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ROMANCE OF THE HAREM.
MRS. ANNA H. LEONOWENS,
£%£_ (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.,
" 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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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-
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
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
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
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
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
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
" 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
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 ! " 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-
" 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-
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
" 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-
" 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
TUPTIM'S T1UAL. 25
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
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-
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,
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-
" 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-
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
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
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.
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
> • *
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
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.
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
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
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
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
" 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-
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
" 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-
" 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
" 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-
" 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
"'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
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
"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
"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-
" 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.
58 ROMANCE OF THE HAREM.
KHOON THOW APP, THE CHIEF OF THE FEMALE JUDGES.
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
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
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
" 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-
"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
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
" 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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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-
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.
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
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
Such was the home and the birthplace of our hero
THE REBEL DUKE P'HAYA SI P'HIFOOR. 77
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
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
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-
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.
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
" 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-
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
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
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
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
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
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
The old soldier turned his head, and looked at h™ in
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.
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
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-
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
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,
" 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-
" 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.
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
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
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
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
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-
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
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.
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
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
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-
But the desire of one was to possess, the other to res-
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-
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
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
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
When he had finished, the crowd cheered the speech.
The girl looked at them, and, not knowing why, began
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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-
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
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,"
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
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.
"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-
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 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
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
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.
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-
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
" 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
"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 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
" 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-
" 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-
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-
" 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
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
* 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
" 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
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
' 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
" 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-
"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
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,
" 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
" 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
" 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
" 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-
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
" 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
" 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
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
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
" 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-
" 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
" 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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-
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-
I felt that now was my opportunity ; but I waited a
little in order to make sure whether the doctor was to be
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
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
" 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 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-
"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.
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
"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
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-
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-
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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-
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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*
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
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
180 ROMANCE OF THE HABKM.
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
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
184 ROMANCE OP THE HAREM.
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
188 ROMANCE OP THE HARM.
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
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
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
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
" They are waiting," said he, as if he knew all about it,
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
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
I somehow drew comfort from the yogi's shy and fas-
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
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
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
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
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 ? "
" 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
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.
202 ROMANCE OF TUB HABBL
THE CHRISTIAN VILLAGE OF T&MS£nG, OR OF THOMAS
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
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
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
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-
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
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
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-
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"
" 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
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
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-
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
" 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.
218 ROMANCE OF THE HABEM.
lie then proceeded to state the penance she would have
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
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
TO EVERY BIBD ITS OWN NEST IS CHARMING. 221
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
" 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
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
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
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
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
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-
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-
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
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
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
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-
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-
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-
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
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
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
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
STRAY LEAVES FROM THE ROYAL SCHOOL-ROOM TABLE. 237
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
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
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-
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
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-
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-
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
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
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
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
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
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
" 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
" 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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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-
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
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-
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
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
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
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
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
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
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-
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.
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
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-
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
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
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
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 ■
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
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
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.
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
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
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
" 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
274 A LEGEND OF THE GOLD AND SILVER MINES OF BUM.
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
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-
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
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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