Ini cerita benar berlaku pada tahun 1862 di Lembah Tembeling. Ramai orang tua-tua bercerita kisah seekor harimau jadian (weretiger) yang besar telah membunuh 31 mangsa dan pernah dalam satu malam yang ngeri membunuh 8 sekeluarga dalam sebuah rumah di Kg Ranggul, Tembeling.
Hugh Clifford Residen Inggeris di Pahang pernah menulis mengenai kisah harimau jadian ini. Satu kisah di Tembeling dan satu lagi di Slim River Perak. Masa itu orang Melayu percaya orang Kerinci dari Sumatera boleh menjadi harimau jadian.
Masa itu juga orang Tembeling tidak berani menyebut nama harimau bukan sahaja dalam hutan tapi di rumah juga bimbang angin akan membawa ke telinga harimau dan akan datang membaham mereka.
Orang Tembeling menyebut harimau itu dengan nama Si Pudong atau 'dia yang muka berbulu'!
Secara peribadi WZWH tidak percaya pada harimau jadian tapi percaya itu adalah harimau yang sebenar. Mungkin harimau ini sungguh luarbiasa saiz dan kekuatannya.
WZWH percaya ini adalah harimau yang sebenar membunuh 31 orang Tembeling itu.
Orang Tembeling dan Hugh Clifford percaya itu harimau jadian dari dunia magic dan mistik.
Mengikut ceritanya harimau jadian itu adalah seorang orang asli Semang @ Negrito di hutan Tembeling. Tinggal dikalangan orang Semang pada siang hari bila malam menjelma sebagai harimau jadian @ weretiger membunuh mangsa untuk menghisap darah, lebih banyak dari makan daging!
Harimau jadian ini ketika itu telah membunuh seorang budak perempuan dari keluarga Wan di Kg Labu. Itu menjadikan mangsa yang ke 23 dan berita cepat tersebar ke seluruh kampung-kampung.
Semua orang bila malam menjelma berasa takut dan duduk di rumah.
Cerita harimau jadian bunuh 8 mangsa dalam satu malam sungguh ngeri di Kg Ranggul Tembeling. Diberitakan pada petang hari keluarga 8 orang ini telah mengetahui kisah harimau jadian membunuh seorang budak perempuan bernama Wan Esah di Kg Labu.
Masing-masing merasa takut. Malam itu sebenarnya ada 9 orang berlindung ketakutan dalam sebuah rumah di Kg Ranggul sambil memegang lembing dan parang. Mereka ialah:
- Che Seman
- 2 anak lelaki Che Seman iaitu Awang dan Ngah
- Lang isteri Che Seman
- Minah anak perempuan kecil Che Seman
Harimau itu datang pada malam hari mengaum dengan kuat dan menerkam ke tingkap rumah tapi gagal masuk terjatuh. Kali ke dua berjaya menghembur hingga ke bumbung dan berjaya menyelinap memasuki rumah lalu membunuh 8 orang kecuali Mat selamat kerana menyorok di satu bahagian rumah.
Mengikut Mat, harimau itu menghisap darah setiap mangsa yang dibunuh dan bermain dengan mangsa yang sudah mati seperti kucing bermain dengan tikus sambil mencakar dan menggigit tubuh mangsa.
Sungguh ngeri semua tubuh mangsa bagai dikerat-kerat tidak berupa orang dan yang paling sedih harimau itu sebelum membunuh sikecil Minah budak perempuan, harimau itu seolah-olah macam bermain-main dengan Minah seperti tikus. Minah beberapa kali merangkak hingga sangat keletihan akhirnya dengan ganas harimau itu mencakar dan mengigit tengkuk Minah hingga mati.
Menjelang subuh harimau itu terus terjun ke tanah berlari ke arah hutan menghilangkan diri dan paginya orang Kg Ranggol melihat 8 tubuh manusia yang hancur bergelimpangan sukar untuk dikenali.
Apa yang berlaku kesudahannya kepada harimau jadian itu tidak diketahui. Hugh Clifford tidak memberitahu apa jadi adakah harimau jadian itu berjaya dibunuh. Hugh Clifford cuma mengutuk harimau jadian yang asal dari manusia sanggup membunuh 31 orang kampung demi menghisap darah dengan kejam kerana ilmu hitam.
WZWH percaya harimau jadian itu akhirnya berjaya dibunuh tapi tidak mahu mendedahkan siapa kerana semua yang terlibat sudah mati.
Untuk pembaca blog WZWH menghayati kisah yang ditulis oleh Hugh Clifford,WZWH telah extract dibawah. Please enjoy the old Queen English of 19th century works....
A NIGHT OF TERROR by Hugh Clifford The glaring eyes through the brushwood shine, And the striped hide shows between The trees and bushes, 'mid trailing vine And masses of ever-green. A snarling moan comes long and low. We may neither flee nor fight. For well our leaping pulses know The Terror that stalks by Night. If you put your finger on the map of the Malay Peninsula an inch or two from its exact centre, you will find a river in Pahang territory which has its rise in the watershed that divides that State from Kelantan and Trengganu. This river is called the Tembeling, and it is chiefly remarkable for the number of its rapids and the richness of its gutta-bearing forests. Its in- habitants are a ruffianly lot of Malays, who are preyed upon by a family of Wans^ a semi-royal set of nobles who do their best to live up to their traditions. Below the rapids the natives are chiefly noted for the quaint pottery that they produce from the clay which abounds there and the rude shapes and ruder tracery of their vessels have probably suffered no change since the days when Solomon's fleets sought gold and peafowl and monkeys in the jungles of the Peninsula, as everybody A NIGHT OF TERROR 197 knows. Above the rapids the Malays plant enough gaynhir to supply the wants of the whole betel-chewing population of Pahang, and, as the sale of this com- modity wins them a few dollars annually, they are too indolent to plant their own rice. This grain, which is the staple of all Malays, without which they cannot live, is therefore sold to them by down river natives, at the exorbitant price of half a dollar the bushel. A short distance up stream, and midway between the mouth and the big rapids, there is a straggling village, called Ranggul, the houses of which, made of wattled bamboos and thatched with palm leaves, stand on piles, amid the groves of cocoa-nut and areca-nut palms, varied by clumps of smooth-leaved banana trees. The houses are not very close together, but a man can call from one to the other with ease j and thus the cocoa- nuts thrive, which, as the Malays say, grow not with pleasure beyond the sound of the human voice. The people of the village are not more indolent than other Malays. They plant a little rice, wh^n the season comes, in the swamps behind the village. They work a little jungle produce, when the pinch of poverty drives them to it, but, like all Malays, they take life sufficiently easily. If you chance to go into the village of Ranggul, during any of the hot hours of the day, you will find most of its occupants lying about in their dark, cool houses, engaged upon such gentle mental tasks as may be afforded by whittling a stick, or hack- ing slowly at the already deeply scored threshold-block, with their clumsy wood-knives. Sitting thus, they gossip with a passing neighbour, who stops to chatter as he sits propped upon the stair ladder, or they croak snatches 198 IN COURT AND KJMPONG of song, with some old-world refrain to it, and, from time to time, break off to cast a word over their shoulders to the wife in the dim background near the fireplace, or to the little virgin daughter, carefully- secreted on the shelf overhead, in company with a miscellaneous collection of dusty, grimy rubbish, the disused lumber of years. Nature has been very lavish to the Malay, and she has provided him with a soil which returns a maximum of food for a minimum of grudging labour. The cool, moist fruit groves call aloud to all mankind to come and revel in their fragrant shade during the parching hours of mid-day, and the Malay has caught the spirit of his surroundings, and is very much what Nature has seen fit to make him. Some five-and-thirty years ago, when Che' wan Ahmad, now better known as Sultan Ahmad Maatham Shah, was collecting his forces in Dungun, preparatory to making his last and successful descent into the Tembeling valley, whence to overrun and conquer Pahang, the night was closing in at Ranggul. A large house stood, at that time, in a somewhat isolated position, within a thickly-planted compound, at one extremity of the village. In this house, on the night of which I write, seven men and two women were at work on the evening meal. The men sat in the centre of the floor, on a white mat made from the plaited leaves of the mengkuang palm, with a plate piled with rice before each of them, and a brass tray, holding various little china bowls of curry, placed where all could reach it. They sat cross-legged, with bowed backs, supporting themselves on their left arms, the left hand lying flat on the mat, and being so turned A NIGHT OF TERROR 199 that the outspread fingers pointed inwards. With the fingers of their right hands they messed the rice, mixing the curry well into it, and then swiftly carried a large handful to their mouths, skilfully, without dropping a grain. The women sat demurely, in a half kneeling position, with their feet tucked away under them, and ministered to the wants of the men. They said never a word, save an occasional exclamation, when they drove away a lean cat that crept too near to the food, and the men also held their peace. There was no sound to be heard, save the hum of the insects out of doors, the deep note of the bull-frogs in the rice swamps, and the unnecessarily loud noise of mastication made by the men as they ate. When the meal was over the women carried what was left to a corner near the fireplace, and there fell to on such of the viands as their lords had not con- sumed. If you had looked carefully, however, you would have seen that the cooking-pots, over which the women ruled, still held a secret store for their own con- sumption, and that the quality of the food in this cache was by no means inferior to that which had been allotted to the men. In a land where women wait upon them- selves, and have none to attend to their wants, or forestall their wishes, they very soon acquire an ex- tremely good notion of how to look after themselves ; and, since they have never known a state of society in which women are treated as they are amongst ourselves, they do not repine, and seem, for the most part, to be sufficiently bright, light-hearted, and happy. The men, meanwhile, had each rolled up a quid ot betel-nut, taking the four ingredients carefully from 200 IN COURT AND KAMPONG the little brass boxes in the wooden tray before them, and having prepared cigarettes of Javenese tobacco, with the dried shoots of the nipah palm for wrappers, had at length broken the absorbed silence, which had held them fast while the matter of the meal was occupying their undivided attention. The talk flitted lightly over many subjects ; for a hearty meal, and the peace of soul which repletion brings with it, are not conducive to concentration of attention, nor yet to activity of mind. The Malay, too, is always superficial, and talk among natives generally plays round facts, rather than round ideas. Che' Seman, the owner of the house, and his two sons, Awang and Ngah, discussed the prospects of the crop then growing in the fields behind the compound. Their cousin Abdollah, who chanced to be passing the night in the house, told of a fall which his wife's aunt's brother had come by, when climbing a cocoa- nut tree. Mat, his hiras (for they had married two sisters, which established a definite form of relationship between them, according to Malay ideas), added a few more or less ugly details to Abdollah's description of the corpse after the accident. And as this attracted the attention of the two remaining men, Potek and Kassim, who had been discussing the price of rice, and the varying chances of getah hunting, the talk at this point became general. Potek and Kassim had recently returned from Dungun, where, as has been said, the present Sultan of Pahang was, at that time, collecting the force with which he afterwards successfully invaded and conquered the State. They told of all they had seen and heard, multiplying their figures with the A NIGHT OF TERROR 201 daring recklessness that is born of unfettered imagina- tions, and the lack of a rudimentary knowledge of arithmetic. But even this absorbing topic could not hold the attention of their hearers for long. Before Potek and Kassim had well finished the enumeration of the heavy artillery, of the thousands of the elephants, and the tens of thousands of the followers, with which they credited the adventurous, but slender bands of raga- muffins, who followed Ahmad's fortunes, Che' Seman broke into their talk with words on a subject which, at that time, was ever uppermost in the minds of the Tembeling people, and the conversation straight- way drifted into the channel in which it had run, with only casual interruptions, for many weeks past. ' He of the Hairy Face ^ is with us once more,' ejaculated Che' Seman ; and when this announcement had caused a dead silence to fall upon his hearers, and had even stilled the chatter of the women-folk near the fireplace, he continued : 'At the hour when the cicada is heard (sunset), I met Imam Sidik of Gemuroh, and bade him stay to eat rice, but he would not, saying that He of the Hairy Face had made his kill at Labu yesternight, and it behoved all men to be within their houses before the darkness fell. And so saying he paddled his dug-out down stream with the short quick stroke used when we race boats. Imam Sidik is a wise man, and his words are true. He of the Hairy Face spares neither ^ Si Pudo77g = ont of the names used by jungle-bred Malays to describe a tiger. They avoid using the beast's real name lest the sound of it should reach his ears, and cause him to come to the speaker. 202 IN COURT JND KJMPONG priest nor prince. The girl he killed at Labu was a daughter of the Wans — her name Wan Esah.' 'That makes three-and-twenty whom He of the Hairy Face hath slain in one year of maize' (three months), said Awang in a low fear -stricken voice. ' He touches neither goats nor kine, and men say He sucketh more blood than He eateth flesh.' ' That it is which proves Him to be the thing he is,' said Ngah. 'Thy words are true,' said Che' Seman solemnly. ' He of the Hairy Face has his origin in a man. The Semang — the negrits of the woods — drove him forth from among them, and now he lives solitarily in the jungles, and by night he takes upon himself the form of Him of the Hairy Face, and feasts upon the flesh of his own kind.' ' I have heard tell that it is only the men of Korinchi who have this strange power,' interposed Abdollah, in the tone of one who longs to be re- assured. ' Men say that they also possess the power,' rejoined Che' Seman, ' but certain it is that He of the Hairy Face was born a Semang^ — a negrit of the woods, — and when He goeth forth in human guise he is like all other Semangs to look upon. I and many others have seen him, roaming alone, naked, and muttering to himself, when we have been in the forests seeking for jungle produce. All men know that it is He who by night harries us in our villages. If one ventures to go forth from our houses in the time of darkness, to the bathing raft at the river's edge, or to tend our sick, or to visit a friend. Si Pudong is ever to be found J NIGHT OF TERROR 203 watching, and thus the tale of his kills waxes longer and longer.' ' But men are safe from him while they sit within their houses ? ' asked Mat with evident anxiety. ' God alone knows,' answered Che' Seman piously, ' who can say where men are safe from Him of the Hairy Face ? He cometh Hke a shadow, and slays like a prince, and then like a shadow he is gone ! And the tale of his kills waxes ever longer and yet more long. May God send Him far from us ! Ya Allah ! It is He ! Listen ! ' At the word, a dead silence, broken only by the hard breathing of the men and women, fell upon all within the house. Then very faintly, and far away up stream, but not so faintly but that all could hear it, and shudder at the sound, the long-drawn, howling, snarling moan of a hungry tiger broke upon the still- ness. The Malays call the roar of the tiger aum^ and the word is vividly onomatopoetic, as those who have heard the sound in the jungle during the silent night watches can bear witness. All who have Hstened to the tiger in his forest freedom know that he has many voices wherewith to speak. He can give a barking cry, which is not unlike that of a deer ; he can grunt like a startled boar, and squeak like the monkeys cowering at his approach in the branches overhead ; he can shake the earth with a vibrating, resonant purr, like the sound of faint thunder in the foot-hills ; he can mew and snarl like an angry wild- cat ; and he can roar hke a lusty hon cub. But it is when he lifts up his voice in the long-drawn moan that the jungle chiefly fears him. This cry means 204 IN COURT JND KJMPONG that he is hungry, and, moreover, that he is so sure of his kill that he cares not if all the world knows that his belly is empty. It has something strangely horrible in its tone, for it speaks of that cold-blooded, dispassionate cruelty which is only to be found in perfection in the feline race. These sleek, smooth- skinned, soft-footed, lithe, almost serpentine animals, torture with a grace of movement, and a gentleness in strength which has something in it more violently repugnant to our natures than any sensation with which the thought of the blundering charge and savage goring of the buffalo, or the clumsy kneading with giant knee-caps, that the elephant metes out to its victims, can ever inspire in us. Again the long-drawn moaning cry broke upon the stillness. The cattle in the byre heard it and were panic- stricken. Half mad with fear, they charged the walls of their pen, bearing all before them, and in a moment could be heard in the distance plunging madly through the brushwood, and splashing through the soft earth of the padi fields. The dogs whimpered and scampered off in every direction, while the fowls beneath the house set up a drowsy and discordant screeching. The folk within the house were too terror-stricken to speak, for fear, which gives voices to the animal world, renders voluble human beings dumb. And all this time the cry broke forth again and again, ever louder and louder, as He of the Hairy Face drew nearer and yet more near. At last the cruel whining howl sounded within the very compound in which the house stood, and its sudden proximity caused Mat to start so violently A NIGHT OF TERROR 205 that he overturned the pitch torch at his elbow, and extinguished the flickering light. The women crowded up against the men, seeking comfort by- physical contact with them, their teeth chattering like castanets. The men gripped their spears, and squatted tremblingly in the half light thrown by the dying embers of the fire, and the flecks cast upon floor and wall by the faint moonbeams struggling through the interstices of the thatched roof. ' Fear nothing, Minah,' Che' Seman whispered, in a hoarse, strange voice, to his little daughter, who nestled miserably against his breast, ' in a space He will be gone. Even He of the Hairy Face will do us no harm while we sit within the house.' Che' Seman spoke from the experience of many generations of Malays, but he knew not the nature of the strange beast with whom he had to deal. Once more the moan-like howl broke out on the still night air, but this time the note had changed, and gradually it quickened to the ferocious snarling roar, the charge song, as the tiger rushed forward and leaped against the side of the house with a heavy jarring thud. A shriek from all the seven throats went up on the instant, and then came a scratching, tearing sound, followed by a soft, dull flop, as the tiger, failing to effect a landing on the low roof, fell back to earth. The men started to their feet, clutching their weapons convulsively, and, led by Che' Seman, they raised, above the shrieks of the frightened women, a lament- able attempt at a sora^^ the Malayan war-cry, which is designed as much to put heart into those who utter it, as to frighten the enemy in defiance of whom it is sounded. 2o6 IN COURT AND KAMPONG Alat, the man who had upset the torch and plunged the house in darkness, alone failed to add his voice to the miserable cheer raised by his fellows. Wild with fear of the beast without, he crept, unobserved by the others, up into the para^ or shelf-like upper apartment, on which Minah had been wont to sit, when strangers were about, during the short davs of her virginity. This place, as is usual in most Alalav houses, hardly desen'ed to be dignified bv being termed a room. It consisted of a platform suspended from the roof in one corner of the house, and among the dustv lumber with which it was covered Mat now cowered and sought to hide himself. A minute or two of sickening suspense followed the timer's first unsuccessful charge. But presently the howl broke forth again, quickened rapidly to the note of the charge song, and once more the house trembled under the weight of the great animal. This time the leap of Him of the Hairy Face had been of truer aim, and a crash overhead, a shower of leaflets of thatch, and an ominous creaking of the woodwork told the cowering people in the house that their enemy had effected a landing on the roof. The miserable thready cheer, which Che' Seman exhorted his fellows to raise in answer to the charge song of the tiger, died down in their throats. All looked upwards in deadlv fascination as the thatch was torn violently apart by the great claws of their assailant. There were no firearms in the house, but the men instinctively grasped their spears, and held them readv to await the tiger's descent. Thus for a moment, as the quiet moonlight poured in through A NIGHT OF TERROR 207 the gap in the thatch, they stood gazing at the great square face, marked with its black bars, at the flaming eyes, and the long cruel teeth framed in the hole which the claws of the beast had made. The timbers of the roof bent and cracked anew under the unwonted weight, and then, with the agility of a cat. He of the Hairy Face leaped lightly down, and was in among them before they knew. The striped hide was slightly wounded by the spears, but the shock of the brute's leap bore all who had resisted it to the floor. The tiger never stayed to use its jaws. It sat up, much in the attitude of a kitten which plays with something dangled before its eyes, and the soft pit-pat of its paws, as it struck out rapidly and with unerring aim, speedily disposed of all its enemies. Che' Seman, with his two sons, Awang and Ngah, were the first to fall. Then lang, Che' Seman's wife, fell backwards against the wall, with her skull crushed out of all resemblance to any human member, by the awful strength of one of those well-aimed buffets from the fearful claws. Kassim, Potek, and Abdollah fell before the tiger in quick succession, and Minah, the girl who had nestled against her father for protection, lay now under his dead body, sorely wounded, wild with terror, but still alive and conscious. Mat, cowering on the shelf overhead, breathless with fear, and gazing fascinated at the carnage going on within a few feet of him, was the only inmate of the house who remained uninjured. He of the Hairy Face killed quickly and silently, while there were yet some ahve to resist him. Then, purring gently, he drank a deep draught of blood from each of his slaughtered victims. At last he 2o8 IN COURT AND KJMPONG reached Che' Seman, and Minah, seeing him approach, made a feeble effort to evade him. Then began a fearful scene, the tiger playing with, and torturing the girl, just as we all have seen a cat do with a maimed mouse. Again and again Minah crawled feebly away from her tormentor, only to be drawn back again just when escape seemed possible. Again and again she lay still in the utter inertia of exhaustion, only to be quickened into agonised movement once more by the touch of the tiger's cruel claws. Yet so cunningly did he play with her, that, as Mat described it, a time as long as it would take to cook rice had elapsed, before the girl was finally put out of her misery. Even then He of the Hairy Face did not quit the scene of slaughter. Mat, as he lay trembling in the shelf overhead, watched the tiger, through the long hours of that fearful night, play with the mangled bodies of each of his victims in turn. He leaped from one to the other, inflicting a fresh blow with teeth or claws on their torn flesh, with all the airy, light- hearted agility and sinuous grace of a kitten playing with its shadow in the sun. Then when the dawn was breaking, the tiger tore down the door, leaped lightly to the ground, and betook himself to the jungle. When the sun was up, an armed party of neigh- bours came to the house to see if ought could be done. But they found the place a shambles, the bodies hardly to be recognised, the floor-laths dripping blood, and Mat lying face downward on the shelf, with his reason tottering in the balance. The bodies, though they had been horribly mutilated, had not been eaten,
A NIGHT OF TERROR 209 the tiger having contented himself with drinking the blood of his victims, and playing his ghastly game with them till the dawn broke. This is, I believe, the only recorded instance in the Peninsula of a tiger having dared to attack men within their closed houses ; and the circumstances are so remarkable in every way, that I, for one, cannot find it in me to greatly blame the Malays for attributing the fearlessness of mankind, and the lust for blood displayed by Him of the Hairy Face, to the fact that he owed his existence to magic agencies, and was in reality no mere wild beast, but a member or the race upon which he so cruelly preyed.