National Geographic : 1920 Jan
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE A LITTLE GOSSIP NOW AND THEN IS RELISHED EVEN BY PRIMITIVE WOMEN: AT A KARO-BATAK MARKET coolie, new sarong, and month's wages unaccounted for. LURING THE JAVANESE COOLIE FROM THE CONTRACTOR Even when safely gathered on board ship and the coast of Java has been sunk, there remains still to be cleared the inter vening port of Singapore. There, in dis guise, wily touts for the Malayan coolie brokers smuggle themselves aboard, no matter how vigilant the ship's officers may be, for labor is everywhere in de mand. With much astuteness they pro ceed to poison the minds of the already frightened Sumatra-bound Javanese. "Sumatra? A country of tigers and ferocious savages who eat nothing but coolies; a cold land, where there is no sun, no rice; where laborers are unpaid. cruelly treated, and whence they rarely return !" So the tout whispers on, adding terror to their own premonitions, refuting all that the contractor had said, and in the end offering to aid in their immediate escape from the horrible fate in store, to the tempting security of fortune and hap piness in the Malay States. Strict watch is kept over the ship while in Singapore, but scarcely a trip is taken that a few of those under contract are not among the missing when the final count is made. For every one lost the first mate is personally fined, I think about fifty gulden; but if he brings a cer tain percentage safely to their destination he receives a liberal bonus. Consequently the final checking off is fraught with deep anxiety for all concerned. STRIKING COLOR EFFECTS IN WOMEN'S ADORNMENTS Single file, as I watched, the ship-load of coolies passed before me and down the gangway between two officers and a con tractor's agent, who checked them as they went-men, women, boys, and girls, with folded mats under their arms and their possessions tied up in long cloths slung around their necks and resting on their hips. Only those with babies were kept apart and counted last, lest one tiny head should be overlooked.