As soon as we got back to the boat David wanted me to start right off in the small launch with him and Marian up the Kasiruta River. We took the lunch along, eating on the way so as not to lose time. David considered this river the most beautiful he had seen and very interesting botanically.
We first made a lot of pictures of a native making starch from sago. The native was friendly and obliging and David gave him and his family presents, scissors for the women, cigarettes and matches for the men, and toy balloons for the children.
We then went on up the river against a strong current, Ah Fook constantly jumping out of the boat to get us over some shoal. We finally tied the boat up and David and Marian went into the jungle while Hugo started on one of his exploring hikes. I soon followed David and Marian into the moderately open high growth. David was carried away by the things he saw and went collecting specimens without paying much attention to the mosquitoes, which swarmed around us. I was in shorts and could only keep them away by constantly swishing a fern leaf about my legs and head. After about an hour of uncomfortable wandering during which David and Marian collected a good many specimens, he thought it was time to get back to the river. David has confessed to me that he has no sense of direction or locality, which I have verified. Both he and Marian depended on me to get them back to the boat. I led in the direction I knew the river to be but had not thought we would go so far and had therefore not noticed our course at the start. There were several delays for further collecting and we came upon the skeleton of a large Python, curved around and with all the bones in place. I photographed it and David took one of the bones, cautioning me not the tell about it on the boat on account of the superstition connected with the python.
We finally reached the river and I called, expecting an answer from Ah Fook. There was none, and I noticed that the obstructions in the river were such that the boat could not have passed them, so I concluded that the boat was down stream. We followed the river down for what seemed a long distance but only occasionally got a faint answer to my calls – an answer which might have been from a native. David was getting tired and I felt considerably concerned. I had the cheerful idea that perhaps this was another river or a branch of the old one. Finally Marian asked to stop and talk things over. They then rested and I went on ahead, at times through thick under growth. Enormous birds flew overhead making a strange noise with their wings and white parrots circled and screamed while monkeys called intermittently. I got no answer to my calls and was greatly puzzled by the distance I had gone down stream without finding the boat. Finally, Hugo answered and was soon with us. He was dragging a palm leaf that looked as big as the wing of an aeroplane. He said that he had made the same mistake, that the river took a sharp turn and that we had been beyond the beach. He soon led us to the boat and I waded out in the stream to take a photograph of the boat with the others getting in.
Everyone was relieved but cheerful and I acted as though nothing had happened, but at the time it did not seem so pleasant.
We ran aground many times coming back and Hugo lost a pole in trying to steer the boat. We also got caught in the rain. I was glad to get back. The python was not mentioned.
Bad news in the evening came from Europe over the radio. The Germans were reported to have reached the French coast and cut off the allied troops in Belgium.