22 NOTES OF A JOURNEY ON
in Siam itself), smoking opium, theft, and malice seem to have no
attractions for them. I believe every one who has travelled with and
among them will say the same, and will ever keep their j memory stowed
away in a warm corner of the heart.
Eachawong was the official I saw most of—an upstanding, refined, and
gentlemanly looking man, with a touch of iron grey in his hair, a firm
step, a strong mouth, and high clear forehead. He gave me the story of
some recent trouble with Chow Sa (the Prince of Sa) without any of that
repetition, detail, or tinge of animosity, one expects from an
uneducated or inferior mind when speaking of an enemy.
Preparations were beginning for the cremation of the late " king " who was just dead, but we left before the ceremony began.
punishment of death, which was inflicted for opium-smoking,
elephant-killing, or theft, has been replaced during the last few years
by a milder form; but it is noteworthy that in two years only one man
has been put in the prison at Nan.
music is a great contrast to that of the Siamese. At a dinner to which
I was invited at M. Sa, we had, to an accompaniment of three bamboo
flutes with very sweet low tones, a kind of duet sung by two girls,
each taking a verse in turn. The rather nasal notes would soar up quite
independently of the flutes, and then suddenly return to the! keynote,
which was a lovely minor, and was sustained; then would come
a pause, with the delightful subdued refrain on the flutes again, ere
the other began. The subject was a war-song, on which they both
extemporized; but even my Siamese could not follow the words a all.
After a solo from one of the flutists, who, as usual, sang falsettoi
(which is especially affected by the Siamese too in love-songs), he and
one of the damsels lighted tapers, and though in no dress but their
ordinary open dark blue jackets of panung, they performed another kind
of duet, accompanied by waving of hands and arms, and a certain amount
of not ungraceful attitudinizing. It seemed to be a kind of sacred
affair, with a slow dignified air, and they quite lost themselvesj in
it, though some of my Siamese were making running comments in the usual
style of the vulgar all over the world.
far as music goes, it was far more expressive and peaceful than
anything I had heard in Siam, as the others owned. I had with me as
assistant-surveyor a very accomplished young Siamese, who is an
excellent specimen of the best that Siam produces; he is a capital