The nullah sloped up at the end, and after a good deal of hard work I hauled her up. It was jolly cold, I can tell you, and when we saw a light moving about ahead we made a bee-line for it. Joyce thought it was a will-o'-the-wisp; she had never seen one, but she had read of them, and she said they moved up and down just like that. We had to plunge through a lot of very marshy ground before we got to it, and sometimes we lost sight of it altogether; but it came again, and then it went out for good. We arrived at a high thorny hedge and I shouted, and then there was such a noise you would have thought the world was coming to an end,—dogs barking, cocks crowing, people chattering, and at last a man with a lantern crept out from the hedge—it must have been his light we had seen—and he was followed by heaps of others, all Burmans, and they waved the light about; and when they saw who we were, and that we were alone, they were very kind and took us in through an opening in the hedge, and kicked the dogs away. We couldn't see much inside, for the moon wasn't up then, but they led us to a house, and made us go up a ladder on to a verandah and into a nice wooden room, where there was a civilised oil lamp on a bracket, and several women and children sitting and lying about on mats on the floor.
Joyce looked at me and I at her and we both knew what sights we were, all scratched and torn and muddy. Her dress had been white when we started, but you could hardly tell that now. I don't know how she felt, but I was glad to drop down on to a mat they gave us. We tried to explain who we were, but no one understood any English. Then they brought us some water from a great jar in the corner; they handed it to us in half a coco-nut, but it smelt so that we couldn't touch it, though we were awfully thirsty. So one of the men who had followed us in took up a round green thing with a smooth shell outside (I never knew coco-nuts looked like that before), and with his great knife made four cuts across the top in a neat square, and took out the piece as if it were a lid, and offered us the nut, making signs we were to drink it. Joyce tried first and nodded with pleasure. "It's good," she said, and it was! A sort of sickly sweet stuff came out like sugary water, and when you drank a lot of it it made you feel very full inside suddenly. When I read about coco-nut milk in Swiss Family Robinson I always thought it was really like milk.
Then they opened a great tubful of cooked rice and put some on two plates and gave it to us, and they put beside us two little bowls filled with smashed-up sardines, at least I thought it was that, but oh——You would have known it was there a mile off! I would have stood it, because I didn't want to hurt their feelings, as they meant to be polite, but Joyce stuffed her skirt into her mouth and held her nose, and they all laughed and took it away quite easily. There were no forks or spoons, but we were very hungry, so we just fell to with our fingers on the rice and it wasn't at all bad, I can tell you. When we had done they gave us some very good bananas—I could have done with more of them—and then they tried us with a lump of stuff that was simply a bit of wood; it came from the Jack-fruit tree. I saw one growing right out of the trunk on a little stalk by itself next day, but how anyone ever eats it I can't imagine.
When we had finished they poured water over our fingers to clean them, a very unsatisfactory sort of wash it was, and the water ran away between the boards, quite convenient that!
When we were satisfied we began to take more notice of what the house was like. The walls were made of very coarse mats, and there were no tables or chairs. There were a number of people; the father of the house, who had brought us in, had a kind shrewd face, so that you couldn't help liking him, and the mother was a very thin, plain, little old woman, with twinkling eyes. Joyce thought first she was the cook, for she had no jewellery on at all and no fine clothes, while the two girls, the daughters, were quite smart. They were all ready to laugh and smile, but the two girls were the most friendly; they sat down by Joyce and fingered her skirt and examined her very dilapidated shoes. "I wish they wouldn't, Jim," she said, trying to pull them up under her very short skirt, which was no use at all. At last she took them off because they were so wet, and one of the girls put her little brown toes into them, and then they all shrieked with laughter again. You couldn't help laughing too, they were so jolly nice.
I put my finger on Joyce and said "Joyce," then on me and said "Jim," and then pointed at the two girls; they understood at once and said Mah Kway Yoh (Miss Dog's Bone) and Mee Meht (Miss Affection). Then they pointed to a young man at the back and said Moung Poh Sin (Mr. Grandfather Elephant).
I tried to make them understand we wanted to get back to the ship, but nothing would do it. "Draw it," suggested Joyce. She had a wee gold pencil on her gold bangle, but we had no paper and there was none there—there wasn't anything, in fact, except a box. "On your cuff," Joyce suggested, but I hadn't any cuffs, only a soft shirt.
"On the floor," she said then.
I tried, but of course the lead broke. They all gathered round, much interested, pushing their shiny black heads close together. It's funny that they all have just the same sort of hair, isn't it? They followed everything I did with the deepest interest, and then went into fits of laughter, and so did we.
Just then a boy came in, not much older than me. He had on very few clothes, and his legs looked as if they were stained dark blue. When he came near to me and saw me looking at them with very much interest he showed them to us. They were tattooed all over like a pair of breeches, and the pictures on them were very well done; there were tigers and a kind of dragon, like those we saw at the pagoda steps, and many other animals, and each one was in a kind of scrollwork which made a little frame. He spoke a few words of English and pointed at the two men and said, "Them too," then, "All Burmans." It is odd they should go through all that pain; what's the use of it?
I tried to explain to him about the ship. I called it "ship," "steamer," "vessel," "craft," and everything else I could think of, but he shook his head. At last Joyce suggested "big boat," and then he understood, and got quite excited and told the others. Partly by gestures he made us understand that we were a very long way off, and that no one could take us back that night, but that we could go early in the morning. I wanted to know why not now, but he waved his arms and said, "Nats, beloos," and looked quickly over his shoulder.
"Nats are spirits," said Joyce. "I know all about it. The Burmese are frightened of them, and put little bits of rag at the top of the posts in the houses for them to live in, so that they won't come inside. Mother read that to me out of a book."
We looked for the little rags, but couldn't see them, though I expect they were there. Joyce knows a lot for a girl.
Well, we couldn't go home by ourselves, so presently we lay down on our mats and went fast asleep, and I suppose everyone else did too. Anyway, it was morning when I woke. Perfectly glorious it was! I shall never forget that morning. Joyce was out on the verandah already, and I went and stood beside her. The moon was there still, but every moment growing paler and paler. The air was full of that burnt-wood smell which is clean and rather nice. The sun seemed simply to rush up, and in five minutes from a world of black shadows and no colours it turned to a world of green and blue and yellow. The houses were all like ours, built on legs with thatched roofs, and there were great shady mango trees and plantains growing beside them. The dogs were everywhere, and the people were squatting in the sun to warm their backs. We ate more rice and drank more coco-nut milk, and then we shook hands all round and thanked the people, and went away with the boy to guide us. His name was Moung Ohn (Mr. Coco-Nut) he told us. We made him write down his own and his sisters' names on a piece of paper in Burmese on the ship afterwards, so that we could always keep them.
It was quite a long way, as he had said, but it was so beautiful we wanted to dance and jump all the time. Moung Ohn scolded off the beastly pariah dogs and led us out of the hole in the great stockade and through a grove of palms. He pointed to two different sorts, one was the usual kind, feathery, and coco-nuts grew on that. He pointed to himself and grinned, but we didn't understand till afterwards that his name was "Coco-Nut." The other sort of palm had leaves like the great fans people sometimes have in drawing-rooms, at least Joyce said they were. A man was walking down the long, straight stem of one, and I could see, as Moung Ohn had said, that his legs were tattooed too. He just walked down. He had a band round his waist and round the tree, so he leaned against it and pressed the soles of his feet against the tree. I longed to try, but Joyce was wanting to get back to her mother. When the man came down he had a little iron pot filled with juice, and he offered it to me to drink, but when I looked in and saw dead flies and insects by the dozen I declined politely. He had hung up other little pots on the tree near the stalks of the great leaves in which he had cut gashes, so the juice dripped out into them. I found out this makes a strong drink called toddy.
We passed over rice fields, where many of the people were at work already, and then, after going a good distance, we got on to the road, but it was not the same part where we were the day before. I'm beginning now not to be quite so sure that my direction was right after all, but don't say so before Joyce.
Just then we heard a most awful noise like a hundred demons groaning and shrieking together.
"Nats!" exclaimed Joyce, standing stockstill. Moung Ohn laughed and shook his head. Then there came into sight a slow lumbering bullock-cart with the wheels screaming enough to give you toothache. Why on earth don't they grease them?
"Perhaps they prefer them like that," said Joyce, and I expect she is right.
It wasn't long before we reached the steamer, and then what a scene! When I saw how Joyce was smothered I was glad men don't kiss. You just shook hands with me and told me I was an object to scare crows with!
When we offered Moung Ohn some money for his trouble he refused to take it, and went away saying good-bye so gracefully, bowing and touching his forehead with his hand.
THROUGH EASTERN STRAITS AND ISLANDS
In every long journey there comes a time when one feels a little dreary. So many new things have been seen that the mind and eye are tired. Then maybe there is just a touch of home-sickness mingled with it, and when one gets to a part less beautiful than what has gone before all at once there is a longing to turn and fly back to all that we are accustomed to. It seems to me that you and I are suffering from that now. We have left Burma behind, and for two days have ploughed down the Gulf of Martaban toward Penang in the Straits Settlements. We did not want to make friends with anyone on board, and were just a trifle grumpy even toward each other. We felt the parting from Joyce and her mother, who had made Burma so enjoyable, and we weren't ready to begin making new friends all at once.
Burma forms the western part of a great peninsula, and stretching out southward from it is a long arm, the shape of an Indian club, narrower in the neck and broadening out, to run up finally to a point. Alongside of the broadest part is the great island of Sumatra, belonging to the Dutch, who are our principal rivals in this region of the world.
"The captain's compliments, and we're going to set off some rockets to scare the sea-birds," says one of the officers, suddenly appearing beside us. "We're passing close by that little island there—Pulo Pera."
Now there is something to see we wake up at once. Sure enough there it is ahead, a little island rising like a cliff out of the water. It is evidently deep close in, for we go quite near to it. Just as we are abreast off goes rocket after rocket, and in a moment the scene is transformed as if by magic. A dense mass of shrieking, screaming birds springs to life. The moment before the sun was shining in a clear sky, now in an instant it is obscured as by a thick cloud. You never saw anything like it! The birds on the Bass Rock are fairly thick, but here—day is turned to night and the commotion and uproar are wildly exciting, like the clash of legions in the sky.
Long after we are past we can see them thinning down gradually as some keep dropping back on to their island home, while the more restless, nervous spirits still circle and swoop in loops and curves.
A marvellous sight!
Penang itself is an island, and as we swing round to the capital town, Georgetown, on the inner or land side, we see an astonishing mass of green, with a great hill clothed almost to the summit rising behind the town. We can go up there to-morrow if you like, as we have a day to spend here owing to a change of steamers.
As we come to anchor in the bay a perfect swarm of small boats, called sampans, dance round the ship, and the owners offer their wares with astonishing noise. Looking down you can see the yellow faces of the men who have narrow eyes and pigtails coiled round their heads under enormous hats. It looks as if we had tumbled into China by mistake, for these are nearly all Chinamen, and yet the inhabitants of this country are Malays. The Malay, however, is like the Burman in that he does not care to exert himself if he can help it, so he lets the Chink, as the Chinamen are familiarly called, do all the business. The rich earth yields a hundredfold, and the Malay has only to scratch a very little of it very gently, and plant or sow a small quantity of something, and he is provided for for a year! The Chinaman is an industrious soul and an uncommonly good market-gardener, so he grows vegetables for sale and makes a good thing out of it; half these boats are full of vegetables grown by the very men who are selling them.
Soon we are in a sampan, being rapidly rowed shore-wards. The man works the boat standing up and faces the way he is going; he does it very easily, with the ends of his long oars crossed over and worked almost entirely by wrist play. We are right under a high, old-fashioned-looking trading ship now; do you see that great eye painted on the bows? There is another on the other side. That shows it is a Chinese ship; the men have a superstition that the ship cannot see without these eyes. They say, "No got eye, no can see; no can see, no can savee."
Great rocks stick out from the foliage on the hillside, and nearer is the town, with its pretty thatched houses and palatial mansions and avenues of greenery. It is all slightly different from the countries we have seen already, and yet it is difficult to say quite where the difference lies. Here is our old friend the rickshaw man, only he is a Chinaman, of course, and some of these rickshaws are two-seated, so we can both get into one; the man who pulls starts off gently as if it were no trouble. He wears nothing above the waist, and we can see the well-developed muscles moving under his sun-browned skin. On the road we meet many Chinese women dressed in trousers; you must have seen some in Hyde Park, I think, for people often bring them over to England as nurses for their children, they are so clean and reliable. They all wear trousers like that, just plain, straight down, shapeless trousers, with a tunic falling over them; it is a neat and effective dress.
Whew! It's hot! I don't feel inclined to move a limb; this steamy heat is so much more trying than the heat we had in the dry zone of Burma, where you and Joyce got lost; there the nights were always cool, almost sharp sometimes. That building you are pointing at, with the dragons over the doorway, is a Chinese temple, and I don't suppose they would mind our going in at all. It looks nice and cool, anyway. We stop the rickshaw man and pass through several courtyards enclosed by high walls. In one is an open upper storey like a first-floor room with a wall knocked out; this is a stage. You may well ask how anyone in the courtyard can see the play—they can't! Only the favoured few who sit in the galleries get a good view!
In all the courts a few Chinamen lounge about on the steps; they are probably half-stupid with opium, for they are not naturally lazy. Passing on to the inner shrine we see a much-decorated screen, behind which an image is hidden, but we are not allowed to pull it aside. The room in which it stands is crowded with hideous figures, squat devils, grinning dragons, and other disagreeable forms. Before them are empty tin biscuit-boxes full of sand, in which are stuck messy little tapers. There is a funny smell of incense mixed with tallow in the air. It is a creepy, uncomfortable place, and the Chinese religion is not one that would attract a stranger; I expect you would have to be brought up in it to understand it!
Unfortunately next day our expedition to the mountain is spoilt by torrents of rain which stream down unceasingly, and time hangs heavy on our hands.
"It always rains here, all the year round, more or less," says a friendly Englishman in the hotel. "If you like I'll take you to see a well-to-do Chinaman who is a friend of mine. The Chinamen are all rich here, lots of them keep motors." We gladly accept and go off under borrowed umbrellas to the outskirts of the town. The house stands by itself in a clump of trees and is very imposing with its great white marble pillars; as we get near we see huge gold letters in weird characters all across the front. Then before we have time to notice any more we are in the hall looking at a great bowl of gold-fish, and in another minute our host is bowing before us. He is wearing a very magnificent embroidered coat of red silk with great wing-like sleeves; the embroidery is a marvel, dragons in blue and gold, and fishes of rainbow hues disport themselves all over it. Under it is a short black satin petticoat, rather like a kilt, and black boots with thick white felt soles. The gentleman is tall and well made, a fine figure of a man, and on his head is a little round black cap, from which escapes his pigtail. He stands bowing before us and shaking hands with himself, which, as a method of greeting, is perhaps better than our own way. He takes us into a dark gloomy room full of cabinets of black lacquer richly decorated with gold and mother-of-pearl. There are sombre carved wood chairs set back against the wall. It is all very costly, but to us it seems uncomfortable and funereal. The chief things that attract us are rows of little red pieces of paper of odd lengths hanging over strings from the ceiling, as if they were drying after a washing-day. The Englishman explains that the Chinaman is very proud of these, for they are all New Year's greetings from his friends, and the number of them shows what a popular man he must be. As the Chinese New Year's Day is on April the first, and that was only a week ago, these are all new; but if we had arrived at any time of the year we should have seen them just the same, for they are left hanging all the year round till the next lot arrives.
On the whole we are not sorry to leave Penang; we have felt limp all the time, worse even than we did in the Red Sea. The steamer we board this time is the Khyber of the P. & O. Company. She belongs to the Intermediate Line, which comes right out to Japan from England, taking about six weeks on the way. For anyone who wants change and rest and no worry that's a fine voyage, as the boats stop at many places. We shall go on with her to Japan. As we are starting on the steamer we hear various cracks and snaps from the boats near, where crackers are being exploded. The captain happens to pass on the way to the bridge and smiles as he hears them. "They're not firing salvos in our honour," he says; "they think the ship is full of devils, and in case a few have escaped and might land in their blameless boats, they're frightening them back again before it is too late." It makes a great difference to have a captain who takes an interest in his passengers and bothers to tell them incidents as they happen, though to him they may be dull as ditch water, as he has been through them all dozens of times already. The next time we meet the captain it is growing dusk, and he points ahead to what looks like a black rock looming up sheer from the sea. "Curious thing that," he says meditatively; "it's an island, Pulo Jarrak,—islands are all Pulo here,—and owing to the quantity of rain which falls here the vegetation grows so thickly it makes the island stand right out; even on a dark night you can see it ten to twenty miles off. It looks quite black."
We have only one stop on the way to Singapore, exactly midway between it and Penang, at Port Swettenham.
As we pass southward the Straits narrow and we can see the hills of Sumatra on one side, and sometimes funny little villages built on piles out over the water on the other. Pretty good sport to be able to drop a fishing-line out of one's front door, isn't it?
When the land gets very close on both sides we swing round suddenly, and behold! we are at Singapore, which, like Penang, is an island, and stands at the extreme south point of the long peninsula. It guards this useful passage where all the traffic between China and Japan on the one side comes to India on the other, just as Aden guards the Red Sea and Gibraltar the Mediterranean. Great Britain manages somehow to pick up all the lucky bits, and it is not by design either, it just happens that way. I can tell how this one happened; it was because there chanced to be a Man out here—a Man with a capital letter!
We go ashore and get into rickshaws and start for the town, which is a long three miles off. We shan't have time to do more than look round. The road runs by the docks at Singapore, which are enormous and extend all along the coast up to the town. On the way we pass men of all nations. There are natives of India, companies of Sikhs, Madrassees like Ramaswamy,—who is well on his way back to his master now,—Cingalese, Tamils with frizzy heads, little Japanese ladies in rickshaws, plenty of Chinese, and many Malays. The Malays are yellow rather than brown; they have just that slight narrowing of the eyes which tells they are akin to the Chinese, and they are, as a rule, well-made neat men, wearing loose blue skirts, with orange or red sashes, and large hats; some of them have short white jackets which are the universal top garments out here, when there are any at all.
The town itself is astonishingly well built; electric trams run everywhere, and there are splendid public buildings. As we trot along in our rickshaws we enter a large square. Do you see the name up there? Raffles Square. Sir Stamford Raffles was the man who made Singapore. In his time, the first part of the nineteenth century, Great Britain was very anxious to give away everything she had in the East to the first person who asked for it, as she did not want to fight about it, and could not see what use it could be, for the idea of Imperialism and Empire had not been developed. The Dutch asked largely and always got what they asked for, whether they had a right to it or not; this enraged Raffles, who happened to be out here, and so he looked around and noticed that the island of Singapore was placed in a wonderful position for trade, that it commanded the Straits, and that no one as yet had made any claim on it. He settled down here and put up the British flag. It was years before his country finally decided to acknowledge him and not give his territory up to the Dutch, who immediately asked for it; but in the end they did, and now here stands Singapore, a mighty city with miles of docks, a colossal trade, and a teeming population. There is a statue to Sir Stamford Raffles, as it is right there should be. The Botanical Gardens are worth seeing, and we can get tiffin in one of the palatial hotels, and then we must go back to the ship.
The scene in the bay as we depart is most lovely; ships of every nation are at anchor there, and as we pass out slowly we see island after island all covered with that rich green growth which is the result of the constant rain and warmth. Blue and green and gold is the world, and the little brown boys play about their water-built villages, tumbling in and out of the water, and living in the warm sea as much as on land day by day. Shoals of them come round us in their catamarans and dive for money, catching the silver bit as it twinkles down through the water, even though they make their spring from many yards off. As we get farther out we feel the difference in temperature at once, for now we are heading north, and the night is cold and rough—it is like passing into another climate.
These are wonderful seas, and dearly should I like some day to bring you on a cruise in and about this group of great islands to the south, which is like nothing else in the world! There is Borneo, that gigantic island, twice as large as the British Isles, which belongs partly to the British and partly to the Dutch. The story of Sir Stamford Raffles is outdone by the story of the Rajah of Sarawak, which shows that even in our own times the blood of Drake and Cook runs in the veins of Englishmen.
Hong-Kong is another island and also belongs to the British; it was given to them by treaty in 1841. As we sail in under the lee of the island by the narrow entrance to the bay between it and the mainland, we see what a splendid natural harbour this is. High above on the island rises what is called the Peak, and up and up and up it, in rows and terraces, are the houses of the people who live here. We can go up the Peak by a tram-line if we have time. The city is called Victoria, and is actually built on the rock or, rather, on terraces cut out of the face of it, one above the other. It is strange to find this little British colony isolated here on a bit of China, separated from the real China by half a mile of sea. As the steamer comes to rest on the mainland side at Kowloon Wharf we must take a ferry over to the city.
Once we are there we find a well-built town with wide roads, tree lined and very clean; there are many quite English-looking buildings of stone, and in the shops a strange mixture of wares, European and Eastern. Some of the shops are piled with the rich Eastern silk embroideries, ivory and lacquer work, carvings and fans, silver and metal work, paintings and furniture.
We have time to run up to the top by the tramway, and higher and higher as we go, houses still, houses all the way, and even at the very top there are some houses where the governor and other important people live in summer. It has been gloomy and cloudy all day, threatening rain, but just as we reach the summit the sun comes out in yellow glory, dropping to the West, and all the innumerable inlets and bays are turned to gold. The land between stands up in capes and cliffs and headlands, rather dim and misty, with the golden water flashing between.
We are off once more and up the coast to Shanghai, the last Chinese port we touch before going over to Japan.
Next morning we come up on deck to find a wet, clammy fog—we might be back in England again—how astonishing!
Now and again appearing out of the folds of swathing mist we see little islands and gaily painted fishing-boats, the owners of which seem bent on committing suicide. The boats sometimes are junks, with the square brown sails that we have by this time seen so often, or they are tiny little boats; whichever it is, they seem as if they deliberately tried to get under our bows, as you have seen village children run across in front of motor-cars. Again and again we feel the steamer sheer off a little to clear them, and sometimes she just succeeds in doing so. I expect the captain's temper is being pretty severely tried up there on the bridge. He stays there while the fog lasts, but when it clears a little in the evening he comes down for a hasty dinner.
Then we get at him and make fresh demands on his patience by questions. He seems to have a stock left, for he laughs good-humouredly when I speak of the native boats. "They do do it on purpose," he says; "they think it's good joss, as they say,—good luck that is, just to cross our bows. It means a never-ending look-out all along this coast, and nothing cures them. All the same they're some use when one gets fogged here, for you can generally tell where you are, to some extent, by the fishing-boats; they run in different colours and patterns at places along the coast, each part has its own special fashions in paint and rig."
He has hardly time to swallow his dinner before he is back on the bridge. It's a ticklish bit of navigation here.
We still thread our way close inshore through innumerable islands. One of them stands up stiff and straight, pointing like an obelisk to the sky. It is called the Finger Rock. We notice, too, very frequently, the white lighthouses, kept very clean. Then we go through a pass, two miles wide, called "Steep Island Pass," and are into the mouth of the Yangtsekiang River. Up this we go for a hundred miles before reaching Woosung, the Gravesend of Shanghai, which is still twelve or thirteen miles farther on. Then a turn and we are in sight of Shanghai with its factories and chimneys and great sheds called "godowns" with galvanised iron roofs. It is a disappointing place, but as we go farther on we see a public promenade and some clean, well-built stone houses. The Europeanised part of the city is, however, uninteresting, and we don't care to go into the native part by ourselves, so our chief amusement is watching the Chinese coolies loading and unloading the ship. Notice, they never push things on trollies, as our men do; they always carry everything slung on a bamboo. Even that great lump of iron, which must be part of some machinery, there it is, surrounded by a shouting horde of men, all slinging it up by their own little ropes, all giving a hand to carry the great mass along.
We have gathered very little of China in our short time at the ports, but we shall be able to get a better idea of Japan. Our first idea of it is when we stop at the island of Rokwren two days later and take on the pilot who is going to run us through the far-famed Inland Sea. At the same time two or three smart little Japanese doctors in European dress come on board to inquire into the health of passengers and crew, and give us a permit, for the Japs are most particular about not letting any foreign germs be landed on their shores, and at every port doctors come on board to make quite sure everyone is free from illness.
The next thing we know about Japan is her coal, for 1500 tons of it are brought on board, in little baskets, handed from one to another of long rows of men, women, and children, all working equally hard.
The narrow strait that leads into the Inland Sea is only a quarter of a mile wide, and after passing through it we steam along quietly amid the most beautiful scenery we have passed since leaving England. Everywhere are little islands, well cultivated, woody, and rocky. Rocks and hills and capes break up the vistas, and every time we turn a corner we see something better than before. The ship stops at Kobe, but, unluckily, you have got a touch of the sun and the doctor strictly forbids you to go on shore. Never mind, we'll soon be at Yokohama, which is far better.
By that time you are quite yourself again, and when the captain calls us up on deck you are eager to go. He points to a solid triangle of rock, sticking up out of the sea not very far distant, and as we look at it a flash of red flame spurts out into the air and something red-hot rolls swiftly down the scored sides. What does it remind you of? It is another Stromboli, of course!
"That," says the captain solemnly, "is the safety-valve of Japan. If it were blocked up there's no knowing what might happen." Then he swings round and points in another direction. Clear against the soft blue of the sky we see a sharp-pointed white cloud of a very curious shape, like an opened fan upside down. It seems quite detached from everything else, merely a curious snowy fan hanging in mid-air. "Why, it's Fujiyama, of course."
So it is! The famous Japanese mountain seen in thousands of the country's drawings and paintings; in fact, it has come to be a sort of national signboard. Now that we know where to look we see that the white fan part is merely the snow-cap running in large streaks downward, and that this rests upon a base as blue as the sky. Henceforward we shall see Fujiyama at many hours of the day—never a wide-spreading view but Fujiyama will be there, never a long road but Fujiyama at the end of it, never a flat plain without it. So odd is the great mountain, and so much character has it, that we feel inclined to nod good-night or good-morning to it when it greets us.
Then we enter the magnificent harbour of Yokohama with its hundreds of sampans, junks, tugs, ships, steamers, and every other craft. The smaller craft surround us clamorously, and looking down upon them we see that in almost every case there is a cat on board the junks, many of them tabby or tortoise-shell.
"'Cat good joss,' as the Chinamen would say," remarks a man standing near us, "specially three-coloured cats. They wouldn't give a fig for our lucky black ones without a white hair."
Hundreds of coolies are now clamouring for jobs all round. They are almost all dressed in blue, and those that wear upper garments have huge hieroglyphics of gay colours on their backs—these are the signs of their trades, or trades unions, as we might say, and each man wears his with pride.
So, with a fleet of attendant boats, gaily-dressed coolies, and complacent cats surrounding us, we come to our anchorage, say good-bye to the captain with great regret, and make our plunge into this new land.
THE LAND OF THE LITTLE PEOPLE
We are standing in front of a mysterious gate which is yet not a gate. You must have seen pictures of Japan many a time, and in some of them there must have been one of these curious erections. Yet how can one describe it? The Greek letter [Greek: Pi] is most like it. Imagine a giant [Greek: Pi] with a second cross-bar below the top one. In Japan this is called a Torii. The one in front of us, rising like a great scaffolding far above our heads, is made of wood, but they are often of stone or metal too. They are always to be found before the entrance to a Shinto temple. There must have been some meaning in them once upon a time, but it is lost now, and they remain decorative but useless.
We have left our rickshaw and are climbing up a long, long flight of steps to a Shinto temple not far from Tokyo, the capital town of Japan. Very many of the Japs are Buddhists, but it is a strange sort of Buddhism, not pure like that of the Burmans, and is mixed up with another religion called Shinto, and many of the people are Shintoists altogether. This religion is vague and mystical, with much worship of spirits, especially the spirits of the elements—earth, air, fire, and water. Everyone who is dead becomes in some degree an object of worship, and the Jap thinks more of his parents and ancestors than his children—his dead ancestors especially being much venerated.
When we reach the top of the steps we find ourselves suddenly in a blaze of loveliness. To the right, to the left, and all around are cherry trees, covered thickly with blossom which hangs in wreaths and rosettes and festoons as if moulded in snow. The time for the best of the blossom is a little past, and the ground at our feet is as white as the trees, indeed whiter; for just here and there the fairy display on the trees is slightly browned. The scent is very sweet, and hangs in the air like delicate perfume. In the time of blossom there are many outings and festivities in Japan; people make up parties to go to the orchards, and thoroughly enjoy their beauty. Come right underneath the trees and look up, we can see the thick, heavily laden branches against the soft rich blue of a cloudless sky, and in our ears is the hum of a myriad bees. It is as if the freshness of early spring and the richness of full summer were mingled together.
As we wander on over the scented ground we notice, a little way off, a rather pathetic-looking Japanese in the national costume, with a flat board or book in his hand. He is looking at us earnestly, and follows on at a respectful distance behind us.
Next we come upon a quaint little garden on the lines of what we should call a landscape garden in England, but it is all on a tiny scale, as if made for dolls to walk in. There is a pond as big as a tea-tray, walks the breadth of one's foot, wee trees, gnarled with age and twisted and fully grown, but no higher than your knee. It is all so delicate and dainty and tiny that we are afraid to walk in it for fear we should spoil it; we feel thoroughly big and clumsy as Gulliver must have felt among the Lilliputians, and we expect every minute to see the rightful owners, wee men and women the size of a man's fingers, rushing out from the little summer-house with the curved roof at the end, and crying shrilly to us to go away!
Treading carefully, a foot at a time, along the miniature paths, we pass through this and go on toward the temple which now appears amid a grove of deep dark pines. The steps are worn and hollowed, and on each side of them is an astonishing red figure of a man-monster in a very ferocious attitude, like that of the lions rampant seen on crests. These figures are a dark hot red and are dotted all over with white dabs; as we draw nearer to them we see that these dabs are doubled up bits of white paper sticking irregularly here and there without any arrangement. We cannot imagine what they are for, but as we stare we hear a foot crunch the gravel gently, and the little Jap with the board creeps up and salaams deeply, making at the same time a curious hissing noise as if he sucked in his breath. He must be very nervous.
"If the honourable sirs will allow this humble servant to explain," he begins in fluent and perfect English.
We are only too glad of his help, and not to be outdone in politeness we simultaneously raise our hats to him. He then tells us that all these paper pellets are prayers or wishes. People write down what they want on them and then moisten them in their mouths and spit them out against the images; if the paper sticks it shows the wish will be granted, if it falls to the ground then fate is against it. It is not a very beautiful custom, but perhaps not quite so bad as betel-nut chewing!
Then the Jap coughs nervously, and with an overwhelming apology for daring to presume so far, explains that we ought to remove our "honourable shoes" before entering the temple. Of course we do it at once, though English shoes are not meant to take off and on at every turn, and while we struggle with our laces he knocks on the woodwork of the temple, and the sliding doors slip back along grooves, showing a very aged priest who smiles and beckons us in; so we pass on, feeling all the while conscious of the mystery of a country so utterly unlike our own. Inside, the floor is covered with thick mats, so we do not miss our shoes, though we step cautiously at first. It is very dim, but gradually our eyes grow accustomed to the want of light and we see lacquered screens, and little recesses, and bronze lamps, and curious images. Though it is spotlessly clean, very different from the Hindu temple, there is a strong smell of incense or burnt flowers or something rather odd. Our friendly Jap has gone down on his knees and is bowing his forehead to the ground, but we are not expected to do that evidently.
Two weird figures in peaked caps, fastened under their chins by tapes, have drifted out silently from somewhere and follow us as the priest leads us round. There does not seem to be any one special shrine with a central figure for us to see; perhaps there is one, but it is not shown to foreigners. It is all vague and rather meaningless, and the carving and decoration are unsatisfying. After a while, as there does not seem to be anything more forthcoming, we drop a few coins into a bowl held out to us and prepare to go. Just as we reach the door another strange being in a peaked cap appears with tiny cups of clear amber-coloured tea on a tray, and holds them out to us. The little cups have no handles, and there is no milk in the tea, but on the tray are several rather nice-looking little cakes, only, unfortunately, they are all the colours of the rainbow—violet and green and scarlet. I utterly refuse to touch them, but the English-speaking Jap assures me they are "nice," so you, declaring that you are "jolly hungry," eat several and pronounce them "jolly good." We sip the tea, which tastes utterly different from that we have at home, and bowing all round again we put on our shoes and descend the steps. I'm sure if I lived here long I should be quite fit to take a position at court, my "honourable" manners would be so much improved. There is nothing brusque or rough or rude about these people, you couldn't imagine them scrambling or pushing to get in front of others even at a big show.
A voice behind us says timidly, "Will the honourable sirs be pleased to employ this humble servant as interpreter?"
We stop and look at him. It is not a bad idea. We have felt already this morning, even in coming straight from our very Western hotel here, how helpless we are in this land where the chair-men do not speak a word of English, and where even the street names are in Chinese characters. This little man is quite unassuming, he would certainly be no trouble and might be very useful. When we stop he deprecatingly opens his flat book and shows us drawings in freehand of scrolls and animals that he has made. He explains that he tries to get a living by offering such designs to the shops, but that he would like better to be interpreter to us, as he wishes to perfect his English. The terms he asks are absurdly moderate. Yes, we will have him.
We engage him then and there, and he enters our service at once; there is no need for delay, for he is apparently not encumbered with anything beyond his drawing-book. He brightens up wonderfully when we say "yes." Poor little chap, I expect he is half starved. In most countries it would be rash indeed to engage a man at sight without any sort of written "character," but there is a simplicity and honesty about this one which gives us confidence in him. I am sure he would never cheat us deliberately, anyway, I am quite ready to risk it.
We tell him that what we want is to see something of Tokyo to-day, and then to go off into the country and try to get a glimpse of the real Japanese life, un-Europeanised, in some small village where we could stay at a little country inn for a day or two. He enters into the scheme at once and says that he will have the plans all ready to suggest to us this evening. Meantime he takes command, and after seeing us into our waiting rickshaws, calls up another for himself, gives the three men directions, and off we go.
As we run back to the town we notice the houses standing by themselves in the suburbs, quite good, large houses, some of them, surrounded by their own gardens, shut in by high walls so that only the sloping red-tiled roofs, curved up at the end, are visible. Some of these are two storeys high, but when we get into the town we see at first only rows and rows of one-storey houses. There are frequent earthquakes in Japan, and to build many-storeyed blocks would mean frightful disaster and loss of life. As it is, the people can rush quickly out of their little homes into the streets at the first signs of a shaking.
What do you notice about the streets that strikes you most particularly? To me it is the colouring—blue. You remember that in Burma there was practically no blue; the people wore red and pink and magenta and orange, but they seemed one and all to avoid blue. I used to think it was because they knew that blue would not suit their sallow, yellowish complexions; but the Japanese are just as yellow, in fact more so, for the Burmese yellow is a kind of coffee colour, and theirs real saffron, and yet the Japs are very fond of blue. The coolies and work-men all dress in it, with those astonishing signs on their backs that we noticed first at Yokohama, and the shops have blue banners hanging out beside them. These are for their names—they are signboards, in fact. Instead of running across horizontally, as our writing does, the Japanese writing—which is the same as the Chinese, though the spoken language is different—runs vertically. A Jap does many things exactly the opposite way from what we do. He begins to read a book from what we should consider the end, backwards, and instead of going along, he goes up and down a line; and the long thin strips, with those mysterious cabalistic signs on them, are the shopkeepers' names and businesses. The shops are all open to the street, without glass, in this quarter; they are just what we should call stalls; most of them seem to be greengrocers' or fruiterers'. And in the first there are always prominently in front huge vegetables like gigantic radishes or elongated turnips; the people eat them largely, though to a European both the flavour and the smell are nasty. In the fish shops the funniest things to be seen are great black devil-fish, or octopuses, with their lumpy round bodies and black tentacles stretching out on all sides. They are loathsome to look at, but the Japs are not the only people who use them for food; in parts of Italy the peasants eat them as a staple dish whenever they can catch them.
There are no pavements here, and the streets are very muddy after last night's heavy rain, but it doesn't seem to matter a bit to the numerous inhabitants. All those who can afford it go in rickshaws, which pass us every minute, and the others wear clogs which lift them high out of the dirt. These clogs are called geta, and they are the funniest footwear to be found anywhere. You would find it more difficult to get about on them than on roller-skates, but the Japs are so much used to them that they trip along morning, noon, and night in them without being the least tired. They are simply little stools of wood, one flat piece being supported by two smaller ones at the toe and heel, and they are held on by straps across the foot. Men, women, and children are thus raised inches out of the mud, and patter about, ting-tang, ting-tang, all day long. Some of the women have coarse white stockings made with a separate stall for the big toe, on the model of a baby's glove, so that the geta strap can go through.
We have now got into the middle of the town where the more populous streets are. You ought to notice how the colours of the clothes differ for the different ages of the people: the grandmothers and grandfathers wear dark purples and sombre hues; the middle-aged people have soft colouring, grey greens and palish shades; and the children are very gay, in every imaginable colour and often all mixed together. The girls have all a broad sash called an obi, humped up in a funny way behind their bodies; in the children this becomes a great bow like the wings of a butterfly. The people are small, and were it not for the clogs they would look smaller still; their country is not little, for Japan is larger than the United Kingdom, but the people are rarely tall, and they are slenderly built, with small bones, so that being among them makes an ordinary fair-sized Englishman feel clumsy and long-limbed. Now we are in the main street of all. Here comes a tram filled with Japanese, all smiling and chattering and looking happy; they take life with a smile. The houses here are larger than those we have passed, and some are just European buildings of stone, and the shop-windows are filled with glass, and show as fine a display as in the best London shops. There are many entirely for the sale of Western things, and others for the things of the country—the beautiful embroideries and silks, and silver-work and lacquer-work and carving, which you know so well by sight at home, for it is sent over in large quantities now, and anyone can buy it in London as cheaply as here.
As we near our hotel we tell the interpreter, whose "honourable name" we have learned is Yosoji,—everything belonging to other people is "honourable" here,—that we would like to see the palace where the Emperor lives; so he gives an order to the rickshaw man, and we set out once more.
On the way we see many open spaces and pass through a park, but when we get to the palace we find that no one is allowed to go in, and we can only drive round by the walls and moat. The Mikado, or Emperor, is worshipped by most of his people; he is in the position of a god, and it is no mere expression of speech to say that every schoolboy would be proud and glad to die for him. There is no country in the world whose people are more passionately devoted to their fatherland than the Japs. The idea of prominent Japanese going about in foreign countries trying to belittle their own, or undermine her power in the countries she has won by the sword, is unthinkable.
Later in the afternoon, coming out again from our hotel, we find Yosoji waiting for us, and we tell him we want to walk about on foot to look at some of the shops. He protests, and we can see he thinks us almost out of our minds to suggest going on foot. He pleads earnestly that rickshaws are very cheap. We have to explain that it is not the money we are thinking of, but that we really prefer to go on foot. He doesn't believe it—he can't, because no Japanese would prefer to go on foot when he could ride. So we take no further notice of him and just walk away, leaving him to follow humbly and despairingly. We have not taken many steps when a whole flight of rickshaw men swoop across the road and are on our heels, crying out, "Rickshaw, rickshaw, shaw, shaw, r'sha," like our old friends the pests of Egypt. We pretend not to hear, and walk on with what dignity we can, but they follow persistently, almost trampling on our heels, and reiterating their cries all the time. They can only imagine we must be deaf and blind. The crowd grows greater, the street is getting blocked. We pass a Japanese policeman in a stiff and badly made uniform, and are seized with sudden hope that he will send the offenders flying, but he does nothing of the sort; he fumbles in his pocket, brings out a little text-book Of English, and laboriously reads out, "Please secure me a good rickshaw," and looks at us triumphantly as if he had solved the difficulty!
I have no moral courage; I don't know if you have more, anyway, let us take two and then they can follow us if they like, and the others will go away. Accordingly we give orders to Yosoji, who bows, only half-satisfied, and interprets our orders. The plan works, the other men slink off, and the two selected ones follow us limply at a foot's pace.
What I am really making for is a little print shop I saw as we passed along here this morning, with a number of Japanese drawings in the window. They are so queer, so well done, and yet so conventional that they have a charm of their own. Here it is! Look at that extraordinary picture of the great fish breaking through a hole in the blocks of ice! The ice looks cold, it is very well done, but the little bits of spray loop up round the fish in a stiff frill of a regular pattern. Then there is that one of the sea. It gives one a tremendous idea of a heavy lowering storm with the great indigo waves curling over that doomed boat, yet the edge of every wave has a sort of lace frill on it exactly alike! I must have those to take home; they won't take up any room.
As we enter the Jap lady who is selling the prints gives a long hiss. She bows profoundly, and so do we. They won't know us when we get home!
"But why did she hiss?" you ask Yosoji. He says it is a sign of respect. Oh! I thought they were nervous! How funny! As long as they don't expect me to do it back again—I can manage the bowing when there is no one there but you to see, but if I tried to hiss I should break down in the middle! I take out my purse to pay for the print. The money here is confusing, because there are yen and sen. A yen is equal to two shillings and a halfpenny, and a sen is only the hundredth part of a yen, or about a farthing. In order to reckon the change the old lady takes up a frame with beads strung across it on wires; I believe it's called an abacus, and they use them in kindergarten schools to teach children to count. She must be an ignorant old dame, and yet she looks wholly respectable. I wonder what Yosoji thinks of it. When we look at him he is quite demure and solemn and doesn't seem to notice anything odd.
Coming out of the shop we find the dearest trio of children gazing at us. Of all the sights in Japan the children are the most fascinating. They are so funnily dressed, like the odd little Jap dolls English children buy. These three are clad very magnificently in kimonos of silk crape, very soft, and brilliantly coloured, with huge coloured sashes. Their little heads, with straight all-round fringes of black hair sticking out like brushes, are deliciously comic. They regard us gravely and without any fear or shyness.
It is getting dark; suddenly someone lights a Chinese lantern across the street, and almost as if it were a given signal another pops out and another and another. Chinese lanterns with us are used for decoration, and it is impossible to help feeling as if it were a festival when we see them gleaming along the street among the coloured streamers.
Altogether the lanterns, the gay dresses, the smiling faces, the funny shops, the clear deep blue of a perfect evening sky seen overhead, make a glorious picture. Shut your eyes and "think back" a moment. Think of Oxford Street on a wet night when the shops are shut and the high arc-lights shine down coldly on rigid lines and bleak grey walls!
IN A JAPANESE INN
If we received a slight shock when we saw the woman in the shop adding up by the help of beads, what about the booking-clerk at the station? He seems unable to give the simplest change without this sort of reckoning. Comic, isn't it? Picture the clerks at Euston fumbling away at their beads while an impatient throng elbowed one another before the pigeon-hole!
The station is quite small, merely a shed with a wooden roof set on posts. We are going second-class and taking Yosoji with us, so that we shall see some of the native life.
The trains are corridor, with the seats lengthwise and across the ends. Many of the Japs are sitting sideways on them with their feet tucked under them,—they are not used to have them hanging down,—but one grand gentleman, directly opposite to us, is quite European in his top hat and long coat, and his feet are on the floor as to the manner born.
We have not been long started before he begins to fidget and shuffle, and presently he hauls up a wicker basket beside him, undoes it, and fishes out a very nice dark purple kimono. His top hat goes into the rack. His collar, tie, and stud disappear. His coat comes off and is carefully folded on the seat. We watch the gradual unpeeling with an absorbed interest, wondering how far it will go. Luckily there are no ladies present! We can stare as much as we like without being rude, because everyone else in the carriage has their eyes fixed with a straight unwinking stare upon us. It is difficult to realise that we are more entertaining to them than the gentleman who is disrobing himself with ineffable dignity in public, is to us.
He has now slipped on the kimono over his remaining garments, there is a little twist, and a slight, a very slight struggle, and in some miraculous way the rest of his European outfit glides off underneath the kimono, neatly folded. It is like a conjuring trick! Last of all come off the boots also, and with his stockinged feet tucked up under him he sits transformed into the Complete Jap. Judging from the lack of interest taken in the performance by his fellow-countrymen, it must be quite a usual thing to undress in trains.
Having finished his task the gentleman on the seat turns to us and asks innumerable questions. Where have we come from? Where are we going to? How do we like Japan? Is it not a very poor, mean country compared with the glorious and august land we belong to? All this is interpreted by Yosoji, who no doubt puts our answers into the flowery language Japanese courtesy demands; for instance, when I say that I like Japan very much, I am sure, from the breathless sentence that follows, that he is saying that the strangers think the honourable country of Japan far more beautiful and wonderful than their own poor land. The man opposite does not for a moment think really that England is to be compared with Japan, but in Japan people are taught to talk like that, and must often think us very rude and abrupt.
It is not a long journey, and after an hour or so of passing through pretty, hilly country, with many bushy pine trees dotted about, we stop at a station which Yosoji says is our destination. It is a good thing we have Yosoji with us, for certainly we could never have discovered the name of the station for ourselves. We see a long scroll covered with Chinese characters, and other smaller scrolls ornamented in the same way, these are, of course, the name of the station and the inscriptions on various waiting-rooms, but they leave us none the wiser. I ask Yosoji how any European travelling alone could discover where he had got to, and he smilingly points out a board at the extreme end of the station with some of our own lettering on it. No one could possibly see it from the incoming train.
We still feel absurdly big as we get out of the little train on its little narrow gauge line and wait while Yosoji captures our luggage from the van. It is packed in great baskets which fit into each other like two lids; we see them in England often, but there they are rather looked down upon, here they are quite the correct thing. Indeed, among all the luggage in the van there is no trunk or wooden or tin box at all, only a great pile of such baskets of all sizes, mingled with a few bundles simply tied up. When our belongings are rescued and identified they are stowed away in a rickshaw by themselves, while we three mount in three others and set off for far the most interesting part of the journey. At first the road is quite good, and the men trot away contentedly, the big hats bobbing up and down before us. What do these hats remind you of? To me they are exactly like the lids of those galvanised dustbins you see put out in streets for the dustmen at home.
The air is brilliantly fresh and sweet; we pass along by pine trees of many sorts, and between them see the fresh green of the feathery bamboos; these two colours, the dark blue-green of the pines and the brilliant yellow-green of the bamboo, are seen everywhere in Japan. Then there are avenues of red-stemmed trees called cryptomeria, we should say cedars, with dark heads spreading out at the top of their immense branchless stems. We see squirrels leaping about and scuttering up the trunks. Then we go across open spaces, which are like an emerald sea, for they are the brightest green you can imagine, the green of the growing paddy, which is cultivated here as in Burma. There are men dressed in garments of glorious blue, like those we saw in Egypt, hoeing and watching the important crops. Then we plunge into cool woods and follow little paths up and down, and when we want to get out and walk, feeling lazy brutes to sit still and let a fellow-creature haul us uphill, Yosoji says no, it would hurt the feelings of our men, who would imagine we thought them poor weak things and scorned them.
We twist down to a wooden bridge, dark maroon in colour, and built in one single span across a raging, leaping stream that dashes and splashes merrily far below. At the other end is one of the picturesque roofed arches or gates that the Japanese are so fond of, with its rich red tiles curved up at the corners. Not far on we catch a glimpse of a waving sheet of blue, a mass of flowers growing wild on a hillside, and in sight of it, but still in the shade of the trees, we sit down for lunch and to give the coolies a rest.
Several times during the run we have noticed shrines with images of little foxes before them, some clean and new, but some weather-worn and grown over with lichen. As Yosoji unpacks the lunch he tells us these are Shinto shrines put up in honour of the god of rice. It seems very appropriate to hear this now, just as we are going to fare merrily on hard-boiled eggs, a tiny chicken, and plenty of rice, finishing up with those astonishing bright-coloured cakes, which we have learnt to eat without fear. We rest a long time, and all except you smoke contentedly, watching the blue films curl upward under the still foliage; and then up and on once more.
It is nearly five o'clock before we reach our destination, a little village, with a rather famous inn, not very far from the sea. In fact, as we approach we can see the blue water shining out only about a mile away across a flat expanse broken by hummocky sandhills. The village is one long straggling street of thatched huts, rather like huge beehives, with broad eaves. Our rickshaw men, who have been showing signs of exhaustion, make a gallant effort at the last, and run us up to the door of the inn in fine style. The inn stands on legs raised a foot or two from the ground, and is well built, with solid wooden posts and a tiled roof. It is two storeys high and has verandahs round both floors.
As our men let down the shafts of the chairs for us to alight, two women and a man in native dress come out on to the verandah, and immediately fall down on their faces before us, with their foreheads on the ground. I don't know how you feel about it, but not having been born in the purple this sort of thing is embarrassing to me, and I wish they wouldn't! I have a vague idea that I ought to rise to the occasion by taking their hands and saying, "Rise, friend, I also am mortal," or something like that!
Yosoji, of course, does all the talking, and with a great deal of bowing and volumes of flowing language, arranges for us to stay here the night, requesting us to pass on into the house. In the porch it is evidently expected that we should take off our boots, so we do, and they are stowed away in a little pigeon-hole, while we are offered instead large and awkward pairs of slippers like those we had at the mosques. You reject them, preferring stocking feet, and you have the best of me, for the next move is to go up a very slippery ascent like a ladder that is trying to grow into a staircase. While you hop along gaily I leave one slipper behind on the last rung, and in trying to recover it slip and bark my shin! However, when it is retrieved, I take off the other and, carrying them both in my hand, mount quite easily.
The room we go into is specklessly clean, and through the wide sliding panels, which are open on to the verandah, we see a glimpse of the blue sea. The floor is made of mattresses in wooden frames neatly fitted together, and is quite soft and comfortable to the feet; boots with heels would certainly be out of place here. In a little alcove on one side is a miniature tree such as those you sometimes see offered for sale in England now, and behind it a quite beautiful sketch of Fujiyama on a scroll. There is no other furniture at all, but when our luggage is brought up we can sit on the baskets. We explain to Yosoji that we would greatly like—first, a hot bath, after the heat and dust of the journey, and next some food. Presently in comes the little Japanese maid whom we saw on her face at the door in company with her master and mistress. She prostrates herself at once, and with her forehead against the floor says something, indrawing her breath in a most accomplished hiss. Do you think we ought to do it back again?
Yosoji interprets that with great good luck the hot water is ready, and if we go down now we can have a bath. Our things have been brought up, so selecting a few clean garments we go once more along the polished passage and down that dangerous ladder, then through a room, presumably the kitchen, which is quite full of people, on to a covered-in verandah on one side of the house, where two large shining brass basins stand on a sink, and an iron tub stands on the floor, with its own fire beneath it like a copper; clouds of steam arise from it. But what catches our attention most quickly is an amiable Japanese man, who, clad in a very slight garment, has evidently just had a bath. We can see he has been pouring the contents of the basins over himself, and letting the water run away between the wooden slats of the floor, so we wait for them to be refilled for us. All the people who were in the kitchen have by this time drifted in here, and stand in interested contemplation of our proceedings. "Which is the bath?" I ask Yosoji. He motions toward the tub of boiling water. "But that's too hot; we shall be boiled sitting on the top of a fire," I explain. Thereupon a great commotion ensues, embers are raked out, and there is much running about and chattering. The Japs themselves take their baths at a temperature which would peel the skin off our bodies. As the water is still too hot, even when the fire has been removed, we wait for it to cool, and meantime I ask where is the other bath, as there are two of us? This produces great consternation in Yosoji; who ever heard of each person having a bath to himself? The notion is absurd. He knows the ridiculous prejudice of the English, who do not like to use the same water as the Japanese, but, as it happens, this water is perfectly clean, for even the gentleman who has just gone out did not use it. Is it possible we can't use it, one after the other? I ask him what state the water gets into when half a dozen people have been boiled in it, one after another, and he tells me that it is in no state at all, for, of course, etiquette does not allow them to use soap actually in the bath! Well, we must manage somehow; when they clear out we can tip some of the hot water into that second basin and use it afterwards. Meantime they all stand, gaily expectant, smiling affably. I explain to Yosoji that we can't undress before the crowd, and he seems to think my ideas most extraordinary. In Japan people always bathe in a garment and have not the least objection to doing it in full view of the street.
With considerable difficulty our absurd scruples are made clear to the assembled company, who reluctantly depart, defrauded of their fun, and draw close the sliding screen.
Then—yah—it is hot! We manage to tip out two good basins full and fill up with cold water from a tin pail which stands near. Well, we both find it very refreshing. You go first, and while I am revelling in the hot water I hear a dismayed exclamation, "Oh, the towels!" and see you holding up a tiny thing no bigger than a table-napkin, embroidered in a wandering blue pattern. There are two for each, and though they are little more than pocket-handkerchiefs we must make them do.
When we get back to our rooms in a more or less steamy condition, we find that the screens, which are made of paper framed in wood, have been drawn, and outside them wooden shutters have been fastened. The room is very close, and there isn't an inch open for ventilation. After a long expostulation with Yosoji we are allowed to have the outer shutters open an inch or two, though he explains they must be shut and bolted before we go to bed at night or the police will be down upon us. There are two loose, flowing Jap gowns lying ready for our use, and very delightful they are. As they are quite clean we slip into them instead of coats and laugh across at each other. In comes the little maid, once more prostrating herself, then she goes out and returns with a lacquered tray on tiny legs a few inches high. This she sets on the floor, and after a considerable interval, during which she has brought up many tiny dishes and bowls, she suddenly seats herself on one side of the tray and motions to us to begin.
We wriggle across the floor inelegantly and squat opposite to her. The first thing we see are two steaming bowls of soup; we make short work of these, drinking from the bowl, and find at the bottom some tough-looking bits of something. Then we discover all at once there are no knives, forks, or spoons, only chopsticks, like forks with one prong. We try to fish out the bits of something, but even when we have caught them the result is not satisfactory; it is like eating leather. Next comes bowls of rice, and if it was difficult before, it is doubly so now. I should certainly never be able to pick up grains of rice with a chopstick while that solemn little maid sits opposite; it would take a Cinquevalli to do it! I make a desperate attempt and explode suddenly, the maid giggles, you roar, and even Yosoji, who is somewhere in the background, begins tittering. After this the ice is broken; we entreat Yosoji to get the maid away without hurting her feelings, and when she has departed we finish the rice with our fingers. There are various other things—beans which can be skewered on the chopsticks, and funny little bits of stuff like mixed pickles, but even when we have eaten everything we are as hungry as when we began. Just as we are realising it our little friend appears again with a decent-sized fish on a dish, decorated with onions, and we quickly fall to, using a funny kind of bean-paste made up like a cake, instead of bread. By the time we have finished we are rather fishy but very much more satisfied.
The meal taken away, our handmaiden slides back a panel in the more substantial side of the room, which is of wood, and produces various stuffed rugs which she spreads on the ground—these are called futon, and are very like our useful friend the rezai; we have some of our own to add to them, and altogether the beds look so comfortable that we are quite ready to get into them at an early hour. Having lit a Chinese lantern at one end of the room before the little picture recess, a sacred place in every Japanese household, the maid retires for the night, and so does Yosoji. Only then do we discover that for pillows they have given us tiny wooden stools, not unlike the national clogs, only slightly larger! These we are supposed to place in the crick of the neck; having tried it you declare that if you slept at all that way you would certainly dream you were lying on the block to be beheaded, so instead you choose the lid of one of the baskets, which, being yielding, makes not half a bad pillow.
After a profound sleep I am awakened by a flood of light, and sit up with a start, to find myself in bed before an admiring crowd. The sliding panels opening on to the verandah have been pushed back, and there stand my landlord and landlady, and the little maid-servant, and several other persons, bowing and prostrating themselves and asking innumerable questions, to which, as there is no Yosoji, I can give no answers. Everyone in Japan asks questions, I find; it is supposed to show a polite interest in you. I feel rather awkward sitting up there among my futon and making a series of little jerks meant to be bows, and I am glad when you wake up too and help me a little. You are not so shy, it seems, for you hop out of your rugs and dance to the verandah, revelling in the light and sunshine.
An hour later we have had a sluice down with cold water from the brass basins, eaten a most unsatisfying and unsubstantial breakfast, much like the dinner the night before, minus the fish, and are out to visit the village schools, at the suggestion of Yosoji, before going on.
They are worth visiting! I never saw anything quite so quaintly pretty as these rows of little dolls in their brilliantly gay garments, tied up with their big sashes. They are sitting on the floor and laboriously making strokes with a paint-brush. That is to say, they are learning to write. The Chinese writing is not an alphabet like ours, but each complicated symbol stands for an idea, and there are thousands and thousands of them. It takes a child seven years even to learn fairly what will be necessary in after life.
These little mites are not making complete signs, but just doing one stroke again and again, all over a large sheet of paper, and when they have learnt that they will go on to another, until one complete symbol is mastered. The writing is done by brush-work instead of with a pen, and is more like artistic painting than stiff writing. Suddenly the teacher gives a signal, and the tiny tots rush out into the air, and dance and play and run and twiddle each other round and round like little kittens; they are so gay and so bright it is quite evident that Japanese children are not ill-treated.
It is with great reluctance we pick up our luggage, pay our very moderate bill, and leave this dear little village. Whatever else fades out of our minds as time goes on I am sure the picture of those gay children will never be forgotten.
THOUSANDS OF SALMON
We dawdled so long in the quaint and charming country of Japan that it was full summer when we left. As the inverted fan of Fujiyama faded gradually into nothingness against the illimitable spaces of the sky, we said again and again sayonara, which is the musical Japanese word meaning good-bye, for we felt we were taking leave of an old friend. Japan is on the other side of the world from England; shall we ever get there again?
Then came the voyage across the Pacific and the landing at Victoria, the chief town on the great island of Vancouver, which lies off the west coast of Canada. It is always a little confusing to people who have not visited this part, because there are two Vancouvers: one the great island which blocks the western coast of Canada, and the other the town lying on the eastern side of the narrow straits, on the mainland.
Well, here we are in Victoria, and the astonishing homeliness of it gives us both a warm feeling of delight. It seems as if we really had got almost in touch with our own country again. As we wandered through the town to-day we saw in the outskirts red-brick creeper-covered houses that might have been in an English market town. In spite of all its trams and docks and general go-aheadness Victoria is old world. We visited a place called Esquimault, by tram-car, and saw there British ships of war and many other kinds of craft. Now we are back in the hotel, and in our cosy bedroom there is little to remind us we have still a continent and ocean between us and our beloved little island.
What are you doing? Putting your boots out to be cleaned? Well, that is one thing you won't get done here, it is not the custom; you will have to go down to the basement and have them cleaned on your feet, and tip the man who does them then and there. I'll come too, because we have to make a very early start to-morrow. I wish we hadn't, for some things. There is capital shooting and fishing here, though a great deal of the island, which, by the way, is more than twice the size of Wales, is covered with impenetrable forests. It is difficult to get about at all in the interior, but we could have gone around by the coast and explored the inlets, and with luck we might have seen something of the moose and the bear, to say nothing of wild fowl and salmon and trout, but we can't manage it this time. A friend of mine, who is in charge of a salmon-cannery on the coast of British Columbia, is going to put us up for a day or two, and he has arranged that we shall cross over on the cannery steamer, the Transfer, which leaves so early that we'll have to be up at half-past four in the morning.
* * * * *
Ugh, I'm sleepy! But I see the sun is already up and shining in a cloudless sky. It is a trifle cold when we get out at first in the morning, but as we walk briskly down to the steamer we feel warmed up. The wharf shows a busy scene; there are numbers of blue-clad Chinamen rushing backwards and forwards loading boxes on to our little steamer, which floats by the wharf, and what a comic steamer she is! She is like nothing so much as a great fan-tail pigeon sitting on the water! That is because her immense paddle-wheel is tucked away at the back. There is a very good reason for this too! The steamer gives an agonised scream from her siren, the Chinamen on board chatter and gesticulate frantically to their comrades left behind, there is a terrific commotion, and for the moment no one could help believing that something has gone wrong; but no, this is only the way the Celestials say good-bye, for when we are fairly off all the noise stops and a great calm falls on board.
The view from the deck is glorious; in this brilliant light we can see the mountains rearing up behind the town. While we are admiring them a voice says, "One piecy eat breakfast, Master," and turning we see a Chinaman in spotless white bowing before us. We gladly accept and go below, where we find other Chinamen gliding about in felt slippers serving hot baked buckwheat cakes and maple syrup; the cakes are beautifully flaky and about the size of a saucer; we soon dispose of them and some decent coffee too, and return to the deck quickly not to miss anything.
It seems no time before we are gliding along close to the land on the other side, startling myriads of water-fowl, who fly up in front of us in an endless cloud, or dive just as we get near enough to see them well. Then a tall white lighthouse heaves into sight and we round a corner into that famous salmon river, the Fraser. There are red houses peeping out between the trees, and boats begin to pop up here and there, but we don't seem to be getting on very fast, for we are zigzagging this way and that across the water, almost more crookedly than we did on the Nile or Irrawaddy to avoid sandbanks.
"See the nets?" asks one of the ship's officers, coming to a halt beside us and pointing to a line of corks on the surface of the water; "we've got to keep clear of them, and that's no job for a sleepy-head, I can tell you." He goes on to explain that the nets are sixty feet long and weighted with lead on the low side in the usual fashion. At this time of year the salmon are all trying to get up the river. Salmon have queer ways. They are born far up, in the head waters of the Fraser, or any other great river, and come down as quite little fellows to the sea, where they live a free bachelor life, enjoying themselves in the open for three years; but at the end of that time an irresistible desire to return to the fresh water seizes them, and in thousands and thousands they press up the wide mouth of the river, tumbling over each other in their eagerness to get there; this is the time they are caught. The nets are made with wide meshes, and the fish in their struggle to get forward run their blunt heads through, but when they try to withdraw them they are held by the gills and remain fixed until they are hauled out to meet their fate. But from six in the morning on Saturdays till six in the evening on Sundays the law forbids netting, so a certain number always escape and get up the river to lay their eggs, after which they return to the sea and leave their families to hatch out; but their life-work is finished, and they either die on the way or soon afterwards. All this the officer tells us as we meander across the smooth water.
We stop once or twice where the flag calls, just as we did on the Irrawaddy, to take up or put down some freight, and then we sight Lulu Island, where we are to stay as the guests of Mr. Clay for a day or two. Hullo! there he is! That tall fellow in a flannel shirt and blue trousers. Oh no, it isn't—it's another Englishman; but among the multitude of Chinese one Englishman looks very like another! This man greets us as we get off at the pier, and says that Mr. Clay is expecting us, and he pilots us into a great shed at the end of the pier. My word, what a sight! There are thousands and thousands of salmon lying on every square foot of floor, and not only covering it, but covering it knee-deep, as they are piled one on the other. There are Chinamen wading about among them, and every minute fresh boats arrive at the wharf with their cargoes, and the men in them throw up the fish to the other men on the wharf. The salmon we see here, our new acquaintance tells us, are called "sock-eye," and weigh about ten pounds each. The great rush comes every fourth year, one of which was 1913, when about thirteen million fish were caught in the season. The men in the boats are Japs; we feel quite friendly toward them. Mixed with them are some others with rather Eastern faces too, but quite different from anything we have seen yet. Notice their greasy straight hair, their flat, broad, good-humoured faces and little stocky figures; what race do you think they are? Esquimaux? That is not a bad shot; they are very like the pictures one sees of Esquimaux, but these fellows are Siwash Indians, who live along the coast hereabouts. Here is Mr. Clay, who has been watching the reckoning of the caught fish. He is dressed exactly like the man who met us, and a useful working dress it is too. He greets us with the greatest hospitality and says he'll take us right up to his house for breakfast first, as we must be starved, and we can see all we want to afterwards. When we are clear of the sheds we see a long, low, wooden building standing by itself; to reach it we have to pass over several wooden platforms raised on legs. These, Mr. Clay explains, are necessary, because in winter the whole island is pretty well under water. As we cross the verandah we are warmly welcomed by Mrs. Clay, and taken into a charming wooden room in the middle of the house, on to which all the other rooms open. Here is laid out a splendid home breakfast of bacon and eggs and porridge, and after a wash it doesn't take us very long to fall to! How long is it since we had bacon and eggs for breakfast? It seems to me to be so far back I can't remember! We are both rather thin after living on Jap diet so long, and are quite ready to wind up with more buckwheat cakes when we have finished the other things. All the servants are Chinamen you notice, and very well they wait too.
While we eat, Mr. Clay tells us much about his kingdom. He and his wife have another house which is in New Westminster, not far off up the river, and they go there for the winter, only staying here in the summer when the work is in full swing. He is the manager of only one cannery here, and there are several others all working amicably together.
Then we stroll out, feeling blissfully satisfied, a condition we have long been strangers to, and as we smoke Mr. Clay points out the other houses round. There is the house for the white men who assist him, the houses for the Japs, and the Chinese house. At the back of his own premises are sheds where he keeps a couple of horses and some cows for his own use. Then there is the Stores, a big building full of tinned meats, sacks of rice, tobacco and tea, and all sorts of underclothing, as well as the other little things men are likely to want.
Afterwards we stroll through the Chinamen's house. It is a queer-looking place, with bunks ranged along the walls and a huge wooden table down the middle, where just now numbers of complacent Chinamen are sitting down to a midday meal of rice with cooked fish. As we pass along we see that each man keeps his little treasures beside his bunk, for, though so impassive, the Chinaman is a home-loving creature; there are little images of carved ivory and other small treasures. Do you see that white rat with pink eyes restlessly doing sentry-go in his cage?
Behind the house, and some distance off, is the Indian village, where we see great barn-like buildings; here the Siwash Indians live, and several of their flat-faced, broad-nosed children are tumbling about and playing; as we come up one sturdy youngster raises a heavy stick and flings it with all his force at a wretched little seal tied up by a flapper. Mr. Clay goes quickly forward and catches hold of the little Indian boy, and the women all rush out and talk at a tremendous rate; it ends in the manager giving a trifle for the seal and making a signal to his men, who take up the poor little beast and carry it off to put an end to it mercifully. He does not put it back in the water, because seals do much mischief in breaking the nets. The Indian children don't mean to be cruel, but they have no imagination.
Then we go on a voyage of inspection all round the place. We saw the fish when they were first landed from the nets, and the next proceeding is when they are slit open by the Indian women, who cut off their heads and tails and throw them into vats of salt and water. After this they are fished out and chopped into round pieces to fit the tins. This is done by Chinamen, who get so clever at it that they can judge exactly how much to put into each tin to make just one pound weight; the tins are weighed as they pass on, and all those not right are sent back to be done again. The tins which pass the test roll down an inclined shute. Look at them, one after the other, exactly as if they were alive! As they run they roll in soldering stuff, so that their lids are sealed on the way. But they have many other processes to go through before they can be shipped off. Immense care is taken to get all the air out of the tin, because if any were left in the fish would go bad. They are tried and tested time after time at every stage. The salmon is cooked when already in the tin, and the heating is so severe that all the bone becomes soft too. You know this well in tinned salmon, don't you? You know, too, the look of the tins, with their gaudy-coloured labels, as they are sold in shops in England? These labels are stuck on after they leave the cannery, which deals with the insides, not the outsides, of the tins. There is a sarcastic saying at the canneries, "Eat what you can and can what you cannot," but this is not fair, for the very greatest trouble is taken to ensure the fish being quite good. When all is ready, sailing ships come and are loaded up and carry off the season's catch to all parts of the world. And this is going on all along the coast at many and many a cannery, day after day, week after week, during the fishing season.
There is so much to see that when we leave the last shed the day is almost gone. At that moment two Chinamen pass us carrying a pig suspended from a pole by its four feet tied together. The poor little beast is going to be killed, for the Chinese are very fond of pork.
When we sit on the verandah after dinner, trying vainly to keep off the mosquitoes by smoking strong tobacco, we are joined by one of the assistant managers, a man named Jones, who has fiery red hair and, I should judge, a peppery temper. He is very angry about something, and several times Mr. Clay tries to argue with him and calm him down; it seems that he has had a row with a Chinaman. This morning he spoke sharply to the man, who went stolidly on with his work without seeming to notice it, but later on, meeting Mr. Jones outside, the Chinaman drew the knife which they all carry in their belts, and muttered something threatening to his superior. This evening Mr. Jones keeps saying again and again in an excited way, "Leave him to me, I'll settle his hash," and Mr. Clay repeatedly tells him that he can report the man, who can be fined, but that it would be rash to tackle anything of that sort single-handed, as the Chinamen all stand together and are like an enraged swarm of hornets if any one of their number is touched.
However, next day we hear nothing more and spend a lazy morning wandering about a little and sitting on the verandah until Mr. Clay turns up about midday and says, "Come and see all the men leaving work for dinner; you missed that yesterday, and it is quite a sight."
So we go across with him to the big shed. Just as we reach it we hear a furious noise like the buzz of hornets, and coming quickly round a corner we run into an angry and excited crowd of Chinamen rushing this way and that, and stabbing at random in the air with their knives.
"That fool!" ejaculates Clay. "He's done something!" and before we realise what he intends to do, he is right in among the mob of Chinamen, knives and all, without a sign of fear. You and I are too much interested to go away, but we keep well on the outskirts of the crowd. The roar redoubles as Clay is seen, but after a while it dies away a little, and then a small party emerge from among the rest, carrying one of their number, unconscious, between them, and as they pass on down to the house where they live, the others hurry after them, still chattering and brandishing their knives.
Clay is much upset. "That fool!" he says again, and there is a deep fold of anxiety on his forehead. "This morning he took down with him to the sheds a piece of lead-piping, and stood by the door there, and as the men came out one by one, he marked the one who threatened him yesterday and dropped him with a stunning blow on the back of the neck. I don't think he's killed the fellow. Luckily it takes a lot to kill a Chinaman, but we'll have no end of a shindy over this; they'll lose days of work, and the worst is, Jones has disappeared—no one knows where he is."
All the afternoon the place is in a blaze of excitement, and, as Mr. Clay foresaw, no work is done. Every now and then we can see, from where we are sitting on the verandah, a band of Chinamen burst out of their house flourishing knives and shouting and rushing about and then quieting down and slinking back. If Jones shows himself now his life won't be worth an instant's purchase! I try to get out of Clay what he means to do, but he won't tell me, yet I am sure, from something he let fall, that he has discovered the whereabouts of his junior, and I should not be surprised if the man was in this house.
When we turn in at last to our beds nothing more has happened, and Jones has not appeared. I have been asleep for a little while when I hear a subdued whispering on the verandah outside my window, and jumping up I put my head out. There stands Clay in his pyjamas with a man I recognise as the night-watchman, a European. Clay sees me and waves his hand, and as the watchman disappears he comes over to me. "Strang has just been up to tell me that the Chinamen have carried the poor beggar out of the house and laid him on the bank of the river," he says in a low voice; "that means to say they think he's dying, and they wouldn't have him in their house, or his spirit would settle down there. That's a good job for us, or by the morning he'll be spirited away! There's the little tug ready, and it will soon run him up to New Westminster hospital. I'm just going down to see the poor chap aboard."
"What about Jones? Aren't you going to send him off too?" I asked.
"No fear! He'll have to swallow his gruel. We can't spare him. Where would I get another man from at this time of the season? Besides, that would look as if he were afraid of them. We've lost hours of precious time with his foolery already," he adds savagely, and I can guess the headstrong Jones has "caught it" from his chief!
Next morning still no Jones, and all seems as usual; work is resumed, the Chinamen ask no questions as to their wounded comrade, and peace reigns. About eleven o'clock Clay comes up from the works hurriedly and gives a whistle, and from one of the bedroom doors emerges Jones, looking rather like a schoolboy who has been in disgrace and means to carry it off with swagger.
When we get out on the verandah we find the rest of the white men belonging to the place all gathered together with revolvers in their hands, and with one consent they move off toward the big shed. For the life of me I can't keep out of it, and it would be rather hard to stop your going. I wouldn't miss seeing Jones reintroduced to his friends the Chinamen for anything. Come on, but let us keep behind where we shan't be noticed, or Mr. Clay would send us back at once.
There is a busy hum surging out of the factory as we approach, and the noise of it rings out on the still air; then, as the white men appear in a little knot in the doorway, there is a dead pause, a silence so sudden and dramatic that it seems as if one's heart must stop beating. The half-dozen white men stroll up the gangway carelessly, but you note they all keep together, until Jones, who doubtless has got his orders, separates himself from the others and walks briskly ahead. His face is very white as he bends over a Chinaman and glances at his work in as natural a manner as he can command, then he looks sharply at another and tells him to go ahead and not waste time. Hands grow busy, the noise recommences, and in a few minutes the buzz rises again to concert pitch. The critical moment has been safely passed. We follow the others into the building and walk the whole length of it and back, and by the time we get to the doorway again no one could tell that anything unusual had happened.
However, I shouldn't care to be Mr. Jones on Lulu Island, and if I were he I should apply for a job elsewhere at the end of the season!
THE GREAT DIVIDE
We are now in the train running toward the great ridge of mountains which rises like a backbone through the country from north to south, cutting off the territory of British Columbia from Alberta, though both are provinces of Canada. The Rockies! What ideas of grizzly bears and Indians and scalps and trails the name brings up before me! I don't suppose you have anything like the same feeling about them, because you weren't brought up on Fenimore Cooper and Ballantyne and all those other writers who are old-fashioned nowadays. Perhaps you have never even read The Wild Man of the West, or Nick o' the Woods? It makes me sorry for you!
The Clays were good to the last; they brought us up on the little launch by river to New Westminster, and then we went by electric cable-car to the mighty town of Vancouver on the Pacific Coast. What a town! Wide streets, huge buildings, tram-cars, and much bustle and life. But what struck us most was the splendid playground of Stanley Park which covers all the ground at the end of the peninsula stretching out into the sea. This is not an Englishman's idea of a park at all, for we think of the rather stiff green expanses, with a few trees scattered here and there, that we are used to at home. Stanley Park is just a bit of primeval forest with roads running through it. There are immense trees rearing their crowns on stems twelve feet in diameter. There are thickets and wild creatures and rich undergrowth. The inhabitants of Vancouver are lucky indeed, and they have another park on the other side of the town too. Stanley Park overlooks the harbour, where lie ships of all nations, from the liners of China and Japan to the tiny tugs of the Cannery Companies. The amount of trade coming here is immense. The ships carry cargoes of tea, rice, and silk and oranges, with skins from Siberia, and take away grain, timber, fish, machinery, cattle, and manufactured goods. There are some sailing ships, you still see them in this part of the world, and these are loading masses of timber baulks from the great pine woods inland. Lumbering and logging are the two great occupations of the Western Canadian winter, and what you see here is the fruit of that work. Terribly hard work it is too. Swinging an axe all day among the great giants of the forest requires knack as well as strength, and when a man first starts that game he quickly finds he is as weak as a baby till his muscles get hardened to it. When cut down the trunks are dragged to any stream, or creek, as they call them here, to be drifted down to the coast. It is a wonderful sight to see a river about half a mile wide literally covered with tree trunks wedged against one another from bank to bank. When the logs get jammed, and have to be released, it requires a great deal of courage to go right into the middle of the stream and find the key-log, the one which holds the whole together, like the keystone of an arch; most exciting work this is, many a man loses his life or his limbs over it. In Burma, where the teak companies run their business on the same lines, elephants are taught to do this; they feel around with their trunks and draw out the right log, and then make for the banks at full speed, to get out of the way before the whole mass of tons' weight breaks loose and comes down upon them. But here there are no elephants; dogs are the beasts of burden, and fine work they do in teams, drawing laden sleighs over the frozen snow,—but dogs can't pull out timber when it is jammed. A lumber man has to be a bit of an engineer too, and learn how to dam up the stream to make enough water to float his logs; he is a jack of many trades, and generally a fine fellow too.