As for the Malays, they are so very idle, that when trees fall over the river, and block up the way, they will not be at the trouble of cutting a way through for their boats,—but will sooner creep under or climb over the fallen trees.
The capital of Malacca is Malacca, and this city belongs to the English; but it is of little use to them, because the harbor is not good.
This city also belongs to the English, and it is of great use to them, because the harbor is one of the best in the world. Many ships come there to buy, and to sell, and amongst the rest, the Chinese junks. The city is built on a small island, very near the coast. There are many beautiful country houses perched on the hills, where English families live, and there are long flights of stone steps leading from their houses to the sea.
But many of the Malays have no home but a boat, hardly large enough to lie down in. There they gain a living by catching fish, and collecting shells, and coral, to exchange for sago, which is their food. These men are called “Ourang-lout,” which means “Man of the water.” Does not this name remind you of the apes called “Ourang-outang,” which means “Man of the woods?” There are Ourang-outangs in the forests of Malacca, and they are more like men, and are more easily tamed than any other ape. Yet still how different is the tamest ape from the wildest man; for the one has an immortal soul, and the other has none.
The Malay language is said to be the easiest in the world, even as the Chinese is the most difficult. The Malay language has no cases or genders, or conjugations, which puzzle little boys so much in their Latin Grammars. It is easy for missionaries to learn the Malay language. When they know it, they can talk to the Chinese in Malacca in this language.
I will tell you of a school that an English lady has opened at Singapore for poor Chinese girls.
The two elder girls were sisters, and were called Chun and Han. Both of them, when they heard about Jesus, believed in him, and loved him. Yet their characters were very different, Chun being of a joyful disposition, and Han of a mournful and timid temper. They had no father, and their mother was employed in the school to take care of the little children, and to teach them needle-work; but she was a heathen.
When Chun and Han had been three years in the school, their mother wanted them to leave, and to come with her to her home. The girls were grieved at the thought of leaving their Christian teacher, and of living in a heathen home; yet they felt it was their duty to do as their mother wished. But they were anxious to be baptized before they went, if they could obtain their mother’s consent. Their kind teacher, Miss Grant, thought it would be of no use to ask leave long before the time, lest the mother should carry her girls away, and lock them up. So she waited till the very evening fixed for the baptism. Miss Grant had been praying all day for help from God, and the two sisters had been praying together; and now the bell began to ring for evening service. Now the time was come when the mother must be asked.