The night before we were due to leave, Leon called to take us to Dana's longhouse. He was becoming less shy and awkward and, when Bidai and Siba and Edward were not about, he was prepared to talk in English. As we left the hotel and walked up the hill he drew me aside.
"Redmon," he said, sotto voce, "I hope you and James not go with hotel girls?"
"I haven't seen any hotel girls."
"They on top floor. Very naughties."
"Do you go with hotel girls?"
"No Redmon," said Leon, with great seriousness, "there is a new disease here. Your spear it rots. You go to hospital, they look at your spear, you take medicine. We have a word for this disease. I not know it in English. We Iban, in our language, we call it syphilis."
The road wound up out of the town, past a small airstrip and a group of government houses and into secondary jungle. We turned off onto a footpath, which curved along the sides of a series of small hills. I carried a kit- bag containing presents for Dana: two bottles of whisky, an outsize pipe made in London, a tin of Balkan Sobranie, and my cartridge belt. This last, an English, old, hand-sewn, worn, and desirable cartridge belt, I was parting with under protest ("But Redmond," James had said, "what possible use could it be now you've been disarmed? What do you mean, it's a lucky cartridge belt, you've shot lots of pheasants with it? Redmond, you are an Ignoble Savage.").Reuse content