188 IN COURT AND KAMPONG
First I produced a palm-leaf bag holding about four pounds of coarse Chinese rock salt, and bade the Smang gather round and partake. The whole contents of the bag were emptied out on to a leaf with minute care lest one precious grain should be lost, and then the naked aborigines gathered round and feasted. These jungle dwellers lack salt in their daily food, and look upon it as a luxury, much as a child regards the contents of a bon-bon box. With eager fingers they clutched the salt, and conveyed it to their mouths in handfuls. This coarse stuff would take the skin off the tongues of most human beings who attempted to eat it in this way, but I suppose that nature gives the Smang the power to take in abnormally large quantities of salt at one time, because his opportunities of eating it in small daily instalments are few and far between. In an incredibly short time the four pounds of salt had disappeared, and when the leaf had been divided up, and licked in solemn silence, the Chief of the family, an aged, scarred, and deeply wrinkled negrit, turned to me with a sigh and saida
c It is very sweet, this salt that thou hast given us. Hast thou tobacco also, that we may smoke and rest ? '
I produced some coarse Japanese tobacco which -I had brought with me for the purpose, and when cigarettes had been rolled, with green leaves for wrappers, we all squatted around the fire, for the night was chilly up here in the foothills, and the silence of sated appetite and rested limbs fell gently upon us.
The eyes of one who dwells in the untroddenThe eyes of one who dwells in the untrodden