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Title: From Plotzk to Boston
Author: Antin, Mary, 1881-1949
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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From Plotzk to Boston


BY
MARY ANTIN


WITH A FOREWORD BY

ISRAEL ZANGWILL



BOSTON, MASS.
W. B. CLARKE & CO., PARK STREET CHURCH
1899

COPYRIGHT, 1899
BY MARY ANTIN

PRESS OF PHILIP COWEN
NEW YORK CITY


       *       *       *       *       *


DEDICATED TO

HATTIE L. HECHT

WITH THE LOVE AND GRATITUDE OF
THE AUTHOR


       *       *       *       *       *


FOREWORD


The "infant phenomenon" in literature is rarer than in more physical
branches of art, but its productions are not likely to be of value
outside the doting domestic circle. Even Pope who "lisped in numbers for
the numbers came," did not add to our Anthology from his cradle, though
he may therein have acquired his monotonous rocking-metre. Immaturity of
mind and experience, so easily disguised on the stage or the
music-stool--even by adults--is more obvious in the field of pure
intellect. The contribution with which Mary Antin makes her début in
letters is, however, saved from the emptiness of embryonic thinking by
being a record of a real experience, the greatest of her life; her
journey from Poland to Boston. Even so, and remarkable as her
description is for a girl of eleven--for it was at this age that she
first wrote the thing in Yiddish, though she was thirteen when she
translated it into English--it would scarcely be worth publishing merely
as a literary curiosity. But it happens to possess an extraneous value.
For, despite the great wave of Russian immigration into the United
States, and despite the noble spirit in which the Jews of America have
grappled with the invasion, we still know too little of the inner
feelings of the people themselves, nor do we adequately realize what
magic vision of free America lures them on to face the great journey to
the other side of the world.

Mary Antin's vivid description of all she and her dear ones went
through, enables us to see almost with our own eyes how the invasion of
America appears to the impecunious invader. It is thus "a human
document" of considerable value, as well as a promissory note of future
performance. The quick senses of the child, her keen powers of
observation and introspection, her impressionability both to sensations
and complex emotions--these are the very things out of which literature
is made; the raw stuff of art. Her capacity to handle English--after so
short a residence in America--shows that she possesses also the
instrument of expression. More fortunate than the poet of the Ghetto,
Morris Rosenfeld, she will have at her command the most popular language
in the world, and she has already produced in it passages of true
literature, especially in her impressionistic rendering of the sea and
the bustling phantasmagoria of travel.

What will be her development no one can say precisely, and I would not
presume either to predict or to direct it, for "the wind bloweth where
it listeth." It will probably take lyrical shape. Like most modern
Jewesses who have written, she is, I fear, destined to spiritual
suffering: fortunately her work evidences a genial talent for enjoyment
and a warm humanity which may serve to counterbalance the curse of
reflectiveness. That she is growing, is evident from her own
Introduction, written only the other day, with its touches of humor and
more complex manipulation of groups of facts. But I have ventured to
counsel delay rather than precipitation in production--for she is not
yet sixteen--and the completion of her education, physical no less than
intellectual; and it is to this purpose that such profits as may accrue
from this publication will be devoted. Let us hope this premature
recognition of her potentialities will not injure their future
flowering, and that her development will add to those spiritual and
intellectual forces of which big-hearted American Judaism stands sorely
in need. I should explain in conclusion, that I have neither added nor
subtracted, even a comma, and that I have no credit in "discovering"
Mary Antin. I did but endorse the verdict of that kind and charming
Boston household in which I had the pleasure of encountering the gifted
Polish girl, and to a member of which this little volume is
appropriately dedicated.

I. ZANGWILL.



PREFATORY


In the year 1891, a mighty wave of the emigration movement swept over
all parts of Russia, carrying with it a vast number of the Jewish
population to the distant shores of the New World--from tyranny to
democracy, from darkness to light, from bondage and persecution to
freedom, justice and equality. But the great mass knew nothing of these
things; they were going to the foreign world in hopes only of earning
their bread and worshiping their God in peace. The different currents
that directed the course of that wave cannot be here enumerated. Suffice
it to say that its power was enormous. All over the land homes were
broken up, families separated, lives completely altered, for a common
end.

The emigration fever was at its height in Plotzk, my native town, in the
central western part of Russia, on the Dvina River. "America" was in
everybody's mouth. Business men talked of it over their accounts; the
market women made up their quarrels that they might discuss it from
stall to stall; people who had relatives in the famous land went around
reading their letters for the enlightenment of less fortunate folks; the
one letter-carrier informed the public how many letters arrived from
America, and who were the recipients; children played at emigrating; old
folks shook their sage heads over the evening fire, and prophesied no
good for those who braved the terrors of the sea and the foreign goal
beyond it;--all talked of it, but scarcely anybody knew one true fact
about this magic land. For book-knowledge was not for them; and a few
persons--they were a dressmaker's daughter, and a merchant with his two
sons--who had returned from America after a long visit, happened to be
endowed with extraordinary imagination, (a faculty closely related to
their knowledge of their old country-men's ignorance), and their
descriptions of life across the ocean, given daily, for some months, to
eager audiences, surpassed anything in the Arabian Nights. One sad fact
threw a shadow over the splendor of the gold-paved, Paradise-like
fairyland. The travelers all agreed that Jews lived there in the most
shocking impiety.

Driven by a necessity for bettering the family circumstances, and by
certain minor forces which cannot now be named, my father began to think
seriously of casting his lot with the great stream of emigrants. Many
family councils were held before it was agreed that the plan must be
carried out. Then came the parting; for it was impossible for the whole
family to go at once. I remember it, though I was only eight. It struck
me as rather interesting to stand on the platform before the train, with
a crowd of friends weeping in sympathy with us, and father waving his
hat for our special benefit, and saying--the last words we heard him
speak as the train moved off--

"Good-bye, Plotzk, forever!"

Then followed three long years of hope and doubt for father in America
and us in Russia. There were toil and suffering and waiting and anxiety
for all. There were--but to tell of all that happened in those years I
should have to write a separate history. The happy day came when we
received the long-coveted summons. And what stirring times followed! The
period of preparation was one of constant delight to us children. We
were four--my two sisters, one brother and myself. Our playmates looked
up to us in respectful admiration; neighbors, if they made no direct
investigations, bribed us with nice things for information as to what
was going into every box, package and basket. And the house was
dismantled--people came and carried off the furniture; closets, sheds
and other nooks were emptied of their contents; the great wood-pile was
taken away until only a few logs remained; ancient treasures such as
women are so loath to part with, and which mother had carried with her
from a dear little house whence poverty had driven us, were brought to
light from their hiding places, and sacrificed at the altar whose flames
were consuming so much that was fraught with precious association and
endeared by family tradition; the number of bundles and boxes increased
daily, and our home vanished hourly; the rooms became quite
uninhabitable at last, and we children glanced in glee, to the anger of
the echoes, when we heard that in the evening we were to start upon our
journey.

But we did not go till the next morning, and then as secretly as
possible. For, despite the glowing tales concerning America, people
flocked to the departure of emigrants much as they did to a funeral; to
weep and lament while (in the former case only, I believe) they envied.
As everybody in Plotzk knew us, and as the departure of a whole family
was very rousing, we dared not brave the sympathetic presence of the
whole township, that we knew we might expect. So we gave out a false
alarm.

Even then there was half the population of Plotzk on hand the next
morning. We were the heroes of the hour. I remember how the women
crowded around mother, charging her to deliver messages to their
relatives in America; how they made the air ring with their
unintelligible chorus; how they showered down upon us scores of
suggestions and admonitions; how they made us frantic with their
sympathetic weeping and wringing of hands; how, finally, the ringing of
the signal bell set them all talking faster and louder than ever, in
desperate efforts to give the last bits of advice, deliver the last
messages, and, to their credit let it be said, to give the final,
hearty, unfeigned good-bye kisses, hugs and good wishes.

Well, we lived through three years of waiting, and also through a half
hour of parting. Some of our relatives came near being carried off, as,
heedless of the last bell, they lingered on in the car. But at last
they, too, had to go, and we, the wanderers, could scarcely see the
rainbow wave of colored handkerchiefs, as, dissolved in tears, we were
carried out of Plotzk, away from home, but nearer our longed-for haven
of reunion; nearer, indeed, to everything that makes life beautiful and
gives one an aim and an end--freedom, progress, knowledge, light and
truth, with their glorious host of followers. But we did not know it
then.

The following pages contain the description of our journey, as I wrote
it four years ago, when it was all fresh in my memory.

M. A.



FROM PLOTZK TO BOSTON.


The short journey from Plotzk to Vilna was uneventful. Station after
station was passed without our taking any interest in anything, for that
never-to-be-forgotten leave taking at the Plotzk railway station left us
all in such a state of apathy to all things except our own thoughts as
could not easily be thrown off. Indeed, had we not been obliged to
change trains at Devinsk and, being the inexperienced travellers we
were, do a great deal of bustling and hurrying and questioning of
porters and mere idlers, I do not know how long we would have remained
in that same thoughtful, silent state.

Towards evening we reached Vilna, and such a welcome as we got! Up to
then I had never seen such a mob of porters and isvostchiky. I do not
clearly remember just what occurred, but a most vivid recollection of
being very uneasy for a time is still retained in my memory. You see my
uncle was to have met us at the station, but urgent business kept him
elsewhere.

Now it was universally believed in Plotzk that it was wise not to trust
the first isvostchik who offered his services when one arrived in Vilna
a stranger, and I do not know to this day how mother managed to get
away from the mob and how, above all, she dared to trust herself with
her precious baggage to one of them. But I have thought better of Vilna
Isvostchiky since, for we were safely landed after a pretty long drive
in front of my uncle's store, with never one of our number lost, never a
bundle stolen or any mishap whatever.

Our stay in Vilna was marked by nothing of interest. We stayed only long
enough for some necessary papers to reach us, and during that time I
discovered that Vilna was very much like Plotzk, though larger, cleaner
and noisier. There were the same coarse, hoarse-voiced women in the
market, the same kind of storekeepers in the low store doors, forever
struggling and quarrelling for a customer. The only really interesting
things I remember were the horsecars, which I had never even heard of,
and in one of which I had a lovely ride for five copeiky, and a large
book store on the Nemetzka yah Ulitza. The latter object may not seem of
any interest to most people, but I had never seen so many books in one
place before, and I could not help regarding them with longing and
wonder.

At last all was in readiness for our start. This was really the
beginning of our long journey, which I shall endeavor to describe.

I will not give any description of the various places we passed, for we
stopped at few places and always under circumstances which did not
permit of sightseeing. I shall only speak of such things as made a
distinct impression upon my mind, which, it must be remembered, was not
mature enough to be impressed by what older minds were, while on the
contrary it was in just the state to take in many things which others
heeded not.

I do not know the exact date, but I do know that it was at the break of
day on a Sunday and very early in April when we left Vilna. We had not
slept any the night before. Fannie and I spent the long hours in playing
various quiet games and watching the clock. At last the long expected
hour arrived; our train would be due in a short time. All but Fannie and
myself had by this time fallen into a drowse, half sitting, half lying
on some of the many baskets and boxes that stood all about the room all
ready to be taken to the station. So we set to work to rouse the rest,
and with the aid of an alarm clock's loud ringing, we soon had them at
least half awake; and while the others sat rubbing their eyes and trying
to look wide awake, Uncle Borris had gone out, and when he returned with
several droskies to convey us to the station, we were all ready for the
start.

We went out into the street, and now I perceived that not we alone were
sleepy; everything slept, and nature also slept, deeply, sweetly.

The sky was covered with dark gray clouds (perhaps that was its
night-cap), from which a chill, drizzling rain was slowly descending,
and the thick morning fog shut out the road from our sight. No sound
came from any direction; slumber and quiet reigned everywhere, for every
thing and person slept, forgetful for a time of joys, sorrows, hopes,
fears,--everything.

Sleepily we said our last good-byes to the family, took our seats in the
droskies, and soon the Hospitalnayah Ulitza was lost to sight. As the
vehicles rattled along the deserted streets, the noise of the horses'
hoofs and the wheels striking against the paving stones sounded
unusually loud in the general hush, and caused the echoes to answer
again and again from the silent streets and alleys.

In a short time we were at the station. In our impatience we had come
too early, and now the waiting was very tiresome. Everybody knows how
lively and noisy it is at a railroad station when a train is expected.
But now there were but a few persons present, and in everybody's face I
could see the reflection of my own dissatisfaction, because, like
myself, they had much rather have been in a comfortable, warm bed than
up and about in the rain and fog. Everything was so uncomfortable.

Suddenly we heard a long shrill whistle, to which the surrounding
dreariness gave a strangely mournful sound, the clattering train rushed
into the depot and stood still. Several passengers (they were very few)
left the cars and hastened towards where the droskies stood, and after
rousing the sleepy isvostchiky, were whirled away to their several
destinations.

When we had secured our tickets and seen to the baggage we entered a car
in the women's division and waited impatiently for the train to start.
At last the first signal was given, then the second and third; the
locomotive shrieked and puffed, the train moved slowly, then swiftly it
left the depot far behind it.

From Vilna to our next stopping place, Verzbolovo, there was a long,
tedious ride of about eight hours. As the day continued to be dull and
foggy, very little could be seen through the windows. Besides, no one
seemed to care or to be interested in anything. Sleepy and tired as we
all were, we got little rest, except the younger ones, for we had not
yet got used to living in the cars and could not make ourselves very
comfortable. For the greater part of the time we remained as unsocial as
the weather was unpleasant. The car was very still, there being few
passengers, among them a very pleasant kind gentleman travelling with
his pretty daughter. Mother found them very pleasant to chat with, and
we children found it less tiresome to listen to them.

At half past twelve o'clock the train came to a stop before a large
depot, and the conductor announced "Verzbolovo, fifteen minutes!" The
sight that now presented itself was very cheering after our long,
unpleasant ride. The weather had changed very much. The sun was shining
brightly and not a trace of fog or cloud was to be seen. Crowds of
well-dressed people were everywhere--walking up and down the platform,
passing through the many gates leading to the street, sitting around the
long, well-loaded tables, eating, drinking, talking or reading
newspapers, waited upon by the liveliest, busiest waiters I had ever
seen--and there was such an activity and bustle about everything that I
wished I could join in it, it seemed so hard to sit still. But I had to
content myself with looking on with the others, while the friendly
gentleman whose acquaintance my mother had made (I do not recollect his
name) assisted her in obtaining our tickets for Eidtkunen, and attending
to everything else that needed attention, and there were many things.

Soon the fifteen minutes were up, our kind fellow-passenger and his
daughter bade us farewell and a pleasant journey (we were just on the
brink of the beginning of our troubles), the train puffed out of the
depot and we all felt we were nearing a very important stage in our
journey. At this time, cholera was raging in Russia, and was spread by
emigrants going to America in the countries through which they
travelled. To stop this danger, measures were taken to make emigration
from Russia more difficult than ever. I believe that at all times the
crossing of the boundary between Russia and Germany was a source of
trouble to Russians, but with a special passport this was easily
overcome. When, however, the traveller could not afford to supply
himself with one, the boundary was crossed by stealth, and many amusing
anecdotes are told of persons who crossed in some disguise, often that
of a mujik who said he was going to the town on the German side to sell
some goods, carried for the purpose of ensuring the success of the ruse.
When several such tricks had been played on the guards it became very
risky, and often, when caught, a traveller resorted to stratagem, which
is very diverting when afterwards described, but not so at a time when
much depends on its success. Some times a paltry bribe secured one a
safe passage, and often emigrants were aided by men who made it their
profession to help them cross, often suffering themselves to be paid
such sums for the service that it paid best to be provided with a
special passport.

As I said, the difficulties were greater at the time we were travelling,
and our friends believed we had better not attempt a stealthy crossing,
and we procured the necessary document to facilitate it. We therefore
expected little trouble, but some we thought there might be, for we had
heard some vague rumors to the effect that a special passport was not as
powerful an agent as it used to be.

We now prepared to enjoy a little lunch, and before we had time to clear
it away the train stopped, and we saw several men in blue uniforms, gilt
buttons and brass helmets, if you may call them so, on their heads. At
his side each wore a kind of leather case attached to a wide bronze
belt. In these cases they carried something like a revolver, and each
had, besides, a little book with black oilcloth covers.

I can give you no idea of the impression these men (they were German
gendarmes) made on us, by saying they frightened us. Perhaps because
their (to us) impressive appearance gave them a stern look; perhaps
because they really looked something more than grave, we were so
frightened. I only know that we were. I can see the reason now clearly
enough. Like all persons who were used to the tyranny of a Russian
policeman, who practically ruled the ward or town under his friendly
protection, and never hesitated to assert his rights as holder of
unlimited authority over his little domain, in that mild, amiable manner
so well known to such of his subjects as he particularly favored with
his vigilant regard--like all such persons, I say, we did not, could
not, expect to receive any kind treatment at the hands of a number of
officers, especially as we were in the very act of attempting to part
with our much-beloved mother country, of which act, to judge by the
pains it took to make it difficult, the government did not approve. It
was a natural fear in us, as you can easily see. Pretty soon mother
recovered herself, and remembering that the train stops for a few
minutes only, was beginning to put away the scattered articles hastily
when a gendarme entered our car and said we were not to leave it. Mamma
asked him why, but he said nothing and left the car, another gendarme
entering as he did so. He demanded where we were going, and, hearing the
answer, went out. Before we had had time to look about at each other's
frightened faces, another man, a doctor, as we soon knew, came in
followed by a third gendarme.

The doctor asked many questions about our health, and of what
nationality we were. Then he asked about various things, as where we
were going to, if we had tickets, how much money we had, where we came
from, to whom we were going, etc., etc., making a note of every answer
he received. This done, he shook his head with his shining helmet on it,
and said slowly (I imagined he enjoyed frightening us), "With these
third class tickets you cannot go to America now, because it is
forbidden to admit emigrants into Germany who have not at least second
class tickets. You will have to return to Russia unless you pay at the
office here to have your tickets changed for second class ones." After a
few minutes' calculation and reference to the notes he had made, he
added calmly, "I find you will need two hundred rubles to get your
tickets exchanged;" and, as the finishing stroke to his pleasing
communication, added, "Your passports are of no use at all now because
the necessary part has to be torn out, whether you are allowed to pass
or not." A plain, short speech he made of it, that cruel man. Yet every
word sounded in our ears with an awful sound that stopped the beating of
our hearts for a while--sounded like the ringing of funeral bells to us,
and yet without the mournfully sweet music those bells make, that they
might heal while they hurt.

We were homeless, houseless, and friendless in a strange place. We had
hardly money enough to last us through the voyage for which we had hoped
and waited for three long years. We had suffered much that the reunion
we longed for might come about; we had prepared ourselves to suffer more
in order to bring it about, and had parted with those we loved, with
places that were dear to us in spite of what we passed through in them,
never again to see them, as we were convinced--all for the same dear
end. With strong hopes and high spirits that hid the sad parting, we had
started on our long journey. And now we were checked so unexpectedly
but surely, the blow coming from where we little expected it, being, as
we believed, safe in that quarter. And that is why the simple words had
such a frightful meaning to us. We had received a wound we knew not how
to heal.

When mother had recovered enough to speak she began to argue with the
gendarme, telling him our story and begging him to be kind. The children
were frightened by what they understood, and all but cried. I was only
wondering what would happen, and wishing I could pour out my grief in
tears, as the others did; but when I feel deeply I seldom show it in
that way, and always wish I could.

Mother's supplications, and perhaps the children's indirect ones, had
more effect than I supposed they would. The officer was moved, even if
he had just said that tears would not be accepted instead of money, and
gave us such kind advice that I began to be sorry I had thought him
cruel, for it was easy to see that he was only doing his duty and had no
part in our trouble that he could be blamed for, now that I had more
kindly thoughts of him.

He said that we would now be taken to Keebart, a few versts' distance
from Verzbolovo, where one Herr Schidorsky lived. This man, he said, was
well known for miles around, and we were to tell him our story and ask
him to help us, which he probably would, being very kind.

A ray of hope shone on each of the frightened faces listening so
attentively to this bearer of both evil and happy tidings. I, for one,
was very confident that the good man would help us through our
difficulties, for I was most unwilling to believe that we really
couldn't continue our journey. Which of us was? I'd like to know.

We are in Keebart, at the depot. The least important particular even of
that place, I noticed and remembered. How the porter--he was an ugly,
grinning man--carried in our things and put them away in the southern
corner of the big room, on the floor; how we sat down on a settee near
them, a yellow settee; how the glass roof let in so much light that we
had to shade our eyes because the car had been dark and we had been
crying; how there were only a few people besides ourselves there, and
how I began to count them and stopped when I noticed a sign over the
head of the fifth person--a little woman with a red nose and a pimple on
it, that seemed to be staring at me as much as the grayish-blue eyes
above them, it was so large and round--and tried to read the German,
with the aid of the Russian translation below. I noticed all this and
remembered it, as if there was nothing else in the world for me to think
of--no America, no gendarme to destroy one's passports and speak of two
hundred rubles as if he were a millionaire, no possibility of being sent
back to one's old home whether one felt at all grateful for the
kindness or not--nothing but that most attractive of places, full of
interesting sights.

For, though I had been so hopeful a little while ago, I felt quite
discouraged when a man, very sour and grumbling--and he was a Jew--a
"Son of Mercy" as a certain song said--refused to tell mamma where
Schidorsky lived. I then believed that the whole world must have united
against us; and decided to show my defiant indifference by leaving the
world to be as unkind as it pleased, while I took no interest in such
trifles.

So I let my mind lose itself in a queer sort of mist--a something I
cannot describe except by saying it must have been made up of lazy
inactivity. Through this mist I saw and heard indistinctly much that
followed.

When I think of it now, I see how selfish it was to allow myself to
sink, body and mind, in such a sea of helpless laziness, when I might
have done something besides awaiting the end of that critical time,
whatever it might be--something, though what, I do not see even now, I
own. But I only studied the many notices till I thought myself very well
acquainted with the German tongue; and now and then tried to cheer the
other children, who were still inclined to cry, by pointing out to them
some of the things that interested me. For this faulty conduct I have no
excuse to give, unless youth and the fact that I was stunned with the
shock we had just received, will be accepted.

I remember through that mist that mother found Schidorsky's home at
last, but was told she could not see him till a little later; that she
came back to comfort us, and found there our former fellow passenger who
had come with us from Vilna, and that he was very indignant at the way
in which we were treated, and scolded, and declared he would have the
matter in all the papers, and said we must be helped. I remember how
mamma saw Schidorsky at last, spoke to him, and then told us, word for
word, what his answer had been; that he wouldn't wait to be asked to use
all his influence, and wouldn't lose a moment about it, and he didn't,
for he went out at once on that errand, while his good daughter did her
best to comfort mamma with kind words and tea. I remember that there was
much going to the good man's house; much hurrying of special messengers
to and from Eidtkunen; trembling inquiries, uncertain replies made
hopeful only by the pitying, encouraging words and manners of the
deliverer--for all, even the servants, were kind as good angels at that
place. I remember that another little family--there were three--were
discovered by us in the same happy state as ourselves, and like the dogs
in the fable, who, receiving care at the hands of a kind man, sent their
friends to him for help, we sent them to our helper.

I remember seeing night come out of that mist, and bringing more trains
and people and noise than the whole day (we still remained at the
depot), till I felt sick and dizzy. I remember wondering what kind of a
night it was, but not knowing how to find out, as if I had no senses. I
remember that somebody said we were obliged to remain in Keebart that
night and that we set out to find lodgings; that the most important
things I saw on the way were the two largest dolls I had ever seen,
carried by two pretty little girls, and a big, handsome father; and a
great deal of gravel in the streets, and boards for the crossings. I
remember that we found a little room (we had to go up four steps first)
that we could have for seventy-five copecks, with our tea paid for in
that sum. I remember, through that mist, how I wondered what I was
sleeping on that night, as I wondered about the weather; that we really
woke up in the morning (I was so glad to rest I had believed we should
never be disturbed again) and washed, and dressed and breakfasted and
went to the depot again, to be always on hand. I remember that mamma and
the father of the little family went at once to the only good man on
earth (I thought so) and that the party of three were soon gone, by the
help of some agent that was slower, for good reasons, in helping us.

I remember that mamma came to us soon after and said that Herr
Schidorsky had told her to ask the Postmeister--some high official
there--for a pass to Eidtkunen; and there she should speak herself to
our protector's older brother who could help us by means of his great
power among the officers of high rank; that she returned in a few hours
and told us the two brothers were equal in kindness, for the older one,
too, said he would not wait to be asked to do his best for us. I
remember that another day--so-o-o long--passed behind the mist, and we
were still in that dreadful, noisy, tiresome depot, with no change, till
we went to spend the night at Herr Schidorsky's, because they wouldn't
let us go anywhere else. On the way there, I remember, I saw something
marvellous--queer little wooden sticks stuck on the lines where clothes
hung for some purpose. (I didn't think it was for drying, because you
know I always saw things hung up on fences and gates for such purposes.
The queer things turned out to be clothes-pins). And, I remember, I
noticed many other things of equal importance to our affairs, till we
came to the little house in the garden. Here we were received, I
remember with much kindness and hospitality. We had a fire made for us,
food and drink brought in, and a servant was always inquiring whether
anything more could be done for our comfort.

I remember, still through that misty veil, what a pleasant evening we
passed, talking over what had so far happened, and wondering what would
come. I must have talked like one lost in a thick fog, groping
carefully. But, had I been shut up, mentally, in a tower nothing else
could pierce, the sense of gratitude that naturally sprung from the
kindness that surrounded us, must have, would have found a passage for
itself to the deepest cavities of the heart. Yes, though all my senses
were dulled by what had passed over us so lately, I was yet aware of the
deepest sense of thankfulness one can ever feel. I was aware of
something like the sweet presence of angels in the persons of good
Schidorsky and his family. Oh, that some knowledge of that gratitude
might reach those for whom we felt it so keenly! We all felt it. But the
deepest emotions are so hard to express. I thought of this as I lay
awake a little while, and said to myself, thinking of our benefactor,
that he was a Jew, a true "Son of Mercy." And I slept with that thought.
And this is the last I remember seeing and feeling behind that mist of
lazy inactivity.

The next morning, I woke not only from the night's sleep, but from my
waking dreaminess. All the vapors dispersed as I went into the pretty
flower garden where the others were already at play, and by the time we
had finished a good breakfast, served by a dear servant girl, I felt
quite myself again.

Of course, mamma hastened to Herr Schidorsky as soon as she could, and
he sent her to the Postmeister again, to ask him to return the part of
our passports that had been torn out, and without which we could not go
on. He said he would return them as soon as he received word from
Eidtkunen. So we could only wait and hope. At last it came and so
suddenly that we ran off to the depot with hardly a hat on all our
heads, or a coat on our backs, with two men running behind with our
things, making it a very ridiculous sight. We have often laughed over it
since.

Of course, in such a confusion we could not say even one word of
farewell or thanks to our deliverers. But, turning to see that we were
all there, I saw them standing in the gate, crying that all was well
now, and wishing us many pleasant things, and looking as if they had
been receiving all the blessings instead of us.

I have often thought they must have purposely arranged it that we should
have to leave in a hurry, because they wouldn't stand any expression of
gratefulness.

Well, we just reached our car in time to see our baggage brought from
the office and ourselves inside, when the last bell rang. Then, before
we could get breath enough to utter more than faint gasps of delight, we
were again in Eidtkunen.

The gendarmes came to question us again, but when mother said that we
were going to Herr Schidorsky of Eidtkunen, as she had been told to
say, we were allowed to leave the train. I really thought we were to be
the visitors of the elder Schidorsky, but it turned out to be only an
understanding between him and the officers that those claiming to be on
their way to him were not to be troubled.

At any rate, we had now really crossed the forbidden boundary--we were
in Germany.

There was a terrible confusion in the baggage-room where we were
directed to go. Boxes, baskets, bags, valises, and great, shapeless
things belonging to no particular class were thrown about by porters and
other men, who sorted them and put tickets on all but those containing
provisions, while others were opened and examined in haste. At last our
turn came, and our things, along with those of all other American-bound
travellers, were taken away to be steamed and smoked and other such
processes gone through. We were told to wait till notice should be given
us of something else to be done. Our train would not depart till nine in
the evening.

As usual, I noticed all the little particulars of the waiting room. What
else could I do with so much time and not even a book to read? I could
describe it exactly--the large, square room, painted walls, long tables
with fruits and drinks of all kinds covering them, the white chairs,
carved settees, beautiful china and cut glass showing through the glass
doors of the dressers, and the nickel samovar, which attracted my
attention because I had never seen any but copper or brass ones. The
best and the worst of everything there was a large case full of books.
It was the best, because they were "books" and all could use them; the
worst, because they were all German, and my studies in the railway depot
of Keebart had not taught me so much that I should be able to read books
in German. It was very hard to see people get those books and enjoy them
while I couldn't. It was impossible to be content with other people's
pleasure, and I wasn't.

When I had almost finished counting the books, I noticed that mamma and
the others had made friends with a family of travellers like ourselves.
Frau Gittleman and her five children made very interesting companions
for the rest of the day, and they seemed to think that Frau Antin and
the four younger Antins were just as interesting; perhaps excepting, in
their minds, one of them who must have appeared rather uninteresting
from a habit she had of looking about as if always expecting to make
discoveries.

But she was interested, if not interesting, enough when the oldest of
the young Gittlemans, who was a young gentleman of seventeen, produced
some books which she could read. Then all had a merry time together,
reading, talking, telling the various adventures of the journey, and
walking, as far as we were allowed, up and down the long platform
outside, till we were called to go and see, if we wanted to see, how our
things were being made fit for further travel. It was interesting to see
how they managed to have anything left to return to us, after all the
processes of airing and smoking and steaming and other assaults on
supposed germs of the dreaded cholera had been done with, the pillows,
even, being ripped open to be steamed! All this was interesting, but we
were rather disagreeably surprised when a bill for these unasked-for
services had to be paid.

The Gittlemans, we found, were to keep us company for some time. At the
expected hour we all tried to find room in a car indicated by the
conductor. We tried, but could only find enough space on the floor for
our baggage, on which we made believe sitting comfortably. For now we
were obliged to exchange the comparative comforts of a third class
passenger train for the certain discomforts of a fourth class one. There
were only four narrow benches in the whole car, and about twice as many
people were already seated on these as they were probably supposed to
accommodate. All other space, to the last inch, was crowded by
passengers or their luggage. It was very hot and close and altogether
uncomfortable, and still at every new station fresh passengers came
crowding in, and actually made room, spare as it was, for themselves. It
became so terrible that all glared madly at the conductor as he allowed
more people to come into that prison, and trembled at the announcement
of every station. I cannot see even now how the officers could allow
such a thing; it was really dangerous. The most remarkable thing was the
good-nature of the poor passengers. Few showed a sour face even; not a
man used any strong language (audibly, at least). They smiled at each
other as if they meant to say, "I am having a good time; so are you,
aren't you?" Young Gittleman was very gallant, and so cheerful that he
attracted everybody's attention. He told stories, laughed, and made us
unwilling to be outdone. During one of his narratives he produced a
pretty memorandum book that pleased one of us very much, and that
pleasing gentleman at once presented it to her. She has kept it since in
memory of the giver, and, in the right place, I could tell more about
that matter--very interesting.

I have given so much space to the description of that one night's
adventures because I remember it so distinctly, with all its
discomforts, and the contrast of our fellow-travellers' kindly
dispositions. At length that dreadful night passed, and at dawn about
half the passengers left, all at once. There was such a sigh of relief
and a stretching of cramped limbs as can only be imagined, as the
remaining passengers inhaled the fresh cold air of dewy dawn. It was
almost worth the previous suffering to experience the pleasure of relief
that followed.

All day long we travelled in the same train, sleeping, resting, eating,
and wishing to get out. But the train stopped for a very short time at
the many stations, and all the difference that made to us was that
pretty girls passed through the cars with little bark baskets filled
with fruit and flowers hardly fresher or prettier than their bearers,
who generally sold something to our young companion, for he never
wearied of entertaining us.

Other interests there were none. The scenery was nothing unusual, only
towns, depots, roads, fields, little country houses with barns and
cattle and poultry--all such as we were well acquainted with. If
something new did appear, it was passed before one could get a good look
at it. The most pleasing sights were little barefoot children waving
their aprons or hats as we eagerly watched for them, because that
reminded us of our doing the same thing when we saw the passenger
trains, in the country. We used to wonder whether we should ever do so
again.

Towards evening we came into Berlin. I grow dizzy even now when I think
of our whirling through that city. It seemed we were going faster and
faster all the time, but it was only the whirl of trains passing in
opposite directions and close to us that made it seem so. The sight of
crowds of people such as we had never seen before, hurrying to and fro,
in and out of great depots that danced past us, helped to make it more
so. Strange sights, splendid buildings, shops, people and animals, all
mingled in one great, confused mass of a disposition to continually move
in a great hurry, wildly, with no other aim but to make one's head go
round and round, in following its dreadful motions. Round and round went
my head. It was nothing but trains, depots, crowds--crowds, depots,
trains, again and again, with no beginning, no end, only a mad dance!
Faster and faster we go, faster still, and the noise increases with the
speed. Bells, whistles, hammers, locomotives shrieking madly, men's
voices, peddlers' cries, horses' hoofs, dogs' barking--all united in
doing their best to drown every other sound but their own, and made such
a deafening uproar in the attempt that nothing could keep it out. Whirl,
noise, dance, uproar--will it last forever? I'm so--o diz-z-zy! How my
head aches!

And oh! those people will be run over! Stop the train, they'll--thank
goodness, nobody is hurt. But who ever heard of a train passing right
through the middle of a city, up in the air, it seems. Oh, dear! it's no
use thinking, my head spins so. Right through the business streets! Why,
who ever--!

I must have lived through a century of this terrible motion and din and
unheard of roads for trains, and confused thinking. But at length
everything began to take a more familiar appearance again, the noise
grew less, the roads more secluded, and by degrees we recognized the
dear, peaceful country. Now we could think of Berlin, or rather, what we
had seen of it, more calmly, and wonder why it made such an impression.
I see now. We had never seen so large a city before, and were not
prepared to see such sights, bursting upon us so suddenly as that. It
was like allowing a blind man to see the full glare of the sun all at
once. Our little Plotzk, and even the larger cities we had passed
through, compared to Berlin about the same as total darkness does to
great brilliancy of light.

In a great lonely field opposite a solitary wooden house within a large
yard, our train pulled up at last, and a conductor commanded the
passengers to make haste and get out. He need not have told us to hurry;
we were glad enough to be free again after such a long imprisonment in
the uncomfortable car. All rushed to the door. We breathed more freely
in the open field, but the conductor did not wait for us to enjoy our
freedom. He hurried us into the one large room which made up the house,
and then into the yard. Here a great many men and women, dressed in
white, received us, the women attending to the women and girls of the
passengers, and the men to the others.

This was another scene of bewildering confusion, parents losing their
children, and little ones crying; baggage being thrown together in one
corner of the yard, heedless of contents, which suffered in consequence;
those white-clad Germans shouting commands always accompanied with
"Quick! Quick!"; the confused passengers obeying all orders like meek
children, only questioning now and then what was going to be done with
them.

And no wonder if in some minds stories arose of people being captured by
robbers, murderers, and the like. Here we had been taken to a lonely
place where only that house was to be seen; our things were taken away,
our friends separated from us; a man came to inspect us, as if to
ascertain our full value; strange looking people driving us about like
dumb animals, helpless and unresisting; children we could not see,
crying in a way that suggested terrible things; ourselves driven into a
little room where a great kettle was boiling on a little stove; our
clothes taken off, our bodies rubbed with a slippery substance that
might be any bad thing; a shower of warm water let down on us without
warning; again driven to another little room where we sit, wrapped in
woollen blankets till large, coarse bags are brought in, their contents
turned out and we see only a cloud of steam, and hear the women's
orders to dress ourselves, quick, quick, or else we'll miss--something
we cannot hear. We are forced to pick out our clothes from among all the
others, with the steam blinding us; we choke, cough, entreat the women
to give us time; they persist, "Quick, quick, or you'll miss the train!"
Oh, so we really won't be murdered! They are only making us ready for
the continuing of our journey, cleaning us of all suspicions of
dangerous germs. Thank God!

Assured by the word "train" we manage to dress ourselves after a
fashion, and the man comes again to inspect us. All is right, and we are
allowed to go into the yard to find our friends and our luggage. Both
are difficult tasks, the second even harder. Imagine all the things of
some hundreds of people making a journey like ours, being mostly
unpacked and mixed together in one sad heap. It was disheartening, but
done at last was the task of collecting our belongings, and we were
marched into the big room again. Here, on the bare floor, in a ring, sat
some Polish men and women singing some hymn in their own tongue, and
making more noise than music. We were obliged to stand and await further
orders, the few seats being occupied, and the great door barred and
locked. We were in a prison, and again felt some doubts. Then a man came
in and called the passengers' names, and when they answered they were
made to pay two marcs each for the pleasant bath we had just been
forced to take.

Another half hour, and our train arrived. The door was opened, and we
rushed out into the field, glad to get back even to the fourth class
car.

We had lost sight of the Gittlemans, who were going a different way now,
and to our regret hadn't even said good-bye, or thanked them for their
kindness.

After the preceding night of wakefulness and discomfort, the weary day
in the train, the dizzy whirl through Berlin, the fright we had from the
rough proceedings of the Germans, and all the strange experiences of the
place we just escaped--after all this we needed rest. But to get it was
impossible for all but the youngest children. If we had borne great
discomforts on the night before, we were suffering now. I had thought
anything worse impossible. Worse it was now. The car was even more
crowded, and people gasped for breath. People sat in strangers' laps,
only glad of that. The floor was so thickly lined that the conductor
could not pass, and the tickets were passed to him from hand to hand.
To-night all were more worn out, and that did not mend their
dispositions. They could not help falling asleep and colliding with
someone's nodding head, which called out angry mutterings and growls.
Some fell off their seats and caused a great commotion by rolling over
on the sleepers on the floor, and, in spite of my own sleepiness and
weariness, I had many quiet laughs by myself as I watched the funny
actions of the poor travellers.

Not until very late did I fall asleep. I, with the rest, missed the
pleasant company of our friends, the Gittlemans, and thought about them
as I sat perched on a box, with an old man's knees for the back of my
seat, another man's head continually striking my right shoulder, a dozen
or so arms being tossed restlessly right in front of my face, and as
many legs holding me a fast prisoner, so that I could only try to keep
my seat against all the assaults of the sleepers who tried in vain to
make their positions more comfortable. It was all so comical, in spite
of all the inconveniences, that I tried hard not to laugh out loud, till
I too fell asleep. I was awakened very early in the morning by something
chilling and uncomfortable on my face, like raindrops coming down
irregularly. I found it was a neighbor of mine eating cheese, who was
dropping bits on my face. So I began the day with a laugh at the man's
funny apologies, but could not find much more fun in the world on
account of the cold and the pain of every limb. It was very miserable,
till some breakfast cheered me up a little.

About eight o'clock we reached Hamburg. Again there was a gendarme to
ask questions, look over the tickets and give directions. But all the
time he kept a distance from those passengers who came from Russia, all
for fear of the cholera. We had noticed before how people were afraid to
come near us, but since that memorable bath in Berlin, and all the
steaming and smoking of our things, it seemed unnecessary.

We were marched up to the strangest sort of vehicle one could think of.
It was a something I don't know any name for, though a little like an
express wagon. At that time I had never seen such a high, narrow, long
thing, so high that the women and girls couldn't climb up without the
men's help, and great difficulty; so narrow that two persons could not
sit comfortably side by side, and so long that it took me some time to
move my eyes from the rear end, where the baggage was, to the front,
where the driver sat.

When all had settled down at last (there were a number besides
ourselves) the two horses started off very fast, in spite of their heavy
load. Through noisy, strange looking streets they took us, where many
people walked or ran or rode. Many splendid houses, stone and brick, and
showy shops, they passed. Much that was very strange to us we saw, and
little we knew anything about. There a little cart loaded with bottles
or tin cans, drawn by a goat or a dog, sometimes two, attracted our
attention. Sometimes it was only a nurse carrying a child in her arms
that seemed interesting, from the strange dress. Often it was some
article displayed in a shop window or door, or the usually smiling owner
standing in the doorway, that called for our notice. Not that there was
anything really unusual in many of these things, but a certain air of
foreignness, which sometimes was very vague, surrounded everything that
passed before our interested gaze as the horses hastened on.

The strangest sight of all we saw as we came into the still noisier
streets. Something like a horse-car such as we had seen in Vilna for the
first time, except that it was open on both sides (in most cases) but
without any horses, came flying--really flying--past us. For we stared
and looked it all over, and above, and under, and rubbed our eyes, and
asked of one another what we saw, and nobody could find what it was that
made the thing go. And go it did, one after another, faster than we,
with nothing to move it. "Why, what _is_ that?" we kept exclaiming.
"Really, do you see anything that makes it go? I'm sure I don't." Then I
ventured the highly probable suggestion, "Perhaps it's the fat man in
the gray coat and hat with silver buttons. I guess he pushes it. I've
noticed one in front on every one of them, holding on to that shining
thing." And I'm sure this was as wise a solution of the mystery as
anyone could give, except the driver, who laughed to himself and his
horses over our surprise and wonder at nothing he could see to cause
it.

But we couldn't understand his explanation, though we always got along
very easily with the Germans, and not until much later did we know that
those wonderful things, with only a fat man to move them, were electric
cars.

The sightseeing was not all on our side. I noticed many people stopping
to look at us as if amused, though most passed by as though used to such
sights. We did make a queer appearance all in a long row, up above
people's heads. In fact, we looked like a flock of giant fowls roosting,
only wide awake.

Suddenly, when everything interesting seemed at an end, we all
recollected how long it was since we had started on our funny ride.
Hours, we thought, and still the horses ran. Now we rode through quieter
streets where there were fewer shops and more wooden houses. Still the
horses seemed to have but just started. I looked over our perch again.
Something made me think of a description I had read of criminals being
carried on long journeys in uncomfortable things--like this? Well, it
was strange--this long, long drive, the conveyance, no word of
explanation, and all, though going different ways, being packed off
together. We were strangers; the driver knew it. He might take us
anywhere--how could we tell? I was frightened again as in Berlin. The
faces around me confessed the same.

The streets became quieter still; no shops, only little houses; hardly
any people passing. Now we cross many railway tracks and I can hear the
sea not very distant. There are many trees now by the roadside, and the
wind whistles through their branches. The wheels and hoofs make a great
noise on the stones, the roar of the sea and the wind among the branches
have an unfriendly sound.

The horses never weary. Still they run. There are no houses now in view,
save now and then a solitary one, far away. I can see the ocean. Oh, it
is stormy. The dark waves roll inward, the white foam flies high in the
air; deep sounds come from it. The wheels and hoofs make a great noise;
the wind is stronger, and says, "Do you hear the sea?" And the ocean's
roar threatens. The sea threatens, and the wind bids me hear it, and the
hoofs and the wheels repeat the command, and so do the trees, by
gestures.

Yes, we are frightened. We are very still. Some Polish women over there
have fallen asleep, and the rest of us look such a picture of woe, and
yet so funny, it is a sight to see and remember.

At last, at last! Those unwearied horses have stopped. Where? In front
of a brick building, the only one on a large, broad street, where only
the trees, and, in the distance, the passing trains can be seen. Nothing
else. The ocean, too, is shut out.

All were helped off, the baggage put on the sidewalk, and then taken up
again and carried into the building, where the passengers were ordered
to go. On the left side of the little corridor was a small office where
a man sat before a desk covered with papers. These he pushed aside when
we entered, and called us in one by one, except, of course children. As
usual, many questions were asked, the new ones being about our tickets.
Then each person, children included, had to pay three marcs--one for the
wagon that brought us over and two for food and lodgings, till our
various ships should take us away.

Mamma, having five to pay for, owed fifteen marcs. The little sum we
started with was to last us to the end of the journey, and would have
done so if there hadn't been those unexpected bills to pay at Keebart,
Eidtkunen, Berlin, and now at the office. Seeing how often services were
forced upon us unasked and payment afterwards demanded, mother had begun
to fear that we should need more money, and had sold some things to a
woman for less than a third of their value. In spite of that, so heavy
was the drain on the spare purse where it had not been expected, she
found to her dismay that she had only twelve marcs left to meet the new
bill.

The man in the office wouldn't believe it, and we were given over in
charge of a woman in a dark gray dress and long white apron, with a red
cross on her right arm. She led us away and thoroughly searched us all,
as well as our baggage. That was nice treatment, like what we had been
receiving since our first uninterrupted entrance into Germany. Always a
call for money, always suspicion of our presence and always rough orders
and scowls of disapproval, even at the quickest obedience. And now this
outrageous indignity! We had to bear it all because we were going to
America from a land cursed by the dreadful epidemic. Others besides
ourselves shared these trials, the last one included, if that were any
comfort, which it was not.

When the woman reported the result of the search as being fruitless, the
man was satisfied, and we were ordered with the rest through many more
examinations and ceremonies before we should be established under the
quarantine, for that it was.

While waiting for our turn to be examined by the doctor I looked about,
thinking it worth while to get acquainted with a place where we might be
obliged to stay for I knew not how long. The room where we were sitting
was large, with windows so high up that we couldn't see anything through
them. In the middle stood several long wooden tables, and around these
were settees of the same kind. On the right, opposite the doctor's
office, was a little room where various things could be bought of a
young man--if you hadn't paid all your money for other things.

When the doctor was through with us he told us to go to Number Five. Now
wasn't that like in a prison? We walked up and down a long yard looking,
among a row of low, numbered doors, for ours, when we heard an
exclamation of, "Oh, Esther! how do you happen to be here?" and, on
seeing the speaker, found it to be an old friend of ours from Plotzk.
She had gone long before us, but her ship hadn't arrived yet. She was
surprised to see us because we had had no intention of going when she
went.

What a comfort it was to find a friend among all the strangers! She
showed us at once to our new quarters, and while she talked to mamma I
had time to see what they were like.

It looked something like a hospital, only less clean and comfortable;
more like the soldiers' barracks I had seen. I saw a very large room,
around whose walls were ranged rows of high iron double bedsteads, with
coarse sacks stuffed with something like matting, and not over-clean
blankets for the only bedding, except where people used their own. There
were three windows almost touching the roof, with nails covering all the
framework. From the ceiling hung two round gas lamps, and almost under
them stood a little wooden table and a settee. The floor was of stone.

Here was a pleasant prospect. We had no idea how long this unattractive
place might be our home.

Our friend explained that Number Five was only for Jewish women and
girls, and the beds were sleeping rooms, dining rooms, parlors, and
everything else, kitchens excepted. It seemed so, for some were lounging
on the beds, some sitting up, some otherwise engaged, and all were
talking and laughing and making a great noise. Poor things! there was
nothing else to do in that prison.

Before mother had told our friend of our adventures, a girl, also a
passenger, who had been walking in the yard, ran in and announced, "It's
time to go to dinner! He has come already." "He" we soon learned, was
the overseer of the Jewish special kitchen, without whom the meals were
never taken.

All the inmates of Number Five rushed out in less than a minute, and I
wondered why they hurried so. When we reached the place that served as
dining room, there was hardly any room for us. Now, while the dinner is
being served, I will tell you what I can see.

In the middle of the yard stood a number of long tables covered with
white oilcloth. On either side of each table stood benches on which all
the Jewish passengers were now seated, looking impatiently at the door
with the sign "Jewish Kitchen" over it. Pretty soon a man appeared in
the doorway, tall, spare, with a thin, pointed beard, and an air of
importance on his face. It was "he", the overseer, who carried a large
tin pail filled with black bread cut into pieces of half a pound each.
He gave a piece to every person, the youngest child and the biggest man
alike, and then went into the kitchen and filled his pail with soup and
meat, giving everybody a great bowl full of soup and a small piece of
meat. All attacked their rations as soon as they received them and
greatly relished the coarse bread and dark, hot water they called soup.
We couldn't eat those things and only wondered how any one could have
such an appetite for such a dinner. We stopped wondering when our own
little store of provisions gave out.

After dinner, the people went apart, some going back to their beds and
others to walk in the yard or sit on the settees there. There was no
other place to go to. The doors of the prison were never unlocked except
when new passengers arrived or others left for their ships. The
fences--they really were solid walls--had wires and nails on top, so
that one couldn't even climb to get a look at the sea.

We went back to our quarters to talk over matters and rest from our
journey. At six o'clock the doctor came with a clerk, and, standing
before the door, bade all those in the yard belonging to Number Five
assemble there; and then the roll was called and everybody received a
little ticket as she answered to her name. With this all went to the
kitchen and received two little rolls and a large cup of partly
sweetened tea. This was supper; and breakfast, served too in this way
was the same. Any wonder that people hurried to dinner and enjoyed it?
And it was always the same thing, no change.

Little by little we became used to the new life, though it was hard to
go hungry day after day, and bear the discomforts of the common room,
shared by so many; the hard beds (we had little bedding of our own), and
the confinement to the narrow limits of the yard, and the tiresome
sameness of the life. Meal hours, of course, played the most important
part, while the others had to be filled up as best we could. The weather
was fine most of the time and that helped much. Everything was an event,
the arrival of fresh passengers a great one which happened every day;
the day when the women were allowed to wash clothes by the well was a
holiday, and the few favorite girls who were allowed to help in the
kitchen were envied. On dull, rainy days, the man coming to light the
lamps at night was an object of pleasure, and every one made the best of
everybody else. So when a young man arrived who had been to America once
before, he was looked up to by every person there as a superior, his
stories of our future home listened to with delight, and his manners
imitated by all, as a sort of fit preparation. He was wanted everywhere,
and he made the best of his greatness by taking liberties and putting
on great airs and, I afterwards found, imposing on our ignorance very
much. But anything "The American" did passed for good, except his going
away a few days too soon.

Then a girl came who was rather wanting a little brightness. So all
joined in imposing upon her by telling her a certain young man was a
great professor whom all owed respect and homage to, and she would do
anything in the world to express hers, while he used her to his best
advantage, like the willing slave she was. Nobody seemed to think this
unkind at all, and it really was excusable that the poor prisoners,
hungry for some entertainment, should try to make a little fun when the
chance came. Besides, the girl had opened the temptation by asking, "Who
was the handsome man in the glasses? A professor surely;" showing that
she took glasses for a sure sign of a professor, and professor for the
highest possible title of honor. Doesn't this excuse us?

The greatest event was the arrival of some ship to take some of the
waiting passengers. When the gates were opened and the lucky ones said
good bye, those left behind felt hopeless of ever seeing the gates open
for them. It was both pleasant and painful, for the strangers grew to be
fast friends in a day and really rejoiced in each other's fortune, but
the regretful envy could not be helped either.

Amid such events as these a day was like a month at least. Eight of
these we had spent in quarantine when a great commotion was noticed
among the people of Number Five and those of the corresponding number in
the men's division. There was a good reason for it. You remember that it
was April and Passover was coming on; in fact, it began that night. The
great question was, Would we be able to keep it exactly according to the
host of rules to be obeyed? You who know all about the great holiday can
understand what the answer to that question meant to us. Think of all
the work and care and money it takes to supply a family with all the
things proper and necessary, and you will see that to supply a few
hundred was no small matter. Now, were they going to take care that all
was perfectly right, and could we trust them if they promised, or should
we be forced to break any of the laws that ruled the holiday?

All day long there was talking and questioning and debating and
threatening that "we would rather starve than touch anything we were not
sure of." And we meant it. So some men and women went to the overseer to
let him know what he had to look out for. He assured them that he would
rather starve along with us than allow anything to be in the least
wrong. Still, there was more discussing and shaking of heads, for they
were not sure yet.

There was not a crumb anywhere to be found, because what bread we
received was too precious for any of it to be wasted; but the women made
a great show of cleaning up Number Five, while they sighed and looked
sad and told one another of the good hard times they had at home getting
ready for Passover. Really, hard as it is, when one is used to it from
childhood, it seems part of the holiday, and can't be left out. To sit
down and wait for supper as on other nights seemed like breaking one of
the laws. So they tried hard to be busy.

At night we were called by the overseer (who tried to look more
important than ever in his holiday clothes--not his best, though) to the
feast spread in one of the unoccupied rooms. We were ready for it, and
anxious enough. We had had neither bread nor matzo for dinner, and were
more hungry than ever, if that is possible. We now found everything
really prepared; there were the pillows covered with a snow-white
spread, new oilcloth on the newly scrubbed tables, some little candles
stuck in a basin of sand on the window-sill for the women, and--a sure
sign of a holiday--both gas lamps burning. Only one was used on other
nights.

Happy to see these things, and smell the supper, we took our places and
waited. Soon the cook came in and filled some glasses with wine from two
bottles,--one yellow, one red. Then she gave to each person--exactly one
and a half matzos; also some cold meat, burned almost to a coal for the
occasion.

The young man--bless him--who had the honor to perform the ceremonies,
was, fortunately for us all, one of the passengers. He felt for and with
us, and it happened--just a coincidence--that the greater part of the
ceremony escaped from his book as he turned the leaves. Though strictly
religious, nobody felt in the least guilty about it, especially on
account of the wine; for, when we came to the place where you have to
drink the wine, we found it tasted like good vinegar, which made us all
choke and gasp, and one little girl screamed "Poison!" so that all
laughed, and the leader, who tried to go on, broke down too at the sight
of the wry faces he saw; while the overseer looked shocked, the cook
nearly set her gown on fire by overthrowing the candles with her apron
(used to hide her face) and all wished our Master Overseer had to drink
that "wine" all his days.

Think of the same ceremony as it is at home, then of this one just
described. Do they even resemble each other?

Well, the leader got through amid much giggling and sly looks among the
girls who understood the trick, and frowns of the older people (who
secretly blessed him for it). Then, half hungry, all went to bed and
dreamed of food in plenty.

No other dreams? Rather! For the day that brought the Passover brought
us--our own family--the most glorious news. We had been ordered to
bring our baggage to the office!

"Ordered to bring our baggage to the office!" That meant nothing less
than that we were "going the next day!"

It was just after supper that we received the welcome order. Oh, who
cared if there wasn't enough to eat? Who cared for anything in the whole
world? We didn't. It was all joy and gladness and happy anticipation for
us. We laughed, and cried, and hugged one another, and shouted, and
acted altogether like wild things. Yes, we were wild with joy, and long
after the rest were asleep, we were whispering together and wondering
how we could keep quiet the whole night. We couldn't sleep by any means,
we were so afraid of oversleeping the great hour; and every little
while, after we tried to sleep, one of us would suddenly think she saw
day at the window, and wake the rest, who also had only been pretending
to sleep while watching in the dark for daylight.

When it came, it found no watchful eye, after all. The excitement gave
way to fatigue, and drowsiness first, then deep sleep, completed its
victory. It was eight o'clock when we awoke. The morning was cloudy and
chilly, the sun being too lazy to attend to business; now and then it
rained a little, too. And yet it was the most beautiful day that had
ever dawned on Hamburg.

We enjoyed everything offered for breakfast, two matzos and two cups of
tea apiece--why it was a banquet. After it came the good-byes, as we
were going soon. As I told you before, the strangers became fast friends
in a short time under the circumstances, so there was real sorrow at the
partings, though the joy of the fortunate ones was, in a measure, shared
by all.

About one o'clock (we didn't go to dinner--we couldn't eat for
excitement) we were called. There were three other families, an old
woman, and a young man, among the Jewish passengers, who were going with
us, besides some Polish people. We were all hurried through the door we
had watched with longing for so long, and were a little way from it when
the old woman stopped short and called on the rest to wait.

"We haven't any matzo!" she cried in alarm. "Where's the overseer?"

Sure enough we had forgotten it, when we might as well have left one of
us behind. We refused to go, calling for the overseer, who had promised
to supply us, and the man who had us in charge grew angry and said he
wouldn't wait. It was a terrible situation for us.

"Oh," said the man, "you can go and get your matzo, but the boat won't
wait for you." And he walked off, followed by the Polish people only.

We had to decide at once. We looked at the old woman. She said she
wasn't going to start on a dangerous journey with such a sin on her
soul. Then the children decided. They understood the matter. They cried
and begged to follow the party. And we did.

Just when we reached the shore, the cook came up panting hard. She
brought us matzo. How relieved we were then!

We got on a little steamer (the name is too big for it) that was managed
by our conductor alone. Before we had recovered from the shock of the
shrill whistle so near us, we were landing in front of a large stone
building.

Once more we were under the command of the gendarme. We were ordered to
go into a big room crowded with people, and wait till the name of our
ship was called. Somebody in a little room called a great many queer
names, and many passengers answered the call. At last we heard,

"Polynesia!"

We passed in and a great many things were done to our tickets before we
were directed to go outside, then to a larger steamer than the one we
came in. At every step our tickets were either stamped or punched, or a
piece torn off of them, till we stepped upon the steamer's deck. Then we
were ordered below. It was dark there, and we didn't like it. In a
little while we were called up again, and then we saw before us the
great ship that was to carry us to America.

I only remember, from that moment, that I had only one care till all
became quiet; not to lose hold of my sister's hand. Everything else can
be told in one word--noise. But when I look back, I can see what made
it. There were sailors dragging and hauling bundles and boxes from the
small boat into the great ship, shouting and thundering at their work.
There were officers giving out orders in loud voices, like trumpets,
though they seemed to make no effort. There were children crying, and
mothers hushing them, and fathers questioning the officers as to where
they should go. There were little boats and steamers passing all around,
shrieking and whistling terribly. And there seemed to be everything
under heaven that had any noise in it, come to help swell the confusion
of sounds. I know that, but how we ever got in that quiet place that had
the sign "For Families" over it, I don't know. I think we went around
and around, long and far, before we got there.

But there we were, sitting quietly on a bench by the white berths.

When the sailors brought our things, we got everything in order for the
journey as soon as possible, that we might go on deck to see the
starting. But first we had to obey a sailor, who told us to come and get
dishes. Each person received a plate, a spoon and a cup. I wondered how
we could get along if we had had no things of our own.

For an hour or two more there were still many noises on deck, and many
preparations made. Then we went up, as most of the passengers did.

What a change in the scene! Where there had been noise and confusion
before, peace and quiet were now. All the little boats and steamers had
disappeared, and the wharf was deserted. On deck the "Polynesia"
everything was in good order, and the officers walked about smoking
their cigars as if their work was done. Only a few sailors were at work
at the big ropes, but they didn't shout as before. The weather had
changed, too, for the twilight was unlike what the day had promised. The
sky was soft gray, with faint streaks of yellow on the horizon. The air
was still and pleasant, much warmer than it had been all the day; and
the water was as motionless and clear as a deep, cool well, and
everything was mirrored in it clearly.

This entire change in the scene, the peace that encircled everything
around us, seemed to give all the same feeling that I know I had. I
fancied that nature created it especially for us, so that we would be
allowed, in this pause, to think of our situation. All seemed to do so;
all spoke in low voices, and seemed to be looking for something as they
gazed quietly into the smooth depths below, or the twilight skies above.
Were they seeking an assurance? Perhaps; for there was something strange
in the absence of a crowd of friends on the shore, to cheer and salute,
and fill the air with white clouds and last farewells.

I found the assurance. The very stillness was a voice--nature's voice;
and it spoke to the ocean and said,

"I entrust to you this vessel. Take care of it, for it bears my children
with it, from one strange shore to another more distant, where loving
friends are waiting to embrace them after long partings. Be gentle with
your charge."

And the ocean, though seeming so still, replied, "I will obey my
mistress."

I heard it all, and a feeling of safety and protection came to me. And
when at last the wheels overhead began to turn and clatter, and the
ripples on the water told us that the "Polynesia" had started on her
journey, which was not noticeable from any other sign, I felt only a
sense of happiness. I mistrusted nothing.

But the old woman who remembered the matzo did, more than anybody else.
She made great preparations for being seasick, and poisoned the air with
garlic and onions.

When the lantern fixed in the ceiling had been lighted, the captain and
the steward paid us a visit. They took up our tickets and noticed all
the passengers, then left. Then a sailor brought supper--bread and
coffee. Only a few ate it. Then all went to bed, though it was very
early.

Nobody expected seasickness as soon as it seized us. All slept quietly
the whole night, not knowing any difference between being on land or at
sea. About five o'clock I woke up, and then I felt and heard the sea. A
very disagreeable smell came from it, and I knew it was disturbed by the
rocking of the ship. Oh, how wretched it made us! From side to side it
went rocking, rocking. Ugh! Many of the passengers are very sick indeed,
they suffer terribly. We are all awake now, and wonder if we, too, will
be so sick. Some children are crying, at intervals. There is nobody to
comfort them--all are so miserable. Oh, I am so sick! I'm dizzy;
everything is going round and round before my eyes--Oh-h-h!

I can't even begin to tell of the suffering of the next few hours. Then
I thought I would feel better if I could go on deck. Somehow, I got down
(we had upper berths) and, supporting myself against the walls, I came
on deck. But it was worse. The green water, tossing up the white foam,
rocking all around, as far as I dared to look, was frightful to me then.
So I crawled back as well as I could, and nobody else tried to go out.

By and by the doctor and the steward came. The doctor asked each
passenger if they were well, but only smiled when all begged for some
medicine to take away the dreadful suffering. To those who suffered from
anything besides seasickness he sent medicine and special food later
on. His companion appointed one of the men passengers for every twelve
or fifteen to carry the meals from the kitchen, giving them cards to get
it with. For our group a young German was appointed, who was making the
journey for the second time, with his mother and sister. We were great
friends with them during the journey.

The doctor went away soon, leaving the sufferers in the same sad
condition. At twelve, a sailor announced that dinner was ready, and the
man brought it--large tin pails and basins of soup, meat, cabbage,
potatoes, and pudding (the last was allowed only once a week); and
almost all of it was thrown away, as only a few men ate. The rest
couldn't bear even the smell of food. It was the same with the supper at
six o'clock. At three milk had been brought for the babies, and brown
bread (a treat) with coffee for the rest. But after supper the daily
allowance of fresh water was brought, and this soon disappeared and more
called for, which was refused, although we lived on water alone for a
week.

At last the day was gone, and much we had borne in it. Night came, but
brought little relief. Some did fall asleep, and forgot suffering for a
few hours. I was awake late. The ship was quieter, and everything sadder
than by daylight. I thought of all we had gone through till we had got
on board the "Polynesia"; of the parting from all friends and things we
loved, forever, as far as we knew; of the strange experience at various
strange places; of the kind friends who helped us, and the rough
officers who commanded us; of the quarantine, the hunger, then the happy
news, and the coming on board. Of all this I thought, and remembered
that we were far away from friends, and longed for them, that I might be
made well by speaking to them. And every minute was making the distance
between us greater, a meeting more impossible. Then I remembered why we
were crossing the ocean, and knew that it was worth the price. At last
the noise of the wheels overhead, and the dull roar of the sea, rocked
me to sleep.

For a short time only. The ship was tossed about more than the day
before, and the great waves sounded like distant thunder as they beat
against it, and rolled across the deck and entered the cabin. We found,
however, that we were better, though very weak. We managed to go on deck
in the afternoon, when it was calm enough. A little band was playing,
and a few young sailors and German girls tried even to dance; but it was
impossible.

As I sat in a corner where no waves could reach me, holding on to a
rope, I tried to take in the grand scene. There was the mighty ocean I
had heard of only, spreading out its rough breadth far, far around, its
waves giving out deep, angry tones, and throwing up walls of spray into
the air. There was the sky, like the sea, full of ridges of darkest
clouds, bending to meet the waves, and following their motions and
frowning and threatening. And there was the "Polynesia" in the midst of
this world of gloom, and anger, and distance. I saw these, but
indistinctly, not half comprehending the wonderful picture. For the
suffering had left me dull and tired out. I only knew that I was sad,
and everybody else was the same.

Another day gone, and we congratulate one another that seasickness
lasted only one day with us. So we go to sleep.

Oh, the sad mistake! For six days longer we remain in our berths,
miserable and unable to eat. It is a long fast, hardly interrupted,
during which we know that the weather is unchanged, the sky dark, the
sea stormy.

On the eighth day out we are again able to be about. I went around
everywhere, exploring every corner, and learning much from the sailors;
but I never remembered the names of the various things I asked about,
they were so many, and some German names hard to learn. We all made
friends with the captain and other officers, and many of the passengers.
The little band played regularly on certain days, and the sailors and
girls had a good many dances, though often they were swept by a wave
across the deck, quite out of time. The children were allowed to play on
deck, but carefully watched.

Still the weather continued the same, or changing slightly. But I was
able now to see all the grandeur of my surroundings, notwithstanding the
weather.

Oh, what solemn thoughts I had! How deeply I felt the greatness, the
power of the scene! The immeasurable distance from horizon to horizon;
the huge billows forever changing their shapes--now only a wavy and
rolling plain, now a chain of great mountains, coming and going farther
away; then a town in the distance, perhaps, with spires and towers and
buildings of gigantic dimensions; and mostly a vast mass of uncertain
shapes, knocking against each other in fury, and seething and foaming in
their anger; the grey sky, with its mountains of gloomy clouds, flying,
moving with the waves, as it seemed, very near them; the absence of any
object besides the one ship; and the deep, solemn groans of the sea,
sounding as if all the voices of the world had been turned into sighs
and then gathered into that one mournful sound--so deeply did I feel the
presence of these things, that the feeling became one of awe, both
painful and sweet, and stirring and warming, and deep and calm and
grand.

I thought of tempests and shipwreck, of lives lost, treasures destroyed,
and all the tales I had heard of the misfortunes at sea, and knew I had
never before had such a clear idea of them. I tried to realize that I
saw only a part of an immense whole, and then my feelings were terrible
in their force. I was afraid of thinking then, but could not stop it. My
mind would go on working, till I was overcome by the strength and power
that was greater than myself. What I did at such times I do not know. I
must have been dazed.

After a while I could sit quietly and gaze far away. Then I would
imagine myself all alone on the ocean, and Robinson Crusoe was very real
to me. I was alone sometimes. I was aware of no human presence; I was
conscious only of sea and sky and something I did not understand. And as
I listened to its solemn voice, I felt as if I had found a friend, and
knew that I loved the ocean. It seemed as if it were within as well as
without, a part of myself; and I wondered how I had lived without it,
and if I could ever part with it.

The ocean spoke to me in other besides mournful or angry tones. I loved
even the angry voice, but when it became soothing, I could hear a sweet,
gentle accent that reached my soul rather than my ear. Perhaps I
imagined it. I do not know. What was real and what imaginary blended in
one. But I heard and felt it, and at such moments I wished I could live
on the sea forever, and thought that the sight of land would be very
unwelcome to me. I did not want to be near any person. Alone with the
ocean forever--that was my wish.

Leading a quiet life, the same every day, and thinking such thoughts,
feeling such emotions, the days were very long. I do not know how the
others passed the time, because I was so lost in my meditations. But
when the sky would smile for awhile--when a little sunlight broke a path
for itself through the heavy clouds, which disappeared as though
frightened; and when the sea looked more friendly, and changed its color
to match the heavens, which were higher up--then we would sit on deck
together, and laugh for mere happiness as we talked of the nearing
meeting, which the unusual fairness of the weather seemed to bring
nearer. Sometimes, at such minutes of sunshine and gladness, a few birds
would be seen making their swift journey to some point we did not know
of; sometimes among the light clouds, then almost touching the surface
of the waves. How shall I tell you what we felt at the sight? The birds
were like old friends to us, and brought back many memories, which
seemed very old, though really fresh. All felt sadder when the distance
became too great for us to see the dear little friends, though it was
not for a long time after their first appearance. We used to watch for
them, and often mistook the clouds for birds, and were thus
disappointed. When they did come, how envious we were of their wings! It
was a new thought to me that the birds had more power than man.

In this way the days went by. I thought my thoughts each day, as I
watched the scene, hoping to see a beautiful sunset some day. I never
did, to my disappointment. And each night, as I lay in my berth, waiting
for sleep, I wished I might be able even to hope for the happiness of a
sea-voyage after this had been ended.

Yet, when, on the twelfth day after leaving Hamburg, the captain
announced that we should see land before long, I rejoiced as much as
anybody else. We were so excited with expectation that nothing else was
heard but the talk of the happy arrival, now so near. Some were even
willing to stay up at night, to be the first ones to see the shores of
America. It was therefore a great disappointment when the captain said,
in the evening, that we would not reach Boston as soon as he expected,
on account of the weather.

A dense fog set in at night, and grew heavier and heavier, until the
"Polynesia" was closely walled in by it, and we could just see from one
end of the deck to the other. The signal lanterns were put up, the
passengers were driven to their berths by the cold and damp, the cabin
doors closed, and discomfort reigned everywhere.

But the excitement of the day had tired us out, and we were glad to
forget disappointment in sleep. In the morning it was still foggy, but
we could see a little way around. It was very strange to have the
boundless distance made so narrow, and I felt the strangeness of the
scene. All day long we shivered with cold, and hardly left the cabin. At
last it was night once more, and we in our berths. But nobody slept.

The sea had been growing rougher during the day, and at night the ship
began to pitch as it did at the beginning of the journey. Then it grew
worse. Everything in our cabin was rolling on the floor, clattering and
dinning. Dishes were broken into little bits that flew about from one
end to the other. Bedding from upper berths nearly stifled the people in
the lower ones. Some fell out of their berths, but it was not at all
funny. As the ship turned to one side, the passengers were violently
thrown against that side of the berths, and some boards gave way and
clattered down to the floor. When it tossed on the other side, we could
see the little windows almost touch the water, and closed the shutters
to keep out the sight. The children cried, everybody groaned, and
sailors kept coming in to pick up the things on the floor and carry them
away. This made the confusion less, but not the alarm.

Above all sounds rose the fog horn. It never stopped the long night
through. And oh, how sad it sounded! It pierced every heart, and made us
afraid. Now and then some ship, far away, would answer, like a weak
echo. Sometimes we noticed that the wheels were still, and we knew that
the ship had stopped. This frightened us more than ever, for we imagined
the worst reasons for it.

It was day again, and a little calmer. We slept now, till the afternoon.
Then we saw that the fog had become much thinner, and later on we even
saw a ship, but indistinctly.

Another night passed, and the day that followed was pretty fair, and
towards evening the sky was almost cloudless. The captain said we should
have no more rough weather, for now we were really near Boston. Oh, how
hard it was to wait for the happy day! Somebody brought the news that we
should land to-morrow in the afternoon. We didn't believe it, so he said
that the steward had ordered a great pudding full of raisins for supper
that day as a sure sign that it was the last on board. We remembered the
pudding, but didn't believe in its meaning.

I don't think we slept that night. After all the suffering of our
journey, after seeing and hearing nothing but the sky and the sea and
its roaring, it was impossible to sleep when we thought that soon we
would see trees, fields, fresh people, animals--a world, and that world
America. Then, above everything, was the meeting with friends we had not
seen for years; for almost everybody had some friends awaiting them.

Morning found all the passengers up and expectant. Someone questioned
the captain, and he said we would land to-morrow. There was another long
day, and another sleepless night, but when these ended at last, how busy
we were! First we packed up all the things we did not need, then put on
fresh clothing, and then went on deck to watch for land. It was almost
three o'clock, the hour the captain hoped to reach Boston, but there was
nothing new to be seen. The weather was fair, so we would have seen
anything within a number of miles. Anxiously we watched, and as we
talked of the strange delay, our courage began to give out with our
hope. When it could be borne no longer, a gentleman went to speak to the
captain. He was on the upper deck, examining the horizon. He put off the
arrival for the next day!

You can imagine our feelings at this. When it was worse the captain came
down and talked so assuringly that, in spite of all the disappointments
we had had, we believed that this was the last, and were quite cheerful
when we went to bed.

The morning was glorious. It was the eighth of May, the seventeenth day
after we left Hamburg. The sky was clear and blue, the sun shone
brightly, as if to congratulate us that we had safely crossed the stormy
sea; and to apologize for having kept away from us so long. The sea had
lost its fury; it was almost as quiet as it had been at Hamburg before
we started, and its color was a beautiful greenish blue. Birds were all
the time in the air, and it was worth while to live merely to hear their
songs. And soon, oh joyful sight! we saw the tops of two trees!

What a shout there rose! Everyone pointed out the welcome sight to
everybody else, as if they did not see it. All eyes were fixed on it as
if they saw a miracle. And this was only the beginning of the joys of
the day!

What confusion there was! Some were flying up the stairs to the upper
deck, some were tearing down to the lower one, others were running in
and out of the cabins, some were in all parts of the ship in one minute,
and all were talking and laughing and getting in somebody's way. Such
excitement, such joy! We had seen two trees!

Then steamers and boats of all kinds passed by, in all directions. We
shouted, and the men stood up in the boats and returned the greeting,
waving their hats. We were as glad to see them as if they were old
friends of ours.

Oh, what a beautiful scene! No corner of the earth is half so fair as
the lovely picture before us. It came to view suddenly,--a green field,
a real field with grass on it, and large houses, and the dearest hens
and little chickens in all the world, and trees, and birds, and people
at work. The young green things put new life into us, and are so dear
to our eyes that we dare not speak a word now, lest the magic should
vanish away and we should be left to the stormy scenes we know.

But nothing disturbed the fairy sight. Instead, new scenes appeared,
beautiful as the first. The sky becomes bluer all the time, the sun
warmer; the sea is too quiet for its name, and the most beautiful blue
imaginable.

What are the feelings these sights awaken! They can not be described. To
know how great was our happiness, how complete, how free from even the
shadow of a sadness, you must make a journey of sixteen days on a stormy
ocean. Is it possible that we will ever again be so happy?

It was about three hours since we saw the first landmarks, when a number
of men came on board, from a little steamer, and examined the passengers
to see if they were properly vaccinated (we had been vaccinated on the
"Polynesia"), and pronounced everyone all right. Then they went away,
except one man who remained. An hour later we saw the wharves.

Before the ship had fully stopped, the climax of our joy was reached.
One of us espied the figure and face we had longed to see for three long
years. In a moment five passengers on the "Polynesia" were crying,
"Papa," and gesticulating, and laughing, and hugging one another, and
going wild altogether. All the rest were roused by our excitement, and
came to see our father. He recognized us as soon as we him, and stood
apart on the wharf not knowing what to do, I thought.

What followed was slow torture. Like mad things we ran about where there
was room, unable to stand still as long as we were on the ship and he on
shore. To have crossed the ocean only to come within a few yards of him,
unable to get nearer till all the fuss was over, was dreadful enough.
But to hear other passengers called who had no reason for hurry, while
we were left among the last, was unendurable.

Oh, dear! Why can't we get off the hateful ship? Why can't papa come to
us? Why so many ceremonies at the landing?

We said good-bye to our friends as their turn came, wishing we were in
their luck. To give us something else to think of, papa succeeded in
passing us some fruit; and we wondered to find it anything but a great
wonder, for we expected to find everything marvellous in the strange
country.

Still the ceremonies went on. Each person was asked a hundred or so
stupid questions, and all their answers were written down by a very slow
man. The baggage had to be examined, the tickets, and a hundred other
things done before anyone was allowed to step ashore, all to keep us
back as long as possible.

Now imagine yourself parting with all you love, believing it to be a
parting for life; breaking up your home, selling the things that years
have made dear to you; starting on a journey without the least
experience in travelling, in the face of many inconveniences on account
of the want of sufficient money; being met with disappointment where it
was not to be expected; with rough treatment everywhere, till you are
forced to go and make friends for yourself among strangers; being
obliged to sell some of your most necessary things to pay bills you did
not willingly incur; being mistrusted and searched, then half starved,
and lodged in common with a multitude of strangers; suffering the
miseries of seasickness, the disturbances and alarms of a stormy sea for
sixteen days; and then stand within, a few yards of him for whom you did
all this, unable to even speak to him easily. How do you feel?

Oh, it's our turn at last! We are questioned, examined, and dismissed! A
rush over the planks on one side, over the ground on the other, six wild
beings cling to each other, bound by a common bond of tender joy, and
the long parting is at an END.





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