The Silken East ^
rafts and boats on their way to Maubin. But this life does not begin to move on the river till the last expected rise has taken place, and the bare sandbanks leave the channel more defined. Raft-owners profit also by the buoys of the Flotilla Company, which begin to appear by the first of November. At that time an officer of the company who spends each summer in
England returns to his work on the river, and, day by day and foot by foot, marks out with a hundred thousand buoys the navigable channel. The company is in fact supreme on the Irrawaddy. Its steamers bear its trade, and every hamlet and town along the rivers course for nine hundred miles is conscious of its presence. But a hundred years ago it would have done more ; it would have won for itself the sovereign power in Burma.