In Maulmain Fever Ward by
Flood-time on Salwin River, Burma! Pouk trees
and stic-lac in flower. By day the rush, the roar of
water fretting at the knees of Kalgai Gorge, above which
the Thoungyeen enters the main current. And the music
of the elephants’ bells as they come along the track bound
down or mayhap up to work in the teak forests. By
night the languorous scent of the serai vines luring the
myriad moths, the wail of the gibbons, the rustle of the
bamboos chafing their feathery leaves together in the
winds that just falter between rest and motion.
At Kalgai the traders pause in going up or down, over
or across. From everywhere they come, and coming,
stay to chaffer, to chat, cheat, scheme, love—aye and
even slay! Why not? It’s life—raw life!
Take away the medicine. Give me rice curry and
chicken and fish cooked with green bamboo tips and
sourish-sweet pilou of river mussels. And then a whiff
of bhang or black Malay tobacco that the gypsies of the
sea smuggle in....
My name? Paul Brandon will do. My father was a
Stepney coster. Mother? Oh, a half-caste Mandalay
woman. Yes, they were married at the mission. He
took her home. I was born in London. But I ran away;
Don’t mind if I babble, ma’am. And forgive me if I
pull at the sheets. Or if the sight of a white woman, old,
patient, trying to be kind to me, makes me shy. When my
head clears, I’m white; when the fever mist comes over
my brain, I see things through my brown mother’s eyes.
Thanks for fixing the ice pack on my head. No, that
mark on my forehead is not from an old bruise. A
Karen-Laos woman put it there with her tattoo needles.
It has a meaning. It is the Third Eye of Siva.
Thanks for pulling-to the shade. Those bamboo things
the yellow and brown folk use are not shades. They
are full of holes where the weaving is that holds them
together. Why, you can see through them—see the most
Oh, yes, the mark on my forehead. A girl put it
there with her needles. Now that you touch it, it is sore.
Well, so would your head be sore if a giant python had
smashed his wedge-shaped head in death stroke against
your wrinkled brow, executing the Curse of Siva.
How long have I been in Maulmain?... A week?
Well, I won’t be here another. But it’s queer how a
man will drift—to his own people.
Thanks for the little morphine pills. Yes, I know what
they are. Give me a dozen, and they may take hold. A
man who has smoked bhang, black Malay tobacco and
opium, and who has drunk bino isn’t going to be hurt
by sugar pills. They only wake me up, steady me.
Why didn’t I know Pra Oom Bwaht was a liar?...
Karen town on Thoungyeen River! Temple bells
chiming or booming through the mystic, potent dusk;
mynah-birds scolding in the thy-tsi trees. Frogs croaking
under the banyans’ knees in the mud. Women coming
to worship in the temples—women with songs on
their full red lips and burdens on their heads—and
mighty little else on them. And the fat, lazy priests and
the monks going about, begging bowls in hand, with
their cheelahs to lead them as they beg their evening
Thanks for the lime juice, ma’am. Let me talk. It
To Karen town on Thoungyeen River—Karen town
with its Temple of Siva—I came long before the rains.
This year? Mayhap. Last? What do the dead years
To Karen town I brought wire rods for anklet-making,
cloths, mirrors, sweetmeats—an elephant’s load. Once
there, I let my elephant driver go.
Three days of good trade I had, and my goods were
about gone, turned into money and antique carved silver
and gold work. At the close of the third day, as I sat in
front of the zana, smoking, smoking, smoking, listening
to the buzz of the women and children, Pra Oom Bwaht
He was tall for a Karen man of the hills, all of five foot
two. The Karen plainsmen are taller. He sat a space
beside me in silence—sure mark of a man of degree
among such chatterers.
“Have you seen the temples of Karen?” he asked
Lazily I looked him over. He was sturdy—a brave
man, I thought. He had a cunning eye, a twisty mouth,
and in his forehead’s middle a black mark showing harsh
against his yellow skin.
“What’s that?” I asked him, touching the mark.
He winced when I did it.
“Dread Bhairava,” he said, using the Brahman word
for Siva, Queen of the Nagas. He was a snake-worshiper,
then. Mighty little of these people or their talk
or dialects I don’t know.
“Come with me, white trader?” he asked me. “I am
Pra Oom Bwaht.”
Idly I went. So, after visiting the other temples, we
came to the Temple of Siva, perched on its rocks, with
the river running near and its little grounds well kept.
It was the hour of evening worship. The worshipers,
mostly women, were coming in with votive offerings.
But among them all there was a Laos girl, shapely as
a roe deer, graceful, brown, with flashing black eyes and
shining black hair neatly coiled on top of her pretty head,
and with full red lips. As she passed, Oom Bwaht just
nudged me—pointed. She turned off at a fork of the
I glanced at Pra Oom Bwaht. His twisty mouth was
wreathed in a smile.
“She lives at the end of that little path,” he tempted.
“She is Nagy N’Yang.”
He nodded again and went away. I turned down the
side path after the Laos girl....
There was a full moon that night. About the middle
of the night we came up the path to the temple again,
the Laos girl and I.
“Come,” she had said to me when I had asked her for
my heart’s desire, “come to the temple, and I can prove
it is folly.”
So we came. The temple door was open. The priests
were gone—no one has to watch a Naga temple at night.
The dread of Siva is enough to protect it.
A rift in the temple roof let in a shaft of white moonlight.
It struck upon the image of Siva. The image was
seated on a white ox, carved of some white stone. A
sash around the image was made up of human heads; it
had six arms, each covered with carved snakes that were
so lifelike they seemed to writhe in the wavering light.
In the middle of the god’s forehead was the mark of the
third eye—the scar of Siva.
We went slowly down toward the image. Before it
was a huge chest. Nagy N’Yang motioned me to sit on
it. She sat beside me. Again I pleaded with her for
my heart’s desire.
She pushed me away.
“You are afraid to be near me,” I mocked.
“Hush,” she pleaded. “I am afraid—of yielding to
I moved to clasp her, my heart leaping at her confession.
She smote her little hands sharply together. I
heard a shuffling of softly shod feet in the passage
behind the image.
Wat Na Yang, chief priest of the temple, stood before
us with his yellow robes, his yellow skin, his hands calmly
folded across his paunch. “What seek ye, children?”
“The way of love,” I laughed. I plunged my hand into
my robe and felt the gold against my middle.
In the great chest on which we sat something awoke
to life. I heard a stir, a rustle, a noise as of straining.
“Nagy speaks,” the priest warned.
I felt the Laos girl shudder by my side.
“What is it?” I asked. I stood up. A creeping
horror came over me.
Nagy N’Yang sprang up as I did and flung back the
lid of the great chest with a strength I had not expected.
Out over her shoulder shot a long coil, then another.
When she stood erect in the moon-glow, a great rock
python was wrapped about her matchless form. The
mark of Siva on her forehead gleamed against her ivory
brow like an evil blotch, yet it did not take from her
beauty, her alluring grace; nor did the immense bulk of
the python bear her down.
“The great serpent knows his own,” whispered the
yellow priest. He pointed with his fat forefinger. I saw
the red tongue of the python play over the ivory bosom
of the girl.
Yet I did not shudder. It seemed fitting. They were
so in harmony with their surroundings.
The eyes of the python blazed in the moon-glow
like rubies of the pigeon-blood hue, then like garnets,
then like glow-worms; then they sank to a lower range
of colors and finally to rest. He was asleep under
her caresses. She patted his wedge-shaped head, soothing
him. Ah, that it had been my head she thus
Suddenly Nagy N’Yang seized the great serpent just
back of the head, uncoiled it from her with a free, quick
succession of movements and cast it into the great chest
again. Then, with a curious indrawing of the breath,
as if relieved from a nerve strain, she sat down on the
“Well have I seen,” I said to her. “But little do I
“I may not wed,” she said. “I am Siva’s.”
“I can kill the snake—”
The thing in the chest stirred its coils uneasily.
“Be silent!” commanded the fat priest. “Would you
slay little N’Yang?”
I shuddered. A great bat came in through the rift that
let in the moon-glow. In the trees over the temple a
gibbon wailed in his sleep like a sick child—“Hoop-oi-oi-oi”!
Wat Na Yang extended his arm before him in a gesture
“Go!” he commanded. Then he placed a heavy hand
on my shoulder.
Nagy N’Yang stood up, bowed her head and went
down the path the moonbeams made, went into the
shadow near the door, and out.
The fat priest sat down on the chest beside me. The
mottled terror in the chest was still again.
“She was wed,” the priest began, “but on her wedding-day
we claimed her. Her husband cannot claim her. But
if some one unwittingly kills the great python, she will
be free. It must be some one not a friend of the husband.
No one will kill the python here. She is temple-bound
The bulk inside thrilled to life again. I heard the
scales rustling as the great coils rose and fell.
“Go, you!” he ordered. “The goddess likes you not.
Even if you take the girl, I can call her back or kill her
by touching her flesh with a single scale from the Naga
in the chest.”
He walked with me to the door. At the portal we
stood for a space, silent.
The tiled entrance was flooded with moonlight. In the
middle of it a cobra lay, stretched out, seemingly asleep—a
small cobra, deadly none the less.
“You see,” the gross priest said, pointing to the
deadly serpent there. “Nagy’s spirit watches you here,
too. But the girl she did not harm.”
Filled with some spirit of Western bravado I could not
stifle, I stepped close to the cobra and stamped on its
“That for all scaly serpents!” I jeered at him. I
stood on the cobra’s head while it lashed out its life.
The fat yellow priest watched me, and I could see hatred
and horror struggle for mastery on his face.
Coming close to me he began to talk in long, rolling
sentences, of which I here and there caught a word.
But I caught the sense of what he was saying.
Oh, yes—the fat priest. It was there, in front of the
temple, that he put on me, in Sanskrit, the Curse of Siva,
“With gurgling drops of blood, that plenteous stream
From throats quickly cut by us—”
I laughed at him, threw a yellow coin at his face, kicked
the dead cobra into the door of the temple—and went
down the path toward the Laos girl’s hut.
At the hut door she sat, silent, wonderful.
“Come!” I commanded.
“Where?” she asked.
“To Kalgai town by Salwin River,” I answered. I
took her in my arms.
Yes, I took her! Why not? She was mine, wasn’t
she? Yes, I took her! Not down the Thoungyeen River
or the road along it. Why? We feared pursuit. Five
miles below Karen a little hill stream comes to the
Thoungyeen River. I never heard its name. We went
up that to its springs and then along to the Hlineboay
We traveled slowly, afoot, on cattle-back, on elephant-back—as
the hill-folk could take us, or as we cared
to go. Nagy N’Yang at first was moody, but as we
left her own village far behind and got among the
greater hills, she was gayer and gayer. I think when
we came to Shoaygoon Plains she was happy. I was.
It was in Shoaygoon zana that I let her tattoo my
forehead with the mark of Siva, to please her and
quiet her superstitious fears. It was wrong, yes, for all-whites;
but for me, with a brown mother? Mayhap
And so we came to Kalgai in Kalgai Gorge, and the
rains were not yet come.
We were early. The traders’ huts were not filled.
Only a few were taken. A Eurasian here, a Russian
there, a Tibetan there, and yonder a Chinese.
So I had my choice of the best places and picked the
best house in the gorge—on the rock spit that juts into
the gorge’s biggest bend over the whirlpool.
The house we took was of teak beams and bamboo.
For a few gold coins I had its use, entire, with its mats,
There was a little shilly-shallying of trade, which I
did not get into. Traders came up and down and across.
I didn’t care for traffic just then.
Nagy N’Yang was happy, she told me. I believed
it. She went about her little household tasks neatly.
“After the big rains,” I told her, “we two take boat
for Maulmain and beyond.” I was due for a trip up past
Rangoon for temple brasses and carved ivory. The air
was heavy with the promise of the first of the rains.
“Where you go, I go,” she laughed, stuffing my mouth
with rice and fish.
She cuddled closer to me on the eating mat we had
A shadow fell across the open doorway. She screamed.
It was Pra Oom Bwaht, who smiled down on us with
his twisty smile.
“Welcome,” I said.
He came in boldly and sat down.
“You went quickly from Karen,” he said simply.
I could feel my Laos girl wince as she leaned against
me. I clutched the dagger inside my robe.
Pra Oom Bwaht smiled his twisty smile.
“How come you here?” I demanded.
“Why should I not?” he asked. “Especially to see
my sister—” He pointed to Nagy N’Yang.
She sighed and laughed a little nervous laugh.
“I did not know,” I said, “that she was your sister.
You are welcome to our poor house.”
Pra Oom Bwaht smiled again, got up and stalked out.
As he went, the first patter of the rains came, beating up
the dust in the space before the door for a few seconds,
then laying it all in a puddle of mud again as a great
dash of fury came into the storm. But it was only the
first baby rain, not enough to make Kalgai whirlpool talk
I turned to Nagy. She was staring out into the
“I didn’t know he was your brother,” I said to her.
“All Laos are brother and sister,” she replied.
Well, I’ve found it best to keep out of native feuds
and family jangles. “Some old village quarrel back of
it,” I thought.
All night it rained, and in the morning the river was
talking to the cliffs in a louder voice. And the water was
up and coming. Bits of drift were floating.
Among the traders I found Pra Oom Bwaht settled in
a little hut off by himself. He had scant store of Karen
cloths, Laos baskets, some hammered brass. He was
sitting on a big box, and it was covered with a mat woven
of tree-cotton fiber. He arose to meet me and came to
“Let us chat here,” he said. “I like the sun better
than the shade.”
It was queer to deny me a seat beside him, I thought;
but I let it pass. I was not paying much attention to
So we sat in the doorway and watched the rain and
heard the river talking to Kalgai Gorge. Trade was
slack and would be until the greater rains came bearing
boats and rafts from above and over and beyond, from
up the river and the little rivers coming into it.
I could make nothing of Pra Oom Bwaht, I say. I left
him and went out to chaffer a bit.
“Who knows the Karen fool?” Ali Beg, just down
from Szechuan after trading rifles to Chinese Mohammedans
for opium, demanded of me from the door of
his own place.
“Why?” I asked.
“He trades like a fool, letting a rupee’s worth go for
“Let him,” I laughed, “so long as he keeps away from
“Why do you ask that?”
“Come in and drink of tea with me,” he invited.
So I went in and we sat eye to eye, face to face, across
his little teakwood table, each squatting on his heels, and
drank tea and talked of many things.
“Now that we have said all the useless things, tell me
what is at the bottom of thy heart,” Ali demanded. Up
there the important things are kept for the dessert of the
He was an old friend, with his coal-black eyes, great
hairy arms and rippling black beard.
“Thus it was, heart of my soul,” I said, laying hold of
a lock of his beard up under his green turban, in token
of entire truth-telling. “Thus it was”—and I tugged
at the lock of beard. So I told him the tale, from the
time of my going to Karen until the time of my coming
to Kalgai town and the arrival of Pra Oom Bwaht.
He sat a long time in silence.
Then he reached into his robe and drew out a fine
dagger of Sikh smithy work, hammered, figured on the
blade, keen, heavy of hilt; in the tip of the handle a ball
of polished steel, hollow and filled with mercury. It was
a throwing knife.
“Take this,” Ali urged. “I taught thee how to cast
it at a foe years ago when we first went up the great
river together. I go from here to-night by boats toward
Maulmain. It will fall out with thee as it will fall out.”
I took the dagger because it was Ali’s gift, not because
I was afraid. Why should I fear anything that walked
on two legs or four? Even though it wore a tail or horns?
At nightfall I went back to my house on the rock spit.
The stream was roaring now—like a baby lion.
Nagy N’Yang was sitting in the open doorway as I
came up the path. I saw she had her chin in her hand
and was thinking deeply.
“I saw him,” I made answer to the question in her eyes.
“Did he receive you well?”
“Except that he did not have me to sit beside him on
his big trader’s box in his hut, but took me to the doorway
to talk. It was not friendly.”
“Aha!” Just like that—soft, thoughtful.
“But what do I care for him, with his Karen cloths or
hammered brass?” I chattered at her. “Come to me,
Sweet One of a Thousand Delights.”
So the days and the evenings and nights went by, and
the greater rains followed the lesser. The river crept
up and up and up, roaring now to the cliffs, like old
Then came a day when on going home at eve I stooped
at the river’s brim near the house we had on the rock
spit, and felt of the water. It was chilled. “The flood
is full,” I thought. I had felt the snow-chill from the
Tibetan Himalayas in hoary Salwin’s yellow flood.
When that comes, the utmost sources of the world have
been tapped for flood water.
“The river will begin to fall to-morrow,” I told Nagy
N’Yang when I came into the place. “We will go soon
after, when the big trading is over.”
She smiled at me. Then she patted with her soft hand
the place where she had tattooed on my brow the mark of
the third eye of Siva. It was healed.
“I care not where we go, or if we go or stay, so long
as you are with me,” she whispered, close against my
After the evening meal we sat in the doorway and
heard the river talking. Often the big whirlpool sighed
“It will almost cover our rock spit,” I said. I knew by
the lift of it by day and the noise of it by night that the
flood was a mighty one and would spend its chief force
She nodded and nestled closer to me.
Out of the shade before us a greater shade silently
“I greet you, my sister and brother,” Pra Oom Bwaht
said, standing before us.
Nagy N’Yang shivered against my side. I felt the
dagger under my robe.
A single beam from our brazier inside struck across
his twisty face. He stretched out his hand toward Nagy
“A gift for my sister,” he said.
She half reached her hand out, took it back, reached
again and took it back; then, as if impelled by a force
too strong to resist, reached again. Into her palm
dropped something that shone for a tiny space in the
yellow gleam of the brazier’s ray. She shut her hand—caught
it to her breast. I thought it was a tiny golden
“Come,” said Pra Oom Bwaht. “Let us walk apart
for a moment. I have family matters to talk over. Your
husband will permit.”
I wanted her to protest, but she did not. She got up
calmly and went with him out onto the rock spit. I was
between them and the mainland. They could not go away
by river. No harm would come to her, it seemed.
“Some tribal custom to be attended to,” I thought. It
is best not to be too curious about such matters up among
the hills of Burma and Siam, ma’am. If you are, your
wife suffers, not you.
For a long time I could hear them talking out there
in the dark, with the river talking in between whiles.
Once I heard a sound like a great sigh or sobbing moan.
“The whirlpool at the river’s bed,” I thought, “taking in
a great tree or raft.”
Soon after that the back mat of the house lifted, and
I thought they had come in by that way. I sat, peering
into the gloom inside, ready to greet them, when something
crashed on to the back of my head and I forgot for
I came back to memory in a daze and feeling much
pain in my head. The brazier flared beside me. Bending
over me was Pra Oom Bwaht, with a knife in his hand.
“Son of a pig!” he said.
“Where is Nagy N’Yang?” I asked.
He smiled at me—his cursed twisty smile.
“On the river’s brink she waits, bound to a great teak
log lodged at the end of the spit,” he cried hoarsely.
“When the flood comes to its full, she will float away—”
I spat full into his face. I thought it would make him
He wiped the spittle from his chops calmly. When an
Oriental takes an insult calmly, beware! There is more
“She was my wife,” he said, as if that explained everything.
“Was or is, it makes no difference to me,” I stormed.
“She is mine now.”
“She is Siva’s,” he jeered. “Think you that as she
swirls down into the whirlpool at the river’s bend the
great river python, mother of all the pythons, will not
take her? Placed I the yellow scale of Nagy in her hand
I shuddered. The legend of the great river python
at Kalgai Gorge had been told to me oft. It slept in the
great pool where the whirlpool formed in flood-time and
only came out for prey when the depths were stirred by
a monstrous flood such as this one, the natives said.
“Why did you tell me she was your sister?” I demanded.
“We made it up, she and I. She was wedded, as the
priest told you, but to me. I was listening in the bamboos
when you planned your trip here from Karen that night
after the priest cursed you from the door of Siva’s
temple. I heard him curse you and saw you turn down
the path to our hut. If you had slain the python in the
temple, without me helping, she would have been freed.
We planned that you should make love, a little. Enough
so you would kill the great snake and win her from it;
I to come after and take her. But you won her whole
heart, curse you—”
Up went his hand to slay. While he had raved and
chattered at me, my head had been clearing. As he
stiffened for the death stroke, I reached for the down-coming
hand and caught his wrist—the wrist whose
sinewy muscles were driving the knife home. I held his
arm back. He clutched for my throat with his other
hand. We strove, and I rolled him and came on top. Up
I surged, dragging him with me. With one awful thrust
I sent him crashing against the wall.
He had barely come to rest against the teak beams
before his hand went up and I dodged—just as his knife
whizzed past my ear. Plucking the great dagger of Ali
Beg from my bosom, I cast it, in the manner of the
Inner Mongolian Mohammedans. The great blade
plunged forward. I had pinned him to the wall as a
butterfly collector pins a specimen to a card in his collecting
I stepped forward to get my dagger. Pra Oom Bwaht,
his throat full of blood, his heart seared with black hatred,
glared at me.
“The Curse of Siva remain on you and yours....”
So he died.
Plucking my dagger from him, I kicked over the glowing
brazier and raced for the rock spit’s end as he crashed
down—mere battered clay.
As I came to it, the last of the rain for the night
whipped my face, reviving me. The moon peeped forth.
There was no teak log there!
Another rift in the clouds made plain my error. The
flood was over all former flood-marks. The teak log,
as the moon’s second peep showed, was on the point of
rocks, but they were now in the stream, many paces from
the present shore-line. The log, caught on the jagged
stones, hung and swayed. It was just on the point of
going out. I could see a dark mass, midway of the log.
“It is Nagy N’Yang,” I thought. The hut was blazing
now from the brazier’s scattered coals, giving me plenty
I glanced about the rock spit. A few paces to the right
something black showed in the gloom. I went to it
quickly, hoping to find a boat. It was a great chest.
Feeling for the key or handle, I clutched a catch. I
turned it, threw up the lid, just as the moon came forth.
Out of the depths of the box reared a great python,
hissing horribly. I recoiled in terror. The box, as I
saw in the moon-glow, was the snake box of Karen temple,
the one in which Nagy N’Yang’s serpent had been
Pra Oom Bwaht had had it carried to Kalgai Gorge
and also to our rock spit that night to suit some of his
own black schemes of vengeance. His bearers had
carried the box unwittingly. While I trembled, the great
snake glided to the river’s brink and disappeared. I now
had the big chest and thought to use it as a rough boat
to rescue my love.
Then I turned to view the teak log again. I tugged
at the chest. It was too heavy for me. Another fitful
rift of moonlight came, and I saw the giant teak log
sway. Without waiting for more ill fortune, I plunged
into the river and swam through the swirling eddies for
I just made it. But at the touch of my numbed finger
on its root ends, it started. The mere touch was enough
to set it adrift. I clutched, caught a root fiber, held,
edged along the rootlet till I had a better hold, drew
myself up on to the root end of the huge log—and then
heard the sobbing moan of Kalgai whirlpool.
Already we were at the pool’s edge. The log began
to whirl and sway. I made a prayer for my Laos girl,
that she might be unconscious during the plunge below.
If she were, she would live, as she would not be breathing.
As for me, I felt I could hold my breath the two
minutes necessary. I often had seen the logs go down
the suck-hole and come up. The average time was two
minutes for that. What happened to them under the
pool I had no means of knowing. I hoped to be able to
cling to the log. The girl was bound fast.... The log
up-ended and went down!
We swirled through great depths, and often I felt us
hit against rocks and other logs in the lower silences.
At the pit’s bottom there seemed no sound, but on the
way down and up there was a great roaring. It seemed
that my lungs would burst. But I kept my breath, having,
as you see, great lung space. We began to rise, and
as I felt it, something slowed us down. I felt weak and
was about to drop off when something bound me to the
great log, pressing me tightly against the mass of roots.
So we shot into the moonlight.
I was wrapped in the folds of the mighty python, who
had thrown a coil about the tree-trunk in the lowest
depths of the pool! That immense weight it was that
had kept us from emerging sooner. We had come up
below the maelstrom upon emerging.
My right arm was free. I reached my belt with it and
found my dagger there. In the moonlight, over the coils
of the monster, I could see the ivory-white face of my
Laos girl as she lay out on the huge log like a crushed
lily. I could not tell if she still lived or had died.
The motion of reaching for my dagger aroused the
python. It thrust its head back toward my face, questing
with its tongue, that queer organ with which it sees in
the dark. I felt the darting, forked terror on my dripping
features. The python threw back its coil a bit and thrust
at my forehead with its wedge-shaped head, using the
python’s death stroke. I had still sense enough to draw
my head to one side, but not before the hornlike, rounded
head-front had dazed me with a glancing blow on the
brow, where the mark of Siva had been tattooed by
Again I saw the beast draw back its head for a surer
stroke. As it struck, I held the dagger true in front of its
oncoming head. The force of the blow, not my strength,
caused the blade of the dagger to sink into the immense,
hard, tense neck-muscles, through and through. The
snake, furious with pain, stricken to death, in one awful
convulsive struggle cast itself into the raging Salwin,
taking the dagger of Ali Beg with it. Why it did not
take me down in its coils, I know not....
Yes, I am sweating now. I feel better. My head is
I wish Nagy N’Yang were here to lay her cool, ivory-white
hand on my forehead where the python’s wedge-shaped
head crashed against mine—on the black mark
But my fever is breaking.
Yes, I feel easier, much easier....
Yes, that is all of my story....
What? Ali Beg found us together on a giant teak log
at the river’s bend at Maung Haut, where he had stopped
to trade? And, tightly clasped in Nagy’s hand was something
strange? Show it me!
It is the belly scale of a great river python.
Burn it! Hold the night taper flame to it! Ah, that
ends the fat priest’s evil spell!
Where is Ali Beg? Here! And Nagy? Here, too!!
Wheel our cots together, ma’am!
Only let me clasp her hand again. Thanks; it is warm;
she is alive!
No; we won’t go up-country again. Why? Because
when our first child comes, I want it born outside—out
from under the shadow of the dread Curse of Siva!