About half an hour later we had a second invasion. Another bunch of eight burst into the house without warning. They went all through the house but apparently found nothing which took their fancy. I had some weeks previously brought a small safe from our firm's stock to the house and had placed it in a room which the Leslie's were now occupying. This was spotted during their search and I had to open it. To their disgust it contained nothing but business papers and documents and sundry articles of silverware of no great value and certainly of too bulky a nature to slip easily into the pocket. We got the impression that these shock troops, for such they were, had had orders not to loot hence their interest only in small articles which they would find easy to conceal.
This second party stayed in the house for over an hour making themselves generally objectionable, demanding drink and lounging about, sprawling in chairs round the dining room table. I remember one of them pointing to the light suspended above the dining room table and ejaculating "Denki!" We thought then that he was referring to the lampshade but learned later that this was the Japanese word for electricity.
After what seemed to us like ages, they left.
Fortunately, neither of the parties had thought about exploring the store rooms at the rear of the house and for this I was very thankful because in one of them I had my "wine cellar", about 50 or 60 bottles of assorted wines and spirits. If they had discovered these that night and started drinking then I should probably have had another tale to tell, and not such a comparatively harmless one either.
As soon as they had gone, Bill and I decided that we had better do something, and that quickly, about the liquor in case it should be discovered by eventual further visitors. First of all, we put out all the lights in the house. Lydia took up her position behind the curtains of the window in the front room so as to be able to give timely warning of approach. Ena stood at the rear in such a position as to have contact between Lydia, Bill and myself who hastily removed the bottles into the back garden where in the course of the next hour we succeeded in burying them along the hedge at the foot of the slope.
It had started to drizzle and burying all these bottles in the dark, groping and grubbing in the soft earth, was a messy and tiring job. The proceedings were rendered more difficult by the fact that just across the ravine, about 150 yards away, a crowd of Nips had taken possession of and encamped in a house on the Lembangweg and were plainly visible to us from where we crouched behind the hedge. From the noise they made shouting and singing it was evident that there at any rate their search for strong drink had been more successful.
But at last the job was done and after Bill and I had taken a very necessary bath, we all retired uneasily for the night wondering what the morrow would bring forth. Admittedly our experiences of this, the first, evening of Japanese occupation did not augur too well for the future.
**** to be continued