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f <4 I
JOHN CHARLES iAM
/ ' \/l Jfl '^ J (J.VrU.-^L OU.^
THE YELLOW SPIDER
JOHN CHARLES BEECHA M
*'Tbe Asgus Pheasant/' xtc.
"W. J. Watt & Company
THE KK\V yOHK
ASTOR, LKNdX AND
B 1940 L
COFYKICHT, X9ao^ BY
W. J. WATT & COMPANY
'"'*««« *» «• rnlW 5*a««# ,/ in,rti.
CxIAPXER I PAGE
En Route to Bohkeo i
The ScotnftGE ov the Sxtndas 8
Ah Sing Strikes ai
The Hut in the Jtwcle . . ... . . . ag
The Gabbison at Fom WnaEuoNA 49
The Asgxts Pheasant's Warning . ... . . .58
In the Jungle . 66
The Jeweled Moccasin 83
CHAPTER X PAGE
The Pasas at Bulungan 96
The Malay's Demand 105
Peter Gross Comes to Bulxtngan 112
The Raja Sees a Ghost 119
Before the Dawn . . 136
Prisoners • 142
Ah Sing's Threat 152
The Council's Decision 159
The Attack 169
The Govesnor Arrives 181
The Governor Meets Koyala 191
CHAPTER XXI pAo»
Sachsen Counsels His Prot£g£ 306
Ah Sing SLetifsns 313
KOYALA'C OfTEK 233
A Man's Task 338
Gkace Coston Disafpeass 333
A Woman's Jealousy 340
Tee Coung or Lkath 346
Ah Sing Names His Tekus 353
The Pirates at Bay 356
The Pibates at Bay .361
A Man's Devotion 371
CHAPTER XXXn page
The Argus Piieasant Redeems Hekseu . . .283
The Akgus Pheasant's Farewell 394
THE YELLOW SPIDER
THE YELLOW SPIDER
En Route to Borneo
THE gray packet headed toward the black and
frowning headland that rose to port. There was
a faint scraping of chairs on the deck forward
and several passengers crowded to the rail. A grim
dowager who had been reading the Manila Press, os-
tentatiously challenged a passing ship's officer with the
**Are we approaching Cape Kumungun, mynheer?*
The sailor bowed punctiliously. "Kaap Kumungun
is directly ahead, madame" he assured in a strongly
Flemish accent, and hurried away.
The dowager glanced at the timepiece she wore
pinned to her waist and announced triumphantly, in
tones a bit louder than necessary:
"Cape Kumungtm at five-thirty. Miss Coston. I win
Grace Coston did not reply. She was standing at
the rail, intently studying the approaching shore through
a pair of glasses, and oblivious to all that was occur-
ring about her. The dowager was about to repeat her
announcement, when the Yankee trader at her right
picked up the Manila Press that had fallen to the deck
and offered it to her.
**Your paper, I think, Mrs. Derringer."
••Yes! Thank you."
Glancing upward she chanced to notice the Danish
^ -> ■•
2 THE YELLOW SPIDER
mining engineer at her left wink covertly at the trader.
Her back arched stiffly and she thrust the paper up
before her with unnecessary vehemence. The other pas-
sengers breathed a sigh of relief. Mrs. Derringer's
loquacity had in two days of voyaging made itself pain-
fully obvious to her companions.
Grace Coston put down her marine glasses and sighed
"Borneo," she breathed in a half-whisper.
Vincent Brady gazed deeply into the clear blue eyes
Upturned to meet his. There was admiration in his
glance — ^no man could have looked into Grace Coston's
lovely face, fresh as a May morning, and not admire.
"Satisfied?" he bantered. His tone was that of ail^
parent yielding to the whim of a petted child. ^^
Grace Coston was too full of the ecstasy of the mo-
ment to pay heed to his raillery.
Doesn't it give you a thrill, Vincent?" she cried.
That black immensity over there, outpost of a country
big enough to pack several nations of continental Eu-
rope into, a country that's almost wholly unexplored
jungle, occupied by thousands who have never seen the
face of a white man."
They had been an engaged couple practically since
leaving New York on this tour around the world, and
the pride of possession was beginning to pall on Vincent
Brady. Unconsciously he was drifting into the married
man's pose and tolerantly humoring if, his fiancie's
"To me," he replied with a judicial air, "it's not much
tmlike Tierra del Fuego. Or bits of the west coast of
Ireland. Or Africa about Algiers."
The cape, in truth, did not have a particularly pre-
possessing appearance. A long spit of low-lying black
rock, over which the Macassar strait swells, shredded
themselves into boiling spray, projected like a huge
tusk into the sea. Seafowl shridked discordantly. Far
inland there was a slight greenish tint on the horizon,
suggestive of the inevitable coco-palm. No sign of hu-
man life existed an3rwhere.
fc ** • *
"• • •
EN BOUTE TO BORNEO S
"If you'll let me take those glasses, I may be able to
decide the argument/' a petulant voice sounded in
"I b^ your pardon, Vi." Grace surrendered the
binoculars to her stepmother. Violet Coston accepted
them with a languidly graceful movement of her arm
that evoked gleams of admiration from others on the
deck. She had deep brown eyes that rested upon you
appealingly, an exquisitely modeled face, whose pallor
was accentuated by her raven hair, and a slight, girlish
figure. The latter was her chief charm and made her
look even younger than the ruddy cheeked, healthily
vital young woman who called her mother by a bit of
Itgal fiction. As a matter of fact, Violet Coston was
the elder of the two by three full years — she was
twenty-five to Grace's twenty-two.
The packet rushed headlong toward the black escarp-
ment of rock. The huge rollers raised by the steady
southeast monsoon accelerated its progress. The tower-
ing cliff gained height and awesomeness each moment
and disclosed jagged fissures large enough to pocket the
little vessel. At its foot the breakers roared, throwing
thdr spume heavenward in futile wrath.
Some of the passengers gazed toward the bridge a
Utile uncertainly. To drive the ship onward on its
course seemed like tempting Providence.
On the port side a long, mangy tooth of shale sud-
denly thrust upward. The surf was boiling and foam-
ing around it. A ship's length ahead, Uie breakers
with a final lunge shoreward, blasted themselves in a
salvo of thunders on the impenetrable wall of rock.
The mauve of the straits flood became a sickly olive
green flecked with lather.
A woman's shrill shriek of alarm ro3e from the waist
where the second-class passengers, native and Chinese,
"My, God, we're on the rocks!" the Danish mining
engineer exclaimed hoarsely. He half-rose from his
chair and clung to it, his face chalky white.
_ Like a bird alarmed as it is about to ali^t the
4 THE YELLOW SPmER
packet swung sharply to the right in answer to her
helm. There was a moment of suspense, then she slid
from the turmoil of foam and whirlpool into water as
placid and blue as the heaven above.
The mining engineer fell heavily into his chair.
'Damned rewiessness !" he gasped weakly^ mopping his
brow. "Damned recklessness!
Mrs. Derringer let go the armrests of her chair,
which she had been holding in a tense grip, and
breathed deeply. The Yankee trader, the most self-
possessed member of the group, twinkled humorously
as he watched his fellow voyagers.
"Get your goat?" he asked the Dane s)mipathetically.
"It is risking lifeT' the latter stormed angrily. "An-
other minute and we would have been on the rocks."
"They shave it pretty close," the trader agreed. "Got
me, too, the first time. You see why they do it, don't
'There's half a mile of siudcen rock on the other
side of us," the trader explained, nodding seaward.
**The reef runs the deuce of a long way out and the
coral keeps growing all the time. It costs coal to steam
around it and the only way to dodge it is by this chan-
nel. Takes a good man at the wheel, though."
"What is an hour or two hours in comparison with
life?" the engineer stormed* "I shall protest to the gov-
"Oh, stow it, stow it," the trader advised good-
humoredly. "If the poor beggars below can stand it
without hollering, we can. The Zuyder Zee makes this
trip every three weeks. I guess her navigator knows
what he's about."
Further argument was prevented by a low ecstatic
cry from Grace Coston.
"Look there !"
"There" was a cluster of Dyak huts set on stilts in
the. shade of a grove of coco-palms. Two full-grown
mias squatted solemly in front of them. They were
chained to stakes and were engaged in breaking co-
EN BOUTE TO BORNEO 6
eontits by the simple expedient of hammering them
togetfier until the shells cracked. They piled the broken
coconuts in a little pyramid before them from whence
they were taken by Dyak women who removed the
meat from the shells and spread it on the mats to dry.
There was silence on the forward deck for several
mmutes. Each of the passengers was engrossed in
drinking in the scene. Grace G>ston stood a little
apart from the others, next to the rail. She was alone,
her stepmother and Vincent Brady had gone below in
search of a steward Her eyes glowed, her cheeks
flushed, and her bosom rose and fell rhythmically. One
hand tightly gripped the rail, betraying the emotion that
In a subconscious way she became aware that she
was under observation. She turned swiftly. Two men
were regarding her, a tall young giant who flushed
slightly and turned away under her inquiring glance,
and a rather elderly gentleman whose view she was
"I beg your pardon," she said, addressing her apology
to the elder of the two.
A pair of fine gray eyes were raised to meet her peni-
tent blue ones.
"It really isn't necessary,'* he replied whimsically.
With a droll smile he added: "You see, it's hardly so
novel to me as it is to you. There's scarcely a day at
this season I don't see the same thing from my own
Grace noticed his face, a little seamed with lines,
like those of most men who have passed the borderland
of fifty, a little sunken, particularly about the cheek-
bones, and sallow, rather than healthily tanned. She
recognized the marks of malaria. This man had evi-
dently had a hard siege with the dread scourge of the
tropics. He had been confined to his cabin since they
left Surabaya. A sudden sympathy for him seized her,
and she decided to be pleasant.
"The novelty should be wearing off for me," she
6 THE YELLOW SPIDER
replied. "We've done India — two months — Singapore
and Java. But somehow it hasn't."
"Borneo makes a powerful appeal," he rejoined
"It is so terrifically primitive," Grace observed. "And
it possesses so much tikat no other portion of the world
has. Inaccessible inlands, unexplored jungles, savage
tribes more shy than any in the heart of Africa, and a
past evidenced by ruined temples and sunken cities,
which is wholly unrevealed to us."
"Yes," the stranger assented, "Borneo is preeminently
the land of mystery, the last outpost of heathendom.
She will be harder to conquer for Christianity than
Africa because in addition to the savagery of the Dark
Continent she has the cunning of Asia and the fanati-
cism of Arabia."
"You are a missionary?" Grace asked.
He smiled. "At Sarawak, yes. My name is John
Bright, of the Sarawak British Mission."
"And mine is Grace Coston, of New York," Grace
responded, extending her hand in frank comradeship.
John Bright belonged to a race of men she admired,
men who carried the banner in far places. Her warm
handclasp carried a touch of homage.
"Won't you sit down?" the missionary urged politely.
He glanced about for a vacant chair. The young man at
his right who had gazed at Grace so ardently rose
quickly and oflfered his. As their eyes met a faint
flush of color came to his cheek. He turned and strode
aft. Grace looked after him with a trace of amuse-
ment on her lips.
"'I cannot tell you who he is," John Bright vouchsafed,
guessing her thoughts. "He is sailing with us as the
"I'm dreadfully afraid I've frightened him away,"
Grace replied. "I hope I haven't interrupted."
"We were discussing Indian politics," John Bright
replied with a smile. "He seems to be as much of an
enthusiast about Borneo as you are. That is a remark-
EN ROUTE TO BORNEO
able statement to make about any white man who has
spent a number of years here."
"Have you lived in Sarawak a long time?" Grace
asked, undesirous of appearing curious about the
"Thirty-two years," the missionary replied. "Since I
was twenty-four. It is a long, long time." He sighed.
A strange look flitted across his face and transfigured
it. It was as though a mantle of years had dropped
"My child," he declared earnestly, "I know just how
you feel. Borneo held the same romantic fascination
for me once when I was young. I asked for this field
that I now have. But don't let your imagination get
the better of your judgment. Borneo is beautiful, un-
thinkably beautiful, but that beauty conceals the most
savage heart God ever gave human being. It is the
striped beauty of the coral snake that strikes and kills
He paused and almost instantly his face assumed its
"I sha'n't spoil your pleasant visit with my croak-
ings," he declared. "You are going to Bulungan?"
"To see the pasar, the famous market that will be
held there to-morrow," Grace acknowledged.
"Urge your friends to remain on the main-traveled
streets," he adviced lightly. "Things are a trifle un-
settled there, I understand. I think the captain will
explain before jrou land. Or perhaps you've been told
already?" He glanced at her inquiringly.
"We have heard nothing," she replied.
"You're perfectly safe here, of course," the mission-
ary assured. "I'll suggest to the captain that he speak
to you before you land."
The Scourge of the Sundas
THE same group was seated on the deck a few
hours later. Night had fallen, a thick, heavy
blanket of night that shut out the shore as ef-
fectually as though a solid wall intervened. Occasionally
it was cut in twain as the ship's search-light stabbed
the sable void with a ray that brought the mangrove-
lined shore into sharp relief. Once it surprised a tiger
stalking a big turtle, and the startled cat's hurried
spring in the protecting shelter of the mangroves af-
forded those on board a hearty laugh.
The sky was heavily clouded. The moon was in its
last quarter, pale and wan, its occasional appearances
giving the ocean a ghostly and unreal aspect Uiat made
Sie Zuyder Zee's passengers grateful for its vanishing.
"Bobbing in and out like a shy youngster when the
company's come," is how Vincent Brady character-
The deck was gayly alight, the white canvas roof
above mildly reflecting the incandescent's glare. The
Bomeesche Industrie Maatschappij, under whose flag
the packet sailed, was very careful of the comforts of
those who traveled first-class on its ships.
Violet Coston and Grace Coston, with Mrs. Derringer
seated between them, were discussing in low tones mat-
ters of purely feminine interest. All three were snugly
wrapped in steamer blankets, for the night was tjrpically
tropic and chill. Vincent Brady and John Bright sat
next each other on one side of the ladies, with the
Yankee trader opposite. They chatted for a time until
Vincent turned to the missionary with the remark :
THE SCOURGE OP THE SUNDAS 9
''The captain's cautioned me against stopping at Bu-
lungan. He advises we go on to Sarawak and see
Borneo from the British side. Is there any danger?**
"There is always danger for a white man in East
Borneo," John Bright replied tactfully. "It is the new
frontier of the Orient'*
"I'm aware of that. I was referring to late develop-
ments that made a visit to Bulungan inadvisable at this .
time. Have you heard anjrthing?**
John Bright paused before replying.
"I don*t want to alarm you unnecessarily,** he re-
sponded in a low tone. "But the times are a little
uncertain. There have been some ugly rumors afloat
and the natives are restless. Borneo, you know, is vol-
canic in more senses than one."
Though he spoke cheerfully there was a note of
gravity in his tones that compelled attention.
"In what way have the Dyaks been restless?" Brady
asked. "Have there been any riots or uprisings?"
He took no pains to modulate his tones as the mis-
sionary had done. The murmur of voices ceased and
every member of the group looked expectantly at John
Bright Grace's lovely eyes glowed like twin violet
moons as she leaned forward with the frank eagerness
of a child.
The missionary deliberated a perceptible moment.
"It is sometimes difficult for one to say why he be-
lieves certain things are true," he replied guardedly.
"This is one of those occasions. I have heard it said
that men who have spent their lives at sea can fore-
cast a storm with the accuracy of a barometer. Na-
ture has sharpened their perceptions beyond those of
the average individual, they feel in the atmosphere the
absence of certain conditions that indicate security
and the presence of other conditions that presage vio-
lence. In the same way, I presume, those of us who
have spent many years among the aborigines are able
to feel unrest among them before it expresses itself in
action. In my travels about the jungle I have come
in contact with many tribes. They have treated me with
10 THE YELLOW SPIDER
uniform courtesy, even the Punans and the Long Wais
who are reputed to be cannibals. But in the last few
months I have felt an unrest stirring among them. Ex-
actly why I feel this way, I cannot say. Certainly not
because of any change in their attitude toward me. But
I do fed that they are plotting mischief. When the
storm comes, depend on it, it will come with the sud-
denness of a typhoon's blast."
There was a stubborn streak in Vincent Brady that
had never failed to be aroused by opposition. He did
not like to be told that he must or must not. Brought
up as the only son of moderately rich parents, he had
had his own sweet way since babyhood and the license
he had enjoyed had sharpened a naturally willful and
The missionary's tactful statement, designed to cau-
tion without creating alarm, had therefore an opposite
effect from what the latter had intended.
"Of course, I don't want to take chances," Brady de-
clared. His stubborn jaw asserted plainly that he would
take them if he felt so disposed. "But I don't see why
we'd be in any particular danger at Bulungan. There's
a garrison there. To-morrow's their fair day and it
looks to me as though they'd be precious careful not to
do anything to frighten the traders away. We've taken
this trip particularly to see the famous fair. I believe
the captain's a little premature with his warning."
John Bright made no reply. He was too good a
judge of men not to recognize the futility of argument.
Grace's glance at her fianci held a little flicker of
amusement, for she remembered his almost obstinate
refusal when she first suggested the trip to Bulungan.
The trader, who was squinting from beneath lowered
lids, felt it incumbent upon him to say a few words.
"Mr. Brady," he began sharply, **yovL know your
business. I'm not going to interfere. I generally make
it a point not to interfere. Jim Poggs's business is all
I can tend to, Jim Poggs's being mine, sir, since Jim
Poggs is me. But when I see a young chap coasting
along reefs that he's unfamiliar with, and that young
THE SCOURGE OP THE SUNDAS 11
chap has with him two such sweet lookin* girls as are
sailing with you, I take the liberty to give him a
friendly hail. What I'm gettin' to is this :
"Mr. Bright , is right I Eternally right I Bulungan
isn't a healthy place for you these days. It wouldn't
be healthy if you were alone. It's a doggone sight un-
healthier since you've got ladies with you. Those
Dyaks and Malays are cooking up a pot of mischief , just
as Mr. Bright says. It's liable to boil over any day.
Since they've got the notion in their head, to-morrow's
just as good a day as any other to them. What do
they care for trade when they can get loot? So if you
want to avoid trouble, and something you may ever
afterward wish to forget, stay on board."
The trader spoke bluntly, but the rugged simplicity
and sincerity of his speech salved it from offense. Vin-
cent bristled belligerently when Poggs referred to Grace
and Mrs. Coston as "sweet-lookin' girls," but noticing
the evident amusement of the others, saved himself
from sharp language that could only have made him
'You've talked plainly, captain," he began quizzically.
1 aim to," Poggs gnmted.
"I believe your advice is well meant and sound," Vin-
cent continued. "Possibly it will be advisable for us to
go on to Sarawak. But I think I'll slip ashore for
an hour or two while we're taking on and discharging
freight at Bulungan to-morrow, whether the rest of you
elect to stay on board or not. There can't be much
danger as long as there's trading going on."
Poggs gave an unintelligible grunt. Grace's eyes said
as distinctly as though she had spoken that if Vincent
went ashore she would go also. Violet, on the other
hand, reclined lazily in her chair like a sleepy kitten
and listened to the dialogue with a faint smile of cynical
amusement that broadened when Vincent announced his
intention of going ashore will)milly. John Bright,
watching them botfi, became gfrave.
"Qaws under the fur," he murmured to himself, look-
U THE YELLOW SPIDER
ing fixedly at the sophisticated little widow. "She
knows she can twist him the way she wants to."
A feeling of paternal tenderness came over him for
the warm-hearted and impulsive girl who had given
her promise to Vincent Brady.
"Sarawak's perfectly safe, I suppose?" Vincent asked
in a tone that carried a hint of sarcasm. "That's
"As safe as Kew or Hyde Park," Bright replied.
"Sarawak has been under the control of white men
longer than Bulungan. Its people have accepted our
"If that's the case we might hire a proa and run
along the coast a bit," Vincent remarked, struck with a
sudden idea. "What do you say, Grace? It would
give you the first-hand acquaintance with Borneo you've
wanted." There was a touch of banter in his tones.
The missionary's face became serious again. "I
must advise you against that," he declared. "So long
as you remain in Sarawak you are safe. But you
wouldn't be safe at sea in a proa."
"Why not?" Vincent challenged.
"Pirates !" the trader interjected succinctly. "No proa
is safe anywhere these days."
"Merciful Heavens," Mrs. Derringer gasped.
Vincent turned toward the missionary with a short
laugh. "I thought Britannia ruled the seas," he ban-
tered. "Do you mean to say you harbor pirates in
your well-regfulated province?"
"I was referring to the Dordrechter affair, Mr.
Bright," the trader explained.
"I haven't seen any official statenient in regard to
it," the missionary rejoined.
"The colonial office hasn't made any statement, so far
as I know," Poggs acknowledged. "But everything
points one way. It's Ah Sing's work. He's back
"Mercy!" Mrs. Derringer shrieked. Her hands
gripped each other convulsively. Her face was a
ghastly white in the glare of the incandescents.
THE SCOURGE OP THE SUNDAS IS
Violet Coston sat up sharply. "What is it?** she
demanded with a note of anxiety in her voice. "What
is this Dordrechter affair and who is Ah Sing?"
John Bright cast a glance of stem rebtdke at the
trader. Poggs's eyes fell and he shuffled tmcomfortably
in his chair.
"Looks as though I've spilled the beans/' he re-
The missionary spoke. "The Dordrechter affair that
Mr. Poggs referred to, Mrs. Coston, is the strange dis-
appearance of a ship that carried passengers and freight
in the coastwise trade from Batavia to Bandjermassin
and Macassar. It was found derelict some time ago
with passengers and crew missing. There are some
who believe it was captured and looted by pirates. In
fact, the report gained a wide circulation and general
credence. But Sie authorities, I understand, do not
hold this view. Personally I think there is good reason
for doubt If the vessel were taken by pirates, why
didn't they sink it? Why should they permit evidence
of their crime to float about the ocean? To me it ap-
pears more likely that the ship was caught in a hurri-
cane that swept the Java sea about that time, sprung
a leak, and was deserted by the passengers and crew.
The same explanation would account for our failure
to hear from those aboard her again, for it would be
impossible for small boats to live in such a sea as raged
wlule the storm was on. The Dordrechter when picked
up, I am told, was wholly waterlogged and was only
kept from sinking by the sandalwood in her hold,"
"That sandalwood was all she had aboard, too,"
The missionar3r's glance was withering. Poggs hastily
damped his lips.
"It is more than probable that the wreck was stripped
by natives before it was towed into port by the coaster
that found it," Bright pointed out.
"Two years ago my sister wrote me from Manila that
she was sailing on the Swansea to spend Christmas with
tts at Batavia," Mrs. Derringer murmured hoarsely.
14 THE YELLOW SPIDER
like one awakening from a horrid dream. "We waited
for weeks. One day Mr. Derringer picked up a copy
of the Batavia Courant and noticed the Swansea's name.
He had a clerk translate the item. It stated that the
Swansea had been found derelict and looted. Her
deck was covered with headless corpses. I never saw
my sister again. It was Ah Sing's work."
She shrunk into her chair, a huddled, abject figure,
and wrung her hands. As the darting searchlight ex-
plored the vast wastes of the sea ahead she followed its
course with frightened eyes, as though she fearfully ex-
pected to see a pirate ship materialize out of the dark-
**Is Ah Sirig still at large?" Mrs. Coston demanded
in a high-pitched voice.
"I assure you, madame, he hasn't been heard of for
two years," John Bright assured her earnestly. "Since
Peter Gross, Resident of Bulungan, broke up the pirate
confederacy at the battle of the Kwanga Kiver theiie
have been no pirate depredations."'
"Why do people think he may be responsible for the
accident that happened to this ship?" Mrs. Coston m-
quired. "Has he returned to this vicinitjr?"
"I'd like to hear the whole story," Vmcent added.
Seeing that further evasion was impossible the mis-
sionary resigned himself to the unpleasant task of tell-
ing the pirate's history.
I'll be happy to tell you the little I know about
Ah Sing," he replied. "That little is probably more
than half romance. I have never seen him personally,
although there are many that have. I am told that he
was for years a tavern-keeper at the Chinese kampong
in Batavia and bore a reasonably good reputation for
one of his trade, although suspected of shanghaiing
sailors. In some way he became* interested in piracy.
He gradually gained an ascendancy over the wilder
elements in these islands and eventually became the
head of a crude sort of pirate confederation. Under his
leadership it became a formidable power and a scourge
THE SCOUBGE OF THE SUNDAS 15
to commerce. The natives were in great awe of him and
esteemed him as a sort of Oriental Napoleon, a modem
Genghis Khan. But it's not so difficult to acquire that
sort of a reputation among them. They are a supersti-
tious lot, and if a man does something a little out of the
ordinary he is quickly reverenced as a sort of demigod.''
Poggs grunted. He was smoking furiously and
damped his cigar between his teeth as though to em-
phasize that he did not intend to take any part in the
"Is he really a formidable leader, or is all this
merely a mushroom reputation?" Grace asked.
''I didn't intend to belittle his ability/' the missionary
replied. "There is no question in my mind but that he
was a really dangerous character for some years until,
as I said, he was defeated by Peter Gross. If he has
come bade to these waters it will be a serious ipatter,
for he possesses a remarkable talent for organizing the
savage tribes and wil| not scruple to use it. I do not
doubt that he was at one time the actual leader of
practically all the free^booting marauders of Java,
Cdd>es, Borneo, and the surrounding small islands.
How far his control went I do not know, but I do know
that when big game was in sight the pirates hunted in
packs, something that was never done before his time.
They did a slave business among those tribes not
leagued with them, and thus forced many of them to
pay tribute and obey their orders. They were a ruth-
less lot and spared neither man, woman nor child. The
sea Dyaks were their allies and it was generally under-
stood that thev made the many inlets of Bulungan ReBi-
dmcy their headquarters. It is mostly jungle, you
know, and to find them was like looking for a needle
in a haystack.
"The British navy tried its hand at ridding the seas
of tbem but they took refuge in the lagoons and credcs
where the big ships could not follow. The British then
served notice on die Dutch that they must be suppressed
or Great Britain would take stunmary action. The
16 THE YELLOW SPmER
Dutch were at their wit's end until one of your country-
men, Mrs. Coston, a sailor named Peter Gross, was
named Resident of Bulungan. He accomplished wonr
ders and wiped the pirates out in short order/*
"Did he get Ah Sing?** Mrs. Coston asked.
"No, I regret to say that he did not/* the missionary
acknowledged. "The pirates were defeated and very
nearly wiped out, but Ah Sing escaped. He has not
been heard from since. The general opinion is that he
fled north to China and hid himself in that immense yel-
low ocean of humanity."
"You can bet he's back all right,'* the trader growled,
iBnding it impossible to keep silence longer.
"If he should be, we have nothing to fear on board
the Zuyder Zee," the missionary declared firmly, "The
ship is well armed.
"I wouldn't trust myself sailing around on any proa,**
the trader returned. He took the cigar from his mou^
with a flourish and tilted back his chair.
"I know Ah Sing," he declared "Had many a drink
at his pub at Batavia when I was still sailoring. Ah
Sing was the shrewdest crimp between here and Frisco,
and that's some compliment. Never saw him when he
didn't have a man or two to sell to a needy skipper.
And mighty few ships ever laid alongside Tanjong
Priok without losing a man or two to him."
*'I don't understand," Mrs. Coston remarked in a
"This Ah Sing ran a pub, a rumah makan as the
brownskins call it, a hotel for Chinks and natives in the
Chinese kampong at Batavia. Sailors went there for
their liquor, but mighty few went back to their own
ships again. You see, madame, something would be
mixed in their drinks and when they woke up their
ships would be gone and they could look for another
berth. Where Ah Sing would come in was in selling
their services to the first needy skipper that put into
port, and ships were always short-handed in those days.
Maybe he'd sell two or tfiree men to the very skipper
he'd just robbed of other hands. Oh, he was a eleven
THE SCOURGE OF THE SUNDAS 17
one! Fat as a Christmas duck, always sitting on the
colonnaded porch of his rumah makan at the edge of
the kampong smiling welcome at you, bland and inno-
cent as your laundry boy. 'How are you. Ah Sing?'
the boys from the English and American ships would
carol as they came rolling in, singing their chanteys.
'Belly fine, boys,' he'd say, 'come and have a dlirik.'
He'd learned that down in 'Frisco where he once ran a
hop joint. Mr. Sailor would drink and that would be
the last he'd know till another ship hove in port. The
boys knew it but it made no difference to them. The
Chinaman fed them fair and treated them square and
one skipper was as good or bad as another."
"How did he work his piracy, as a side line?" Vin-
cent asked, frankly interested.
"Nobody ever knew he was interested until Peter
Gross got wise. How he learned it, I don't know. But
he was appointed Resident to Bulungan, as Mr. Bright
told you, and proceeded to round things up. Ah Sing
nearly got him once but a gunboat turned up in time and
then Peter Gross turned round and smashed the pirates
in a big fight. Ah Sing got away. I've heard it said
that the Chinaman has vowed he would put Peter Gross
to the torture yet. I understand he's got a little glass
tube nicely labeled and filed away, to hold Gross's finger
and toe nails when he gets them. Those are the relics
he keeps of the enemies he's put under the sod. Inter-
esting practice, isn't it?"
Mrs. Derringer shuddered. The trader's conversa-
tion was a trifle too blunt to be pleasant, but Grace
found herself unable to leave the deck. Her blood
tingled with the romance of it, and she thrilled with a
delicious creepy feeling as she stared into the dark-
ness all around them.
"Who is Peter Gross?" she asked.
"I've never met him," the trader replied promptly.
"Have you, Mr. Bright ?"
"I have not had that fortune," the missionary re-
"Your information is hearsay then, like my own,**
"^IS THE YELLOW SPIDER
Foggs declared. "All I can tdl you about Peter Gross
is that he's a Yankee like ourselves, straight as a string,
and the only man in these parts since Brooke's time
who's known how to deal with Dyaks and Malays.
Isn't that true, Mr. Bright?"
"He is a wonderful man!" the missionary acknowl-
edged. *'A man to fit the place and the time. God's
own instrument to bring peace to this war-torn island.
The Dutch were facing the problem of either commenc-
ing a war of extermination against the natives or giv-
ing up their province, when Peter Gross went to BuluJi-
gan and saved the Residency for them. He is there
to-day, I trust, the one man in the entire Indies who
can stave off the worst native uprisings since the
"Aye, the one man," the trader assented.
"What sort of an appearing man is he?" Mrs. Cos-
"I've never met him, consequently I cannot give you
mudi of a description,'* John Bright replied. "I under-
stand that he's 'a young man, not yet thirty, unmarried,
and physically very large. One of the tallest and most
I)owerful men in Borneo, I am told."
"Would it be possible for us to pay our respects to
him to-morrow at Bulungan?" Grace asked. She smiled
at the missionary. "He's our countryman, you know,
and I feel very proud of him."
"He may be at the landing," John Bright replied, re-
turning the smile. Her ardent youth made a powerful
appeal to him. "It would be quite likely as the coming of
a mail ship is quite an event at such an isolated post
"If he isn't I shall be tempted to run ashore despite
the captain's warning," Grace replied. "I must meet
this American who is making such a wonderful name
for himself so far from home."
"I do not think you will be disappointed," the mis-
sionary declared courteously. "He has that divine gift,
vision." His eyes became dreamy. "Aye, he has the
THE SCOURGE OF THE SUNDAS 19
vision. I have heard tales of him and the manner he
has won over the natives, sometimes by force, but more
often by patience and persuasion. Even the wildest and
most untamable tribes are banning to perceive his stem
sense of right and truth. The Wliite Father* they are
beginning to call him. And he is not yet thirty ! Won-
derful, isn't it? But that's because he knows Borneo,
fetid, slimy, pestilential Borneo, the cesspool into which
the dregs of humanity have been drained, the jungle and
marsh tiiat breeds poisonous insects and poisonous men,
the last defense of the serpent in man. Aye, he knows
it, knows its cruel, vindictive soul, its treacherous, un-
principled mind, its bestial appetite, its hands itching
for murder and loot.
"But in spite of all these things he has been able to
see some spark of the divine, some bit of God's beauty
and goodness in these sordid Dyak souls, and has caused
it to blossom. God's messenger, I call him, the hope of
Borneo, the hope of all of us who work here."
Grace heaved a tremulous sigh. The spell of the
missionary's eloquence was on her and she could not
take her eyes from him for a few moments. The shuf-
fling of a foot on the bridge above roused her. She
looked up quickly, catching just a glimpse of a tall
form standing there and looking out to sea. She wai
quite sure she recognized the young man who had fled
afler offering her a chair a few hours before.
"Captain seems to be looking for pirates," Vincent
remarked, glancing upward. The sally was received in
1 have a headache," Violet Coston complained.
'Can't I he*p you, dear?" Grace asked sympa-
"It won't be necessary," Mrs. Coston replied with af-
fected languidness. "If Vincent will take me to my
room." She glanced toward him expectantly. He
leaped forward and offered his arm.
"Good night, Grace," she murmured. "Good night,
Mrs. Derringer. Good night, gentlemen— good night !"
20 THE YELLOW SPIDER
There was a lingering fondness in the last word,
thrown over her shoulder as she moved away with Vin-
cent. John Bright's eyes narrowed grimly.
"Sit next to me. Miss Coston," Mrs. Derringer di-
rected. "I want to talk to yotu"
Ah Sing Strikes
A HALF-HOUR passed and Vincent did not return.
The little packet steamed steadily on toward the
still distant haven of Bulungan. Of the group
that had gathered on the forward deck but two re-
mained, Mrs. Derringer and Grace. Whatever the lat-
ter's feelings may have been at her lover's delinquency,
she concealed them well. She listened with admirable
restraint to the dowager's tedious reminiscences and oc-
casionally interposed a question or comment that indi-
cated she was giving her attention. A shrewd ob-
server might have deduced, however, that she was re-
maining on deck in order to escape the mortification of
going below unaccompanied.
"Peter Gross ought not to be given the whole credit
for chasing the pirates out of Bulungan," Mrs. Der-
ringer sagely observed. "If it wasn't for the Argus
Pheasant he wouldn't have done much."
The appellation caught Grace's fancy. "Who is the
Argus Pheasant?" she inquired.
"You haven't heard?" Mrs. Derringer asked, in the
rising voice of the gossip who has a spicy bit of news
to impart. "Why, 5ie Argus Pheasant, Koyala, is the
most famous beauty in the whole of East India. She's
priestess of the Dyaks, and she fairly worships the
ground Peter Gross walks on."
"A native woman ?" Grace inquired. She experienced
a strange sinking of the heart. Was another idol to be
shattered, she asked herself.
"Half white and half Dyak," Mrs. Derringer replied.
"The daughter of a Frenchman and a Dyak woman.
22 THE YELLOW SPmER
But you'd never guess it from seeing her. She's a
wonderful beauty, and as fierce and wild as a tiger."
"Isn't the light deceiving!" Grace remarked hastily.
"Three times now I would have sworn that I saw a
boat drifting out yonder, and when I looked again there
was nothing to be seen."
Mrs. Derringer, however, was not so easily diverted
from a theme as entertaining as the one she had just
launched herself upon.
"There's no question but what those two, Peter Gross
and the Argus Pheasant, are hand in glove together,"
she hinted darkly. "She got the Dyaks to side with
him. She helped him drive out Ah Sing. The China-
man wanted her himself, and some say she might have
listened to him if Peter Gross hadn't come. John Bright
talks with a lot of respect about Peter Gross, but it
seems strange to me that this half-breed woman should
cling to him the way she does."
Mrs. Derringer nodded her head sagely.
"There it is again — I'm sure it's a boat," Grace cried,
rising excitedly and pointing over the bow toward an
object rising and falling on the rolling sea. As if in
answer to her cry, the search-light was focused upon it.
As the object again rose within their circle of vision it
became apparent that it was a whaleboat. There were
figures in it, lying in the bottom.
The packet veered, heading toward the craft. Several
curt orders sounded, unintelligible to Grace because they
were in the Dutch language. Some of the crew sprang
toward a boat and lowered it. There was no noise or
confusion, and few of the passengers were aware that
anything had occurred to break the monotony of the
The screw began to revolve more slowly. The ship
was edging in toward shore, due to the impulse of a
strong current. As she began to lose headway a boat
was dropped over the side. Half a dozen lusty sailors
manned the oars and pulled toward the drifting whale-
Leaning against the rail, Grace and Mrs. Derringer
AH SING STRIKES 88
watched with bated breath as the two craft neared each
other. A premonition of evil, a vague, undefined fear
of she knew not what, came upon Grace. Her thoughts
recurred to the conversation on the deck a few hours
since, to Bright's warning, and to the reminiscences of
the Yankee trader.
Was this floating object before them to reveal another
of the terrible tragedies of these ruthless seas, she asked
The two boats were only about ten feet apart when a
curious thing occurred. One of the two apparently life-
less forms in the bottom of the derelict suddenly rose and
dove over the side. The other followed. The crew in
the other boat rested on their oars, seemingly mystified.
"They were shamming!" Grace exclaimed in amaze-
ment. "I wonder — "
The sentence was left incomplete. For from the other
side of the ship at that moment came a weird, blood-
curdling cry — a cry that froze the blood of all those on
board who heard it. It was the war-cry of the Bajau
marauders, the pirates of the Celebes Sea.
Hardly had the cry ceased when a response came from
below, the shrieks of women, the hoarse shouts of men
awakened suddenly to find themselves in the presence
of death. Doors were flung open, vomiting" humanity
as the terror-stricken natives rushed on deck.
Grace saw the men in the packet-boat whirl their
craft and pull madly back to the ship. Out of the dark-
ness behind her a volley sounded. Four of the six men
at the oars collapsed in their seats and slid into the
bottom of the boat. Another burst of shot and the others
fell, one dropping overboard while he was in the act
of diving for safety.
The boat swung broadside to. Grace saw the writhing
bodies in the bottom of the frail shell and the splintered
planking stained with blood — a never-to-be-forgotten
picture. Then darkness swallowed them, the dying and
the dead, as the shaft of light swung shoreward.
Directly to port was a rocky cove, not more than five
hundred yards distant. Proas were darting out of this
24 THE YELLOW SPmER
like angry bees out of a hive. Each proa was filled with
husky, dark-skinned warriors who were urging it toward
the ship with every ounce of strength in their bodies.
Between the packet and the shore the sea was dotted with
other native craft loaded to the gunwale with Malay and
Dyak fighting men, hideous, nearly nude creatures with
rings through their nostrils and ears. They carried long
rifles, pistols, spears, and sumpitans, and every man had
his favorite kris or padang. Their swollen, distorted
features, animated with lust for slaughter and loot, were
made doubly repulsive by the violent pigments they had
used to make their appearance more fearful, yellow ocher
and blue clay, flaring vermilion and dark blue, with
cross-bars of flaming scarlet.
At the sight of that terrible crew Mrs. Derringer ut-
tered a piercing scream and fell to the deck in a faint.
Overcome by the horror of the moment, Grace was
unconscious of the elder woman's condition until she
•stepped forward blindly, with stiffened limbs, and
stumbled against Mrs. Derringer's recumbent form.
Even then she was hardly able to tear her eyes from
the scene before her, which held her in the grip of a
terrible fascination. Bending down, she began mechani-
cally to unfasten Mrs. Derringer's waist with fingers that
trembled so that she was scarcely able to direct them.
The attack was delivered against the stern of the ship.
Above the wild yells of the natives and the agonized
•cries of the passengers rose the crack of pistols. Evi-
dently some resistance was being made. While Grace
-was fumbling with the fastenings at Mrs. Derringer's
throat two of the Dutch contingent of the crew sprang
by her toward the quick-firer, mounted at the bow. It
was the work of only a few moments to swing it into
position, enter a charge, and fire, yet to Grace it seemed
hours. As the steel-clad messengers of death hurtled
forward Grace saw three proas in the line of fire crumple
tip. A fierce thrill of exultation siezed her as hope
flared in her breast.
A hoarse shout sounded from the darkness aft. It
had hardly died away when there was the simultaneous
AH SING STRIKES 25
sound of a volley and breaking glass. The beam of light
that had been revealing their enemies to those on board
Grace heard an oath, deep and fervent, from one of the
members of the gun-crew. The words were still on his
lips when he threw his head back queerly, thrust both
hands into the pit of his stomach, crumpled, and fell a
quivering corpse at her feet. His limbs twitched spas-
modically and he lay still.
"Gerrit?" his companion cried fiercely and question-
ingly. It was his last word. As he sprang forward to
aid his stricken friend he fell over the latter's recum-
bent body, with a gaping bullet- wound in his forehead.
That she did not scream or swoon or give way in
some manner was ever thereafter a source of wonder to
Grace. Strangest of all, it seemed to her later, was the
fact that she was not afraid. She left Mrs. Derringer
and examined the bodies of both men, satisfying herself
that they were beyond her or any other mortal aid. Then
she returned to the dowager and proceeded with the
task of resuscitating her.
All this had transpired in a comparatively few mo-
ments. The captain's first act, when he discovered the
nature of the attack, was to signal for full speed ahead.
There was some delay in the engine-room. Whatever
caused it, it was fatal. The bells below jangled implor-
ingly for speed as the pirates swept down like hawks and
clambered on the deck. Finally the engineer responded.
There was a moment of terriffic strain as the mighty
engines exerted their power, then the screw began to
revolve furiously. A hiss of escaping steam sounded
"Good God V the captain gasped. His face went white
as a polar field. He knew what had occurred — the pi-
rates, by some infernal device, had sheared the blades
off the propeller, and there was no time to put on the
extra one, held in reserve for such emergencies. The
Zuyder Zee was like a hamstrung hind in the midst of a
pack of wolves.
A wild and exultant yell came from the attackers at
86 THE YELLOW SPmER
the success of their stratagem. They surged forward.
Reenforcements kept streaming over the rail, pressing
back the brave crew that had been maintaining their
thin line and holding the marauders at bay.
A huge Malay swinging a gleaming parang sprang into
the midst of the fray and brought his heavy blade down
upon a sailor who was thrusting another foe back with a
clubbed musket. The great sword cut between the
clavicle and sternum, splitting the unfortunate sailor al-
most in two. With a fiendish yell of triumph the pirate
chief burst through the breach his blade had made. His
followers surged after him. The white line wavered a
moment and crumpled into small groups waging a hope-
less and despairing fight against circles of dark faces that
hemmed them in.
Fascinated by the spectacle, and held numb in frozen
horror, Grace bent motionless on the deck beside the re-
cumbent form of Mrs. Derringer. Just as the fight was at
its hottest, and before the sailors' front had been broken,
Mrs. Derringer recovered from her faint and rose to a
sitting posture. She gazed with bewildered eyes at the
drama below. As recollection returned, her bewilder-
ment gave way to panic. When the huge Malay swung
his kris and cut the sailor in two, the accumulated train
of horrors proved too great a burden for her overwrought
brain, and reason snapped. She leaped to her feet with
a maniacal cry, and before Grace realized her intent or
could make a motion to restrain her, she hurled herself
headlong over the rail into the sea.
At that moment the lights went out.
With the drowning woman's insane shriek ringing in
her ears, together with the triumphant yells of the savage
Bajaus and their allies, and darkness absolute enveloping
her like a great wet blanket, Grace cowered to the deck.
Until now she had not experienced fear. She had been
too stunned, the calamity had been too sudden and over-
whelming, and events had passed too rapidly to enable her
surfeited brain to experience the emotion of terror.
But now that she was alone in the darkness, with
violence and strife all around her, with the moans of the
AH SING STRIKES 87
dying mingled inextricably with the gp'oans and prayers
of the living and the savage yells of the conquerors domi-
nant, her courage failed her.
"God have mercy on me/' she prayed. "God have
mercy on me."
The fierce desire of the hunted for refuge assailed her.
But there was no refuge. Below were the savages, on
both sides the sea. There was only one way of escape
from a fate worse than death, Mrs. Derringer's way.
She shrank from it ; life had never before seemed so in-
finitely sweet and precious, so much to be cherished, as
at this moment. The sea had never before appeared so
cold and deep, so dark and sullen and cruel. But to stay
on the ship was worse. The triumphant yells of the
pirates told of their victory, the cries of the victims by
now having ceased almost entirely.
"Vincent !" she gasped. "Violet !" If they might only
cross the border together, she thought, deatli would not
be so terrible.
She tried to rise, but her nerveless limbs refused to
respond. It was as though all life had already gone from
them, as if her nervous system had collapsed under the
strain put upon it. Summoning a supreme effort of will,
she pulled herself to her feet. She staggered toward the
rail, lurching at the roll of the vessel, now swung broad-
side to the waves.
A powerful hand grasped her arm. A low grunt
sounded in her face, a swinish grunt of satisfaction. In
the light of the pale moon just appearing from behind a
cloud she saw the grinning, sinister features of a huge
savage, a flat-nosed creature like a chimpanzee. He had
heavy brass rings through his nostrils and his head was
covered with a thick cluster of coarse black hair. He
had been in the act of climbing over the rail, apparently
from a proa below, as she approached.
The shock of the surprise was so great that Grace could
not utter a cry. Her vocal cords seemed paralyzed. But
as the savage gave another delighted grunt at the beauty
of his prize and pulled her shrinking form toward him,
a despairing shriek rose from her throat.
28 THE YELLOW SPmER
"Vincent !" she cried.
A footfall sounded beside her, a light footfall, silent as
a woods creature's. The savage uttered a guttural ex-
clamation and released her to seize his kris. But the
lightning struck him first. A heavy bar crashed into his
face, a bar that flattened his ugly features and cracked
his skull like an egg-shell. Without a moan he toppled
into the dark waters below.
There was a simultaneous yell of execration from sev-
eral voices below. Grace felt a strong arm sweep about
her waist. A voice whispered in her ear : "Keep quiet,
don't make a sound." She felt herself carried swiftly
across the deck. She was lifted across the rail and
swung perilously out from the ship in the arm of the
man who had rescued her.
Grace acknowledged afterward that she had no other
thought at this moment but that she was going to her
death. She believed that he who had saved her from the
savage had no other purpose in mind than to offer death
as a more welcome fate than captivity. Her only emotion
was one of gratitude. Face to face for a moment with
the greater evil, death, formerly so terrible, was now a
welcome relief. It was only the horror of dying alone
that held her back.
"Good-by, Vincent ; good-by, Violet," she whispered in
a voice that only the angels heard. The stranger paused
a moment, scanned the dark waters rolling below them,
and as the ship leaned over under a receding wave,
tightened his grip on her and dropped swiftly.
The Hut in the Jungle
THOSE who have gone down into the depths and
have been brought back from the brink of the
hereafter tell strange tales of the unique sensa-
tion of drowning. They tells us of a gradual lapsing into
unconsciousness to the tintinnabulation of bells swelling
to orchestral choruses as the soul struggles to rise from
its corporeal habitation. They picture to us a marvelous
sense of freedom and elation, a sense of floating in an
ethereal vastness that knows neither height nor breadth,
a halcyon bliss transcending mortality's sublimest mo-
The experience of Grace Coston was otherwise. As the
sea boiled over her she felt herself drawn into a vortex
that swept her irresistibly down in dizzy spirals. There
was a tremendous roaring in her ears, a roaring com-
parable only to the grinding of huge bergs of ice im-
pelled by contrary currents. She felt herself borne at an
incredible speed to fathomless depths. Her lungs filled
despite her effort not to breathe, her heart seemed nigh to
bursting, and consciousness was dulling when the waters
parted. She gasped for breath.
The man who had leaped off the deck of the Zuyder
Zee with her held her with one arm while he cautiously
used the other to keep them both afloat.
"Can you swim?" he asked in a low tone.
--Not very far— in these clothes,'* she replied.
"^It's only a little way to shore," he stated. "Try to re-
move your slippers and that heavy coat. But don't dis-
card them. Give them to me. I'll keep you above."
A moment before she had been quite ready for death.
80 THE YELLOW SPmER
But the shock of contact with the sea and the awful sense
of suffocation she had experienced as they went down
into the sable depths had altered her desire. The instinct
for self-preservation, ever strong in youth, was dominant,
and impelled her to make a fight for life. With womanly
dependence on male strength and leadership in moments
of peril and stress, she obediently did as she had been
"We must swim quietly," her mysterious companion de-
clared in a subdued voice after she had divested herself
of her heavier clothing. She indicated her assent by
action instead of by words, husbanding her breath and
strength. Qeaving the water with the long, clean strokes
that mark the proficient swimmer, she headed toward the
thin line of white breakers some distance ahead, where
the surf of the long Macassar Straits boomed against a
rockbound shore. The man swam beside her, moderating
his pace to hers.
Somewhere to the left a faint cry for help arose.
It was a man's voice. She thought instantly of Vincent,
and impulsively altered her course. But with two swift
strokes the man beside her intercepted her and forced
her back to her original course.
"We can't do him any good ; he's done for," he whis-
pered in a low voice. "We'll be lucky to reach shore our-
selves. We've got to keep out of sight of these proas ;
if any of them sight us we're done for. Can you swim
*A little," Grace said.
'When I say 'Duck' take a long breath and catch hold
of me," the stranger directed. "Don't struggle and don't
interfere with my movements. Do you understand ?"
"Yes," she whispered. A little catch of fear seized her
heart. She had not thought of this danger. But as they
rose on the surge and she looked anxiously about, :3he
perceived the long, slim forms of several native cTaft
silhouetted against the horizon. They were darting
toward the ship like vultures on the scent of carrion. A
few of them boldly carried lights, for there was no longer
THE HUT IN THE JUNGLE SI
need for concealment since all opposition on the ship
"They'll be too anxious to get their share of the loot
to pay any attention to us/' the man remarked in guarded
tones. "But at the same time it won't do to take
They swam along in silence. As they sank into the
hollow of a great roller, a big proa, loaded toward the
gunwale with warriors who were impelling it forward
with every ounce of strength in their sturdy bodies,
suddenly rose on the crest of the wave ahead. Grace
felt the man's arm close about her and pull her down.
She came up half strangled and coughing, but her com-
panion instantly stifled her struggles by clamping a hand
over her mouth. In the next few moments she under-
went all the agonies of drowning for a second time that
"I beg your pardon, but it was necessary," an apolo-
getic voice whispered in her ear a few moments later,
when they were a safe distance away. "I'm afraid, at
that, they saw us. Some of them were looking back."
Resentful at being used so roughly, Grace disdained
making a reply, and struck out viciously toward the now
nearing line of breakers. Her companion made no re-
monstrance, but kept pace with her, swimming easily and
without effort about a foot behind.
After a few minutes of such violent motion Grace be-
gan to feel the drain on her powers. Qad for the water,
she could swim a mile or more, and had often accom-
plished the feat. But swimming in a placid fresh-water
lake when attired for it was a vastly different proposi-
tion from swimming in a tumultuous, heaving ocean un-
der the burden of heavy clothing, she found. Fortunately
the water was warm. Otherwise her strength must have
Her companion evidently noticed that she was weak-
ening, for he advised:
"Better save your strength until we get into the surf.
We are fairly safe now."
82 THE YELLOW SPmER
Still piqued at his rough treatment of her, Grace chose
to read into his words a reflection on her ability to take
care of herself. Her chin rose defiantly from tfie water
and she struck out desperately, pulling ahead a few
strokes. A rude hand clasped her arm and a stern voice
hissed into her ear:
"Miss Coston, you will do as I direct. There are
more lives than our own two dependent on it."
Her momentary vexation vanished. The stranger's
words held a promise.
"Do you think some of them may escape?" she cried
eagerly, between gasps. "Can we help them ?"
"Wait till we get ashore," he replied curtly. "Be si-
lent now — "
Ahead of them the breakers loomed. They boiled over
a broad barrier of sharp-toothed rocks that rose ugly as
sharks' fins from the sable waters. Interspersed were
tall obelisks of black shale. The huge swelling surges
rose in solid walls of foaming sea and battered themselves
to destruction against the gaunt guardians of the Bomean
coast. The thin, frothy line of gray scud that had looked
so ephemeral from the deck of the Zuyder Zee was now
revealed as a boiling caldron. That a human being
could pass through such a vortex and live seemed in^
credible. A numb despair gripped Grace's heart. Hei
courage failed her and she clutched weakly at her com?
As if expecting such an attempt on her part, he slipped
out of her grasp.
"Keep cool now, and maintain your stroke," he coun-
seled cheerfully. "We're almost ashore."
Swimming slowly, in a course parallel to the beach, he
kept himself and her warily out of reach of the jealous
fangs of rock that bobbed up unexpectedly in their path.
All her self-assertiveness gone, Grace obeyed dumbly,
conserving her rapidly ebbing strength.
Ten rods or more of this swimming had brought them
steadily nearer the line of breakers, when the man was
THE HUT IN THE JUNGLE 33
suddenly galvanized into activity. "Now!" he cried
shrilly, catching hold of her. "Swim for your life !"
With a gasping intake of breath, Grace exerted all the
strength she had left. At the same instant she felt her-
self pulled irresistably forward. The great surges boiled
over her, filling her nostrils and lungs with water, ob-
scuring everything. Swifter and swifter she was drawn
ahead in the very vortex of the writhing seas.
A huge black bulk of rock loomed before them. The
giant rollers split upon it and churned in a mad frenzy.
A mighty comber lifted them and hurled them through
the spindrift at the jagged edge of shale as though they
were feathers. Just as it seemed that they must inevitably
be cut in two, a cross-current caught them and carried
them swiftly in its millrace past the rock into a pool of
quiet water behind. They spun out of this into a placid
Grasping for breath, Grace struck out erratically, but
her companion retained his hold.
"If you'll lie on your back and float I'll have both of
Us ashore In a few minutes," he remarked in a low voice
dose to her ear.
She smiled back courageouly. Unfortunately the smile
was wasted on the darkness.
"I think I can swim," she replied, "if you'll permit me,
He released her without a word. She breathed deeply
once or twice and cleaved the water. But there was no
strength in her limbs. She was tired, very tired, and the
shore seemed a long distance away. It was difficult to
keep her head above, she found, and she did not seem
to be making any progress. Too proud to ask for help
and vexed at her weakness, she struggled gamely on.
She noticed that the man remained close to her, accom-
modating his pace to hers. His attitude of protection
enraged her. She struggled frantically to tear away this
fluid obstacle that slipped by her limbs without giving
leverage. But her exhausted body could do no more.
She felt herself sinking. An awful sense of helplessness
M THE YELLOW SPIDEB
and utter impotence came upon her. She uttered a de-
paring cry, the cry of the drowning, then the waters
closed over her. As the world was blotted out once
more, leaving her floating in a measureless void, she f dt
again the strong hand of the man who had brought her
through the perils of the rocks into this quiet lagoon.
"Don't struggle; trust me/' a calm, strong voice de-
clared. Too weak to resist, she lay inertly on the sur-
face, feeling the stranger's hand under her back and feel-
ing the play of his powerful muscles as he swam shore-
ward with long, telling strokes. A few minutes later his
feet touched bottom. He lifted her into his arms and
strode shoreward. She struggled to release herself.
"I can walk," she remonstrated.
"Quiet !" was his stem whisper.
She 3rielded. • Instinctively she felt that he would not
have insisted had it not been necessary. He walked cau-
tiously, a step at a time, his eyes striving to pierce the
somber jungle shades, and his ears straining to catch
every one of the multitudinous sounds of a tropic forest.
The errant moon that had been playing hide and seek
all night chose this moment to make another fitful appear-
ance. Its rays fell directly upon the man's tense face.
Grace, who was looking upward, caught her first glimpse
of his features.
"I thought so," she said to herself, smiling. She had
recognized her rescuer. It was the captain's guest, the
mysterious young man who kept his identity concealed
from the other first-class passengers on board the Zuyder
A feeling of security came upon her. She lay like a
waxen image in his arms. The only dangers she feared
now were those the forest might hide. The young man
had a face that inspired confidence.
A nightbird whirred noisily out of the thicket ahead of
them. The stranger stood stockstill, every muscle tense,
every sense alert. Grace scarcely breathed. At last he
stepped forward cautiously. At that moment an over-
ripe coconut crashed to the ground some distance away.
THE HUT IN THE JUNGLE 85
causingf alarm among the jungle folk. There was a
rustling in the cane that halted the man in his tracks and
caused Grace's heart to cease beating for a moment.
At last they reached shore. Still holding her in his
arms, he stepped out of the water, crossed the narrow
strip of sandy beach, and clambered up the low bank to
the shelter of a group of palms, where he stood and lis-
tened again with all tibe stealth of a savage. Satisfied at
length, he bore his burden across a small clearing into the
jungle itself. Not imtil then did he permit Grace to leave
"Your slippers," he said gravely, offering her her
The gloom was thick around them. When they were
battling the waves she thought night could not be darker
than the sable shroud that covered the waters, but here
in the forest the curtain of night hung so heavily that it
almost seemed to possess substance. She felt a sense of
oppression, as if the very air were weighted down with
this intangible something that obscured the whole earth.
Involuntarily she grasped her companion's arm and
clung to it fearfully.
"I can't see Bxiything" she complained in a low voice
that had a suspicious quaver in it.
"My eyes are probably better than yours here," he
whispered. "I'm used to this."
It was on the tip of her tongue to ask him if he could
not produce a light. The utter ridiculousness of such a
request occurred to her in time to stop utterance. This
brought back the thought of the pirates again, and she
nudged closer to him. As if in answer to her unspoken
thought, he remarked:
"We can't build a fire here in the open. But if we are
where I think we are, we'll have shelter soon. If you're
not afraid to be left alone for a few moments, I'll scout
around and get my bearings. Will 3rou wiit here for
"Alone?" Grace gasped.
"I'm sorry. But Fm afraid it's necessary. I couldn't
86 THE YELLOW SPmER
take you with me. There's a bit of swamp ahead, if I
am not mistaken. I won't be gone more tiian ten min-
utes. If anything happens, shout. But," he added im-
pressively, "don't make a sound unless it is absolutely
'T won't," she promised. "You may go; I'm not
afraid." She tried to talk bravely, but her voice had a
suspicious quaver. As he stepped away she reached out
toward him, as if to hold him, but becoming conscious of
her action, drew back her hands. In the darkness he did
not notice her pitiful helplessness and dependence on him.
"You're sure you won't be too badly frightened?" he
Grace longed to reach out and hold him, to say to
him that he must not leave her, that wherever he went
she must go too. She was afraid, horribly afraid. The
night was so dark and the gloom gathered so thickly
under the mangroves and in the brush. Her imagination
peopled it with a thousand terrors : tigers stalking in the
grasses; orang-outangs, the great man-apes, watching
them from the tree-tops ; vipers underfoot and pythons on
the lower branches, and savage Dyaks stealthily crawling
through the undergrowth. As her mind conjured these
visions, the blood seemed to congeal in her veins and her
tongue refused utterance.
He took her silence for consent. With a low whisper:
"I'll be back soon," he disappeared into the cane. The
bonds that held her speechless broke, she opened her
lips with a cry to call him back. But something re-
strained her. It was the superior courage of good blood,
a heritage from a long line of ancestors who had faced
the unknown smiling and unafraid and had gone forth
to conquer it.
Motionless as a statue, every muscle tense, every nerve
aquiver, and every sense alert to catch the slightest sound,
she stood under the overhanging branches of the tree in
whose shade the man had left her. Her heart was beat-
ing like a trip-hammer — it must be audible for rods, she
thought — and she tried frantically to still its tumultuous
pulsations by pressing both hands against her breast.
THE HUT IN THE JUNGLE 87
The minutes dragged along. Hours they seemed to
her. All the myriad sounds of a tropic night : the gentle
lap-lap of the wavelets on the shore of the lagoon; the
scurrying rodents over the dry carpet of leaves ; the gentle
heaving of the huge fronds of the coco-palms as the
breeze stirred them; the calls of the night-birds and the
occasional whirr of their wings, as some frightened feath-
ered creature plunged into a thicket for concealment ; and
the monotonous rasping of the crickets, were indelibly
impressed upon her memory. A gust of cool, damp land-
air swept over her and she shivered. It made her con-
scious that her clothing was dripping wet. She picked
up her dress fold by fold and wrung out the moisture.
That done, she bethought herself of the water in her
slippers. It made a queer, gurgling sound each time she
removed her weight from one foot and placed it on the
other. It occurred to her that this might betray her to
some prowling savage, so she carefully removed her
footgear, one at a time, and poured out the water.
These tasks allayed her fears somewhat and made her
less tense. Her eyes, too, began to become accustomed
to the gloom. Or perhaps it was due to the fact that the
clouds overhead were thinning, permitting the starlight
to seep through and cast a vague and uncertain illumina-
tion on the waters of the lagoon. Her senses were no
less alert, but she no longer started at every sound. Some
of the sounds became intelligible. When a small rodent
scampered by she stood quite still and made no outcry,
knowing it was not a snake.
As the minutes passed and her companion and guide
did not return, she began to peer anxiously into the
shades. Surely it was time for him to be back, she told
herself. He had promised to be back in a few minutes.
Nearly a half hour must have passed since he left her.
She regretted the loss of her wrist-watch ; it was one of
the encumbrances she had removed while in the water.
As time continued to pass, her anxiety swelled to
alarm. Something might have happened, she argued. He
had mentioned a swamp — could he have become mired
in the bog? A spasm of fear contracted her heart, not
SS THE YELLOW SPmER
for herself, but for him. It would be so terrible a death,
alone in the darkness, with none to aid. Should she
search for him? He had told her to wait. If she left
they might lose each other in the darkness. But what
if he were perishing?
Torn between these conflicting fears, she stepped in
the direction he had gone, and then stepped back. She
£ long^ to call. But he had expressly prohibited. It
might bring a horde of savages down upon them.
She was not permitted to decide. In the distance she
suddenly heard a quavering cry — a, cry like that of a
child in mortal distress. Nearer and nearer it came, rush-
ing toward her with incredible swiftness. It swelled to
the shriek of a person in mortal agony. She thrust an
arm over her face and sank to the ground, feeling that
the end had come.
A strong hand clasped her arm and assisted her to her
"Don't be frightened. Miss Coston," a low voice whis-
pered in her ear.
She grasped him convulsively, sinking into his arms.
"What was it?" she gasped.
He chuckled. "The noisiest chap in all Borneo. A
little beetle about the size of your fingernail. He's like
some men I know, all voice and nothing else."
She tried to laugh bravely, but her best effort was an
hysterical giggle. Unstrung by this climax to a night's
experiences that would have overcome the average
woman, she had no strength to go on. She leaned weakly
upon him, her slender, graceful form resting in his arms,
her fair face, beautiful beyond compare in the silver star-
light, turned up to his, her bosom heaving tumultuously.
In that moment she was all his, as helpless as a babe,
and he knew it.
It was a temptation surely; the tremulous lips, smil-
ing faintly, ready for kissing; the frail, warm body that
lay unresistingly in his arms. Perhaps his breath came a
little more quickly, and perhaps his heart kept the same
mad time with hers, but he held her without a contraction
THE HUT m THE JUNGLE 89
of the muscles, quite as impersonally as one holds a
fragile, precious bit of porcelain. When the tide of blood
resumed its course through her veins he released her
gently and said :
"If you feel strong enough. Miss Coston, we'll walk
to the hut I mentioned. It's only a short distance away."
"I'm fully able," she hastened to reply. "Wasn't it
foolish of me to become so frightened at a beetle?" There
was a plaintive note in her voice, like that of a child
"Not at all," he assured her earnestly. "I've seen
soldiers on guard duty turn pale and shake like a Bajau's
hut in flood-time on establishing their first acquaintance-
ship with Mynheer Beetle. You were quite brave. I
was horribly afraid that you might have run away or
done something equally reckless."
"I almost did," she confessed.
"Because something frightened you?"
"No," she negatived. "Because — " She paused, acutely
conscious that she could not tell him the reason.
"Because why?" he urged.
"Just because," she replied.
"A woman's reason."
"And therefore sufficient, I hope." Her eyes twinkled
maliciously. It was quite safe to flirt this way despite
the darkness— for this was a strange and most remark-
ably modest young man. He had not even tried to hold
her more tightly than conventions would permit a few
moments hence when she rested in his arms.
"I presume I must accept it as such — for the present,"
Grace did not answer. She wondered what he meant
by the phrase "for the present."
"Let us hurry," she suggested, "it is growing colder."
He parted the cane. They skirted the rim of a swampy
depression. From the sounds below Grace surmised that
it was full of animal life, and she accordingly remained
close to him. Delicious shivers of fear ran up and down
her spine, yet she walked along resolutely. They plunged
40 THE YELLOW SPmER
into another thicket. The undergrowth was much
heavier here, and he had to lift the overhanging creepers
to enable her to pass. The path suddenly ran into a little
clearing. In the center of it loomed the black, irregular
rectangle of a small hut elevated on posts.
"The house I spoke of," the man explained simply. He
walked across the clearing and opened the door, per-
mitting Grace to precede him into the dwelling. Then he
closed the door.
They were in absolute darkness. She could hear his
labored breathing, for his exertions had begun to tell on
him. She could hear him hover about her, a few steps
in one direction and then a few steps in another. He
was apparently looking for something. A nameless fear
came upon her. She had not felt this fear in the forest,
but here in this abysmal darkness, with these four walls
around them, the presence of a man afflicted her with a
sort of nausea, a blind, sickening terror. He was near her
now, almost touching her. Her breath came fast. She
felt as if she must shriek, but held back the cry, biting her
lips. Silently stepping back a pace she reached out her
arms as if to ward him off.
A match flashed. In the brilliant light she saw him
blinking at her. Gradually his gaze steadied. She saw
his merry, almost boyish smile give way to a look of
amazement. His face flamed red and his lips closed
grimly into a thin white line. Without a word he crossed
the room, took a pan containing grease and a wick from
a crude cupboard, and lighted the cotton. He placed
this on a rough table in the center of the room.
*T couldn't find the matches," he announced gruffly, as
if in explanation. "I didn't dare leave a light in the
house when I was here before, for fear some prowling
Dyak might see it when we opened the door."
The red flamed in her cheeks also. It was the token
of her humiliation. She realized how grossly she had
wronged him, and how cruelly her suspicion had cut.
She should have trusted him, for she knew that he was
worthy of that trust. But she could find no word to
THE HUT IN THE JUNGLE 41
assuage the pain of his hurt, and stood convicted by
her very silence.
He pulled a huge slab of hollowed-out stone from be-
neath the cupboard. Pouring some oil into this and in-
serting several wicks, he started a blaze that threw out
"You'll be able to dry your clothing by this fire," he
announced in a tone coldly impersonal. "It will be well
for you to get such a rest as you can to-night, for we
have a long journey to make to-morrow." He indicated
a cot on the side of the room.
He looked around to satisfy himself that ever3rthing
was satisfactory within. Then he stepped to the door.
At the threshold he paused.
"You can bar the door after I'm out with these bam-
boos," he declared, pointing to several stout sticks that
stood against the wall. "If you need me, call. I won't
be far away."
She looked at him steadily. There was a color in her
cheeks that did not wholly originate from the warmth
of the fire.
"How are you going to dry your clothing?" she asked.
He shrugged his shoulders. "A wetting or two makes
no difference to a sailor," he replied indifferently.
"The night is damp," she replied. "There is malaria in
these jungles. I cannot let you risk your health in this
"I can walk myself dry In an hour," he declared coldly.
"Nonsense!" she replied spiritedly. "There is no need
of that. You are in as great need of rest as I am."
Her glance swept the room uncertainly and fell upon
a broad strip of bamboo matting rolled in a, comer.
"We can divide this room in two by using this matting
as a screen," she declared, unrolling it to examine it. "See,
it is in good condition. Will you help me put it up ?"
His eyes rested upon hers in stem inquiry. She met
them tranquilly and frankly. Only her cheeks gave testi-
mony of the rapid pulsing of her heart.
"If you prefer it," he replied noncomittally. Twisting
42 THE YELLOW SPmER
a length of rattan he bound the matting to the bamboo
"We'll place the light here," she declared, calmly indi-
cating where she desired it. "If you'll move the table,
He did as bidden.
"Before we retire," she announced, "there are a few:
questions I desire to ask."
THE man smiled at her whimsically. He wore a
pathetic air of dutiful submission. Tall and of fine
physique, he was a magnificent specimen of man-
hood — six feet three, at least, and admirably propor-
tioned. Grace decided he had difficulty in assuming a
pose of humility. His strong, masterful chin, his steel-
gray eyes, gleaming beneath bushy eyebrows, and the
ridge of his finely chiseled nose declared more eloquently
than words that he was a man accustomed to command.
"I'm ready to answer any question that you may ask,"
he declared humbly.
"In the first place, what of Vincent and Violet ? What
fate has overtaken them?"
Reassured by her rescuer that Ah Sing would hold
but not kill them, she went on :
"In the next place, you might introduce yourself. You
appear to have the advantage in knowing my name."
Her eyes lifted in time to catch his amused smile.
"My name was not included in the passenger list for
reasons of state," he replied. "It is Peter Gross."
He looked at her curiously, as though wondering what
effect his admission might have. The comers of her
mouth twitched a trifle, but otherwise she gave no sign.
"I am very happy to make your acquaintanceship. Myn-
heer Gross," she replied with mock demureness.
His brow corrugated with a puzzled expression.
"You didn't realize that I had guessed who you were,
Mr. Gross ?" she inquired ro^guishly.
"I was under that impression," he replied. "Who told
She shrugged her shoulders. "Intuition, I suppose,"
44 THE YELLOW SPIDER
she declared. "Mr. Bright described you to me. He
mentioned your stature in particular. There are not
many men in these parts that answer his description."
"My Brobdingnagian proportions!" Peter Gross ex-
claimed in mock dismay. "They are always betraying
me. Does John Bright suspect also ?"
"You heard what he said," she replied. "You were on
the bridge." Her tone was wholly noncommittal, but
there was no mistaking the implication. He was suspected
"Yes, I heard," he acknowledged frankly. "It was em-
barrassing to be forced to listen to such highly flattering
remarks concerning oneself, as Mr. Bright made, but un-
fortunately there was no way out of it. I was taking the
captain's trick on the bridge and could not leave until
he returned. You mustn't pay any attention to what Mr.
Bright said, however. I assure you that I am very ordi-
"That explains it," Grace remarked with relief. "You
know, I was quite sure, even before that, that you were
Peter Gross. You carried yourself so like a sailor, and
any one could see from the manner of the officers of the
packet toward you that you were a person of distinction.
But I couldn't understand why you remained on the
bridge when we were discussing you."
"I came on board under an assumed name, as a trader
who had but recently come to the Sundas," Peter Gross
explained. "The governor-general deemed it advisable,
for certain reasons I am not at liberty to disclose. Of
course the crew knew — ^most of them are personal ac-
quaintances. They were warned to keep silence. But I
am a difficult subject for disguise.'
his 4pnduct/«rhich she had been unable to understand,
now explained, and she felt thoroughly at her ease
Gx3f^e looked relieved. The one unpleasant feature of
him. He responded to her merry laughter with a
smile and a steady glance that indicated his readiness to
submit to her further inquisition.
Her face asstuned a more serious expression. There
was a note of anxiety in her voice as she asked :
"While we were out there, in the sea, you remarked
that other lives than ours depended on our getting safely
to shore. What did you mean by that statement ?"
She waited breathlessly upon his reply. He smiled re-
"I meant that we may be able to help those who sur-
vive on the Zuyder Zee," he declared.
"Is there a chance?" she asked eagerly.
"Every chance in the world," he assured — ^"particularly
for your friends. I left them in their cabins with the
doors locked and bolted. I saw to that myself. That is
why Mr. Brady did not come to your assistance."
"But why — " she asked, puzzled. Her brow contracted
with a frown.
"You mustn't censure him or me," he declared. "I as-
sure you I acted for the best. In fact I did the only
thing that offered a possible chance for us all to escape.
The pirates will harm no one who does not resist them.
They will take those who are left on the ship captive,
but will do them no harm. If I had permitted Mr. Brady
to come to your aid he might have done any number of
foolish things and gotten his skull split as a consequence.
He could not possibly have swum to shore, for I recollect
hearing him remark that he was an indifferent swimmer.
So I bundled him into his stateroom and locked him in."
Peter Gross smiled whimsically. "He put up an awful
fight, to be sure, but he wasn't quite big enough. These
huge bones with which nature has endowed me are some-
Grace could conceive the picture of the elegant and
slightly built Brady in the hands of such a one as Peter
Gross. She did not question the resident's statement that
Vincent had fought — she knew he had plenty of courage
— but in dealing with Peter Gross he was ai helpless as a
terrier against a mastiff. It was a comfcflfting thought,
nevertheless, that he had made an effort to reach her.
His absence during those harrowing moments when the
pirates were acquiring possession of the Zuyder Zee
had given her many a fierce and silent pang during the
hours that had followed. She knew his innate chivalry.
46 THE YELLOW SPIDER
she knew that he would not desert Violet with danger
threatening, but she knew, too, the latter's wiles and
Violet Coston, she was aware, was one of that unfor-
tunate t3^e of women that demands adulation from every
male who comes within the range of her eyes, in whom
the desire for conquest never palls, and whose inordinate
selfishness makes no allowance for the claims of any
living creature, not even those bound to her by the closest
ties of relationship. It was as natural for her to play the
coquette with Vincent Brady as for a rose to open its
petals to the sun. She had done it every hour of their
leisurely voyage around the world. Vincent's betrothal
to her stepdaughter was no obstacle to the accomplish-
ment of her desire.
Serene in her confidence in Vincent's loyalty and his
love for her, Grace had watched her stepmother's petty
artifices with supreme indifference and occasional
amusement. Of late, however, she was beginning to fear
that Violet Coston's clever campaign was bearing fruit.
There are few men able to withstand the continuous as-
sault of a beautiful woman's blandishments.
Grace's thoughts recurred to the present outstanding
fact — ^Vincent and Violet prisoners of the Malay pirates.
The lines of anxiety formed once more on her smooth,
"Why are you so positive that the pirates will do no
harm to those who do not resist?" she asked.
*To explain that," he replied, "I must tell you a matter
that, up to this time, has been held confidential by the
colonial office. I must therefore caution you to say noth-
ing of this when we reach Bulungan. I have just come
from Batavia. I was called there to a conference by the
gouverneur-general His excellency, De Jonkeer Adriaan
Adriaanszoon Van Schouten. It was in regard to this
Dordrechter affair which Mr. Bright related to you."
"Yes ?" she inquired.
"It is true that the Dordrechter was captured by pi-
xates. I presume they took it in much the same manner
* that they surprised us. It is a clever stratagem, and
worthy of so astute and cunning a leader as Ah Sing.
He is a dangerous man, the most dangerous man in the
"Contrary to his previous policy, Ah Sing did not
butcher his prisoners when he took tiie Dordrechter. He
killed those who resisted and took the rest captive. He
has hidden them in one of his strongholds, some rendez-
vous along this coast, whose whereabouts we do not know
as yet. He demands a ransom for them, a large sum of
money. He asks ransom, both from the government and
from the relatives of those whom he has taken."
Will the ransom be paid ?" Grace asked.
That is a state secret which I am unable to disclose,*'
Peter Gross replied gravely.
"I beg your pardon !" Grace flushed. "You feel sure,
however, that those on board the Zuyder Zee will be
treated in the same manner?"
"I am positive."
Grace thought of the hideous painted face that met
hers at the rail of the vessel as she was about to spring
overboard, and she shuddered. Vincent might be safe,
but what of Violet, fragile, tender Violet, accustomed to
every luxury ? What would happen to her in the hands
of these savages, and worse than savages — creatures who
acknowledged no restraint on their bestial passions save
superior force ? The horror of it numbed her. Of course,
Vincent would fight to defend Violet. He was no cow-
ard. But Peter Gross's assurance was a pitifully slen-
der reed upon which to build hope for the life and safety
of those she loved.
The resident looked at her ifixedly. He saw her tense
and drawn features and the white line of her lips, and
he read her thoughts.
"Miss Coston, what I have told you may not appear
very convincing," he stated gravely. "But there is one
fact that you must consider. Your friends are not in the
hands of Dyak, Bajau, or Malay piratfcs. They are in
Ah Sing's hands. The Chinaman, I grant, is cruel and
ruthless, devoid of all moral sense, and a veritable fiend
in human form. He is almost all the evil that men say
48 THE YELLOW SPmER
of him. But his vice is avarice. For the sake of gold he
will do an)rthing. Place the fairest woman in the world
beside a stack of gold pieces, and let him choose, and
he will select the gold instantly.
"Furthermore, his will is absolute law to these sav-
ages. They would sooner think of cutting their own
throats than of disobeying him. They fear him with a
fear that is more than mortal. They know that his ven-
geance never ceases, and follows those who have opposed
him to the farthest ends of the earth.'' Peter Gross
smiled. "In fact," he declared, "I think I owe much of
my own wholly unwarranted reputation among the na-
tives largely to the fact that I have thus far successfully
escaped his solicitous efforts to put me under the sod."
"Ah !" It was a sigh of relief. "You feel certain that
he will hold Mrs. Coston and Mr. Brady for ransom?
We will pay anything within reason. I will cable our
bankers as soon as we reach a cable station."
"I trust you will be glided by me in this matter. Miss
Coston," Peter Gross requested.
"Do you think we should refuse to pay the ransom?"
Grace asked anxiously.
"We can decide that question better when a demand for
ransom is made upon us," Peter Gross evaded. He smiled.
"We are hardly out of the woods ourselves as yet."
"I shall surely consult you, Mr. Gross," Grace replied
demurely. "I'm sure you wouldn't permit me to do any-
thing rash." A roguish twinkle lit her eyes.
Peter Gross's features remained inscrutable.
"Thank you. Miss Coston," he replied gravely.
"The inquisition is over for to-night," she said. "Good
Grace retired to dream dreams of a young giant who
was having a dreadfully serious time offering chairs to
young ladies and getting out of their sight before they
had an opportunity of thanking him.
The Garrison at Fort Wilhelmina
PATRICK ROUSE, secretary to his excellency, Mjrn-
heer Peter Gross, resident, came to Bulungan with
no misguided notions on the nature and disposition
of its brown-skinned inhabitants. After living there two
years he had less — which may sound Irish but is the
Two years had wrought a marvelous change in the ir-
responsible, fiery shocked and fiery tempered youth who
had accompanied Peter Gross on the latter's mission of
pacification. The imminence of death, and the constant
contact with savages who were conquered but not sub-
dued, had sobered him. His merry blue eyes held a
knowledge and keen perception they had not possessed be-
fore. He had not gained weight, the work had been too
hard for that, but a certain plumpness of youth that he
had brought with him from Java had been replaced by the
rough corrugations of steel-cord muscles. In short, re-
sponsibility had made a man of Paddy.
His particular function was the reduction of verbose
reports of the Dutch controlleurs, as well as those of the
various native potentates, kjais, rajas, datus, gustis, and
dessa headman to their small content of fact. It goes
without saying that his mill ground more chaff than
The controlleurs under the new regime were faithful
clerks, whatever their other deficiencies. They turned in
accounts of their monthly activities which vied in length
and prolixity with the Congressional Record, As speci-
mens of the leisurely style of Dutch writing they were un-
excelled. But to an exuberant young man of twenty-one,
50 THE YELLOW SPmER
whose thoughts ran on potting tigers and crocodiles, they
were a nightmare and a torture.
The volume of petitions and protests from the native
chieftains was appalling. When civilization came to Bu-
lungan a far-sighted raja conceived the idea of hiring a
stranded Dutchman to act as his clerk. His example
was promptly imitated by the lesser dignitaries. A kjai
without an orang bland, a grand vizier, became as un-
common as a kjai without breeches. To the credit of
these poor derelicts it must be said that they went to work
with the indefatigable industry characteristic of the race,
and kept the civil authorities busy replying to their cor-
On the morning Peter Gross was expected to return to
Bulungan, Paddy was hopelessly mired in a lengthy
epistle from the Raja of Pah Patang, whose domains had
been invaded by rattan-hunters from the neighboring
principality of Kutei. The raja did not complain par-
ticularly about the theft of his rattan — ^he had his own
methods of securing redress. But he did protest in
language prolix that revealed no small measure of irri-
tation fiiat the thieves had crossed the small stream which
marked the boundaries of his domain without making
the customary gift to the hantu token, the guardian spirit
of its waters. As a consequence, the raja alleged, the
spirits had been offended and had sent a visitation upon
him in the shape of a big bull crocodile which had eaten
up his favorite wife.
Paddy read thus far and laid the letter aside with a
tired sigh. Digging into the mass of correspondence
that blanketed tide old, quaintly carved rosewood desk, he
located a silver gong which he struck sharply with the
heel of his hand. As the silvery accents tinkled through
the building he leaned back in his chair and gazed at the
portrait of a fierce old gentleman in doublet and hose,
with a thin, pinched face and sharply pointed Vandyke
beard, who frowned down upon him.
"We think we're colonizers," he remarked, addressing
the portrait. "But after all, we've got to take our hats off
to you. You came into this country when it was abso-
THE GARRISON AT FORT WILHELMINA 51
lutely raw, and you built an empire. I'm beginning to
think that, after all, your system is right: One white
life is worth a thousand native."
A finely formed Malay lad, whose face was stamped
with the fierce pride of his race, glided within.
"I want you to run over to the fort with a message for
Captain Carver, Ali," Paddy announced.
*'Als je blieft, mynheer,'* the lad remarked deprecat-
ingly, "Captain Carver is not yet here. The soldiers have
been on the march. I hear them coming now."
The tramp of military feet was borne faintly along the
silent air and floated into the darkened room through
the blinds. Paddy rose from his chair and stepped to Ae
They were coming — ^the army of Bulungan. Twenty-
three white men, soldiers of fortune, twenty-three of the
tiny army Peter Gross had taken with him when he left
Java to conquer Bulungan by righteousness and fair
dealing. Twenty-three to win an empire. Cortez and his
conquistadores had not set out on a more fantastic enter-
prise. Yet the miracle had been achieved.
The crunch of their feet on the coral-shell highway
that wound upward from the level tableland of the plein
to the elevation on which the fort stood came clearly now
to Paddy's ears. They were marching slowly and
wearily, like men utterly exhausted. As he looked out
beween the trees and the heavy shrubbery of the gardens
for a glimpse of the column, the terrific glare of the near-
zenith sun blinded him for a moment. A gust of hot,
dusty air beat his face. He felt a sense of suffocation
and unconsciously loosened his collar.
A screen of matonia palms with nipahs between, and
a hedge of tall-growing rhododendrons beyond, along the
border of the highway, shut off Paddy's view of the ap-
proaching troops. It was not until they were nearly op-
posite the house that he caught a fair glimpse of them.
They were toiling doggedly along, their faces streaked
with perspiration and glowing like hot coals. Some of
them winced as their blistered feet came in contact with
the scorching highway. They had marched twenty miles
5^ THE YELLOW SPmER
that morning under a Bomean sun with scarcely a breath
of air stirring — an achievement that would have killed
any unacclimated troops. Their faces bore the look
of men who had suffered and knew how to suffer with-
out flinching. Paddy's heart bled for them.
"Damn Carver!" he exploded. "There's no limit to
what he asks of a man."
A company of Javanese colonials in gray uniforms — a
hundred strong— marched back of the white men. It
was evident that they, too, were near the limit of their
powers, although a tropic origin gave them greater
powers of resistance.
Paddy watched the column round the curve in the road
and proceed to the fort, a quarter of a mile distant. His
eyes turned toward the bleak drill-ground or plein,
northwest of the residency building, lying drab and ver-
dureless under the sun's pitiless glare. Here and there a
lone tamarind threw a bit of grateful shade.
A bit of errant breeze romped in from Bulungan bay
and scurried across the expanse. It lifted a great cloud
of orange-brown dust thick as a fog. As the breeze died
away the dust settled slowly back upon the parched plein
that blinked placatingly at the offended heavens.
"It's hell !" Paddy exclaimed bitterly. "If it wasn't for
Peter Gross I'd leave this damned country in a minute."
"Don't you owe hell an apology?" a dry voice asked.
Paddy turned swiftly.
"I beg your pardon, captain !" he remarked stifHy. "I
didn't notice you come in.
Captain Carver sank wearily into a broad-seated rocker
of bamboo and rattan. His features were gaunt to ascet-
icism. His cheeks burned hectically under their coat of
tan. The tired look, habitual to white men who are fight-
ing a losing fight with jungle fever, was in his eyes. But
his thin, firm chin and compressed white lips bespoke an
indomitable will and an unconquerable spirit that yielded
to no odds.
"Your boy informed me as we were going by that you
wished to see me," he explained.
The captain's exhausted appearance caused a certain
THE GAKRISON AT PORT WILHELMINA 53
relenting in Paddy's heart. "You'll want some refresh-
ment," he observed. He reached for the gong.
"No, thanks — ^not just now." The captain's gesture
A wisp of vagrant breeze, scented with the salts of
ocean and the sweet smells of Celebes sandalwood, drifted
in through the open blinds and rustled the hangings.
Captain Carver mopped his brow and breathed deeply.
"You're a lucky dog, Paddy !" he exclaimed enviously.
"This is the coolest spot in Bulungan."
Paddy grunted non-committally.
"Been busy this morning?" Carver asked, glancing at
the rosewood desk cluttered with papers.
"Passably," Paddy replied curtly.
"Nothing in particular."
Captain Carver glanced at him quizzically. The lad
was evidently in a surly mood. Something was wrong,
for Paddy was the last man in the world to carry a
grouch — in fact he was the life of the camp. Captain
Carver knew him too well to ask questions, for Paddy
had a quick temper and resented intrusion into his private
affairs. Given time, however, he generally relieved his
mind. The captain wisely, therefore, attempted to divert
"You haven't heard whether Koyala has come in from
the mountains?" he asked.
"I haven't. Have you heard anything?" The lad's
tone indicated awakening interest.
Captain Carver shook his head. His gaze wandered
through the open window and thoughtfully surveyed the
"It's a month since she's been here," he observed. "I
don't like it — ^under present conditions."
"Peter Qross is away to Batavia," Paddy remarked.
"I don't recall that she's ever cut us dead before when
he was absent," Carver rebuked.
"She's probably priestessing up in the hills," Paddy
replied with the air of one to whom the subject is not of
54 THE YELLOW SPIDER
Carver brushed a hand over his fevered brow. "I wish
she were here," he ejaculated fervently.
"Are the bruinevels kicking up ?" Paddy inquired with
sudden access of interest.
"Everything's quiet so far. But to-morrow's pasar day.
We'll have the rifFraif of the whole residency here, and
all the scum of the five seas. I'd feel safer if she were
here to keep us advised.'*
"Peter Gross will be back to-morrow," Paddy replied*.
"He's coming on the Zuyder Zee.''
"I hope to Heaven he is !" Carver exclaimed fervently.^
"I don't," Paddy acknowledged frankly. "Things are
in the deuce of a mess with me. I've got stuff here that
will keep me going for a week steady. These datos and
rajas and their confounded Dutch clerks are getting into
more squabbles every day. They've asked me for enough
improvements to bankrupt the whole Dutch government
I'm tempted to bum the whole batch of litter."
A look of concern came upon the commander's fea-
tures. "Don't let tiger and rhinoceros-hunting interfere
too much with business, Paddy," he suggested gently.
"Some of this stuff appears trivial to us. We haven't
much sympathy with their superstitions. But indifference
to their complaints, or a careless word, can stir up a fire
that five thousand men couldn't put out."
"They had an experience two years ago that they
won't forget in a hurry," Paddy replied cock-surely.
"We're not going to have much trouble in this locality."
Captain Carver looked at Paddy with eyes that com-
bined the affection of an indulgent father who knows
only too well the shortcomings of his child, and the
sternness of the soldier.
"Paddy," he warned, "don't crow too loudly. Trouble
is a lot nearer us than either of us have imagined. Things
are stirring down below, and God knows when the light-
ning will strike! I learned a few things this morning
while we were hiking to Sibau. I wish we'd known them
weeks ago, before Peter Gross left.
"Ah Sing is back. He was at the bottom of the Dord-
rechter disappearance. He's trying to line up the Dyaks
THE GARRISON AT FORT WILHLEMINA 55
— ^and they're wavering. They hold a bitchara at the
pasar to-morrow. If they decide on war, God knows
what will become of us, for the Chinaman has artillery !"
He paused impressively and studied Paddy's face. The
lad was staring at the carpet, varying emotions flitting
over his features. He raised his head abruptly.
"Why in thunder did you take the boys to Sibau
on a day like this ?" he demanded indignantly. "They're
Carver gazed at him steadily. The outburst was typical
of the lad. It was wholly natural for him to forget the
grave, common danger in order to resent a fancied injury
to his friends. Sensing the warm heart back of it, the
captain readily forgave him. At the same time he felt
the necessity for a stem rebuke.
"Are you asking the question as the resident's secre-
tary, or purely personally?" the captain inquired softly.
Paddy's face fell. "I know I had no business speaking
that way," he admitted shamefacedly. "But it isn't right,
captain, with the mercury at a hundred and seventeen."
Captain Carver's glance strayed toward the littered
desk. Paddy saw him contemplate it and flushed
"Do you know, Paddy," the captain remarked softly,
"we've had an easy time of it the past two years. Some
of this tropic languidness is getting into our blood. We're
becoming soft. We're becoming lazy. Twenty miles a
day was nothing to us at one time. But now we're blown
if we do it. What will happen to us if we are called
upon to beat the jungle again ?"
He permitted the question to sink in. Paddy offered
no reply. His dissatisfaction found vent in the passionate
"Curse the country! I wish I'd never seen it! It's
a compound of jungle-fever and hell, and not worth one
of the good men we've buried here I"
Carver rose and caught the young man's shoulders in
his two strong hands. His glance bored deeply into the
rebellious eyes turned upward to meet his. Though his
face was stem, it was mellowed with a peculiar wistful
56 THE YELLOW SPmER
expression, for he dearly loved the hot-tempered, im-
Paddy, don't talk like that," he pleaded earnestly.
You're too young to be counting costs. There's an em-
pire here and we're winning it — ^winning it in spite of all
the powers of savagery arrayed against us. You are one
of us, Paddy — one of the handful of us that is winning
this empire. It's a narrow, rocky road with dizzy drops
on both sides, but we can't afford to look aside. We've
got to look ahead. And you're young, Paddy — ^you'll have
most of your life ahead of you when we get through con-
quering the country. Lord, what wouldn't I give to be
your age again !"
The captain's hands dropped to his side, and he turned
away with lowered head. Walking slowly toward the
window he placed his elbow on the sill and, head in
hand, gazed long and earnestly at the shimmering plein.
Paddy ran his fingers through his fiery shock of curly
red hair and blinked. He gazed at the captain with a
puzzled frown and blinked again. Carver's tremendous
earnestness had somehow dispelled his sense of injury and
exalted their joint suffering. Even though the concept
was not quite clear to him, he felt himself thrilled, and
His glance happened to fall upon the clutter of papers
littering his desk. As he gazed a grin of comprehension
overspread his features.
"Empire-builders," he snorted sotto voce, "An empire
of mud and fleas !"
Pulling his chair forward he began rummaging through
the pile of accumulated correspondence. Finding the let-
ter he wanted he began the laborious task of its transla-
tion. It was the complaint of the raja who had lost a
favorite wife to a crocodile because a neighbor's rattan-
hunters had failed to appease the guardian spirits of the
Captain Carver glanced over his shoulder at the lad
"Youth, youth," he murmured under his breath. "So
quickly fired with enthusiasm, so passionate of its ideals.
THE GARRISON AT FORT WELHLEMINA 57
The lad meant well — 2l little awkward in expressing him-
self, that's all. If I were twenty years younger — "
He sighed wistfully. His glance trailed pensively to-
ward the plein, where the heat was rising in great, shim-
mering waves. A moisture gathered in his eyes and his
lips quivered with an involuntary contraction of pain.
Clenching his fist he fought back the tears and the
secret sorrows that gave birth to them.
A shadow projected itself beyond a nearby clump of
shrubbery. The captain turned sharply and gazed in-
tently in that direction. The next moment his eyebrows
lifted and a look of pleasure illuminated his face.
"As I live, Koyala !" he exclaimed.
The Argus Pheasant's Warning
WITH a finger of warning at her lips, the priestess
of Bulungan, daughter of Leveque, the French
trader, by a Dyak wife, glided into the shadow of
the veranda and crouched there for a moment while her
eagle eyes scanned the landscape. Apparently satisfied,
she rose suddenly and darted through the door which
Captain Carver opened for her and as quickly shut. Paddy
rose jerkily and thrust back his chair, his mind too intent
on the problem before him to grasp the significance of
her dramatic entrance.
Captain Carver courteously pulled forward a rocker
and offered it to Koyala. She rewarded him with a
grateful smile and sank wearily into it. Her bosom was
heaving rhythmically from her swift flight up the hill-
side to the residency building, and her cheeks were
flushed with color. Her almost jet-black hair, luxuriant
and wavy, yet soft as torn silk, and her richly olive com-
plexion gave her a startlingly Latin appearance — in fact,
nine out of ten men would have sworn she was Spanish
"What a sensation she'd cause on the boulevards of
Paris," was the thought that came to Captain Carver.
From the depth of his heart he pitied her — a woman so
wondrously endowed with woman's most cherished gift
of beauty, yet so hopelessly cursed with the taint of mon-
Wisely versed in the caprices of this daughter of two
tempestuous races, he restrained his eagerness and waited
for her to reveal the object of her coming.
THE ARGUS PHEASANT'S WARNING 59
"May I ring for some refreshment, jonge juffrouw?"
he asked deferentially. "A liqueur, or lemonade if the
jonge juffrouw prefers ?"
Is Ali here?" Koyala inquired in a subdued voice.
*Ja, juffrouw." He nodded significantly toward the
rear of the house.
"Nothing, then," Koyala negatived. "He must not
know that I am here."
"I will get it for you, jonge juffrouw" Paddy declared,
rising smartly as he grasped the situation. Koyala smiled
her acceptance of his offer.
As he disappeared into the hall, Koyala darted for-
ward to make certain that the door was tightly closed.
After listening for a moment to his retreating footsteps,
she turned to Captain Carver.
"He will be back in a few moments," she said. "We
must talk quickly."
"What has happened?"
"Does Mynheer the Resident return to Bulungan to-
morrow on the packet ?"
"We expect him."
"O Djath! I am too late." The exclamation was a
Carver leaped out of his chair. "What do you mean,
juffrouw?" he asked in a startled voice.
"Fool that I was," she groaned. "I dallied in the hill
while the Yellow Spider spun his web. I wasted precious
hours watching the lories build their nests, and chasing
the mias in the treetops, and playing hide and seek with
the leopards. And all the time Ah Sing was sowing dis-
sension among my people and planning this awful deed."
"For God's sake, explain yourself, Koyala," Carver
Her mood changed on the instant from an abandon of
grief to a tempest of fury. The brown flood of Dyak
blood rushed to her face, her hands clenched, and venom
spat from her tongue.
"I will trap that yellow spider, Ah Sing, and rend him
limb from limb," she hissed. "I will tear out his eyes ; I
will rip open his bowels; I will throw his carcass to tiie
60 THE YELLOW SPmER
vultures. Ukong Sulung Kowang shall possess his soul
in the nethermost caverns of the sea. By the hantu
token, the spirits of the hills and running water, by
Taman Kuring, who dwells on Gunong Lumut, the mount
of the dead, I swear it."
Stretched to her full height and standing on tiptoe,
with her finger-tips meeting high above her uplifted fea-
tures, she swore her dreadful oath. Carver shrank back
appalled. Well as he knew the fiery passion of this
stormy-souled woman, he had never seen her in so awe-
some a mood as this. As she stood there, quivering in
the very intentness of her wrath, she seemed the incarna-
tion of Satanic malignancy.
It was Koyala herself who broke the tenseness of the
moment. With a quick, catlike movement she sprang
back silently to her chair and relaxed her supple body.
"He is coming," she whispered warningly.
Paddy opened the door and entered with a tray. On
it were two long-stemmed glasses in which ice clinked
melodiously against the fragile crystal. As he stepped
inside he cast a quick glance at Carver and Koyala. The
captain's expression was wholly noncommittal. Koyala
welcomed him with a bright smile. She reached forward
and took one of the glasses, relaxing again with a purr
of lazy contentment.
"Lime juice," Paddy explained, "mixed with other
fruit-juices — orange, mangosteen, jambou. Just a nip
of Hollands in it. My own invention. Great, isn't it ?"
They lifted their glasses and quaffed the liquid ex-
perimentally. Koyala nodded a happy approval which
sent Paddy into the seventh heaven of delight and drank
deeply. Carver was satisfied merely to moisten his lips.
"Couldn't make it more than two without starting All's
suspicions," Paddy explained, boyish gratification beam-
ing on his face. "Get you another ?"
"And a bit of fruit, please. I'm famished," Koyala
confessed with a musical laugh. "I made a long journey
this morning and didn't wait for breakfast."
"Lord!" Paddy exclaimed. "Why didn't I think of
that ?" He seized her glass and sped down the corridor.
THE ARGUS PHEASANT'S WARNING 61
"There is danger in drinking too much cold water,"
Captain Carver suggested wamingly.
"We of Borneo have vigorous constitutions," Koyala
replied. A telltale flush mantled her cheeks. "I do not
want the boy to know what I must tell you," she added
"So I suspected," the captain observed. "We'll have
five minutes. Tell me everything as briefly as possible."
He drew his chair forward and gazed at her earnestly.
"As you know, Ah Sing is back," she related in a low
voice. Her glance fluttered toward the open blinds. Ris-
ing quickly, she darted forward and closed them.
"What force has he ?" the captain demanded.
"At least fifty proas and tambangans. I do not know
how many men. Most of them are Malays and Bajaus,
with a few Bugis. Not many of my people have joined
them as yet, and those who have are all sea Dyaks."
"Will your people stand firm ?"
"Laath of the hill Dyaks is faithful. The Raja Wob-
anguli says nothing, but I know that he cannot be trusted.
The Kjai of Sibau, whom you visited this morning, is
one of the worst of your foes."
"The damned hypocrite!" Carver muttered under his
"I followed you to Sibau this morning to warn you,"
Koyala admitted. "This was the journey I spoke of. I
feared they might attack you in the jungle. Some of the
younger chiefs urged it, but the Raja Wobanguli said
they must wait until they heard from Ah Sing."
"He wants to get all the traders into his net to-
morrow," Carver observed grimly.
"Do nothing, I beg you," Koyala pleaded. "Do not
stir out of the fort until I give the word."
"I'll wait till I hear from you, juffrouw," Carver
agreed. "But how are we going to look after Peter
Gross and those on board the packet ? They'll be in to-
Koyala's face darkened. The olive became almost a
Dyak brown as hate implacable and lust for revenge
came into her face.
6« THE YELLOW SPIDER
"Mynheer kapitein, you will see no more of M3mheer
Gross," she replied in a hoarse, strained voice. "Ah Sing
has laid his snare; he will trap him and all on board the
"Impossible !" Carver gasped. "The Zuyder Zee carries
"But if they hear a cry of distress at night, and see a
boat floating with men aboard, will they not stop?"
Koyala asked. "And when they stop, divers will foul
their propellers, and a mass of proas will surround the
ship. Of what use will cannon be ?"
"Is that what they'll do?"
"Four hours steaming this side of Cape Kumungun,
The captain pressed both hands against his brow. The
next moment he took them away.
"Is there no chance to warn them ?" he cried. "Could
you — " He paused hopelessly.
"If I were the bird they have named me, the Argus
Pheasant, and could flit over the treetops, I could not
reach them in time," Koyala replied despairingly.
Carver rose and strode the room, his hands clasped
behind him and his chin on his breast. A rising fury
welled within him — fury at the treachery that beset his
chief, and fury at the deceit that surrounded them on
every side in this land which they had redeemed from
savagery and made to blossom like the proverbial rose.
They had made its rulers rich beyond their wildest
dreams. Yet the robber trait was so inherent in them
that they could not wait for the surer returns of ag-
riculture and commerce, but must loot and kill.
The impulse to descend like a thunderbolt on Bu-
lungan, seize Wobanguli as a hostage, and fire the town,
seized him for a moment. He sternly crushed it, for the
time had not yet come for punitive measures. They
could only watch and wait.
If Peter Gross were lost, then Bulungan was indeed
lost, for there was none who could take his place and
obtain the hold on the natives that he possessed. But a
coup now would have no effect on the fate of the resi-
THE ARGUS PHEASANTS WARNING 63
dent one way or another, for Ah Sing would sacrifice
a dozen Wobangulis to secure his coveted revenge on
Peter Gross. But Fort Wilhelmina must be held, or
the whole residency would be lost.
He turned to Koyala, decision written on his face.
"Is there anything else?" he asked.
"I have told you all," she replied.
"When is the question of peace or war to be de-
"It is practically decided now. The chiefs meet to-
morrow, after the pasar. They will wait until a swift
proa has brought news of the success of Ah Sing's at-
tack on the packet. If the Zuyder Zee is taken I know
that most of the chiefs will fall in line, hill Dyak as
well as sea Dyak. Wobanguli will commit no active act
of disloyalty until he knows that Ah Sing has made
good his coup. He has a long head and takes no
"His overcautiousness may save us the residency,"
Carver reflected. To Koyala he said :
"His Excellency, Mynheer Gross, may be taken pris-
oner. There's always the chance. If he is, you may
be able to do him some good. You have some influence
with Ah Sing. Do you know where the Chinaman's
"I may be able to find them."
"If you could save Peter Gross, you would do a great
thing for Bulungan. His life is worth more than a
thousand men to us. We'll take care of ourselves here
Koyala leaped to her feet, her cheeks glowing. Hope
dawned in her eyes, and her face was transfigured; it
held the look that a woman keeps for but one man in all
the world. Captain Carver saw it and turned away.
"I go, mynheer kapitein," Koyala announced in low,
thrilling tones. Like a page touched by the accolade,
she sprang to the window and scanned the landscape
with eager eyes that missed not the smallest detail.
"You must dme with us," Captain Carver interposed
64 THE YELLOW SPmER
"You have a long trip before you; you will become
"The feet travel swiftly when the heart is light,"
Koyala replied gayly, darting to the door. She opened
it swiftly, glided across the veranda, and disappeared
into a cluster of rhododendrons. Flitting through the
shrubbery with the swiftness of a leopard, she reached
the shelter of the hedge along the highway. Running
low and silently like a cat, she vanished behind a clump
of tamarinds. Only a few leaves stirring had marked
"Bintang Burung, the Argus Pheasant !" Captain Car-
ver exclaimed. "She's well-named; a true child of the
jungle. White in appearance and pure white in soul,
but Dyak in disposition, and Dyak in her capacity for
hate. Gad, how she can hate!"
There was a tiny flash of color in the distant jungle.
Had he not been looking for it Carver would not have
"On her way," he murmured to himself. "On her
way to Peter Gross." He stared at the tropic forest,
and his lips pressed together in a thin, white line.
"Damn you, Leveque !" he swore silently, grinding his
fist in his palm. "A thousand years in hell won't
punish you for the sin of bringing such a girl into the
world by a Dyak mother !"
The door opened discreetly, and Paddy's red head ap-
peared over a heavily loaded tray. He peered about
"Where's Koyala?" he asked.
"She's left," Carver replied quietly.
The lad's face fell. "What's the idea ?" he asked de-
jectedly. "I've made up a pippin of a rice table."
"She remembered an appointment," Carver returned.
"She left me to make her excuses."
"If that's the case, I suppose we'll have to lunch
alone," Paddy observed with a poor show of cheer-
"Thanks!" Carver replied. "I really haven't much
of an appetite. And I must be getting back to the fort/'
THE ARGUS PHEASANT'S WARNING 65
Pressing his broad-brimmed straw helmet down on
his forehead he passed through the door and walked
slowly down the lane. Paddy watched his sluggish
progress up the hillside until Carver disappeared from
"Well, what do you think of that?" he ejaculated to
the gentleman in doublet and hose who frowned down
from a frame above his desk.
In the Jungle
LAVING her hands in pure spring water that trickled
from the rocks into a natural bowl ©f pure white
' sand, Grace Coston smiled upward at Peter Gross.
The sun was about an hour high. She had just finished
scolding him for letting her sleep so soundly. With her
hair flowing freely about her shoulders, her rounded
arms glowing red under the vigorous punishment she
was giving them, and her eyes sparkling blue through
a dash of cold water into her face, she was altogether
a charming picture, Peter Gross thought. He wanted
to tell her so. The classical simile of a Naiad came
to his mind, but he instantly rejected it. She was too
splendidly vital for such a comparison. "You're my
notion of an American girl!" he exclaimed in un-
grudging admiration, and promptly experienced a sink-
ing of the heart at such a familiarity.
Somehow she did not find it so. Her eyes twinkled
"I hope you didn't run six thousand miles away from
the United States to keep out of sight of American
girls, Mr. Gross," she replied.
"I know one American girl I might run six thousand
miles to reach," he hazarded.
"La, la!" Grace exclaimed to herself under her
breath. "How our bashful swain is getting on!" To
him she said:
"What has the commissary department to say for itself
this morning, Mr. Gross? I assure you I have a pro-
From his six feet four he grinned down amiably
IN THE JUNGLE 67
upon her. It was her first opportunity to observe him
closely without the embarrassment of prying eyes. "A
big, good-natured, wholesome boy," was her verdict.
"Too good at times, if his face tells the truth."
"Come and see," he replied to her challenge.
" 'And Nathanael saith unto him, "Can there any
good thing come out of Nazareth?" Philip saith unto
him : "Come and see," ' " she quoted.
"If I remember rightly, the Israelite was treated to a
surprise," Peter Gross observed, smiling.
"He found his person and reputation well known,"
Grace replied. "I presume," she asked mischievously,
"you claim the same onmiscience?"
"To be quite truthful," Peter Gross replied evenly,
"I knew all about you long before you knew I existed.
"Mercy!" she exclaimed. "You must have been
dreadfully curious?" It was quite a delicious sensation
this — flirting on a fair summer's morning in a track-
less jungle with a handsome stranger — such an innocent
"It wasn't exactly curiosity," Peter Gross frankly con-
fessed. "The captain was in doubt whether Mr. Brady
would adopt his suggestion and stay on board at Bu-
lungan. We were speculating what steps might be nec-
essary to keep your party on the ship."
He spoke with such seriousness that Grace could not
restrain a smile of amusement. At the same time she
felt a tinge of disappointment — she had expected a
more romantic acknowledgment.
"I'm frankly starved," she announced. "Let's have
He parted the screen of jungle for her and led her to
a secluded glade. In the center, suspended from an
overhanging mangrove branch, hung a legless table
made from strips of bamboo and reeds. Neatly arranged
upon it were bananas, green coconuts, a strange fruit
which Grace did not recognize, and four small fish
Where did you find all these?" she asked. "Fish,
68 THE YELLOW SPmER
too! Surely you haven't done it all yourself?" Her
face was eloquent.
"I was up at dawn," he explained. "To one who
has lived in the jungle it is fairly simple. I caught the
fish in the lagoon with a crooked thorn and a strip
of vegetable fiber, with a fat grub for bait. The fruit
was growing near by. I made the table while the fish
She gave him a glance of mute admiration. These
were difficulties she could comprehend — and he had
conquered them. A pleasurable exaltation filled Peter
Gross; he was elated at her warm appreciation of his
"Why did you take the trouble to hang your table
in a tree?" she asked. "Why not put it on legs?"
He pointed to a wavy red line on a nearby fallen tree-
trunk. It came up from the ground on one side of the
trunk and went down on the other. It seemed to be
"Do you know what that is?" he asked.
"I don't. What is it?"
"Red ants," he declared. "If I had set the table on
legs we would have had a swarm of them on it, and
your breakfast would have disappeared long since.
These little fellows will find it even now if we give
them time enough. Shall we breakfast?"
Grace needed no further urging. The fish were ex-
cellent. Their eyes met appreciatively.
"What is this?" she asked, picking up an oval-
shaped fruit like a coconut with a green, spiny surface.
He cut it with his knife, exposing five cell$ filled
with a satin-white pulp and thrust it toward her.
She lifted a portion daintily and half doubtfully.
"Faugh!" she exclaimed, thrusting it away ere it
reached her lips. "It smells abominably."
"It's a food fit for the gods," Peter Gross declared
warmly, helping himself to a generous portion of the
thick,, creamy custardlike pulp. "This is the durian.
Miss Coston — Borneo's finest gift to the world, a fruit
m THE JUNGLE 69
unpleasant to the nostrils, but a delight to the palate.
If eaten once it is relished ever afterward."
Grace O)ston possessed to an «th degree the ines-
timable quality of gameness so highly prized in Ameri-
can womanhood. A challenge to her was like a tempt-
ing fly to an unwary trout, her ardent soul soared to
meet it. Without hesitation she took a portion of the
noisome smelling fruit and conveyed it to her mouth.
Peter Gross watched her amusedly as she masticated
with painful deliberatiion,
"It's not so bad," she announced finally. Both
"Try it again," he urged. "You'll find it delicious
now that you have established an acquaintance."
"It is really good," she declared with gusto a few
minutes later. "It has a peculiar flavor, I presume
that like many foreign edibles, one must learn to ap-
preciate it." Her voice held all the pleasure of a child
making an enjoyable discovery.
"That is the verdict of every one who has the cour-
age to distrust his nose and become acquainted with
the real merit of the durian. Miss Coston," Peter Gross
replied. "The Dyaks prize it above all other fruits.
They preserve it in jars for months during the hottest
weather, but the odor then becomes so strong that I
have never been able to eat it."
"I was under the impression that evil smells and
unpleasant tastes were nature's warning against un-
wholesome fruit," Grace observed.
"The rule is not an infallible one. Miss Coston. Na-
ture is an imp — she delights in motley and dresses her
richest treasures at times in the coarsest textures. We
must learn to know her caprices."
He rose. "And now," he added, "if you have finished
breakfast we will begin our journey."
He cut down the improvised table and concealed it in
a clump of cogon grass. The remains of their break-
fast he tossed into the reeds where the red ants would
soon dispose of them.
Fifteen minutes later they were peering carefully
70 THE YELLOW SPIDER
through a heavy screen of mangroves and palmetto
growth over the rolling expanse of the Celebes Sea.
Maghalien Island lay to the south of them, and a bold
headland projected to the north. After a lengthy scru-
tiny of the shore-line Peter Gross appeared satisfied.
He concentrated his attention upon a swift-sailing proa
about a quarter of a mile out to sea. It held ten occu-
pants, evidently natives. They were clad in the aborigine
Dyak costume: a bright colored chawat with a wicked-
looking padang thrust through the belt into a sheath
made of palm leaves. A chaplet of leaves a meter wide,
like a merry widow hat, protected their heads from the
sun. No one but the jurumuddi at the rudder was pay-
ing any attention to the navigation of the craft. The
others were lolling about in various recumbent attitudes,
smoking or chewing betel, with the exception of one who
was industriously producing a monotonous sequence of
weird and piercing sounds from his reed kaludi. The
craft was hung with streamers and paper pennants.
"On their way to Bulungan to report their capture,"
Peter Gross observed grimly under his breath.
"Couldn't we do something to help our friends?"
"The best service we can render your friends and all
those on the Zuyder Zee who survived is to make our
way to Bulungan as rapidly as possible," Peter Gross
replied. "We can do nothing alone. In fact we shall
be fortunate if we escape, for even now they may have
searching parties along the beach. You must not forget
that we were observed while swimming to the shore."
Grace sighed. "Of course you are right," she ac-
"Then if you are ready we will take the trail."
They trudged along in silence on a narrow but fairly
well defined path. After approximately a half-hour's
journey the resident turned sharply to the right into a
cluster of wild rice and cogon grass. The break in the
trail was so indistinct that Grace did not notice it until
her companion parted the reeds. A few minutes later
they found themselves in a network of creepers and
m THE JUNGLE 71
interlacing vines so thickly woven together than prog-
ress was almost impossible. Peter Gross parted these
with care and strove to make them fall back naturally
after they had passed through. It was muddy under
foot, and despite her precautions Grace twice stepped
in ooze that went over her ankles. She held her skirt
tightly to prevent it from being caught in the thorns
and briers, but her arms and face were badly scratched
and cut by the long spikes.
"Do you know," she remarked plaintively, "following
a jungle trail isn't at all what I dreamed it would be?
I've always had a passion for exploring. I've dreamed
for years of cutting my way through the jungle fast-
nesses of Borneo — always Borneo, because that seemed
to me the most absolutely primitive country on earth.
I fancied myself cutting my way through the untouched
cane with a good guide leading the way, and coming
upon wonderful orchids and marvels of nature no bot-
anist ever saw before. It was so easy — in my dreams.
I seemed to float along light as a fairy. But this
jungle is as bad as a barbed-wire fence, and I vow that
my feet weigh a ton apiece." She glanced ruefully at
her slippers encrusted with sodden mire.
Peter Gross gave a whimsical glance at his own
shoes, equally weighted with clay and swamp-soil.
"Bomean mud," he observed philosophically, "is the
most affectionate of God's creations. Vermin will leave
you under proper ministration, but the mud of Borneo
never. It clings with the gentle persistence of a chronic
borrower, it is as ineradicable as India ink, and as omni-
present as the mosquito. Were I an artist striving to
depict Borneo I should paint a colossal savage strug-
gling knee-deep in mire."
Grace laughed. "Is the entire island a swamp?" she
"There is a water-shed," Peter Gross declared. "It
lies far to the north and separates the Dutch possessions
from the British. The Token Batu, the natives call it.
It is largely volcanic, and for this reason the Dyaks
ascribe their gods and familiar spirits residence there.
7« THE YELLOW SPmER
There are few people living in the uplands. Your true
Bomean loves his mud. Swamp and jtmgle are his
Peter Gross's reference to the Token Batu caused a
chord of memory to vibrate in Grace Coston's mind.
She recollected that Mrs. Derringer had stated that
Koyala, the "Argus Pheasant," made her home in the
"I presume the uplands are very sacred places to
the Dyaks," she remarked casually. "Are there very
many temples there?"
"Some," Peter Gross acknowledged. "Several of the
most important are in that locality."
"Is this where the high priestess of the Dyaks —
what is her name? Koyala? — makes her home?"
"She has a temple there. But she lives everywhere.
The jungle is her home and you are apt to find her at
Pasir or Bulungan as at the Token Batu,"
"They say she is very beautiful," Grace remarked.
She stole a curious glance at the resident.
"That is true," Peter Gross replied candidly and quite
impersonally. "She is unfortunately one of the most
beautiful women in the East Indies. That is her great-
"I have never before heard beauty referred to as a
misfortune for a woman," Grace observed, watching her
"For a woman of her nativity it is," he replied quietly,
and with finality.
Grace perceived that further inquiry along this line
would be unwelcome. But the doubts that had risen
in her heart through Mrs. Derringer's innuendos, doubts
that had persisted in spite of Peter Gross's considerate
conduct during the past twelve hours, were wholly dis-
They trudged along in silence for a time, each busy
with his own thoughts. Crossing a tiny water-course
Peter Gross remarked:
"We are getting near the river. We must hide oiu;
trail when we reach it, for we may be followed. 1
IN THE JUNGLE 78
have no doubt that Ah Sing knew I was aboard, for he
has spies everywhere. Missing me, he will undoubtedly
institute search. He may assume I was drowned, but I
doubt it. Ah Sing does not assume when the means of
securing positive knowledge are at his command."
"Let us hurry," Grace urged.
"There is no need for haste as yet," Peter Gross re-
plied. "We must conserve our strength till we need it.
It will take them some time to pick up the trail, and
when they do, they will not maJce rapid progress. I
have left a few riddles behind us which their most ac-
complished trailers will find some difficulty in solving, I
believe. These should delay them sufficiently to en-
able us to get to Naioh's hut on the opposite bank of
the river ahead of us. Naioh is friendly and will help
After a pause Peter Gross continued whimsically :
"Ah Sing does not know how nearly he bagged a
far bigger prize than the one that is slipping out of his
fingers. His Excellency de Jonkheer Van Schouten
Governor-General of Oost-Indie, was almost a fellow
voyager with us on board the Zuyder Zee. He had
quite decided to go, but his adviser. Mynheer Sachsen,
dissuaded him. It was quite a severe disappointment to
"He is the gentleman whom people call the Kemp-
haan, is he not?" Grace inquired.
"That is almost lese majesty. Miss Coston," Peter
Gross replied, smiling. "People call him the 'Game-
cock' behind his back, but there's none who has the
temerity to speak that word in his hearing. He is a
midget of a man, but a fire-eater! One must meet him
to appreciate his quality. Few dare oppose his will.
M)mheer Sachsen, his adviser, is the only man for
whose opinion he cares a pica)rune. The military au-
thorities, who generally lord it over the civil in the col-
onies because of the frequent necessity to employ force
for the restoration of order, fear him like a pestilence
and are careful not to cross him. The Jonkheer Van
Schouten drives them like a Spanish muleteer. Gold
74 THE YELLOW SPIDER
braid and pompous manners mean nothing to him. I
know that he once tore up an order signed and sealed
by the commander-in-chief at The Hague himself. The
military clique has tried half a score times to get him
cashiered, but Van Schouten has triumphed on every oc-
casion. The government knows that no other living
individual can keep the turbulent millions of Insulinde
under control so well as he, and keep them paying their
taxes with regularity, so they swallow his eccentricities
and keep him here. Therefore do not judge him by
what gossip you may have heard. He is a mite of hu-
manity — ^but ah, what a heart and what a will he has !"
"It must be embarrassing at times to have such a
superior,*' Grace remarked.
Peter Gross, who had been engaged in stamping
down a footing of undergrowth in a swampy spot,
paused and straightened.
"Miss Coston," he replied quietly, "I learned as a
boy that there is none so high that he has no superior.
The highest have their authority from the people whom
they serve, and from God. Therefore our common lot
is to do our simple duty as it lies before us. That is
my simple philosophy of life; that is all I have tried
to do. In doing that no man ever finds cause for em-
barrassment." He returned to his work.
Grace watched his broad back thoughtfully. John
Bright's characterization of Peter Gross occurred to her
— "God's own messenger." "He was right," she whis-
pered to herself, "the man is wonderful. He sees great
truths so clearly."
She mentally contrasted the two men — ^Ah Sing, the
pirate leader, cruel, cunning, ruthless, feared the length
and breath of the archipelago, the incarnation of all the
savagery and mysticism of the Orient, and Peter Gross,
the great, simple-hearted American, who did his simple
duty daily and was content thereby. The struggle be-
tween these two was the old, old struggle of East against
West, ancient barbarism and superstition against the
newer civilization of the Atlantic shores. Who would
conquer? she asked herself. And as she asked the
m THE JUNGLE 75
question she reflected how perilously near it was to
asking whether God was in His heaven.
"Do you know, Mr. Gross," she inquired, "that Ah
Sing has sworn to have your life?"
"You have been told of the kind preparation he has
made for a portion of my remains," Peter Gross de-
clared, smiling. "He has made the same preparation
for his Excellency, the Governor-General. That is why
the Jonkheer Van Schouten, who never permits a foe
to retain the offensive, was so eager to go to Bulungan."
"Had he been with us I presume you would have
been required to save him first," Grace remarked
"I am afraid. Miss Coston, that the Jonkheer would
have been compelled to fend for himself," Peter Gross
replied gallantly. "It was a trifle to assist you to shore,
but to bring his excellency to the beach would have
taxed the endurance of a Kanaka. You swim admir-
ably, but I have it on good authority that his excellency
swims like a bar of pig-iron."
His tone changed and he continued earnestly : "But I
must not give you a wrong impression of the governor.
I assure you, he would not have retreated as long as
any one was left on the ship. You would have seen
his sword in the forefront of the melee, and I assure
you he would have done some execution, for he is re-
puted to be the best blade in Oost-Indie."
"You imply that the governor would not have left
the ship as you did, Mr. Gross," Grace exclaimed indig-
nantly. "You are unjust to yourself. You know you
left to save me. And I acted perfectly foolish in the
"Because you didn't know me and were naturally
afraid," he replied. "Of course I understood. But I
don't want you to feel that you called me from a post of
duty. I left the ship because my life is not yet my
own, but Bulungan's. I have a work here to do.
When that is done — ^perhaps, why then I may settle my
account with Ah Sing.
His jaw set grimly and he gazed pensively into the
76 THE YELLOW SPmER
jungle mazes. Grace waited silently, guessing his
thoughts. A parrakeet cried shrilly from a neighboring
tree and awoke him from his reverie. He attacked the
liana with savage energy. Conversation languished as
they continued their slow progress through the thick
As she followed in Peter Gross's footsteps, Grace,
stepping on what appeared to be firm earth covered with
a mat of tiger-grass and mangrove-leaves, found herself
sinking. She Sirew out her hand instinctively and ut-
tered a cry of dismay. Peter Gross wheeled and caught
her, arresting her fall just as she plunged knee-deep
into the treacherous quagmire.
She struggled to free herself. The bog gave way be-
neath her and the ooze rose nearly to her hips. She
looked up with a blanched face at Peter Gross.
"Don't struggle," he directed. "Hold yourself per-
fectly limp and do as I direct."
He searched carefully for solid footing, retaining
his grip upon her. Queer, gurgly noises rose from the
inky-black morass around them. To Grace they sug-
gested slimy creatures burrowing into its depths. In
imagination she experienced the horrible sensation of
leeches fastening themselves upon her. It was all she
could do to keep herself from struggling frantically to
extricate her limbs.
"If you'll lift your arms a trifle," Peter Gross sug-
gested. She did as directed and felt his strong fingers
groping for a hold under her arm-pits. They seemed
like tentacles of steel as they gripped about her shoul-
ders. His back arched as he exerted his full strength
in the effort to lift her.
A racking pain shot through her body. The treach-
erous mud, so soft and downy when she sank into it,
held her like a giant vise. Peter Gross's fingers cut like
cables. She felt as though stretched on a rack. The
strain was more than her body could bear, and a cry
of pain burst from her lips. At that moment the
morass reluctantly relinquished its grip and she felt
IN THE JUNGLE 77
herself slowly but steadily drawn upward. The mire
quaked angrily and great bubbles came to the surface.
Peter Gross's arm swung around her waist and lifted
her high above the caldron of mud. Then he carefully
deposited her on the root of a mangrove-tree.
Exhausted by the strain, Grace clung giddily to the
root. The world was whirling dizzily about her and
blackness was descending.
"Don't faint if you can help it," Peter Gross cotm-
His words were a tonic. She rallied and fought back
her weakness. Panting, she clung to the root, her
body swaying like a lily in the breeze.
He was panting, too. The blood mantled his face,
enhancing its natural ruddiness to a deep purple. He
wiped the perspiration from his brow.
"That is what I would call a close shave," he an-
"If you had not been here!" she gasped shuddering.
"But I was," he pointed out, smiling. "We're per-
fectly safe now, so why worry about spilled milk?"
Grace looked at her garments, a mass of dripping
mud. A liunp formed in her throat.
"Is there a spring anywhere near here?" she asked
Peter Gross shook his head. "I'm sorry, Miss Cos-
ton," he replied, "but you'll have to wait until we get to
the river. It lies about a half mile ahead of us, I
think — 2l forty-minutes' journey through this jungle."
"I don't know how I shall walk it," Grace declared
in anxiety, "I've lost a slipper."
"In the mire?"
"If that's the case we'll have to give it up. There's
no hope of finding it."
"I can't walk this way," Grace answered. She flushed
and confessed: "I'm afraid of snakes."
"I don't intend to let you walk," he replied firmly. "I
shall carry you."
78 THE YELLOW SPIDER
Carry me!" she exclaimed, lifting startled features.
You shall not!" There was a decided emphasis on
the negative. A bright flush mantled her cheeks and
her blue eyes sparkled rebelliously.
The suspicion of a smile lurked in both comers of
Peter Gross's mouth. His eyelids flickered with what
under other circumstances might have been suspected as
As you say," he agreed with disarming equableness.
If you prefer I can leave you here and go on to
Naioh's hut for sandals and a skin of water. It will
mean the loss of two hours' time, but it may be that
the Dyaks haven't picked up our trail as yet."
His irritating good humor provoked a dangerous spark
in her eyes. She felt that he was secretly laughing at
"Could you make the journey in two hours?" she
"In approximately that length of time."
"It would be perfectly safe here?"
Peter Gross shrugged his shoulders. "One never
knows," he observed deprecatingly. "The trail hasn't
been used in a long time, but of course a Dyak might
come prowling along. Besides, there's always the
chance of stumbling on a rhinoceros or a buffalo, or an
"I am not afraid," she declared haughtily.
He nodded with perfect understanding.
"But I detest snakes."
"There are a lot of snakes in a jungle like this," he
observed cheerfully. "Pythons; but the big fellows
don't interfere with an adult unless they are dreadfully
hungry. They like young pig better. It's the smaller
breed you have to keep a sharp eye for — the dun-colored
crawlers that look so much like a rotted branch that
you can't tell them apart."
She shuddered. He awaited her decision. When
she did not speak, he inquired meekly:
"Shall I carry you. Miss Coston ?"
IN THE JUNGLE 79
Her chin tilted defiantly. "No, thank you, Mr.
Gross," she replied sweetly. "I'll wait here until you
A flash of admiration came and vanished in Peter
Gross's eyes. He appreciated her spirit. His expres-
sion swiftly changed, however, and in a voice crisp,
curt, and commanding, he declared:
"Let's have done with this nonsense. Miss Coston. I
am going to carry you. We are wasting time here that
may be precious to those who are now prisoners in
Ah Sing's camp."
She sprang down from the mangrove-root. "You
can't carry me and cut a way through these brambles,
Mr. Gross," she retorted. "I can walk."
His reply was characteristic of the man. Ere she
realized what he purposed he had caught her into his
arms and lifted her from the ground.
"Put your arms around my neck," he directed sharply.
In meek obedience she obeyed. He glanced at her
suspiciously, fearing a trick, but she smiled demurely
back. Without a word he began tearing away with his
free hand the obstructing creepers that barred their
They proceeded in silence for some distance. She
strove to help him, although it was awkward. She
heard his breath coming faster, for the exertion was
"I am sure I can walk, Mr. Gross," she declared
"You are under orders," he returned, smiling as he
Looking upward a little later, he surprised a smile of
amusement on her features. His glance expressed in-
"I was thinking," she confessed, "what we must do
in the event we cannot find sandals at Naioh's hut.
Would you carry me all the way to Bulungan ?"
Her voice was wholly grave, but there was a hint of
roguery in her eyes.
80 THE YELLOW SPmER
"To San Francisco, if necessary," he replied gallantly.
"Mercy! Isn't that a trifle large contract?"
"I've carried a hundred and thirty pounds in my pack
along rougher trails than this."
She looked up startled. He had guessed her weight
to the ounce. She was doubtful whether she liked such
"How far are we from the river now?" she inquired
hastily to divert the conversation.
"It is only a short distance ahead," he replied. He
bent to escape the low-hanging fronds of a pandanus.
Hidden in the shade of a tree she glimpsed a bright
bit of color.
"Let me down, please," she begged ; "just a moment."
He released her, and she stepped carefully forward
a few paces, bending down to pluck the flower that had
attracted her attention.
"Isn't it beautiful!" she exclaimed ecstatically. "I've
never seen an orchid with these shades before."
"It is a new variety," Peter Gross pronounced in-
stantly, "derived from the Coelogyne."
"Do you know orchids?" she asked.
"I have a little knowledge of Bomean botany," he
"How fortunate!" she exclaimed. "I adore orchids."
They discussed the island's floral wonders until Grace,
chancing to look over a cluster of bamboo ahead of
"I see the river ahead of us!"
"Not so loudly," Peter Gross cautioned. In an un-
dertone he added : "There may be Dyaks abroad. The
rivers are Borneo's principal highways."
He made his way to the edge of the stream with ex-
treme care and glanced to the right and left. Overhead
a pair of noisy macaws were having a family jar, to the
right a colony of long-nosed apes held a chatter-bee,
and in the blue vault of heaven a green-billed gaper
darted through the empyrean. A squirrel, industriously
engaged in hoarding nuts against the rainy season.
IN THE JUNGLE 81
stopped long enough to survey the intruders with a
Peter Gross looked first up-stream and then down, his
ears alert to catch the faintest dissonance in the jungle
harmony. But there was none. Parting the reeds that
thickly lined the bank, he gazed long and earnestly
at the opposite shore, studying each clump of grasses,
each tangle of mangrove-roots, and each cluster of
screw-pine with the scrupulous and painstaking care of
the pioneer who knows that a single misstep may
mean the forfeit of life.
The river was covered with a heavy growth of water-
hyacinth. Their thick, leatherly leaves of dull green
carpeted the sluggish stream except in its very center,
where a listless current flowed. A .few of the plants
lifted up spikes bearing a pale violet-red flower.
Peter Gross withdrew his hands carefully and per-
mitted the brown reeds to come together again.
"We cannot cross here," he announced.
Grace looked at him inquiringly.
"Crocodiles," he explained succinctly. "They lurk
under the hyacinth-pads. We must strike a bit higher
up, where there is a sandy ford."
He lifted Grace again and retraced his steps a short
distance. Turning to the left, he headed up-stream. The
river evidently crooked to meet them, for a few mo-
ments later Grace perceived it gleaming through a
patch of Dacrydium conifers.
"The very place I've been looking for," Peter Gross
murmured happily. Observing the same caution as be-
fore, he stealthily crept toward the bank and studied
both reaches of the stream. Grace started nervously
when a disgruntled trogan sharply voiced his dissatis-
faction from a neighboring tree, and Peter Gross turned
to give her a warning glance. At that instant a par-
gam, gliding down the narrow avenue above the stream,
caught sight of him and shied sharply. He quickly
closed the screen of reeds and lay silent for seversd
minutes before he attempted to resume his scrutiny.
82 THE YELLOW SPIDER
"All safe," he murmured at last with satisfaction.
"There is no one on the Medara to-day. I feared we
might run into hostile tribesmen hastening to the coast,
for ill news travels rapidly in Borneo."
Holding Grace in his arms, he plunged into the
stream. As his foot touched the opposite shore a slim
brown form glided out of the reeds.
"Salaamat, master," Naioh, the Bahau, greeted.
The Jeweled Moccasin
IT was quite obvious that Naioh had been watching
them for some time, patiently waiting until they had
crossed the stream. A patch of flattened reed
showed where he had squatted, and two lengths of
sugar-cane sucked dry indicated that he had spent ten
minutes or more there. Peter Gross's brow puckered
with chagrin. His pride in his woodcraft had suffered
a severe blow. It was apparent that all his elaborate
precautions to hide his approach had been as transpar-
ent as glass to the Bahau, who must have enjoyed him-
self hugely in the silent native way at the white man's
clumsy efforts to conceal his presence. Smoothing his
features, he strove to hide his discomforture with the
grave ceremoniousness that attends the meeting of men
of rank in the Indies.
"Greetings, my blood-brother," he replied sedately to
Naioh's expression of welcome. He stooped to rub
noses with the native, this being the conventional Dyak
salute between peers. Two years before, when Bulun-
gan was rent in twain in the great civil war between the
pirates and their adherents and the Dutch government
and its loyal tribesmen, Peter Gross and Naioh had
opened veins in their respective wrists and signed a pact
in each other's blood that was to make them kinsmen
and allies forever.
"My brother is like a leopard in the jungle," Peter
Gross remarked. "He is silent till he springs."
"My brother is strong like the mias," Naioh com-
plimented in turn. "He tears trees up by their roots
when they are in his path."
"I thought I was a better woodsman than that/'
84 THE YELLOW SPmER
Peter Gross replied, laughing at his own discom-
forture. "When did you first see me, Naioh?"
"My brother forgets that the pargam fled when she
saw him," Naioh replied tactfully, avoiding a direct
Peter Gross started up the path, but Naioh blocked
"My brother has forgotten," he announced.
Peter Gross looked up with a puzzled expression. A
grave nod toward the stream reminded him of a for-
gotten duty. As one admitted to the brotherhood of the
Dyak peoples he must observe their custom of placating
with a gift the spirit of the stream whose water he had
riled. He thrust his hands into his pockets. The only
things he found which he could conveniently part with
were a coin and a kerchief. While Naioh gravely in-
canted the customary invocation to the hantu token,
he threw the coin and square of linen into the water.
"My last kerchief," he observed ruefully to Grace,
who was watching the ceremony with frank curiosity.
"Is this Naioh, the native you spoke of?" she asked.
"I presume you will introduce me presently. Will it
be sufficient if I offer my hand?"
Peter Gross perceived Grace's apprehension that she
would be called upon to rub noses with the Dyak, and
"It will not be necessary for me to introduce you,"
he replied. "The chief is a Moslem, and his religion
requires him to affect your non-existence." Naioh's
high standing as a believer was attested by the hadji-
tulband, the Mecca pilgrim's band, which he wore about
"That will be perfectly satisfactory," Grace exclaimed
Peter Gross's eyes twinkled. He perceived how an-
other of her cherished notions of romantic Borneo
had gone glimmering.
"Does the chief understand English?" Grace asked in
THE JEWELED MOCCASIN 85
"No, but he talks Dutch fluently/'
"Then we can converse safely," she remarked hap-
pily. "Do you know," she acknowledged, "he positively
frightened me. He looked at me so fiercely."
"Nonsense," Peter Gross replied, laughing away her
fears. "Naioh is a warrior and a chief; you must ex-
pect a stem reception from such as he."
Covertly, however, he stole a careful glance at the
native. There was no question but what Naioh scowled
blackly upon Grace Coston and resented her presence.
Though he affected to despise her alarm, Peter Gross
felt no little curiosity as to the source of his ally's evi-
dent hostility toward the girl.
"You spoke of a hut," Grace reminded. "Could I
have some water, please, and an opportunity to make
myself more presentable?"
"Naioh will get you water," Peter Gross replied
quickly. He spoke a few words in the Dyak tongue to
the native, whereupon Naioh glided into the cane. "The
hut is near by," the resident declared. "I will take
you to it."
He stepped toward her, but she leaped out of his
reach. "Thank you," she replied; "there are too many
opportunities for an audience here. I can walk."
The hut was only a few rods distant. It crowned a
sandy knoll, a most fortunate location, for such hillocks
are scarce in the alluvial flats that form the greater
portion of south Borneo. It was built in the conven-
tional Dyak manner, on stilts, although the need for
piles was not here so apparent, for the dwelling stood
high above the floodline. But next to floods ants are
the worst enemies of the Bomean house-builder, and
Naioh had constructed his house so that each pile rested
in an artificial pool of water — a sure barrier against
the little red pests to whom gummed sticks are only a
There were no steps, but a ladder of twisted rattan
with rungs of bamboo hung down from the door. Peter
Gross assisted Grace up the shaky contrivance. The
house was gloomy inside, and almost devoid of window-
86 THE YELLOW SPmER
lights, like most Bomean dwellings, but when her eyes
had become accustomed to the dusk Grace gave a cry
of pleasure. She had spied a table, a kerosene lamp,
and greatest prize of all, a basin and soap!
Naioh's head popped above the' level of the floor. He
was carrying two gourds of water. Peter Gross re-
lieved him of these, and then the customary greeting
between the master of the house and the male member
among his visitors had again, perforce, to be performed,
with more rubbing of noses.
"You will probably be busy for some time," Peter
Gross observed to Grace. "We won't disturb you. In
the event you want me, call. I sha'n't be farther than
He addressed a word to Naioh, who promptly leaped
down and disappeared into the cane. Peter Gross
vaulted after him. Closing the door, Grace retired to
one side of the room and began removing her outer
Naioh and the resident walked side by side to . the
margin of the stream. Neither spoke. Peter Gross's
forehead was furrowed in anxious reflection, and
Naioh was too proud and well-bred a Bomean to speak
before being spoken to. It was not until they were
squatted in a clump of palms that Peter Gross broke
"Why does the proa of my brother Naioh tarry in the
fens of his native sungel when the flags of pasar fly.
over Bulungan ?" he asked.
"It came to me by night that harm had come to my
brother on the sea," Naioh replied.
Peter Gross perceived that the Dyak chief knew
something but would not reveal it without the cus-
tomary circumlocution of his people in matters of im-
portance. Although eager to ascertain what had trans-
pired on the island since his absence, Peter Gross re-
strained himself from showing an impolite amount of
interest, and began the preamble that precedes the giving
of any information among the Sunda Islanders.
THE JEWELED MOCCASIN 87
"Mata-ari, the sun, gleamed red last night," he ob-
served. "Methinks it was he that told thee."
"The secrets of Mata-ari are hid from thy brother,"
Naioh replied mournfully.
"My brother is an offspring of Bulan, the moon, for
under her light he was conceived and bom," Peter Gross
observed. "Was it the moon, my brother, that brought
the warning of ill to me?"
"The warning of my mother, Bulan, fell upon deaf
ears, for lo! I did not hear them," Naioh responded
**Laut, the sea, roared a warning to me as I stood on
the deck of the ship that smokes," Peter Gross declared.
"Her voice is heard in the breaking of the surges."
"Far distant was I from Laut, far from the sound of
her voice," Naioh lamented, pressing his hands against
his temples to evidence his grief.
"Who has telinga (ears) like Naioh, and what se-
crets of a wagging tongue are hid from him?" Peter
Gross demanded. **His eye, mata, saw, and his ear,
telinga, heard, and swift as a bird he came to my
"The Yellow Spider, Ah Sing, spun his web and
Naioh saw it not," the Dyak cried remorsefully. "He
set the trap for my blood brother and I slept. The
night was thick over my eyes and I dreamed that Bu-
lungan was at peace, and the sumpitan broken, and the
spear-head hid, and the dessas rich in rice, and our
daughters inviolate. And as I slumbered, he came and
set his snares." His eyes kindled and he cast a glance
of admiration at Peter Gross. "But thou, O my brother,
wert too cunning for him ; thou didst not tangle thy feet
in the web he spread for thee."
His whole being expressed his lively joy and satis-
faction at the resident's escape.
"Surely it was not good fortune that caused thee to
be here when I crossed the river?" Peter Gross de-
manded, casting aside subterfuge in his eagerness to
learn how matters stool at Bulungan.
"Who is it whose eye sees what is done in the deep-
88 THE YELLOW SPmER
est jungle?" Naioh countered. "Whose ear hears the
faintest whisper from the Token Batu to Coti, from
sea to sea? To whom is the labyrinth of jungle mazes
as familiar as the windings of this river are to me ? Who
flits through them with the speed of a falling star?"
"Koyala warned you?" Peter Gross exclaimed in-
"Who but she?*' Naioh exclaimed triumphantly. "By
night the Bintang Burung came, with none but the
stars her gfuide, fearing neither the sharp-toothed tiger
that stalks by night, nor the great bulls, nor the cobras
that lurk on the trail. She came to my door and cried:
'Up with thee, Naioh, gather together thy people and
seek the city of Ah Sing to see if our White Father be
there. And if he be there bring word straight to me at
this, thy hut, that I may summon together our people
from the realms of the Sadongers to the Token Batu,
summon them in their jackets of buffalo hide and hel-
mets of cowry-shell, that we may save thy blood-brother
from the fangs of the Yellow Spider/ "
"Where is she?" Peter Gross cried, starting up im-
pulsively and looking about. His heart was warm with
gratitude toward this woman who so oft had saved his
life and residency, and who had again leaped to his aid
at the first cry of alarm.
Naioh shrugged his shoulders.
"Who am I to know the swift flight of the Argus
Pheasant ?" he asked. "She may be in Bulungan, or she
may be in Coti, or in her temple in the hills. Thou
knowest the spirits bear her on their wings."
Peter Gross smiled, knowing the Dyak superstitions
concerning their priestess's mysterious appearances and
When did she leave here?" he inquired.
The sun has scarcely traveled its own width since
she bade me farewell. She knows thou art safe. Ere
thou parted the reeds where the water hyacinths grow
she saw thee carrying thy woman." He spoke sternly
and with evident feeling.
"Damnation !"Teter Gross exclaimed. He instantly
THE JEWELED MOCCASIN 89
gfuessed the reason for Koyala's swift flight. She had as-
sumed he was bringing a wife to Bulungan. He ran his
fingers through his hair in perplexity.
"Are you sure she's gone ?" he asked. "Listen, Naioh,
this girl is no wife of mine. I have no claim on her
and I never will have. She is the promised bride of
another man. I helped her ashore when the pirates
attacked the Zuyder Zee, and we are going to Bulungan
together. The man she is going to marry was on the
packet with us and is probably a prisoner at Ah Sing's
camp. I want to rescue him for her with your help
and Koyala's, if I can."
"Why did you not say this before, blood brother?"
Naioh exclaimed feelingly. He leaped to his feet and
whistled the peculiar call of the Argus pheasant.
While Peter Gross and Naioh were reaching an un-
derstanding on the river-bank, Grace secured a change
of clothing in the form of a couple of bright-colored
shawls which she adjusted about her body, and washed
her own mud-colored garments. She was idling about
the room, examining every article in it with feminine
curiosity, when her glance fell upon a pair of mocassins
lying on a rude couch. She pounced upon them with a
low cry of pleasure, for the loss of her slipper was her
chief worry, and she was wondering how she would be
able to complete the journey to Bulungan. They were
made of antelope hide, skillfully tanned, and soft as silk
inside. It was not the excellency of the mocassins them-
selves that captivated her, however, so much as the
trimmings. A row of magnificent amethysts, every stone
of like size and weight with the others, and a perfect
gem, ran from heel to toe on each. A finer collection
of these jewels Grace had never seen.
"What beauties!" she exclaimed. "They're worth a
fortune. Naioh must be immensely rich. I wonder if
they are his daughter's?"
She examined them carefully, admiring every detail,
the texture of the leather, soft and pliable as silk but
wonderfully tough; the workmanship,' and the jewels
themselves. She noted the size.
90 THE YELLOW SPmER
"It would take Cinderella to wear these," she ob-
served to herself. "The Dyaks must have wonderfully
She thrust out her own foot and scanned it specu-
latively. It was a small foot, very small ; its daintiness
and perfect lines had always been a source of secret
pride to her. It looked large, however, for the moc-
"The leather will probably stretch some," she re-
marked to the vacant air. Glancing guiltily about, she
seated herself on the couch and thrust a foot into one
of the moccasins.
It was smaller than she had imagined. She tugged
and pulled, but her heel would not settle down into the
place made for it, for her foot was about a quarter
of an inch too long. Chagrined, she persisted, exerting
herself to the utmost and wholly oblivious to what
might be happening about her.
A creaking in the bamboo floor aroused her. She
looked up with a quick intake of breath. In the door-
way stood a slender and diminutive woman clad in a
costume of scarlet and skins. Her complexion was a
dark olive and her hair raven-black. She was looking
at Grace with coal-black eyes that glittered ominously,
and she held herself tense and quivering as the hart that
smells the hunter.
They gazed at each other in silence a moment. Grace,
after the first gasp of surprise, appraised her visitor
in a swift glance. The girl was evidently of mixed
blood, the telltale duskiness of her cheeks as well as
the sable blackness of her hair and eyes proclaimed it.
What amazed Grace, however, was her startling beauty.
Every feature was as regular as though carved by
a Praxiteles and her form superb. Grace had not a
moment's doubt as to her identity.
"I presume this is Koyala," she remarked pleasantly,
aware that the priestess knew the English tongue.
The black eyes sparkled with anger. A very flame
of hate darted from their lambent depths. The girl's
THE JEWELED MOCCASIN 01
teeth — white as the heart of a coconut — clenched tightly
between lips of scarlet red. The color in her cheeks
darkened to maroon, her nostrils quivered, and her
breath came and went in short gasps, and her whole
body quivered in the passion that obsessed her.
In the broad sash of scarlet silk which she wore about
her waist the jeweled hilt of a poniard gleamed. Her
right hand suddenly darted to it and closed upon it. It
was apparent that only a supreme effort of will kept
her from leaping forward with bared blade and striking
down the helpless girl before her.
"Remove that sandal!" she exclaimed. Each word
was like the crack of a pistol. Her voice, deep, rich,
and throaty, was stifled to a sibilant hiss in the passion
that possessed her. She glided forward to within three
paces of Grace. Her features were working spas-
modically. It was apparent that at the slightest provo-
cation she would lift the steel she clutched so des-
perately and thrust it home.
Grace shrank back appalled. She lacked the strength
to resist or even to cry out. It was as though a cobra
had suddenly lifted its venomous head and menaced her
with its fangs. Cowering, she strove with nervous fin-
gers to tear the offending sandal from her foot and
placate this creature.
In doing so she stooped over and left her shoulder
exposed. It was a terrible temptatation to Koyala. Her
eyes blazed with a hellish light, and she half drew the
dagger from its sheath. But with a powerful effort of
the will betrayed by a hissing expiration, she restrained
Her eyes freed for the moment from the hypnotic
influence of the priestess's maniacal glare, Grace col-
lected her thoughts. Her life hung by a thread, she
perceived in swift intuition. She must placate and
calm this woman; she must hold her in restraint until
Peter Gross came. Certain death was the penalty for
failure. Pulling herself together, she straightened with
the moccasins in her hands. She smoothed and folded
92 THE YELLOW SPIDER
them and tendered them to Koyala with a brave attempt
"They were so beautiful I could not resist the tempta-
tion of trying them on," she remarked in a voice that
trembled in spite of her effort to control it.
Koyala's hand darted forward as though to snatch
them away. Her fingers barely brushed them, however,
when she drew her hand back as though they were
poison. Drawing herself up to her full height, she an-
nounced haughtily and disdainfully :
"You have worn them. You may keep them."
The insult caused Grace's face to flame. Her eyes
gleamed dangerously, but prudence cautioned a careful
"I cannot accept your gift," she replied simply.
Koyala flashed a fierce look of inquiry upon her. In
a flash of feminine intuition Grace perceived the reason
for that look. Koyala suspected that her offer had been
spurned because she was of mongrel blood. She re-
turned the glance tranquilly.
With a superb gesture of disdain, Koyala shrugged
her shoulder and walked to the other side of the hut.
Grace placed the moccasins on the couch, where she
had found them. She had an uncomfortable feeling
that thus far the heathen beauty had the best of the en-
counter. At the same time she was curious what the
next move would be.
Koyala, wholly indifferent to the presence of a
stranger, delved into a quaintly shaped reed receptacle
and produced several articles from it which she placed
in a row on a settee. There was a toothbrush of pure
ivory, a comb studded with gems, a stylus for writing
messages on bark, and a business-looking revolver. The
revolver she strapped to her right limb above the knee,
where it would be covered by the short knee-length
leathern skirt she wore. These preparations complete, she
closed the reed box and straightened. Her glance fell
casually upon Grace, who had been watching her from
the other side of the room.
THE JEWELED MOCCASIN 08
"If you are Koyala," Grace observed, "do not leave
without seeing Mynheer Gross. You will find him on
A flash of angry color darted in Koyala's face. With
a furious glance at Grace she darted to the door and
swung it open. At that moment Naioh's call of the
Argus Pheasant came shrill on the silent air. Clench-
ing her teeth, Koyala, without a moment's pause, leaped
to the ground below, a drop of seven feet. While Grace
stared in wonder, she disappeared into the canebrake.
It was Koyala's intention to escape without permitting
Peter Gross to see her. Maddened by the thought that
he had preferred another woman to her, and over-
whelmed with virginal shame, she yearned to hide her-
self in the deepest depths of the jungle mazes where
no eye could see her misery and no creature could gloat
over her humiliation. But her very haste defeated her
object As she sped up the jungle trail, half-blinded by
the smarting tears that came to her eyes, her foot fouled
a sapling snare set by Naioh. She leaped aside just in
time to dodge the noose as it shot upward when the
sapling was released, but in doing so became entangled
in a nest of creepers. As she struggled to release her-
self, Peter Gross and Naioh, whose acute ears had
heard the swish of the sapling, came upon her.
Koyala's face paled and then crimsoned. The hot
blood stained her cheeks. Eyes flashing defiance
through the tears she met Peter Gross's inquiring gaze.
"You are in haste, fuffrouw," he remarked quietly,
extending his hand. "You must give me an opportunity
to thank you."
She ignored the proffered hand. Her head tilted
"I do not ask your thanks, Myriheer Gross," she re-
plied with curtness.
"I not only want to thank you — ^I want to ask your
further assistance, juffrouw," the resident announced.
"I want you to help me rescue those who are prisoners
in Ah Sing's camp. One of them is a young man who
M THE YELLOW SPmER
is to wed the maid who swam ashore with me. I want
to return her to him."
Koyala lifted startled eyes to meet the gravely ques-
tioning glance of Peter Gross. His face expressed ab-
solute candor. She knew him too well to doubt his
word. A curious glaze came over her eyes — she felt
strangely weak. Shame and humiliation at having re-
vealed her maiden soul were inextricably mingled with
a deep, fierce, exulting joy that Peter Gross was not
bound to the pink-cheeked girl she had found in Naioh's
hut, the girl whom she hated so virulently for her very
fairness of skin.
"Who is this woman you brought hither?" she de-
manded in the Dyak tongue.
"Her name is Grace Coston," Peter Gross replied
frankly. "She is an American, and was a passenger
on board the Zuyder Zee. When the pirates attacked
the ship we sprang overboard after all was lost and
swam to shore together. Her stepmother and the young
man to whom she is betrothed remained on the packet
and are probably prisoners."
Koyala did not speak. Her face was lowered and
hidden from Peter Gross, whose inches were a handi-
cap. Two great tears rolled from her eyes and stained
her cheeks. She swept them away with a passionate ges-
ture. Her whole frame trembled, and she clenched her
teeth lest she give way utterly to a burst of weeping.
These things were unobserved by Peter Gross. Wise
in most things, he was wholly ignorant of the emo-
tional gales that sweep the souls of women at appar-
ently trivial causes. Consequently, fearful that he had
offended her, he asked:
"You will help me, won't you, juffrouwT*
Dashing the tears away she cried in a hoarse, muffled
"Go to Bulungan at once. Do not waste a moment."
She whirled to face the Dyak chief. "Naioh," she
said, "take your guests in your swiftest tambangan to
the mouth of the little creek that empties a half -hour's
THE JEWELED MOCCASIN 95
journey north of Bulungan plaats. At the third hour
past sunset I will meet you at the foot of the great
banyan tree that shades the kiosk of the Datoo Maholo's
A flash of color in the cane and she was gone.
The Pasar at Bulungan
PASAR day at Bulungan. Riot of riches and color,
of pomp and nakedness, of squalor and barbaric
profusion, of ribaldry and lamentation, of smells
and sweetness, of bargaining everywhere. A din unending,
insidious, omnipresent. Pennants flying and sweating
hordes in the narrow streets; the weak trampled under-
foot and the strong fighting their way through the
throng with fist and tooth and claw. He the best mer-
chant who can create the loudest alarm. Men in their
gay panoply, fighting, dicing, gaming, and participating
in the sports; women bent double under great loads of
copra and rattan, bags of rice and coffee, pots of
djeloetong, and all the myriad products of an intensely
fertile alluvial plain blessed by tropic sun and rain.
Proud is he to-day who owns a bullock and more than
one wife. He can come to pasar in state. Before the
day is over his year's produce and a wife or two may
have changed ownership over the gaming table, but this
morning, at least, he is able to look haughtily down upon
his less fortunate neighbor who has only one hini (wife)
and no bullock, and is thus perforce required to saddle
a part of his produce on his own back.
Three stalward Bugis charge into the crowd, bellow-
ing lustily, "Make way there, make way," they cry, "for
the most noble, the most exalted, the thrice illustrious
and 'holy Abi Ben AH, wearer of the hadji-tulband by
the grace of Allah, merchant of Surabaya." Abi Ben
Ali is in Bulungan to buy copra and cinchona. His
three pilgrimages to Mecca, he knows, will attract to
him the faithful, eager to see so holy a man. Because
THE PASAR AT BULUNGAN 97
of them he will be able to buy at a ten percent discount
from the market price, for every Moslem knows he
will get credit at the gates of paradise for selling to a
true believer and Mecca pilgrim rather than to an im-
believing pig-eating Hollander.
Abi Ben Ali appreciates the value of advertising,
hence the three stalward Bugis with their rich robes —
men chosen for robustness of voice as well as for their
In the great square at the center of the town, where
the buying and selling takes place, the confusion and
din reach their apex. Men from nearly every race and
clime are there. Lean Arabians, grave, impassive, and
expressionless as their own desert sands, stalk coldly
by stately Parsees in flowing robes. Brusk, aggressive
Bugis from Celebes lord it over the other East Indians.
Bland Chinamen flit from grobak to grobak and godown
to godown, scenting bargains — there are no shrewder
The stolid, deliberate Dutchmen herd by themselves,
weighing and checking with scrupulous exactitude. The
thin, ascetic representative of a London house affects
to be bored by the whole spectacle, but quietly picks
up goods here and there which will bring a fat profit
in England. A Yankee trader with the unceremonious-
ness of his kind plows through a horde of islanders to
get a better glimpse of an attractive bunch of bird-of-
The square is ridicuously small for such a mob.
There must be at least thirty-thousand souls packed in
the enclosure. The walls of the bazaars threaten to
burst outward with the throngs that fill them. Dealers
in sweetmeats and toko-artikelen are doing a brisk busi-
ness. It is only ten o'clock by the Englishman's watch,
but already you can see drunken natives crawling under
huts to sleep off the effects of^'arrack and opium. The
women munch black cakes of maize and rice flour
smeared with molasses and admire each other's beads
and earrings, occasionally stopping to gossip about the
idiosyncrasies of their respective lords and masters.
08 THE YELLOW SPmER
Passamaquoddy, Maine, or Bulungan, a fair is a fair
the world over.
During the first half of the morning the trading
went briskly, but as the sun mounted the buying be-
came more erratic. An undercurrent of unrest flowed
through the crowd. Vague but alarming rumors sprang
up from unknown sources and ran like wildfire along
"Did you know that the orang blanda pigs have im-
posed a new tax?" the Malay copal producer whis-
pered to his neighbor. "Aye, the thieves! They will
strip us clean. Half of each man's crop must go to the
state, I am told. Bulungan will not endure it, the raja
is even now meeting with his kjais/' et cetera, in the
same vein. Another whispered significantly about
strange proas swooping by night along the coast — the
pirates were abroad again. Still another whispered of
tribal meetings in the hills by moonlight, and of the
empty skulls of departed chieftains proclaiming a holy
war. A ratlike Dyak from the interior dropped a word
about a revival of the pantang naioh — (head-hunting
expeditions). So the rumors ran, creating panic among
some, and hilarious but suppressed joy among others.
Each blast of the trumpet, as a raja of rank or a
Malay datoo with his retinue of kjais and lesser digni-
taries advanced with pomp and pageantry into the square
caused shivers to run up and down apprehensive spines.
The peacefully inclined looked up the hill toward Fort
Wilhelmina and whispered anxiously to each other:
"Where are the soldiers of the orange blanda? Why
are there none in the market place ?"
It was the custom for the administration to police
the city during pasar day, but Captain Carver, follow-
ing Koyala's warning, decided to keep his little force
intact and await evantualities at the fort. Thus, though
the Raja Wobanguli sent two deputations with politely
worded invitations to the captain to come to pasar, he
was each time met with an equally polite declination.
The market customarily continued until sunset with a
short intermission during the heat of the day when every
THE PASAR AT BULUNGAN 99
one sought refuge under shelter and slept as he was best
able. When toward noon, however, it became noticeable
that the trading was slackening, the merchants began
making hurried preparations for departure. The C3iinese,
ever alert to note signs of unrest, were the first to pack
their wares and hie to their junks.
"No use looking for trouble," the Yankee trader ob-
served to the Britisher, and rowed out to his schooner.
The Hollanders and the Arabs next returned to their
respective ships, leaving the native traders undisputed
possessors of the mart.
Closeted in his long hut with the leading chieftains of
his realm, Dyak and Malay, the Raja Wobanguli did not
hear of the general exodus until it was well advanced.
Tribesmen who had come to the market to convert their
year's labor into colored cotton, salt, and gewgaws, broke
the news to him by descending en masse upon the long
house. Frightened by the clamor at his gates, the raja
sent messengers in post-haste to the skippers of such ships
as remained in the harbor begging them to return ashore
with their goods. But the traders were wary. A hand
as small as a cloud was sufficient warning to them. They
knew the fickleness of the Dyak. So with but few excep-
tions they set their sails and fled the harbor.
While the palace guards were subduing the rioters,
the raja closeted himself in his palace, the prey of the
gloomiest reflections. His carefully laid plans had gone
wholly awry. To seize all the ships in the harbor and
their treasures, to capture Fort Wilhelmina while the
soldiery was in the city, and to enroll the vast horde of
Dyaks and Malays that came to the city for the market
into an army to defy the Dutch, was the coup he had
planned with Ah Sing. He had expected to strike im-
mediately after the rice table hour, when the city was at
rest and merchants and traders would be enjoying a
But fate had been against him. The traders had taken
alarm. Captain Carver had remained in the fort, whose
grim guns were turned on the town. The raja had a
wholesome respect for artillery — once before, in the old
100 THE YELLOW SPmER
days, he had made an undignified scamper into the jungle
to the accompaniment of whistling shells and shrapnel.
"What would Ah Sing say ?" was the question he asked
himself. He feared the Chinaman as he feared torture.
He knew Ah Sing's ruthlessness, his savage wrath at
those who miscarried his plans, and his cruel punishment.
True, he was raja of all tihe Dyaks of Bulungan, but the
Yellow Spider had the reputation of paying little atten-
tion to native titles when it came to rewarding his friends
or punishing his foes. An uneasy feeling possessed him
that there would be an unpleasant hour when Ah Sing
and he settled accounts, and he reported the miscarriage
of their joint plan.
This thought led him to see excuses for himself. First
of all he blamed Ah Sing himself. Had not the pirate
leader promised to send a swift proa with news of the
success of the attack on the Zuyder Zee? Had he not
implicitly agreed to speed the word of the capture of
Peter Gross? And here pasar day was three- fourths
gone, and still no word from the camp where the rovers
The raja struck a Chinese gong sharply. A Dyak
"Is there any sign of a proa with a yellow dragon flag
off the harbor ?" he inquired.
There is none, most illustrious !" the Dyak reported.
'Do not fail to bring me word the moment such a proa
is sighted," the raja commanded.
"Most illustrious, your wishes shall be obeyed."
The raja resumed his gloomy cogitations. He should
have struck that morning, he realized. Ah Sing had spe-
cifically directed that he must not delay. But the raja
had temporized. He had desired to be certain of the
pirate chief's success before he committed himself. The
policy he had adopted was to wait until the proa came.
But meanwhile the traders had been frightened away
and pasar day was passing with neither trading nor loot.
Should he act now, the raja asked himself. There was
still time to seize what ships were left in the harbor and
throw a cordon around the fort. That would be sufficient
THE PASAR AT BULUNGAN 101
to convince Ah Sing of his absolute loyalty. The de-
parture of the merchants could be explained satisfac-
torily, but not failure to strike.
On the other hand, the Zuyder Zee might have resisted
attack. Peter Gross might have escaped the snare set
for him. Great as was Wobanguli's fear of the China-
man, he had a greater fear of the Orang Blanda Kapala
who dwelt on the hill above Bulungan. For Peter Gross,
he knew, read the native heart as the Dyak reads a jungle
trail, and his justice was impervious to cajolery or bribe.
Tom between these conflicting opinions, dreading con-
sequences whatever he might do, the cowardly raja paced
the floor of his long house. Half decided one moment to
throw his lot openly with Ah Sing, and half decided the
next to defy the pirate leaders and put his trust in the
ultimate victory of the hated orang blanda, he did noth-
ing. It was a situation where craft and cunning did not
avail, and action was the only solution. But the raja
lacked the courage to act, fearing a misstep.
The sun was beginning to glide down the steep gra-
dient of the western sky when a pennant-decked proa
sailed into the harbor. It was flying the yellow dragon
flag. A member of the palace guard brought the news
to Wobanguli. The raja's face lit with elation, the pen-
nants could only mean one thing: Ah Sing had been
successful. Then he turned gray with fear as he re-
membered his own faithlessness to his ally. Hastily
marshaling his excuses, he directed in a quavering voice
that the palace guards be turned out to escort him to the
beach. They dashed down the narrow lane on the
double-quick, bowling over every unfortunate in their
path. Wobanguli, seated in a palanquin carried by six
sweating bearers, berated them for their sluggishness.
As they approached the wharf a haughty Malay chief-
tain stepped off the deck of the gayly decked proa. Wo-
banguli hastened forward and Siey rubbed noses. The
raja's anxiety was too great to permit him to indulge
in the customary amenities, and he asked :
"All is well, blood brother?"
"All is well," the Malay announced.
102 THE YELLOW SPIDER
'You have taken the ship and the orang blanda?"
*We have taken the ship that smokes and much
booty," the Malay announced. "There were great
riches aboard her; also many captives, whom we will
hold for a goodly ransom. The order has gone forth
that none of the orang blanda are to be killed, for there
is much wealth hidden under their skins."
"Is the Orang Blanda Kapala, Peter Gross, among
the captives?" the raja inquired anxiously.
"It is a great grief to our master, the Yellow Spider,
that the Orang Blanda Kapala preferred eternal incar-
ceration in a shark's belly to torture at the hands of Ah
Sing," the Malay reported.
'You are sure he is dead ?"
'Can even a pearl diver live in the surfs oflf Mag-
Wobanguli groaned. "The devil himself would bear
him up and bring him ashore to confound us," he ob-
served quaveringly. Anxiety and indecision were writ
on his furrowed brow, the craft that usually enabled
him to dissemble his inward quakings failed him. The
Malay looked at him first in wonder and then in disgust.
"Does your heart fail you, raja, lest Sangjang release
the kalalungan (ghost) of the orang blanda from hell
and it come to plague you ?" he sneered.
Wobanguli pulled himself together with an effort. He
was a ruler and could not afford to show fear. Draw-
ing himself to his full height he exclaimed in deep
"It is a raja's privilege, Datoo of Kotara, to consider
the blood of his people. If Peter Gross be alive, then
will much blood flow here. There are those who will
follow him, and we will have a civil war."
"Would a Dyak fight for the orang blanda against
his own kin ?" the datoo asked scornfully. *
"Aye, if Peter Gross be alive. For there is one
voice in Bulungan that the people heed more than mine,
and that is the voice of the Bintang Burung. She has
a fondness for this man. If he be in peril she may read
THE PASAR AT BULUNGAN 103
us strange messages from the hantu token and Gunong
Agong, the great fire mountain."
"I have a message concerning her from our master,"
the datoo replied.
"Should eagles soil their beaks in buzzards' nests?"
Wobanguli inquired silkily. "Behold the gaping ears
of these carrion around us." He nodded toward the
bearers. "Surely you are my guest and will abide with
me in my long house?"
Opening the door of his own palanquin he invited the
Malay to enter.
An expression of gratified vanity replaced the mock-
ing sneer on the datoo's face. His contempt for Wo-
banguli rapidly evaporated under the subtle flattery of
the distinguished honor shown him of being permitted
to ride in the royal palanquin with the raja. A Malay
was by virtue of his birth better than any Dyak that
ever breathed, he said ; still, it was not every datoo
who could sit at a raja's right hand in the streets of
Bulungan. Wobanguli perceived his guest's elation,
and a subtle smile flitted over his crafty features.
That night, as they sat at meat, the Datoo of Kotara
told with much gusto how Ah Sing's ruse had succeeded.
The datoo had drunk deeply of arrack, stimulated
thereto by the cunning raja, and his tongue was
consequently loose. Wobanguli thus learned that Ah
Sing was not wholly satisfied of his loyalty and per-
ceived that decisive action alone would restore him in
the Chinaman's good graces.
"Thou didst speak of a message from our master
concerning the Bintang Burung," he remarked unctuously
to his guest.
"The master commands that she be kept in the temple
of the hills till all Bulungan is ours," the datoo related.
"The guards shall be Malays, Atjeh and Paneh, and
Kromo of Kendangan, all of whom are here with
"The Dyaks will not tolerate that harm come to her,"
"She will be safe — ^Ah Sing covets her beauty too
104 THE YELLOW SPmER
highly to injure a hair of her head/* the datoo sneered.
Wobanguli's eyes flickered, for he had retained sufficient
pride of race to resent such an insult to a priestess of
"Why is this necessary?" he inquired suavely.
"Because that thrice-damned spawn of a crocodile,
Peter Gross, may have been warned and fled ashore
before we attacked his ship," the datoo declared heat-
Thus Wobanguli learned that his fears concerning the
resident were not wholly unfounded.
The Malay's Demand
A DIM light burned in the bachelor quarters that
Captain Carver maintained at Fort Wilhelmina.
It served to illuminate mildly a room small but
cozily furnished. There was a desk against the outside
wall and against the opposite partition a built-in daven-
port served as a divan by day and a bunk by night.
In the center was a massive dining-table of rosewood,
product of some of Borneo's finest timber. Its waxen
polish was well nigh perfect. It contributed an air of
quiet elegance that seemed quite in harmony with its
The atmosphere was heavy and oppressive. This
was due, no doubt, to the fact that the warm afternoon
air was confined in the room by heavy teakwood shut-
ters, tightly barred. Tiny rifts of breeze percolated
occasionally through a partially open door, facing a
corridor, but the circulation was barely sufficient to
make the tiny cubicle habitable. Knowing the treachery
of the Dyak and his penchant for secret night attacks
with poisoned arrows. Captain Carver had ordered every
shutter barred, and rigidly imposed upon himself the
same regulations by which he governed his subordinates.
The crisp challenge of a sentry in the corridor broke
"Friend," was the response in the cheery tones of
Paddy Rouse. "Damned if I know the countersign,
"Advance, friend, and damn the countersign," the
sentry declared gravely, whereupon both chuckled. It
was obvious that Paddy and the soldier were in a like
106 THE YELLOW SPIDER
mood — ^men who have drilled and sweltered and moped
in inaction under a Bomean sim for two years may
be pardoned an unmilitary levity at the prospect of
Paddy raised his brows in surprise as he entered.
"I beg your pardon, captain," he apologized. "I did
not know you were here."
Carver permitted himself the ghost of a smile.
"I rather assume you didn't," ht replied.
"I was in a hurry and didn't stop to inquire the coun-
tersign," Paddy explained. "May I borrow your
map of the Oolang district?"
"Certainly." The captain produced the map from his
files. "Have you heard anything from down below?"
"Not a thing. I'm afraid it's going to fizzle." There
was deep dejection in his tones.
Captain Carver's lips twisted grimly.
"Mighty hot here," Paddy observed, squinting at the
barred teakwood blinds as he rubbed the perspiration
from his brow. "Wonder if we can't have a little air
"It is contrary to regulations," Carver announced.
"What's the idea?"
"It might be hotter if a poisoned arrow dropped
through," the captain observed dryly.
Paddy sobered. The captain's grim humor put a
curb on his exuberant spirits.
"There's still no sign of the Zuyder Zee?" Carver in-
"Nothing in sight. That old hooker of the Bomeesch
Industrie Maatsdiappij is lying in the bight below us,
with a British schooner from Singapore and a Chinese
"H-m! What's their present disposition?"
"They're lying in the form of a 'U' with the junk
forming the base and the schooner and hooker the arms.
The junk is as close in to the rocks as she dare."
"Not a bad move, that," Carver commented. "The
proas are not likely to take chances in the surf."
THE MALAY'S DEMAND 107
"I don't know whether these Chinamen will fight
or not," Paddy remarked. "Sometimes those Chinks
put up an awful scrap, and sometimes they go blue funk
and scuttle like rats. If somebody mentions Ah Sing
to them they'll probably jump overboard and take
chances on the sharks."
"How about the others?"
"They'll fight. There are eight whites aboard the
schooner and an even dozen Bugi boys. They're a
tough-looking crowd. I invited them to come into the
fort, as you suggested, but they wouldn't listen. There
are fifteen Dutchmen and a bunch of Java coolies on
the hooker. Of course the coolies are no good, but the
Dutch will fight to the last ditch. They've got a three-
pounder that ought to sink a proa or two if the Dyaks
try an attack."
Captain Carver sat up with interest. "They have?"
he exclaimed. "I wasn't informed of that. I wish we
had it here."
"I invited them to join us, but they said they'd stick
by their ship."
"The Chinese, too?"
"Yes. All of them."
"And they all refused?"
Then they'll fight," Carver observed cheerfully.
Take it from me, old Wobanguli will have his
hands full tackling that crowd," Paddy declared with
"He'll attack the fort first," Carver declared. "He
won't risk his proas under our guns."
"He's got as much chance taking this stockade as a
hen has of flying to heaven," Paddy observed confi-
"Unless he has superior artillery," Captain Carver
"We're not in such bad shape when you consider our
dugouts and our own little guns," the younger man as-
serted confidently. "We're in much better shape than
two years ago. We ought to be able to hold out till the
108 THE YELLOW SPmER
Prins Lodewyk drops in; that jolly little gunboat
sure saved our hides two years ago."
Captain Carver had too high a respect for the abilities
of that master rogue. Ah Sing, to delude himself into
believing that he would venture an attack without know-
ing precisely what opposition he would meet. But these
doubts he kept strictly to himself. Meeting Paddy's
cheerful and optimistic grin with a brave smile, he said :
"They'll know they've been in a fight, my lad; they'll
know they've been in a fight."
"You're sure right they will," the youngster af-
firmed emphatically. "I only wish Peter Gross gets
here on time."
Carver's face became drawn. "Aye," he murmured
in a low voice, "we hope Peter Gross may get here on
There was a sharp challenge from the sentry out-
side. A moment's pause followed, then a buzz of con-
"What is it?" Captain Carver demanded, throwing
open the door.
"Malay from Bulungan town wants to see you, sir,"
a sergeant announced.
"Show him in," Carver directed tersely.
The sergeant stepped forward with a gayly capari-
soned warrior. His trappings showed him to be a
man of rank. He advanced slowly and with dignity
into Captain Carver's presence, his keen eyes alert.
Paddy rose and reached for the map of the Oolang
district. Captain Carver nodded in the direction of a
chair. "Sit down, Paddy," he requested. "I want you
to listen to this interview."
As Captain Carver seated himself behind the rose-
wood table the Malay stalked haughtily by the sergeant
and drew himself to his full height on the opposite side.
He was a superbly built barbarian and the ugly deface-
ments which the custom of the country decreed, rings
through his ears and nostrils, did not destroy a certain
savage nobility and handsomeness. He carried him-
self like a king, making no salaam, but addressing
THE MALAY'S DEMAND 100
Captain Carver as an equal. The captain's face was
stem, but the Malay met it with a frown as severe as
"You have a message for me?" Captain Carver asked
"I am Njam, Datoo of Teluan, lord of the marshes,
toll-keeper of tfie highways, ruler over thirteen villages
and forty dessas, by the grace of Allah of the race of
Muartabenego who came to Borneo ere the plains were
made," the Malay announced proudly.
"I don't give a damn about your name and ancestry,"
Carver replied. "What have you to say to me?"
Paddy grinned. He perceived the captain's purpose
to rouse the Malay's temper, if possible, and lead him
to make incautious revelations. Carver's speech was
justified, for the Malay's whole bearing and refusal to
salaam was a studied insult.
The Datoo Njam flushed under his swarthy tan. He
had not expected to have his incivilities matched.
"I come from the council of the rulers of Bulungan,"
he rejoined harshly. "We demand that our Orang
Blanda Kapala, Mynheer Peter Gross, meet with us."
"Twice this day have I sent word to your raja, Njam,
that Mynheer Peter Gross is not here," Carver replied
sternly. "For the third and last time I tell you, he
is not here. You may tell your raja that if he sends
another message I will assume that he doubts my word,
and act accordingly."
The Malay's lips curved scornfully.
"The council bids me say," he rejoined: "'If our
Orang Blanda Kapala be not here to meet with us, let
his servant, the Mynheer Kapitein, come.' "
"You may tell your council this," the captain replied
without a moment's hesitation: "I am a soldier; my
place is here. If the council wishes to meet with me, it
can come here."
A malignant light gleamed in the Malay's eyes.
"The night is dark and the way is long," he sneered.
"Perhaps Mynheer Kapitein loves not the darkness ?"
The big blue veins in Captain Carver's temples re-
110 THE YELLOW SPIDER
vealed how the taunt infuriated him and how nearly
he came to losing his self-control, but he gave no other
sign of his passion. His lips parted in a smile that
was too fixed to be wholly pleasant, and his keen, gray
eyes transfixed the Malay's black ones as he rose and
said in a voice of icy sweetness :
"Your herald's badge protects you, datoo. It may be
my pleasure to meet you again soon under diflFerent
Turning to the sergeant he snarled:
"Get rid of this carrion."
The Malay dfid not know English. But the captain's
tone and the sergeant's grin were sufficient to indicate
to him the general purport of the words. He turned
like a flash, eluded the sergeant's grasp, and darted out.
As he passed through the door he cast back at Carver a
glance of fiendish malignancy. Then the blackness of
night swallowed him.
"This means war," Paddy observed when they were
"If it wasn't for the innocents that would lose their
lives I'd be tempted to take a hundred men down below
and clean out that nest of vermin," Captain Carver re-
turned viciously, pacing the room. "By God, I hope
Peter Gross slips through their fingers."
Hours passed and Captain Carver retained his lonely
vig^l. The search-light was stabbing great holes in the
darkness and every fifteen minutes a report was
brought back to headquarters: "All quiet." Shortly
after midnight he strolled toward the main gate. As he
approached, he heard a slight disturbance and the
sounds of conversation. He hastened forward, never
doubting but what another emissary had come, this time
to declare war.
"What IS it?" he asked the corporal in charge.
The corporal stuttered inarticulately and paused:
"Beg pardon, sir," he replied in a voice of amazement,
"but a young lady, an English lady, wants to come in
and doesn't know the countersign."
The captain restrained an incredulous reply and
THE MALAY'S DEMAND 111
stepped forward to investigate. By a lantern's yellow
light he saw a pale and much bedraggled young woman
who smiled bravely in spite of her evident exhaustion
"Is this Captain Carver?"
"It is," he articulated.
"I am Grace Coston, captain. I was a fellow-passen-
ger with Mr. Gross on the Zuyder Zee and he directed
me to come here to you."
It is to the credit of the American army, which gave
him his training, as well as to the Holland army, in
which he served, that the captain did not permit a
trace of his astonishment to appear. Bowing politely,
"Won't you come with me to headquarters. Miss
Turning to an orderly he said :
"Convey my compliments to Lieutenant and Mrs. Van
Voort and request them to come to my office imme-
diately. Ah ! and have Ali prepare us chocolate."
Peter Gross Comes to Bulungan
THE surf runs quite strongly at the mouth of the
little creek a half -hour's journey to the north of
Bulungan where Koyala had bidden Naioh to
land Grace Coston and Peter Gross. Only a skillful
jurumuddi can negotiate the passage when the sea is
running, and none attempts it after nightfall. Thus
Naioh and Peter Gross, both of whom were masters of
the clumsy and heavy Bornean tambangan, had no fear
of meeting other craft when they turned the nose of
Naioh's boat shoreward.
Passing the barrier of splinty, foam-crested shale was
a delicate operation, and taxed the utmost strength of
both men. But darkness concealed the perils of surf
and rock as well as the almost superhuman strength
and cleverness put forth by Naioh and Peter Gross.
All that Grace knew of straining eyes searching the
shore-line for the glint of a star on open water, and
of the desperate struggle with tide and current, was a
few moments of suspense as they shot through the giant
breakers. She did not perceive that Peter Gross had
purposely placed her next to him that he might seize
her and shield her body from the rocks with his own in
the event the frail craft was hurled against a blade of
Once the surf barrier was passed they glided swiftly
and silently along the creek toward the agreed meeting-
place, the kiosk which the Datoo Maholo had built for
his ganeca idol in the shade of a great banyan.
As their light craft grounded on the sands a vague
PETER GROSS COMES TO BULUNGAN 118
form detached itself from the somber forest gloom*
Naioh leaped nimbly out and there was a moment's
whispered colloquy between him and the figure on the
beach. He then drew the tambangan high on the shore.
Not a word was spoken. Grace restrained her curiosity,
for Peter Gross had emphatically warned her of the
necessity for silence. She tried to pierce the veil of
blackness, but her eyes, unaccustomed to the nocturnal
gloom of the jungle, could decipher nothing.
"We are alone. Mynheer Gross. You may speak
without fear," the stranger said. It was a woman's
"Koyala!" Grace exclaimed under her breath. She
stared at her in bewilderment. Knowing the leagues
that lay between them and Naioh's hut she could not
conceive how the priestess, following the jungle trails,
could have preceded them to this place. A sense of
awe came upon her in this silent nocturnal forest where
the dew dripped like rain from the trees and every
bush and clump was a menace. It was not hard to be-
lieve this woman invested with the mysterious powers
with which she was credited by her people.
"You made a swift journey, juffrouw*' Peter Gross
observed. Grace noted the warm friendliness of his
"To those who know the lanes the journey is not
long," Koyala replied in a strangely subdued voice.
With a swift flash of pride she added: "The jungle
knows its child and is kind to her."
"Aye, she has been kind to you, Koyala," Peter Gross
replied. Under his breath he added sadly: "Kinder
Naioh asked his priestess a question in the Dyak
"They are all at Bulungan," Koyala answered. A
note of scorn came into her voice. "Those who are not
drunk with arrack and gin are palavering at a bitchara
with the raja." She turned toward Peter Gross : "They
want you there, mynheer"
114 THE YELLOW SPmER
The resident deliberated a moment. Then he asked:
"Should I go, juffrouwT*
Koyala hesitated. "Jackals flee when the lion roars,"
she observed cryptically.
"Spoken as I thought you would, my brave girl," the
resident responded warmly. "I shall go."
Peter Gross's question had surprised Grace, and Koy-
ala's cryptic reply amazed her still more. It was hard to
believe that a governor of a province should place
such confidence in and be guided by a child of the
forest. To Grace it savored of an undue familiarity
that was quite embarrassing, particularly since she owed
her own rescue to him. She thought of what Mrs. Der-
ringer had said concerning these two, but instantly dis-
missed the thought — ^his grieved face the night previous
when the light flared was still too vivid in her mind. Yet
she could not help wondering how far Koyala had ex-
tended her influence over Peter Gross.
There was no opportunity for further conversation,
for at this moment a native led forward a lumbering
ox-cart, which Koyala had provided. They clambered
into the clumsy vehicle. Peter Gross and the priestess
conversed together in guarded tones, and largely in the
Dyak language. The taciturn Naioh drove. Grace was
largely left to her own devices. She felt quite de trop.
At the same time she was forced to admit to herself
that Peter Gross's attitude toward Koyala was far from
loverlike; in fact, he was acting more like an attorney
cross-questioning a witness than like a gallant swain.
The resident was busy informing himself on develop-
ments at his residency-seat during pasar day.
From Peter Gross and Koyala, Grace's thoughts re-
verted to her own kin and fiance. What had been their
fate? She had asked that question of herself a thou-
sand times since she had seated herself in the bottom
of Naioh's tambangan and had been given oppor-
tunity for reflection. What treatment were they receiv-
ing? Would they indeed be held for ransom as Peter
Gross insisted, or did a worse fate await them?
PETER GROSS COMES TO BULUNGAN 115
She thought of Vincent, high-spirited, proud and will-
ful. He was the type that shunned labor and discom-
fort like a pestilence, until the hour of peril came and
then suffered incredible hardship and death itself, if need
be, with never a murmur. She knew his rashness, his hot-
bloodedness; she knew how his proud nature flared
under indignities. Yet he would hold himself in re-
straint for Violet's sake if she needed him.
"God keep him patient," she prayed.
And "Vi," tender, fragile, luxury-loving Vi, what
of her? Would she be able to endure the hardships of
a Malay pirate prison-camp? A thought too horrible
for utterance came to her, a nightmare presentiment
that caused her heart to stop beating. A groan was
wrung from her lips.
"You're ill, Miss Coston?" Peter Gross cried, bend-
ing over her in quick solicitude.
"I was thinking of those on board the Zuyder Zee,"
Peter Gross turned swiftly and asked Koyala a ques-
tion in the Dyak tongue. She replied briefly in the same
"Your friends are safe," he announced joyfully to
Grace. "They are enumerated among those taken cap-
tive. A proa brought the news to Bulungan this after-
A flood of relief poured over Grace.
"Thank God !" she exclaimed in a voice choking with
happiness. She closed her eyes to keep the tears from
starting. Koyala's assurance that Vincent and Violet
were safe was almost more than she could bear after
the dread and uncertainty she had suffered that day and
the physical hardships she had undergone.
Naioh pulled up the oxen and the creaking grobak
stopped. In the distance the lights of Bulungan
"We must part here," Koyala announced. "Naioh
will take the jonge juffrouw to the fort."
As Peter Gross appeared to hesitate she said in a
116 THE YELLOW SIPDER
cold, passionless voice: "If you expect to attend the
council, we must make haste, mynheer,"
Yielding with evident reluctance, Peter Gross said re-
gretfully to Grace: "I am sorry. Miss Coston, but I
won't be able to accompany you to the fort. It is nec-
essary for me to go to the village below. Naioh will
go with you. You can trust him. It would be best,
probably, for you to lie in the bottom of the grobak
and cover yourself with straw. In the event Naioh is
challenged he can represent himself as a dessa man re-
turning from the pasar. When you reach the fort call
for Captain Carver and tell him what has transpired."
Without waiting for her reply he turned to the Dyak
chief and repeated his instructions.
It was an awkward and embarrassing moment for
Grace. She had a very positive suspicion that Koyala
was gloating over her ability to detach Peter Gross
from their company. She disliked seeing the resident
so greatly under the influence of this heathen beauty.
She thought his conduct most ungallant. At the same
time she looked forward to a trip through the dark
jungle with Naioh as her sole companion with consid-
erable trepidation. She recollected keenly the hostile
glare that Naioh had cast upon her when they first met
and was conscious of his continued animosity, although
she did not know the cause.
"Naioh will bring you safely to the fort," Peter Gross
announced cheerfully. "You're not afraid, are you.
"Not at all," she responded. Somehow her voice was
not as convincing as the words she spoke.
Peter Gross's brow knitted. "I'm sorry," he declared
penitently. "I wish there were time to take you to the
fort." He paused. In that pause the good angel that
protects simple men whose hearts are right, inspired him.
"I am going to Bulungan to meet the native rulers of the
residency," he explained. "I may persuade them to keep
peace with us. There is danger ; I therefore cannot take
PETER GROSS COMES TO BULUNGAN 117
you. If I wait an hour it may be too late. Therefore
I must go now. You understand, do you not ?"
The frank appeal won Grace. She dasped his hand in
"Go, and God be with you," she exclaimed. "Don't
think of me. I know I'll be safe with Naioh."
With a smile on her lips, but apprehension in her
heart, she entered the grobak again, Peter Gross assist-
ing her. Her hand lingered a moment in his. She
wondered if he felt the swift throbbing of her pulse.
Then in a tone of perfect and deceiving dieerfulness she
announced to the Dyak chief :
"I am ready."
Peter Gross watched the departure of the creaking
grobak until it was swallowed by the gloom. Standing
on the edge of the road, Koyala observed him with glit-
tering eyes. What her thoughts were none ever knew.
Certain they were not pleasant, for the Dyak blood man-
tled her cheeks in a scarlet tide. But the resident did not
even notice her. As the last dim vestige of the swaying
vehicle disappeared he breathed an anxious sigh.
"If mynheer is ready, we will go," Koyala remarked
He heard the words, but his mind was too engrossed
with the other woman to grasp the significance of her
tones. Turning obediently he started toward the dis-
tant lights of Bulungan, Koyala at his side. He said
nothing, and she left him to his thoughts. Her own
were too bitter for utterance.
On the sharp turn of the road, where it angles as it
reaches the river, she forgot the seal of caution on her
lips. In the language of her priestly grandfather, Chaw-
atangi, she hissed sibilantly:
"She made him carry her. Fondle a man, let him fed
your softness, your smooth skin, your warm body, that is
the white woman's way. They are all jades t Curse,
curse them, Djath blast them — ^"
"What is it ?" Peter Gross asked.
118 THE YELLOW SPIDER
"Nothing," Koyala replied hurriedly in a stifled voice.
"We must hurry or we will be too late."
About the same time a defiant little head rose out of
the rice-straw in the bottom of a creaking grobak wind-
ing lumberingly up the hill toward Fort Wilhelmina and
a voice pronounced quite clearly and decisively :
"You can do as you think fit, Mr. Mynheer Peter
The Raja Sees a Ghost
THROUGH the marshes, the rank, fetid marshes,
smelling to heaven of decayed vegetation and
dung, swilled and soured by pools and stagnant
water coated with a heavy green scum, Koyala led Peter
Gross into Bulungan.
There was no other way by which they could enter
the city. Peter Gross's giant figure was too well known
in the streets of his residency capital to enable him to
escape detection along any of the customary thorough-
fares. Premature discovery, he knew, would be fatal to
the bold plan he had conceived for overawing the raja
and his assemblage of native chiefs, a plan wholly based
on catching the natives by surprise. Therefore Koyala
and he were perforce required to take the marsh route,
a route seldom followed by the Dyaks by day, and never
Not that he had any great faith that his plan would
succeed. He knew the native mind too well to expect
that the savage Dyaks and their allies, the fierce Malays,
chafing under the restraint of the past two years, would
be readily turned aside from their former trade of free-
booting. But his unexpected presence and a bold front
might overawe the rabid crew and achieve the impos-
sible, he thought. It was worth the risk, he decided.
His principal hope was the pusillanimous, politic, time-
serving Wobanguli. If that astute ruler could be fright-
ened into declaring for the crown there was a chance
that the lesser chieftains would follow his example. Peter
Gross knew that Wobanguli generally esteemed the nearer
120 THE YELLOW SPmER
evil the greater, and would be apt to fear a Peter Gross
present in the flesh more than he would an Ah Sing
distant some score miles from the scene of action. There
was always a chance with such men, the resident con-
cluded, thanking Heaven that the raja was no better en-
dowed with backbone.
It was near midnight, and according to all the laws
of the tropics the native population should have been im-
mersed in deep slumber. The ravages of a zenitib sun
leave little vitality for moonlight excess. But on the
contrary the streets were aglow with bobbing Chinese
lanterns, flaring flambeaux, a^id native lamps carried on
poles, vessels of clay holding a quantity of dammar.
There were sounds of singing and ribaldry. The hoarse-
throated shouting of men mingled with the gay, hysterical
laughter of women and girls — ^laughter that carried a
note of fear at times, Peter Gross observed grimly. Oc-
casionally, too, women's shrieks rent the air, indicating
that arrack and opium had made some of the visiting
Malays forgetful of the extreme punctiliousness toward
women demanded by their Dyak hosts. Whenever the
din subsided somewhat the shrill, lugubrious notes of
Ara/ttcft-players and the haunting pipings of snake-
charmers alert to pick up stray coins, swept across the
marshes. But the dominating note of the vast orchestral
chorus of seething Dyak life was the shrill yapping of
the army of gaunt, half-starved, scavenger, pariah dogs,
the jackal-like creatures that infest every native village
between Singapore and Celebes.
In startling contrast were the marshes, empty and de-
void of all human life. Peter Gross had all a man's
strength and a courage tried in many places when Death
stalked gloomily by his side, but fear came to him that
night. Horrible by day with its pitfalls, and hidden
quicksands, and bottomless pools, infested by poisonous
snakes and myriad stinging insects, and its intolerable
stenches, the swamp was thrice horrible by night when
darkness magnified its loathsomeness and multiplied its
The original suggestion that they surprise Wobanguli
THE RAJA SEES A GHOST 121
and enter Bulungan by the swamp route had come from
Koyala. As they neared the city she said :
"Have you thought of how we shall enter the city,
mynheer? It will not be safe for you to pass through
the streets. Nor can we go by river or canal, for there
are many tambangans and proas afloat, and we would
surely be discovered."
"What have you in mind, juffrouwV Peter Gross
asked, confident that she had a plan.
Koyala outlined her proposal in a few words. Peter
Gross considered it a few moments and nodded his head
"Excellent!" he murmured. "Excellent! How can
we reach the halais without being seen ?"
"We must pass through the swamps," she announced.
Peter Gross hesitated. He knew the dangers of the
morass; in fact, he had once led a little expedition into
them in search of silks and calicoes stolen from a trading-
coaster. But that was by day.
"The path is very uncertain," he remarked doubtfully.
"K we make a single misstep no one would ever know
what had become of us. And we couldn't carry lights,
I will lead," Koyala replied simply.
No, by the holy poker, you won't," Peter Gross re-
plied indignantly. "Do you think I'll let you take such a
risk? If this is the only way to get into Bulungan, I'll
The hard, tragic lines in Koyala's face, lines she had
worn since their parting with Grace Coston a half -hour
previously, softened a trifle.
"You forget, mynheer, that the eyes of the Bintang
Burung see in the darkness as well as in the light," she
stated in a dry, expressionless tone. "If you should at-
tempt to go alone, you would either fall into a pit and be
drowned or be eaten by a crocodile. I could guide you
safely through if I were blindfolded."
"I believe you could," was his secret acknowledgment,
as he considered her proposal with furrowed brow.
Knowing her wonderful familiarity with the nocturnal
1^ THE YELLOW SPIDER
jungle he felt constrained to accept her offer, distasteful
as the acceptance of so dangerous a service from a
woman was to him.
"I am in your hands, juffrouw," he declared resignedly.
Koyala gave no utterance to indicate that she divined
his thoughts and appreciated his chivalry. But there was
a light of happiness in her face, shrouded from Peter
Gross by the gloom, as she sprang down from the stile
into the swamp as lightly and gracefully as the bird
for which she was named.
There was no path, at least none that Peter Gross
could see. Holding his hand in hers, with a whispered
word of warning now and then, Koyala zigzagged from
clump to clump and hummock to hummock with the sure
certainty of a winged thing. Sometimes they came to
pools too wide to leap across and too extensive to circle.
But these obstacles did not halt her. She invariably
spanned them on a fallen log or by creating an aerial
bridge of overhanging branches. Peter Gross experi-
enced an eery sensation as he crossed on these bridges,
his feet dangling a mere few inches above miry pools
of inky blackness whose surface might part at any mo-
ment to disclose the gaping jaws of a man-eating croco-
dile. But he grimly followed wherever she led without
a word of expostulation or complaint.
Koyala's slim, cool hand in his was wonderfully reas-
suring. It set his nerves tingling and the blood speeding
through his veins. He wondered vaguely at these strange
and inexplicable sensations. "Steady, Peter Gross," he
cautioned himself, "you're getting as paniky as a buck
Dyak throwing dice."
As they ventured farther into the city the marshes
narrowed and the bedlam increased. There were also
more canals and drains to be crossed and greater cir-
cumspection had to be employed to avoid the canoes ly-
ing alongside the banks. Rounding a cluster of screw-
pine they unexpectedly ran into one. Both perceived it
at the same moment and Peter Gross inadvertently ut-
tered a low cry of warning. A drunken boatman sud-
denly rose in the stem of the vessel and challenged them.
THE RAJA SEES A GHOST 123
But the word had scarcely left Peter Gross's lips when
Koyala pulled him down into the tall grasses to avoid
their being silhouetted against the horizon. The boat-
man peered about suspiciously, lurched, and recovered his
balance with an effort. Mumbling something in the Dyak
tongue he seated himself unsteadily in the bottom of the
wabbly canoe and paid no more attention to what was
going on around him. Koyala, holding Peter Gross's
hand tightly, guided him silently out of sight and hearing
of the boatman.
"Thank Heaven the jnan was drunk," Peter Gross ex-
claimed subduedly in relief.
Koyala gave vent to a low gurgle of musical laughter.
"What did he say ?" Peter Gross asked suspiciously.
"He said it was a pig, mynheer. He mistook your
voice for a pig's grunting." She laughed again.
Peter Gross made no response. Koyala sobered
quickly, wondering why he did not appreciate the joke.
Although pretematurally keen in divining the thoughts
of others, she could not have by the wildest flight of
imagination guessed what was coursing through his
He pondered sadly on the fact that a woman such
as she, graced with a form and figure that a court
beauty might have envied, and educated in a mission
school, should possess grosser elements in her mental
composition that every now and then asserted them-
selves in such vulgarities as her inane laughter at the
Dyak's mistake. It was her Dyak blood, he told himself
regretfully, a heritage which no amount of breeding
could eradicate. Koyala could never be, either spir-
itually or corporally, what a woman of unmixed Cauca-
sian origin should be.
Engrossed in this mystery of the ages he tramped
by Koyala's side pensive and voiceless until she guided
him quite unexpectedly to the foot of a little lane that
debouched into the swamp not far from the rear of the
balais where the Dyaks and Malays were meeting.
The lane was silent except for the skulking dogs do-
ing their nightly scavenging. Koyala darted ahead, lithe
124 THE YELLOW SPIDER
and stealthy as a panther. There was something charac-
teristically feline in her movements as she glided from
cover to cover, her ears alert, and her eyes exploring
the denser shadows with long, questioning glances. As
he watched her the odd notion occurred to Peter Gross
that possibly the jungle creatures left her undisturbed
when she roamed their domains after nightfall because
they recognized her in some subtle way as one of
themselves in spirit, if not in form.
More awkward and less accustomed to the gloom and
the many obstructions along the narrow lane, Peter
Gross was required to proceed with the utmost caution.
He was emerging from the shadow of a house when a
sniffing, slinking, mangy cur slunk between his legs and
nearly tripped him. The cur darted away, yelping. A
native inside the dwelling uttered a startled exclama-
tion and threw open a door, thus casting a flood of
light upon the alleyway. Quick as a forked thunder-
bolt, however, Koyala grasped Peter Gross's arm and
pulled him under the house. They cowered behind
the stall where the Dyak kept a goat while the master
of the house peered curiously and suspiciously up and
down the lane and exchanged comments with his equally
curious neighbors whose doors had also been hastily
thrown open that those within might see what untoward
event had occurred to disturb the tranquillity of the
neighborhood. It was fully fifteen minutes ere the
talking ceased and quiet settled upon the lane. Berating
himself for being a clumsy fool Peter Gross waited
with Koyala until all was quiet and then followed her
poste-haste toward the assembly hall.
This was the final mishap. A few minutes later
Koyala stopped behind a stockade composed of posts
of ironwood fronted with an interlacing of thorns which
in times of war were dipped with the same translucent,
toxic gum with which the Bomean anoints the deadly
barbs he discharges from his blowpipe. A confused-
clamor of many voices came from within. Koyala
skirted the stodkade warily, avoiding the glimmering
patches of light, until she came to a small postern or
THE RAJA SEES A GHOST 125
gate. This was the rear entrance to Wobanguli's kam-
pong. As luck would have it, no one was on guard. The
priestess glided inside and a moment later summoned
Peter Gross with a low-voiced hiss.
The balais stood in the center, a huge circular hut with
various galleries radiating from it like the spokes of a
wheel from the hub. Most of the kampong was
brilliantly alight, but two of the galleries shut off the
glare from that portion of the enclosure where the
horses were picketed. As they advanced warily through
this, one of the horses reared, but Peter Gross, who
possessed a rare talent of inspiring confidence among
dumb animals, quieted it with a whispered word and a
touch of his hand on its coat. A Dyak guard who was
lying in a drunken slumber near by did not even awake.
A huge rectangle on piles loomed before them. It
was the rear of the assembly hall. Koyala placed her
ear against the wall and listened. After a moment's
tense silence she whipped a dagger out of her girdle
and cautiously inserted the blade between two sticks of
"You are stronger than I am," she whispered to
Peter Gross in a voice that was so low as to be scarcely
audible. "Cut a hole here large enough for us to pass
through. Be careful, the slightest noise will ruin every-
Working swiftly and silently, with infinite care, Peter
Gross cut an aperture of the required size while Koyala
stood with one ear flattened against the wall, her eyes
meantime searching the kampong. As the square fell
into his hand Koyala whispered fiercely into his ear.
"Your hand, quickly!" Her sandaled foot brushed
his wrist, and as he steadied she lifted herself
lightly into the opening. The next instant her hand
extended from the darkness within to catch his.
"Hurry!" she whispered.
* Peter Gross had obeyed orders too long to debate or
question in an emergency. He promptly raised himself
and catapulted within, falling lightly as a cat on all
fours. At the same instant Koyala shut out the light
126 THE YELLOW SPmER
coming through the aperture by fitting the square into
"Sh!" she hissed. Peter Gross lay quite still. Be-
yond the wall he heard the stealthy footfalls of naked
feet. Two Dyaks stopped alongside the building.
"I swear by Djath that I saw the flash of a pisau
(knife)," one of them said. His language betrayed him
as a hill Dyak. "The gleam of a star fell on it, and lo,
when I looked again, there were shadows here like the
legs of men."
"You have drunk too deeply of the raja's cheap palm
wine," the other pooh-poohed. "Who would break into
an empty harem when the long houses are open to all ?"
"The shape of one was that of a woman," the first
"Now I know that you are either drunk or are pos-
sessed by an evil Budjang Brani spirit," the other de-
clared, drawing away. "Would a woman enter balais
while the council sits and risk the torture?"
Silenced by this reasoning, but apparently uncon-
vinced, the first Dyak ran his hands over the wall.
Fortunately, he did not find the spot where a section
had been cut away. As they left, still quarreling,
Koyala fastened the section in place with sticks of bam-
The confused din they had heard outside the kam-
pong now became intelligible as the voices of nien
raised in heated argument. As Koyala finished binding
the square in place a sudden stillness came upon the hall
beyond. Then they heard the voice of a man declaim-
ing, although the words were unintelligible, and a sud-
den outburst of angry exclamation.
Profound as had been the darkness of the marshes,
it was exceeded by the abysmal blackness of the interior
of the hut. Peter Gross could not see an inch ahead
of him. But when Koyala grasped his hand she guided
him between the low couches and the various primitive
articles of furniture with a certitude that was amazing.
They stepped down from the harem and passed
through a narrow gallery, partitioned into three sections
THE RAJA SEES A GHOST 127
with heavy curtains. Koyala peered around the edge
of the curtain each time before pulling it aside. At the
end of the gallery they came to ^a low wicket. Koyala
pulled Peter Gross down until his ear was the level of
her lips and whispered:
"Put your ear against the wall. When I say the
word, pass through and speak what Djath and the
Christian God inspire."
A Malay was speaking. Peter Gross caught the harsh
inflection at once, the Dyaks having more dulcet voices.
"To the Orang Blanda Kapala, I said," the speaker
announced, " 'Njam I am, Njam, Datoo of Telaum,
lord of the marshes, toll-keeper of the highways, prince
over thirteen villages and forty dessas, by the grace
of Allah, of the race of Muartabenego, friend of the
children of Borneo, their ally in good or ill.' "
" 'I know thee', he answered me, 'thou Moslem pig,
thou bastard spawn. Thy father was a renegade Su-
matran who drove his brother's spirit to hell by slaugh-
tering the crocodile wherein Djath gave it habitation;
thy mother was a babe-eating Papuan. Thou wert cast
by the sea on this filthy shore where none but scum
make their habitation !' "
A yell of indignation interrupted him.
"Need I say more?" he appealed.
The crafty, low-toned, oily suave voice of the Raja
Wobunguli replied: "Speak on, brother."
" 'You ask me that the resident or I, his kapitein,
come to your bitchara/ he said to me," Njam continued.
" 'I tell you that henceforth there will be no more
bitcharas. Your council is dissolved by decree. Slaves
have no council. I will teach you Moslems to eat
swine like Christians.' "
A fierce yell of execration shook the building.
" 'I will teach your Dyaks—' "
A still wilder yell threatened to lift the roof off the
" 'Your women will be mine to buy and sell. Your
priestesses shall be thrown to the tigers, you shall feel
the weight of a Christian foot upon your necks.' "
128 THE YELLOW SPmER
Pandemonium broke loose.
The vast structure rocked under the terrific din. Sav-
ages, plied with arrack and distilled spirits, skillfully
herded and fed with violent opinion since their con-
vocation, their passions of greed and lust roused by
the tale of the sinking of the Zuyder Zee, and the cap-
tives and rich booty that had fallen to Ah Sing, har-
angued by tried orators, and now stirred to their deep-
est depths by a tale of insult and contumely grosser
than any which Christian conqueror had yet dared heap
upon the original owners of the soil, lost all sense of
discernment and proportion.
They were in a mood to believe anything of their
white rulers, however outrageous it might be. They
had worked themselves into so bestial a fury that there
was not a man there who did not see red. Murder,
rapine, and extermination of the hated whites was the
one thought that animated them. This was precisely the
situation which the crafty Wobanguli had schemed to
When the Datoo Njam began his report of Captain
Carver's alleged remarks, Peter Gross listened in thun-
derstruck amazement. His surprise quickly gave place
to indignation and a white-hot wrath as he perceived
Y the trick that was being plapd upon the council.
"J "The damned liar !" he hissed between set teeth as the
first yell interrupted the datoo. But he stood stock-
still, eager to hear the Malay to the end to fathom the
full extreme of his perfidy.
"I will teach you Moslems to eat swine!" made him
tremble with suppressed fury, and caused him to grip
the handle of the door violently. But before he could
wrench it open Koyala's slim fingers, stout as steel
cords, fastened themselves around his wrist and re-
"Wait, mynheer" she whispered wamingly.
When Njam concluded his harangue, Peter Gross
could not longer contain himself. "Let me go, Koyala,"
he whispered hoarsely. "Let me teach that lying dog
something if it be my last act."
THE RAJA SEES A GHOST 129
"Not yet, wait just a moment," she pleaded, refusing
to release him.
Wobanguli eventually obtained silence. It was not his
intention to permit the pent-up emotions of this mob
of chieftains to express themselves in mere clamor.
When a measure of order had been restored he asked
"What was the Orang Blanda Kapala's answer to the
request of the council?"
"I asked him: 'Send us our resident to bitchara with
us — ^that he may talk peace and the welfare of our
peoples,' " Njam reported. " 'And if he be not here,'
I asked, 'come thyself.' In answer to this he said:
" 'Your resident is not here. Since he is not here I
will answer for him. Henceforth we speak to the filthy
swine of Bulungan through the mouths of our rifles
and cannon. Go to your council and bid it to dissolve
and let each man fly to his dessa like a kaguan to his
hole lest my wrath come upon him.'"
A murmur filled the hall, but was instantly stilled.
"He is not here?" Wobanguli asked in oily tones.
"He is not here," Njam reported dutifully.
Koyala's hand let go Peter Gross's wrist. "Go !" she
whispered fiercely. "Say what Djath and thy God
inspire thee, and then spring back to this door with the
swiftness of a tiger. I will wait for thee here."
Like a hungry lion springing into the arena in the
days of the Neromian massacres, Peter Gross swung
the door aside and leaped into the hall. He was not
seen at first, for the great room was thronged with a mass
as swaying, gesticulating men. Dyaks and Malays were
lifting spears, krises, and padangs heavenward, shouting
on their respective deities to avenge this insult. Their
hoarse-throated cries created a din indescribable, and
their stamping feet made the sturdily built structure
shake as though smitten by a typhoon's blast. But
above the shrieking and the shouting came a roar that
was like the challenge of a bull:
"I am here, Njam!"
Through the hall, tossing Dyak and Malay aside like
130 THE YELLOW SPIDER
so many bundles of rattan, strode the giant, Peter Gross.
Giant is the term by which he must be described, for
his flaming wrath seemed to add inches to his stature
and gave him a strength more than human. In his
wake he left men staring round-eyed and palsied at the
thunderbolt that had passed among them. They thought
him a spirit from Gunong Lumut, the Mount of Moss,
where the dead spend the first few years of their after-
existence. Small wonder, for had they not been as-
sured that he had gone down into the depths of the sea
and become the food of a shark?
"I am here, Njam!" he bellowed again as he was
midway down the hall and the din began to still. His
voice rang about the tumult like a lion's roar. The hall
was instantly stilled. Men turned their eyes toward this
apparition from the underworld and from him to the
"I am here, Njam," he said a third time, and vaulted
upon the platform where the Raja Wobanguli, white as
a man of his color could be, and dry-lipped, sat on his
royal seat next to Datoo Njam, the herald. The datoo
seemed to be shrinking into himself, his hands grasped
the heavy arm-rests of his chair convulsively, and his
vertebrae bent like a bow.
A stillness profound, absolute, reigned. The waving
spears and krises were brought down. The assemblage
stood as if petrified. Dyak and Malay, datoo and kjai
stared at the stage with popping eyes like men who
hear suddenly the brushing of the wings of the Angel
of Death! Peter Gross, towering above them all, his
arms folded over his breast, glared back. They shrank
before his eyes, those eyes blazing with outraged jus-
tice, like guilty wretches visioning the headsman's ax.
And still the dreadful silence continued till it seemed the
taut nerves of man could stand no more.
Peter Gross pivoted slowly so that his eyes rested
once more on the stricken herald.
"I am here, Njam," he said a fourth time, and now
his voice was as silkily soft as Wobanguli's. "You
thought the sea would hold me, but you forgot that I
THE RAJA SEES A GHOST ISl
am a child of the sea, who have sailed on every ocean
as far as oceans extend. My mother did not. desire
me, Njam, so she returned me safely here" — ^his voice
became sharp as steel — "to hear thy falsehoods, Njam,
and thy traitorous perfidy."
A tremulous sigh ran through the multitude and the
tension relaxed. This was not the ghost of their resi-
dent, then ; it was the resident himself.
"I heard the message thou brought, Njam," Peter
Gross continued, his voice gathering strength and denun-
ciation. "I heard the words thou didst falsely impute
to my commandant and thy governor when I am absent.
I brand them here, and in thy presence, Njam, as a lie !
"Aye," he shouted as his passion mounted, "I brand
thee here before the chiefs of Bulungan, before the
council of the datoos and kjais, as a liar and a father
of lies, Njam! And I say to thee, Njam, that thou
has made thyself viler than the vilest — aye, viler than
he who gives stone for bread, for that man cheats for
his own profit, but thou, Njam, hast lied to thy people
whilst thou wert in their herald's garb."
As Peter Gross spoke the color began to flow back
into N jam's cheeks and his back to straighten. When
the resident first appeared he was under the popular
misapprehension that he was confronted by a specter,
but finding only flesh and blood against him, his cour-
age rose in the confidence of numbers. Peter Gross's
accusation, cutting like a lash, brought him to his feet
with blazing eyes.
"Chiefs of Bulungan — " he shouted in a high-pitched
voice, but his oration was cut short by a roar of "Si-
lence!" from Peter Gross.
The resident's bared teeth were clenched. The nails
of his fingers bit into his palms. It was apparent that
he was restraining himself with difficulty from violent
"Njam," he cried hoarsely, "thotl hast thy kris. I
have naught but my naked hands. Now, if truth be in
thee, strike me dead where I stand! And if truth be
not in thee, let me make thee carrion for the vultures !"
132 THE YELLOW SPIDER
There had been a movement in the rear of the hall be-
fore Peter Gross flung his challenge. A few moments
more and it would have communicated itself throughout
the audience, with the result that a torrent of Dyaks
and Malays would have swept across the stage and
pierced him with spears and krises. But at his bold
declaration every voice was hushed and the men gazed
eagerly at the Datoo Njam.
For a moment Njam faltered. The very boldness of
the challenge took his breath away — he suspected a
trick. But seeing Peter Gross, apparently unarmed, he
whipped his long, wavy blade from its sheath and sprang
Just how it happened none of those in the audience
knew. They saw the Malay's blade descend upon the
resident's neck with that long, curving stroke that the
Malay loves so well — a stroke that cuts deeply between
the shoulder-blades and well-nigh severs a man's head
from his body. But by some miraculous intervention,
apparently, the kris did not fall where it should have.
Instead it halted uncertainly a moment in mid air, spun,
and described a graceful parabola, falling point down
some distance in front of the stage. It almost trans-
fixed a chief who was watching proceedings open-
Then a curious thing happened. Those who were
watching saw Peter Gross spring lightly forward and
grasp the Malay. They saw Njam swung off his feet
and bent over Peter Gross's knee. The resident's right
arm was about the Malay's legs and his left hand
clutched him by the throat. Njam was struggling des-
perately with every ounce of his strength, but was ob-
viously as helpless as a babe. Peter Gross bent him
back slowly, while the Malay's face turned a dark
blue and then black. In the tense silence Njam's gasps
sounded like a rushing wind.
Peter Gross suddenly rose and tossed the gasping
Njam on the floor. "Faugh, he's not worth it!" he ex-
claimed in the lingua franca of the islands. He turned
THE RAJA SEES A GHOST 133
Indifferently while Njam, contorted with pain, gasped
While the assembly remained spellbound, Peter Gross
walked slowly toward Wobanguli.
"Raja," he said in a voice silken-soft, "we know each
other of old. Thou art a wise man, raja" — ^there was
a peculiar emphasis on the adjective — "thou art too wise
to lead thy people into error. Thou art also a strong
man, raja — strongest of thy people of Bulungan, I am
told. I should like a contest of strength with thee,
some time, raja, but not to-night — ^not to-night. To-
night I would merely ask thee to bid these chiefs and
princes to go to their homes in peace, to till their crops,
and to trust in the eternal justice of their resident — ^that
justice which thou knowest, raja, never changeth. And
if there be petitions, let me hear them to-morrow. I
There were great drops of sweat on Wobanguli's
face, although the hall was none too warm. He had
watched with bulging eyes as the face of Njam turned
from a light-brown shade to a purplish black. The
thought of those sinews of Peter Gross at his own
throat made him quake with terror. Once the strong
man and bully of Bulungan, he was now so enervated
with soft living that he could have put up only a poor
fight against any of a dozen of the champions gathered
in the hall. The thought of matching himself against
Peter Gross fairly froze the blood in his veins.
He rose dry-lipped. Peter Gross's eyes rested on him
caressingly. Wobanguli felt them running over his
naked back and legs, shrewdly calculating just how
much strength and vitality there lay stored in his
flabby muscles. He moistened his lips and began :
"Kapalas of Bulungan, the hour, is late. Let every
man seek now his own bed. If there be those who have
petitions to our resident let them come to-morrow."
He glanced toward Peter Gross to see whether any
further announcement was necessary. The resident
beckoned to him, and the raja approached servilely and
134 THE YELLOW SPmER
with unsteady step to receive a whispered instruction.
He turned toward the chiefs again.
"Kjais and datoos of Bulungan," he announced, "we
know it is a custom decreed by our orang blanda father
in Batavia that the council remains in its place until
the resident has passed out. Let every man stand !"
Stem and majestic as a Phidian Zeus, Peter Gross
walked slowly between the lane of warriors to the door
by which he had entered. It was a tense moment. He
knew that the chiefs had him at their mercy, but there
are times when that which is mere mortal cowers before
the apparent superman. This was such an occasion.
As the door closed, Koyala barred it with strips of
bamboo. She had hardly done so when there was a
gentle pressure from within.
"Make haste!" she said. "We must get out of the
Kampong before they find us."
They dashed along the gallery to the harem. A na-
tive lamp, provided by Koyala, was burning in the lat-
ter place. As Peter Gross wrenched aside the section
of wall he had cut away a short time before, Koyala
extinguished the lamp. A few moments later they were
speeding through the shadows toward the postern
A Dyak guard interposed himself between them and
the entrance. "Ah Sing," Koyala whispered ; it was the
password. The guard gazed at her uncertainly. Con-
cealing her features she darted outside. Elated to find
his prize a woman, he sprang after her, but Peter Gross,
emerging suddenly out of the darkness, launched a blow
that caught him under the chin and stretched him out
beyond further possibility of mischief.
"We must go back the way we came," Koyala whis-
pered. "Hurry !"
Peter Gross did hot waste time in expostulation, al-
though personally he favored taking the main highway
to the fort. He was confident that the Dyaks would
be quiet for the night. It was not until they were
safely in the marshes, however, that he ventured to
THE RAJA SEES A GHOST 135
"You have strong arms," Koyala replied admiringly,
her finger closing with a warm friendly pressure on his
biceps. "But you are not immortal. Before you
stopped speaking a chief of the Punans and one of
the Long Wais slipped out of the hall. They had their
siunpitans. What is to prevent them from shooting
you with a poisoned arrow from the bush ?"
"H-m!" Peter Gross muttered. "I thought they'd
had enough for one night."
"The serpent is most dangerous when trodden on,"
When they finally reached the fort, Peter Gross urged
Koyala to enter the gates with him.
"You must help me plan for to-morrow," he urged.
"I want to know what you think I should say to the
"It is impossible," she replied. "None but Naioh
must know that I am here. Bid the white woman to
keep it secret." The last sentence was pronounced with
a certain viciousness.
"You know what is best," he replied. "But I am
sorry you cannot come with me. I will tell Miss Coston
to say nothing." He paused, and then offered his hand.
She accepted it timidly.
"Once more, Koyala, I owe my life, and Bulungan
owes her peace and welfare to you," he acknowledged.
"I do not know how either Bulungan or I will ever be
able to repay it."
Koyala jerked her head away.
"Let us not speak of debts, mynheer!" she cried
hoarsely. "Goedendag /"
As her voice uttered the low farewell she darted
across the plein enclosing the fort. The next moment
the darkness swallowed her.
Before the Dawn
CAPTAIN CARVER was not fated to sleep that
night. It was near sunrise when the familiar
step he had waited so long to hear sounded out-
Side his door. He hastily opened it.
"Thank God, Peter!" he fervently ejaculated, wring-
ing the resident's hand like one welcoming a brother
from the dead. There was no need of further words.
These men, intimates and confidants for two years,
knew each other as only men marooned from civiliza-
tion can know. The highest praise that may be said
for each is that the mutual respect engendered during
the first few stormy weeks of their acquaintanceship, when
they fought off Ah Sing and his Dyak hordes, had never
diminished, but had ripened to a friendship like that
of David and Jonathan.
"Is Miss Coston here?" Peter Gross inquired
"She's sleeping soundly, I hope, at Lieutenant and
Mrs. Van Vroot's quarters," Carver reassured, smiling.
"Your Dyak wouldn't stay. Found the inside of four
walls too stuffy, I presume."
"It's just as well," Peter Gross replied with relief.
"How is Miss Coston ? Did she reach here without mis-
Carver favored his superior with a swift, shrewd
glance. There was just the suspicion of a smile on the
soldier's gaunt, stem features.
"She's as well as could be expected, considering the
journey she's made to-day," he replied. "A little fagged,
but a good sleep will remedy that. Shell be as fresh as
a daisy after siesta."
BEFORE THE DAWN 137
"She's had a hard time since the pirates took the
Zuyder Zee," Peter Gross observed. "I suppose she
told you everything."
"She's given us a pretty good account of everything
except how she came to be separated from you," Carver
replied. He spoke gravely, but there was a glint of
humor in his eyes. Peter Gross noted it.
"I went to Bulungan with Koyala to attend the coun-
cil of chiefs," he explained quietly. "Leaving her with
Naioh does seem discourteous, but there was no alter-
native. My place was at ^he council."
"I understand," Carver replied quickly. His eyes
sparkled with admiration. "I didn't expect to see you
back when I learned where you had gone."
"I was a little doubtful myself whether I'd come
back," Peter Gross confessed. "Of coursel had the advan-
tage of surprise, and was calculating on that. Once I
had a chance to make myself heard it was quite easy,
•*I wouldn't have gone down among that wolf-pack
for ten thousand guilders," Carver declared bluntly. "It
was a damn fool thing you did, Peter, and a damned
brave thing! I don't see now how you happen to be
here. But go on and tell me about it."
"Of course I wasn't alone," Peter Gross pointed out.
"No, Koyala was with you. Where is she now ?"
"She left me at the gate. Don't let it be known that
she was here — she wants it kept secret."
"You can rely on me. But go on and spin your yam.
I'm dying to know how it all happened."
Peter Gross stretched his long legs and leaned back in
luxuriant ease. It was good to have a comfortable chair
under him again after a day's tramp in primeval jungle.
"Oh, there isn't much to tell !" he remarked.
Captain Carver shot him a keen, inquisitorial glance.
When Peter Gross spoke this way it usually meant that
big events had transpired in which he had taken a
promiment part. But to discover his connection with
these events was as arduous a task as extracting the
rivets from an old boiler.
138 THE YELLOW SPIDER
"Did you see the Raja Woganbuli?" Carver de-
"Did he say anything?"
"He made a very pretty little speech, advising the
kjais and datoos to go to bed and present their petitions
and grievances to-morrow."
"H-m!" Carver hummed. This was information in-
deed. Something portentous must have occurred to in-
duce the Dyak ruler to change front in a few hours
like this, he knew. He wondered how great a part
Peter Gross had played in persuading the crafty raja
to adopt this stand. Unable to restrain his impatience,
he demanded pointblank:
"Peter, I want to hear your log of every confounded
thing that happened since Koyala and you set out for
Peter Gross looked at him with a quizzical, almost
boyish grin. Such language from a subordinate to a
resident was almost lese-majesty, but then Carver and
he were more than servants of the same state — ^they
were friends. Besides, he knew exactly how eager the
curiosity of the captain sometimes became.
"On condition, Charles Carver," he parried, "that
you'll keep strictly to yourself whatever Miss Coston
may have told you of our journey here." His color
heightened a trifle. "Some of these fools may get to
gossiping, and you know I'm not a woman's man."
"Of course not," Carver replied dryly. "I accept the
Peter Gross stiffened under his friend's silent raillery.
"We've got a big job before us," he announced severely.
"Miss Coston's stepmother, a young lady about the
same age as she, and her fiance are Ah Sing's pris-
oners. I have promised her that we shall rescue them."
Carver's features underwent a quick transformation.
"I didn't know that," he replied. "She didn't mention
it. All she told was how you escaped and reached
Bulungan. But go ahead with your story. It will be
morning soon and we may have to change our plans."
BEFORE THE DAWN 139
Peter Gross described briefly what had occurred. As
he mentioned the trip through the swamps Carver ob-
"You took an awful risk. You couldn't tempt even
a swamp Dyak to go through that bog at night. I
wouldn't have done it upon any condition."
"Unless you thought you could scotch this rebellion,
as I did," Peter Gross returned with warm friendli-
The captain's face broke into an appreciative grin as
the resident described how Koyala had maneuvered their
entrance into the balais. N jam's report, Peter Gross
gave in a straight narrative form without comment or
"Njam said you told him that you intended to
make the Moslems eat swine like Christians," he related.
"The cursed liar!" Carver exclaimed hotly. Recov-
ering himself instantly he uttered an explosive "Go on !"
and listened to the conclusion of the tale with tightly
"What did you say?" Peter Gross asked. Struggling
to repress his feelings. Carver gave a brief and succinct
account of his meeting with the Malay chief.
"I was sure he was lying," Peter Gross remarked at
the close. "I'm glad to hear it happened this way. It
makes me feel less regret at what I was forced to do."
He related how he had disposed of Njam, omitting to
mention, however, that the latter had a kris.
"Peter," Carver cried warmly when the tale was
complete, "there isn't another man in all the East
Indies could have done what you did there to-night.
You haven't told me half, I know that. But I can fill
in the holes after a fashion. If we get a measure of
help now from Batavia this rebellion is broken. And
there's but one man who broke it, and his name is
"It was Koyala," Peter Gross negatived, shaking his
head. "She planned it all. Without her I couldn't have
"She helped, but you put the fear of God in their
140 THE YELLOW SPIDER
hearts!" Carver declared. "We have a great deal to
thank her for. I wish there were some way of
squaring our debt."
The blood-red banners of dawn were flaring in the
eastern sky when Peter Gross dropped wearily into a
cot for a few hours' rest. But sleep refused to come
in spite of his physical exhaustion. He pondered over
the events of the day and the stirring occurrences of the
night. He speculated what the day before him might
bring. The snake of rebellion was scotched but not
killed, he knew. Wobanguli was in his hut hatching
schemes, and beyond the jungle Ah Sing, the Yellow
Spider, lay, watching events and spinning webs.
No considerations of honor, of past distinctions or
immunities, and no tie of allegiance would restrain the
raja from striking at the fort if he believed he could
successfully overwhelm the little garrison and retain
his foothold against the Dutch, Peter Gross knew. Wo-
banguli was wholly faithless, siding always with the
strongest, more treacherous than a Punan, for a Punan
never abuses hospitality, but the raja would sell his
But even if the raja did decide it was to his advan-
tage to side with the whites and called off his follow-
ers, there were the Malays and the independent chiefs
to deal with, Peter Gross perceived. Men who have
thrived on blood and violence for generations do not
turn lightly from piracy and head-hunting to more
peaceful agricultural pursuits, he knew. They had
smelled blood. They demanded more. It was prac-
tically impossible to hold them, even with the raja's
influence. His brain wearied with the vexing problem.
"Rebellion and reprisal, massacre and hangings, will
be Bulungan's sad fate for many a long year yet," he
sighed to himself. "They can't see how useless it all is
— and how wasteful. My poor people!"
His thoughts reverted to the girl who slept under
Fort Wilhelmina's sheltering roof for the first time.
. Incident by incident from the time he had first noticed
(i her on the j^ck of the Zuyder Zee, he mentally re-
BEFORE THE DAWN 141
viewed all that had passed between them. He thought
of her spirit and independence, of her cheerfulness and
courage in adversity. He recalled her trust and con-
fidence in him and her delicious repose in his arms as
they journeyed through the jimgle. Somewhere in
this train of thought sleep stole over him and his fancies
became dreams. The sun, peeping in through a crack
in the blinds, saw a smile hovering over his face.
For all his sternness, and the furrows on his brow,
and his serious abjuration of the gentler sex, Mynheer
Peter Gross, resident of Bulungan, was no older than
his twenty-seyea years.
UNCEREMONIOUSLY hurled into his stateroom
by the powerful hands of Peter Gross, Vincent
Brady brought up against the outer wall with a
thud that jarred the breath from his body. Straighten-
ing himself painfully, he sprang with savage fury at
the closed door. As if in mockery of his efforts the
lock clicked at that moment and he heard the sound of
rapidly retreating footsteps.
Outside bedlam raged as the Dutch officers and sailors
made their vain and ineffectual stand against the horde
of maurauders that swept over the rail. Vincent was
oblivious to these sounds. Grasping the handle of the
door and planting one foot against the jamb, he strove
to wrench it open. But, though light, it was honestly
built, and resisted his utmost efforts. Mad with
anxiety regarding Grace and Violet, he wasted precious
moments in a futile endeavor to kick out the panels. It
was not until resistance above decks had practically
ceased and Peter Gross and Grace Coston were swim-
ming shoreward that he bethought himself of forcing
back the casing.
When he finally accomplished this and rushed out the
corridor was in darkness. He groped his way to the
deck, stumbling and bruising himself in his frantic
haste. The pirates were grouping their captives, both
the wounded and the non-resistant passengers who had
been unhurt, on the aft-deck by the dim light of flam-
beaux and native lamps when Vincent, maddened by
the thought of Grace taken captive, burst among them
like a thunderbolt.
The onslaught was so sudden and unexpected that the
Malays and Bajaus, crowding forward curiously to stare
at their prisoners, were bowled over. Vincent thus
reached the center of the group before a hand was
reached out to seize him.
Slightly built and small in stature, he made a com-
paratively insignificant figure as he stood in the midst
of the group of savages and their captives, gazing
eagerly from face to face, and panting from his exer-
"Where's Grace?" he demanded in a high-pitched
voice as he recognized the missionary, John Bright,
standing next to a Malay chief.
At the sound of his voice the amazed and stupefied
pirates, astonished at the apparition in rumpled white
flannels that had suddenly appeared so unceremoniously
in their midst, recovered. A husky Bugi sprang for-
ward with full intent to throttle the orang blanda
bantam who so temerariously attacked the pirate crew.
His intent was good, but he failed to take into ac-
count that one of the accomplishments some white men
possess is a lusty wallop. As the Bugi reached for Vin-
cent's throat, the latter's fist connected with his un-
guarded solar plexus and he sank to the deck without
The Malay standing next to John Bright lifted his
kris and sprang forward to administer that terrible dis-
emboweling stroke for which the inhabitants of the
Malayan peninsula are so famous. But his blade was
turned aside by John Bright, who caught his arm and
pulled him back. The missionary uttered a low plea
in a tongue that was jargon to Vincent.
"Where are Miss Coston — and Mrs. Coston?" the
young man cried again in ftantic agony, oblivious to
his own danger.
"Safe, safe," the gruff voice of Jim Poggs, the trader,
admonished. "Keep quiet or they'll spit you."
The Malay chief at that moment gave a rapid order.
Three of his followers leaped forward simultaneously
and pinioned Vincent's arms to his sides. He was borne
144 THE YELLOW SPIDER
to the deck, ropes were produced, and in a twinkling
he was trussed as safely as a mule on a lighten The
Malay chief watched the operation in grim silence.
When it was completed he said in his own tongue to the
"He hath more valor than discretion. But I will
pardon him because he is young and because thou has
asked it. Healer of Souls !"
"Are they here?" Vincent cried from his recumbent
position on the deck. A Malay bent swiftly and thrust
an evil-smelling rag into his mouth.
The deck was swarming with brown-skinned maraud-
ers who stopped to gaze a moment curiously at the cap-
tives and then hurried away in their search for treas-
ure, ransacking the ship from stem to stem. The
Malay chief uttered a curt order, and the captives were
led to the rail and lowered into a proa alongside. Vin-
cent and Poggs were thrust into a small cubicle, less
than five feet high, foul-smelling and dark as pitch. As
the Malays bundled them in there was a frightened gasp
from the side opposite the narrow door.
Mrs. Coston?" Poggs inquired sharply.
Oh, thank Heaven!" was the relieved exclamation.
Who is this with us, Mr. Poggs?"
"Mr. Brady," the trader explained on hands and
knees beside Vincent, whose bonds he was endeavoring
to untie. "They've got him roped. Just a minute and
I'll get rid of this gag, then he can talk to you."
Finding the knot stubborn the trader whipped out a
pocket-knife and solved the tangle by Alexander's
method. Vincent spat the vileness from his mouth.
"Violet, have you seen an)rthing of Grace?" he cried in
a voice keen with anguish.
"Not since we left the deck together," Mrs. Coston
sobbed hysterically. "Vincent, isn't this terrible ? We'll
"Have you seen her?" Vincent demanded, turning on
the trader. "You said she was safe. Where is she?"
"The last I saw of her," the trader replied tactfully,
••she was on deck with Mrs. Derringer. That was just
as the ruction commenced. She's probably been shipped
on ahead in another proa. They were a little slow in
getting us together, and that's how you came to find us
still on the ship."
"For God's sake untie these ropes so that I can go
and find her !" Vincent cried.
Foggs, who had been endeavoring to locate the cords
as best he could in the intense blackness of their prison
pen, suddenly desisted.
"I don't think I will," he announced cheerfully,
stretching his legs out aheaTi of him and putting his
back against the wall. "I dunno but what that heatihen's
notion of trussing you up was pretty good, after all.
When you calm down summat, maybe we can make you
more comfortable, but I'm not going to take any chances
letting you run out of here and getting your head
"Damn you!" Vincent swore. "Loosen my hands!"
"Thank you, no!" Foggs replied with unimpaired
"Violet, can you help me get one hand free," the help-
less captive pleaded. As she timidly took a step for-
ward in response to his plea, Foggs shifted his position
to interpose his form between her and Vincent.
"No, ma'am, I'm not going to let you," he announced
firmly. "When Mr. Brady develops some hoss sense
and decides ag'in' fighting the whole pirate combination,
we can cut away these ropes. But not before."
"Vincent, will you be reasonable?" Violet implored.
"To blazes with reason," he raged, writhing and tug-
ging futilely at his bonds. Foggs seized him and ar-
rested his struggles.
"Don't be a fool, Mr. Brady!" he advised sharply,
"John Bright can do more for the little miss by keep-
ing friends with the juragan of this proa than you could
if you had a whole regiment back of you. Leave it to
the missionary, he's doing all that can be done."
Vincent ceased his mad struggles, though he kept
tti&ging at his bonds. Foggs sat by philosophically.
Violet, squatting in the comer, indulged in quiet sob-
146 THE YELLOW SPIDER
bing. To reassure her the trader presently broke the
silence with the remark:
"Don't be afraid, ma'am, we're not coming to any
harm. If they intended to get rid of us they wouldn't
have taken all the trouble they have."
"But they may be cannibals!" she exclaimed afright-
Poggs chuckled. It was the first expression of amuse-
ment that had crossed his lips since the attack, and it
did more to hearten the thoroughly frightened little
widow than anything he said.
"They're pirates, but they're not cannibals, ma'am.
Pirating is considered a perfectly respectable business
among some of these Malay Moslems who'd no more
think of eating a Christian than they would of eating
"But why are we here ?" Mrs. Coston asked fearfully.
Poggs shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know my-
self, ma'am. Maybe they're going to hold us for ran-
som. When Mr. Bright comes back he'll probably be
able to tell us."
Cheered at this, Violet gradually ceased her sob-
bing. Vincent continued tugging at the ropes that
held his wrists. One hand was nearly free when the
door of their pen was opened and the figure of the
missionary appeared. He was smiling quizzically, and
carried a smoking native lamp.
"Room for one more ?" he asked.
"Have you heard anything?" Vincent beseeched im-
The missionary shook his head. "The juragan knows
nothing about her," he said. "All the prisoners are pre-
sumed to be on this vessel, and she is not here."
"Then she's — " Vincent began wildly, lifting a har-
rowed face from the floor of the cabin. Words failed
"There are two unaccounted for," John Bright an-
nounced gravely, "she and the young man who discussed
Borneo with me this afternoon as we were passing Cape
Kumungun. The jurangan reports that one of his crew
reported seeing two people swimming toward shore as
they were approaching the Zuyder Zee. It may be they
escaped that way."
"But where could they go ?" Mrs. Coston asked.
"The young man seemed to know Borneo/' John Bright
replied. "If it was he with Miss Coston, there is a pos-
sible chance that they may get to Bulungan, if they fall
in with friendly Dyaks."
Vincent had ceased tugging at the ropes. The gall-
ing bonds no longer irritated him now that he knew
positively that Grace was not aboard. He lay face
down on the vile floor, the prey of the keenest agony
that a strong man can feel, the agony of uncertainty at
a loved one's fate.
So the dreary night passed and dawn found the lone
woman and three men huddled about the smoking lamp,
cramped and utterly spent, but sleepless with anxiety.
Shortly after the sun rose the proa turned suddenly
shoreward and darted into a little inlet effectually
screened by overhanging trees. An observer a hundred
yards from shore would not have guessed that a break
existed ahead of him in the jungle wall, beyond which
lay a harbor and the lair of the pirate, Ah Sing. The
prisoners were kept below while the entrance was being
made, for the wily jurangan had no intention of reveal-
ing the secret of the inlet to even a captive. After a
brief run through a zigzag channel, over which lofty
branches and creepers formed a leafy arch, the proa
shot into a broad lagoon. On the opposite shore lay the
city on stilts that Ah Sing and his pirate horde had
built in secret while they were preparing to seize Bu-
lungan and exact their toll on the commerce of the East
Once they were inside the harbor the jurangan per-
mitted them the freedom of the deck of his proa. It
was not long, however, before the rising sun drove
them below, for the torrid rays, reflected by the placid
surface of the lagoon, were wholly unendurable to
Thus they missed seeing the Zuyder Zee, manned by
148 THE YELLOW SPIDER
her pirate captors, steam into the harbor out of the
same narrow channel by which they had entered. It
approached the city slowly, and came to anchor a short
distance from where the proa lay,
John Bright was attempting to cheer the depressed
group huddled below deck by relating humorous anec-
dotes of his varied career as a missionary in the East
Indies when the Malay chief, who acted as juragan of
the proa, approached and interrupted with a harsh jar-
gon. Bright listened attentively, and asked a question
in the same tongue, to which the chief nodded assent.
The missionary then turned toward his fellow captives.
"The datoo tells me," he announced, "that we are to
be transferred from this proa to our old quarters on the
Zuyder Zee. There are other white captives here, he in-
forms me, who will be confined with us on the ship as
soon as they can be moved from shore.'*
"Is Grace among them?" Vincent asked eagerly.
"I am sorry to say she is not," the missionary re-
plied. "We and those of the crew who survived are the
only white prisoners taken from the Zuyder Zee. The
Danish gentleman and the young man who was the
captain's guest are missing. The former was killed, I
think, for he took part in the fighting. I saw him using
a revolver. The prisoners the datoo refers to are those
taken previously from the Dordrechter and from
'What will be done with us?" Violet Coston asked
The missionary smiled. "I do not know as yet, and the
datoo says he cannot tell me," he replied. "But the
fact that we have not suffered any serious mistreatment,
outside of a little discomfort, and that we are to be
supplied with our old quarters on board the packet is
"Funny thing for those devils to do !" Poggs mut-
tered lugubriously. "I'm afraid there's something back
"Their conduct toward us is quite unpiratical. 111
agree/' the missionary replied cheerfully. "But I'm in-
clined to take an optimistic view of what the future has
in store for us. I believe that they have more serious
intentions against our pocketbooks than our persons."
"You mean that they will demand a ransom ?" Vincent
The datoo, who had been listening with evident im-
patience to this conversation, interrupted with a harsh
question addressed to John Bright. The missionary
"We must go on deck," he announced, rising. The
others followed him, the datoo closing the rear. Violet
clung to Vincent's arm. A grinning Bugi led them to
the rail where a tambangan lay. With an agility re-
markable for a man of his age, John Bright sprang into
the smaller vessel and held out his arms to assist Violet.
The latter shrinking fearfully under the bold stares of
the burly, half -clad marauders, clung to him for pro-
The missionary was the first man on board the deck
of the Zuyder Zee, and cast an anxious glance about the
deck. The next moment he heaved a sigh of relief,
for all evidences of the bloody fight the night before had
been removed. His voice therefore rang cheerfully as
he urged the others to join him.
A powerful Manchu was in command of the craft.
He was evidently an experienced seaman and knew
steam, for he had the vessel as neat as a pin. He car-
ried himself with all the dignity of a liner captain as
he watched the captives come aboard and ceremoniously
greeted John Bright. There was a brief conversation,
then both bowed, and Bright and his fellow captives
were led below.
"What did the old codger want?" Vincent asked
"It seems he has heard of my work in Sarawak," the
missionary replied, smiling. "He expressed his regret
that it was necessary that I be held captive for a time
until some disposition was made of the prisoners taken."
"I can't make it out," Poggs declared with a puzzled
150 THE YELLOW SPIDER
shake of his head. "There's something back of all this
The afternoon passed slowly. Vincent and Violet and
John Bright and Poggs chafed at their enforced inaction
and indulged in endless surmises on what was in store
for them. Vincent was like a caged tiger, pacing the
deck hour after hour, and eating his heart out with
anxiety as to Grace's fate. When the others tried to
quiet him and divert his thoughts, he irritably turned
aside their well-meant efforts until they left him alone.
Toward sundown John Bright came upon Vincent as
the latter stood near the bows and gazed fixedly shore-
"I wouldn't do it if I were you, Mr. Brady," the
missionary remarked quietly. "You haven't a chance."
"What do you mean ?" Vincent snapped.
"Make any attempt to escape. That is what you were
contemplating, was it not?"
"Why shouldn't I?" Vincent demanded, ignoring the
The missionary glanced about the deck.
"Doesn't it occur to you that we are rather lightly
guarded?" he asked. "We have practically the run of
the ship. Isn't it likely that there is some good reason
for such leniency?"
"You mean they don't care whether we try to
escape?" Vincent demanded.
The missionary looked fixedly toward the shore.
"This is a freshwater lagoon," he remarked. "I have
no doubt but what it teems with crocodiles. If one
should try to escape it would afford a few minutes'
diversion for those on deck and the loungers ashore.
That is all."
"If I could lay my hands on a boat," Vincent re-
marked, more to himself than to the missionary.
"The village is located in the heart of a great morass
which stretches in both directions along the coast," the
missionary declared. "I do not know just where we
are, but I have an approximate idea. I can safely assert
that there is not one chance in a thousand for a man
who docs not know the trails to cross the morass to the
high ground beyond. Our keeper knows he needs no
guard over us. Nature itself has provided barriers
more powerful than any man could construct."
"Should I give up all hope of finding Miss Coston?"
"Patience," the missionary counseled. "We will se-
cure our release eventually. I cannot believe that He
who knoweth the sparrow^s fall will desert us in this
hour of need!"
Ah Sing's Threat
A GRAY pallor of night hung over Ah Sing's city
and the broad and placid expanse of the lagoon,
where the Zuyder Zee lay at anchor in the midst
of a bevy of proas and smaller craft like a hen squatting
among her chicks. The pale moon shone down from an
almost cloudless sky. Not a creature stirred on the
packet's deserted deck, and the proas floated gently at
anchor with none to keep watch over them.
In the shadows thrown by the awnings overhead a
lone figure skulked. It proceeded cautiously, a step at
a time, toward the stern. It was the figure of a man
in European garb, and he carried his shoes between his
teeth. At each advance he halted a moment, listening
"keenly for a shuffling footstep or other alarm. But his
slow progress along the length of the deck was seem-
Reaching the rail he looked around cautiously, then
ffave a quick glance over the side. A smile of satis-
faction irradiated his features. Noiseless as a cat he
swung himself over the rail and dropped into one of
the two tambangans floating there. With a stroke of
his knife he cut the twisted fiber cable by which the
native craft was attached to the larger ship. Seizing
one of the two paddles lying in the bottom of the tam-
bangan he began urging it with awkward strokes toward
Vincent Brady had set out on his quest for his be-
The tambangan had only proceeded a little way
when another figure appeared on the deck of the packet.
AH SING'S THREAT 153
Quietly, but without employing the extreme measures
of precaution that Vincent had taken, John Bright
walked to the stern and watched the progress of tiie
younger man. As Vincent neared shore the missionary
swung over the vessel's side into the other tambangan.
Unloosing the fiber cable and picking up a paddle he
struck out in the same direction which the American
Reaching shore, Vincent threw his paddle aside and
looked about uncertainly. He was on a narrow ridge
of white sand flanked on one side by the lagoon and
on the other by a reed-grown pool that extended for a
considerable distance in both directions. As he paused
on its brink, debating which way he should go, it oc-
curred to him that he could cross the pool in the
tambangan. Turning around to recover his paddle he
perceived with dismay that another tambangan was
rapidly approaching from the packet. *
Maddened by the thought of being Ignominiously car-
ried back to the ship he had just left, he grasped hold
of the bow of the heavy craft and, by exerting his full
strength, hauled it over the ridge and into the pond.
As he did so a low hail came to him from across the
water. Disregarding it he sprang into the dugout and
began paddling desperately toward the opposite shore.
The shallow, reed-grown expanse was less than two
hundred yards wide. Its inner bank was fringed by a
wall of mangroves, whose thickly interwoven aerial
roots presented a solid wall through which no boat
could pass. Driving the tambangan among them, Vin-
cent caught hold of the nearest root and began climb-
ing it with the full intent of putting as much space
between himself and his pursuers as possible.
In the open the moon furnished a mild illumination,
but here, in the mangrove swamp, abysmal blackness
reigned. The damp, slimy roots provided an uncertain
footing, and Vincent found it necessary to crawl along
on his belly like a snake. In his fear that he might
be recaptured and brought back to the packet he gave
no thought to the danger he was running. That the
,154 THE YELLOW SPIDER
morass must be infested with poisonous reptiles, and
that crocodiles might be lurking below and leopards
and pythons in the branches above never occurred to
He was crawling from one root to another when he
felt himself slipping. He clutched desperately at the
root to which he was clinging, but the slimy surface
afforded him no grip. As he frantically reached out
into the black void for a more firm hold the water
closed over his shoetops. The next moment he found
himself thigh-deep in the morass and sinking.
Awakened suddenly to his danger, he made a des-
perate effort to stay his descent by clinging to the
root. But its smooth surface slipped away under his
palms and the water mounted to his armpits. Too late
he thought of John Bright's warning. Face to face with
a horrible death in the loathsome swamp he lifted an
agonized face heavenward and cried :
"Oh, Grod! what will become of Grace?"
John Bright's tambangan crashed against the wall
of mangrove roots at that moment.
"Mr. Brady?" he cried anxiously.
Vincent uttered a hysterical sob of relief.
"Here," he said. "I'm caught in a quicksand."
Bright struck a match. It revealed Vincent standing
shoulder deep in a miry pool, with the long, snake-like
roots of the mangroves rising around him. In the
ghostly darkness they seemed like tentacles of huge
A little to one side Bright spied an opening in the
wall of mangrove roots. With a dextrous stroke of
his paddle he directed his tambangan toward it, bidding
Vincent, meanwhile in subdued, cheery tones, to keep
up courage. A few moments later the tambangan nosed
its way next to the young man.
"Lift your arms and hold on to the nearest root," the
missionary commanded. Vincent did as he was in-
structed. Bright deftly passed a cord around him, un-
der the armpits, and then edged the tambangan toward
a near-by tree-trunk. Wedging the craft firady between
AH SING'S THBEAT 156
several root arms, he sprang for the base of the tree
with the other end of the rope in his hand.
"Now pull yourself up," the missionary directed. At
the same time he exerted his full strength.
The rope tightened around Vincent's chest, cutting off
his breath. He strove his utmost to get a firm grip on
the slimy roots that constantly slipped away beneath his
fingers. The water boiled and bubbled as the mission-
ary swung him now this way and now that.
"We're gaining," Vincent gasped.
"Once more!" the missionary cried between breaths.
There was a mighty heave and Vincent was drawn up
against a gnarled root. With the missionary's assist-
ance he half clambered and half rolled into the tam-
bangan. Panting, Bright wiped the moisture from his
Without a word of reproof he stepped into the tam-
bangan and poled his way out into the pond. A few
strokes of the paddle brought them to where the craft
Vincent had taken lay. The missionary took this in tow.
"Can't I help?" Vincent asked shamefacedly, realiz-
ing the ignominy of his failure.
"You may take a paddle," the missionary replied. "It
will keep you warm." The young man was shivering,
for the night was chill.
They paddled in silence across the pond to the nar-
row spit of sand and hauled their tambangans across.
"Are we going back to the Zuyder Zee?" Vincent asked
"Not until you take a bath," the missionary replied
quietly. "You'll have to get rid of that mud. I'll watch
Five minutes in the warm water at the edge of the
lagoon removed most of the mire from Vincent's cloth-
ing. This done, John Bright nodded inexorably toward
"Isn't there some way of crossing the swamp?" Vin-
"Not without a guide," the missionary replied. "As
I told you this afternoon, you must give up that
156 THE YELLOW SPIDER
thought. If we are to escape it must be some other
"But there is no other way, you say?"
"We must trust in Providence to show us a way!"
"How did you know I was trying to escape?" Vin-
cent asked a few moments later as they were paddling
quietly toward the packet.
"I was expecting it, my lad," the old man replied
in a kindly voice. "So I watched for you."
"Then nobody else on board knows?"
"I hope not. Quiet now."
They stole silently around to the stem of the vessel
where John Bright fastened the two tambangans. Then
they stealthily climbed aboard and tiptoed to their
Hidden in the shadows the Manchu commander of
the Zuyder Zee watched them glide by. He made no
sound, but a peculiar smile of quaint Oriental humor
illumined his features.
As dawn was breaking a slim yacht glided into the
harbor. A wild yell of exultation broke forth from
those on shore. It was repeated and grew in volume
as natives tumbled out of their houses and ran to the
Ah Sing, the conquering hero, was returning home.
Those on board the Zuyder Zee watched the yacht
with anxious eyes, fearfully hopeful of getting a glimpse
of their dread captor. But Ah Sing did not show him-
self. Kjais and datoos in gayly decorated proas and
wearing their most gorgeous finery came and went to
the yacht in an unending procession, but none stayed
more than a few minutes. Presently a proa shot from
the yacht and made toward the packet.
"We'll be knowing our fate now in a few minutes,"
Poggs remarked to the little group of his fellow pris-
oners gathered at the rail.
A kiai resplendent in a sarong of scarlet silk em-
broidered with gold boarded the packet and advanced
toward her Manchu captain with stately tread. A
AH SING'S THREAT 157
brief colloquy followed between the two, whereupon the
kjai left. Presently the prisoners were summoned to
the captain's quarters. They filed in singly, John Bright
in the lead, with a Qiinaman carrying a mace closing
the rear. As the missionary entered he cast a sharp
glance at their keeper, but gleaned nothing from the
latter's imperturbable features.
The Manchu questioned them regarding their names
and residences. Then he asked each as to his wealth,
omitting only the missionary. Vincent answered for
Violet, naming a comparatively small sum as the total
of her possessions. The Manchu smiled.
The interrogation completed, the commander glanced
benevolently at the missionary.
"You, my brother, are poor," he announced. "Your
life has been one of giving and not of getting. Your
many deeds of mercy are known to him whom we obey.
Therefore, let there be no talk of ransom between us.
Yet you must tarry With us a while, because you know
things that are of value to those who hate us."
He shot a stern glance at Poggs.
"A hundred thousand guilders is thy credit at Ba-
tavia, is it not. Mynheer Poggs?" he asked blandly.
"Then a hundred thousand guilders must thou pay."
His glance shifted to Vincent.
"Thou art wealthier than thou wottest, my friend,"
he observed gently. "Five hundred thousand guilders is
the price that Ah Sing asks for thy freedom. And as
for the woman" — ^he glanced coolly at the shrinking
Violet — ^"she is fair, she is dainty. The orang blanda
prize highly their womankind. Let her ransom be
five hundred thousand guilders also."
"Where do you think that amount of money is com-
ing from?** Vincent demanded hotly.
The Manchu quelled him with a look.
**You will write a cable to your bankers now, eacfi
of you," he announced calmly. "You will direct that
these funds be paid to a certain firm whose name and
address we will supply. The payment must be made
within ten days from this date."
158 THE YELLOW SPIDER
''And if it isn't paid?" Vincent demanded
The Manchu's eyes narrowed
**In the old days," he replied softly, "there were tor-
turers who had great cunning in prolonging the
agonies of human flesh. But I assure you that no
torturer has ever lived who had greater cunning than
our illustrious captain, the Sultan, Ah Sing/'
The Council's Decision
BULUNGAN was astir early the morning follow-
ing the pasar. Its inhabitants might have been
excused for extending their repose imtil the sun
had completed half the morning's quadrant on account
of the events of the day before, but sleep leaped nimbly
from their eyelids at times like these. Pasar had been
full of thrills, reaching a climax in the conclave of
chiefs at the huge balais. Few of the natives had any
clear idea of what had transpired there, but rumor was
thick and fast and each magnified its predecessor.
The Orang Blanda Kapala, Mynheer Peter Gross,
had come back from the dead. The sea had given up
his ghost, and he had suddenly appeared at the meeting
and torn his traducers apart like one would tear a baked
f^an-fish. He was as tall as a durian tree and his limbs
as huge as the trunk of a ban3ran. Gronong Lumut dwelt
in his kalalungan (soul) and inspired him to prophesy.
The Bintang Burung had been seen flitting like a gray
ghost through the air and uttering dreadful cries.
There were other stories more cheerful than these.
Men told with relish how the great ship that smokes,
of the orang blanda, had been captured by that re-
doubtable chieftain. Ah Sing. They uttered his name
in whispers, for the dread of his vengeance still hung
heavily over the land, although he had not been heard
from in two years.
That something had happened at the cotmcil every
one was agreed. For the chiefs had stolen out swiftly
at a late hour with their knives and padangs and sumpi-
tans and had hastened out of the city toward the plaats
of the orang blanda. Later they had returned by twos
160 THE YELLOW SPmER
and threes, none too cheerful, to be sure, and grimly
silent on the events of the night. Wobanguli had en-
joined strict secrecy upon them.
So surmise and conjecture grew and the seller of
silks lingered over his pot of agar-agar and his cakes
dipped in oil of kawan fruit while he exchanged opin-
ions with the keeper of the stall. The Chinamen blinked
placidly at passers-by, and kept the blinds ready to be
put up at a moment's notice. The fishermen congre-
gated at the vissers-markt and speculated on the effect
war would have upon their trade. Warriors must eat,
they argued, and no meat is so readily portable as sun-
baked fish in a palm-leaf bag.
On the other hand, piracy bred hazards, the outlaws
would require tribute, and business would suffer. Opin-
ions like this were repeated ad nauseam.
And the women — ^what a feast for cackling tongues!
The streets were full of them, clad in their brightest
garments, their shrill trebles vying in volume with the
hilarious cacophony of the dogs. Had Bulungan con-
tained an inhabitant who preferred rest to a holiday,
he must have inevitably been forced to flee to the
The sun was about three hours high when the chiefs
and their followers began trooping to the assembly-
hall. As each of the rulers approached the gate the
assembled crowd expressed critical opinion on the show-
ing he made. The Malays on their coal-black, gayly
caparisoned horses, Imported from Lombock, received
generous applause. The sea Dyak chiefs, borne in
gaudy palanquins, made scarcely less show. But the
hill Dyaks, who gained a precarious existence in the
inland jungles and therefore had small opportunity for
either commerce or free-booting like their more for-
tunate neighbors along the seashore, presented a sorry
appearance in their scant and shabby chawats.
When a little Puna chief trotted up on foot with his
half-naked followers he was greeted with derisive smiles
and mocking jeers. He waited silently with tightly
compressed lips until the gate was opened for him, then
THE COUNCIL'S DECISION 161
turned slowly and searched out the mockers In the
crowd with keen, coal-black eyes, glittering like an
angry cobra's. The jeers suddenly ceased and a hush
came over the mob. Those who had been most vocif-
erous with their taunts slunk away. It is more than a
tradition in Borneo that the Dyak of the hills never for-
gives an insult, and never forgets.
Upon entering the hall the chiefs stalked to their ac-
customed places and waited with grim taciturnity for
the appearance of the raja. Everyone was heavily
armed and carried his kris lightly in its palm-leaf
sheath. A shadow of impending events hung heavily
over the Assembly; the very atmosphere was electric
In the center of the stage stood a small table on
which rested an ironwood bowl containing a ruddy,
turbid liquid. The bowl was elaborately carved with
the figures of the Dyak Pantheon, Djath and the ele-
ments of good contending with Budjang Brandi and the
hosts of evil. Beside the bowl lay the public talismans,
the sacred relics of the ancestors. When a pact was
made these were dipped in blood to seal it. Dyak and
Malay alike gazed thoughtfully at the bowl.
The Malays sat by themselves. Njam, their leader,
glowered at the floor, his face as dark as a thunder-
Presently there was a low, monotonous beating of
drums. It gradually increased in volume. Tom-tom^
torn! the drums boomed, and more sharply. Tom-tom"
tomi And again: Tom-tom-tom, tom-tom-tom!
There was a faint stir among the assembly, then a
general stiffening. The raja was entering.
Though a coward, utterly unprincipled, and faithless
to everyone and everything save his own interest, the
raja looked every inch a king. Taller by half a head
than any other man present, well-proportioned, his
features regular, and his skin a healthy bronze, he was
endowed by nature with those gifts that win and retain
the confidence of aborigines. Saul, the son of Kis,
was no more admired by the Israelites of his day than
162 THE YELLOW SPmER
this swarthy ruler was by the show-loving Dyak3 of Bu-
Itmgan. Keenly conscious of his people's childish love
of pageantry and royal show, he captivated their hearts
by dressing himself in gorgeous trappings on state
occasions like these. Thus every Dyak swelled with
pride in his handsome ruler, as Wobanguli walked with
stately tread t(5 the center of the stage.
The raja paused impressively while the subject chiefs
made their obeisances. At a sign, native boys clad in
blue and green chawats trotted in and passed cigarettes,
betel, and sirih. A witch doctor clad in the skin of a
tiger, his face buried in the tiger's head, entered and
placed various articles in a double semicircle on the
floor — a pargam's tail-feather, a piece of coral, a bit of
meteoric rode, the tip of a leopard's tail, and the wing
of a foxbat. He walked around these, slowly at first,
gradually faster, and finally in a dizzy pirouette, hum-
ming the while a weird refrain that mounted in volume
as it ran up the scale.
Stopping abruptly, he began a series of incantations.
His voice was lifted in appeal to Djath, to the hantu
token, and to the god of fire that dwelt in Gunong
Agong. A frenzy seized him, he yelled, he screamed, he
tore his hair and lacerated his arms and legs with a
sharp-pointed device. Frothing at the lips he finally
sank in utter exhaustion at the foot of the stage.
The Dyaks watched the performance with deep rev-
erence. The Malays looked on impassively with more
or less of scorn and disgust depicted upon their fea-
tures. As true believers thay had very little patience
with the idolatrous practices of their despised allies.
Wobanguli rose majestically. His eyes swept the
vast assembly, searching out every man. Not a chief
there but had the impression that the raja had singled
him out of the multitude as the one person in whom he
had implicit faith and confidence. Although untutored
in the art of public speaking, Wobanguli had the price-
less gift of knowing intuitively how to sway men of his
race and color. He won his audience before he
opened his lips.
THE COUNCIL'S DECISION 168
"Men of Bulungan and Borneo," he began, using the
mongrel speech of the coast towns instead of chaste
Dyak, so that all might understand, ''ye have come from
the cities and from the dessas; ye have come from the
hills and from the marshes; ye have come from the
farthest jungles and from the isles which our mother,
Laut, the sea, sprinkles with pearls of sea-foam, to
speak the thoughts of our people and to tell us of the
good that has come to them, and of the ill, during the
days of the orang blanda rule. The Punans and the
Bukits are here from their far distant negris, the Kyans
from the upper reaches of the rivers, each from his
own sungA, the Kenyahs from the Tohen Batu, the
Tamans of the cities who make our krises and pa-
dangs, and the Ibans and Tunjungs who sail the seas
in proas. Ye are all here to-day, the glory and great-
ness of Bulungan, before whose might the islands bow
and even distant Cathay makes obeisance, sending silks.
"And ye are met with us as brothers," he declared,
turning to the Malays. "Ye are brothers who breathe
the same air and draw nourishment from the same soil
as we." Rich and resonant, his voice rose and fell
as he dilated upon the past alliances and blood brother-
hoods of Malay and Dyak, subtly interweaving the
thought that the two races were branches of a com-
mon stock fated to defend their joint heritage against
the white man. As he enlarged on his theme the
Dyaks leaned forward eagerly, drinking in every word,
and the stem features of the Malays softened while
their backs stiffened with fierce racial pride.
Having won his audience, Wobanguli touched upon
the golden age of piracy, prior to Peter Gross's com-
ing. His reference was politic. Not by word or ges-
ture did he commit himself. He contrasted these years
with the two that had just passed, when every warrior
was forced to earn a living.
The Dyaks began fingering their spears and the
Malays stroked the handles of their krises. The
pent-up savagery of two years was impatient for ex-
pression. But the wily Wobanguli was not yet ready
164 THE YELLOW SPIDER
for action by the council. Pitching his voice in a
higher key he shouted:
"Blood brothers of Bulungan, to-day we have a mes-
sage from the gods. Djath spoke to me last night in
a dream. Lo, I will tell you the manner of the dream,
and then I will ask the holy bilian here to interpret
the meaning of the dream."
Lowering his lids, as though to shut out all outside
influence, and speaking like one in a trance, he nar-
"This is the manner of my dream. It was night, and
sleep, the life-giver, was far from my eyelids. I rose
and cast off my mat and walked to the seashore. By
and by a thirst came upon me and I looked about for
a pitcher plant that I might drink. But there was
none, only a barren waste of coral on which naught can
grow. Faint with the thirst, I turned inland to seek
the cooling jungle. But as I walked the trees fled
before me, and the coral desert ran ahead of my feet.
"As I ran, thinking only of the terrible thirst that
burned me like a fire, a foxbat flew out of the night
into my face. In my confusion I chanced to look up-
ward and beheld on a rock directly above me a leopard
crouched to spring. I cried to Djath for aid and in
answer to my prayer a ball of fire fell and consumed
the leopard. Then I awoke, and as I lay there shiv-
ering, and wondering at the meaning of the dream, I
found on my pillow the emblem of the great Djath, the
tail-feather of a pargam."
Turning to the witch doctor, he cried dramatically:
"Now, holy bilian, tell us the meaning of the dream."
"Listen to me, O raja!" the witch-doctor cried, ris-
ing like one awakening from a trance. "The coral
thou sawest stretching out endlessly before thy feet and
driving back the jungle was the orang hlanda, for lo,
are they not driving our people from the soil of their
fathers? The thirst that came upon thee was the
weariness of thy people of the orang hlanda rule. The
leopard thou sawest was him who dwells in the plaats
beyond, our Orang Blanda Kapala, for has he not the
THE COUNCIL'S DECISION 185
stealth and cunning of a leopard?'' (He asked the
question venemously.) "Djath saved thee with a stone
of fire from heaven." His long, lean arm and ex-
tended finger shot forth from braeath the tiger skin
as he cried: "Strike thy enemy then, in Djath's name.
He sent thee his token, the pargam's tail-feather, in a
dream; do as the god bids thee."
The assembly was breathless. Even the Moslem
Malays were impressed by this tale of a dream and its
interpretation. They were of too superstitious a race
wholly to g^ve up their belief in omens and portents
in the acceptance of Islamism.
Wobanguli appeared to be torn between doubts. He
sat with his head in his hand, as though pondering
deeply. A young Punan, unable to stand the strain,
leaped impetuously forward and shook his spear.
"Give us war, raja, give us war!" he cried. "Speak
and see how quickly we will pull down the leopard
from yonder height."
"War, war, give Us war !" a dozen voices shouted.
'War! War!" rose again the cry, taken up and re-
peated by Malay and Dyak. They sprang forward,
animated by a common impulse, no longer preserving
the decorum of assembly, but determined to force the
raja to accede to their demand. They stormed the
dias with raised krises and spears and shouted them-
Wobanguli raised his hand for silence. In that
shrieking bedlam with men clambering over each other
to reach the stage it was difficult to obtain order, but
finally all throats were hushed. As though anxious to
remove a final doubt before rendering a decision, he
asked the witch-doctor:
"What, then, holy father, is the meaning of the
"That Djath should send his humble one, meaning
me, to counsel thee to strike now, ere it be too late,
and the leopard pounce down upon thee," the witch-
doctor announced triumphantly.
A yell, wilder and fiercer than any that had been
166 THE YELLOW SPmER
uttered before, greeted the interpretation. The natives
leaped up and shouted like men gone mad. When the
tumult was at its height Wobanguli stepped forward
and raised his hand for silence. But as he did so an-
other figure suddenly materialized at the entrance back
of the stage and swiftly crossed the platform. A magic
name sprang simultaneously from the throats of all
She was clad wholly in white. The costume was
purely Bomean and simplicity itself. Unlike other
Dyak women, she wore no ornaments — ^her marvelous
beauty was sufficient adornment. A plain band of gold
caught her hair.
A hush fell upon the assembly. The witch-doctor,
who had been the wildest dancer in the mad frenzy
that followed the completion of his interpretation,
shrank back on one of the long, low benches and tried
to eiface himself in the crowd. Koyala did not cast
a glance in his direction.
"What is it, my people?" she asked sorrowfully in
rich, chaste Dyak. "What do I hear you say? Do
you speak of war? War for unhappy Bulungan? Your
homes to be ravaged and your fields devastated? The
rice to be burned ere it ripens? Your bodies to feel
wounds? Your daughters to be sold as slaves? The
proud Malay to lord it over you and make the wealth
of your forests and fields his?"
A low, guttural murmur of dissent and disapproba-
tion rose as she paused. It was evident that her mes-
sage was not falling upon sympathetic ears.
"We have heard the voice of Djath, bilian," the
suave voice of Wobanguli interrupted. "Djath bids us
strike and save our people and our fields. It is Djath
we obey. The die is cast, bilian, Djath hath spoken
to me in a dream, and there is naught more to say."
If the raja expected to silence her by his utter-
ance, he was badly mistaken. She turned on him with
blazing eyes and demanded scornfully:
"Who has interpreted the words of Djath unto
THE COUNCIL'S DECISION 167
thee, raja? This false priest, this muddler here?"
She pointed a finger of scorn at the shrinking witch-
doctor. "Dost thou prefer his word to mine, raja?
Dost thou place him before me, who am keeper of the
mysteries, who knoweth the innermost secrets from the
most ancient of times, who am a granddaughter of
The raja flushed under his swarthy skin, but tried
to maintain his dignity.
"Djath spoke to me in a dream, bilian," he began,
but Koyala did not permit him to proceed.
"Was it the dream the hantu token related to me in
the still hours last night?" she demanded. "A dream
of two men who sat in a hut with a lamp between
them and talked of coral and a leopard, and a par-
Wobanguli's face turned a sickly yellow. His knees
quaked, and he looked like a man about to collapse. It
did not occur to him that Koyala might have eaves-
dropped. Believing in her supernatural powers he was
ready to accept that the hantu token, her own familiar
spirit, had revealed to her. the scheme which he and the
witch-doctor had planned during the night.
The Malays, however, saved him. Quick to grasp
the threat to his cause, Njam and his brother datoos
began a frantic demonstration for war. "War, war,
give us war," the Malays shouted. "Death to the
orang hlanda** The Dyaks took up the refrain.
Koyala realized her defeat. As suddenly as she had
appeared she whisked out of sight. When the hubbub
finally died down the assembled chieftains looked ex-
pectantly toward Wobanguli.
"As ye will," he announced gravely. "Gather your
followers, that we may pull the leopard down from his
The words were scarcely out of his mouth before a
weird death song rose from outside the walls. The
song was sung by a woman, and she was counting those
who should die before another mom:
168 THE YELLOW SPIDEE
"Satu, dua, delapan,
Tiga, ampat, samhilan,
Lima, tujoh, anam,
Malay numerals as follows:
One, two, eight.
Three, four, nine.
Five, seven, six.
"Ten shall die," the Malays whispered among them-
selves. "Ten shall die before mom."
ALTHOUGH it was nearly dawn before he sought
his cot, Peter Gross was up less than two hours
"■ after sunrise on the morning following his re-
turn to the fort. Hastily dressing he stepped outside.
His eyes ran around the enclosure with a glance of
approval. There was an air of alertness and of readiness
for any eventuality about the place that pleased him.
Lieutenant Van Voort, who held the rank of major in
the colonials, was drilling his battalion of Javanese out-
side the walls. The smart appearance of the white-
cotton clad troops was a source of keen satisfaction to
the resident. The garrison was evidently in the best
Peter Gross noticed a gun crew oiling and polishing
one of the three field pieces that were the darlings of
Captain Carver's heart. Sergeant McCarthy, one of the
original twenty-five who had accompanied them to Bu-
lungan two years before, was in charge. Peter Gross
complimented him on the appearance of his weapon.
"She's a beauty, sor," McCarthy declared with pride.
Lowering his voice he inquired anxiously: "They'll not
be disappointing us to-day, will they, sor?"
"Would you be disappointed if the Dyaks decided
to let us alone?" Peter Gross asked with a smile.
"Faith, sor, 'twould break the byes' hearts," Mc-
Carthy declared earnestly.
"We'll rely on you when the pinch comes, sergeant,"
Peter Gross declared.
"I'll be there!" McCarthy replied, a flush of pleasure
ruddying his tanned features.
170 THE YELLOW SPIDER
The resident continued his inspection, well aware
that Sergeant McCarthy would perform herculean feats
if required on that day. He was a rare leader of men,
this Peter Gross.
Grace met him in front of Lieutenant Van Voort's
quarters. She was playing with the lieutenant's blue-
eyed, flaxen-haired son, a rollicking youngster six years
of age. Mrs. Van Voort observed their animated greet-
ing with a shrewd smile.
"Captain Carver told us of your safe return early
this morning," Grace said. "He informed us that you
were under orders to sleep all day. Isn't there some
dreadful penalty when one fails to obey the commands
of the military?"
"If there is, I am afraid that you will be subject to
court martial as well as I," Peter Gross retorted.
Grace laughed. "Tell me," she directed, "must we
stay inside the walls all day? Mrs. Van Voort has
forbidden me, under penalty, from stirring outside these
'Under penalty of doing our cooking," Mrs. Van
Voort explained. "Do you know, mynheer, our ser-
vants have vanished, and we two women have been
thrown wholly upon our own resources?"
"But I've already discovered that Mrs. Van Voort
bakes perfectly wonderful Dutch cakes and cookies,"
Grace said. "So I'm not afraid of starving. I at-
tended cooking school once, but my biscuits were as
soggy as the swamp we tramped through yesterday,
and my pies were burned black. All honor to the
chef, say I."
"I believe I smell something burning now," Mrs.
Van Voort exclaimed. She bustled hurriedly to the
There was not the faintest odor in the air. Het
object in leaving was perfectly obvious to the two young
people she left behind. Grace chortled inwardly. Peter
Gross colored with embarrassment. Somehow meeting
this girl under conditions of civilization was more dif-
ficult than roaming with her through the jungle.
THE ATTACK 171
Grace saw his perturbation and guessed tiie reason.
An impish spirit seized her, and she resolved that he must
speak first. So she remained demurely silent, playing
him with the battery of her eyes, and exulting in her
power over this remarkable young giant who overawed
a mob of savages by sheer force of personality, but
shivered at the quiver of a girl's eyelash.
"I am sorry that we cannot permit you to roam about
to-day," Peter Gross began diffidently. "But I do
not feel that it would be safe." Realizing that this
admission might provoke unnecessary alarm he hastened
to add in a more hopeful tone: "Of course, the storm
may blow over. I hope it will."
"The Javanese are drilling outside," Grace pointed
"That is their soldiers' duty," Peter Gross replied.
The remark was unfortunate. Grace was an ar-
dent advocate of the equality of the sexes.
"You mean to say that I shall be required to skulk
behind walls because I am a woman," she accused. "I
hold, Mr. Gross, that women are entitled to share the
same privileges and therefore the same dangers as
Her spirited reply made Peter Gross's nerves tingle.
This was a woman of his race speaking, undaunted
and unafraid. But his stem brow and sterner voice
betrayed none of the warm admiration that filled him.
"I am sorry," he replied regretfully, "but the regula-
tions permit no exceptions."
"Would they apply to Koyala if she were here?"
"Her case is a trifle different — " Peter Gross began.
"Would she be in any less danger than I?"
"Possibly not, but as a priestess of the Dyaks she
could come and go as she wished."
"And as an American girl, not a member of your
official family, I am entitled to the same privileges,"
"I'm sorry I must refuse you," Peter Gross replied
in a low tone that carried a note of keen distress. Grace
172 THE YELLOW SPmER
glanced at him curiously. She perceived that her show
of indignation, more than half banter, was accepted by
him in utmost seriousness. He was suffering because
he must deny her request. A thrill of exultation passed
through her. She knew she had no right to entertain
such a feeling, but it was sweet, nevertheless, to be able
to sway a man who was so strong, so splendidly virile,
such a giant among men, yet so much an unspoiled boy.
At the same time she was glad that he had not yielded.
"What a man !" she said to herself.
"I don't think I'll care to go out to-day," she re-
marked, smiling. "But if there should be an attack,
you'll let me help nurse the wounded, won't you?"
"Gladly," Peter Gross replied warmly, relieved to
escape from hfs dilemma.
"Is there any real danger?" Grace inquired.
"None," he equivocated gallantly. "I am confident
that we shall beat them off without trouble."
"And when that is done, will they go back to their
homes or must we stand siege?"
"The Dyack has little stomach for a siege," Peter
Gross declared. "If we administer one sharp defeat,
they will scatter, I am sure."
A wistful note crept into her voice.
"Do you think you will be able to do anything then
for Mrs. Coston and Mr. Brady and the others?" she
1 hope so," Peter Gross replied gravely.
1 know they are being held for ransom," Grace re-
marked. "And I recall what you said in regard to the
treatment they would receive. But something might
happen. Oh, Mr. Gross, I cannot help thinking of the
peril they are in and the suffering they may undergo."
"You may be sure that we shall do all that men
can do," he assured.
A shot shattered the stillness. They looked at each
other questioningly. The Javanese began pouring
through the gate on the double-quick.
"You'll pardon me?" Peter Gross asked in a voice
devoid of excitement.
THE ATTACK 17S
"Go, and God be with you," Grace breathed.
The shot heard by Peter Gross and Grace Coston
was the precursor of an outburst of firing from three
sides of the fort. The flank exposed to the sea was
free from attack, for the Dyaks had too wholesome a
respect for Carver's field pieces to venture on the
water within their range.
The ground about the fort for a space of about two
hundred feet was clear of all obstructions. Even the
shade trees which had been left to grow during
preceding less rigorous regimes, had been cut away
since Carver's coming. The fiery sun had scarred and
fissured the heavy black loam, splitting it into flakes
that crumbled to dust under foot. The view from the
walls was not a prepossessing one; an artist would
have turned away in disgust; but the barren plein was
absolutely devoid of cover for the enemy, and this was
exactly what the thoroughly practical commandant had
set out to accomplish.
Beyond the broad band of verdureless slope, the
creeping jungle lay, jealously walling in the little islet
of civilization that had risen in its virgin midst. The
palms came first, silent sentinels on picket duty, rising
among the copses of low shrub mingled with nipah and
clumps of grass. Back of them the taller deciduous
trees reared their stately heads while in the dank shade of
their spreading branches moss and creeper and tree-
In the rear of the fort was a gooseberry plantation
which an industrious Dyak had developed to a rare state
of perfection. He found a ready market for his prod-
uct among the members of the garrison and the little
"Amsterdam" colony of merchants along the road to
Bulungan town. The rows of berries ran parallel to
the stockade and thus afforded a measure of cover
to the bolder warriors indulging in the pleasant pastime
Bullets were whining overhead when Peter Gross
darted out and made for the spot where Captain Carver
was coolly sweeping the forest with his glasses.
174 THE YELLOW SPIDER
"We need you too badly to let you take chances, cap-
tain," the resident remonstrated smilingly to his com-
"Considering the accuracy of fire, I don't know but
what I'm as safe here as behind cover," Carver re-
plied. "I've been trying to get a line on how much in
earnest these devils are."
"As usual, they're firing high," Peter Gross ac-
knowledged cheerfully. "It's fortunate that the Dyak
cannot shoot. He is a great deal more deadly when he
sticks to his own weapons."
"You don't think the Malays are mixed up in this,
then?" Carver asked.
"The Malay is generally a fair shot," Peter Gross
observed non-committally. "He doesn't fire from the
hip like a Dyak."
"They do shoot better — ah!" The exclamation was
caused by a rifle-ball that passed through Captain
Carver's coatsleeve. A triumphant yell from the jungle
proclaimed that the enemy had observed the improve^
ment in his marksmanship.
"That was a Mauser ball !" Carver exclaimed. "They
must have better weapons than I thought they had."
"It was probably a Malay that fired that shot," Peter
Gross observed. "I recognized the Malay yell."
"Wobanguli had the riffraff from pretty nearly the
whole of the East Indies with him at pasar," Carver
declared. "It's hard to tell who are our foes."
"Aye. They'll stick to cover pretty closely until
nightfall. The Dyak has the weakness of every bush-
bred savage; he's afraid to risk his precious hide in the
Peter Gross's prediction that the attackers would
keep a respectful distance from the fort during the
day was borne out. The Dyaks and their allies clung
warily to the protecting cover of the jungle and the
rhododendron hedges, exercising the most scrupulous care
not to reveal their whereabouts. Bullets whistled in-
termittently over the fort and every defender who ex-
THE ATTACK 175
posed himself was made the target of a score of rifles.
It was rarely, however, that those within had even a
glimpse of their dusky foes crawling through the sedges
and swinging from bough to bough.
Fortunately the Dyaks did not improve their shoot-
ing. Thus, although a considerable poundage of lead
swept over the fort or flattened against the walls, little
actual damage was done. When Captain Carver took
toll late in the afternoon of his casualties he found
them limited to three wounded. A Javanese, while
conversing with a comrade on the walls, received a
chance bullet that entered his mouth, knodced out two
teeth, and cut a gaping wound in the left cheek. The
poor fellow contemplated his misfortune stoically, for
disfigurement is deemed a calamity among his people,
and merely nodded his head when Captain Carver as-
sured him that the government would give him a rich
bounty for his wound. Another colonial received a
bullet in his shoulder. The surgeon extracted it, an
ugly piece of hammered lead, indicating that the foe
was using ancient weapons as well as those of more
modem make. One of Peter Gross's adventurers,
Bright by name, had a flesh wound in the left forearm.
Grace volunteered for nursing service immediately
after the fighting began, and her offer was gratefully
accepted by the surgeon,- who realized that fighting men
could ill be spared. Her presence in the hospital en-
abled him to spend most of his time on the walls assist-
ing in the defense. Although she was a novice at nurs-
ing she had aptitude and willingness, and her gentle
ministrations won doglike glances of devotion from
the dark-skinned islanders. Bright had scornfully re-
fused to go below and had his wound dressed at his
post of duty.
The jungle-crowned western heavens were aflame
with streamers of scarlet and orange, gorgeous as a
Venetian argosy returning to port in the days of the
doges, when there was a sudden lull in the firing. Both
Peter Gross and Captain Carver hurried to the wall,
wondering what it might portend.
176 THE YELLOW SPmER
A mysterious silence, like that of tropic noontide,
when a zenith sun, riding majestic in the heavens,
pours the torrents of its flaming wrath on a shriveling
earth and all animate creation slinks under shelter lest
swollen veins burst in plenitude of blood, lay upon the
brooding forest. The drooping palms, faint and weary
from the excess of heat, had not yet begun to revive
under the quickening impulses of the moist evening sea-
breezes. The roses were hiding the deep carmine of
their breasts from the unblushing look of the creatures
of night. The humming refrain of the busy crickets
died to a whisper. Gossamer threads of moss hung
still and lifeless from the mangrove branches. The
violence of man seemed strangely remote from the
sylvan peace that lay before the watchers on the walls.
"What does it mean?" Captain Carver asked in a
low voice, as though fearful of disturbing the silence.
"I don't know," Peter Gross replied subduedly. "I
can't believe they have given up the siege. It is more
likely that they are preparing for an attack."
"It will be dark in a half-hour," Carver observed.
"The moon rises in two hours. It promises to be
a clear night."
"Do you think they will attack before then?'*
"I doubt it. It would be contrary to Dyak practice."
"Ah Sing may have come."
"I doubt it. No proa has entered the harbor. I do
not expect him until to-morrow."
"Then we won't have an attack to-night?"
"I don't know," Peter Gross replied. "This silence
is puzzling. It may be that Wobanguli is endeavoring
to create the impression that he has given up the
fight. If that is true, he means mischief, and we may
expect developments before morning. After the moon
sets, in all probability, or earlier if the sky should cloud.
I would not be surprised if he should attempt to take
the fort before Ah Sing arrives in order to set himself
right with the Chinaman for his failure to make a coup
jTitai at the pasar."
"H-m!" Carver gripped his chin thoughtfully. "I
THE ATTACK 177
believe you're right/' he agreed. "It would be what
I should expect from one of his mental processes."
The forest was calm during the first half of the
night, ominously calm. Many of the familiar sounds
of night were absent. Those on the walls missed the
mild and plaintive calls of the cuckoo and noticed the
uneasy twitterings of the lorikeets and other song-
birds. A sharp watch was kept and lights were flashed
at irregular intervals on the somber jungle wall. But
the Dyaks kept well hidden.
When the moon rose it cast a mild radiance over
the walls of the fort and the ghostly white houses
beyond. It was such a light as imagination peoples
with shadows. Lieutenant Van Voort, on suggestion
of his superior, purposely placed his coolest heads on
sentry duty, but despite this precaution the night was one
of constant false alarms.
The moon sank to rest about the third hour after
midnight, and the brilliant tropic sky which had looked
down on Fort Wilhelmina earlier in the evening became
partially obscured by flitting clouds. Not long there-
after a sentry on the rear wall saw the figure of a man
silhouetted for a moment against the horizon in a break
in the jungle wall. He withheld his fire because of the
strict injunction against shooting at shadows and waited
to confirm his judgment. A moment later his doubts
were confirmed by the appearance of another crouching
figure that cautiously rose and squatted back to earth
again. Someone had evidently stepped over a row of
gooseberry bushes in the plantation beyond and thus
"Here they come!" was the word silently passed
along the line. The alarm was given quietly to those
within, and the troops, discarding their blankets, took
their assigned places without making an unnecessary
sound. Dessa trained, the Javanese could move with
almost as great stealth as their foes, and Carver's
twenty-five had been too long in the jungle not to ac-
quire some of the characteristics of its inhabitants.
There was a slight rustle like the faint stirring of a
178 THE YELLOW SPIDER
breeze in a pine forest in the field ahead. Although
hardly perceptible, it was significant to the trained
cars that heard it along the walls.
"Zij komen (they come), kapitein," Lili Laki, a Java-
nese scout, whispered to Captain Carver.
The commandant strained his eyes to see. But the
night was too dark. The earth was swathed in sable,
and if men crawled like ants over its black bosom it
gave no sign.
Minutes passed. The anxious watchers on the walls
experienced an eery feeling as they gazed steadily with
unseeing eyes into the formless void ahead, which they
knew was steadily filling up with foes armed with rifle
and sumpitan, and bloody kris sheathed in palm-leaf
till the charge was sounded.
The strictest silence had been enjoined upon all, al-
though the instruction was wholly unnecessary. The
soldiers hardly breathed. Hands clenched to their
rifle barrels they stared into the blackness ahead, wait-
ing for the shaft of light that was to expose and, at the
same time, blind and disconcert their foes.
The scout next to Carver, reputed to be the best in
the service and possessing the keenest eyes, suddenly
"They are here, kapitein/' he announced in a sibilant
Carver gave the signal. The search-light blazed sud-
denly and without warning. Sweeping in a huge arc
from west to south it disclosed the front rank of Dyaks
on hands and knees within twenty yards of the fort.
The field back of them was covered with foes, thick as
a swarm of locusts.
With a savage yell the Dyaks leaped to their feet
and charged forward. The yell was drowned in a
deafening crash as the rifles of those on the wall spit
flame. Lights flashed from one end of the fort to the
other, throwing the entire plein in bold relief. The
quick-firers got in their work and mowed down the
The attack was practically over a moment after it
THE ATTACK 179
began. The semi-nude savages, accustomed only to
jungle fighting and to attacks of helpless and under-
manned merchant ships, could no more stand before
the pitiless fire poured on them than a Dakota wheat
field can face a northwest gale of hail and sleet. Those
in the front ranks crumpled and fell, shrieking their
death-agony to the night. Those behind them who es-
caped unscathed rose like a flock of crows at the ap-
proach of the hunter and scattered at top speed for the
protecting cover of the tree-growth. Within three
minutes after the first shot there was not a foe to
There was not a single casualty in the fort. In
fact the Dyaks, who had hoped to surprise and over-
whelm the defenders before the latter could get into
action, had been too utterly surprised themselves to
attempt any reply to the crushing fire directed upon
them. Strangely enough, it was left to those who went
out to perform an act of mercy to suffer the only loss.
When all resistance had ceased and the forest gloom
had received its savage off-spring again. Captain Carver
detailed a squad of Javanese to bring in the wounded.
They had scarcely left the gates when a vengeful rifle
spoke from the jungle, and one of them fell with a
bullet through his breast. A score of rifles from the
fort immediately answered the flash, but whether any
of the shots found their mark the defenders did not
learn. Captain Carver promptly called back the Java-
nese and left the Dyaks to gather their own wounded.
When dawn came the defenders were astonished to
see that the field was quite clear. Dyak cunning and
stealth had carried away the injured under the eyes
of the watchful sentries.
It was a sanguinary dawn. The sun rose blood-red,
dyeing the heaving billows a deep carmine. War's
scarlet banners flaunted in the eastern horizon, portent
of strife and woe. To the weary watchers on the
walls the mom seemed almost an omen. "What will
the day bring?" was the question on every lip.
It was noticeable that many an eye gazed southerly
180 THE YELLOW SPmER
along the coast, but whether in search of the dreaded
proa of Ah Sing or in search of their lone hope of
rescue, the gunboat, Prins Lodewyk, was hard for
Peter Gross to guess.
The jungle was silent. Its green shades kept their
secret well. If Wobanguli and his horde lay hidden
there awaiting a more auspicious moment for attack,
the fact was hid from the defenders' eyes.
"We might as well turn in," Peter Gross remarked
to Captain Carver. "I don't anticipate another attack
for some time."
"We can rest until Ah Sing arrives," Carver smiled.
*'We probably won't get much sleep after that."
The Governor Arrives
IT was shortly after the noon hour when an orderly
came to Peter Gross's room with the electrifjring
"There's a ship low down on the horizon coming this
way, sir, at top speed. Lili Laki says he hears the
sound of guns."
Peter Gross tumbled out and dressed hastily. Speed-
ing to the ramparts he found Captain Carver and Paddy
Rouse there ahead of him. Paddy was intently study-
ing a distant speck on the horizon through binoculars.
What do you make of it?" Peter Gross asked.
Taddy says it's a yacht," Carver replied. "My eyes
are not so good as they once were. There's another
ship chasing her."
"What flag does she fly?"
"None that I can make out," Paddy announced.
"That's odd. What flag does the other ship fly?"
"She's too far distant to tell anything about her."
"Is it true that firing's been heard?"
"The first ship's being shelled by the second," Paddy
stated. "There," he exclaimed, "a shell landed near
her just then!"
"That devil, Ah Sing, is chasing her!" Peter Gross
exclaimed. "Has she the speed to hold her own?"
"She seems to be gaining, if an)rthing," Paddy re-
"Signal her to keep out of this harbor, captain," Peter
Gross directed, "otherwise she'll be trapped. Watch her
close, Paddy, and let me know if she runs any closer
Carver issued the necessary instructions. A few mo«
182 THE YELLOW SPmER
ments later a string of pennants ran up the post-staiF.
The resident and commandant watched the race be-
tween the two vessels intently.
"It seems to me that the ship ahead is gaining just
a trifle," Peter Gross observed. "The shells seem to
be falling short."
The sound of the firing was quite audible, and the
troops who were off duty clustered along the seaward
wall. In the distance the heads of the Dyaks rose from
the brush to witness the duel.
"Can you make anything more of the rear ship?"
Peter Gross asked Paddy.
"I'm trying to, sir, but she's got me puzzled," the
youth replied, focusing his binoculars steadily on the
vessel. "She's a dead-ringer for the Prins Lodewyk."
"Let me have those glasses," Peter Gross demanded
eagerly. He scrutinized the approaching vessels sharply
for several moments. Then he lowered the glasses with
"It is the Prins. The yacht must be the pirate.
That's why she flies no flag."
A breathless orderly ran up at this moment with
additional binoculars. Captain Carver and Paddy each
turned them on the approaching vessels.
"The yacht's edging off shore !" Paddy exclaimed.
"Ah, she sees her danger," Peter Gross replied bit-
terly. "She has the speed too — she's outrunning the
"The Prins is on the outside," Paddy observed hope-
fully. "She may pinch her at the cape."
"That's twenty miles north," Peter Gross pointed out
regretfully. "The yacht has at least two knots the best
of it; nearer three, I should judge. The Prins has no
chance of overhauling her. She's wasting ammunition."
This was obvious. The shells of the pursuers were
falling short and each minute increased the gap. The
yacht was abreast of the fort when the gunboat ceased
firing and began to reduce speed. The volume of smoke
pouring from her funnel testified to the strain her en-
gines had been under.
THE GOVERNOR ARRIVES 18S
The next moment cleared away all doubt of the
identity of pursuer and pursued — for the pirate in-
solently hoisted the black flag and romped away tri-
umphantly under full head of steam from the doughty
little gunboat sailing under the tricolor of the Nether-
"Drat the luck!" Paddy exclaimed fervently. Al-
though neither Peter Gross nor Captain Carver said
an)rthing, their sternly compressed lips revealed the
bitterness of their disappointment.
As the pirate fled northward into the far reaches of
the rolling Celebes Sea the little gunboat slowly picked
its way through the reefs off the entrance to the bay
and steamed into the harbor. It did not claim the full
attention of those on the ramparts, however, for Bu-
lungan town below was suddenly galvanized into act-
ivity. Seemingly the entire population poured out of
its huts and fled across the fiats to the jungle. Men,
women, and children joined in the mad rush, horsemen
plunged through without regard to those on foot, palan-
quin bearers left their shrieking passengers and bolted
at top-speed. Women struggled through the soggy
marshes with little children clinging to one hand while
the other held babes to their breasts. Peasants lum-
bered across the fields in their grobaks, wildly beating
their stubborn oxen, and nimbly dos-a-dos careened
wildly as they leaped the ditches.
Many of the fieeing Dyaks tried to save some of their
eflFects. Shopkeepers were laden with their wares,
householders were burdened with bundles of clothing,
kerosene lamps, and other portables. One lanky Dydc
raced along with a pet mias on his shoulders, the orang
retaining its seat by clinging tightly to its master's woolly
pate. Another — evidently no Moslem — ^had a pig in his
Peter Gross looked for the figure of Wobanguli, al-
ways conspicuous because of his size, but saw nothing
of the wily chieftain. The raja had evidently been in
the bush with his troops.
That the general exodus did not pass unobserved on
184 THE YELLOW SPmER
board the Prins soon became apparent. Kapitein En-
ckel, commander of the gunboat, unlike some of his
countrymen, was a man of shrewd wit and quick de-
cision. It did not take him long to put two and two
together. When he saw the Dyaks fleeing in post-haste
he quiddy concluded that they had reason to fear his
coming. Without wasting time in investigation, he
seized his opportunity of impressing a lesson on the
crown's fickle subjects by dropping shells into the
town. As the bursting shells fell among the bamboo
dwellings and toppled them right and left the Dyak
flight became a panic-stricken rout. Those who were
trying to save part of their possessions threw every-
thing aside in a frantic effort to distance their neigh-
bors in the rush for the protecting screen of jungle.
" 'Conscience doth make cowards of us all,' " Peter
Gross quoted to Captain Carver. "If those poor devils
had stayed at home no harm would have come to them.
Now they have officially become rebels, whom we must
punish before we can permit them to return to their
dwellings. Look there!"
The exclamation was induced by a burst of flame in
the northwest corner of the town. The fire came from
a dwelling knocked over by a shell. A long row of
thatched houses stretched westward from it between
two canals, and the easterly monsoon, fanning the
flames, swept them through the bone-dry bamboo and
thatch. This portion of the city was almost instantly
a roaring furnace. Within a comparatively few min-
utes the entire section was doomed.
"Judgment!" Captain Carver pronounced. "It's the
one lesson they understand."
The appearance of the Prins Lodewyk in Bulungan
harbor was customarily an occasion for much saluting
and dipping of colors at the fort. It is safe to say,
however, that the little gunboat and her crew never be-
fore received such an ovation as they were tendered at
this time. Long before the Prins had cleared the
outer reefs the exchange of salutes began. As the
vessel neared the fort the cheering broke out. Every-
THE GOVERNOR ARRIVES 185
one at the post was on the ramparts to extend welcome
to their rescuers. The ships below joined in the fan-
fare, the stolid British and the phlegmatic Chinese giv-
ing cheer for cheer. As for the master of the Dutch
trader, it was a marvel that he did not burst a blood-
Peter Gross and Captain Carver focused their glasses
on the bridge of the Prins as she negotiated the reefs
and made for her customary anchorage below the fort.
It was Peter Gross who first recognized the figures
grouped around Kapitein Enckel.
"By the holy bull of Bashan," he exclaimed, "there's
Sachsen, my old friend Sachsen, standing next to the
kapitein. There's someone with them who looks fa-
miliar — ^no, it can't be — ^by the gods it is, I'd know that
"Who?" Paddy cried, unable to restrain his curiosity
in the excitement.
"His Excellency, the Gouverneur-GeneraaU"
"The Jonkheer Adriaan Adriaanszoon Van Schouten
himself ! He's come, as he swore he would, though they
all advised against it!"
"Hip, hip hooray!" Paddy yelled, leaping up and
waving his hat.
"I feel like a schoolboy myself," Captain Carver
remarked in a low voice, "to think of it — the governor-
"He's a rare good man," Peter Gross murmured
fondly. "He stands by his friends through thick and
thin." There was a bit of moisture in his eyes.
The Prins Lodewyk had hardly swung into anchor-
age before a boat left her side. By the time it reached
shore there was a detachment from the fort on the
beach to meet it. The first man to step out after the
boat was beached was the governor. Although past fifty,
he leaped out as lightly as a youth half his years, stiff-
ened his back militarily, and smiled upward into the
warmly welcoming face of Peter Gross.
The difference in station between these two, gov-
186 THE YELLOW SPIDER
emor-general and resident, nobleman and commoner,
was forgotten. Their hands clasped warmly.
Two sailors stepped forward to assist the aged
Sachsen, the governor's adviser and Peter Gross's dear-
est friend, to step out of the boat. Leaping forward,
Peter Gross thrust them aside and gathered the old
man in his arms, lifting him over the side and plac-
ing him gently on the sands.
"Sachsen!" was all he said in a voice that broke
''Pieter, mijne kindeken (Peter, my little child)," the
old man responded hoarsely.
Carver was introduced. The governor-general ran
an appreciative eye over the trim figure of the com-
mandant and the file of soldiers lined up on both
sides of the lane to receive him.
"I see they have not smoked you out," the governor
"Your excellency notes that our flag is still flying,"
Carver replied courteously.
"Have you had much fighting?"
"An assault last night, your excellency. Nothing
Van Schouten glanced swiftly and shrewdly at the
"I wonder what your definition of a serious attack
is, kapitein," he remarked. "Let us see what manner
of bijenkorf (beehive) you have built here."
They marched up the steep stile, the governor spry
as a chick. He walked with a peculiar gait that was
not unlike the stiff but springy stride of a cockerel.
Carver recalled the name whereby he was known the
length and breadth of the Dutch possession — ^"De
Kemphaan (the Gamecock)."
"He's well named in more respects than one," was
his silent reflection.
Peter Gross assisted Sachsen, for the old man's
eighty-odd years were beginning to tell on him, and his
breath came rapidly as they struggled up the steep
THE GOVERNOR ARRIVES 187
"Let me help you into a palanquin, father," Peter
Gross pleaded when they were midway up the slope.
Sachsen's face lighted with pleasure at the salutation.
Being childless, he fostered the thought that Peter
Gross, the homeless waif whom he had befriended years
before, was his son. But he refused the oflFer of a
"I am stronger than you think, Vrind Piefer," he
rejoined fondly. "With your good right arm to lean
upon I shall reach the top without mishap. You
would not shame me before tiie fair ladies I see above
by bringing me in like a babe in arms, would you?" he
asked with a twinkle.
"They are Mrs. Van Voort, the lieutenant's wife,
and the Jonge Juffrouw Coston, an American girl,"
Peter Gross hastened to explain.
Sachsen's mild blue eyes rested questioningly upon
Peter Gross's g^ay ones.
"The jonge juffrouw is a new addition to your
colony?" he inquired artlessly. "I do not recollect her
name from your letters."
"She escaped with me from the Zuyder Zee,'* Peter
Gross explained. "But possibly the fate of this ship
is news to you."
"We were told about it at Coti," Sachsen replied
gravely. ^'A coasting proa brought in the report and
the city was in a turmoil. There was talk of rebellion,
but our coming stopped that. How did you escape,
"The jonge juffrouw and I jumped overboard when
I saw there was no chance for escape otherwise," Peter
Gross rep^ied. "We swam ashore and made our way
overland the following morning to the Kjai Naioh's
house. From there we went by tambangan to Bu-
lungan, arriving here night before last."
"Jawel !" Sachsen replied non-committally. "You
truly had a most marvelous escape — and the jonge juf-
frouw also. You knew her before?"
Their eyes met. Peter Gross read only friendly cu-
riosity in Sachsen's glance. Eighty years of life had
188 THE YELLOW SPmER
taught the old man to mask his interest behind a smile
of benignity and to speak of things that affected him
him most deeply in a casual way.
Peter Gross smiled. "She was a total stranger to
me," he said. "We introduced ourselves on Bomean
soil, by the pale light of a tallow lamp, each of us
drenched to the skin, and the water from our drip-
ping garments making little puddles all around us.**
Their conversation was necessarily interrupted by
their arrival at the top of the hill and the gates of the
fort. There was a wild fanfare of trumpets and a
booming of guns as the governor and his escort of
natty sailors and swart colonials marched in.
His Excellency, De Jonkheer Adriaan Adriaanszoon
Van Schouten, was thoroughly in his element and
strutted like a Roman conqueror back from the wars.
His features maintained their habitual sternness and
severity, for the gouverneur-generaal was as punctilious
of his dignity as a maiden lady of her reputation, but
his stiffly starched back and the triumphant gleam in his
eyes were eloquent testimony of his elation.
The governor-general's quick eye caught the pres-
ence of femininity in the group. Mrs. Van Voort he
knew and dismissed with a glance and polite genu-
flection, for she had been one of the army circle while
her husband was stationed at Batavia. Grace Coston's
fresh young face, her ruddy cheeks, flushed with the
excitement of the moment, and her wavy brown hair
caught and held his attention, however. He beckoned
to Peter Gross.
"You have ladies here, I see," he remarked. "Is
Captain Carver the fortunate benedict, or have you
committed the Unpardonable crime of matrimony with-
out consulting me ?"
"Neither surmise is true, your Excellency," Peter
Gross replied with a smile. "The lady is Miss Coston,
one of my countr3rwomen who was rescued with me
from the Zuyder Zee."
"One who was your countr3rwoman," the irascible
Van Schouten snapped. "Pot ver dikkie, mynheer, we
THE GOVERNOR ARRIVES 189
will make you a Hollander yet for all that Yankee
blood in you."
"I have striven to be a good servant to the state,"
Peter Gross replied formally.
"Donder en bliksen, who wants to talk about that
when there is so fair a maid waiting to have speech
with me ?" the governor-general barked. "She has been
looking in this direction ever since I entered the
gate. Come, introduce me!"
No Spanish hidalgo in the palmiest days of Aragon's
famous court ever carried himself with more grace
than did the little governor when he approached Grace
Coston. He bowed his courtliest as Peter Gross per-
formed the ceremony of introduction.
**Jonge juffrouw, it is a pleasure to come to Bu-
lungan to visit my brave and loyal resident, Mynheer
Gross," the governor assured in response to Grace's
few well-chosen words of welcome and joy at the
Prins's opportune arrival. "It is twice a pleasure," he
added with a twinkle, "to find Mynheer Gross in need
of assistance, for, I assure you, juffrouw, that a more
cocksure and self-sufficient youth never came to Insu-
linde. But it is thrice a pleasure to find here, in this
arid waste, such beauty as it has been my good for-
tune to set eyes upon to-day."
"You did not know Mrs. Van Voort was here?"
Grace asked demurely, her eyes twinkling with merri-
The governor did not even blink at this shot.
"Orchids," he responded gallantly, "grow best in
concealed spots. That is why Mrs. Van Voort grows
more beautiful every day, while we in Batavia regret
The dimpled little lady, who was mother of the lieu-
tenant's robust son, blushed at this praise from the gov-
ernor, and was happier for a moment than she had
been during the entire two years of her enforced exile.
Grace had taken stock of the governor's peculiarities,
his irascibility that hid a gentle and kindly spirit, his
pomposity that could not offend but could only amuse.
190 THE YELLOW SPmER
his truculence that was but a mask for a soul too im-
pulsively generous. His pompous mamier was a chal-
lenge to her democratic instincts. She had all the
iconoclasm of youth and could not resist the tempta-
tion to prick this bubble of conceit. Their verbal ex-
change was vivid and rapid for a few moments, while
poor Mrs. Van Voort paled and listened with quaking
heart. Peter Gross finally intervened by introducing
*'M)mheer Gross has told me how you came here, my
daughter," the old man remarked gently. "I hope we
will know each other better ere long."
Something in his tone, or mayhap in his voice, caused
Grace to catch her breath for an instant and flash a
glance at Peter Gross, who stood serenely by, smiling
pleasure, and unconscious of any significance in his pa-
tron's words. Some of the color flowed from her
"I surely hope our acquaintance may improve during
the few days we shall spend here together," she re-
plied, meeting his glance candidly.
As Sachsen dropped her hand he stole a glance at his
protegS, But Peter Gross, he saw, had eyes only for
the girl. Sachsen stroked his gray beard thoughtfully.
"Youth !" he murmured under his breath. "Youth !"
The Governor Meets Koyala
THE soft radiance of a mild moonlight flooded
Fort Wilhelmina on the evening of the day the
governor-general arrived. The moon was long
in the eastern sky and threw the long silhouettes of the
walls far into the interior of the enclosure. While
making a round of inspection Peter Gross stumbled
upon a dim form hidden in a niche between two pro-
jecting buttresses. Stepping forward suspiciously, he
uttered a sharp challenge.
"It is only I," came the plaintive response in a
woman's voice that he instantly recognized.
'Miss Coston!" he exclaimed delightedly.
1 came here to watch the play of the moonlight
on the still water of the bay/' Grace stated. "It put
me in mind of winter evenings I once spent in a little
town in Florida. But I suppose this is 'verbofen/ Are
you going to send me home ?"
She asked the question with a provocative lilt in
her tones that roused a dormant chord in Peter Gross.
"It's contrary to regulations for you to be here after
sundown," he replied gravely. "But — "
"I'm afraid that if I drove you away I'd punish my-
self worse than you."
Grace caught her breath. She had not expected such
a reply — the Myvhctr Gross she knew was a
dreadfully serious chap who had no time for the
pretty amenities of conversation between maids and
men. An impish spirit seized her, her eyes danced with
merriment. "Why shouldn't I?" she asked herself in
192 THE YELLOW SPmER
an undertone, as though debating a question. She
flashed a sudden smile on him.
"You are becoming as complimentary as his excel-
lency, mynheer,** she announced demurely.
"Has his excellency been paying you compliments?"
"Heaps and heaps," Grace declared. "He fairly
rains them. I never knew the possibilities of the
English language for compliments until I met him.
And when he had exhausted his English he began in
"There is no finer or more gallant gentleman than his
excellency, the Jonkheer,** Peter Gross said warmly.
"But what a temper he has," Grace observed plain-
"Ah! You've discovered that already?"
"We've quarreled since the siesta hour," Grace re-
plied. "That is why I ran away and came here. He
has been to New York and thinks Americans savages.
I told him what I thought of his smelly Amsterdam
with its stagnant canals." She laughed merrily. "I am
afraid I hurt his feelings terribly, but I'll credit him
with retaining his politeness."
Peter Gross chuckled. "He is probably getting his
revenge out of Captain Carver now," he remarked. "He
discovered that the captain used the foils, and nothing
would satisfy him but that they must have a bout.
You know he is rated as one of the most accomplished
swordsmen in all Europe? He has fairly been pining
to clash rapiers with someone worthy of his steel ever
since the colonial office sent him to Batavia. They say
he invites every officer of rank who comes to Oost-
Indie to a bout the moment the man steps ashore at
Tanjong Priok. He'll find Carver no easy opponent,
though. The captain is a pretty good man with the
"He's a lovable old gentleman for all his peculiari-
ties," Grace declared with conviction. "I'm going to
have a perfectly happy time disagreeing with him."
THE GOVERNOR MEETS KOYALA 193
"But don't make yourself guilty of lese-majesfy/' Peter
"Every American is bom noble," Grace retorted.
"One cannot be guilty of lese-majesty in speaking
freely to one's peers, can one?"
"I doubt whether you could be convicted if you were
guilty of every political crime in the calendar," Peter
Gross evaded gallantly. They laughed like light-hearted
"Isn't a night like this wonderfully soothing?" Grace
remarked after a pause. "I feel as though I could sit
and dream in this deliciously mystic Oriental atmosphere
forever. I never could understand the legend of the
lotus-eaters when I was a girl, but I do now."
"The tropics have that effect," Peter Gross conceded.
"Sometimes it's unfortunate. Many a good man has
lost his ambition here and become a shiftless vagrant
satisfied to eat and sleep."
The remark started a new train of thought for Grace.
She gazed pensively at the water. "Will something be
done to rescue those who were on the Zuyder Zee
with us?" she asked presently.
"There are troops on the way now," Peter Gross
said. "The larger part of a regiment. The pirates
will be hunted on both sea and land. His excellency is
in earnest and means to end these sporadic outbreaks
of piracy for all time."
"Is he going to lead the army in person?" Grace
Peter Gross hesitated. "I might as well acknowledge
that he has left that to me," he said. "It will be com-
mon knowledge to-morrow."
"Oh, I'm so happy! I congratulate you, Mr. Gross."
The spontaneous exclamation thrilled Peter Gross, and
he pressed the hand she offered him warmly. She
quickly withdrew it.
"I know you'll rescue those I love !" she said.
His ardor cooled. She was promised to another, and,
strangely enough, the fact hurt.
194 THE YELLOW SPmER
"I shall do all that is humanly possible," he assured
"I know you will," she replied.
The conversation passed into less personal channels.
They chatted gayly and the minutes flitted by unnoticed.
Peter Gross leaned back in deep contentment, feeling
that he was experiencing his happiest moment since he
first stepped ashore at Bulungan. There was something
infinitely calming, infinitely sweet, to sit thus in the
dim light and exchange opinions with so charming a
girl as this. She told him things that had happened
in the country he had left behind, items of news that
never strayed into the papers which came into his
hands. She included bits of description that gave him
a new conception of the marvelous growth and ad-
vance of his mother country and caused his heart to
swell with pride. To her narrative she added a pi-
quancy of wit that chased the dull lines of care from
his face and made him laugh like a boy. It was not
Until a change of sentries took place that they awoke
to a joint realization of the lateness of the hour.
"Mercy!" Grace exclaimed. "I had no idea we had
talked so long. You shouldn't have permitted me,"
she added, turning on Peter Gross severely.
"We must hold these chats oftener," he declared
with conviction. "You'll be tempting me to go back
"Where, after all, you belong," Grace flashed.
"No, my work is here," Peter Gross replied gravely.
They parted, Grace entering the Van Voort home
while Peter Gross walked on to his quarters. A few
moments later a figure detached itself from the shad-
ows. It was Koyala, who had been admitted by a
sentry and was going to headquarters when she chanced
to see Peter Gross and Grace strolling in her direction.
She thereby happened to hear their parting words.
The priestess's face was a ghastly gray in the wan
moonlight. The fierce Dyak blood tfiat was hers from
her mother flooded it with hate and fury. Her fingers
^ THE GOVERNOR MEETS KOYAIA 195
clutched the thin garment that covered her breast and
crushed it between them.
"The vampire!" she hissed. "She would steal him
from Bulungan, would she? Him, who is all to us?
And she is the promised bride of another?"
A fit of trembling seized her. Elemental rage and
passion almost too much for her frail frame to bear,
made her quiver like a palm tree bent by the typhoon's
blast. Through her tightly compressed lips came bits
of Dyak expression, and the word "wench" hissed
three times. She choked and struggled to conceal a fit
of coughing. Gliding behind a break in the wall she
dropped to her knees and lifted supplicating hands
"Hanu token, hanu token, let not the white woman
triumph," she prayed. "Save him for Bulungan. Give
me guile, give me wisdom, hanu token, and thou,
Djath, and thou, Taman Rikung, who are the guardian
of the souls of the dead. Give me strength to control
my passion, give me wisdom to direct my ways. Let
me not fall into the error of former days when I sought
to slay him to satisfy a foolish vengeance. O, Djath,
befriend me, and thus, Chawatangi, smile down on thy
As stealthily as she had hidden herself she leaped
into the path again and glided after Peter Gross. He
was drawing out a chair in his room as she quietly
opened the door and entered. He looked up at her
sudden appearance, and then broke into a welcoming
"Koyala!" he exclaimed. "I was just thinking of
you and wondering where I could find you."
"Your servant is here," Koyala replied quietly.
A flash of annoyance crossed the resident's face.
"Don't speak that way," he rebuked forcibly. "You are
Koyala Bintung Burung, priestess of Bulungan, my
peer in everything. Everything!" he repeated with em-
phasis. "If we meet on any basis it is that of friends
who mutually appreciate each other."
"It shall be as you say," Koyala replied lifelessly.
•- .. r
190 THE YELLOW SPmER
Peter Gross thrust his chair back determinedly and
stepped toward Koyala. She shrank back against the
"Koyala," he asked, "what's wrong? Wherein have I
offended? Something has come up between you and
me. Since my return we have not been the friends
we were before I set out for Batavia. What is thp
reason; be frank?"
"There is nothing," Koyala replied dully.
"Is it Miss Coston?" Peter Gross asked.
The smoldering light in the priestess's eyes blazed
with a sudden fire that she hid from him by lowering
"I have told you, and I say it again," Peter Gross
asserted with emphasis, "Miss Coston is nothing to
ine except a friend, a very good friend. She is the
promised bride of another, and him she shall marry if
there is any way I can save him. That^s my problem
to-day, how to save him. That is why I was thinking
of you. I need your help."
Peter Gross always strove zealously to guard himself
against any chance phrase or expression that might
injure Koyala's sensitive feelings. He knew how the
taint of her birth rankled, how her tempestuous, highly
sensitized soul writhed in anguish because of it. But
he never knew how grievously he blundered and how
cruelly he cut, in his naive confession that he only
thought of her this night because he needed her help.
Koyala came on her mother's side from a race who
deem it the greatest disgrace to show pain under tor-
ture. She therefore did not reveal by so much as a
tremor how deeply the iron had bitten into her soul.
"It is to discuss that very matter that I came to
see you, mynheer" she announced quietly. "I have
been to the city that Ah Sing has built."
"The deuce you have!" Peter Gross exclaimed.
"Where is it?"
"Not too fast, mynheer. What do you propose to
Koyala tossed aside the dark cloak she was wearing
THE GOVERNOR MEETS KOYAIA 197
and revealed herself in her native dress, the pure white
sarong and cabaya she wore to emphasize her purity
as a virgin and her function as a priestess. She sank
into a chair and regally nodded to Peter Gross to do
the same. He meekly obeyed.
"I do not know what I am going to do," Peter Gross
declared. "I felt that I must talk with you before I
"Tell me first what has happened here," Koyala di-
rected. "You were attacked. You beat them off.
They waited for Ah Sing, but instead the war-ship came
and shelled my people out of their homes. That is all
She spoke bitterly, and Peter Gross scented the
"The people were not shelled out of their homes,"
he corrected gently. "It is true that some of the houses
were leveled with shells and fired after the people
had fied. But that was because those on board the
Prins saw them flee and suspected that some mischief
was up. If they had stayed quietly in their homes,
there would have been no trouble. But a guilty con-
science sometimes speaks louder than judgment.''
"My people erred," Koyala replied calmly. "It was
inevitable that some should suffer. And, as always,
the suffering fell on the innocent. But I did not
come here to discuss that. What are you going to do —
send an army against the Dyaks, or against Ah Sing?"
"His excellency, the gouveneur-generaal, has left it
all to me," Peter Gross declared. "And now, Koyala,
I ask you — ^what should I do?"
"We will leave the Batavian chanticleer out of this
discussion," the priestess responded coldly. "I have
never asked aught of him, nor will I. What I have
done and will do is for Peter Gross, Resident of Bu-
"It is Peter Gross who asks you what he must
do," the resident replied, with a conciliatory smile.
"Let me tell you first what I saw in the city of AK
Sing," Koyala replied.
198 THE YELLOW SPIDER
Peter Gross waited in respectful silence. The Argus
Pheasant veiled her eyes with lowered lids and crossed
her hands in her lap.
"The city is on water, and cunningly hid/* Koyala
began. It was on the tip of Peter Gross's tongue to
ask where, but he wisely refrained. "A proa might
search many days and fail to find the opening of the
channel that leads to it, but inside there is plenty of
deep water. The approach from the land side is even
more cunningly concealed. Ah Sing has three ships
there — ^his own, a fast ship, the Zuyder Zee, and an
American ship, the Natchez. The captured ships he
will remodel and sell."
"The old fox!" Peter Gross muttered under his
"All the prisoners are being kept aboard the Zuyder
Zee. One of my people whom I can trust told me that
there is much dissatisfaction among the chiefs because
the promised ransom has not come. There has been
some talk of throwing the men to the crocodiles and
giving the women as wives to the datoos. But Ah
Sing has left word that they must be held until his
"Where is he?"
"On the sea. I was told he was en route to Bu-
"Then 'twas he the Prins chased," Peter Gross com-
mented. Seeing Koyala's inquiring look he sketched the
dramatic arrival of the gunboat.
"He has a very fast ship," Koyala assented. "It was
built for him in a Japanese yard."
"H-m," Peter Gross hummed. He pondered thought-
fully and asked.
"Can you guide us to this city?"
"I can tell you the road."
Peter Gross turned to a filing cabinet and dug out
a map of Bulungan which he spread on the table before
"Where is the place?" he asked.
Koyala's hands lay idly in her lap. "I said I could
THE GOVERNOR MEETS KOYAIA 199
tell you where it lies," she replied. "I did not say
Peter Gross rose slowly. His stem glance held her
eyes, but she did not waver.
'I do not understand, juffrouw" he said.
It would seem, mynheer** she replied in tones as
formal as his own, "that I possess something which
you covet. In a barter there is customarily an ex-
"You desire something, then?"
"I have two conditions — "
"Name them," Peter Gross interrupted forcibly with-
out waiting for her to complete her sentence.
"The first is — immunity for my people."
"Have I ever failed in justice either to you, Koyala,
or to your people?" Peter Gross asked.
"I ask more than justice," Koyala replied.
"Should I let the guilty go unpimished that they
may do more evil?"
"My people are weak, they were led astray," she
pleaded passionately. "They are yet in the days of their
fathers; they have not come to understand the pur-
pose of the orang blanda," Her chin lifted and a flood
of blood rushed to her face. In a voice of pain she
cried: "Have I not betrayed my people oft enough for
you, mynheer, that you should ask me to do this again ?"
At the sight of the girl's distress Peter Gross turned
his face away. He perceived the light in which these
negotiations appeared to her, and what they cost her.
A sense of shame at his own ignoble participation
"Koyala," he replied earnestly, "so far as lies within
my power I g^ant you what you ask. With one ex-
ception: the Raja Wobanguli must be shorn of his
rajaship. So long as he rules there can be no peace.
His craft is at the bottom of half our troubles. What
my powers are, I do not know as yet. His excellency,
the gouverneur-general, is here and has entrusted me
with task of putting an end to this rebellion and piracy.
200 THE YELLOW SPIDER
He has not yet defined how broad my powers will be
in dealing with offenders/'
"That strutting peacock, Van Schouten, here?" Koy-
ala cried heatedly. "He who branded my name with
shame and set a price upon my head? I will not deal
with him ! I go to my people !"
She sprang for the door, but Peter Gross was quicker
than she. He stood against it.
"Mynheer Gross," she said in a low, hoarse voice,
tense with emotion, "let me pass."
"Koyala," he replied, "you are dealing with me, the
Resident of Bulungan. I do not ask you to speak one
word to the governor. You need not even meet him.
If his excellency does not see fit to give me carte
blanche in rearranging the affairs of the residency
after this rebellion is over, as he has given me power
to stamp out the rebellion, you may go without hin-
drance to your people. In that event I will go back to
my native country and Bulungan will know me no
Koyala's eyes searched his face with fierce hunger,
as she half doubted, half believed. With a tiny flutter
of breath she finally relaxed and stepped back.
"Will you wait here while I seek the favor of an
interview with his excellency?" Peter Gross asked.
He stepped outside, leaving the door ajar to testify to
his confidence in her. When he returned a few mo-
ments later he announced:
"His excellency will be here in a few moments. Do
you wish to hear our interview?"
"I do not desire to see his face," Koyala replied
coldly. "I will remain outside." She glided out. A
few minutes later the governor entered. He was breath-
"Ver dikke. Mynheer Gross, why did you not tell me
you had such a swordsman here as your Kapitein
Carver?" he roared lustily. "I would have been .here at
Bulungan to visit you long ago had I known it. Twice
he had me against the wall; me, who am esteemed
THE GOVERNOR MEETS KOYAIA 201
among the five best blades of Europe. I had all I
could do to hold my own against him and then I beat
him only by a little trick that is all mine own. Ver-
dampt! but I feared for a time I had become an old
man and lost my cunning."
The governor was evidently in the best of spirits, for
he chafed his thin, wiry hands together with great gusto
"Captain Carver had told me he was fond of fenc-
ing," Peter Gross replied. "I did not know he was
"He tells me he was a member of a university team
in the Vereenigde Staten," the governor declared.
"Bonder en bliksem, I thought you Yankees were too
fond of clouting each other to cultivate that manliest
of all arts, the art of fence."
"Your Excellency will find that there are few arts
that we Americans have not embellished," Peter Gross
"Humph!" the governor snorted. *' Mynheer, I had
hoped by this time that the Dutch blood you have on
your mother's side would have spoken. You must be-
come one of us."
"Your Excellency, I shall never be a citizen of any
other country than my own," Peter Gross replied.
The governor frowned. "You have a matter to dis-
cuss with me, mynheer V' he asked.
"Yes, your Excellency. I desire to know how broad
my powers will be in dealing with this rebellion, both
now and after the rebels have returned home."
Van Schouten cast a shrewd glance at his resident
from beneath his eyebrows.
Why do you ask, mynheer?* he demanded bluntly.
Because I have just promised immunity to all the
rebels except one," Peter Gross replied.
The governor's jaw tightened. He studied the resi-
"Methinks you have assumed a large responsibility,
mynheer" he suggested mildly.
202 THE YELLOW SPIDER
"Therefore I ask your Excellency to confirm it/* Peter
"Have these duivelen sent emissaries to treat for
"I spoke to-night to an unaccredited ambassador, but
one to whose voice I know the Dyaks will listen."
"His name?" the governor snapped.
"The priestess Koyala."
"The Bintang Burung?" the governor cried. "That
spawn of Jezebel here? By the God of Israel, myn-
heer, you try my patience sorely."
"I have pledged her, that so far as in my power lies
the Dyaks, with the exception of the Raja Wobanguli,
shall go free if they return to their homes and resist
no more," Peter Gross replied coolly. "Wobanguli
shall be shorn of his rank and reduced to the head of a
dessa. I ask you to confirm those terms."
"Sodom and Gomorrah! Are you gouverneur-gen-
eraal, M)aiheer Gross, or am I ?" the governor bellowed,
his sallow face purpling. "I have told you that we
must teach these devils of bruinevels a lesson. I have
told you that we must set an example that will cause
every child of Ham in these islands to quake with
fear. Now you offer them sweetmeats to cease pirating
and murdering. Hell's fire, I will not have it!"
The governor was working himself into a grand
passion. He strode fiercely up and down the room
while Peter Gross waited impassively.
"This she-devil Koyala has come in here with her
sweet words and honeyed phrases and stolen your rea-
son," Van Schouten stormed. "She was sired by a
French slaver and dammed by the witch daughter of a
Dyak medicine doctor — "
"Governor!" Peter Gross thundered.
The door flew open. A vision of flaming wrath
leaped inside and confronted the astonished Van
"You who skulk behind stone walls and live on the
sweat of starving millions," Koyala hissed in a voice
strangled with fury, "you who kill here and reward
THE GOVERNOR MEETS KOYAIA 208
there and know the reason for neither, you to whom
the request of the vilest trader leeching these islands
is more than the just claim of our proudest chief, I
come to tell you that you shall see a flame of revolt
pass over your empire that shall obliterate the orang
blanda from Singapore to Papua. White blood shall
flow like water and none shall live to tell the tale.
Insulinde shall return to her people, Asia shall be
Asia's. Stone walls and fast ships will not save you,
and poison or the knife will wipe out the stain you
cast on me."
The governor stepped back a pace.
"Mynheer Gross, who is this woman?" he asked in
a voice of dreadful calmness.
"It is the Juffrouw Koyala, your Excellency," the
resident replied wearily. He seemed to have aged since
Koyala's dramatic entrance.
A common thought animated Koyala and the governor
at that moment. Both sprang for the door. The gov-
ernor was first and held it fast. Koyala's dagger
flashed on the instant.
"Let me pass," she demanded in a voice thrilling
with passion, "or I will avenge thy insult myself."
The governor stood as if carved in marble. His
fierce glance met and held hers as if in hypnotic
trance. Twice Koyala's arm contracted as though to
drive home the blade, and relaxed again. Meantime
Peter Gross, moving quickly and silently as a panther,
stole around the table and caught her wrist from be-
Koyala lunged forward fiercely to break loose. But
few men could tear themselves away from the resident's
iron grip, and although Koyala fought with a strength
that few other women could have equaled, she was
helpless. She collapsed suddenly and burst into a tor-
rent of tears.
The governor latched the door and cried, "Juffrouw!"
Koyala started as though struck with a whip.
**Juffrouw," he continued meekly, "the Jonkheer
Adriaan Adriaanszoon Van Schouten acknowledges
2M THE YELLOW SPIDER
that he has erred. He has wronged you grievously.
Therefore, as a nobleman of Holland, to a noblewoman
of Borneo, he begs your forgiveness."
To the amazement of Peter Gross the fiery governor
dropped to one knee before Koyala and inclined his
head. He waited thus for her reply.
The room was silent as the sea in a calm. The only
sound in it was the sound of breathing. Koyala's olive-
tinted hand clutched the pure linen of her cabaya over
her breast as she shrank away from the governor in the
chair into which she had fallen. It was Peter Gross
w^o first recovered.
"His Excellency admits he has wronged you, juf-
frouw," he pointed out quietly. "He begs your fore-
Koyala's bosom fluttered tremulously. Her hands
clenched and loosed alternately. The flaming scarlet
of her face had become a brown-gray like the pallor of
death when it comes to the children of the southland.
"I — cannot — forgive," she gasped. "Let me go!"
She slipped out of the chair and backed against the
The governor rose. There was a fine expression of
majesty in his thin, aristocratic face, with its sharply
chiseled features. Admiration there was, too, admira-
tion that showed In his eyes.
"Permit me to leave, juffrouw" he requested, bow-
ing low in his most courtly manner. "Mynheer Gross
will provide for you, I am sure. I have only this to
say, that the Governor-General of Insulinde regrets that
we have not met before. It would have saved us both
much sorrow, and me niuch shame."
Turning to Peter Gross he announced:
"All that you have asked, mynheer, is yours. You
may do as you see fit."
With another low bow he unlatched the door and
Peter Gross walked forward, took Koyala by the
arm, and led her to a chair. He seated himself oppo-
THE GOVERNOR MEETS KOYAIA 205
"He has a heart as good as gold," he stated. "He
has been ill-advised, but there is none so quick as he to
make amends once he sees his error. You have made
a true and lasting friend, Koyala."
"I hate him," she cried vehemently, her face flaming.
"I hate him ! Oh, the shame of it !" She hid her face
in her hands.
"He called you *juffrouv/ and *noble-woman of
Borneo,' " Peter Gross pointed out gently. "He is too
candid and truthful a man to say other than he means.
His temper is his weakness — sometimes I think you two
have much in common, Koyala."
The priestess gazed with unseeing eyes at the wall.
Her face was drawn and colorless. Peter Gross studied
her profile, so marvelously perfect, and saddened again
at the thought of her unhappy birth.
"You remember, mynheer, tihat I specified two condi-
tions to our treaty?" Koyala asked suddenly, in a cu-
riously strange voice.
"You did not specify the second," Peter Gross re-
plied. "What is it?"
Koyala turned to face him. Her eyes were fixpd
steadfastly upon his. There was a curious hunger in
them, Peter Gross thought, and he vaguely wondered.
The condition is this," Koyala announced slowly,
that you remain here as Resident of Bulungan until
a white man can paddle a tambangan from Bulungan
to the temple of Hunya Kawa which is at the foot-
hills of the Tohen Batu, without fear of Punao or
Bukit, headhunter or thief."
A vision of Grace Coston, New York, home, flitted
before Peter Gross. Until he spoke this night with
Grace Coston he had not realized how ardently he de-
sired these things. Koyala's words were as the flam-
ing angel before the gates of paradise.
"Let me think," he replied huskily. "I cannot
Sachsen Counsels His Proteg6
THAT the rebellion, so far as the immediate vicin-
ity of the city of Bulungan was concerned, was
broken, was evidenced the next morning. The
sun had only risen a little way when a group of de-
jected natives walked timidly to the gates of the fort
and requested admittance. They were carrying gifts
of game, fowl, and jars of agar-agar as propitiatory of-
fering. None were armed and when they were brought
into the resident's presence they fell flat on their faces
before him, protesting their loyalty.
"For the sake of the Bintang Burung, who pleaded for
you last night, I have forgiven you," he said. "Bring
in your sumpitans and krisses. Go to your homes and
till your fields. Tell your people that those who
come no>Y will be forgiven. It will be otherwise with
those who remain in the jungle."
The delighted Dyaks broke into extravagant cries of
joy and praise, but the resident checked them.
"You will be judged by what you do from this hour
on, not by what you have done," he declared. "I lay
this burden upon you: Go to your people, to the men
of all the tribes, Punan and Bukit, Tring and Long
Wai, Dyaks of the sea and Dyaks of the hill, and tell
them to send their orang kayos and village head men to
me. The Malays must send their datoos. Those who
come will be pardoned. Those who remain away shall
feel the wrath of Peter Gross."
For the next three days the resident was kept busy
meeting deputations of thoroughly cowed Dyaks,
amazed at such unheard of clemency, but happy to
take advantage of it. Peter Gross knew that some of
SACHSEN COUNSELS HIS PROTISgA «0r
the wizened old chiefs who knew no law but that of eye
for eye, and tooth for tooth, thought him a fool, but he
made no effort to enlighten their curiosity. Most of
the aborigines accepted his magnanimity with indif-
ference. The ways of the orang blanda were and would
always continue to be an inscrutable mystery to them.
Despite the many cares of administration, and the
bustle of preparation for the transports, due to arrive
any day, Peter Gross found opportunity to talk with
Grace Coston. The American girl, cultured, clever,
independent, but not bold, was a new t3rpe to him. The
women of Batavia and the other ports of Insulinde
whom he knew were not thus. They were frugal
housewives, industrious, patient, and excellent mothers,
but self-centered, heavy of wit, gossipy. In his brief
contacts with society between voyages or when his ship
stopped, the resident had established an acquaintance-
ship with many of them. He had found none, married
or unmarried, whom he did not privately classify as
a bit of a bore.
But this countr3nvoman of his was different. She had
a habit of surprising one into saying things one had
not intended to reveal. She entertained with nimble
wit and humorous anecdote that was always free from
malice. She had opinions, and held them tenaciously.
She talked logically and with information, but she
argued with spirit. But most of all Peter Gross ad-
mired her youthful enthusiasm and her fresh, vivid
manner of visualizing and expressing her ideas.
For the first time in his life, therefore, the resident
found himself hurr3ring through his official duties that
he might have time for social diversion. Since these
were busy days, every hour of leisure was carefully
planned and jealously safeguarded. When, therefore, at
sundown of the third day he found the irrepressible
Van Schouten, cavalierly as a buck of twenty-five, had
pre-empted his appointment and was assisting Miss Cos-
ton to admire the sunset, he returned to his quarters
in decided ill-humor. It was in this mood that Sachsen
f otmd him.
«08 THE YELLOW SPIDER
Peter Gross had his head in his hands and his el-
bows were resting on a table when the aged secretary
entered. His long legs were sprawled over a goodly
portion of the room. He glowered at a Rembrantesque
study of two medicos examining the vitals of a cadaver
as though he had a personal interest in the unfortunate
corpse. Sachsen cast a shrewd glance at him and low-
ered his lashes.
"Well, Vrind Pieter," he asked heartily, "how goes
it? If the Orang Kay as continue coming in at this
rate I fear me Ah Sing will not have much of an army."
Peter Gross gave an unintelligible grunt.
"It was a bold stroke," Sachsen observed, "to grant
a general amnesty, but it will save much bloodshed. It
will not accomplish the good that a quick, sharp war,
with the villages burned along every water course,
would have accomplished, but it will prevent those
who are backing Ah Sing from doing what they
planned. The depredations of a pirate are a matter of
purely local interest. But a popular uprising — ah! that
is a matter for chancelleries to consider. If we can
hold the Dyak chiefs in line with the aid of Koyala,
we have defeated the plans of those who would make
this an international affair."
"Yes, I suppose so," Peter Gross affirmed ungra-
Sachsen stroked his stubby white beard and thin
jaws. The parchmentlike skin seemed to crackle under
his thin, bony fingers. He cast a covert glance at Peter
Gross from the corner of one eye.
"I have never ceased to congratulate myself, Vrind
Pieter,** he observed, "that I listened to you that night
at the gouvemeur-generaaVs paleis at Batavia when
you were named resident. Do you recall how firmly
you insisted that the Argus Pheasant, Koyala, had been
wronged, and how bitterly his excellency opposed? You
persuaded him to remove the bounty from her head and
to grant her amnesty. Our victory in Bulungan dated
from that moment."
"She has been a wonderful help," Peter Gross ac-
SACHSEN COUNSELS HIS PROT6g6 209
knowledged with a faint show of interest. "I frankly
confess that I could not have succeeded here had it
not been for her help."
"We must do nothing to shake her loyalty/' Sachsen
declared earnestly. "She is worth more to us than
a hundred datoos and kjais. They bend with every
breeze; she remains firm and unshaken. She is a
woman of great perception and wisdom. She would
be a credit to any chancellery in Europe."
"Aye," Peter Gross assented. "It is an eternal shame
that she was bom the way she was."
^ "It is not for us to question the ways of Providence,"
Sachsen rebuked mildly. "Perhaps the good God willed
it thus that she might be an instrument for the saving
of many lives, and the upbuilding of a great people in
"I haven't the nerve to accuse Providence of play-
ing such a scabby trick as was played on that poor
girl," Peter Gross retorted warmly. "I think the devil
himself was responsible. If she only didn't have the
fatal gift of beauty! But to be forced to see the plain-
est scrub of a planter's wife pass her by with uptilted
nose because she's branded with the bend sinister — it's
hell, that's what it is!"
The resident drove his great fist into his palm to
emphasize the word.
"/a, mynheer*' Sachsen agreed, "the g^ief that dwells
in her heart must be more than poet or painter can
conceive. I cannot bring myself to imagine what the
silent hours of night mean to her."
"Agony!" Peter Gross cried bitterly. "Just agony!
Do you wonder she flees to the jungle and races down
the lanes with the tiger and leopard?"
"I have heard — I have heard," Sachsen assented.
"Therefore a thought occurs to me. We must alleviate
her woe as much as we can. We must do naught that
will increase her pain. Do you not agree with me,
"Most heartily!" the resident asserted. He cast a
curious glance at the aged secretary. Long acquaint-
210 THE YELLOW SPIDER
ance with Sachsen had taught him that the wise old
counselor rarely talked for the pure pleasure of talk-
"Where is she now?" Sachsen inquired mildly. "I
have not seen her here in a day or two."
"I don't know," Peter Gross replied frankly. "She
has gone back to the jungle, I think. She may be on
her way to Ah Sing's city to do some more spying on
her own account, or she may have gone to her temple
in the hills. There's a chance, too, that she's at Rot-
terdam below. The people have begun rebuilding the
huts that were burned?"
'When did she leave?"
'Last night — no, the evening before. About sim-
down, I think. She passed Miss Coston and me near
the residency building."
"She did not tell you where she was going?" Sachsen
"Did she say aught else?"
"She did not stop to speak," Peter Gross acknowl-
edged. "We only got the merest glimpse of her as she
left the road and struck out toward the plein along the
lane that runs by the side of Blauwpot's rose-garden."
Sachsen stroked his beard thoughtfully. He turned
his head to run appraising eyes up and down Peter
Gross's stalwart frame. . .
"Mynheer Gross, has it ever occurred to you that
you are young?" he asked. "That you have such
inches as are given few men, and a generous endow-
ment of meat upon them? That your features are not
wholly unattractive by nature, and that a clean life
and sober habits of blinking have given them a pre-
A look of bewilderment gathered upon Peter Gross's
"Vrind Sachsen," he replied deliberately, "will you
please tell me what in Tophet you are driving at?"
"Only this," the governor's adviser replied. "I think
we agreed a short time hence that naught must be done
SACHSEN COUNSELS HIS PROTlfeG^ 211
by either of us that shall bring another tear to Koyala's
"Aha!" Peter Gross exclaimed.
"A moment, please!" Sachsen requested sharply. "I
claim the indulgence due the aged. My point is this. You
are a man, a young man. The priestess Koyala is a
woman, a yoimg woman. The Juffrouw Coston is a
yoimg woman. Now it is a law of nature that between
the ages of fifteen and fifty there exists an affinity be-
tween man and woman. This fact prevails regardless
of differences in birth or clime. Also it is a law of
nature and a law of the Aryans that where two men
covet the same woman, or two women the same man,
conflict exists. Do you know, Vrind Pieter, from the
time of the first hewer of wood to this day, all wars
are due to this primary cause?" A merry gleam illu-
minated the aged secretary's eyes.
"But what in Gehenna has this to do with me ?" Peter
"Simply this, Vrind Pieter. I beg you to listen
calmly. Your heart may be as free and unfettered as
the breeze that blows here from Celebes. The Juifrouw
Coston may be loyal in heart and soul to the man she
has promised to wed, who is now waiting for her in the
city that Ah Sing has built."
"She is!" Peter Gross interjected forcibly. "We are
good friends, that is all. Absolutely all!"
"I do not doubt it," Sachsen replied tactfully. "But
consider this. Before the Juffrouw Coston came it was
Koyala with whom you discussed these great problems
of state, and the welfare of Bulungan. Since the
jonge juffrouw came here you have had time for none
but her. You devote your evenings to her. You stroll
together along the lanes."
"As host I am surely privileged to show her the
points of interest?" Peter Gross interrupted.
"Assuredly. But consider how Koyala views it.
Before this she commanded such leisure as you might
be disposed to give. Now another possesses it. Is it
not natural, is it not perfectly human, that she should
212 THE YELLOW SPIDER
feel aggrieved? Place yourself in her position. Con-
template another preempting all Miss Coston's time."
A subdued twinkle gleamed for a moment in Sach-
sen's eyes and disappeared. "When I came in here,"
he concluded, "you were as sour as old palm wine. I
shall not ask you why. I leave it to your own heart
to answer. And I will add — forget not that Koyala
feels the same way. Ja, Vrind Pieter," he added softly,
"a thousand times more keenly than you does she feel
the prick of ingratitude. For the sin of her father is
a shame that naught can erase, in this generation or
those that follow."
Peter Gross covered his face with his hands. Sachsen
"I leave thee, Vrind Pieter," he announced gently.
"In this, as in all other things, I have confidence in thy
Tiptoeing out he closed the door silently and returned
to his room.
Ah Sing Returns
THE Zuyder Zee lay motionless at anchor in a
muddy lagoon. Directly ahead of it the great
mangroves thrust their slimy claws into the
tepid water and drew sustenance from the rich, black
mud below. To one side, in an alluvial flat screened in
by a tall growth of almost inpenetrable jungle, lay the
city Ah Sing and his pirates had built in secret before
they delivered their first bold stroke in the capture
of the packet Dordrechter. The Natchez, another pi-
rate capture, was at anchor aft of the Zuyder Zee. .Both
ships were under a strong Chinese and Malay guard.
John Bright, the missionary, the Yankee trader, Jim
Poggs, Violet Coston, and Vincent Brady were on the
deck of the Zuyder Zee. A hot afternoon sun beat
down pitilessly on the craft, making the interior a
living inferno. The Manchu warden of the ship had
finally yielded to their entreaties and permitted them
to come on deck for a bit of air. It was the argument
of the missionary that won him over: "If you keep us
penned in our cabins below there will be none for whom
you can ask ransom."
''Vincent, will we ever escape from here?" Violet
Coston groaned. She was very little like the Violet
of other days; the heat and privations they had under-
gone had utterly wilted her.
"Courage, Vi," he replied, giving her a comforting
hand-clasp. "Our bankers ought to know by now and
they'll surely cable the money at once, I don't doubt
Ah Sing will have it when he returns."
"If he shouldn't !" Mrs. Coston gasped.
214 THE YELLOW SPIDER
'^We are in God's hands/' the missionary counseled
"I never saw a hole yet that there wasn't some way
of crawling out of," the trader remarked cheerfully.
"I've got a hunch we're going to crawl out of this
one. I don't think they'll get any ransom money from
Jim Poggs either, if somebody wants to know."
"Do you think there's a chance for escape?" Violet
Coston asked eagerly.
"I ain't holding out any hopes," the trader responded
warily. "But I learned something this morning. I
know a little Shanghai pidgin, and I heard two of these
yellow devils gossiping. They let something drop that
set me thinking."
"What was it?" was the simultaneous whisper of the
Poggs lowered his voice.
"This is what it was," he replied. "Do you remember
that tall young fellow we had aboard who was the cap-
tain's guest and who wasn't seen or heard of again after
"Yes." The three spoke as one.
"Do you know who it was? That was Peter Gross,
Resident of Bulungan, that's what. He got away. Ah
Sing is madder than blazes. He's gone down to Bu-
lungan to wipe him out. But if Peter Gross could
crawl out of that hole, with a whole nest of pirates on
top of him, he can hold his own at Bulungan. By and
by there'll be a gunboat there, and then you'll see the
fur begin to fly. When Peter Gross gets going, there's
something doing. Believe me, he's a ho-oly terror ! Ask
"Praise God !" John Bright murmured, closing his
eyes. "Praise God!"
"Do you think there's a chance, Mr. Bright?" Mrs.
Coston begged piteously.
"As I told you that night, Mrs. Coston, when Peter
Gross was on the bridge above us and we did not know
it, if there is one man in all the Indies who can prevent
AH SING RETURNS 215
a general native uprising and crush piracy, it is Peter
Gross. I have all faith in him."
Fresh life glowed in all their faces. Hope shone in
their eyes. The Manchu guard stationed near them
looked at them curiously. He was wondering what had
come over the despised orang blanda.
They were eagerly discussing the possibilities of
rescue, when loud shouts from the natives on board
the Dordrechter attracted their attention. At the
same time occupants of the houses on stilts along the
water front of Ah Sing's city began capering about the
bamboo platforms in front of their houses and gesticu-
lating seaward. Other natives were hurrying to the
Poggs leaped to the rail and peered toward the chan-
nel entrance, cunningly concealed by a heavy growth of
"Ah Sing's back!" he exclaimed. "There's his boat
coming out of the channel now."
The slim white yacht that had shown her heels to the
Prins Lodewyk before the gates of Bulungan glided
as gracefully as a swan into the placid waters of the
lagoon. In answer to her helm she swung to the right
and steamed at half-speed to an anchorage opposite
the town. More than a thousand pairs of eyes, includ-
ing those of the group on the deck of the Zuyder Zee,
watched her course with interest.
"Ah Sing hasn't any bunting out," Poggs remarked.
"Must be he didn't have much luck on the trip. If
that's the case, look out for squalls."
As the anchors were dropped a boat was lowered. A
ladder was put over the side and Ah Sing and a couple
of stalward Tibetans stepped into the craft. They
were promptly rowed ashore, where Ah Sing found a
covered sedan chair awaiting him. He stepped inside
and drew the curtains to hide his face from the gaping
Dyaks and Malays, who took good care to remain a
respectful distance away. In tikis way he was borne
to the "long house'* that had been built to accommodate
216 THE YELLOW SPIDER
Poggs's guess that all had not gone well on the voy-
age was a shrewd one. The Chinaman had had a
profitless trip. His first mishap occurred when on
rounding a headland he had run into the Prins. Sus-
picious at seeing a craft that bore no name on bow or
stem and flew no flag, Kapitein Enckd had ordered
the stranger to heave-to. Ah Sing promptly turned
and put his trust in his engines, rated to produce
twenty-three knots an hour by the Japanese builders.
They had done better than that and the Prins was out-
footed, as those at Fort Wilhelmina had witnessed.
From a passing proa. Ah Sing had learned of Woban-
guli's fiasco at Bulungan, his failure to make a bold
stroke at the pasar, and his collapse at the sudden ap-
pearance of Peter Gross at the council. Had the raja
acted with decision, he perceived, the gates of the fort
would have been closed to the resident, and his arch-
enemy would have been in his power. The miscarriage
of his carefully matured plans stirred him to a cold
passion of fury, which boded ill for the tmfortunate
Wobanguli when they met.
Several day's scouring of the seas had brought no
Tetum worth the effort made. A Chinese junk laden
with edible birds' nests had been seized and sunk and
ler crew butchered in wanton cruelty. This was con-
trary to Ah Sing's previously planned policy, but his
accent reverses had roused the latent ferocity of the
man and made him thirst for gore. There was a
Tartar strain in his blood — it made him the capable
leader he was, but it also found expression at times in
a savage cruelty typical of the race.
As Ah Sing stepped out of the sedan chair, trembling
slaves spread mats for him that his sandals might not
be soiled. The Chinaman waddled rather than walked
into his dwelling, for his great obesity was a burden
on days so oppressive as this. At his scowl the poor
wretches holding the mats flattened themselves to earth,
quivering with terror. Ah Sing passed by their re-
cumbent forms unheeding and entered the cool of the
AH SING RETURNS 217
dwelling, where other trembling slaves stood ready
with cooling drinks.
Sipping concoctions of limes and crushed fruit juices
with an alcoholic content to give them zip and flavor, the
Chinaman rested. Two slaves kept the air stirring
about him with fans made from peacock tails. The
drone of busy thousands came in muffled voice from the
outside, the only sound to be heard except for the
swishing of the fans. After an hour's complete re-
laxation Ah Sing sent for his lieutenants. The various
datoos and kjais came and went with their reports. A
curt question or two was the most he vouchsafed any
of them. Most of them he merely dismissed with a curt
nod. They sprawled on their stomachs before him in
abject terror, for such was the ascendency which the
Batavian rumah makan keeper had gained over them.
A lithe young Malay entered finally.
'^Salaamat, master!" he greeted, as he made obeis-
ance. He was the first to approach this degree of
"What have you heard concerning the ransoms for
these orang blandaf" Ah Sing demanded. He had a
deep guttural voice that seemed to come from unfath-
omable abysses. In fact his voice was one of the
secrets of his power.
The Malay turned up deprecating palms. "Master,
we returned from Bandjer yesterday," he reported.
"Your agent advised us he had received no ransom
A baleful gleam lit the Chinaman's eyes.
"Go to Bandjer again at dawn to-morrow, datoo/^
he instructed gutturally. "If the ransom has not come
leave word that we have put them to the torture. For
each day's delay we will exact a penalty. For the
first day an arm shall be cut off at the wrist, for the
second, at the elbow, for the third day, at the shoulder.
So we will proceed until the soul seeks rest in Taman
Kuring. Gro, I bid you."
The Malay salaamed low and departed.
218 THE YELLOW SPIDER
A Chinaman entered the august presence and ko-
"Master," he announced, "the Raja Wobanguli is
without and seeks audience."
A light blazed in Ah Sing's eyes. It was the only
flicker of expression that he permitted to escape him,
"Bid him come in," he directed.
Wobanguli bent at the waist as he entered, for the
portal was not framed for one so tall as he. He was rub-
bing his hands and smiling unctuously. As he stepped
inside he blinked at the subdued light and peered about
to distinguish Ah Sing, who was seated at the opposite
side of the room, witfi his fan-bearers standing behind
him, and a giant Tibetan armed with a Chinese mace
on each side.
The raja kotowed modestly, to indicate the China-
man's superior rank. His crafty eyes sought to read
the pirate chief's face, but Ah Sing's features were as
immobile and expressionless as a Buddha idol's.
"Salaamat, master! I felicitate you on your safe
return," he greeted warmly, in sonorous Malay. "I
hope your voyage has been prosperous ?"
"Our cause prospers," Ah Sing replied non-com-
"Two more moons and the last of the orang blanda
will have been driven from the sacred soil of Borneo!"
Wobanguli cried dramatically. "Another moon and
other brothers across the seas will have freed their
necks from the yoke. There will be a new empire of
the Malays and Dyaks, and our sultan will be Ah Sing."
"That is indeed good news, brother," Ah Sing re-
plied. "I take it, therefore, that affairs have prospered
with thee in Bulungan?"
The raja tried hard to read the Chinaman's face.
Ah Sing kept it in the shadows, but that precaution
was needless. He was too subtle, too thoroughly Ori-
ental, too much a master of himself to betray anything
he did not desire to reveal. Wobanguli might have
studied a block of wood with as much profit.
"I have come overland from Bulungan," he evaded.
AH SING RETURNS 219
"The way is long and my bearers were weary, hence I
have been many days on the road. When I left the
fort still held out, but the oratig blanda were pinned in
like rats in their holes, and my people were all about.
It will not be many days before they succumb, if they
have not already perished."
"I heard that new orang blanda had come from Java
to strengthen the garrison?" Ah Sing asked unemo-
tionally. "Have you heard aught of this?"
"Master, it is true that some have come," Woban-
guli acknowledged after a moment's quick thought,
during which he anxiously cogitated how much the
Chinaman had learned. "But we let these enter the
fort. It will be so many more to eat their food and
drink their water, and so many more heads for the
Punan's lodge-poles when our people climb over the
"Have you heard aught concerning that devil-devil,
A moment's consideration persuaded Wobanguli that
if Ah Sing had heard of the arrival of reenforcements
at the fort, he must know of Peter Gross's safe return
to Bulungan also, and its attendant circumstances.
"Master," he declared with great show of earnest-
ness, "I tell you strange things. The day of the pasar
came and we waited for thy message. The Orang
Blanda Kapala, warned, I fear, by the offspring of
Chawatangi, refused to enter the city with his troops.
When the Datoo of Katara came late in the afternoon,
I summoned the chiefs and the kjais to a bitchara at
my long house. The talk was long, the hour waxed late.
When the argument was hottest one came into the room
in the semblance of the resident. Some say it was him
in body, and some say it was his ghost. But we all be-
lieved it was his spirit, for had not the Datoo of Katara
assured us that Peter Gross had perished in the sea
and that his kalalungan was now on the way to the
Gunong Lumut, the Mount of Moss? An evil spirit
came upon us. It was the magic of his eyes. Our blood
was like water. Thy datoo he broke like a reed and
««0 TBDE YELLOW SPIDER
threw from him. I barely escaped. The next day he
was at the fort. Surely the white man's god bore him
out of the clutches of the sharks of the sea and brought
him back to Bulungan that he might die there with his
"He was with thee and all thy chiefs and thou didst
let him pass from thee in safety?" Ah Sing asked ca-
Something in the Chinaman's tones caused the raja's
cowardly blood to chill.
"It was his spirit, O master!" he cried, "by Djath,
and by the hanu token, and by the little ghosts that flit
about the Padang Batu, the great stone fields, I assure
you it was his spirit in the body of the white man's
"He was with thee and thy chiefs and thou didst let
him pass from thee in safety," the Chinaman repeated.
"Do you know, raja, that he has set a price on thy
"Let him come and take it!" the raja cried boast-
fully, in a voice pitched too high to be confident. "He
will never get it."
"No, he will never get it," Ah Sing replied soothingly.
"Because," he shouted, "I shall have it! Seize him,"
he cried, turning to his Tibetans, "seize him and bind
The raja's world rocked. He was too terror-stricken
to offer resistance. As the giant Chinamen leaped to-
ward him he sank to his knees with a cry for mercy. In
a thrice he was bound hand and foot.
Ah Sing slowly rose, lifting his huge body with an
effort. There was a sardonic smile on his face; so had
he looked when he first registered Adriaan Adriaan-
szoort Van Schouten and Peter Gross as victims of his
vengeance. He spumed the prostrate raja with his foot.
"Take out his lying tongue," he directed, "lest I
hear more falsehoods." As one of the Tibetans came
forward with an instrument for that purpose the raja
uttered a despairing shriek. The next moment he was
rendered silent forever.
AH SING BETURNS 221
"Now put out those eyes that gleam only with craft
and guile," the pirate chief directed. The executioner
knelt and forced out the eyeballs with his thumb.
Dumb and sightless, the unfortunate raja, a victim
of his own untrustworthiness, writhed for a while on
the floor of the house. Ah Sing sat by the living
corpse, gloating over it. The shades of night were
falling when he summoned one of his guards again.
"Strike off his head,'* he directed, "and post it over the
city gates. And put over it this wording, in the Malay,
the Dyak, and the Bajau tongues:
" This is the end of those who disobey the master.' "
AS night came on the glow of lights began to appear
in the streets of Ah Sing's city. Light streamed
* also through the chinks in the bamboo houses and
from the open doors. But the "long house** where the
dread master hid was swathed in sable darkness. In
an interior room where only a dim taper burned, Ah
Sing sat alone and meditated on the failure of his
plans to grasp Bulungan and its resident, by two bold
strokes. The conduct of his pusillanimous ally, the
Raja Wobanguli, had lost the residency capital for
him, he reasoned. That treachery had been punished,
so there was an end to that. But Peter Gross's escape
was a more difficult problem. How the resident had
been able to get ashore through shark-infested seas
without any one. of the multitude of proas seeing him
was a mystery too deep for the Chinaman to solve.
Like all great leaders, who are more or less dreamers.
Ah Sing was superstitious. His superstitious instincts
were now being aroused over Peter Gross. The resi-
dent had escaped his carefully woven nets so often
that Ah Sing was beginning to feel that his arch
enemy had a charmed life. It was a dangerous notion
for him to entertain, at this time, when his fortunes
were in so hazardous a condition. But it put him into
the mood for any stroke, however desperate it might
appear, that promised to put Peter Gross's person into
It was in this mood that Koyala found him.
Disdaining the request of a Chinese majordomo that
she wait in a reception hall until Ah Sing indicated
KOYAIA'S OFFER 228
whether he would see her, she strode through the house
to the Chinaman's private apartment. At the door, one
of the pirate chief's huge Tibetans interposed his bulk
and shining mace. Koyala's lips curved in a smile of
"Are you so afraid of a woman that you must hide
behind the ax of a slave. Ah Sing?" she asked, lifting
There was a moment's silence. Then the authori-
tative voice of the Chinaman announced:
"Let her come in."
The guard stood aside and Koyala passed haughtily
by. She carried herself like a queen as she entered.
There was none of the servile subserviency of the late
raja in her demeanor. Ah Sing, grim, inscrutable,
watched her enter from the shadows. His eyes gleamed
with admiration, then regained their customary expres-
sionlessness. But Koyala, who could see in the darkness
almost as well as in the light, did not fail to note the
gleam or to interpret its meaning.
"You are lonely. Ah Sing," she remarked. "Are you
under a vow to Allah or do your datoos and kjais
esteem it too great an honor to sit with their chief?"
There was a trace of mockery in her tone.
Ah Sing regarded her fixedly, but he said nothing.
She glanced at him inquiringly, and seeing he did not
intend to reply, began idly flecking her sandals with a
light whip she carried.
"You have come from your temple?" the Chinaman
Koyala knew that the Chinaman was aware, through
his spies, of her movements, but it pleased her to be
"Some time since," she remarked lightly.
"You have been in the villages of the Trings and
"One-two moons ago," Koyala replied. "I brought
offerings to their ganeca idols."
"You have heard naught, then, from Bulungan?" the
Chinaman inquired idly.
«24 THE YELLOW SPIDER
"Your news must be later than mine. Ah Sing, since
I see the head of Bulungan's raja on your gates,"
Koyala retorted coolly.
Ah Sing gazed at her intently. His eyes were like
a leopard's in the dark, two dots of green fire that
scintillated but did not blink. Koyala continued tapping
her foot lightly with the whip.
"He was false to me, therefore he died," he declared
finally. It was a passionless utterance, spoken like
a judge's decree.
"To kill their raja seems to me a strange way to win
the allegiance and favor of the Dyaks whose territory
you occupy," Koyala observed.
"The Dyaks speak through their kjais and head
men," Ah Sing replied. "They have taken the oath
with me, they have seen to-day my vengeance when
that oath is broken."
"The Dyaks are one people," Koyala retorted sharply.
"They speak through their council. Woe to the chief
who violates the law of the council !"
"And greater woe to him who breaks his oath to Ah
Sing!" the Chinaman declared sternly. "Woman, why
have you come?" he suddenly demanded. "Are you
here as friend or foe, as priestess of the people of
Borneo, or the servant of the orang blanda pig who
wallows on the heights over Bulungan?"
Koyala's cheeks flamed.
"And if I choose not to say?" she demanded.
"Those who enter the tiger's lair must not whine if
they feel the tiger's claws," Ah Sing returned signifi-
Koyala rose and drew herself to her full height. The
Chinaman rose also, with a wary eye upon her, for he
knew her nimbleness with the dagger. Of Napoleonic
stature as well as of mind, he made a grotesque figure
as he faced her, for she was at least two inches taller
than he. His eyes glowed, but not with anger. There
was a covetous leer in them that made the pure virgin
blood of the tempestuous priestess boil within her.
"You forget. Ah Sing, that this is Borneo, the land
KOYALA'S OFFER «25
of my people/* she said in a low voice, vibrant with
"I am sultan here/' the Chinaman returned. "This is
my house, and my city. These are my guards at the
door." There was a note of triumph and exultation
in his voice ; his eyes held the look of a hunter finding
game in his snares.
Koyala's lips curled with scorn.
"Do you think you can deal with me as you dealt
with Wobanguli, Ah Sing?" she demanded. "Here I
am — ^tell your slaves to bind me." She thrust out her
arms palms upward, to suit action to the words. "But
outside/' she cried, "are my people! Outside are the
Punans, the little men of the jungle. They wait for
my return. Ah Sing. If I not return, do you know
what will happen? Ask your datoos. Ask your kjais.
Ask them what escape there is by sea if the little men
close the channel. Ask them what escape there is by
land when the little men fill the woods. Ask where
water will come from, for this, your city, when every
tree hides a Punan, and every Punan has his sumpitan
to rain poisoned darts on those who leave the gates."
The Chinaman's sallow face blanched. He knew
full well how dependent he was on his savage allies,
how thin his tenure of power would be if the Dyaks
turned against him. He knew also the extreme rever-
ence in which Koyala was held by these simple children
of nature, superstitious to the last degree, and convinced
that she was a direct gift of Djath vouchsafed the peo-
ple of Bulungan through the intercession of her demi-
god grandfather, the miracle-working witch-doctor,
"There is none who speaks of slaves to bind you,"
he replied. "But if you come as a friend, speak. Or
if you come as the messenger of the orang blanda,
"I come as neither," she returned shortly. "I come
as Koyala, the woman."
An unbelieving light shone for a moment in the
Chinaman's eyes. It softened into doubt, then ere-
S26 THE YELLOW SPIDER
dulity, as a long cherished hope flamed again in his
"Once before I offered you my throne as sultaness,
O Bintang Burung/' he said fervently. "I offer it
again." He hung breathlessly upon her reply.
Koyala's face hardened. There was a measure of.
contempt in her tone as she replied: "As I told you
then, Ah Sing, the Argus Pheasant is for no man. She
is dedicated to the service of Djath."
Ah Sing's face quivered with fury. His almost steel-
clad self-control broke down and in his anger he hardly
kept himself from grasping her.
"Thou art mine and shall be mine," he cried hoarsely,
taking a step forward. A glittering dagger blocked his
march of progress.
"Don't be a fool. Ah Sing," Koyala advised in a low
voice. "I have come here as an ally to offer assistance
and to request it. Have you the patience to listen?"
The Chinaman pulled himself together with an effort.
Deep as the hurt was he could hide it, as he had hidden
it before in Djath's temple. After all, ambition was
his first love, and after that cupidity. His ferret eyes
regained their usual bland expression, which was a
mask for Oriental cunning and deceit.
"What assistance can you give?" he asked.
"This," she replied. "Since the orang blanda strong-
hold at Bulungan has not fallen, since on the contrary
the orang blanda's guns command Bulungan, and since
there have been no rich prizes and no loot, my people
are beginning to waver in their allegiance. I will hold
them loyal. Second, and this is also my condition for
the faithful performance of the first, I want your as-
sistance in abducting a white maid from the orang
blanda stronghold. No harm must come to her, but
she must be included among the captives held for
ransom. On no condition must Peter Gross hear aught
of what has become of her."
"That is all?" the Chinaman asked.
"That is all," Koyala replied.
Ah Sing's ferretlike eyes gazed at her steadily. He
KOYALA'S OFFER %%1
was seeking to read her thoughts, to interpret the emo-
tions that unintentionally expressed themselves on her
plastic countenance. As he read the changes recorded
there he pieced out the riddle and satisfied himself that
his interpretion was correct: Peter Gross enamored of
the stranger; Koyala, in love with Peter Gross, jealous.
It was a reasonable explanation. He asked a guarded
question to test it.
"Is this woman fair in the eyes of Peter Gross ?"
"It seems so," Koyala retorted bitterly. "He spends
most of his time with her."
Satisfied that he had got to the bottom of the mat-
ter, the Chinaman began to scheme how he could turn
this knowledge and Koyala's overtures to his advan-
tage. A cunning grin overspread his face. If the
woman were abducted, he reasoned, the resident would
naturally follow, especially if a suitable decoy were put
out. His slim forces could be tangled in the jungle and
annihilated. The plan was perfect! That Koyala, her-
self infatuated with Peter Gross, should propose it,
gave a touch of humor to the situation. He quaked
inwardly with mirth.
"How shall this be performed?" he asked.
"Each morning, after sunrise, the woman takes the
path that leads to the sea from the fort and walks
along the beach," Koyala stated. "Send a trustworthy
kjai and six Dyaks with me, with orders to conceal
themselves at dawn in the bush alongside the road
where it turns just beyond a huge boulder. They must
not let themselves be seen from the fort, and this is the
only portion of the road which the sentries on the walls
do not overlook. The woman must be seized quickly
and silenced before she can make outcry. Then she
must be brought here. But no harm must be done
"It shall be done," Ah Sing pledged. "Do thou keep
thy promise with thy people."
A Man's Task
SIX hundred colonials, skilled bush-fighters all, were
drilling on the plein of Bulungan under the ap-
proving eyes of His Excellency, the Jonkheer
Adriaan Adriaanszoon Van Schouten and their new
commander-in-chief, Peter Gross. They executed the
various maneuvers right smartly, with a precision that
left nothing to be desired. At the end of an hour's
drill the gouverneur-generaal turned a piercing glance
upward at his tall lieutenant and barked :
"Well, Mynheer Gross, what do you say? Do you
think they will fight?"
"I hope Ah Sing will let us catch him," the resident
A gleam of pleasure lit the executive eye.
"Gewisselijk, mynheer! But we trust your cunning
to put salt on the vulture's tail."
He beckoned to the officer in charge. "Nu, genoeg,"
he directed. "March them back to the fort. And g^ve
each man an allowance of wine to-night as a token of
The words were spoken loudly enough to be heard
by those in the first ranks. A non-commissioned of-
ficer addressed a few words to his commander. The
permission asked was smilingly given. The next mo-
ment the entire body broke into a lusty cheer for their
gouverneur-generaal. Van Schouten's back straight-
ened stiffly and his chest protruded another inch. Like
one who is very much pleased with himself and the
whole world, he stalked away to his horse and mounted.
"Devil take that resident of mine, where has he dis-
A MAN^ TASK 229
appeared?" he muttered under his breath as he looked
around for Peter Gross. A moment later he spied the
tall form of the resident hurrying across the pldn
toward Grace Coston.
"H-m!" Van Schouten muttered. "For one who
swore to me his indifference to the female world in
general this Mynheer Gross has peculiar methods of
showing it." His sharp features softened under a smile.
"Amsterdam!" he murmured affectionately. "What
wouldn't I give to live again my youthful days at the
Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam. Verdampt! Let him
He drove the spurs into his horse and galloped away.
Grace greeted Peter Gross with a face glowing with
"It was wonderful!" she declared. "I never saw a
body of men train so perfectly."
"You should see them in the jungle," Peter Gross re-
plied. "I have the cream of the colonial force here,
for, for once. His Excellency did not stint me his very
best." He appeared as happy as a schoolboy.
A shade of anxiety came into Grace's face.
"How soon are you going in search of Ah Sing?"
"In a few days, I hope," Peter Gross replied soberly,
the joyous light dying in his features. "I cannot say
positively when. The Juffrouw Koyala promised to
guide us, but she has not been here for several days.
If she does not come to-morrow we will probably start
and leave word for her to follow."
Will you take the entire force?"
*We will leave a sufficient guard for the fort, of
course," Peter Gross evaded.
"I understand. But of those who go, will they all go
in one body?"
"That would be revealing our strategy," the resident
pointed out gravely. "I couldn't do that. Miss Coston.
Not even to you," he added softly.
"Of course not! I shouldn't have asked." Grace's
glance flitted toward the jungle and rested there. "I
880 THE YELLOW SPmER
was wondering," she said, "whether Ah Sing might not
have sent some of his prisoners into the interior. It
has been such a long time since we've had any word
from them. All we've heard has been through Koyala."
"We can absolutely rely on any information she
brings us," Peter Gross declared quickly.
"I suppose so," Grace replied indifferently.
Peter Gross's brows narrowed. "You don't trust
her," he accused.
Grace's eyes rose to meet his. "To be quite frank,
Mr. Gross, I don't," she declared.
"Why?" It was like a challenge.
Grace gave him a quick glance and lowered her lids
again. "I don't know," she replied. "Intuition, I sup-
pose one might call it."
"You do her an injustice," Peter Gross declared
"I think she means well," Grace replied slowly. "But
I'm afraid, I'm afraid — "
"That she cannot trust herself."
Peter Gross's brows knitted. "What do you mean
by that?" he asked.
"Think it over," Grace advised. "I dislike saying
these things. I'm afraid you think I'm catty.* But
really, I'd be easier in mind if you went into the
jungle without her as guide than with her." '
Peter Gross gazed thoughtfully at the jungle.
"They are going back to the fort," Grace declared,
rising. Accommodating his pace to hers, Peter Gross
strolled with her in the rear of the marching troops
and the few civilians who had watched the drill. Neither
spoke, each being busy with thoughts that it was not
discreet to utter. As they reached the main traveled
highway leading down-grade to the town of Bulungan,
Peter Gross stopped and pointed to the city below,
emerging from its ashes.
"My kingdom!" he exclaimed bitterly. "Two years
of work there, and what progress have I made?"
'Why do you stay?" Grace asked. "You are a for-
A MAN'S TASK 281
eigner here. Your work can never gain you preferment.
Across the water is your own country, waiting for men
who can do things. Hasn't she first right to you?"
Her voice was wondrously alluring, wondrously
sweet. A poignant sense of all that he had left behind
and lost in exiling himself in this savagely cruel tropic
island came upon Peter Gross. The bitter feeling that
his life had been wasted obsessed him. Now that the
immediate danger was past, and the arrival of troops
had insured the safety of the fort he began to look
back and measure the ground lost. Conscientious to a
high degree, he felt a deep sense of personal responsi-
bility in the defection of the Dyaks, and their treachery
affected him deeply. Grace's suggestion, therefore, came
at a time when he was extraordinarily receptive to such
"There's work in the United States to be done also,"
Grace declared. "There's construction to be done. We
are a comparatively new nation and we have a tre-
mendous lot to do before we develop the country.
There are millions of acres out West waiting for cul-
tivation. There are problems of transportation. You,
as a sailor, should know the deficiency of our merchant
She spoke with an ardent patriotism, feeling herself
a soldier in a righteous cause.
"My country is at peace," Peter Gross argued weekly.
"It hasn't any particular need of me."
"It has need of every American citizen whether at
peace or at war," Grace blazed. "The duty a man
owes to his country is the same as that he owes to his
family. He should place it first, peace or war."
Unconsciously their footsteps had been lagging. Peter
Gross stopped abruptly, his attention caught by a huge
yellow spider that had spun a web in the grass along
the border of the highway. A cricket was enmeshed in
the silken threads and struggled frantically to free
iteslf. The spider ran forward. A stroke of its fangs
and the cricket succumbed. The spider began toiling
a web about it.
232 THE YELLOW SPmER
"How cruel!" Grace exclaimed, shuddering. "I hate
Peter Gross rose to his full height.
"Miss Coston," he declared, and there was a differ-
ent ring in his voice than there had been before, "I'm
glad this matter has come up. I'm glad it has come up
in just this way, and at just this time. And I call it
God's blessing fliat it happened right here."
He stepped forward quickly and ground the spider
"You see," he said gently, "there are some of us
in this world that have to get rid of the spiders. It
isn't a pleasant task, but it has to be done. And this
man Ah Sing is a spider. A big, yellow spider, spinning
webs in this far comer of the globe where some thirty
million people possess only the rudiments of civiliza-
tion and live by superstition. Someone must crush
him. It seems that I have been chosen for the work.
I may not like it, but that's neither here nor there. I
believe that when all's said and done I can serve my
country and the world better here than I can digging
oysters in Chesapeake Bay or running a coaster to
Grace looked seaward where the Prins Lodewyk and
another gunboat, together with two coasters, lay riding
at anchor. Her eyes misted.
"When your work here is done, Mr. Gross, I hope
you will come to us in America," she replied .softly.
Grace Coston Disappears
MYNHERR GROSS, have you seen the Jonge
Juffrouw Coston this morning?"
The speaker was the Juffrouw Van Voort.
She entered Peter Gross's sanctum sanctorum precipi-
tately, without the formality of knocking. Her manner
was flurried, and there was a note of anxiety in her
"No, I have not," Peter Gross replied. "Is she mis-
"I cannot find her, mynheer," The little woman's lip
quivered. "She has not been seen since morning. We
missed her at the rice table and she did not return for
siesta, I have been searching nearly an hour and I can-
not find any trace of her."
"That is strange," Peter Gross replied, rising. He
spoke calmly, but there was a tremor in his voice. "When
was she last seen?"
"We had breakfast about six o'clock," the Juffrouw
Van Voort related. "The jonge juffrouw usually takes
a walk to the beach in the morning before the sun gets
hot, as mynheer knows. She left at the customary hour.
That is the last I have seen of her."
"Paddy Rouse was on guard duty this morning,"
Peter Gross remarked, struck with a sudden thought.
"He may have seen her."
"I have been seeking Mynheer Rouse," the juffrouw
stated. "I cannot find him."
"He's up-stairs in the chart-room," the resident re-
plied. "I'll call him." He buzzed for an orderly. A
few moments later Paddy entered the room,
234 THE YELLOW SPmER
"Did Miss Coston take her customary walk to the
beach this morning?" Peter Gross asked.
"Did she return?"
"I don't know, sir. I was relieved shortly after she
passed through the gate."
"Then you don't know in what direction she went
after reaching the bottom of the hill ?"
"Faith, sir, I don't know whether she even went to
the bottom of the hill," Paddy declared. "You know the
big outcrop of rock, sir, that the boys call the camel's
hump, where the path turns? I saw her get as far as
that. I naturally kept looking for her where the path
winds into sight again for anyone standing on the wall
but she didn't show up. I thought she'd probably
stopped on the way — ^to pick a flower perhaps — and didn't
think any more of it. About fifteen minutes later I was
"Who relieved you?" The words came like a pistol-
shot. Peter Gross was angered.
"Did you tell him Miss Coston had left the fort?"
Peter Gross compressed his lips. Paddy flushed guil-
tily, realizing his delinquency.
"Call Private Van Vlaanderen," he directed. "Have
The Dutchman was a soldier and nothing but a sol-
dier. His replies to the resident's questions were terse
and to the point. He had not seen the Jonge Juffrouw
Coston. He was of the opinion that she could not have
appeared either on the path running down from the fort
to the beach or on the beach itself without his observing
her. One statement of his was particularly illuminative.
"There was someone in the bush near the Kameel-
bochel (camel's hump), mynheer** he declared. "As I
came up to relieve Mynheer Rouse a lory was singing
in the bush. It stopped in the middle of its song and
flew swiftly away."
"You are an excellent observer," Peter Gross com-
GRACE COSTON DISAPPEARS 285
plimented. "I shall be pleased to recommend you to your
Van Vlaanderen withdrew, pleasure lighting his face.
"If we'd only had him on guard duty instead of
Paddy," Peter Gross groaned. "The youngster means
well, but he's irresponsible." He turned to the JufF-
rouw Van Voort.
"I shall make search at once," he promised. "Keep
me informed if you hear anjrthing, juffrouw."
Peter Gross himself and several of his best Javanese
scouts hurried down the hill to the protruding ridge of
rock. Not far from its base one of the scouts quickly
found a spot where the grass has been trampled. A
rod farther was a space about five yards in diameter,
where the rank grasses had been flattened and twisted,
as though several persons had engaged in a violent
struggle. The spot was effectually screened from the
highway by the rank tropic growth. A plain trail led
from it to the screen of trees' to the thicker jungle
The simplest mind could read the story that the
trampled grass told. There was no need for the scouts
to explain. They saw the lines of anxiety deepen in their
leader's drawn face and looked away.
Peter Gross wasted no time in deciding on his course
of action. He despatched two scouts with instructions
to follow the trail as far as they could until night fell,
and then return. This done he hurried back to the fort.
By this time the alarm was general. Captain Carver,
Lieutenant Van Voort, Paddy Rouse, the aged Sachsen,
and even the gouverneur-generaal himself, were at the
gate to meet him. He described briefly what they had
"Ach lieve, lieve!" Mrs. Van Voort cried, wringing her
hands. The governor-general swore a deep and fervent
oath in polysyllabic Dutch. Sachsen and the soldiers
"Boots and saddles?" Captain Carver asked in a low
aside when the rain of questions had ceased.
'We'll take the trail as soon as the scouts report,"
236 THE YELLOW SPmER
Peter Gross replied. "Unless we find they've taken to
"Fifty. Pick the best we have."
Carver nodded and withdrew. Their whispered col-
loquy was unnoticed by the others except Sadisen, who
asked no questions.
Peter Gross hurriedly packed his kit and paced his
room while waiting word from Carver that the troops
were ready. He had no appetite and could not endure
the farce of taking his customary place at the gouv-
erneur-generaaPs right. His face was drawn and hard,
and his great hands clenched and unclenched in agony
of spirit. If this was Ah Sing's work, why should the
Chinaman have abducted the girl? he asked himself.
There were other equally valuable prisoners in the
pirate camp. Was it a stratagem, a scheme, to entice
him from the fort and lure him into ambush ? Were the
pirates strong enough to give battle?
Or was this, he asked himself, the work of some other
enemy ? Was it Wobanguli ? He dismissed the thought.
The raja was too crafty to try such means at arranging
a bargain for he knew the orang hlanda was more gener-
ous in granting the prayer of a suppliant than in barter.
Who else could it be ?
A persistent suspicion, a suspicion born of frequent
warnings, yet one that he indignantly rejected each time
it came within the plane of his consciousness, plagued his
soul. Could Koyala have been concerned in this out-
rage ? It was incredible. She had been his stanchest ally,
the firm rock on which his administration of this turbu-
lent residency rested. But of late she had been less com-
municative, less friendly. Her continued absence was
unaccountable. And he realized, too, with a sinking
heart, that there was a violent antagonism between Grace
Coston, the American girl, of wealth and culture, and
Koyala, the half-breed priestess of the Dyaks of Bu-
"It can't be, it can't be," he groaned. Yet a nameless
and intuitive fear filled his heart that it might be.
GRACE COSTON DISAPPEARS 237
He was cogitating thus when his door softly opened,
and a footstep sounded. Looking up he saw Sachsen,
the aged counselor. The old man smiled and tottered
within. Peter Gross assisted him to a comfortable chair.
The old man chatted for a time without referring to
the incidents of the day. Peter Gross's replies were
largely monosyllabic. Finally Sachsen said:
"This is a terrible thing, Vrind Pieter, a terrible thing.
It is hard to believe that the jonge juffrouw could be
carried off in this way under the very eyes of our sen-
It was cleverly done," Peter Gross replied grimly.
They evidently knew she was coming and had the whole
thing carefully prepared. I cannot understand, how-
ever, how they persuaded her to leave the road and go
into the thicket."
Sachsen stole a sidelong glance at his protege. "I
have been thinking of that, too," he replied. "It is very
strange. One would almost be tempted to think that
someone she felt she could trust called her."
"Who could that be?" Peter Gross demanded.
Sachsen shrugged his shoulders. "I do not know,"
he replied. "You are more familiar with your people
of the residency than I, Vrind Pieter, I merely sug-
gest this, but it may afford you a clue."
"Let us have no beating about the bush, Vrind Sach-
sen," Peter Gross replied sternly. "What you are try-
ing to intimate is that Ko3rala may have had a hand in
"All things are possible," Sachsen declared, careful
not to offend. "It is one of the questions we must con-
"Sachsen," Peter Gross cried, "I wish to Heaven I
had listened to you a few days ago."
"Regret is the mother of wisdom," Sachsen observed,
brightening. His task was not to be so hard as he had
expected. "But this is no time to philosophize. It is
rather for us to consider what we must do."
"Do?" Peter Gross exclaimed. "Why, rescue her!
And stamp out this pirate-nest at the same time !"
988 THE YELLOW SPIDER
'Are your plans fully made?" the old man asked.
"They will be the moment I get a report from the
scouts I sent out,"
"You will leave at once?"
"With how many men?"
"I've asked Carver to give me fifty."
"Vrind Pieter," Sachsen asked gravely, "have you
considered that this may be a trap set by that arch-devil,
Ah Sing? He knows how fond you are of this maid.
He knows what time you have spent in her company — "
"We are merely good friends," Peter Gross inter-
"A man will do much for his friend," Sachsen ob-
served. Sotto voce he added : "Particularly if that friend
be a maid." Aloud he continued: "Ah Sing is clever
enough to bait his trap wisely. He could not have bet-
ter bait than the jonge juffrouw,"
"I thought you were under the impression Koyala had
a hand in her abduction," Peter Gross asked irritably.
"The Argus Pheasant and the Yellow Spider may be
leagued together," Sachsen replied sagely. "That, too,
is a possibility we must consider."
"I can't believe it !" Peter Gross exclaimed.
Sachsen shook his head. "Vrind Pieter, my son, yoU
are an obstinate creature," he replied, smiling. "I ad-
mire your faith in this woman. I would I did not have all
this sorry knowledge of the frailty of humanity that I
possess so that I could trust thus also. But I cannot. I
have been in Oost-Indie too long. As I interpret this
happening, it was planned by Ah Sing, and executed by
his emissaries. In it he had ftie help of someone whom
the jonge juffrouw was disposed to trust. I know of
but one such person outside of those here in the fort
whom we have present and, accounted for, and that is
the Bintang Burung"
"You know, too, what a help she has been to me,"
Peter Gross replied.
"Ja, Vrind Pieter, I do. But you have a saying in
English, 'Hell knows no fury like a woman scorned/
GRACE COSTON DISAPPEARS 290
Our own Joost Van Vondel says the same thing in
slightly different language. A woman as fiery as this
Koyala will leap from a heaven of affection to a hell of
hate in a single moment. As there is no faithfulness like
the faithfulness of a woman, so is there also no faithless-
ness like the faithlessness of woman. Consider this well,
"What do you advise, Sachsen?" the resident asked.
''Send out your scouts. Send out your police, and
seize every Dyak whom you may suspect knows some-
thing. Bulungan must be full of bruinevels who are
laughing at our ignorance. Make them speak ; threaten
them with the torture, if need be. The time is past
for clemency, and these treacherous heathen must feel
the iron heel. When you have the information you
desire, perfect your plans accordingly. Then strike,
Vrind Pieter, strike with the suddenness of a thunder-
bolt, as you did two years ago at Kwanga River."
"But what will happen to Miss Coston in the mean
time?" Peter Gross cried.
"She is too valuable to Ah Sing to be harshly
treated," Sachsen replied. "Twenty-four hours spent in
securing information will not be time wasted."
There was a slight commotion outside. An orderly
entered, saluted, and announced:
"The scouts are back, sir."
"Send them in," Peter Gross directed.
The report of the Javanese was brief. The trail
terminated on the seashore about an hour's journey
south of the fort. The abductors had thus effectually
concealed their tracks. As the scouts left Peter Gross
turned to Sachsen.
"I shall adopt your suggestion, Vrind Sachsen," he
A Woman's Jealousy
WHEN Grace walked down the thicket-lined path
that runs from the fort to the beach, she was
in love with life and all the good things of the
universe. It was a perfect morning. Nature had never
created a more divine hour. The sun was not yet
so high as to be unpleasant, the cooling southeast mon-
soon held the ascendency and fanned her cheek, the
birds were singing their full hearts Out, and the trees
and bushes were in their brightest dress, for there had
been a light shower the night before that had cleared
away the orange-clay dust. It was good to be alive
and be part and .parcel of all this beauty and happi-
ness. So, hummmg blithely an air more familiar to
New York theaters than to this distant tropic region,
she tripped gayly down the path and after bidding Paddy
Rouse a cheery good morning.
There was nothing to hurry her, so she drawled along
the way. A bright bit of coral attracted her attention
and she picked it up and studied its colors. Two
trogons became engaged in an altercation, and she lis-
tened to their bickering with considerable amusement,
thinking how like humans they were. Perceiving
hibiscus abloom along the border of the lane she plucked
it and pinned the bright scarlet flower on her blouse.
She did not notice that several pairs of fierce eyes were
stealthily watching her approach from behind the pro-
tecting cover of the heavy cane growth.
As she entered the depression at the foot of the
Camel's Hump, where the path crooked, she perceived
A WOMAN'S JEALOUSY 841
Koyala seated at the base of the rock. The Argus
Pheasant, in an apparent fit of petulance, was tearing
the petals from a beautiful orchid.
"Good morning," Grace greeted, "Isn't it a delight-
"Good morning," Koyala responded sullenly.
Grace felt the other woman's antagonism. She her-
self experienced a curious aversion to her. Koyala, in
her happier moments, was unquestionably beautiful, but
Koyala, sullen and vindictive, revealed her Dyak origin.
Her face was marred by hardness and cruelty, which,
though they did not alter its perfect lines, repulsed
those who approached her.
An awkward silence followed for a moment. Per-
ceiving that Koyala was in an ungracious mood and
indisposed to conversation Grace began to walk away.
The Argus Pheasant sprang to her feet and tossed
the flower she held into the path in front of Grace.
There," she cried. "I hate orchids."
'To me they are the most beautiful flowers in the
world," Grace observed quietly.
"You are welcome to them," Koyala replied indif-
ferently. "They are common here-^there are some
growing not ten paces from where we are."
"There are!" Grace exclaimed delightedly. "Where
"Here," Koyala replied. She parted the branches of
the thicket and passed through.
Grace hesitated a moment. She had been warned
by both Lieutenant and Mrs. Van Voort not to leave
the paved highways, for there was always danger for a
white person in the jungle. Moreover, she had an in-
tuitive distrust of Koyala. But the latter appeared in-
different whether the white girl followed her or not.
Knowing the priestess's hot temper Grace desired to
avoid giving offense. Therefore, she did the forbidden
thing and followed.
Koyala was about three yards ahead. Grace was ad-
miring her dexterousness in gliding through the thickly
242 THE YELLOW SPIDER
twined tropic growth when a hand suddenly dosed over
her mouth. At the same instant her arms were pinioned
to her side and her feet were lifted from the ground.
Thongs were passed around her limbs and body. A gag
was forced into her mouth. There was no opportunity
to cry for help.
In the brief moments of her capture and binding a
myriad thoughts raced^ through Grace's mind. The
first was a blind wave of terror. Then consciousness
of her condition. Then self-reproach at the violation
of Lieutenant and Mrs. Van Voort's express requests.
And finally a sense of disgust at her own gullibility.
Looking up she saw the cold, cruel eyes of the
Argus Pheasant looking upon her. A vindictive satis-
faction appeared in the priestess's face. There was
no gloating, no leer of triumph, in her expression, but a
fixed and passionless hate that found a gloomy content-
ment in accomplishing its purposes.
"Place her on the litter and cover her so that none
can see," Koyala directed. The Dyaks did as bidden.
Then began a long, and to Grace, a seemingly in-
terminable, march through the jungle in which she was
jolted from side to side, and often bruised against
tree-trunks. Her face was hooded so that she could see
nothing, and even experienced difficulty in breathing.
The physical discomfort thus provoked was increased
as the sun mounted higher and poured its fiery rays
upon the sweating, steaming forest. But Koyala and
the bearers were seemingly tireless.
At length she was dropped on a hard but rounding
surface. A gentle cradling motion apprized her that
she was in a small boat of some kind. She was trans-
ferred from tfiis to a larger vessel. Then the hood
was removed and her thongs cut. Koyala herself re-
moved the gag.
The indignities and discomforts she had suffered had
roused Grace to a violent state of anger. When, there-
fore, she found herself in a crude cabin with the author
of these misfortunes, she ached to express herself. But
A WOMAN'S JEALOUSY 843
her course toward Koyala had been previously decided,
during the hour when she was being borne through the
jungle by the Dyaks, and she retained her self-control
with a powerful effort. Acting as though unconscious
of Koyala's presence she adjusted her garments for
greater comfort and fluffed and combed her hair. A
glint of amusement lit the priestess's eye.
"Miss Coston," she said, "your presence here is as
unpleasant to me as my presence is to you. But it was
necessary for the good of Borneo. Peter Gross is
needed too badly in Bulungan to permit you to entice
him to return to America."
The implied taunt in the priestess's last phrase swept
away Grace's resolutions and she turned on her abduc-
tor in white heat.
"I am not in Mr. Gross's confidence and do not know
his plans," she retorted. "But I am perfectly positive
that he'll not marry any woman from Borneo."
The livid Dyak blood flamed to Koyala's face. Her
hand swept inside her cabaya for her dagger and flashed
forth the blade. A fury almost maniacal filled her face
as she raised the steel over Grace Coston's heart.
Pale as a lily-of-the-valley, but standing firm and
unafraid, Grace faced her foe and waited for the
dagger to descend.
The blow did not fall. It was their glances that
clashed, and once again blood counted. The elemental
fury and passion of Chawatangi's descendant was no
match for the Caucasian pride of Grace Coston.
Koyala thrust her dagger into its sheath as suddenly
as she had withdrawn it, and with a low sob threw
herself on a rude bench. The tears began to flow and
she wept unrestrainedly, her bosom racked with great
sobs. Grace watched her in silence and amazement.
At first she stood coldly aloof, with frigid indifference.
But as the Argus Pheasant maintained her unrestricted
flow of tears a warmer feeling came into her heart.
Pity was bom and under the impulse of that emotion
she finally crossed timidly to Koyala's side and said:
£44 THE YELLOW SPIDER
"Koyala, I'm sorry — I beg your pardon for what I've
Koyala's sobbing did not cease. Grace sat beside
her and placed a sisterly arm about her shoulders. On
the touch of that embrace Koyala jumped as though a
snake had crawled upon her. She lifted a tear-stained
face struggling with various emotions. Grief, pain,
shame, and hate all were expressed there.
"Do you think I would marry him?" she cried. "Do
you think I would give myself to any man? Should
I bring into the world children to suffer again what I
have suffered? I would die a thousand times first. But
you — ^you" — she struggled inarticulately, the very vio-
lence of her emotion defeating speech — "you would take
from us all that we have. In all the years that the
orang blanda has ruled in this unhappy country violence
and robbery have reigned. We have suffered more from
him than ever we suffered from other tribes. Now
comes one man who has dealt justly with us, and him
you would dare entice away."
She paused, choking. Suddenly she spoke again with
redoubled violence. "No, I did not steal you that you
might not have him!" she cried. "For you would not
have him. He is a boy in heart, and he might be weak
and foolish enough to give way to your wiles. But you
would not accept him. You would cast him away. You
would trample on the affection he offered you. You
would laugh at him. You are white, woman, and you
are therefore a wanton." Her voice rose to a hig^-
pitched scream. "You take from a man his best and
give nothing in return. You are false, false, you have
the falseness of the orang blanda. There is no purity
or chastity in you. You steal the soul and withhold
the body and call that chastity. Ha f Ha ! Ha !"
It was the laughter of a maniac. Grace, whose
cheeks had flushed a furious crimson at the woman's
excoriation, shrank appalled against the wall of the
"I hate you, orang blanda," Koyala hissed in a low
A WOMAN'S JEALOUSY 845
voice. "I hate you all. You are all false except one.
And he is a fool. Woman, you are going to the city
of Ah Sing. There you will learn how the orang
blanda serves as slave, and the brown man as master."
With this last word she bolted out of the door,
leaving Grace, white and gasping, to ponder on what
she had heard.
The Coming of Lkath
THE Javanese scouts whom Peter Gross sent into
the town of Bulungan to act on Sachsen's sugges-
tions did their work with a thoroughness which
left nothing to be desired. About fifty thoroughly
cowed and frightened natives of diverse tribes were
herded into the fort under the direction of the efficient
chief of scouts. Every one of them had a lively ex-
pectation of being either shot or suspended from the
end of the rope. Their relief on being informed that
all the Orang Blanda Kapala wanted was a little in-
formation was pathetic.
The news they contributed, however, was scant.
None of them professed to have aught but the vaguest
notion of where Ah Sing's camp was located. Sonie
said it was three days' journey to the south, others reck-
oned it as much as ten days' journey. All were agreed
that it was so cleverly hidden that no mortal man could
find it unless specifically favored by the hantu token of
that particular negri, Peter Gross was about to turn
the whole crew out in disgust when Captain Carver
called him aside.
"Do you see that dirty beggar in the comer?" the
captain asked, pointing out a vile-looking Dyak clad in
rags who had been making himself generally inconspicu-
ous during the proceedings. "I couldn't place that fel-
low when I first saw him, although his face was
familiar. But I have him ticketed now. That's the
Kjai of Sibau, one of Ah Sing's lieutenants, and one
of the most treacherous devils on the whole seacoast"
THE COMING OF LKATH 2*?
Peter Gross looked at the man fixedly. Noticing that
he was under observation the native lowered his face.
"It's the kjai or his double," Peter Gross declared, his
eyes lighting with recognition. He walked toward the
Kjai," he asked, "have the fields of Sibau been swept
by fire that thou art so poverty-stricken, or art thou
under a vow?" The question was asked in Dyak.
Perceiving that further attenipt at concealment was
futile the kjai replied :
"I traded my garments with a beggar. Are not
riches laid up in paradise for those who give alms?"
"Thou hast become exceedingly generous of late/'
Peter Gross returned dryly. "It has been reported to
me that thou art overly fond of the fattest bullocks and
heaviest grain in selecting thy portion of the crop."
The kjai scowled. His reputation for rapacity was
too widespread to enable him to escape the charge and
he realized the futility of argument. He waited there-
fore to hear what Peter Gross might offer or threaten.
"Kjai," the resident exclaimed sharply, "I know
where you have been and why you returned here ! You
are a spy. By all the laws of war your life is forfeit.
I offer you this alternative. Tell me where the jonge
juffrouw is whom your people stole from here and
where Ah Sing keeps himself, and I will let you go'
free. Otherwise, you will be food for the vultures."
The Malay drew himself to his full height.
"You may kill me, orang blanda," he spat venom-
ously, "but the Yellow Spider will avenge my death."
Peter Gross turned to a sergeant.
"Take this man to the guard-house and hold him till
I want him," he directed. The sergeant saluted and
The kjai sprang out of reach of the sergeant's ex-
tended hand. "No orang blanda rope shall defile me!"
he cried in shrill defiance. From some hiding-place in
his filthy rags which those who had searched him and
248 THE YELLOW SPmER
overlooked he drew a knife and with a rapid movement
disemboweled himself. He sank to the floor, contorted
with agony. His eyes were glazing as Peter Gross
leaned over him.
The sergeant stooped to pick up the knife.
"Look out," Captain Carver warned, "it may be
poisoned," Violet marks on the blade showed the
captain was right. The steel had been dipped in the
deadly juice of the upas-tree.
Sick at heart, Peter Gross ordered the room cleared
and the corpse carried away. His anticipations of an
easy victory had vanished. He knew now the grim
desperation of the malcontents, rebels, and freebooters
who were herded under the standard of Ah Sing.
Sachsen came in with the governor-general. The old
man was as depressed as the resident. But Van
Schouten's eyes gleamed with satisfaction.
"A good morning's work, mynheer," he complimented.
"One of the devils gone. A bad one, too, or he would
not have taken his own life."
"We haven't gained what we sought," Peter Gross
"Then we'll beat up the jungle ourselves a bit, eh,
mynheer?" the governor inquired cheerfully. "Bonder
en bliksem, I feel as if I were young again. We have
good scouts. The Javanese are to be trusted. 'Twill be
a strange thing if some of these bruinevel woodsrats
that live in the mud among the water hyacinths do not
come to us willing to sell their souls for a stuiver^s
worth of rice, or a pot of Kawan oil."
The door opened unceremoniously. Captain Carver
"There's a procession of Dyaks coming in from the
jungle," he announced. "The first man looks to me
"Lkath of the hill Dyaks?" Peter Gross cried in-
THE COMING OP LKATH 249
"My blood brother!" the resident exclaimed. With-
out so much as a by-your-leave he fled the room and
hastened to the gate.
The governor-general looked at Sachsen, and Sachsen
at the governor-general. A mighty frown gathered on
his excellency's brow.
"Nu, Sachsen!" he exclaimed portentiously. *Tt
seems the company of a dirty Dyak is preferred by our
resident to ours."
"He called him blood-brother," Sachsen pointed out.
"He may be a valuable ally bringing news of the
At the mention of Grace Coston the governor's frown
relaxed, A twinkle appeared in his eyes.
"Well^ Sachsen," he remarked, "I guess we have all
seen the day when the smile of a certain maid meant
more to us than our sovereign's favor. You and I are
a pair of old cocks ready for the block, Sachsen. The
world is leaving us behind."
With a jaunty perk of his shoulders which belied
his words the governor sallied forth to satisfy his
curiosity concerning the arrivals.
There were ten Dyaks in the advancing group. Peter
Gross met them at the gate. As he and Lkath met there
was a simultaneous greeting of "Salaamatf* They
stepped forward and rubbed noses, Peter Gross bend-
ing to put himself on a level with the redoubtable little
chieftain of the hills.
The other chiefs and kjais were greeted similarly.
Peter Gross knew them all. They were all loyal hill
Dyaks and friends of Lkath.
"It has come to our ears that the Yellow Spider is
spreading a net for thee. We have come to offer our
aid," Lkath announced simply.
"I knew that when the word was brought thee, thou
wouldst come, blood-brother," Peter Gross responded.
"Was it Koyala who brought thee word?"
Lkath hesitated. "The Argus Pheasant has not been
250 THE YELLOW SPIDER
in the country of my tribe for many moons," he re-
Peter Gross sensed an evasion. He knew Lkath's
loyalty to himself, but he also knew the chief's rever-
ence for the priestess. Lkath would not betray Koy-
ala. That he knew her whereabouts was probable, and
that he did not disclose it was ominous. It could only
mean one thingx— Koyala had gone over to the camp
of the enemy.
"Come within," Peter Gross invited. "His Excellency,
the great white father of Batavia, is here. I want you
to meet him."
Until late that night Peter Gross, Captain Carver,
and the hill Dyak chieftain, Lkath, studied their strat-
egy. Lkath stated that he knew the location of Ah
Sing's lair, and, although he could not point it out,
since a map was unintelligible to him, he gave his au-
ditors an approximate idea of its whereabouts. He
described in particular the difficulties of access, since
the city stood in the midst of a vast jungle-walled
swamp, traversed by only a few roads, all of which
were easily defended.
"A hard nut to crack," Captain Carver observed.
"We've got to blockade the coast, so that they can't
make an escape by sea. That will be up to the gun-
boats. Then we've got to hammer our way in there
in some way."
"In the mean time what will become of Miss Cos-
ton?" Peter Gross asked.
"No harm, I hope. We're doing all we can to rescue
her. If Koyala were still with us we might try finesse.
But since she's joined Ah Sing all we can do is hunt
him up and whip him."
Peter Gross's clear, gray eyes rested on the cap-
"Captain," he said, "it may sound ridiculous, in the
face of the facts, but I believe Koyala will be our ace
yet. It certainly appears as though she has deserted
us for the Chinaman. She may feel she has a reason.
THE COMING OP LKATH 251
But at the bottom Koyala is sound and true. When she
thinks this all out we'll hear from her."
Carver smiled bitterly.
"I wish I had your sublime faith in human nature,*
Ah Sing Names His Terms
TWO huge Tibetans, Ah Sing's slaves, brought
Grace Coston into the dimly lighted room of the
long house, where the Yellow Spider brooded and
spun his webs. The Chinaman's eyes gleamed when he
saw the beauty of his capture.
"This is the maid?" he asked gutturally, in the lingua
franca of the East Indies.
"This is the maid," Koyala repeated. Having spoken
she glided through the door.
The Chinaman regarded his prize fixedly. He was
seated in the densest shadows. Two tapers, affixed to
quaintly carved stands in the Chinese style, and flaring
brightly, threw a yellow light upon Grace Coston's fea-
tures. A screen kept their rays from Ah Sing. Thus
all that Grace was able to perceive was a squat, mon-
strous shape, huddled in the shadows like a huge toad.
In the privacy of her cabin on board the proa, Grace
had privately rehearsed her meeting with the pirate
chief. She would be brave, she was resolved. She
would show this scourge of the seas how an American
girl could face danger without quailing. Despite Koy-
ala's rather ominous declaration that she would learn
in Ah Sing's city how the orang hlanda served the
yellow man as slave, she had no real fear of what might
befall her. Her hypothesis was that Ah Sing had learned
in some way, through his agents, that she was possessed
of wealth and had sent out an expedition to capture
her in the hope of gaining a large ransom. Confident
that Peter Gross would ere long effect her rescue she
AH SING NAMES HIS TERMS 253
had decided to temporize and bargain with the Qiina-
man, and create delays until the resident should have
time to act. Thus she had entered the room with an air
of assurance and confidence that was almost jauntiness.
Moments passed, and Ah Sing continued his unblink-
ing contemplation of his prisoner. Grace strove to re-
turn his stare, but it was difficult. All she could see
was two faintly luminous orbs in the deepest darkness,
orbs that glowed with a mild and unvarying iridescence.
She felt rather than perceived his gaze fixed upon her,
a bold and insolent gaze that seemed to search out every
line of her person, and leave her naked and ashamed.
A hot flush came to her cheeks, despite her effort to
remain cool and collected, and her chin tilted proudly.
The silence was suddenly shattered by the same ac-
cents she had heard before.
"You him Peter Gross's wlifee?" a voice sounded
from the gloom. \
"I am no man's wife," she retorted sharply.
Grace was not sure, but she thought she perceived
the Chinaman's jowls expand with a grin.
"Him Peter Gross's swleetheart ?" th^ deep voice
"Mr. Gross is merely an acquaintance," Grace re-
turned, biting her lips to restrain her indignation.
The Chinaman considered this a moment. Grace
felt his curious, appraising eyes upon her again, study-
ing every line and feature, as though she were a horse
on the block. A cold chill came upon her, the China-
man was so dreadfully calculating. She recalled what
she had heard of his ruthlessness, his indifference to
every human consideration. She trembled.
"What ransom will you require?" she asked. Her
own voice sounded strange to her. The words had
come from her mouth unbidden, for she was eager to flee
this place and rid herself of the Chinaman's loathsome
"What ransom?" The words came slowly and gut-
turally. There was a significant pause. Grace felt
those terrible eyes upon her, reading her very soul.
254 THE YELLOW SPmER
"You muchee pletty girl," the deep voice rumbled.
"You worth big ransom. You worth ransom him Peter
Gross's nails. Savvy?"
"Peter Gross's nails?" Grace echoed vaguely, won-
dering what the Chinaman meant. Recollection sud-
denly smote her with a sickening sense of dread —
she recalled what the trader, Poggs, had said about Ah
Sing's curious practice of preserving the nails of his
victims as relics.
"Him finger-nails, him toe-nails," Ah Sing explained
placidly. "You wlitee him come to Padang Batu of
Sabaya. Come alone. Savvy?"
"I'll never write such a letter," Grace gasped, her
heart chilling with horror as she grasped what the
There was a dreadful silence. Grace's pulses were
beating like trip-hammers as she waited for the pirate
"Allee samee you wlitee to-moUow," the Chinaman
insisted blandly. "If Peter Gross no come for his
wlifee, the harems of my people are empty."
Grace glimpsed his sardonic leer as he nodded to the
two Tibetans. Without a word they grasped her
arms and led her out. She had need of their support,
for her limbs were giving way beneath her. They led
her to a squalid room with a pallet of straw and un-
ceremoniously thrust her in and bolted the door. One
of them stood guard.
As the somber pall of night fell on the pirate city
Grace rested on her knees on the rickety bamboo floor.
"O God, give me guidance, and wisdom, and
strength," she prayed. "Let me die before I betray
At the same moment a curious scene was being
enacted on the deck of the Zuyder Zee. The trader,
Jim Poggs, had stolen upon John Bright and Vincent
Brady a moment before with the startling announce-
"They've abducted Grace from Fort Wilhelmina.
She's a prisoner in Ah Sing's house. One of the
AH SING NAMES HIS TEBMS 255
Malays just told me — 2l chap I used to know at Blell-
He got no further. Vincent Brady, his face ashen-
pale, had risen. John Bright grasped his coat, but was
too late. With a cry like that of a cougar robbed of
her young, Vincent sprang forward and dealt their
Chinese guard a staggering blow in the body. The
guard doubled and staggered back. Before he could
recover Vincent had sprang over the rail into the dark
waters of the lagoon.
There were at least a score of witnesses to his mad
act. A hubbub arose, paper lanterns began wagging,
and native seamen poured over the side into tambangans
strung along the stem of the vessel. The swift craft
darted in pursuit. A few moments later they began
returning. One of them contained the limp and uncon-
scious body of Vincent Brady. He had been struck
over the head with a paddle.
Jim Poggs* prayer that he and the missionary be
permitted to attend their wounded comrade was grudg-
ingly granted by the captain of the guard, a kindly dis-
posed Chinaman at heart, but much upset by the oc-
currence. As the missionary deftly wound a bandage
about the lad's head Poggs looked into Vincent's dull
eyes and reverently murmured:
"The damn fool! He can't swim a dozen strokes."
The Pirates at Bay
IT was an hour before dawn. A silence like that of
vacant desert places or high mountain-tops lay upon
the city that Ah Sing had built in a remote and
sparsely inhabited sector of Bulungan Residency. The
sleepy sentries yawned and shivered at their posts,
looking from time to time toward the mysterious east,
where the sun sprang full-panoplied each morning into
the auroral sky, and scattered the miasmal vapors of the
swamps with its ardent rays.
There was not a light in the entire encampment. Ah
Sing was too cunning to betray his lair by a glow of
lamps or open fires in the somber sky and forbade all
street and canal illumination after the hours of night-
fall. The rule was rigidly adhered to, for there was
none so bold as to defy their terrible chief. Thus
Dyak and Malay and Bajau and Bugi composed him-
self to slumber when night fell and slept the sleep of
the just until dawn broke, with never a thought of
compunction or remorse for ships looted and fiiroats
cut, and heads lifted on privateering expeditions.
At the long house, however, behind barred windows
and doors, a waxen taper cast a faint illumination abou^
a gorgeously decorated room in the C3iinese style. It
was Ah Sing's den, the room to which he retired when
the cares of his administration became too burdensome
and there was no longer joy in dispensing his swift
and merciless justice or wreaking vengeance. Here,
too, he plotted and planned and cast the nets which at-
tracted and held fast the simple residents of Borneo and
the offscourings of the five seas, men for the most part
THE PIRATES AT BAY 257
who had made it too hot for themselves at home and
hence sought other shores and new fields of depreda-
Ah Sing was plotting to-night. Sleep had refused to
come to his eyelids. In imagination he already held
Peter Gross prisoner. He beheld the resident before
him, manacled, aye, heavily manacled, for a man of
such prodigious strength was not to be trusted with
hands free. Ah Sing Imew from experience. He thought
of what he would say to his prisoner, the gibes^ the
taunts, the jeers, words that would cut and lacerate this
great, silent man's soul as pincing irons tore the flesh.
He rubbed his fat palms in cruel anticipation.
Peter Gross would come, he was sure of that. The
maid would draw him. White men were that way,
heedless of danger, reckless beyond reason, where their
women were concerned. He, Ah Sing, knew that. It
was a good plan to get the girl first, and thereby at-
tract the greater prize, as a fly is drawn to honey.
Koyala's jealousy had made it easy for him, ridiculously
easy. The Chinaman's huge jowls expanded with a
grin as he recollected how the Argus Pheasant, in her
mad jealousy, had deliberately played into his hands
and thereby made it possible for him to get his grip
on the man whom she loved with a despairing love that
dared not seek expression.
The maid was fair, too, surpassingly fair. An aristo-
crat, he know for he had seen her type venturing down
the streets of San Francisco's Chinatown in the days when
he sold chop suey, and litchi nuts, and other Chinese
delicacies from a little shop in the heart of the district.
They had their mannerisms and ways, which even a
careless eye might detect — a suppleness of body, a grace-
fulness, and a dainty avoidance of all that soiled, which
the women of no other class or race possessed. She
would be a jewel in his harem.
The Chinaman stopped short. A thought had oc-
curred to him. If Peter Gross loved her,^ if he flew to
her rescue and fell into the trap set for him, would not
his anguish be multiplied a thousandfold if she were
258 THE YELLOW SPmER
dishonored and tortured before his very eyes? A look
of fiendish malignancy and exultation overspread the
Chinaman's features. His ready imagination pictured
the scene — the white girl bound, the torturers punish-
ing her tender flesh, and Peter Gross forced to look on
helplessly in chains. A thrill of savage pleasure shot
through him. The lust for cruelty of his Tartar fore-
bears had its recrudescence in their perverted descend-
ant. Aye, Ah Sing reflected, to torture the girl in Peter
Gross's presence would be a refinement of pain exceed-
ing any carnal pleasure that could be enjoyed by tak-
ing her into his harem. He chuckled gleefully.
The net was now ready. Ah Sing cogitated. The next
step, therefore, was to snare the bird. Peter Gross
was wary. But he had provided for that. To-morrow
two chiefs would go, sea Dyaks whom he could trust
and whose disloyalty was still unknown at Bulungan.
They would bear a tale to the fort that could not help
but draw the resident into the jungle if he loved his
maid. After that it would be easy. It was so simple,
Ah Sing complimented himself, yet so complete. In
its very simplicity lay the assurance of success.
He carefully screened the taper and opened the
blinds of a window toward the east. There was a
faint grayish tinge on the horizon. The stars in that
portion of the heavens had lost some of their bright-
ness. Dawn was nearing, the dawn that would start
runners speeding toward Peter Gross with the tale
that was to bring him into the power of his arch-
enemy, Ah Sing.
A face pressed against the window. Ah Sing drew
back with a start of terror. A flash of contempt came
over the features outside. They were a woman's.
"May I come in?" Koyala asked.
Ah Sing nodded toward the door. Summoning a
sleepy attendant, he bade the man with curses to let the
priestess in. A few moments later she glided along the
corridor as silently and sinuously as a snake and en-
tered his room. There was something, too, of the hyp-
THE PIRATES AT BAY 859
notic malignant gleam of an angry cobra's eyes in her
coal-black orbs as she looked steadily at the Chinaman.
"You are early," he grunted, watching her keenly as
he sought to divine the purpose of this nocturnal visit.
"Night and day are as one to the Argus Pheasant,"
she replied. "Her ear is always open to hear what the
winds tell her."
"What have the winds told you now?" Ah Sing
"Is it true that Pagu and Lambutan leave this morn-
ing with a message for Mynheer Gross ?" she demanded.
He surveyed her grimly. Some gabbing fool had be-
trayed his secret. He had not intended she should
know until Peter Gross was actually a prisoner in his
hands, then he could laugh at either her pleas or
threats, whichever course she might take. This made
it awkward, as she could defeat his carefully matured
plan if she so desired.
A sudden resolve came to him. If he was to rule
as chief of the pirate island empire this woman must
be tamed. No time was better than the present. His
heavy jowls contracted with decision.
"It is true," he announced sternly. "They leave by
"That was not a part of our bargain," she declared
"It is the will of Ah Sing," he asserted firmly, in an
orotund voice that rarely failed to cause the heart of
his Malay and Dyak adherents to quake.
"I do not want him harmed," Koyala replied with
"He shall be judged when he stands before me," Ah
"But I greatly fear he will not stand before thee as
a prisoner," Koyala replied.
The yellow face of the Qiinaman turned a malig-
nant purple. With eyes flashing anger he cried :
"Woman, thou art holy to thy people, but do not
attempt to cross me. I will crush thee like a beetle!
Thou knowest the length of my arm."
260 THE YELLOW SPIDER
Koyala smiled contemptuously. "I know the length
of your arm, Ah Sing, and you know my power," she
replied scornfully. **I have not crossed you or be-
trayed you. Nevertheless, I assert that Pagu and Lam-
butan will not leave here to-day for the orang blanda
The significance of her tone impressed him more than
the words. He looked at her questioningly. Some-
thing in her face caused his heart to constrict suddenly.
A pallid dawn of fear came upon his features.
"What do you mean, Koyala?" he demanded sharply.
Does the tiger leave its stricken mate?" she asked.
I mean this. Peter Gross is at your gates. If you
wish to escape, come with me. But the orang blanda
maid goes with us, too," she added viciously. "If yoti
refuse to take her I refuse to show you the path by
which alone you can escape."
The Pirates at Bay — Continued
AT the base of a gently sloping elevation, where it
drops into the alluvial slough of a sluggish and
" unnamed stream, Peter Gross halted his little
army. The night was pitch-black around them. They
had come many weary leagues through thick and im-
penetrable jungle during the preceding eighteen hours,
but mot a jflan of the little command murmured or asked
for a bivouac. There was stem business before them,
they knew, and they lusted with all a fighter's keen
htmger for the fray, to come to grips with Ah Sing and
There was a little clearing at the edge of the swamp.
In single file the troopers came out of the jungle,
springing lightly on the soft turf 0a spite of their leg
weariness. They were hot within, for the abduction of
Grace Coston had stirred every man to his inmost
depths and roused a savage resolve for rescue and ven-
geance on the perpetrators.
"She said to me only yistiddy: 'Meester McCoy, do
you find Sumatra tobacco as palatable as the Virginia
grown at home?' one of Captain Carver's irregulars re-
lated. 'Faith, mees,' I says, T'm just dying for the
taste of a bit of home-grown weed.' T'll send you a
box of it, a big box, the moment I get home,' she says.
And now those devils have stolen her. By the howly
St. Patrick, I'd march to hell itself to get her."
This was the spirit of the entire command, a spirit
that had sustained them in their wonderful march from
262 THE YELLOW SPmER
Bulungan to the gates of Ah Sing's city in less than
eighteen hours' time.
As they came into the open Peter Gross counted
them. There were only a hundred and fifty men all
told, a small force to pit against the renegades from
half of East India. But Peter Gross counted on sur-
prise and the spirit of his men. He knew that nothing
short of death itself would stop them, and he doubted
whether the panic-stricken pirates, awakened from a
sound sleep, would put up much of a fight.
Captain Carver materialized out of the gloom.
"All here?" he asked in a low voice.
"The sergeants report every man present," Peter
"Lkath and his Dyaks and the Javanese under Lieu-
tenant Van Voort will enter the swamp by the north
trail at the first faint streak of dawn," Carver an-
nounced. "We take the east trail. There's no other
way in or out of the town except by sea, Lkath says,
and the Prins Lodewyk has them bottled up there. To
the west across the river the morass is so deep nothing
can get through it."
"Then we've got him," Peter Gross observed grimly.
He wiped the cold sweat from his brow and looked anx-
iously toward the eastern horizon, star-dotted and
"Fifteen or twenty minutes yet before it starts to
dawn," Carver observed, guessing his leader's thoughts.
"About that," Peter Gross agreed. He looked pen-
sively into the somber morass, alive with queer gur-
gling and nocturnal noises, the tweet and twitter of the
birds, the buzz of myriad insect life, the scurrying of
rodents, and the quaking of miry pools as gas generated
in their slimy depths ascended to the surface. "I've
waited a long while for this," he murmured prayer-
fully. "I hope we can end all this trouble and burden
"By taking Ah Sing?" Carver inquired.
"By taking Ah Sing," Peter Gross assented gravely.
THE PIRATES AT BAY 2eS
"With him eliminated we can have peace. Peace and
rest — and a change of scene."
Captain Carver looked at him curiously.
"You're thinking of leaving Bulungan for a time if
this works out satisfactorily?" he asked.
"Aye," Peter Gross assented. "I think I'll leave In-
sulinde for a time. I want to go home, to America. I
want to see a city again, white people like ourselves,
captain, talking the same language, thinking and feel-
ing the same things. I've been away a good many
years, captain. I think I am a bit lonely for my native
Carver tugged at his chin silently, and gazed toward
the city that Ah Sing built, hidden behind the swamp.
The thought that came to him was this: "The girl's
there, and the chap she's pledged to marry. She doesn't
love Peter Gross, she only admires him, and that prob-
ably means she loves the other chap. There's a sad
hour coming for you, Peter — I'm sorry for you."
But of this he said nothing. His only observation,
quietly made, was : "It's beginning to lighten in the east.
I think the guides should start."
The splendor of a tropic sunrise, streamers of cop-
per and gold flaring to the zenith, was just beginning
to appear in the heavens when a sleepy picket at the
village gate leaped to his feet as he saw a khaki-clad
figure spring out of the jungle and run toward the
stockade. The next moment the first shot was fired
and the picket, a tall Malay, fell headlong with a queer
gurgle into a clump of cogon grass. With a ringing
cheer. Carver's command, his own irregulars in the van,
rushed toward the flimsy stockade. It was not built to
resist a determined foe, for Ah Sing had not dreamed
that he would ever be attacked in his own citadel. He
deemed it too securely hid. There was nothing, there-
fore, to restrain Carver's men from swarming over it
and into the streets of the city.
The amazed pirates, leaping to the doors of their
houses, were greeted by a murderous fire. Half of
£64 THE YELLOW SPIDER
them weaponless except for their krises and spears,
lost precious moments looking for their rifles. In this
way Peter Gross's forces established a secure foothold
in the town before the enemy made any attempt to
The pirates were of fighting stock. They were a
breed sprung from lawlessness and existent only be-
cause of a superior tenacity in clinging to life. More-
over they knew what defeat meant. Consequently they
quickly rallied. Leaderless, each man fought for him-
self and the inviolability of his own dwelling. Some
had rifles, some had muskets, and some had only bows
and arrows or sumpitans, but they fought stubbornly
and with a heroism worthy of a better cause until a
bullet found them.
In the face of such opposition the wedge that Carver
sought to drive into the city to divide his foes in two
and press them against the swamp and the river made
His forehead bloody from a Dyak spear that had
creased the skin as he shot one foe and stabbed an-
other. Carver made his way toward where Peter
Gross was leading a section of the attack.
"If we don't move faster than this they may get the
cannon they've got on Ah Sing's yacht in action
against us," he shouted hoarsely amid the din of con-
A few hundred yards ahead of him Peter Gross saw
the long house. Ah Sing's residence, standing in the
midst of an open square.
"Yonder's where the Yellow Spider sits and spins
his webs," he roared to the men around him. "Who
goes with me to drive him out?"
A wild yell greeted him. Twoscore men, grimed
with perspiration and blood from minor flesh wounds,
leaped forward at his cry. They swept down the lane
in an irresistible tide. The pirates met them with
rifle and spear and kris, but for once the ferocity of
the Malay and Dyak freebooter was surpassed. Shoot-
THE PIRATES AT BAY 265
ing, bayoneting, and clubbing their way through, with
the giant form of Peter Gross at the apex of their
wedge, they bored a hole through the ranks of their
foes and reached the dwelling of the pirate leader.
At that moment there was a sudden volley and shrill
cheer from the opposite end of the town. Van Voort
and his Javanese, delayed through the inexplicable
non-arrival of Lkath and his Dyaks, had finally arrived
and taken the pirates in the rear. From the seacost a
mile distant came the heavy rumble of naval guns.
Panic-stricken at this flank attack, disorganized, and
dismayed at the inexplicable disappearance of their
leader, Ah Sing, the pirates broke and fled toward
the harbor. Some of them sprang into their proas and
tambangans and paddled desperately down the river.
Others plunged into the stream, preferring death by
drowning to death at the hands of the hated orang
hlanda. Taking instant advantage of the break Carver
and his men pressed them hotly, ferreting the snipers
out of the houses as they went along. Broken groups
made a last, desperate, ineflFectual stand on the edge
of the morass and on the river bank and died fighting.
By this time Van Voort's column had worked its way
through from the other side of the city and joined
Carver's forces. In less than an hour after the battle
was begun all resistance had ceased and Ah Sing's
citadel was in his arch-enemy's hands.
Peter Gross took no part in the fighting after the
long house had been achieved. When the pirates broke
he sprang toward the nearest door of Ah Sing's dwell-
ing. It was a heavy teakwood affair, solidly con-
structed, and quite unlike the entrances to the custom-
ary Bomean dwelling. Peter Gross tried the latch and
found it locked. Stepping back a few paces he hurled
his weight against it. It groaned against the impact.
Frantic at the delay he leaped again with increased im-
petus, employing all his remarkable strength. The
door burst from its hinges and he staggered within.
Recovering instantly, he put himself in a posture of
«66 THE YELLOW SPmER
defense. He was carrying a pistol in his left hand and
a heavy naval cutlas in his right. The gloom was
thick around him, for all the windows were barred
and shuttered, and the only light came through the
"Grace?" he called in a high pitched voice that be-
trayed the anxiety and anguish that filled him. There
was no reply.
He called again. The same stillness followed, the
empty echoes of his voice mocking him. Outside the
conflict raged. Those who had answered his call to
win the long house were apparently under the impres-
sion that their leader was still with them, for none of
them followed him inside the dwelling. He was quite
He listened keenly. The darkness and the silence
were ominous, menacing. It scarcely seemed possible
that Ah Sing and all his household had taken flight.
Stepping forward cautiously he approached one of
the windows. Tearing the shutters loose he let the
light stream in. The room was vacant. It bore every
evidence of having been hastily deserted.
"Gone!" he exclaimed bitterly. "He must have been
warned. Somebody played traitor."
He went to the next room. Entering cautiously he
made him way to the window and removed the blinds.
It, too, was empty. The next room was evidently a
kitchen. Rice slowly cooking over a brazier, a par-
tially filled dish of fruit, and dough for cakes in a
bowl on the table disclosed that the occupants had been
interrupted as they were making their morning meal.
The attackers had missed capturing Ah Sing by only
a few moments.
Peter Gross had no thought, however, of the loss of
his coveted prize. That Ah Sing had escaped meant
nothing to him at that moment. The anguishing
thought that filled him was: "Did Ah Sing take any
prisoners with him? Is Grace still in his hands?"
Less cautious now he ran hastily from room to room.
THE PIRATES AT BAY 267
hoping against hope that he might find the girl he
sought bound and gagged in some out-of-the-way corner
of the rambling dwelling. As he passed from one dark-
ened room into the semi-twilight of another some in-
stinct, his guardian angel perhaps, caused him to pause
on the threshold. What inspired that pause he never
knew, for there was no warning sound, not so much
as a rustle. But as he hesitated a fraction of an
instant on the threshold a great heavy Chinese swprd
flashed before his face and brushed his sleeve. The
point bit deeply into the solid floor.
Thought and action were simultaneous with Peter
Gross. Stepping back a pace he fired twice in the
fraction of a second. As the sword stood quivering in
the floor he leaped forward with his cutlass.
There was no need. With a curious exhalation of
breath, like a spent child's tired sigh, one of Ah Sing's
huge Tibetan guards slid awkwardly to his knees and
dropped face down across the^ threshold. He shuddered
and lay still. There was a crimson stain on his tunic
where the bullet had passed through.
Satisfying himself that the man was dead and not
shamming, Peter Gross entered the room. It was Ah
Sing's reception parlor, where he met his guests and sat
in council with his allies, the recreant Dyaks and Ma-
lays of Bulungan Residency. Stepping forward with
extreme caution Peter Gross forced open a window,
permitting the bright glare of the morning sun to il-
luminate the dark comers that had seldom seen sun-
The room was empty, like the rest. There were
evidences here, also, of a hurried departure; an over-
turned candlestick, rumpled rugs, and chairs out of
place. It was evident that the apartment had held but
one occupant, and his spirit had just fled across the
Peter Gross stood by the body of the dead Chinaman
a moment and gazed on the grotesque, distorted fea-
tures. A peculiar, sickening sensation, akin to an acute
268 THE YELLOW SPIDER
nostalgia, seized him. He perceived how near he had
been to death and how Providence alone had inter-
vened to save him. Placing the Tibetan at the door
with orders to split the skull of the first man who
came through it was Ah Sing's work, he was certain.
He perceived the fiendish ingenuity of it. Ah Sing
must have guessed that his arch-enemy, eager to rescue
Grace Coston, would be the first to search the house.
To rid himself of this feeling of nausea and to quiet
his nerves he began wandering aimlessly about the
room. In a darkened alcove he noticed a wicker basket
of Oriental pattern and design. There was a gar-
ment in it. He glanced at it with vague curiosity and
leaped forward. It was the cape Grace had worn the
morning she was abducted by the Dyaks.
As his hand was about to close on the garment a sus-
picious fullness about the folds caused him to draw
away. He glanced at it doubtfully a moment and then
went back and picked up one of the fallen candlesticks.
Holding this at arm's length he gently brushed the
garment away from him.
There was a sudden motion below. The ugly pear-
shaped head of a cobra rose above the basket, its
venomous fangs darting wickedly. With a sweep of his
cutlas Peter Gross severed head from body and stepped
"I wonder if Ah Sing has any more surprise parties
for me?" he asked himself in a voice that strove to be
cheerful, but was hoarse and strained. The Chinaman's
diabolical ingenuity that exercised itself with planning
schemes like these for the assassination of a hated foe
in the midst of peril tried his nerves.
Satisfying himself that no other poisonous creature
lurked under the concealing folds of the garment he
lifted it gingerly and gazed at it with furrowed brow.
There was no longer any doubt that Grace had fallen
into Ah Sing's hands. She had been in this house, a
prisoner. She had been taken from there, presumably
when its pirate master had gone. Beyond all question
THE PIRATES AT BAY «69
of doubt she was still with him, his captive, to wreak
vengeance on if he so desired. Ah Sing had left
the cape as a message to the victor to taunt him with
the empty mockery of his victory, to show Peter Gross
that he still possessed the white man's heart's desire.
There was a noisy stampede of roughly shod men
into the dwelling. "Are you here, mynheer f" a voice
Peter Gross turned sadly away, carrying the flimsy
garment gently on his arm, as though it were a sentient
thing. The boisterous crew of conquerors who had in-
vaded the house silenced when they saw their chief and
read the pain in his face. A moment later Captain
"Any trace of Miss Coston?" he asked quietly.
"None," Peter Gross replied despondently, "only
this." He exhibited what he had found. "She has been
here. But she was taken away."
"I think we may be able to find her if we can lo-
cate Lkath," Carver replied. "I've quizzed one of the
Dyaks, and he told me Ah Sing and a white girl cap-
tive with a mixed company of Chinese and Malays
fled across the river and entered the swamp on the other
side just after daybreak. The white girl is evidently
"Have the other prisoners been accounted for?"
Peter Gross asked.
"They were on the Zuyder Zee, which is swinging
at her moorings out in the lagoon. The Dyak tells me
he tmderstands they made their escape down-stream in
a tambangan just after the alarm was sounded. If
that's the case they'll probably be picked up by the
Peter Gross's chin squared grimly. "We must start
pursuit at once," he declared. "Can't you find Lkath?"
"No. I can't understand where he disappeared. He
didn't take any part in the fighting whatsoever, so far
as I know. I doubt if he will be of much hdp. He
told me there was no way of getting into the city
270 THE YELLOW SPIDEB
from the other side. But, of course. Ah Sing has the
best guide in all Borneo."
"Who is that?" Peter Gross asked sharply.
"Hadn't you guessed?" Captain Carver coolly re-
plied. "Our mutual friend, Koyala."
A Man's Devotion
WHEN the first shot was fired John Bright was
beside Vincent Brady's cot and was applying
a fresh bandage about the young man's fore-
head. Brady had a bad cut above the temple, but the
wound was not serious unless complications set in.
These were always to be feared and guarded against in
a tropic climate, the missionary's long experience had
taught him. As the shot broke the morning stillness,
both lifted startled heads and listened. The opening
volley came almost immediately afterward; then the
cheers of the white men as they stormed the stockade.
John Bright turned toward Vincent with face illu-
"Peter Gross is here!" he cried exultantly. "Didn't
I say he would come?"
He rose. "Just a moment, please, while I go on
deck," he begged.
"I'm going with you," Vincent cried, leaping out of
"You must not," the missionary remonstrated. "Your
"Hell!" Vincent exclaimed, unmindful whom he was
addressing. But the exclamation failed to provoke the
missionary. John Bright was too thoroughly a man not
to understand human passion in great moments. They
rushed on deck together.
The deck was deserted. Looking over the side of
the ship, they saw their late guards rowing frantically
down the lagoon. At the far end of the lagoon, where
it emptied into a tortuous channel running to the
«72 THE YELLOW SPIDER
Celebes Sea, was a small proa with several figures
aboard. One was a woman in European dress. Vin-
cent gazed at her intently.
"My God, it's Grace!" he cried agonizedly. "We've
got to follow." He ran up and down the deck excitedly,
looking for a boat.
"There's a wabbly old tambangan here, with two
paddles in her," a voice announced from over the
side. "She'll carry four. Can you get the lady?"
It was the trader, Jim Poggs. Vincent cast a single
glance at the water to satisfy himself that there was a
craft there, and fled below. By this time the fight
was on in earnest in the city. Violet Coston, aroused
by the uproar, had hurriedly dressed and was fasten-
ing her slippers when Vincent called her.
"Hurry," he shouted, "or we'll be too late."
"But I haven't combed my hair, Vincent," she re-
"Never mind your hair," he pleaded. "But do hurry ;
it's life or death."
Hearing this, she unbolted the door and rushed out-
side. They were on the deck a moment later. John
Bright, with the air of a courtier, assisted her into the
clumsy tambangan. Then he and Vincent in turn sprang
Vincent picked up a paddle, but Poggs peremptorily
took it from him.
"I'm captain of this craft," the trader announced
belligerently. "You'll abide by my orders. And them
orders is to set still and let them who know how to
handle this here breed of cantankerous craft handle
He offered the paddle he had taken from Brady to
the missionary and kept the other himself.
'Where away?" Bright asked quietly.
'Follow the proa," Vincent cried. The proa was at
that moment disappearing in the channel.
"Shet up!" Poggs ordered peremptorily. To Bright
he announced: "We'll head down-stream after the
proa, as I say." Hearing this, Vincent subsided.
A MAN'S DEVOTION 278
Gumsy as the tambangan was, it made good prog-
ress in the not inexpert hands of the trader and Jolm
Bright. The fighting was still intense when they en-
tered the river. A ship's length ahead the channel
turned. There was, of course, no trace of the proa.
Racing down-stream through a wilderness of tropic
foliage, with many a crook and turn, they came after
a brief half-hour's run to a fork in the channel.
"Which way?" Poggs asked as they drifted toward
it. The two forks seemed to be of about equal size
and taking an equal volume of water. Vincent gazed
at them in an agony of indecision.
"We can only trust to chance," John Bright observed
"Then well take the left fork," Poggs announced.
With a stroke of his paddle he sent the craft spinning
in that direction.
They journeyed on for another ten minutes — ^hours
it seemed to Vincent, who was eating his heart out. He
had no word for his lovely companion, who gazed at
him with sympathetic eyes. A great change had come
over Violet Coston; misfortune had purged her of her
fickleness and converted the spoiled child into a mature
woman capable of realizing the major values of life.
She knew what Vincent was thinking, and knew, too,
that it was best that he be left alone with his anxiety
The channel suddenly narrowed through a dam of
fallen trees. As Poggs spied this, he uttered an ex-
clamation of disgust.
"Confound it, we've come the wrong way," he ex-
claimed. He tried to arrest the progress of the tam-
bangan, but it began spinning. Before he could stop
the rotary motion it had run against the dam. Hardly
had it touched the trees before half a score of nearly
naked Dyaks, running out from the shore and drop-
ping down from the overhanging branches, grasped the
Violet clung affrightedly to the missionary. She
did not scream; danger had been too familiar in the
«74 THE YELLOW SPIDER
preceding few weeks to cause her to give vent to such
a feminine display of feeling. But her blood ceased
flowing, for she verily believed that the end had come.
A boyish figure in khaki sprang over a fallen tree
on the edge of the shore and grinned at them.
"Hello !" he observed amiably, in perfect English.
"Hello yourself," Poggs retorted. "Will you call off
your heathen and give us a hint on where we are?"
"This is part of Peter Gross's outfit," the youth ex-
plained. "My name is Paddy Rouse."
In her relief Violet gave vent to a burst of hys-
terical laughter that was half sobbing. The mission-
ary patted her hand and whispered soothing words in
"Did you see a proa come through here?" Vincent
cried. "A proa with Qiinese aboard and a white lady
"Miss Coston ?" the surprised youth exclaimed. "No,
the proa hasn't come this way. The other is the main
channel. If the proa went that way, the Prins Lodewyk
will get her. She's lying off the entrance; those were
her guns you heard a little while ago. But come ashore."
They accepted the invitation.
"How far is it to the seacoast?" Vincent asked. At
this moment a pygmy Dyak warrior, evidently a chief
by his trappings, stepped out of the jungle and spoke in
guttural Dyak to Paddy Rouse. The latter listened at-
"Lkath tells me," he announced excitedly, "that the
proa turned into a bayou nearly a mile above here
and was left there. Ah Sing and all those with him,
including Miss Coston, went into the swamp and are
"Then I must follow them," Vincent cried.
Rouse spoke to Lkath. The little Dyak shook his
head in vigorous negation.
"Lkath says there is no trail," Paddy announced.
"If Ah Sing went that way, I'm going that way also,"
Vincent declared vehemently. "I'll follow him to the
end of the world, if need be."
A MAN'S DEVOTION 875
Paddy glanced at him curiously. "Your name
Brady?" he asked.
"She told me about you," Paddy stated. Intensely
loyal to what he deemed Peter Gross's interests, he
added : "You'd better come with us and let Peter Gross
The hot blood flamed in Vincent's face. "Thanks,"
he said in a soft voice that trembled in spite of his
effort at self-control. "If you don't mind looking after
my friends here, and bringing them to your resident,
I'll start in search of Miss Coston myself."
John Bright spoke a word of remonstrance, but it
was wasted. Before any one realized what Vincent
purposed, he had leaped into the tambangan and swung
the craft free. Exerting himself to the utmost, he
headed it into the sluggish current.
"Come back, you'll get mired in the swamp," Paddy
'Come back!" Poggs roared.
'Come back!" John Bright cried imploringly.
'Vincent, come back," Violet Coston pleaded in a
shrill treble that carried farther than any other voice.
But Brady was deaf to these cries. Wielding the
paddle desperately, though awkwardly, he drove the
heavy boat against the stream and widened the distance
between himself and those he had left behind. The last
they saw of him was when the tambangan rounded the
"All we can do," Paddy observed, "is to get back to
Peter Gross at once and report. We have no boats.
Mynheer Gross will probably have to send out a rescue
Vincent was soon wearied. It taxed his utmost
strength to drive the boat against the current, and the
rising sun added to his discomfort. It seemed to him he
had gone several miles, instead of the one mile Paddy
had specified, before he discovered a rift in the
jungle wall. Driving the tambangan through it, he
perceived a bayou or lagoon ahead. At the upper end
276 THE YELLOW SPIDER
lay a deserted proa, the very craft that had left Ah
Singes harbor a short time before.
Paddling desperately, he crossed the lagoon and ran
alongside the proa. A hurried examination disclosed
that there was no one aboard. The reeds on the
shoreward side of the proa were trampled down, indi-
cating that a large party had gone ashore. A plain
trail led into the morass.
Vincent wasted no time on the proa. Although weap-
onless, he plunged boldly into the swamp. Winding
around the mangroves, through sedges and tall clumps
of cane, over fallen tree-trunks, into stretches of
jungle where the thick-growing liana formed an almost
impenetrable barrier, and among boggy dells where the
deceptive soil disappeared under foot, the trail led
steadily deeper into the primeval tropic wilderness. It
was a land of mystery and silence, of nocturnal shades
and ghostly rustlings that Vincent found. The air was
heavy and oppressive. The unending morass quaked
and groaned in titanic agony. Loathsome stenches and
clouds of pestilential insects rose from it. Great spi-
ders lurking in their webbed warrens watched him
struggling through the undergrowth, and little striped
and spotted snakes glided across his path. Invisible
presences seemed to tenant the brooding forest. Vin-
cent thought at times he felt the brushing of their
ghostly wings. In every thicket and in every clump of
grass he suspected a lurking foe, and he kept looking
fearsomely back lest a tiger stalk him unaware. Yet
he pressed on.
The trail ended at the margin of a little stream.
Vincent looked across and saw no break in the solid
wall of mangrove-roots. Pads of water hyacinths
fronted the trees. There was not a broken stem or torn
leaf to mark the passing of a human. Up-stre?im and
down-stream the same solid wall ran.
Vincent stared at it in despair. It was obvious that
one of two things had occurred. Either the fleeing Ah
Sing had entered the stream here to hide his trail by
A MAN'S DEVOTION 877
water, or he and his party had left the trail by some
fork which Vincent had passed by in his haste.
For a moment despair gripped the young man's
heart. Whatever course he took, there were two
chances to one that he would be in error. To become
lost in the swamp meant certain death. But, worse thaii
this, in Vincent's estimation, was the fact that if he
missed the trail now. Ah Sing would escape into the
interior with his precious prize.
He paused uncertainly on the brink of the stream.
Which way should he go, up or down? He instantly
rejected the alternative of going back to investigate
whether Ah Sing and his party had left the main trail.
If the Chinaman was heading for the interior, it
would be most logical to assume that he had gone up-
stream, Vincent reasoned. His decision was instantly
made. Without a thought of the danger, and wholly
forgetful that a tropic stream like this might harbor
crocodiles or poisonous reptiles, he plunged into the
water waist-deep and headed against the current.
As he waded along, sometimes only ankle-deep, some-
times through hollows where the water rose to his
neck, and sometimes through muddy places where the
treadierous mire gripped like a quicksand, he gazed
anxiously at the passing banks for a sign of a break
where human foot might have trod. But no such ves-
tiges appeared. The somber, drooping swamp ran
endlessly, the little streamlet turned and twisted into
innumerable ox-bows, so that, although Vincent walked
miles, sometimes on shore and sometimes in the water,
he really made little progress.
Meanwhile the sun climbed steadily higher. The heat
became intolerable. Not a breath of air stirred in the
swamp, and the perspiration poured down Vincent's
body. His throat seemed on fire, but he dared not drink
the muddy, malarial waters of the brook. Great clouds
of mosquitoes and flies settled on him, and, although he
fought desperately, he could not ward them off. He
grew dizzy with tiie heat, but struggled doggedly on.
From across the stream a colony of long-nosed apes
«78 THE YELLOW SPIDER
chattered saucily in the tree-tops. A mias, lunching on
durian, paused at his midday meal to stare at the in-
truder, but decided gravely that he was not worth driving
out of the domain. A python looked down from the
branches of a huge banyan, blinked, and went to sleep
again. It had eaten too recently to desire another meal.
Overhead a passing vulture, inspecting critically the
earth below, spied him, circled slowly, and commenced
a series of empyrean evolutions bringing it gradually
nearer to earth.
On a little knoll, in the shade of a clump of stunted
marsh conifers, Vincent stumbled and fell and did not
rise again. Exhausted nature could do no more. He
had given his last ounce of strength. The flies and
the mosquitoes swarmed over him. The vulture settled
in a near-by tree, waiting until the stings of myriad in-
sects and the increasing heat should write the final
chapter in this oft-repeated tragedy of the Bomean
Thus Koyala found him.
The Argus Pheasant was returning after safely
guiding Ah Sing and his party through the morass,
when she spied the vulture settling to earth. Her quick
ear caught the threshing of the tangled cane as Vincent
labored stumblingly through. He had lain on the bank
only a few moments when she, peering carefully
through the tangled leafery, spied him. She came for-
"An orang blandaT she hissed spitefully through set
teeth when she approached. Her face darkened and
she turned away, but paused irresolutely. Curiosity
got the better of her hate, and she stepped slowly
forward and gazed into his face. Her brow knitted.
"He is not one of Peter Gross's men," she observed
to herself. "Where can he have come from?" A
thought suggested itself to her: "I wonder if he was
one of Ah Sing's prisoners? But what is he doing
She brushed the flies and mosquitoes away, an in-
stinctively feminine act and not due to an impulse.
A MAN'S DEVOTION «79
for she fdt no kindness toward this member of the
hated white race. The mystery of his presence in the
heart of the almost impenetrable morass roused her
curiosity. Entering the forest, she returned a moment
later with a large nepenthes. It held over a pint of
pure, clear water, sweet and cool. Forcing open his
lips, she let some trickle down his throat. The bal-
ance she permitted to run over his fevered forehead
Vincent gasped and opened his eyes. He struggled
to rise, but fell back exhausted. He gazed vacantly
at the somber, green foliage overhead and then turned
toward Koyala. An interrogative light struggled to
find expression in them.
"Where am I?" he gasped. He looked around tm-
certainly. "Oh, the swamp. But where's Grace?"
At the mention of her hated rival's name a tide of
curious crimson flood rushed to Koyala's face. The
spark of womanly sympathy that had been aroused in
her at the plight of the helpless lad she had found
fled on the instant. "So this is another of her victims,"
was her instant thought. "Let him die here in the
woods; let the vultures and the flies quarrel over his
Vincent, struggling to rise and resting on one elbow,
looked eagerly at Koyala. "I'm looking for a lady,
Grace Coston. She is a prisoner of the pirate. Ah Sing.
Can you help me find her?" he implored.
"Why should I help you find her, orang blandaf^
Koyala inquired harshly in excellent English.
A light of understanding came upon Vincent's face.
"You are the Argus Pheasant," he cried. "You can
help me. Help me, I beg you, help me find her !"
"Why do you want to find her?" Koyala demanded
"Because she is my promised wife," Vincent replied.
Koyala started. Her keen, coal-black eyes searched
the young man's face. It was a clean, honest, boyish
face, revealing character, a bit self-willed, perhaps, and
a bit haughty, but not too spoiled to mend. It ex-
280 THE YELLOW SPIDER
pressed absolute candor and sincerity, and there was a
beseeching look in the eager eyes tiiat tugged sharply
at the priestess's heartstrings.
"Grace G)ston will wed the Resident of Bulungan/'
she answered in a dry, matter-of-fact tone.
Vincent glanced at her in surprise. "Grace Coston
will marry me/' he returned firmly.
"Grace O)ston will marry Peter Gross if she es-
capes Ah Sing," she repeated. "But she will not escape
Ah Sing," she declared, an exultant tone in her voice
Vincent struggled gamely to his feet. He tottered
weakly, and clung to the low branches of the pines
for support. The vulture rose r^retfully from a
neighboring tree and flew away.
"That is an untruth, because Grace Coston will mar-
ry me," he asserted tensely. "And I will save her from
Koyala's lips curved with scorn.
"Do you think you could take her away from Ah
Sing and those who are with him, orang blanda?" she
asked contemptuously. "You have neither the strength
nor the wit to find your way out of this swamp."
Vincent pulled himself together bravely. "I will find
a way," he declared. "If you ,will not help me, priest-
ess, I must go alone."
He stepped forward uncertainly a few paces. Letting
go the branches of the screw-pines, he labored across
the narrow clearing. Twice in that space he lifted his
hand dazedly to his head. As he approached a clump
of sedges his foot caught in a projecting root and he
fell heavily. The swarm of flies and insects gathered
around him again.
Koyala, who had been watching him, waited uncer-
tainly a moment. Her hatred of the white race and
all its members had never been so keen. She believed
them all faithless, cruel, thinking only of self. It lay
within her heart to revenge herself for injuries done her
from the moment of her conception to this day by white
men, for insult and contumely suffered in silence, for
A MAN'S DEVOTION 281
neglect and silent scorn, by plunging a dagger into the
heart of this young man and leaving him there. Had
it not appeared that the sun and the insects would save
her adding his death to her account, she might have
done so, she felt.
Yet he made a powerful appeal upon her. He loved
this smooth-skinned, white-faced maid, this fidde jade
who had twisted Peter Gross around her finger like the
basket-msJcer twists his reeds, who had made him fool-
isJily dream of leaving Bulungan and following her
across the water. Aye, he loved her, or he would not
follow her thus, when e3diausted nature could do no
He said she was his promised wife. Ko)rala pondered
on that statement. Peter Gross had spoken the truth,
then; there was a prisoner in Ah Sing's camp to whom
this maid had promised herself in marriage. Perhaps
she loved him, too, but being white was fickle, and
turned the heart of every man with whom she came in
contact. White women were that way, Koyala knew;
they did not love with the single-heartedness and in-
tensity of the women of Borneo.
If the white woman loved this man and married
him she could not wed Peter Gross. On the other
hand, it was safer to leave her in Ah Sing's hands —
"Water," Vincent moaned, stirring slightly.
As she heard that pitiful plea, Koyala's doubts
and irresolution vanished in an instant. The eternal
womanhood that was in her responded to the cry of
human misery, and every other consideration was for-
gotten. Hurriedly getting another pitcher-plant, she
again chased the noxious insects away and helped him
As he struggled to rise she bade him to remain still,
and gave him a portion of a palm-leaf with which to
keep the insects away. Without stating what she was
doing, she constructed in an incredibly short space of
time a crude shelter where he could rest in comfort.
"But I can't wait — I must go on," Vincent expostu-
lated when he perceived her intention.
282 THE YELLOW SPIDER
"You must rest until after the siesta-hour," Koyala
declared inexorably. "An hour before sundown we
shall leave here. I will guide you out of the swapip and
to Ah Sing's camp. We will rescue the woman you
love together. You cannot do it; I can. Therefore you
must do as I direct."
The morning's struggle through the morass had
eradicated all of Vincent's headstrong obstinacy and
stubbornness. He knew the limit of his powers ; so that
what Koyala saw was a boyish smile of willing resig-
"I am your dutiful servant, princess," he declared.
The Argus Pheasant Redeems Herself
BORNE in a closely covered palanquin by six husky
bearers, Grace experienced little of the discom-
forts of the wearisome journey through the
swamps. It was insufferably hot inside the stufl^
little box, and the swarms of mosquitoes necessitated
keeping the curtains closed, but Grace was only dimly
aware of how the cavalcade struggled knee-deep in
mire, crossing sloughs, and cut its way through almost
At the ford Koyala had led Ah Sing and his party
down-stream, instead of up, knowing there was higher
ground below. This is how it happened that Vincent
missed the trail and became lost in the trackless morass.
Grace knew that Koyala was their guide. She caught
a glimpse of the priestess as they left Ah Sing's house
in the faint, gray dawft. She saw her again when they
left the proa to enter the swamp. The presence of the
half-white, half-Dyak girl gave her confidence. From
the brief acquaintanceship she had with Koyala she in-
tuitively felt that the latter would not resign her to an
awful fate with Ah Sing. This conviction was strength-
ened by reflection as she recalled innumerable evidences
of Koyala's native purity of heart as revealed in sundry
expressions and mannerisms which the feminine eye
alone can read and understand.
When late in the afternoon they reached a deserted
village, and a Qiinese guard roughly bade her come
out of the palanquin, Grace, therefore, looked around
for their fair guide. But Koyala was not to be seen.
At first Grace thought that the priestess had left the
camp temporarily and would return. But when the
284 THE YELLOW SPIDER
shadows b^an to thicken and there was no sign of her,
fear began to grip Grace's heart for the first time that
Upon Ah Sing's instructions she was thrust into a va-
cant hut and a Chinaman stationed at her door. For-
tunately he knew a Uttle English. Grace asked him
where Koyala had gone.
He shrugged his shoulders. "No tellee," he grunted.
"She-um Koyala go 'way bimeby big piece back in
Grace's face became ashen pale. She was alone, then/
and at the mercy of this band of savages. The thought
sttmned her. Terror welled in her heart, and she shrank
into the darkest comer of the hut. At every footstep
passing by she trembled.
As night came on, lights b^an to appear in the camp.
Ah Sing evidently deemed himself safe from pursuit.
But there was no light in Grace's hut. She sat in dark-
ness on the floor of the dwelling, the prey of an unending
When the night advanced the fires died down and
the pirates stretched themselves on reed mats and went
to sleep. But sleep was far from Grace's eyes. She
listened with quaking heart to every sotmd. The mys-
terious voices of the nocturnal jungle called to her,
the crickets, and the night birds, and the wind sough-
ing through the tops of the coco-palms. A leopard called,
a long, quavering cry like a child shriekmg for its
mother, and Grace shivered in dread. In a near-by
stream she heard the crocodiles splashing.
It was past midnight when drowsiness finally began
settling upon her tired eyelids. They dropped lower
despite her effort to keep awake. Like a tired child
she finally sank to rest on one of the foul mats that
covered the floor of the hut.
A sensation akin to an electric shock suddenly caused
her to bolt upright from a deep sleep and gaze around
affrightedly. She thought she had felt the touch of a
human hand upon her own. Rigid, and every sense
acute, she waited and watched and listened.
ARGUS PHEASANT REDEEMS HERSELF 285
"Are you awake?" a sibilant whisper sounded dose
to her ear.
"Koyala!" Grace gasped in excess of relief.
"S-h!" the voice cautioned. "The guard may hear
you. Can you follow me without making any noise?"
"Yes," Grace whispered breathlessly.
"Hurry, then. We have no time to lose."
Grace perceived that a small aperture had been cut in
the rear of the hut. There was a rustle, then a human
form obscured the dim patch of light. It disappeared
almost instantly, gliding through the opening as sinu-
ously as a snake. Grace followed, holding her breath
lest she be heard.
As she .merged into the open, Koyala grasped her
hand and pulled her into the shadows. The priestess
waited a moment, listening intently, then stepped warily
around the hut. There were several others, standing in
a row, and she led Grace around the rear of each of
these. At the end of the lane a low fire was burning
and a Dyak squatted before it, with his spear between
his legs. His back was turned toward them.
With a finger of warning upon her lips Koyala led
Grace stealthily around the edge of the dangerous zone
of light to a clump of shrubbery.
"On your hands and knees now," she directed. Grace
obeyed. They crawled in this way for several rods,
till they gained the shelter of a thicket. Koyala rose
and plunged boldly in the somber forest, blade as the
interior of a mining-shaft. Stifling her doubts and her
fear, Grace followed.
When thw were some distance from the camp,
Koyala led urace into a little glade where the moon-
light was playing hide-and-seek Sirough the treetops.
"There is a question I must ask you," the priestess
declared, confronting the girl she had rescued. "Is it
true that in Ah Sing's camp there was held as pris-
oner a young man whom you are to marry?"
"Yes. Was he saved?" Grace asked anxiously.
Ko}rala paused. She waited until the moonlight fdl
upon Grace's face, and then announced abruptly:
286 THE YELLOW SPIDER
"He is here. He is waiting for you."
"Vincent here?" Grace cried rapturously. "Where?*'
The foul suspicion that had blighted Koyala's life
since she first saw Grace Coston's face fled at the
sound of that cry. She gazed at Grace incredulously
for a moment, as though unable to conceive that any
woman could prefer another before Peter Gross, but
the girl's joy-illumined features scattered every doubt.
The sullen mstrust, the rancor, and the hatred that had
soured her existence for days disappeared from her
heart. Her eyes moistened. A sense of guilt and shame
at the hardship and misery she had caused this frail
member of her sex smote her. She burned with eager-
ness to make amends. The transition from distrust to
loyalty, from hate to affection, took place in a moment's
time, before Grace could repeat her question.
"A few steps farther," Koyala cried, grasping Grace's
hand and pulling her forward in her own eagerness to
reunite the lovers. They walked less than a htmdred
yards, when they came to the bank of a small stream-
let Koyala uttered the weird and peculiar cry of the
Argus pheasant. A form detached itself from the
They were in each other's arms. Their lips met
in a long-denied kiss. He crushed her to his breast, she
dung to him passionately. Koyala turned aside, eyes
smarting with tears. Her sense of guilt flayed her like
"We must hurry," she announced finally, interrupt-
ing their love-making, "Ah Sing will find Miss Coston
missing at dawn. He will send men in pursuit. They
will overtake us unless we hasten, for you cannot travd
swiftly through the forest as I do."
"Lead the way, juffrouw,** Vincent announced. "We
will try to keep pace with you."
Dawn found them in the midst of the jungle, but
half-way to Ah Sing's city, where Peter Gross and his
forces remained encamped. Grace was exhausted. The
ARGUS PHEASANT REDEEMS HERSELF 287
strain of the last few days, coupled with the fact that
she was neither dressed for nq^ accustomed to jungle f
travel, told on her cruelly. Her arms and hands were
torn and bleeding from contact with thorns and briars.
Vincent was in little better shape, for he had not yet re-
covered from his exhausting experiences of the morn-
ing. Koyala perceived their condition.
"We cannot go farther," she annotmced quietly. "It
is impossible for us to reach M3mheer Gross before
our pursuers overtake us. We must hide. There is a
ruined temple-tower near by ; it was built by the Mongol
conquerors who came here ages ago, so long ago that
none of my people know aught of their stay in this
land except the chief priest My grandfather Chawa-
tangi told me the story of this tower and showed me
how one man can hold it against a hundred. We must
tarry there until rescue comes."
"We are in your hands, juffrouw," Vincent replied.
Koyala started, wondering that he should speak so much
like Peter Gross. They were largely cast in the same
mold, she decided. But Peter Gross was by far the
The tower was a masonry structure, about thirty feet
high. Where the bricks came from, and what story
they might have told, was a thought that occurred to
Vincent as they approached the building, but he dis-
missed it for a more convenient season. The jungle
grew thickly around it, the creepers and vines crawling
through the open door and up the stairway, fastening
their tendrils into the decaying rubble. Before she
permitted them to approach it, KOTala lifted the vines
aside and drove a family of vipers out of their
nest in a pile of fallen brides.
With Vincent assisting her, Grace made her way up
the ancient stair. The bricks were worn in the center.
Myriads of naked feet had trod those stairs in other
centuries to offer gifts to unknown gods. The race
and religion had both vanished, leaving only a lone
tower buried in the jungle.
The sts^ir seemingly ended in a ceiling. But as
288 THE YELLOW SPIDER
Koyala, who was in advance, came within reach of the
ceiling, she pushed upward. A flag of stone began
to revolve, opening the way for them. Koyala went
"There is naught here but some nests. You may come
up," she announced. Vincent and Grace followed her.
lliey found themselves in a small room about ten feet
square. There were two small circular openings in
the wall that served as windows.
"We may have to hide here for several days," Koy-
ala announced. "I shall get fresh water and food."
She disappeared and came back a little later with
several pitcher-plants. Vincent offered to assist, but
she sharply directed him to remain where he was. He
was in nowise loath. Grace and he had a thousand
things to talk about, and they improved their oppor-
On her next trip Koyala brought with her coconuts,
plantains, durians, and breadfruit. She left again, but
was absent only a short time.
"Silence," she warned. "Ah Sing is coming. I saw
the Datoo Njam only a moment ago crossing the
stream a little below here."
Grace's hand crept fearsomely toward Vincent. His
palm closed over it.
"I am afraid they heard your voices," Ko3rala whis-
pered regretfully. "Sounds from this tower carry a
long way. I should have warned you, but I did not
thirfc they were so near. Ah Sing must have discovered
that you were gone before sunrise, Miss Coston."
"How can we defend ourselves?" Vincent asked.
"I have my dagger," Koyala responded. "I shall sit
by the stone. Those that try to enter will die."
"Let me take it," Vincent asked. "It's my place."
Koyala's lips curled scornfully. "You forget that I
am a daughter of the jungle, mynheer" she replied.
They heard a low, rustling sound below. Someone
Seas coming through the liana and cane toward the
ARGUS PHEASANT REDEEMS HERSELF 289
tower. They waited breathlessly. Koyala quietly
glided toward the stone and squatted next to it.
A murmur of guttural voices came to their ears^
The dialogue was unintelligible to Vincent, but he per-
ceived from Koyala's face that those below were de-
bating the advisability of investigating the tower. Pres-
ently other voices joined in the dialogue. Then they
heard a sharp order in deep, guttural tones. Grace
"Ah Sing," her eyes said to Vincent. He pressed her
Someone began mounting the stair warily, a step
at a time. He prodded the stone flag with his spear.
Koyala held it in place by the simple expedient of sit-
ting on it. Satisfied, the pirate retreated and reported
to his chief.
There was a torrent of guttural abuse from Ah Sing.
At his command three of his followers mounted the
stairway and strove to budge the stone. Their united
effort was unsuccessful, for Vincent had added his
weight to Koyala's. The stone gave slightly under the
impact of their blows, however, revealing that it was
being held in place by someone above.
There was a satisfied grunt from those below as this
fact was established, and they hastily decamped and re-
ported to Ah Sing. An interval of waiting followed.
Vincent stole to the window and peered out.
"They're getting a log to use as a battering-ram,"
he announced excitedly. Koyala nodded. She indicated
to Vincent that he take her place beside the stone for
a moment. When he did so she stole to the window
and glanced out.
"They are all Malays and Chinese," she announced
disappointedly as she returned. "I had hoped that there
would be some of my people among them. They
would have listened to me."
She took her place again beside the stone and waited.
The minutes dragged by. The Dyaks were evidently
taking their time, and believed they hed their prey
290 THE YELLOW SPmER
There was a crashing at last of a heavy object
pulled through the cane. The creepers were pulled
away below and the length of log placed on the stair-
way. The pirates were making no secret of their
intentions and took no precautions to conceal their
movements. Several of the strongest finally seized the
log and hurled it against the stone Hag. It gave way
instantly, for Koyala's weight was no longer above it,
and the log shot through. Expecting resistance, the
pirates were wholly unprepared for this. They let go
the log to save themselves from falling. As it fell
back it rolled them down the stairs like so many nine-
pins. Bruised and limping, and uttering fierce curses
in every language of the Malay Archipelago, they
A storming party instantly took their places. Led by
the Datoo Njam, they leaped up the stairway. As the
datoo's head rose above the level of the floor he saw
the priestess Koyala sitting on her knees with uplifted
dagger. Even as he recognized her the dagger shot
forward like a snake's fangs and pierced his temple. He
fell back without a groan.
There was a yell of anger from the pirates. The
next man clutched at the figure sitting above and re-
ceived a thrust through the hand. Uttering an oath,
he let go and dropped. The third was warier and shot
a spear through, but Koyala was prepared for this
maneuver and dodged the steel point. At the same time
she ripped the pirate's arm open from shoulder to
wrist. The pirates paused, and the stone slipped back
Koyala was breathing hard, but her eyes were danc-
ing. The fierce joy of conflict was upon her. In de-
fending Grace and Vincent she felt she was making
amends for the suffering she had caused them.
The pause was only momentarily. The stone sud-
denly lifted and three spears shot through. Before
Koyala could draw back one of them penetrated her
shoulder. Those below caught their first glimpse of
ARGUS PHEASANT REDEEMS HEItSELF 291
her. A fierce shout — "The Bintang Burung" — rent the
"Pull her down, drive a spear through her!" Ah
Sing yelled, mad with rage at what he deemed her
treachery. "Are you all afraid of one woman? Hing
Ho, go in there and pluck that she-devil down from her
perch for me. Gro!"
The big Chinese guard who was addressed sprang up
the stairway. Thrusting his sword upward unex-
pectedly, he drove it into Koyala's side. A low moan
of pain came from her, and she partially collapsed. A
huge yellow claw reached through to pull her down.
Chafing under inaction, Vincent saw what was occur-
ring. Leaping forward, he caught the Chinaman's
hand and gave it a sudden backward wrench. The
Chinaman was unprepared and toppled backward. At
the same instant Koyala rallied and pulled herself
"Let me take your place," Vincent pleaded. Her face
was deathly pale, an olive paleness, but she smiled
bravely and shook her head in negation.
Vincent spied a chipped piece of rock weighing about
four pounds in the dust in one comer. Inspiration
came to him, and he leaped forward and seized it.
When he turned two spears were threatening Koyala
and two Malays reached out to drag her down. As
she drove her dagger into the face of one, slitting his
cheek open, Vincent drove his rock into the other's
features, crushing them in. Both Malays dropped
back. Vincent instantly turned the stone on its pivot
and threw his weight on it.
"You are wounded," he said. Koyala's sarong was
stained with blood.
'It is not serious," she negatived faintly.
'We must surrender or you will die! You need
help!" he cried. He tried to lift the stone, but she
placed her knee on it.
"I forbid!" she cried. "Do you think they will help
me ? They will leave me here to die ! They are not my
292 THE YELLOW SPIDER
Vincent hesitated. In the pause Grace stole to the
"They are bringing up reeds and brushwood!" she
cried in warning. Koyala's face became still paler.
'They mean to smoke us out!" she exclaimed.
'Will the smoke come through ?" Vincent asked. She
"Had we better give in now?" he inquired^
"Is it your desire?" she asked.
"Personally — ^no. There is always a chance."
"We will wait," she replied simply.
There were no more rushes. The Malays piled
brushwood and reeds on the stairs. Presently they heard
the crackling of flames. A puff of smoke came through
the interstices between the flag of stone and the ma-
sonry. It was quickly followed by another.
The Malays threw a blanket of damp marsh grass on
the flames. The thick smoke bellied upward and
poured through the cracks.
"This is the end," Vincent coughed, half-strangled.
There was a ringing cheer outside. Indistinguishably
mingled with it was a savage yell of dismay. Almost at
the same instant a crashing volley reverberated around
the walls of the old tower.
Koyala was lying face down on the stone flag. Vin-
cent crawled toward her and tried to pick her up to
bring her to the window, but her weight was too much.
All that he could do was to pull her off the stone.
The smoke lessened as willing hands below scattered
the fire. Shod feet clicked on the brick of the ancient
stair and strong hands, grimy but undeniably white,
forced upward the stone. The first man to spring
through the aperture was Peter Gross. He found Grace
Coston, the American heiress, Koyala Bintang Burung,
priestess of the Dyaks, and Vincent Brady, lying side
by side. They were tenderly lifted down in the blessed
sweet air below.
When Grace revived a few moments later she found
Vincent leaning over her.
•Vincent!" she cried.
ARGUS PHEASANT REDEEMS HERSELF f29S
"My love!'' he exclaimed, folding her in his arms.
Peter Gross turned aside with a sigh. His promise
had been redeemed. Also, a chapter in his life was
over. He crossed to where Koyala lay. Captain Car-
ver was roughly dressing her wound with such dressings
as he had. Peter Gross slipped an arm under the un-
conscious girl's head to assist the captain. A moment
later she opened her eyes. When she saw him a light
of unearthly happiness glowed in them.
"I knew you would come, mynheer,'* she whispered
Captain Carver was uncovering her side where the
Chinese guard's sword had bit Arough. Peter Gross
gulped when he saw the wound and her garments sat-
urated with blood.
Koyala gazed fascinatedly at the dripping garments
they took from her. Suddenly her fingers reached
weakly out for Peter Gross's hand and pressed it
"See, mynheer," she whispered faintly, "I am all
white now. My mother's blood is bled from me !*'
The Argus Pheasant's Farewell
WHILE Peter Gross and Captain Carver were
seeking to stanch the rapid flow of blood from
the terrible wound in Koyala's side, Lieutenant
Van Voort and his Javanese were scouring the jungle
for the fleeing Malays and Chinese. Ignorant of die
fact that Ah Sing had commanded the party in person,
they did not press the search with as much ardor as
they might have until a badly frightened datoo, on be-
ing questioned, admitted that the pirate chief himself
had been their leader. Van Voort instantly put out his
entire force to beat the jungle, but the delay had given
the Chinaman sufficient time to escape. When it be-
came apparent late in the day that the pirate leader
had successfully eluded pursuit, Van Voort called his
men together, and returned, much chagrined, to head-
quarters at Ah Sing's city.
In the mean time Koyala had been borne with all
tenderness to the same place. Upon their arrival there.
Captain Carver, who was a surgeon, made a more
careful examination of her wound. His face was grave
when he turned to Peter Gross, who was standing by,
awaiting the verdict.
"The left lung is badly lacerated," he announced.
"She has lost a great deal of blood. It will be a mir-
acle if she lives. The only hope for her is to get some-
where at once where she can get the best medical at-
tention and care."
"The nearest hospital is at Batavia," Peter Gross
THE ARGUS PHEASANT'S FAREWELL 285
"You think she ought to go there?"
"If it could be arranged."
"Order a proa at once," the resident directed. "I
am going to commandeer the Prins and take Koyala
with me to Batavia. I shall leave you in charge. Please
explain the situation to His Excellency. He will un-
Carver nodded and withdrew, leaving the resident
with the maid. All Koyala's nerve and tempestuous
energy had vanished. She looked very frail indeed as
she lay on the rude couch gasping painfully for breath.
Each inhalation was like a knife-stab to Peter Gross.
He felt that he was responsible for her condition. Had
he not neglected her to enjoy Grace G>ston's company,
he told himself, Koyala would not have done as she did.
He remembered that Sachsen, Carver, and the gov-
ernor-general had called her traitorous, and he had not
come to her defense. Aye, he had almost been per-
suaded himself of her treachery. A poignant sense of
shame filled his heart. Poor girl, how little any of
them had understood her fond heart and passionate,
rebellious soul! She had always given richly, both in
loyalty and in service, and insult and distrust had been
her reward. And now he, Peter Gross, who owed most
to her, contributed this last sad chapter to the terrible
tragedy of her life.
He buried his face in his hands and groaned.
The door opened softly and Captain Carver entered.
"The proa is ready," he announced.
"Can she stand the journey?" Peter Gross asked
"I hope so," Carver replied. "I cannot promise. But
it is her only chance. We haven't the facilities here."
"I'm ready," Peter Gross declared.
Koyala was carried very gently to the rude wharf
of bamboo and lowered into the proa. She knew noth-
ing of the journey, for Captain Carver had administered
an opiate. When she opened her eyes she was in the
commander's room of the Prins Lodewyk, and Peter
Gross was sitting beside her. As he noticed her eyes
296 THE YELLOW SPmER
glance bewilderedly around the room the resident
"You must not talk," he said. "We are taking you
to a hospital at Batavia, where you shall receive the
best of care."
"They are safe?" she whispered weakly.
He knew to whom she alluded. "I expect that they
are probably back at Fort Wilhelmina by now," he re-
plied. "They saw us off and begged me to express their
gratitude to you. Miss Coston told me how you
rescued her. She says she will always feel that she
owes not only her life but something infinitely more
precious to you. I think they will be very happy."
"It was all my fault," Koyala gasped wretchedly.
"You are a wonderfully brave and patient girl, and
I was a fool !" Peter Gross contradicted. "They all ad-
mire and love you. But we must not talk any morie.
You must save your strength."
Koyala smiled pathetically.
"You are very good to me. Mynheer Gross," she said.
The Prins Lodewyk made a record run to Batavia.
An ambulance met it at the wharf at Tanjong Priok.
Koyala was removed to a hospital where the jungle-
bred maid, whose only contact with civilization had
been a boarding scholar's life at a mission school, en-
joyed once more the luxury of clean linen and a soft
Peter Gross visited her daily. In fact he spent hours
at the hospital. The nurses came to watch for him in
the morning after they had completed their customary
ministrations to the patients. They wove strange ro-
mances about the tall, handsome young giant and the
dusky maid of wondrous beauty whose eye followed his
every motion so slavishly. But none of their tales ap-
proached in bizarreness the true story of these twain.
Koyala's identity was kept a strict secret, and Peter
Gross was careful to avoid giving any clue to his
residence. It was commonly assumed that Koyala was
a Hindu princess of rank, a raja's daughter, and Peter
Gross a British-Indian official.
THE ARGUS PHEASANT'S FAREWELL 297
Koyala's convalescence was slow. Her terrible loss
of blood sapped her vitality, and only her marvelous
constitution enabled her to resist the fevers that began
the third day after she was brought aboard the Prins.
The attending physicians refused to hold out any hope
for a long time, but finally their tone became more
cheerful and* eventually they pronounced her recovery
When her convalescence advanced more rapidly,
Peter Gross and Koyala had long talks. He found her
hard to understand. Some days she was gay, with a
hot tempestuous gayety that caused him to remonstrate
with her and warn her against too great excitement in
her present condition. At other times she was sad and
depressed. She talked very little of Bulungan and
Borneo. On the contrary, she pressed him for a daily
account of his doings, whom he had met, what they
had said, how he spent the hours he was away from
her. Occasionally, too, she asked him for news of
Grace Coston and Vincent Brady.
One day he entered her room with face aglow. "They
are here," he announced — "Miss Coston and Mr. Brady.
They wish to see you. They leave to-morrow for
Koyala seemed panic-stricken for a moment. Then
she pulled herself together and requested that they be
Vincent entered impulsively, his boyish features
aglow with gratitude. He clasped the limp hand Koyala
gave him warmly and inquired solicitously whether
she was regaining her strength. Koyala replied with
subdued cordiality to his protestations of gratitude.
While the dialogue was going on, Grace remained in
the background. Finally her eyes met Koyala's. The
cheeks of both women flushed. Grace expressed herself
reservedly. But the eyes of the two women exchanged
more messages than their lips.
"Are you going back to America soon?" Koyala in-
quired at length.
"We leave to-morrow," Grace replied.
«98 THE YELLOW SPmER
Ko3rala's glance stoic toward Peter Gross. He v/as
looking at Grace with a peculiar, wistful expression.
She diverted the conversation to less personal channels.
When Vincent and his promised bride left she sank
back on the pillows wearily.
"I am very tired to-day, Mynheer Gross," she said.
*'I wish I were back in Bulungan."
"We will both go there soon, I hope," he replied.
She glanced at him searchingly. "Are you not plan-
ting to go to America first?"
"I've rather given up that idea," he replied slowly.
He looked up with a smile. "I couldn't very well do
it under the conditions of the agreement we made that
night at the fort, could I?" he asked.
Koyala did not reply. Her face was turned away
from him and buried in the pillows. After a long
silence she said:
"You may leave me now for a while, mynheer. I
think I shall sleep."
When Peter Gross left the hospital he went to the
governor-general's house. Van Schouten greeted him
**Nu, Mynheer Gross," he exclaimed, "how do you
find the fleshpots of Egypt? Ver dikke, if we permit
you to idle much longer here in Batavia you will ac-
quire a paunch like some of the generals the colonial
office sends us to chase rebellious tribesmen."
"I shall be happy to return to my duties as soon as
the Juffrouw Koyala recovers, Your Excellency," Peter
Gross replied gravely.
"I know that, mynheer, I know that," the governor
replied warmly. "I wish I had more residents with the
appetite for work that you have. But I am detaining
you. Sachsen, I think, wishes to speak with you."
Peter Gross went in search of his old friend and
foster-father. He found Sachsen perched before a huge
tome containing accounts of the importation and expor-
tation of goods from Lombock. Sachsen peered over
his spectacles as the resident entered and thrust the
THE ARGUS PHEASANT'S FAREWELL 299
book back when he recognized his visitor. His wrinkled
face expanded into a cordial smile of welcome.
"Vrind PieUr!" he exclaimed. "I was just thinking
of you, my son."
"They all seem to be thinking of me," Peter Gross
replied cheerfully. "The governor was just asking me
when I would be ready to go back to Bulungan."
"Will you go soon, Vrind Pieter?" Sachsen inquired
"As soon as Koyala recovers."
"You do not intend to go to America, then?"
"I don't think I should," Peter Gross replied candidly.
"My first duty is to Bulungan — ^and to Koyala. She
has suffered much on account of me. It is only fair
that I should do what I could to make her a bit
Sachsen toyed with his spectacle case.
"Happier in what way, mynheer?" he inquired.
"Go with her to Bulungan. Work with her to re-
generate the residency."
"You do not mean anything else?"
Their eyes met. Peter Gross guessed Sachsen's
meaning. The color mounted to his face and he gazed
pensively at the floor.
"I don't know," he said. "I've sometimes thought of
it. Perhaps I should marry her. I surely owe it to
"You do not love her, then?" Sachsen asked in a
voice of marked relief.
Peter Gross shook his head. "Sachsen," he said
sadly, "I don't believe it lies in me to love any woman.
There was a time when I thought something like that
was coming over me, but that's all over." He lifted his
head with a weary sigh.
'You must not wed Koyala," Sachsen said.
The old man looked at the younger man fixedly.
"Because you do not love her."
Peter Gross's eyes fell.
"I could give her protection," he argued weakly.
300 THE YELLOW SPmEE
"That is the essential thing a woman needs, particularly
a woman such as she."
"A woman requires more than protection to give her
happiness. She needs love. But there is a second and
greater reason why you cannot wed her/' Sachsen
"What is that?"
"Because of those who come after you."
Peter Gross did not reply. He gazed sternly at the
floor. His mind filled with silent thoughts.
"Marriage," Sachsen continued softly, "means off-
spring. It is a law of the human race that those of
different pigments should not mate. Only sadness and
sorrow can come from such a mating. The burden of
the grief falls on the next generation. Koyala herself
is sufficient exemplification of this law. With all her
wondrous beauty it is best that the house of Qiawa-
tangi die with her."
He paused. In the stillness they could hear a song-
bird singing its full heart out to its mate.
"The lion mates with the lioness, the ram with the
ewe, each living creature kind to kind," Sachsen pointed
out. "The same principle applies to man. You must
forget this thought, Vrind Pieter."
"And be a damned ingrate!" Peter Gross replied sav-
agely, bursting through the door without so much as a
word of farewell.
Three days later a hurried summons called Peter
Gross to the hospital. A badly worried superintendent
"Our patient is gone," he announced. "We've
searched high and low and cannot find the slightest
trace of her. She was in the garden with the other
convalescents this morning, and that is the last that has
been seen of her. Under her pillow we found this
note addressed to you."
Peter Gross tore open the envelope with trembling
hand. This was the message he read:
"Good-by, Myheer Gross. I am returning to my
people. It is best tha^t we do not see each other again.
THE ARGUS PHEASANT'S FAREWELL 801
You are absolved from your promise to me. I wish
you every happiness in your return to your own land.
I will never forget what I owe to you."
There was no signature. But pinned to the bottom
of the sheet was a tiny feather, an Argus pheasant
Peter Gross's eyes dimmed. Meeting the superin-
tendent's glance he asked gravely:
"The packet left at noon for Bandjer, did it not?"
"Then there is no further need of looking for her,"
he announced. With this cryptic statement he hastened
to the governor-general's quarters. Sachsen met him
as he entered the building. Eyes blinded with tears,
Peter Gross showed him the note.
"It is sad, but for the best, Vrind Pieter/' the old
man declared sympathetically. "She is wise beyond
her years — ^wiser than thou art, my son. Go to Amer-
ica as she says. I will explain to His Excellency."
Peter Gross gazed at the distant stretches of ocean,
visible through a lofty arched window. The sea rolled
"I have wasted days long enough, Vrind Sachsen,"
he replied softly. "Ah Sing is still at large, there is
work for me to do in Bultmgan. To-morrow I go