IN TEE COCOS-KEELING ISLANDS.
will live longer in the sorrowful remembrance of the inhabitants of the shores of the strait. The appalling catastrophe of August the 27th, 1883, would, however, sink into insignificance, if compared with that which, while this was still an undiscovered sea, must have withdrawn the foundations of the land over which the strait now flows.
On our right the Java coast lay in a series of beautiful amphitheatre slopes, laid out in coffee-gardens and rice-terraces ; on our left were the more distant Sumatra shores cut into large and beautiful bays between long promontories, on the easternmost of which stood out the high dome of Eaja-basa. Rounding St. Nicholas Point, we sailed eastward among the tree-capped Thousand Islands. The coast of Java, on our right, presented a singular appearance, for, for miles into the interior it seemed elevated above the level of the sea scarcely more than the height of the trees that covered it. Nothing could be seen save the sea fringe of vegetation in front of a green plain, behind which rose the hills of Bantam and the Blue Mountains, as the old mariners called the peaks of Buitenzorg.
Late in the afternoon of the 17th of November, the Celebes dropped her anchor in Batavia Roads, one of the greatest centres of
commerce in all these seas, amid a fleet flying the flags of all nations. I had reached my destination ; but, scan the shore as I might, I failed to detect anything like a town or even a village, only a low shore with a fringe of trees whose roots the surf was lazily lapping. As we approached the land in the steam tender, into which we were at length transferred, the shore opened out, and disclosed the mouth of a canal, leading to the town a long mile inland. A traveller, dropped down here by chance, might, from these canals, make a very good guess at the nationality of the dominant power in the island, for these placid water-roads are as dear to the heart of the Hollander as heather-hills to a Highlander.
On stepping off the mail, I said good-bye to western life and ways, and entered on others new and strange to me, exciting my curiosity, full of fascination, even bewildering, recalling the confused sensations of my first boyish visit to the capital. Even in the canal, the first aspects of life were intensely interesting. Here and there a fishing-boat passed