44 GOLDEN GATE TO GOLDEN SUN
Datu's prahu, better adapted than ours to the most dangerous stretches.
The prahu was probably twenty feet long, was hollowed out of a single tree, and round at the bottom. Bow and stern were fastened with rattans instead of nails, so that it would give in the very probable event of being whirled against rocks. It was buoyant in the falls, and was manageable with a long, sweeping stroke.
Here we began to buck the real rapids. The cook's prahu was left behind, with instructions to start considerably later, to lessen the danger of ours being swirled against it. Little paddling could be done. In the worst places the boat was forced upward with poles. Miraculous steering was required to keep clear of the boulders, which were bigger and more formidable with every mile that we went upstream. In shallow places some of the men stood in the water and pushed the boat ; others hauled from the banks with ropes made of vines and creepers. Never will I speak of lazy Malays ; never have I seen men work harder than our crew did that day.
Nor was the passenger's strain purely nervous. In the more dangerous places we got out of the boat and made our way as best we could by climbing and jumping over the boulders. Bare-footed, of course ; shoes were out of the question, and the stones were burning hot. Tortured with hot irons is more than a term to me now. To stop for breath and rest was impossible. There was nothing to do but jump on and on, with the blazing sun above and hell below.