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■3433' 074833074 



f <4 I 



THE 

YELLOW 
SPIDER 

JOHN CHARLES iAM 



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THE YELLOW SPIDER 



THE 

YELLOW SPIDER 



BY 

JOHN CHARLES BEECHA M 

AXTTHOX Of 

*'Tbe Asgus Pheasant/' xtc. 




New York 
"W. J. Watt & Company 

PUBLISHERS 



THE KK\V yOHK 
PUBLIC LHJKAUY 

•;'3409B 

ASTOR, LKNdX AND 
TILDEN FOtNDATlONS 
B 1940 L 



COFYKICHT, X9ao^ BY 

W. J. WATT & COMPANY 



-«s • 






'"'*««« *» «• rnlW 5*a««# ,/ in,rti. 




CONTENTS 



CxIAPXER I PAGE 

En Route to Bohkeo i 

CHAPTER n 
The ScotnftGE ov the Sxtndas 8 

CHAPTER m 
Ah Sing Strikes ai 

CHAPTER IV 
The Hut in the Jtwcle . . ... . . . ag 

CHAPTER V 
DiSCLOSDSES 43 

CHAPTER VI 
The Gabbison at Fom WnaEuoNA 49 

CHAPTER Vn 

The Asgxts Pheasant's Warning . ... . . .58 

CHAPTER Vm 
In the Jungle . 66 

CHAPTER IX 
The Jeweled Moccasin 83 



vi CONTENTS 

CHAPTER X PAGE 

The Pasas at Bulungan 96 

CHAPTER XI 
The Malay's Demand 105 

CHAPTER Xn 
Peter Gross Comes to Bulxtngan 112 

CHAPTER Xm 
The Raja Sees a Ghost 119 

CHAPTER XIV 
Before the Dawn . . 136 

CHAPTER XV 
Prisoners • 142 

CHAPTER XVI 
Ah Sing's Threat 152 



% • 



CHAPTER XVn 
The Council's Decision 159 

CHAPTER XVm 
The Attack 169 

CHAPTER XIX 
The Govesnor Arrives 181 

« • 

CHAPTER XX 
The Governor Meets Koyala 191 



L. 



CONTENTS vu 

CHAPTER XXI pAo» 

Sachsen Counsels His Prot£g£ 306 

CHAP;rERXxn 

Ah Sing SLetifsns 313 

CHAPTER XXm 

KOYALA'C OfTEK 233 

CHAPTER XXIV 
A Man's Task 338 

CHAPTER XXV 
Gkace Coston Disafpeass 333 

CHAPTER XXVI 
A Woman's Jealousy 340 

CHAPTER XXVn 
Tee Coung or Lkath 346 

CHAPTER XXVm 
Ah Sing Names His Tekus 353 

CHAPTER XXIX 
The Pirates at Bay 356 

CHAPTER XXX 
The Pibates at Bay .361 

CHAPTER XXXI 
A Man's Devotion 371 



via CONTENTS 

CHAPTER XXXn page 

The Argus Piieasant Redeems Hekseu . . .283 

CHAPTER XXXm 
The Akgus Pheasant's Farewell 394 



THE YELLOW SPIDER 



THE YELLOW SPIDER 



CHAPTER I 
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 
question : 

**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 
my bet." 

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 



^ -> ■• 



n 
it 



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 
tremulously. 

"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 
fancies. 

"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 
Grace's ear. 

"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, 
were herded. 

"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 
you?" 

"No, why?" 

'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- 
ernment." 

"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 
filled her. 

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 
undoubtedly interrupting. 

"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 
doorstep." 

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 
quietly. 

"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 
captain's guest." 

"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 
stranger. 

"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 
oflf. 

"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 
without warning." 

He paused and almost instantly his face assumed its 
customary cheerfulness. 

"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." 



CHAPTER II 
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- 
ized it. 

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 : 



K.-^. 



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 
imperious disposition. 

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 
ridiculous. 

'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 
British soil." 

"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 
rule." 

"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 
again." 

"Mercy!" Mrs. Derringer shrieked. Her hands 
gripped each other convulsively. Her face was a 
ghastly white in the glare of the incandescents. 



■ill....-..- 



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- 
marked apologetic^ly. 

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," 
Poggs growled. 

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- 
ness. 

**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 
discussion. 

"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 
puzzled voice. 

"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- 
sponded quietly. 

"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 
Delhi Mutiny." 

"Aye, the one man," the trader assented. 

"What sort of an appearing man is he?" Mrs. Cos- 
ton asked. 

"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 
as Bulungan." 

"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 
silence. 

1 have a headache," Violet Coston complained. 
'Can't I he*p you, dear?" Grace asked sympa- 
thetically. 

"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" 



CHAPTER III 
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. 

21 



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 
voyage. 

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- 
boat. 

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 
herself. 

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 
went out. 

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 
from below. 

"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. 



CHAPTER IV 

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- 
ment. 

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. 

29 



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 
instructed. 

"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 
under water?" 

*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 
had ceased. 

"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 
chances." 

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 
night. 

"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 
failed her. 

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? 
panion. 

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 
eddy. 

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, 
please!" 

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 
Zee. 

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 
his arms. 

"Your slippers," he said gravely, offering her her 
footgear. 

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 
me?" 

"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 
necessary." 

'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 
asked again. 

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 
feet. 

"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 
seeking contradiction. 

"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," 
he replied. 

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 
considerable heat. 

"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 



manner." 



"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 
beams. 

"We'll place the light here," she declared, calmly indi- 
cating where she desired it. "If you'll move the table, 
please !" 

He did as bidden. 

"Before we retire," she announced, "there are a few: 
questions I desire to ask." 



CHAPTER V 
Disclosures 

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 
you?" 

She shrugged her shoulders. "Intuition, I suppose," 

43 



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 
of eavesdropping. 

"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- 
nary clay." 

"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 : 



;/ 



*^ 



DISCLOSUBES 45 

"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- 
assuringly. 

"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- 
times useful." 

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 
clever artifices. 

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, 
white brow. 

"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 






DISCLOSURES 47 

worthy of so astute and cunning a leader as Ah Sing. 
He is a dangerous man, the most dangerous man in the 
entire East. 

"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 



K 



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 
night." 

"Good night." 

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. 



CHAPTER VI 
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 
exact truth. 

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 
wheat. 

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, 

49 



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- 
respondence. 

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 
window. 

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 
stayed Paddy. 

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. 

"Anything new?" 

"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 
the conversation. 

"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 
panorama without. 

"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 
much interest. 



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 
nearly dead!" 

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 
guiltily. 

"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 
exclamation : 

"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- 
pulsive lad. 

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 
wondered why. 

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 
boundary stream. 

Captain Carver glanced over his shoulder at the lad 
and smiled. 

"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. 



CHAPTER VII 
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 
or Italian. 

"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- 
grel blood. 

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. 

58 



"] 



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 
half-stifled sob. 

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 
exclaimed • 

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 
defensively. 

"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 
breath. 

"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- 



morrow." 



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 
Zuyder Zee." 

"Impossible !" Carver gasped. "The Zuyder Zee carries 
cannon." 

"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, 
to-night." 

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- 
cided?;' 

"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 
chances." 

"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 
headquarters are?" 

"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 
somehow." 

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 
faint." 

"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 
her passage. 

"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 
seen it. 

"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 
curiously. 

"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- 
fulness. 

"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 
view. 

"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. 



CHAPTER VIII 
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 
brightly. 

"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- 
digious appetite." 

From his six feet four he grinned down amiably 

66 



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. 
Miss Coston." 

"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 
boy! 

"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 
breakfast." 

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 
freshly fried. 

Where did you find all these?" she asked. "Fish, 

*FTHC I 



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 
were frying." 

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 
modest efforts. 

"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 
alive. 

"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 
laughed. 

"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?" 
Grace implored. 

"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- 
knowledged. 

"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 
asked. 

"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 
habitat." 

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 
mountains. 

"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- 
est misfortune." 

"I have never before heard beauty referred to as a 
misfortune for a woman," Grace observed, watching her 
companion narrowly. 

"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- 
sipated. 

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 



us." 



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 
the governor." 

"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 
roguishly. 

"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 
water." 

"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 
jungle. 

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- 
seled anxiously. 

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- 
nounced cheerfully. 

"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 
plaintively. 

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?" 

"Yes." 

"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 
amusement. 

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 
her. 

"Could you make the journey in two hours?" she 
demanded. 

"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 
inquisitive mias." 

"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 
return." 

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 
path. 

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 
telling. 

"I am sure I can walk, Mr. Gross," she declared 
humbly. 

"You are under orders," he returned, smiling as he 
panted. 

Looking upward a little later, he surprised a smile of 
amusement on her features. His glance expressed in- 
quiry. 

"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 
candor. 

"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 
acknowledged. 

"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 
them, exclaimed: 

"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 
curious eye. 

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. 



CHAPTER IX 
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/' 

83 



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 
reply. 

Peter Gross started up the path, but Naioh blocked 
the way. 

"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. 

"Yes." 

"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 
smiled amusedly. 

"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 
his forehead. 

"That will be perfectly satisfactory," Grace exclaimed 
with relief. 

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 
sudden alarm. 



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 
temporary obstacle. 

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 
the river-bank." 

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 
garments. 

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 
silence. 

"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 
sadly. 

**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 
assistance." 

"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- 
credulously. 

"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 
disappearances. 

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 
small feet." 

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- 
casin. 

"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 
herself. 

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 
to smile. 

"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 
tongue. 

"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 
the river-bank." 

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 
haughtily. 

"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 
voice : 

"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 
ganeca-idol" 

A flash of color in the cane and she was gone. 



CHAPTER X 
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 

96 



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 
sinews. 

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 
traders. 

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- 
paradise feathers. 

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 
the lanes. 

"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 
siesta. 

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 
hid. 

The raja struck a Chinese gong sharply. A Dyak 
guard entered. 

"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 






it' 
lit 



'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- 
halien?" 

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 
majestic tones: 

"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 



me. 



"The Dyaks will not tolerate that harm come to her," 
Wobanguli remonstrated. 

"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 
his people. 

"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- 
edly. 

Thus Wobanguli learned that his fears concerning the 
resident were not wholly unfounded. 



CHAPTER XI 
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 
tenant. 

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 
the silence. 

"Friend," was the response in the cheery tones of 
Paddy Rouse. "Damned if I know the countersign, 
though." 

"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 

105 



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 
action. 

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?" 
he inquired. 

"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 
here?" 

"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- 
quired. 

"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 
junk." 

"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?" 

"Yes." 

Then they'll fight," Carver observed cheerfully. 
Take it from me, old Wobanguli will have his 
hands full tackling that crowd," Paddy declared with 
warm satisfaction. 

"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- 
dently. 

"Unless he has superior artillery," Captain Carver 
modified. 

"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 
time." 

There was a sharp challenge from the sentry out- 
side. A moment's pause followed, then a buzz of con- 
versation. 

"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 
Carver's own. 

"You have a message for me?" Captain Carver asked 
bruskly. 

"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 
circumstances." 

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 
alone again. 

"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 
and asked: 

"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, 
he murmured: 

"Won't you come with me to headquarters. Miss 
Coston ?" 

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." 



CHAPTER XII 
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 
shale. 

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 

XI3 



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 
voice. 

"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 
tone. 

"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 
than man." 

Naioh asked his priestess a question in the Dyak 
tongue. 

"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," 
she replied. 

Peter Gross turned swiftly and asked Koyala a ques- 
tion in the Dyak tongue. She replied briefly in the same 
language. 

"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- 



noon." 



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 
twinkled. 

"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. 
Miss Coston?" 

"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 
impulsive comradeship. 

"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 
frigidly. 

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 
Gross." 



CHAPTER XIII 
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 
at night. 

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 

119 



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 
perils. 

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 
approvingly. 

"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, 
of course." 

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 
go alone." 

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 
brain. 

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 
bamboo. 

"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- 
thing." 

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 
its place. 

"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 
Dyak persisted. 

"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- 
boo. 

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 
structure. 

" '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 
bring about. 

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- 
strained him. 

"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 
unctuously : 

"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 
stage. 

"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 
action. 

"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 
forward. 

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- 
mouthedly. 

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 
for breath. 

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 
listen, raja." 

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 
gate. 

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 
mention this. 



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," 
Koyala rebuked. 

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 
chiefs." 

"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. 



CHAPTER XIV 
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 
anxiously. 

"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- 
hap ?" 

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." 

136 



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, 
you see." 

•*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- 
manded. 

"Yes." 

"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 
Bulungan." 

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 
condition." 

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- 
served : 

"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- 
ness. 

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 
emendation. 

"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 
compressed lips. 

"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 
Peter Gross." 

"It was Koyala," Peter Gross negatived, shaking his 
head. "She planned it all. Without her I couldn't have 
done anything." 

"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 
guests. 

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. 



CHAPTER XV 
Prisoners 

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. 

142 



PRISONERS 148 

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- 
tions. 

"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 
a moan. 

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 
missionary : 

"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 
be eaten!" 

"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 



it 



PRISONERS 145 

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 
chopped off." 

"Damn you!" Vincent swore. "Loosen my hands!" 

"Thank you, no!" Foggs replied with unimpaired 
cheerfulness. 

"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- 
edly. 

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 
pork." 

"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- 
ploringly. 

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 
him. 

"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 



PRISONERS 147 

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 
Indies. 

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 
northern eyes. 

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 



coasters." 



'What will be done with us?" Violet Coston asked 
anxiously. 

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 
encouraging." 

"Funny thing for those devils to do !" Poggs mut- 
tered lugubriously. "I'm afraid there's something back 
of this." 

"Their conduct toward us is quite unpiratical. 111 
agree/' the missionary replied cheerfully. "But I'm in- 



PRISONERS 149 

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 
asked. 

"Exactly." 

The datoo, who had been listening with evident im- 
patience to this conversation, interrupted with a harsh 
question addressed to John Bright. The missionary 
assented. 

"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- 
tection. 

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 
curiously. 

"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 
politeness." 

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- 
ward. 

"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 
question. 

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 



PmSONEBS 151 

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?" 
Vincent cried. 

"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!" 



CHAPTER XVI 
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- 
ingly unobserved. 

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 
the shore. 

Vincent Brady had set out on his quest for his be- 
trothed. 

The tambangan had only proceeded a little way 
when another figure appeared on the deck of the packet. 

152 



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 
had taken. 

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 
him. 

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 
octopi. 

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 
forehead. 

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 
hopelessly. 

"Not until you take a bath," the missionary replied 
quietly. "You'll have to get rid of that mud. I'll watch 
for crocodiles." 

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 
the tambangan. 

"Isn't there some way of crossing the swamp?" Vin- 
cent implored. 

"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 
way." 

"But there is no other way, you say?" 

"We must trust in Providence to show us a way!" 
Bright replied. 

"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 
respective cabins. 

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 
waterfront. 

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/' 



CHAPTER XVII 
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 

159 



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 
jungle. 

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 
with tension. 

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- 
cloud. 

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- 
rated: 

"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- 
selves hoarse. 

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 
foxbat?" 

"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 
present : 

"Koyala !" 

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 
Chawatangi ?" 

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- 
gam's tail-feather?" 

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 
height." 

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, 

Sapulohr 

Malay numerals as follows: 

One, two, eight. 

Three, four, nine. 
Five, seven, six. 

Ten! 

"Ten shall die," the Malays whispered among them- 
selves. "Ten shall die before mom." 



CHAPTER XVIII 
The Attack 

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 
of spirits. 

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. 

169 



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 



rooms." 



'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 
kitchen. 

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 
out. 

"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 



men." 



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?" 
Grace demanded. 

"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," 
Grace asserted. 

"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 
asked. 

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- 
fern flourished. 

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 
of sniping. 

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- 
mandant. 

"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." 

"After dusk?" 

"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 
open." 

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 



hik. 



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 
exposed himself. 

"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 
stiffened. 

"They are here, kapitein/' he announced in a sibilant 
hiss. 

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 
savage horde. 

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 
be seen. 

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." 



CHAPTER XIX 
The Governor Arrives 

IT was shortly after the noon hour when an orderly 
came to Peter Gross's room with the electrifjring 
message : 

"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- 
ported. 
"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 
inshore." 

Carver issued the necessary instructions. A few mo« 

x8i 






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 
the exclamation: 

"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 
Prins." 

"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- 
lands. 

"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 
arms. 

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- 
vessel. 

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 
strut anywhere!" 

"Who?" Paddy cried, unable to restrain his curiosity 
in the excitement. 

"His Excellency, the Gouverneur-GeneraaU" 

"Van Schouten?" 

"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- 
general here!" 

"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 
huskily. 

''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 
observed. 

"Your excellency notes that our flag is still flying," 
Carver replied courteously. 

"Have you had much fighting?" 

"An assault last night, your excellency. Nothing 



serious." 



Van Schouten glanced swiftly and shrewdly at the 
commandant. 

"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 
ascent. 



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 
palanquin. 

"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, 
Vrind Pieterf" 

"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- 
ment. 

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 
her absence." 

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 
Sachsen. 

*'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 
cheeks. 

"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 !" 



"1 



CHAPTER XX 
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 — " 

"Yes?" 

"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 

191 



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?" 
he inquired. 

"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 
French." 

"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- 
tively. 

"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 
sword himself." 

"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 
Gross cautioned. 

"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 
children. 

"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 
asked. 

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 
gravely. 

"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 
home." 

"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 
above. 

"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 
daughter's daughter." 

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 
smile. 

"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 
wall. 

"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 
her lashes. 

"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 
do?" 

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 
decided." 

"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 
I know." 

She spoke bitterly, and Peter Gross scented the 
cause. 

"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- 
lungan." 

"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 
breath. 

"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 
return." 

"Where is he?" 

"On the sea. I was told he was en route to Bu- 
lungan." 

"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 
them. 

"Where is the place?" he asked. 

Koyala's hands lay idly in her lap. "I said I could 



«1 



THE GOVERNOR MEETS KOYAIA 199 

tell you where it lies," she replied. "I did not say 
I would." 

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- 
change." 

"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 
filled him. 

"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 



more." 



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. 

She nodded. 

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- 
ing heavily. 

"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 
and satisfaction. 

"Captain Carver had told me he was fond of fenc- 
ing," Peter Gross replied. "I did not know he was 
so proficient." 

"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 
responded loyally. 

"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- 
dent coolly. 

"Methinks you have assumed a large responsibility, 
mynheer" he suggested mildly. 






202 THE YELLOW SPIDER 

"Therefore I ask your Excellency to confirm it/* Peter 
Gross replied. 

"Have these duivelen sent emissaries to treat for 
peace ?" 

"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 
Schouten. 

"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- 
hind. 

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- 
giveness." 

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 
wall. 

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 
stepped out. 

Peter Gross walked forward, took Koyala by the 
arm, and led her to a chair. He seated himself oppo- 
site her. 



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 
promise to-night." 



« 



CHAPTER XXI 

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 

206 



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- 
ciously. 

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 
this island." 

"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, 
Vrind Pieterr 

"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- 
ing. 

"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 
inquired. 

"No." 

"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- 
possessing appearance?" 

A look of bewilderment gathered upon Peter Gross's 
face. 

"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 
eyes ?" 

"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 
Gross demanded. 

"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 
rose. 

"I leave thee, Vrind Pieter," he announced gently. 
"In this, as in all other things, I have confidence in thy 
true judgment." 

Tiptoeing out he closed the door silently and returned 
to his room. 



CHAPTER XXII 
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. 

213 



214 THE YELLOW SPIDER 

'^We are in God's hands/' the missionary counseled 
gravely. 

"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 
other three. 

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 
the scrimmage?" 

"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 
any Dyak!" 

"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 
beach. 

Poggs leaped to the rail and peered toward the chan- 
nel entrance, cunningly concealed by a heavy growth of 
forest. 

"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 
him. 



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 
familiarity. 

"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 
money." 

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- 
towed. 

"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- 
mittally. 

"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 
walls." 

"Have you heard aught concerning that devil-devil, 
Peter Gross?" 

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 
people?" 

"He was with thee and all thy chiefs and thou didst 
let him pass from thee in safety?" Ah Sing asked ca- 
ressingly. 

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 
god." 

"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 
head?" 

"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 
him !" 

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.' " 



CHAPTER XXIII 
Koyala's Offer 

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 
his power. 

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 

222 



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 
cynical contempt. 

"Are you so afraid of a woman that you must hide 
behind the ax of a slave. Ah Sing?" she asked, lifting 
her voice. 

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 
inquired gutturally. 

Koyala knew that the Chinaman was aware, through 
his spies, of her movements, but it pleased her to be 
perverse. 

"Some time since," she remarked lightly. 

"You have been in the villages of the Trings and 
the Kenyahs?" 

"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- 
cantly. 

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 
passion. 

"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, 
Chawatangi. 

"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, 
speak." 

"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 
breast. 

"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 
her." 

"It shall be done," Ah Sing pledged. "Do thou keep 
thy promise with thy people." 



CHAPTER XXIV 
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 
replied gravely. 

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 
my appreciation." 

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- 

228 



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 

go- 
He drove the spurs into his horse and galloped away. 

Grace greeted Peter Gross with a face glowing with 
enthusiasm. 

"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?" 
she asked. 

"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 
warmly. 

"I think she means well," Grace replied slowly. "But 
I'm afraid, I'm afraid — " 

"Of what?" 

"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- 



ces 



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 
a proposal. 

"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 



manne." 



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 
spiders." 

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 
underfoot. 

"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 
Cuba." 

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. 



CHAPTER XXV 
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 
voice. 

"No, I have not," Peter Gross replied. "Is she mis- 
sing?" 

"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, 

233 



234 THE YELLOW SPmER 

"Did Miss Coston take her customary walk to the 
beach this morning?" Peter Gross asked. 

"Yes, sir." 

"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 
relieved." 

"Who relieved you?" The words came like a pistol- 
shot. Peter Gross was angered. 

"Van Vlaanderen." 

"Did you tell him Miss Coston had left the fort?" 

"No, sir." 

Peter Gross compressed his lips. Paddy flushed guil- 
tily, realizing his delinquency. 

"Call Private Van Vlaanderen," he directed. "Have 
him hurry." 

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 
kapitein," 

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 
beyond. 

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 
found. 

"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 
were silent. 

"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," 



<r 



236 THE YELLOW SPmER 

Peter Gross replied. "Unless we find they've taken to 
waten" 

"How many?" 

"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- 
lungan. 

"It can't be, it can't be," he groaned. Yet a nameless 
and intuitive fear filled his heart that it might be. 



«« 
u 



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- 
tinels.*' 

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 
this." 

"All things are possible," Sachsen declared, careful 
not to offend. "It is one of the questions we must con- 
sider." 

"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 



«f 



'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?" 

"Yes." 

"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- 
rupted, bristling. 

"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, 
my son." 

"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 
declared* 



CHAPTER XXVI 
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 

240 



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- 
ful morning?" 

"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 
are they?" 

"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 
said." 

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 
cabin. 

"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. 



CHAPTER XXVII 
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" 

246 



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 
figure. 

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 
stepped forward. 

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 
pointed out. 

"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 
stepped inside. 

"There's a procession of Dyaks coming in from the 
jungle," he announced. "The first man looks to me 
like Lkath." 

"Lkath of the hill Dyaks?" Peter Gross cried in- 
creduously. 

"Yes." 



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 
jonge juffrouw," 

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- 
plied. 

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- 
tain's. 

"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,* 
he observed. 



CHAPTER XXVIII 
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 

252 



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 
rumbled again. 

"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 
presence. 

"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 
Chinaman purposed. 

There was a dreadful silence. Grace's pulses were 
beating like trip-hammers as she waited for the pirate 
chief's reply. 

"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 
Peter Gross." 

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- 
ment: 

"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- 
ang." 

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." 



CHAPTER XXIX 
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 

256 



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- 
tion. 

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 
asked bluntly. 

"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 
my command." 

"That was not a part of our bargain," she declared 
steadily. 

"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 
disarming mildness. 

"He shall be judged when he stands before me," Ah 
Sing replied. 

"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 
stronghold." 

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." 



« 



CHAPTER XXX 
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 
his crew. 

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 

261 



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 
Gross affirmed. 

"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 
faintly luminous. 

"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 
to-night." ^ 

"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 
land." 

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 
resist them. 

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 
slow progress. 

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- 
flict. 

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 
broken door. 

"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 
alone. 

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- 
light. 

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 
great divide. 

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 
back. 

"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 
called. 

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 
Carver entered. 

"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 
Miss Coston." 

"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 
Prins Lodewyk." 

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." 



CHAPTER XXXI 
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- 
mined. 

"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 
his cot. 

"You must not," the missionary remonstrated. "Your 
wound." 

"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 

271 



«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- 
monstrated. 

"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 
into it. 

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 
her." 

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 
quietly. 

"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 
and grief. 

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 
vessel. 

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 
her ear. 

"Did you see a proa come through here?" Vincent 
cried. "A proa with Qiinese aboard and a white lady 
prisoner?" 

"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- 
tentively. 

"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 
headed north." 

"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. 

"Yes." 

"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 
find her." 

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 
shouted. 

'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 
point ahead. 

"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 
party." 

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 
swamps. 

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- 
ward slowly. 

"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 
here?" 

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 
and temples. 

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 



remains." 



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 
cynically. 

"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 
betra)ring her. 

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 
Ah Sing." 

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 
more. 

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 
to drink. 

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- 
nation. 

"I am your dutiful servant, princess," he declared. 



CHAPTER XXXII 
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 
impenetrable jungle. 

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 

283 



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 
day. 

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 
woods." 

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 
nightmare. 

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 
gloom. 

"Grace?" 

"Vincent !" 

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 
a lash. 

"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 
greater character. 

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 
above. 

"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- 
tunity. 

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. 
"Hush!" 

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 
shivered. 

"Ah Sing," her eyes said to Vincent. He pressed her 
hand reassuringly. 

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 
securely bagged. 



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 
walked away. 

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 
into place. 

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 
air. 

"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 
together. 

"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 
people." 



"] 



tit 



292 THE YELLOW SPIDER 

Vincent hesitated. In the pause Grace stole to the 
window. 

"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 
nodded affirmatively. 

"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 
weakly. 

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 
lightly. 

"See, mynheer," she whispered faintly, "I am all 
white now. My mother's blood is bled from me !*' 



CHAPTER XXXIII 
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 
observed. 

"Yes." 

294 



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- 
derstand." 

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 
anxiously. 

"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 
smiled. 

"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 
bed. 

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 
certain. 

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 
America." 

Koyala seemed panic-stricken for a moment. Then 
she pulled herself together and requested that they be 
admitted. 

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 
jovially. 

**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 
mildly. 

"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 
happier." 

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 
her." 

"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. 
Why?" 

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 
declared calmly. 

"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 
met him. 

"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 
feather. 

Peter Gross's eyes dimmed. Meeting the superin- 
tendent's glance he asked gravely: 

"The packet left at noon for Bandjer, did it not?" 

"Yes, mynheer," 

"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 
invitingly northward. 

"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 
home." 



^H£ END 




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