Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

vi

Ye are far, too far, my Brothers, gnarled brown faces that I

knowMen who dealt with me aforetime, friend with friend and

heart with heart, Our paths lie worlds asunder, since the Fates would have it so, For behold The Order reached me,"1 and to-day, old Friends,

we part. Yet ye will not quite forget me, O my Brothers over sea

Let me keep that fond illusion, it will help me on my wayAnd I pray you tell the little ones who gather round your knee

Of the days we saw together in the Land of the Malay.

And my thanks are yours, my Brothers, for a thousand acts of

grace, For the trust wherewith you trusted, for the love wherewith

you loved, For your honest, open greetings, outstretched hand and friendly

face, For the kindness that ye dealt me when through all your land

I roved. It was mine to toil and struggle, it was mine to war with wrong, It was mine to labour for you, aye to sorrow, hope, and

yearn ; But I'll shout it on the house-tops from Barbados to Hong

KongIf to you I rendered service, I from you had most to learn !

HUGH CLIFFORD,

? Sudah sampai hukum — "The Order hath come !”.

- a Malayan euphemism for Death, wherein there is a great bitterness.-H. C.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

FOREWORD.

THESE tales of the Outskirts, fragmentary garnerings of

“ The lore o men who ha' dealt with men

In the raw and the naked lands,”

I cannot suffer to go from me quite without one word wishing them God-speed, and perhaps one other of apology and explanation. These stories have been written through the sheer delight I have found in recording, no matter with how little of skill or art, the impressions of men and things which have been imprinted upon my memory during twenty years of life in the East; and now that they are about to quit me, seeking their own fortune in a world that may well have no room for them, it is to me as though, in parting with them, I was severing the last link that binds me to a life which I have loved, to a people and to a land which have become to me very dear. For I, who once was outcast in Asia, to-day am outcast from the East, and, behold, the East is claiming me as she never claimed me before! Twenty years—the years which bridge the gulf between boyhood and middle age-have wedded me to Malaya, and now, of a sudden, there has been pronounced against me the decree of a great divorce.

Those years have brought me things good and things ill, joys and sorrows, failures over-numerous and successes one or two: my union with the East has had, like nearly every union, its jars and its evil moments, its periods of depression, its passing accesses of aversion, of nausea, of satiety. But above and beyond and behind all this, how much, how more than much, it has held for me! Now at the last, when the bitter hour of separation has come, a full realisation of all that the East has meant for me, of all that the East has taught to me, of all that the East has given to me, of all that the East stands for in my heart and in my memory, is upon me with overpowering force; and I, the whilom exile, kneel humbly at her dear feet, -"grim Step-Mother of our kind," though some be found to name her,-thank her for her bounties, kiss her time-worn hand, and so depart in sadness.

And to-day these tales of the Outskirts go from me too, the last of their kind, or so I fancy, that my hand shall fashion: and with their going there is closed for me a long chapter of my life-a chapter through every rough line of which I fain would live again. Treat them kindly then, my brethren, ye Knights of the grey Goose-quill, judging them not as literature but as truth-as fragments whose only value is that they are, as it were, the aftermath of a rich harvest

« ForrigeFortsett »