A NATURALIST'S WANDERINGS
us, novel in cut and rig, decked with flowers at the prow, rowed out to sea by some ten or twelve dusky fishers, singing an intermittent song, timed to the rattle of their heavy oars in the rowlocks; a little further on, we glided past a fleet of gaily painted craft, Malay, Chinese, and Arab, lying at anchor under the canal wall, their occupants, in bright-coloured calicoes, lounging in unwonted attitudes about their decks.
Before we had moored by the side of the C ustom-house, it was quite dark, so that our landing was effected under some difficulty, amid the usual and necessary din and confusion, and amid a very Babel of foreign tongues, of which not a syllable was intelligible to me, save here and there a Portuguese word still recognisable, even after the changes of many centuriesa veritable fossils bedded in the language of a race, where now no recollection or knowledge of the peoples who left them exists.
By dint of the universal language of signs, I got myself and baggage at last transferred to a carriage, drawn by two small splendidly running ponies, of a famous breed from the island of Sumb.iwa. After a drive of between two and three miles, through what seemed an endless row of Chinese bazaars and houses, remarkable mostly, as seen in the broken lamplight, for their squalor and stench, before which their occupants at smoking and chatting, I at length emerged into a more genial atmosphere, and into canal and tree-margined streets, full of fine residences and hotels, very conspicuous by the blaze of light that lit up their pillared and marbled fronts.
Taking up my quarters at the Hotel der Nederlanden, I had to be content with an uncurtained shake-down on the floor of the room of one of my fellow passengers, as every bed in the hotel was occupied. Next morning, to every onea s surprise, I arose without a single mosquito bite, evidently mosquito-proof. To my unspeakable comfort and advantage, I remained absolutely so during my whole sojourn in the East, and was thus relieved of the necessity of burdening myself with furniture against these, or any other insect pests whatever.
When the chaotic confusion of my first impressions of Batavia had become reduced to order, I found that it consisted of an old and a new town. The old town lies near the strand ; is close, dusty, and stifling hot, standing scarcely anything