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straight line, and more than once we deviated into a rightangle from our proper direction in order to avoid thorny jungle that was said to be in front of us. At about one o'clock we came to a high rock, as they had promised, on the top of which good rain-water is always retained in a hollow. There we cooked and ate some food, after which we resumed our tramp. In the middle of the forest, as we were proceeding along a deer-track, one of the men drew my attention to a half-broken twig hanging at the side of the path. "I broke that two years ago," he said; he was then proceeding at a right-angle from the line we were taking.
When I asked him if he never lost his way in such thick forest, full of undergrowth, he at first could not understand my meaning. After I had explained it-feeling while doing so that I was making an interesting exhibition of my ignorance— he laughed consumedly, and thought it a capital joke. “How can one lose it?" he said. He had never heard of such a thing before; to him it appeared to be quite impossible,1 apparently as much so as getting lost in an open field would be to us. 'When we look at the sun we always know which way to go," he remarked. The men justified my confidence in their powers by emerging, just before dusk, at the very spot where I wished to arrive, many miles from the homes of any of the party. Those who had acted as guides lived some twelve miles or more away, by the nearest footpath; and the house of the man who lived nearest was five miles from the point where we left the forest. I have always thought it a very clever feat.
There can be no doubt that something more than the mere sight of the sun is necessary when one is in the midst of such thick leafy jungle as that of Ceylon. Accompanied by two Kandian trackers, I once followed the tracks of a 'Rogueelephant' that I had alarmed, for more than half a day, in thick forest, ending, nearly at dusk, seven miles from my quarters by the shortest path; and nothing would convince
1 A hunter near Benin, in West Africa, stated that it was quite impossible for him to be really lost in the forest.' (Roth, Great Benin, P. 144.)
me that we were not returning in a diametrically wrong direction out of the jungle, until we got into a path which I recognised. I was then no longer inexperienced; I had lived for several years in jungle stations, and had been accustomed to jungle shooting and elephant tracking. The men who were with me could not possibly be acquainted with the part of the forest where we ended, as it was eight or ten miles from their village, and was totally uninhabited; yet they understood their position perfectly, and rightly decided that if we adhered to a game-track it must lead us to a village tank which they
Progression in the right direction in open forest is a simple matter; it is different when one is in the midst of thick leafy jungle. Some in Ceylon is so dense and full of leaves that it is no exaggeration to say that an Elephant would be invisible at a distance of six feet; and in one case I was charged by a Rogue-elephant which I could hear approaching but of which I could not get a glimpse until his head was ten feet from me. I can recommend such an experience as a good test for the nerves. In this instance, a Kandian young man of about twenty years of age, who at his earnest request had been allowed to accompany my two trackers, was so overcome by fright that he stood perfectly still, paralysed and speechless, with wide-open mouth and staring eyes, and shaking all over more violently than the proverbial aspen. I have also seen a 'Moorman,' perhaps thirty years old, in exactly the same state under similar circumstances. Some minutes elapsed before they recovered the power of speech. Of course all the forests frequented by these hunters are not so dense as this; some of the high forest is comparatively open in parts, and they avoid the thicker jungle.
As illustrating the observant nature of the Vaedda, I may mention that I once showed some Village Vaeddas who lived far from others in the forest the illustrations, the first they had ever seen, in a copy of the Graphic, among which was one representing the landing of some troops from boats. They understood the scene immediately, one of them having once seen some boats at the coast, he said; and to my surprise a
Vaedda remarked that the persons in the background who appeared to be smaller than the rest must be at a greater distance than the others. He explained that they had noticed that the more distant objects always seemed smaller than those near at hand.
On the other hand, when I exhibited a drawing in the same paper to a learned Buddhist Abbot or Anunāyaka, who lived at a remote temple, and was deservedly respected by all, and well acquainted with the Pāli and Elu (old Sinhalese) languages, he said, regarding the more distant persons, "I suppose those men are a smaller race." The Buddhist scholar, deeply versed in the classical languages of his country and intimately acquainted with the abstruse philosophy of his religious works, who, in fact, was then about to found a small college for training Buddhist monks, was surpassed in intelligence by the Vaedda, who had never looked inside a book in his life, perhaps had never seen even the outside of one before.
A road was opened near the hamlet of these Vaeddas, and when I passed that way again and wished to renew my acquaintance with them, I found that they had withdrawn some miles further into the forest to avoid the publicity thrust upon them.
The Wanniyas believe that when the Grey Mungus 1 (Herpestes griseus), which they term the Nay Mugaṭiya, or Cobra Mungus,' meets with a Cobra that it is afraid to attack or which has attacked it, it goes off in search of a White Mungus or Eli Mugaṭiyā, which is said to be a very small and rare species, and fetches it to the scene of combat, where it pays homage to it, bowing down before it. Fortified by the presence and authority of this superior animal, the Cobra Mungus at once attacks the Cobra and kills it, after which it and any others proceed to eat the snake, the White Mungus, however, taking no part in the feast.
Character.-The Wanniyas closely resemble the Kandian Villagers as regards their intelligence. The instances I have given are evidence of the amount of mental quickness shown
1 It is incorrect to spell the name 'Mongoose' or 'Mungoose'; the original Pāli word is Mungusa.
by the Village Vaeddas with reference to subjects with which they are acquainted.
The Vaeddas and Wanniyas bear the character of being thoroughly honest, and they are said to be faithful in their marriage relations. Unlike the Kandian Sinhalese, they are strict monogamists, and do not practise polyandry, according to my information; and the former, at any rate, are reported to be good to their wives according to their ideas. I have no reason to doubt that the same can be said of the Wanniyas.
They are quite as lively and ready to enjoy a small joke as the Kandian villagers, but there is not much to amuse them in their forest life. While the Vaeddas often dance and sing on suitable occasions this does not appear to be a trait of the Wanniyas, who thus resemble the Sinhalese villagers as regards the former amusement. Fortunately for them, they are not exposed to the temptation of drinking alcoholic liquor, and probably not one of them knows the taste of it. Crime is practically non-existent among them all.
With respect to their truthfulness, of which Mr. Nevill had a very high opinion, my own experience is that although they are generally truthful, many individuals are prepared to deny a knowledge of facts of which they are fully aware, when to do so suits their convenience for the moment. In this respect they are like the Sinhalese villagers, so far as concerns their dealings with strangers. They will not work for hire except under the compulsion of hunger, and they might thus be thought lazy by those who see them idling about their huts at times when they are not engaged in hunting. But their active life at other times, when they are out in the forests, entirely disproves it.
I found them all converse readily with me, without any appearance of the fear, or hesitation, or shyness that one often notices in Kandian villagers. Many Forest Vaeddas have loud harsh grating voices. I was told by those who knew them well, and I observed the same peculiarity in those I met, that under ordinary circumstances, as well as inside their dwellings, the conversation of some of them is carried on in an extremely loud tone, the people almost shouting at each
other, so that they appear to strangers to be in a towering passion with each other when in reality they are having a friendly chat.
Vaedda children are said to be fairly healthy; but owing to want of good drinking water, in very dry years outbreaks of dysentery sometimes occur which carry off many of them as well as the adults, who also suffer considerably from malarial fever and the peculiar disease called ' Parangi Leḍa,' allied to the West Indian 'Yaws.'
Every race has its own etiquette. When visiting an ancient abandoned reservoir in the forest with some headmen who knew the Vaeddas well and could speak their dialect, I once offered the usual' chew' of Betel-leaf and Areka-nut to two wild-looking Forest Vaeddas whom we met there. The elder man said immediately, "What is there here for me to take to my wife?" and refused it; but he accepted the offer of a whole roll of the leaves and an adequate accompaniment of the nut. It was explained to me that everything they receive is invariably shared with their wives. They expect, therefore, never to be given less than a handful of anything, and to present a smaller quantity to them is considered to be a breach of ordinary courtesy. As an example of this feeling, I was told a story of a gentleman who offered a Vaedda a rupee in turn for information supplied by him. It was scornfully declined, but was readily taken when changed into copper cents, one hundred to the rupee.
The wildest Vaeddas now understand the use of money; one of the men above mentioned suggested to me that I should give him some.
I cannot do better than quote some of Mr. Nevill's remarks respecting their character: The true Vaedda varies between a taciturn and almost morose state when hungry, and a laughing reckless mood when not hungry. Their temper changes rapidly, and hence, if offended, in former times they were often guilty of sudden murder. They would carry on a feud until they considered justice done,1 and then their minds would
1 This must always be necessary among people who have no chiefs or court to which they can carry their grievances for redress. The