The HILL Dyaks do not live in houses quite so large. Yet several families inhabit the same house. In the midst of their villages, there is always one house where the boys sleep. In this house all the HEADS of the village are kept. The house is round, and built on posts, and the entrance is underneath through the floor. As this is the best house in the village, travellers are always brought to this house to sleep. Think how dreadful it must be, when you wake in the night to see thirty or forty horrible heads, dangling from the ceiling! The wind, too, which comes in through little doors in the roof, blows the heads about; so that they knock against each other, and seem almost as if they were still alive. This is the HEAD-HOUSE.
These Hill Dyaks do not often get a new head; but when they do, they come to the Head-House at night, and sing to the new head, while they beat upon their loud gongs. What do they say to the new head?
“Your head, and your spirit, are now ours. Persuade your countrymen to be slain by us. Let them wander in the fields, that we may bring the heads of your brethren, and hang them up with your heads.”
How much Satan must delight in these prayers. They are prayers just suited to that great MURDERER and DESTROYER!
The Malays are enemies to all the Dyaks; and they have burnt many of their houses, cut down their fruit trees, and taken their children captives. The Dyaks complain bitterly of their sufferings. Some of them say, “We do not live like men, but like monkeys; we are hunted from place to place; we have no houses; and when we light a fire, we fear lest the smoke should make our enemies know where we are.”
They say they live like monkeys. But why do they behave like tigers?
An English gentleman, named Sir James Brooke, has settled in Borneo, and has become a chief of a large tract of land. His house is near the river Sarawak. He has persuaded the Sultan of Borneo, to give the English a VERY LITTLE island called the Isle of Labuan. It is a desert island. Of what use can this small island be to England? English soldiers may live there, and try to prevent pirates infesting the seas. If it were not for the pirates, Borneo would be able to send many treasures to foreign countries. It is but a little way from Borneo to Singapore, and there are many English merchants at Singapore, ready to buy the precious things of Borneo. Gold is found in Borneo, mixed with the earth. But I don’t know who would dig it up, if it were not for the industrious Chinese, who come over in great numbers to get money in this island. Diamonds are found there, and a valuable metal called antimony.
The sago-tree, the pepper plant, and the sugar-cane, and the cocoa-nut tree are abundant.
The greatest curiosity that Borneo possesses are the eatable nests. These white and transparent nests are found in the caves by the sea-shore, and they are the work of a little swallow. The Chinese give a high price for these nests, that they may make soup for their feasts.