A NATURALIST'S WANDERINGS
bathed in sunlight, its little villages with their olive groves and vineyards slumbering at the mouth of chasm-like gorges, winding away up amongst the mountains which ruggedly overshadow them.
In crossing the Mediterranean, we gave a lift to tired wagtails and swallows, to a goat-sucker and a fly-catcher, and carried them into Port Said. The squalor of that town, the barrenness of the canal shores and the arid bareness of Aden were a splendid offset to the verdure just ahead of us. In the Indian Ocean our friendly yard-arms gave a rest to several bee-eaters (Merops philippinus), to a chat and to little flocks of swallows before we sighted the Maldive and Laccadive coral Archipelagoes. Far ahead on the horizon their islets looked like a group of bouquets set in marble-rimmed vases ; but as we approached, the vase rims changed into the surf of the sea breaking on the reef to feed its builders, and the bouquets into clumps of cocoa-palms, iron-wood, and other trees which the currents of the sea have washed together, and the passing winds and wandering birds have carried thither to deck these lone homes of the ocean fowl, which came fighting in our wake for the scraps that fell from our floating table.
Holding on east by southward for a few days more, a hazy streak appeared on our horizon, and my eyes rested on the first of the Malayan islandsa on the distant peaks of Sumatra. We anchored at Padang for a day, and, in sailing southward along its coast, I could not admire sufficiently the magnificence of that islanda its great mountain chain running parallel to the coast, and rising into smoking peaks, clad with forest to the very crater rims,a which later I found to be all that I had pictured it from the sea, and more.
On the morning of the second day, we entered the Sunda Straits, that narrow water-pass by the opening of which between Java and Sumatra, Nature has laid under grateful tribute all Cape-coming and -going mariners through the Java Sea to and from the Archipelago or Chinese ports. Dotted about in this narrow channel, were low picturesque islands and solitary cones of burnt-out craters, towering sheer up to a height of from two to three thousand feet, all clothed in vegetation. Prominent among the latter stood out the sharp cone of Krakatoa, whose name will scarcely be forgotten by our generation at least, and