CAVE COFFINS 241
ladder, pulled the nests off the rocky roof, putting them into a large rattan basket fastened about-his body.
We saw many other methods they have of collecting these nests by the aid of long bamboo poles and rattan ropes, up which they climbed to dizzy heights.
These caves, we were told, were full of very large harmless snakes, but we did not come across them. If I had had a good head and plenty of skill and pluck as a climber, I might have come away a wealthy man, as the Hadji told us that in a sort of side cave high up in the large cave were the coffins of the men that first discovered these caves, and with them were large jars of gold and jewels, but no one dared touch them, as they said it would be certain death to the man who did so. A man once did take some, but a few days later was taken violently ill and so had them put back and thus recovered. It was not for any scruples of this kind that I declined the Hadji's offer to help myself when he pointed out to me the spot where they were, but I think he must have guessed that I would not have trusted myself on one of those frail swaying ladders with over five hundred feet of space beneath me.
On the way back we scrambled up to a small cave where there were numerous carved coffins and bones which belonged to some of the former owners of the caves, but alas ! no jars of gold ;