172 IN COURT AND KAMPONG
We had been delayed all day, by constantly going astray on the innumerable faint tracks, which, in this part of the country, begin nowhere in particular, and end nowhere at all. The jungle-dwelling tribes of Sernang, who alone inhabit these woods, guard their camps jealously, for, until lately, they were often raided by slave-hunting bands of Malays and Skai. To this end they do all that woodcraft can suggest to confuse the trails which lead to their camps, making a very maze of footpaths, which serve but as a faint guide to strangers in these forests.
The Smang are the survivors of a very ancient race of negrits, remnants of which are still to be found scattered over Eastern Asia, and may be supposed to be the first family of our human stock that ever possessed these glorious lands. In appearance they are like African negroes seen through the reverse end of a field-glass. They are sooty black in colour ; their hair is short and woolly, clinging to the scalp in little crisp curls ; their noses are flat, their lips protrude, and their features are those of the pure negroid type. They are sturdily built, and well set upon their legs, but they are in stature little better than dwarfs. They live by hunting, and have no permanent dwellings, camping in little family groups, wherever, for the moment, game is most plentiful, or least difficult to come by.
It was a fire from the camp of a band of these little people, which presently showed red in the darkness a few yards away from us, just when we were despairing of finding either a shelter for the night or aIt was a fire from the camp of a band of these little people, which presently showed red in the darkness a few yards away from us, just when we were despairing of finding either a shelter for the night or a