HIS HEART'S DESIRE' 185
The White Man leaped down into the boat, and, aided by the girl, he lifted the man on board. Then, painfully and very slowly, the latter crept aft, going on all fours like some unclean animal, until he had reached the shelter in the stern. The girl and the White Man followed, and they all three squatted down on the creaking bamboo decking. The man sat, all of a heap, moaning at short intervals, as Malays moan when the fever holds them. The girl sat unconcernedly preparing a quid of betel-nut from its four ingredients, and the White Man inhaled his cigarette and waited for them to speak. He was trying to get the hang of the business, and to guess what had caused two people, whom he did not know, to seek an interview with him in this weird place, at such an untimely hour.
The girl, the moonlight told him, was pretty. She had a small, perfectly shaped head, a wide smooth forehead, neat, glossy hair, bright, laughing eyes, with eyebrows arched and well-defined, c like the artificial spur of a fighting cock,' and the pretty little hands and feet which are so common among all well-born Malay women. The man was hideous. His shrunken and twitching face with its taut skin, and his utterly broken, degraded, and decrepit appearance were indescribably horrible, and the flickering of the moonlight, through the torn mat overhead, only added to the grotesqueness of his figure.
At length the girl looked up at the White Man, and spoke :
c The Tan knows Awang Itam ? ' she asked. Yes, the White Man knew him well, but had not seen him for some months.c The TA an knows Awang Itam ? ' she asked. Yes, the White Man knew him well, but had not seen him for some months.