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Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, December 22, 1929, Image 99

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bull. Our clearing was so tiny that we felt
as if we were at the bottom of a well, dark
walls about us and pale-green sky overhead.
Eagerly we waited for the stars.
Below us, the little dogs, full of our suppers,
curled up into a cozy nest of fern and went
to sleep. The goat settled down philosophical
ly and the bull stood silent, meditating on his
wrongs.
VVT'HY, he seemed to ask, was he here in
this dark, lonely jungle, instead of in
his nice thatched house at home? We waited
for him to ask aloud; when he began pawing
and lowering his head we quivered hopefully.
But every instinct in him told him that this
was not the place to remonstrate.
The stars had not come, but the mosquitoes
were there, methodic, insistent, and we tried to
crush them softly and quietly so as not to make
any noise to betray our presence.
My knees had begun promptly to feel the
irregular pressure of the boughs beneath them
and I yearned to relax and settle back, but
there was always the deterring thought that
the very next moment might be the one when
the striped face would peer out of thickets and
the lithe, sinewy form steal near.
Darkness and nothingness. Hours of it, in
silence and mosquitoes. The night clouded.
Rain poured down in torrential outbursts. We
got our guns under our raincoats and kept
them dry while the floods washed over us.
It seemed to rain forever. I surmised that
tigers did not hunt in the rain and I thought
enviously of our elusive tiger curled up com
fortably in some dry retreat. I began to feel
genuinely murderous-minded toward him for
being the cause of all this discomfort of ours—
but for him I should never have been roosting
up a tree in a Malay jungle, drenched by rain
and stung by mosquitoes, my knees cut through
by sharp branches, my bones stiff with cramp.
The downpour ceased and we got our guns in
position again and tried cautiously to stretch
our aching limbs without making the mechan
rattle. Grimly we continued the vigil.
The stars were out now, sending a soft
radiance down into our tiny pocket of a
world. . . . The ants were out, too, crawl
ing up in joyous procession, and though I
slaughtered armies of them I was pitifully out
numbered. They came up on my side of the
platform, on the tree which formed one of its
supports, but from certain spasmodic move
ments on Herbert’s part I judged that he, too,
was not being neglected.
It seemed to me that the night would never
end. But I was determined to hold out. . . .
At last I felt that it must be over. Surely
morning must be about to dawn! The night
watch had been in vain—but at last it was
done.
Cautiously I edged my wrist watch out from
the cuff, where it had been hidden to keep its
phosphorescence from winking down a warning
©f our presence, and studied the dial.
It was half-past eight.
It did not seem possible that so much human
agony had all happened in two hours and a
half.
The glorious night was all ahead of me. . . .
For comfort I hugged the thought that a tiger
might come in. Dragglngly the hours passed.
If we could have stretched out in comfort we
would have delighted in the mystery and
strangeness of the night, for even as it was we
felt the somber spell.
Sometimes a tree rustled; sometimes a bush.
Often we heard things stirring, not far away
in the dark, a wild pig, perhaps, snuffling for
roots, or a little black bear or a weary deer.
There was a time when the feeling gained on
us that a tiger was near. We smelt that ex
citing, unmistakable animal smell. . . .
The bull began to breathe heavily and drew
back to the end of his tether, while the goat got
to his feet and stood motionless. . . . The
moment passed uneventfully.
r JT'HE lamp waned and died; so did, at last,
our hope. Came, as it were, the dawn,
and, at its breaking, we clambered stiffly down
the bamboo ladder almost as a file of natives
came streaming out from the jungle trail, full
of hope, for they thought that they had heard
shots in the night.
Back at the rest house we consumed some un
salted rice for breakfast and I had just had a
bath—one of the stand-up-throw-cold-water
over-yourself baths of the Indies—and Herbert
was preparing to take one, and we were looking
forward to a good long rest, when an excited
lot of Malays came streaming in to tell us that
there was a tiger asleep by a tree.
He was two hours away, they said. They
had seen him at dawn as they went into the
fields to work.
It did seem possible that they had glimpsed
a living tiger asleep under a tree, and it was
also possible that the tiger was still there.
They had left a man on watch, and, anyway,
there would be the tracks, the chance of a real
hunt. This looked like olcf times in Africa. We
shouldered our guns and set out hurriedly after
the guides.
They led us through rice fields, through light
forest and denser forest, then through more
rice fields and the clearings of a little jungle
settlement. It took considerably more than two
hours, even at the rate we were hurrying. Then
we crossed some lovely meadows.
Some men and boys were gathered here and
at our approach they pointed to a clump of
trees standing by themselves out from the encir
cling forest.
We looked with all our eyes; they pointed up
and we looked up and saw a rope of long black
tail dangling down from a high branch.
•’Harimau,” they breathed. “Harimau dahan.”
Tree tiger. What on earth might that be?
We knew now it was no striped tiger, but it
might be a panther, for there are panthers in
THE SUNDAY STAR, WASHINGTON. D. C, DECEMBER 22, 1029.
these jungles. The normal color is yellow but had no choice, for since the natives had taken
there are some black ones. this trouble it would never do to be indifferent.
We had no particular passion for shooting a They would not understand and their Interest in
black panther. I think ‘I was too fond of helping us to tigers would suffer a slump. So
Bagheera to enjoy molesting his tribe, but we we stole forward, picking our way through
Saddest Santas in the fVorld.
Continued from Fifth Page
fables have grown up around him—fables of a
lad from a good family In New York who went
to the dogs; fables of a lad with a family
who comes back every Christmas season to
his city, who makes this one gesture and
then goes back to the life of a bum. This,
however, is sheer conjecture.
jyjANHATTAN has but one recognized Santa
Claus; a Santa who works among the
down-and-outs throughout the year. His name
m I s l*doux, but he prefers the anonymity of
“Mr. Zero.” His now famous institution has
been titled “The Tub,” and lies between the ele
vated tracks of Third avenue and Second ave
nue, hub of the East Side. “The Tub” is haven
for all derelicts—dyed-in-the-wool bums and for
men who merely happeen to be jobless, or down
on their luck.
In "the Tub” meals are served the year round
for 5 cents each. And upstairs, where crowded
cots clutter the murky gloom of a huge (grace
which was once the ballroom of an old-time
mansion. Mr. Zero gives away overcoats, shirts,
socks, shoes, underwear, hats, sweaters, neckties
and all that comes into his hands.
Mr. Zero asks no questions, except where
age is concerned.
How a man became a bum does not interest
him. Nor does he expect to save the soul of a
bum or a workless unfortunate.
In his code, a congenial drunkard can be as
cold as a deserving victim of misfortune. A
blowsy wastrel can get just as hungry as a poor
but proud son of honest misfortune.
Ledoux, or Mr. Zero —since he prefers It—
looks like some combination of cherubic William
Jennings Bryan and an old-time ham actor.
His voice appears to wear a halo. When he is
working among the poverty-stricken it suggests
a dramatic benignity; it bestows a blessing
while giving a shirt.
J-J IS system of disposal is simple and prac
tical. It is based on the obvious hypoth
esis that the elderly need things worse than
tire young. So Mr. Zero scales his gifts of
clothing according to age. Men of any age
can eat downstairs for a nickel, but only those
50 or more in years can come upstairs for an
overcoat or a shirt. He appreciates the diffi
culties of a man past his middle fifties.
In giving his donations he starts with the
oldest man in any given group. Thus, for in
stance, one who is 75 or thereabouts gets the
first choice and the first consideration. The
next might be a man of 70 or 68, and the next
a man of 60. Under 50, he reasons, a man
w : ith food under his Belt should be able to earn
himself a shirt.
His clothing department is as well stocked
as that of a small store. A long bench is al
ways filled with applicants. He takes them
10 at a time and according to years. They
sit in the dingy half-light while an old-fash
ioned electric torch shivers in winds that creep
through cracks. All through the day he outfits
now this man and that; using shrewd discrimi
nation and uncanny perception in tripping up
frauds.
His clothing department—particularly the
overcoat, underwear and sweater department—
operates from October to Spring. Not only is
he a perennial Santa Claus, but he has a keen,
an intelligent sense of ironies, travesties and
satires. Perhaps the most original public dem
onstration to be seen in Manhattan each year
is “Zero’s Easter parade.'* When swelldom is
marching up and down Fifth avenue in its
finest raiment, Zero emerges from his dugout
with an elaborate collection of bums. He
dresses them in broken silk hats and grotesque
dress suits. He parades his underdogs before
the eyes of the rich and tries to walk into the
swellest churches with them.
And some of them are on the annual list of
Santa Claus Job seekers.
types who show up with great regularity
are extremely diverse. A couple of years
ago, at the Volunteers of America Santa Claus
employment bureau I met a young fellow who
was a veteran of the World War. He had been
badly wounded and Jobless for months. His
address turned out to be a room over on the
East Side worthy of a place in a Dickens tale.
There was no furniture in the room; a bat
tered cot in one corner and a stove which was
kept slightly warm by a sparse assortment of
fuel.
On the cot lay a young woman who had,
seemingly, been attractive not so many years
before—but now she was haggard from hunger
and worry. To her breast she hugged a wan
child, bom but a few months before and ob
viously succumbing to malnutrition.
Yet out in the street the husband was playing
Kris Kringle to “the poor.’* And he was happy,
because it meant that the wife and baby would
eat on Christmas day and there would be a toy
for the little one and a fire in the stove.
Incidentally, his story became known «m1 he
was given work shortly after.
That’s but one case. You’ll come upon many
such in the long lane of Santas who stand Jing
ling bells and urging the shoppers to drop their
dimes.
Os course, not all these St. Nicks of the Side
walks are men who are down on their luck,
temporarily or permanently. Some of them are
prosperous citizens who get a holiday thrill out
of playing Santa to the poor in this very real
fashion. But the majority, perhaps, have only
a vague notion of where their own Christmas
dinners are coming from.
the marshy clumps of the meadow, the flock of
Malays trailing us expectantly.
As we neared the trees we could see the bulge
of a dark body on the limb, half hidden by
leaves. It did not look big enough for a pan
ther, but whatever it was we had to shoot it, so
we both fired together. The beast dropped, dead
as a stone.
It was no panther. It was a queer, black,
furry beast with a long tail whose identity puz
zled us. Later we found it was a binturong, &
very rare animal, indeed, and the skin we
brought back we gave to the Field Museum for
study purposes.
The Malays were so jubilant that we thought
they wanted the flesh to eat, but no, their pleas
ure was mainly in the event, and was quite dis
proportionate to anything that we felt. They
made an absurd procession of triumph all the
way back to the village. Perversely we bore the
luckless creature a grudge for ruining our sleep ®
and giving Herbert an unwelcome job of skin
ning on our return.
j-JOWEVER, we found a little tin of peached
at a trader’s'shop and that sweetened us,
and we snatched a couple of hours of sleep be
fore we sallied forth in the afternoon for an
other night of jungle vigil. The natives assured
us that they had found fresh tiger tracks net
far from our little clearing.
We took a cow this time, but it gave us nd
more moos than our bull had bellows, and nd
tiger came in. The mosquitoes did but not the
rain. We were so tired that we dozed on ouf
knees, our guns in our hands.
There was one lovely moment when a deer
stood suddenly below us in the soft lamplight;
Wonderingiy the startled creature looked at the
light and at the unexpected cow. It was as
beautiful and innocent looking as the White
Unicom in the tapestries. Then it was gone.
As we plodded back through the jungle next
day we began to feel that the villagers had
poisoned every tiger in the neighborhood. We
were sure that we should never see a tiger. I
said so, passionately.
And then I saw one.
A Malay was beckoning me mysteriously aside.
As we stepped after him he stooped and with a
long stick lifted a covering from a cage upon the
ground. In the cage I saw the forlorn and
frightened little fury—a tiny tiger kitten that
was just a handful of striped fur, already stick
ing to its ribs with hunger and thirst. Its eyes
were wild with terror.
Triumphantly he poked it with a stick and
it went mad with rage and fear, spitting and
clawing at the bars. • • *
I offer no defense. I know that starving little
tiger kittens grow up into big, well fed tigers. I
know that helpless little furry babies outgrow
their helplessness. * • * This little thing did not
look as if it had much of a chance for its life
in the jungles, but any wild fate that overtook
it there was better than the starvation of its
captivity and the brutality of its tormentors.
I had to wait till the Malay was out of sight.
* * * Then one had to be careful about cutting
the sticks of the cage. * • * The only wild tiger
that I had ever seen in the Sumatran jungles
fled like a streak of light.
"When you are quite grown up,” I said se
verely, to cover my shame, “I will come back
and put you out of harm's way.”
We were through with Sumatra. Its tigers
apparently were not for u* We took a ship for
Indo-China, and there, in the heart of the jun
gle, we had our great adventure.
(Copyright, 1*39)
W?ather Effects Hogs,'
r J'HE hog appears to have no more sense than
many humans, when it comes to a ques
tion of coming in out of the rain, and as a
result the losses from pneumonia and swine in
fluenza are sometimes severe, as was the case
this Fall.
The common practice of letting pigs ran
wild and-giving them little or no protection,
under the impression that they don't mind the
cold, is decidedly adverse to a prosperous year
for the raiser. ,
The lack of hair makes the pig susceptible td>
cold and sudden changes in temperature, and,
particularly is this so when it is allowed to lie
on wet ground.
The symptoms of the two diseases are some
what similar to those of hog cholera, and have',
led to an erroneous belief many times that
cholera was responsible for deaths that might
have been prevented with a little shelter during
bad weather.
Farm Values Reduced,
'T'HE steady decline in farm values which 1» i*
gone on since the war inflation has*
reached the point where, considering the pur
chasing power of the dollar, rural reai estat<_*
is worth about 20 per oent less t!:.i before'
the war.
In spite of the steady drop L- values, the
number of farm foreclosures has shown a con
siderable decrease for the 12-month period end
ing March 15, 1929, from the preceding period.
The figures which are just now available indi
cate a foreclosure rate of about 19.4 for each
thousand farms, as come- i with 22 8 for the
period ending in 1928.
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