a newly found treasure, for his face was like 
a golden cloud, his eyes fair and tender as a blue lotus, and 
his smile bright and beaming like the morning light upon 
the dewy flowers. But when the boy was able to walk, 
and could run about the house, there came a day when 
he suddenly fell sick and died. And Keesah, not under- 
standing what had happened to her fair lotus-eyed boy, 
clasped him to her bosom, and went about the village from 
house to house, praying and weeping, and beseeching the 
good people to give her some medicine to cure her baby. 

"But the villagers and neighbors, on seeing her, said: 
' Is the girl mad, that she still bears about on her breast 
the dead body of her child ? ' 

" At length a holy man, pitying the girl's sorrow, said to 
himself: 'Alas ! this Keesah does not understand the law 
of death ; I will try to comfort her. 9 And he answered 




STRAY LEAVES FROM. THE ROYAL SCHOOL-ROOM TABLE. 251 

her, and said : ' My good girl, I cannot myself give you any 
medicine to cure your boy, but I know a holy and wise 
physician who can.' 

" ' 0/ said the young mother, ' do tell me who it is, that 
I may go at once to him ! ' 

" And the holy man replied, ' He is called the Buddha ; 
lie alone can cure thy child.' 

" Then Keesah, oti hearing this, was comforted, and set 
out to find the Buddha, still clasping to her heart the lifeless 
body of her child. And when she found him she bowed 
down before him, and said : ' my lord and master, do 
you know of any medicine that will cure my baby ? ' 

"And the Buddha replied and said: 'Yes, I know of 
one, but you must get it for me/ 

" And she asked : € What medicine do you want ? Tell 
me, that I may hasten in search of it' 

" And the Buddha said : ' I want only a few grains of 
mustard-seed. Leave here the boy, and go you and bring 
them to me/ 

" The girl refused to part with her baby, but promised 
to get the seed for him. 

" As she was about to set out, the pitiful Buddha, recall- 
ing her, said : ' My sister, the mustard-seed that I require 
must be taken from a house where no child, parent, hus- 
band, wife, relative, or slave has ever died.' 

" The young mother replied, ' Very good, my lord ' ; and 
went her way, taking her boy with her, and setting him 
astride on her hip, with his lifeless head resting on her 
bosom. 

" Thus she went from house to house, from palace to 
hut, begging for some grains of mustard-seed. 

"The people said to her: 'Here are the seeds; take 
them, and go thy way/ 

" But she first asked : ' In this, my friend's house, has 
there ever died a child, a husband, a parent, or a slave ? ' 



252 ROMANCE OF THE HABElf. 

" And they one and all replied: 'Lady, what is this that 
thou host said ? Knowest thou not that the living are 
few, hut that the dead are many? There is no such 
house as thou seekest' 

" Then she went to other houses and begged the grains 
of mustard-seed, which they gladly gave her, bat to her 
questionings one said, 'I have lost a son'; another, C I 
have lost a parent ' ; and yet another, 'I have lost a slave 9 ; 
and every one and all of them made some such reply. 

" At last, not being able to discover a single house free 
from the dead, whence she could obtain the mustard-seed, 
and feeling utterly faint and weary, she sat herself down 
upon a stone, with her baby in her lap, and thinking 
sadly said to herself: 'Alas ! this is a heavy task I have 
undertaken. I am not the only one who has lost her baby. 
Everywhere children are dying, parents are dying, loved 
ones are dying, and everywhere they tell me that the 
dead are more numerous than the living. Shall I then 
think only of my own sorrow?' 

" Thinking thus, she suddenly summoned courage to put 
away her sorrow for her dead baby, and she carried him 
to the forest and laid him down to rest under a tree ; and 
having covered him over with tender leaves, and taking 
her last look of his loved face, she betook herself once 
more to the 13uddha and bowed before him. 

" And he said to her : ' Sister, hast thou found the mus- 
tard-seed ? ' 

" ' I have not, my lord, she replied, ' for the people in 
the village tell me there is no house in which some one has 
not died ; for the living are few, but the dead are many/ 

" * And where is your baby ? ' 

" ' I have laid him under a tree in the forest, my lord,* 
said Keesah, gently. 

" Then said the Buddha to her : ( You have found the 
grains of mustard-seed ; you thought that you alone had 




STRAY LEAVES FROM THE ROYAL SCHOOL-ROOM TABLE. 253 

lost a son, but now you have learned that the law of death 
and of suffering is among all living creatures, and that 
here there is no permanence.' 

" On hearing this Keesah was comforted, and established 
in the path of virtue, and was thenceforth called Keesah 
Godami, the disciple of the Buddha." * 

The pleasantest of the days that I spent in the city of 
the " Nang Harm " were those that fell on the first full 
moons in the months of May, which days are always held 
as the anniversary of the birth, inspiration, and death of 
the Buddha. On the morning of the 21st of May, 1864, 
I was conducted by a number of well-dressed slave-wo- 
men to the residence of my pupil, the " child wife." Her 
house was a brick building with a low wall running round 
it, which took in some few acres of ground devoted to 
gardens and to residences for her numerous slaves and 
attendants. I was the first, that morning, to pass between 
the two brick and mortar lions which guarded the en- 
trance, and after a kindly greeting I took my place at the 
inner end of the hall or antechamber which gave access 
to the residence. 

The "child wife," a remarkably pretty little woman, 
dressed in pure white silk, stood in the hall beside a small 
marble fountain, with her two sons on either side of her. 
All round the fountain were huge China vases containing 
plants, covered with flowers, and between them were im- 
mense silver water-jars, each large enough to hold a 
couple of men, and each containing a huge silver ladle. 
Thirty or more young slave-women were engaged in fill- 
ing them with cool fresh water drawn from a well in the 
garden. 

The hall was freshly furnished with striped floor-mat- 

* Professor F. Max Miiller mentions this parable, in his lecture on 
" Buddhist Nihilism," as translated from the Birmese by Captain H. T. 
Bogers ; but the Birmese text is slightly different from that of the 
Siamese. 



254 ROMANCE OF THE HABBL 

ting, and with cushioned seats for a hundred guests. In 
the garden opposite the doors of the hall was a circuit! 
thatched roof supported on one great mast, like a single- 
poled tent, and this was the theatre erected for the occa- 
sion. In one part was an elevated stage for the mario- 
nettes, and the whole was very gracefully and prettily 
ornamented, showing, as did everything around, a desire to 
please and to entertain. Some fifty women-porters came 
from an inner court, bearing on their heads massive silver 
dishes of sweetmeats and choice viands, and placed them 
along the hall ; then came some maidens dressed in pure 
white, and arranged flowers in small gold vases beside each 
of the seats designed for the expected guests ; and when 
this was done they took their places behind their mistress. 

It was early morning, just seven o'clock. But this en- 
tire woman's city had been up for hours engaged in the 
important work of rightly celebrating the great day. The 
grounds around the house were all in a glow with roses* 
and the pure silver of the water-jars glistened resplen- 
dently in the morning sunlight. 

The gate was thrown wide open, and into this fairy-like 
scene, amid flowers and sunshine and fragrance, and the 
dew still trembling on the leaves, were ushered in the 
guests, one by one, — a hundred decrepit, filthy, unsightly 
looking l»eggar- women covered with dirt and rags and the 
vilest uncleaidiness. 

And the "child wife," who might have numbered 
twenty-five summers, but who looked as if she were only 
sixteen, blushing with a delicacy and beauty of her own, 
advances and greets her strange guests with all the more 
respect and tenderness because of their rags and poverty, 
leads them gently and seats them on low stools around 
her sparkling fountain, removes their disgusting apparel, 
and proceeds with the aid of her maidens to wash them 
clean with fragrant soap and great draughts of cool water 




STRAY LEAVES FROM THE ROYAL SCHOOL-ROOM TABLE. 255 

ladled out of the silver jars. What a transformation, 
when the matted hair was washed and combed and parted 
and dressed with flowers, and the rags were replaced by 
new robes of purest white ! Then she led them towards 
the hall, and seated them on the silk cushions before the 
silver trays, and bowed on her knees before them and 
served to them the delicacies prepared for them, as if they 
each one and all deserved from her some special token of 
her love and veneration. After breakfast the music struck 
up and the actors and puppets appeared on the stage. 
The music was particularly good. The royal female bands 
were assembled for the occasion, and relieved each other 
in succession; the acting was occasionally interspersed 
with the plaintive notes of female voices ; the priestesses 
of this beautiful scene, who seemed sometimes deeply 
moved, collected from within themselves all the charms 
and joy 8 of love to pour them forth with the inspiration 
of music at the feet of their lowly listeners.* 

* The Siamese are naturally very fond of music, and even persons of 
high rank think it no disparagement to acquire a proficiency in the art. 
Whence their great skill in music and in architecture it would be diffi- 
cult to explain, more especially as their music exhibits great poetical 
genius and has a remarkably pleasing measure. It might naturally be sup- 
posed that they had derived their music from the same source that they 
have their religion ; the softness, the playful sweetness and simplicity of 
the former, seeming to harmonize in great measure with the humane tenets, 
the pure morality, and the beauty of the latter. 

The music of the Siamese Peguans and of Laos differs from that of most 
Indian nations in being played upon different keys, a feature which char- 
acterizes the pathetic music of certain European, and in particular the 
Scottish and Welsh nations. There is certainly no harsh or disagreeable 
sound, no abrupt transition, no grating sharpness ; all is soft, lively, 
sweet, and harmonious to a degree which seemed to me quite surprising. 
They have certainly arrived far beyond the point of being merely pleased 
with sound. They have far a higher aim, that of interesting the feelings, 
of awakening thought or emotion. 

Their pieces of music are very numerous ; some of the women who per- 
form before the king know by heart a hundred and fifty tunes ; their 
memory and their performance are equally remarkable and surprising. 



256 BOMANCE OF THE HABDL 

And at length, as the curtain of the last act dropped, 
and the prolonged cadence of the voices and the instru- 
ments died away, a loud buzz of delight and pleasure 
broke from the listening crowd of old, decrepit women, 
who received each a sum of money from their kind host- 
ess, and went on their lonely way rejoicing. 

14 This," said my friend to me, " I do every year, to show 
my love and obedience to my dear teacher, the Buddha" 
And to my unaccustomed heart and eyes it seemed the 
sight in all the world the most worth gazing upon. 




THE SIAMESE SYSTEM OP SLAVERY. 257 



CHAPTEE XXX. 

THE SIAMESE SYSTEM OP SLAVERY* 

TTNDER the late king, his Majesty Somdetch Fhra 
KJ Paramendr Maha Mongkut, there existed in Siara 
a mixed system of slavery, in part resembling the old 
system of English feudal service, in part the former serf- 
dom of Russia, and again in part the peonage of Mexico. 

Three fourths of the population of Siam are in this 
condition of modified slavery, branded with the mark 
of their owners, or held by their creditors in a form of 
qualified servitude to work out a debt. The royal family, 
princes, and chief rulers and magistrates of the country, 
are the only exceptions to this rule. But even they are 
obliged to serve the king in times of war, or to provide 
a fitting substitute. 

"Slaves," in the minute subdivisions of the law, are 
classed under seven different heads: first, prisoners of 
war ; second, slaves by purchase ; third, slaves by birth ; 
fourth, by gifts and legacies; fifth, those who become 
slaves from gratitude ; sixth, voluntary slaves in times of 
famine ; seventh, debtors and their children. 

But these may all be embraced in three general classes, 
called Prie, Baw, and Batt, that of slaves by birth and 
attached to the land, of slaves by purchase, and of slaves 
captured in war. 

The prisoners of war and their descendants are com- 
posed of the following nations and numbers: Malays, 

* For the following statements I am indebted to the late king, who 
very kindly furnished me with a copy of the Siamese " Slave Laws," from 
which these pages are translated, as if the system still existed. 

Q 



258 ROMANCE OF THE BAXEM. 

fifty thousand; Cochin-Chinese, seventy-five thousand; 
Pcguans, one million ; Laotians, twenty-five thousand; and 
Birmesc, fifty thousand All these, with few exceptions, 
belong to the kings of Siam. Some few are given to the 
principal nobles and chiefs who have distinguished them- 
selves in the state ; but even these, with their descend- 
ants, are held as Baw Chow Chewitt, — the king's slaves. 
The Coeliin-Chinese captured in war, and all their nu- 
merous descendants, belong exclusively to the second 
king, — the first or supreme king having a positive an- 
tipathy to that people. They are formed into an army 
under the command of the second king, to guard his per- 
son, palaces, harem, etc 

The Malays and Peguans are employed as sailors and 
soldiers in company with the native Siamese. These axe 
all branded on the left side a little below the armpit, and 
they are bound to serve three months in every year; the 
remaining time they may employ in their own private 
interests. 

The slaves by purchase are divided into two classes, 
" redeemable " and " irredeemable." The first class must 
furnish security that they will fulfil the legal require- 
ments of their masters. These can always free them- 
selves by refunding the purchase-money, or can change 
their masters on procuring payment of the sum due to 
the old masters. 

The second class are chiefly young girls sold by their 
parents, relatives, or owners ; with these no security is 
either given or taken, because they generally become the 
wives or concubines of the buyer. As a natural con- 
sequence more than four fifths abscond whenever they 
get an opportunity, and the owner has no redress. Wo- 
men-slaves are not branded or enrolled as the men-slaves 
are. 

Husbands may sell their wives, parents their children, 




THE SIAMESE SYSTEM OF SLAVERY. 259 

and masters their slaves and debtors ; but no one can sell 
an adult man-slave after he is sixteen, or a woman-slave 
after she has attained puberty, without his or her con- 
sent. 

Prices of slaves vary according to the appearance, 
color, strength, physical proportions, and parentage of the 
person sold, from one hundred and twenty ticals for men, 
and sixty to a hundred ticals * for women. But if the 
woman be fair and pleasing in form and feature, she will 
bring as much as a thousand ticals for the harem of a 
great noble. 

The method of selling one's self is very simple. Every 
man, on becoming a slave, signs an agreement, of which I 
give a copy below. This paper his master retains, but is 
obliged to surrender whenever the slave produces the 
amount mentioned in it 

" Wednesday, the seventh day of the waning moon of 
the year 1227 of the little era Choola Sakarat,f I, Khow, 

* A tical may be valued at from fifty to sixty cents of the Spanish dollar. 

t The Siamese months are lunar months ; each is divided into two 
parts, i. e. Khang Khun and Khang Ram, waxing and waning moon. 
Six of the months have thirty, and six twenty-nine days. To compen- 
sate for the deficiency of the eleven days which are required to make a 
full solar year, they have an intercalary month of thirty days once in 
three years, and there being still a loss of about three days in nineteen 
years, this is supplied by an arbitrary addition of a day to the seventh 
month of such years as may be selected by the Brahmin astrologers, 
whose business it is to observe the sun's path in the heavens, and to an- 
nounce all variations in the calendar. At the very moment of the sun's 
crossing the equator, they make proclamation of the advent of each new 
year, accompanied by a burst of music and by the firing of great guns, 
both from the palace and the city walls. 

The Siamese have two cycles, one within the other ; the greater is 
twelve, aud the lesser ten years in duration. Every year in each cycle 
has its own peculiar name. Their sacred era is reckoned from the time 
of the death of the Buddha (2415). It is denominated Buddha Sakarat. 
Their civil era is called Choola Sakarat, and is reckoned from the time of 
its establishment (1233) by P'hra Rooang, a Siamese king of great celeb- 
rity. 



260 ROMANCE 07 THE HABBC. 

sell myself to Nai Dang for ticals one hundred and twen- 
ty, to be refunded by me, Khow, at the time and hour of 
being set free." 

Such is the bill of sale. But as it generally happens that 
the parents have also sold themselves, some other security 
is required, which is given in another paper. The value 
of anything that the slave may break or destroy is added 
to the original account 

The masters are bound to furnish their slaves with rice 
and fish daily, but not with clothes. 

The position of the slaves by birth differs in no respect 
from that of slaves by purchase, with the exception that 
while the prices of the latter vary, the price of the former 
is fixed by law for every age, size, and sex, and the own- 
ers cannot demand more for them than that which is 
determined by the law. 

The severest punishment for slaves is being made to 
work in chains. If no improvement takes place from 
this punishment, the slave is handed over to the king's 
judges, and is, provided the crime or misdemeanor is 
proven, incarcerated in the Siamese convict prison, — a 
punishment to which death itself is preferable. 

The principal hardship that the slave suffers is being 
obliged to marry at the will of his or her owner, and this 
with a people who are highly susceptible of conjugal 
affection is often the cause of great suffering to the 
women. 

Then comes the difficulty of lodging a complaint against 
their masters for an insufficiency of food, and sometimes 
for an absolute want of clothes, for which latter even the 
law does not hold the master responsible. 

There are four conditions under which a slave is freed 
from the obligations of servitude, — slaves voluntarily 
manumitted by their masters; slaves admitted to the 
priesthood ; those who are given to serve the priests ; and 




THE SIAMESE SYSTEM OF SLAVERY. 261 

when the master himself takes the vows of a priest, he is 
obliged to free all his slaves, as the ecclesiastical court 
will not otherwise receive him into the priesthood, and 
he can at no time reclaim them for actual service, unless 
on quitting the priesthood he repurchases them. 

Debtors may be made slaves when they do not pay the. 
interest for money borrowed, and will not work to make 
good the failure of payment; and in case of death the 
nearest relative becomes a slave till the original amount, 
with the interest added, is refunded. The rate of interest 
in Siam is about thirty per cent, and the poor are unable, 
unless by labor, to pay such an exorbitant rata 

If the bought or rather the redeemable slave should 
die in his master's service, — even after a lifetime 
of labor, — the security must refund the, original sum or 
become a slave in his stead. If a slave be sick, and is 
attended to during his illness in his master's house, the 
security is liable for the interest of the slave's purchase- 
money during the period of illness. When children are 
sold under the full value, they must not be beaten till 
they bleed. 

When a slave volunteers out of affection for his master 
or mistress to take his or her place in prison or in torture, 
one half of his or her purchase-money must be refunded 
to the security. But if the slave is irredeemable, no port 
is to be refunded. 

If a man sell a slave, and after receiving the money re- 
fuse to give him or her up to the purchaser, he shall pay 
double the sum, — three fourths to the buyer and one 
fourth into the government or state treasury. 

If a buyer disapprove of a slave before three months 
have elapsed, he may recover his money. 

If a master strike his slave so that he die, no claim can 
be made upon the security, and the master shall be pun- 
ished according to the law. 



262 ROMANCE OF THE HABXK. 

Anything that a slave may break can be added, at the 
will of the owner, to the purchase-money. 

If in herding cattle he be negligent, and they be bet, 
he shall pay for them ; if more be given into his charge 
than he can attend to, he shall pay only half; but if rob- 
bers bind him and steal the cattle, he cannot be held 
responsible. 

Any claim against a slave must be made by the owner 
before he is sold to another party. 

If a master or mistress force a female slave to many 
one man when she has openly professed a preference for 
another, half her redemption-money must be remitted. 

If a slave go to war instead of his master, and fight 
bravely, he must be set free at the termination of the bat- 
tle. If he fight only ordinarily well, half his purchase- 
money shall be remitted. 

If a master repurchase a slave, and he die in his ser- 
vice, he can demand only half the original amount from 
his security. 

If a slave begin to plant rice, he cannot, even if able, 
purchase his freedom until the harvest is over. 

If, when rice is dear, a man sell himself to slavery be- 
low the standard value, when rice gets cheap the price must 
be raised, and the balance paid over by the purchaser. 

If a slave injure himself while at his master's work, 
compensation must be made according to the nature of 
the injury. 

If a slave die in the stead or in the defence of his mas- 
ter, notliing can be demanded from the security. 

In all cases of an epidemic, nothing can be claimed 
from the security. 

If a man have several wives, and the lesser sell them- 
selves to the higher wives, or the poorer to the richer, no 
interest can be claimed on the purchase-money, as they 
are considered sisters in the sight of the law. 




THE SIAMESE SYSTEM OF SLAVERY. 263 

If the slave demand a change of masters, and the mas- 
ter cannot dispose of him, he must take him to the 
judges to sell ; and if they find no purchaser within three 
days, he must return to his master and be thenceforward 
Khai-Khat, irredeemable. 

If a slave run away, the money expended in apprehend- 
ing him or her must be added to his original account. 

Slaves having children, the children become slaves, and 
must be paid for according to age. 

If a master compel a slave to bear a child against 
her will, both she and the child are free in the sight of 
the law, even if irredeemable at first. 

If a slave complain against his master, the judges will 
not file the complaint unless he has first paid his pur- 
chase-money, except in cases of murder and treason. 

If a slave accuse his master falsely of capital crimes, 
his tongue and lips shall be cut off. But if the charge be 
true, he shall receive his freedom, even if Khai-Khat ir- 
redeemables. 

If a slave make money on his or her own private ac- 
count, at his or her death it will become the property of 
the master. But if the money be left to him, it shall go 
to the nearest relative. 

In all cases of doubt between the slave-woman and her 
master, the law shall protect the mother, and the children 
must be given to her if she bring the price, under penalty 
of forfeiting both mother and child 

Two slaves, husband and wife, brother and sister, having 
their names on the same bill of sale, if one run away, the 
other shall be charged with the entire debt 



264 BOMANCE OF THE BABKK. 



CHAPTER XXXI. 

t 

THE ROYAL PROCLAMATION& 

IN the beginning of the reign of Frabat Somdefch 
Fhra Paramendr Alaha Chulalonkorn, a new edt 
dawned upon the kingdom of the white elephant 

On the 11th of October, 1868, a royal proclamation 
of the new and auspicious reign was made in all porta of 
the vast kingdom and provinces of Siam, and a national 
holiday was appointed. The multitudinous pagoda beDs 
rang all day, while louder still boomed the cannon, up went 
the rockets, and aloft streamed the red and white banned 
of the white elephant. Still higher rose the glad hearts 
of the princes and chiefs of the people, and low in rever- 
ential attitudes, even in the very dust, were bowed the 
heads of the millions of the enslaved subjects. 

Classed with the sod, and of as little account as the 
earth out of which they obtain so scanty a subsistence, 
branded as cattle with the mark of their owner, what 
have they to do with the glad shouts and the loud rejoic- 
ings that resound on every side ? 

To them it means only a change of owners, and roy- 
alty is the name fixed to the other end of the enslaving 
rod of power : " The right divine of kings to govern 
wrong." 

There can be no auspicious reign or any happy future 
for the slave. 

The royal messages of peace and good-will may find an 
echo in the freedman's heart and in his home, but they 
must ever come with a darkening power and as a sadden- 
ing cloud to the home and the heart of the slave. An irre- 




THE BOYAL PROCLAMATIONS. 265 

deemable beast of burden, what has he to hope from an 
auspicious reign, or the enthronement of a promising sov- 
ereign? 

Tet that these millions of enslaved men and women 
are not brutes or wild beasts, or even devoid of noble and 
generous emotions, is proved by the most astonishing 
acts of devotion and self-sacrifice performed by slaves 
for the masters and mistresses whom they have learned 
to love. 

Any one who from curiosity or with a higher motive 
may visit the prisons in the city of Bangkok will find, to 
his great surprise, that nearly one half of the inmates are 
slaves voluntarily expiating the crimes and wrong-doings 
of their masters and mistresses, or, as is often the case, 
mothers, daughters, wives, or sisters enduring all the 
hardships of a Siamese prison — and words would fail 
me adequately to describe the amount of suffering 
which those two words imply — in the place and for 
the sake of sons, husbands, or unworthy relatives. The 
strength that is in these slaves to suffer is the strength 
of love. Love combined with despair gives them the 
awful and wonderful power of utter self-sacrifice. 

The rights which every man should enjoy in his wife, 
his children, and his own labor, and which should be the 
most sacred and inviolable rights, are here placed at the 
mercy of a master, and are oft-times to the slave the very 
fetters of his galling servitude. 

But, since that ever-to-be-remembered 11th of October, 
1868, a new empire has arisen out of the ashes of the old. 
The traditions and customs of centuries are as naught. 
A fresh start has been made, a young king full of gener- 
ous impulses and noble purposes reigns ; and how he in- 
tends to govern may be gathered from his second royal 
proclamation to his people on the subject of religion : — 

"In regard to the concern of seeking and holding a 

12 



2G6 ROMANCE OF THE IIABEM. 

religion that will be a refuge to you in this life : it is a good 
and noble concern, and it is exceedingly appropriate and 
suitable that you, as a nation, and each man individually, 
should investigate for himself, and according to his own 
wisdom, which is the right and which the wrong; and 
if you see any religion whatever, or any body of men pro- 
fessing any religion whatsoever who seem likely to be an 
ail vantage to you, — a true religion in accordance with 
your own wisdom, — hold to that religion with all your 
heart ; hold to it not with a shallow mind, or after slight 
investigation, or even because of its tradition, saying this 
is the custom held from time immemorial, but from*your 
own deep faith in its excellence ; and do not profess a 
religion for the truth of which you have not good evi- 
dence, or one which frightens men through their fears and 
flatters them through their hopes. 

"Do not be either frightened or flattered into doing 
what is right and just, and do not follow after fictitious 
signs and wonders. 

14 But, when you shall have obtained a firm conviction 
in any religious faith that it is true, beautiful, and good, 
hold to it with great joy, follow its teachings alone, and it 
will be a source of happiness to each one of you. 

" It is our will that our subjects of whatever race, na- 
tion, or creed, live freely and happily in our kingdom, no 
man despising or molesting another on account of relig- 
ious difference, or any other difference of opinions, cus- 
toms, or manners." 

This is the second important message from the young 
king, who has just ascended the throne of his fathers, to 
his subjects, both bond and free. 

The great old dukes and princes and nobles of the 
realm feel in their hardened hearts that it is barely gra- 
cious, and certainly not at all graceful, in one so young, 
to ignore all that magnificent past. But the young mon- 



THE EOTAL PROCLAMATIONS. 267 

arch is true to his early promise, and his next step is 
quietly to abolish the customary prostrations before a su- 
perior, and to inaugurate a new costume for his people, 
which will enable the wearer, whoever he may be, prince, 
ruler, chieftain, or slave, to stand face to face with his fel- 
low-men and erect in the presence of his sovereign. 

And now let us mark the next step made in the path 
of progress and freedom by this noble young Buddhist 
monarch. 

Years ago, in the little study in his beautiful palace 
called the " Rose- Planting House," when a mere boy, on 
hearing of the death of President Lincoln, he had declared 
" tbat if he ever lived to reign over Siam, he would reign 
over a free and not an enslaved nation ; that it would be 
his pride and joy to restore to his kingdom the original 
constitution under which it was first planted by a small 
colony of hardy and brave Buddhists, who fled from their 
native country, Magadah, to escape the religious persecu- 
tions of the Brahminical priests, who had arrived at Ayu- 
dia and there established themselves under one of their 
leaders, who was at once priest and king. They called the 
spot they occupied "Huang Thai," — the kingdom of the 
free, — and this kingdom now extends from the northern 
slopes of the mountains of Yuman in China to the Gulf ■ 
of Siam. 

Nobly has he striven to keep this aspiration of his 
early boyhood ; and as he went, day after day, to take hia 
place at the head of his government, and to the nighUy 
sittings of the Secret Council of the state, he endeavored 
to hold unflinchingly to his one great purpose. 

On the first opportunity that offered he urged the aboli- 
tion of slavery upon the Prince Regent, his uncle, and the 
Prime Minister; then again he brought it before the 
mighty Secret Council, sitting at midnight in the hall 
of his ancestors. " I see," says the brave young king, " no 



2G8 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

hope for our country until she is freed from the dark 
Mot of slavery." 

The Prince Regent and the Prime Minister, though al- 
most persuaded by the vehement pleading of the young 
and fearless king, replied: "It is impossible to free a 
nation of slaves without incurring much risk and danger 
to the state and to the slaveholders. Under the exist- 
ing laws, Siam could not abolish her system of slavery 
without undermining at the same time her whole con- 
st i tut ion." 

" Well" said the young king, " let it be so ; but my 
slaves, my soldiers, and my debtors are my own, and I 
will free them at least, whatever my ministers may see fit 
to do ; for my part, no human being shall ever again be 
branded in my name and with my mark." 
What strange words from one so young ! 
The Secret Council meet again and again to discuss the 
matter, and at length they decide — for they too have the 
good of their country at heart — to let the young king 
have his own way. 

Then the royal boy king sends another message sum- 
moning the heads of all his people, from every depart- 
ment of Ins vast kingdom, to appear together in his audi- 
ence hall, and to receive the royal message. 

Standing on the lowest step of his glittering throne, he 
greets the chief rulers and governors and judges of his peo- 
ple, and utters these remarkable words: "Let this our 
royal message to our people be proclaimed, and not as if 
we were doing a great and lordly thing, but our simple 
duty to our fcllow-meii and subjects, that from the first 
day of January, 1872, slavery shall cease to be an insti- 
tution in our country, and every man, woman, and child 
shall hold themselves free-born citizens ; and farther let 
it be made known, that a tax, according to the circum- 
stances of each and every man, shall be levied on the 




THE ROYAL PROCLAMATIONS. 269 

nation to remunerate the slaveholders for the loss of 
their slaves." 

The effect of this speech upon the listeners can hardly 
be imagined. It was like the winged words of an angel 
from heaven, and the young monarch descended from the 
last step of his throne, having firmly laid the corner-stone 
on which the greatness of his reign and his nation will 
forever rest unshaken. But seeing that his astonished 
hearers remained rooted to the spot, still doubting whether 
they had heard aright, he added: "We bind ourselves 
to fulfil our word to our subjects at large, no matter 
what the cost to ourselves. Go you and proclaim our 
royal will." 

When the wonderful tidings were actually proclaimed, 
the people listened as though they heard not ; at best they 
distrusted the good report, and received the wondrous 
words as if they were merely the sounding of brass and 
the tinkling of cymbals in their ears. 

Confidence is a plant of slow growth ; but how slow 
must its revival have been in the place whence it has 
once been torn up by the roots ! So the people turned a 
deaf ear to the loving messages of their young king, and 
went on their sad way not a whit happier. 

But when the 1st of January, 1872, had actually ar- 
rived, and«they absolutely found themselves " free " men 
and women, their patient, loving hearts well-nigh burst 
asunder with joy. 

The glad cries of the ransomed millions penetrated the 
heart of the universe, and the " Despair " of the nation 
flapped her dark wings and fell down dead at the golden 
feet of the royal ransomer. 

The prison doors are open, and all the prisoners by 
proxy and those who were slaves by reason of their great 
poverty or their greater love find, to their amazement, 
that the sun of freedom has risen for them, and who 



270 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. 

shall fathom the depth of their joy ? But the land is foil 
of flower shows, and unfurled standards, and cool foun- 
tain displays, fireworks, illuminations, and theatrical exhi- 
bitions. The music of thousands of choristers and the 
glad huzzas of congregated myriads rend the air. Let 
them dance and laugh and sing ; they have had enough 
of slavery and too little of freedom, and the great hymn 
of the nation ascends to the Ruler of kings for the *Ban- 
somed One/' " Glory to God in the highest, and on earth 
peace and good-will towards men." 



THE END OF THE ROMANCE. 




• 1 



272 A LEGEND OF THE GOLD AND 8ILVXR HDiSB 07 BUM. 

in saffron hues on the fair mountains and lovely valleys 
of the invincible city of Ayudia, and the land flourished 
in luxuriance and beauty, the fruits and flowers rivalled 
those that grew and blossomed in India's own garden, and 
countless birds of marvellous plumage winged their flight 
from distant worlds to build their nests and warble their 
exquisite melodies among the proud forests of this fa- 
vored land. As for the men of this region, they were tall 
and stately and of golden mien, like the laughter-loving 
Gandharwas of Indra's paradise, and the women were glo- 
riously beautiful, fair as silvery clouds, with eyes of won- 
drous hue ; so that no mortal man could look upon one 
of them and not yield his spirit to the sweet frenzy of 
inextinguishable love. 

Away flew the golden days and nights, and round and 
round rushed the radiant chariot-wheels of PTira Athiett* 
and thousands and thousands of years sped away, but he 
never relaxed the speed of his swift coursers, nor drew in 
his rainbow-tinted reins, nor turned away even for an 
instant his glowing eyes from this favored kingdom. 

Now, things having gone on in this way for several 
thousands of years, yet no sweet slumber had ever closed 
the godlike eyes of Fhra Athiett, and all the lovely Dow- 
flstras, i. e. the stars, finding themselves totally eclipsed, 
their brilliancy and beauty marred by this unceasing 
sleeplessness on the part of their sovereign, formed the 
wicked and cruel design of revolting against him, and of 
taking possession, by some means or other, of his golden 
car. 

Accordingly, instead of going to sleep, as had hitherto 
been their practice during the day, they all plotted to- 
gether to hide themselves behind the many-tinted curtain 
of their monarch's chariot, and to watch his movements, 
in order to discover the cause of the singular attraction 
that drew him forever towards the earth, while he left his 




A LEGEND OF THE GOLD AND SILVER MINES OF SIAM. 273 

own vaulted and ethereal hemisphere to the tender mer- 
cies of stray suns or wandering comets. 

Having ratified with many an oath and many a vow 
their wicked compact, the treacherous Dowastras, instead 
of going to bed like the dutiful children of a kind and 
beneficent ruler, only pretended to sleep, but all the while 
kept opening and shutting and .blinking their bright, in- 
quisitive little eyes, winking at one another and peering 
behind the golden curtains of the royal chariot at their 
unconscious master, who, fully believing that all his sub- 
jects were sound asleep, grew brighter and brighter, while 
over his round, genial face there beamed forth a smile of 
ineffable radiance as he approached the earth. At this 
very moment the rebellious Dow&str&s, wondering at the 
blissful face of their monarch, peered out from behind the 
rainbow-hued drapery of the celestial chariot and turned 
their penetrating eyes towards the earth, where, to their 
astonishment, they beheld the matchless form and the 
divinely beautiful face of Vela Chow, who was lulling 
her wearied father to rest with the music of her sweet 
voice. 

" Ah ! ah ! " laughed the wicked Dow&str&s, " now we 
have found out the secret " 

As soon as she had soothed her father to sleep, the 
lovely Vela Chow, all unconscious of what was happen- 
ing around her, sauntered forth among the unfrequented 
woods and dells, making the voiceless hills and rocks re- 
echo her merry notes in melodious sounds ; now culling 
rare wild flowers to wreathe round her lovely brow, now 
bathing her little feet in the cool crystal waters of a purl- 
ing brook that murmured gently through the mountain 
caves and caverns, and anon raising her glad heart in 
thanksgiving and praise to the great, beneficent, and glo- 
rious P'hra Athiett 

At length she sat herself down in the deep solitude to 

12* R 



274 A LEGEND OF THE GOLD AND SILVER MINES OF BUM. 

m 

rest ; and as she listened to the gentle zephyrs that fanned 
her yellow tresses or rustled amidst the topmost boughs 
of the " green-haired " forest trees, the birds plucked for 
her the ripest and the sweetest fruits, and some dropped 
them at her side, and others, less timid, hovered around her, 
holding them in their tender bills, each fluttering against 
the other and striving to be the favored one to whom she 
would open her sweet inouth to be fed; and while the 
mauy-hued birds were thus rivalling each other in their 
delicate attentions to the lovely maiden, it chanced that a 
gorgeous butterfly, more glorious than any she had ever 
before seen, alighted on a neighboring flower. Up sprang 
Vela Chow, and away she flew after it, from flower to 
flower, from shrub to tree, until at last the tantalizing but- 
terfly (lew so high in the air that the eager damsel could 
do no more than raise her fair face and sparkling eyes to 
follow its airy flight through the bright sky. Just at 
this moment Phra Athiett's golden chariot was coming 
over the hill, and he smiled a smile of such ineffable de- 
light when he caught sight of her, that he dazzled the 
eyes of the poor little maiden; and as she could no longer 
see the beautiful butterfly, she was obliged to relinquish 
all idea of capturing it. So she retraced her disconsolate 
steps to her lonely mountain stream, and plunged into its 
waters, in the hope of finding therein refreshment and for- 
getfulness of her cruel disappointment. 

But Phra Athiett was not to be thus baffled; so he 
noiselessly climed higher and higher, and approached 
nearer and nearer, and smiled so much more warmly than 
ever, that he once more quite overpowered the weary 
maiden, who suddenly vanished from his sight, sought ref- 
uge in her favorite mountain cavern, and there fell sound 
asleep. 

For a moment poor P'hra Athiett was disconcerted, 
and a great pain, like a dark heavy cloud, shot up from his 




A LEGEND OF THE GOLD AND SILVER MINES OF SIAM. 275 

heart and overspread his bright, happy face, and he knew 
not what to do ; but the next, he broke forth into a more 
joyous smile than ever, for he was just as foolish as he 
was old, and had been on the lookout all these thou- 
sands of years, night and day, hoping to catch a glimpse 
of this incomparable maiden ; the moment he did so, he 
fell desperately in love with her, and he could not make 
up his mind to perform his journey without one more 
look at her sweet, pure face ; therefore, instead of going 
on his way through the sky, he changed his course, and 
drove at a furious rate down the mountain-side towards 
the cavern, alighted from his chariot, and crept softly 
into the cave where the lovely Vela Chow slumbered, and 
smiled upon her with such rapturous tenderness that the 
sleeping maiden's heart was penetrated and completely 
captivated. She opened her beautiful eyes with a joyful 
sense of a new and delicious emotion upon Fhra Athiett, 
who beamed upon her so lovingly and with such irre- 
sistible pleadings in his godlike eyes, that she could not 
refuse to return his affection, and they there and then ex- 
changed vows of eternal friendship and love. 

But alas ! wliile the all-unconscious and happy lovers 
were thus fondly conversing together, and P'hra Athiett 
was painting in glowing words the beauty of his heavenly 
dwelling-place, the wicked Dow&str&s in all haste rushed 
to the mountain-side, drove off the golden chariot, and 
unharnessed the swift-winged coursers. Having thus cut 
off his retreat, they raised a shout of triumph, deposed 
their infatuated monarch, and established a republic 
among themselves, permitting neither stray suns nor wan- 
dering comets to have anything to do with their govern- 
ment. 

Poor Fhra Athiett, who was now about to conduct his 
sweet happy bride to his celestial kingdom, found, to his 
consternation and grief, that his golden chariot had van- 



276 A LEGEND OF TOE GOLD AND SILVER MINES 09 SLUC. 

ished. lie bowed his head, and his great joyous face be- 
came suddenly overcast ; all its light and glory departed, 
while large tears like mountain torrents rolled from his 
godlike eyes, and streamed upon the earth, and were there 
and then transformed into nuggets of the purest gold. 

Then the mountains, pitying his sufferings, opened 
their hearts, and revealed to him a secret passage by 
which he might regain his heavenly abode. 

Phra Athiett bade a sad adieu to the lovely Vela 
Chow, and, with promise of speedy return, set oat, shed- 
ding golden tears all along the way, in search of his miss- 
ing chariot. And as for the unhappy Vela Chow, the 
moment she lost sight of her beloved Fhra Athiett, she 
drooped her fair head in unspeakable sorrow, and followed 
him with aching heart and faltering step all the way, 
searching for the lost chariot, and shedding abundantly 
her bright beautiful tears, which, as they fell upon the 
rocky sides of the mountains, changed their flinty arte- 
ries into veins of the purest and most precious silver. 

Thus the grief of these two godlike hearts served to en* 
rich the country with endless wealth. 

At the end of twelve hours, however, the wicked stars 
repented of their cruel conduct, and a fresh compact was 
mode between the republican Dow&str&s and the godlike 
lover P'hra Athiett, wherein it was expressly agreed that 
for a fortnight in every month he should pick up bis 
beautiful bride at the mouth of the cavern and take her 
with him to his celestial home ; but that for the rest of 
the month she should unveil her matchless face, and re- 
veal her exquisite beauty to the Dow&stras, and rule over 
them in the sky, — for they all, it seems, had also fallen 
desperately in love with her, — and it was distinctly stip- 
ulated that Fhra Athiett should never attempt to ap- 
proach her while she reigned as their queen and mistress 
in the heavens ; and to distinguish her in her new regal 




A LEGEND OF THE GOLD AND SILVER MINES OF SIAM. 277 

character, the Dow&str&s changed her name from "Vela 
Chow " to " Eupea Chandra," — the Silver Moon. 

To all this Fhra Athiett readily assented ; for he was 
impatient to regain his chariot, and to bear away his 
lovely bride. 

But it is said that even to this day, while Vela Chow 
is presiding in queenlike splendor over the jealous Dow- 
flstras, Phra Athiett is foolish enough at times (for now 
and then he cannot restrain his affection) to attempt to 
kiss her. When all the Siamese, fearing lest he should 
again be dethroned, turn out en masse, and shout, and fire 
cannons, and beat drums, to warn him of the impropriety 
of his proceedings ; which in the space of two or three 
hours — this being the time, it is said, that sound takes 
to travel to the sun and moon — generally produces the 
desired effect of recalling the monarch to himself. 

Thus are the gold and silver mines, and the lunar and 
solar eclipses, accounted for in the Siamese legends ; and 
annual pilgrimages are still made to the cavern where the 
lovely Vela Chow plighted her troth to Fhra Athiett 



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