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Title: From Sea to Sea - Letters of Travel
Author: Kipling, Rudyard, 1865-1936
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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Transcriber's Notes

This ebook is a set of two volumes. The Table of Contents for Part II is
copied to follow the Table of Contents of Part I. This seems to make the
book more accessible. The Table of Contents of Part II is also located
at its original location.



  FROM SEA TO SEA



  From Sea to Sea
  Letters of Travel

  By Rudyard Kipling


  COMPLETE IN ONE VOLUME


  GARDEN CITY NEW YORK
  DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY

  1913


  Copyright, 1899, 1907,
  By RUDYARD KIPLING.



PREFACE


In these two volumes I have got together the bulk of the special
correspondence and occasional articles written by me for the _Civil and
Military Gazette_ and the _Pioneer_ between 1887-1889. I have been
forced to this action by the enterprise of various publishers who, not
content with disinterring old newspaper work from the decent seclusion
of the office files, have in several instances seen fit to embellish it
with additions and interpolations.

RUDYARD KIPLING.



CONTENTS OF PART I


LETTERS OF MARQUE

  I                                                             PAGE

  Of the Beginning of Things. Of the Taj and the
  Globe-trotter. The Young Man from Manchester and Certain
  Moral Reflections                                                3

  II

  Shows the Charm of Rajputana and of Jeypore, the City of
  the Globe-trotter. Of its Founder and its Embellishment.
  Explains the Use and Destiny of the Stud-bred, and fails
  to explain Many More Important Matters                          10

  III

  Does not in Any Sort describe the Dead City of Amber, but
  gives Detailed Information about a Cotton-Press                 18

  IV

  The Temple of Mahadeo and the Manners of Such as see
  India. The Man by the Water-troughs and his Knowledge. The
  Voice of the City and what it said. Personalities and the
  Hospital. The House Beautiful of Jeypore and its Builders       25

  V

  Of the Sordidness of the Supreme Government on the Revenue
  Side; and of the Palace of Jeypore. A Great King's
  Pleasure-house, and the Work of the Servants of State           33

  VI

  Showing how her Majesty's Mails went to Udaipur and fell
  out by the Way                                                  41

  VII

  Touching the Children of the Sun and their City, and the
  Hat-marked Caste and their Merits, and a Good Man's Works
  In the Wilderness                                               50

  VIII

  Divers Passages of Speech and Action whence the Nature,
  Arts, and Disposition of the King and his Subjects may be
  observed                                                        62

  IX

  Of the Pig-drive which was a Panther-killing, and of the
  Departure to Chitor                                             70

  X

  A Little of the History of Chitor, and the Malpractices of
  a She-elephant                                                  78

  XI

  Proves conclusively the Existence of the Dark Tower
  visited by Childe Rolande, and of "Bogey" who frightens
  Children                                                        88

  XII

  Contains the History of the Bhumia of Jhaswara, and the
  Record of a Visit to the House of Strange Stories.
  Demonstrates the Felicity of Loaferdom, which is the
  Veritable Companionship of the Indian Empire, and proposes
  a Scheme for the Better Officering of Two Departments          100

  XIII

  A King's House and Country. Further Consideration of the
  Hat-marked Caste                                               113

  XIV

  Among the Houyhnhnms                                           124

  XV

  Treats of the Startling Effect of a Reduction in Wages and
  the Pleasures of Loaferdom. Paints the State of the Boondi
  Road and the Treachery of Ganesh of Situr                      134

  XVI

  The Comedy of Errors and the Exploitation of Boondi. The
  Castaway of the Dispensary and the Children of the
  Schools. A Consideration of the Shields of Rajasthan and
  Other Trifles                                                  144

  XVII

  Shows that there may be Poetry in a Bank, and attempts to
  show the Wonders of the Palace of Boondi                       158

  XVIII

  Of the Uncivilised Night and the Departure to Things
  Civilised. Showing how a Friend may keep an Appointment
  too well                                                       171

  XIX

  Comes back to the Railway, after Reflections on the
  Management of the Empire; and so Home again, with Apology
  to All who have read thus far                                  180


  FROM SEA TO SEA

  I

  Of Freedom and the Necessity of using her. The Motive and
  the Scheme that will come to Nothing. A Disquisition upon
  the Otherness of Things and the Torments of the Damned         193

  II

  The River of the Lost Footsteps and the Golden Mystery
  upon its Banks. The Iniquity of Jordan. Shows how a Man
  may go to the Shway Dagon Pagoda and see it not and to
  the Pegu Club and hear too much. A Dissertation on Mixed
  Drinks                                                         202

  III

  The City of Elephants which is governed by the Great God
  of Idleness, who lives on the Top of a Hill. The History
  of Three Great Discoveries and the Naughty Children of
  Iquique                                                        214

  IV

  Showing how I came to Palmiste Island and the Place of
  Paul and Virginia, and fell Asleep in a Garden. A
  Disquisition on the Folly of Sight-seeing                      223

  V

  Of the Threshold of the Far East and the Dwellers thereon.
  A Dissertation upon the Use of the British Lion                233

  VI

  Of the Well-dressed Islanders of Singapur and their
  Diversions; proving that All Stations are exactly Alike.
  Shows how One Chicago Jew and an American Child can poison
  the Purest Mind                                                240

  VII

  Shows how I arrived in China and saw entirely through the
  Great Wall and out upon the Other Side                         247

  VIII

  Of Jenny and her Friends. Showing how a Man may go to see
  Life and meet Death there. Of the Felicity of Life and the
  Happiness of Corinthian Kate. The Woman and the Cholera        259

  IX

  Some Talk with a Taipan and a General: proves in what
  Manner a Sea Picnic may be a Success                           268

  X

  Shows how I came to Goblin Market and took a Scunner at it
  and cursed the Chinese People. Shows further how I
  initiated all Hong-Kong into our Fraternity                    281

  XI

  Of Japan at Ten Hours' Sight, containing a Complete
  Account of the Manners and Customs of its People, a
  History of its Constitution, Products, Art, and
  Civilisation, and omitting a Tiffin in a Tea-house with
  O-Toyo                                                         291

  XII

  A Further Consideration of Japan. The Inland Sea and Good
  Cookery. The Mystery of Passports and Consulates and
  Certain Other Matters                                          305

  XIII

  The Japanese Theatre and the Story of the Thunder Cat.
  Treating also of the Quiet Places and the Dead Man in the
  Street                                                         313

  XIV

  Explains in what Manner I was taken to Venice in the Rain
  and climbed into a Devil Fort; a Tin-pot Exhibition and a
  Bath. Of the Maiden and the Boltless Door, the Cultivator
  and his Fields, and the Manufacture of Ethnological
  Theories at Railroad Speed. Ends with Kioto                    323

  XV

  Kioto, and how I fell in Love with the Chief Belle there
  after I had conferred with Certain China Merchants who
  trafficked in Tea. Shows further how, in a Great Temple, I
  broke the Tenth Commandment in Fifty-three Places and
  bowed down before Kano and a Carpenter. Takes me to
  Arashima                                                       337

  XVI

  The Party in the Parlour who played Games. A Complete
  History of All Modern Japanese Art; a Survey of the Past
  and a Prophecy of the Future, arranged and composed in the
  Kioto Factories                                                352

  XVII

  Of the Nature of the Tokaido and Japanese Railway
  Construction. One Traveller explains the Life of the
  Sahib-Log, and Another the Origin of Dice. Of the Babies
  in the Bath Tub and the Man in D. T.                           363

  XVIII

  Concerning a Hot-water Tap, and Some General Conversation      375

  XIX

  The Legend of Nikko Ford and the Story of the Avoidance of
  Misfortune                                                     386

  XX

  Shows how I grossly libelled the Japanese Army, and edited
  a Civil and Military Gazette which is not in the least
  Trustworthy                                                    396

  XXI

  Shows the Similarity between the Babu and the Japanese.
  Contains the Earnest Outcry of an Unbeliever. The
  Explanation of Mr. Smith of California and Elsewhere.
  Takes me on Board Ship after Due Warning to those who
  follow                                                         411

  XXII

  Shows how I came to America before My Time and was much
  shaken in Body and Soul                                        423

  XXIII

  How I got to San Francisco and took Tea with the Natives
  there                                                          436

  XXIV

  Shows how through Folly I assisted at a Murder and was
  Afraid. The Rule of the Democracy and the Despotism of the
  Alien                                                          451


CONTENTS OF PART II


FROM SEA TO SEA

  XXV                                                           PAGE

  Tells how I dropped into Politics and the Tenderer
  Sentiments. Contains a Moral Treatise on American Maidens
  and an Ethnological One on the Negro. Ends with a Banquet
  and a Type-writer                                                3

  XXVI

  Takes me through Bret Harte's Country and to Portland with
  "Old Man California." Explains how Two Vagabonds became
  Homesick through looking at Other People's Houses               18

  XXVII

  Shows how I caught Salmon in the Clackamas                      33

  XXVIII

  Takes me from Vancouver to the Yellowstone National Park        50

  XXIX

  Shows how Yankee Jim introduced me to Diana of the
  Crossways on the Banks of the Yellowstone and how a German
  Jew said I was no True Citizen. Ends with the Celebration
  of the 4th of July and a Few Lessons therefrom                  62

  XXX

  Shows how I entered Mazanderan of the Persians and saw
  Devils of Every Colour, and Some Troopers. Hell and the
  Old Lady from Chicago. The Captain and the Lieutenant           73

  XXXI

  Ends with the Cañon of the Yellowstone. The Maiden from
  New Hampshire--Larry--"Wrap-up-his-Tail"--Tom--The Old
  Lady from Chicago--and a Few Natural Phenomena--including
  One Briton                                                      88

  XXXII

  Of the American Army and the City of the Saints. The
  Temple, the Book of Mormon, and the Girl from Dorset. An
  Oriental Consideration of Polygamy                             106

  XXXIII

  How I met Certain People of Importance between Salt Lake
  and Omaha                                                      120

  XXXIV

  Across the Great Divide; and how the Man Gring showed me
  the Garments of the Ellewomen                                  130

  XXXV

  How I struck Chicago, and how Chicago struck me. Of
  Religion, Politics, and Pig-sticking, and the Incarnation
  of the City among Shambles                                     139

  XXXVI

  How I found Peace at Musquash on the Monongahela               154

  XXXVII

  An Interview with Mark Twain                                   167


  THE CITY OF DREADFUL NIGHT

  I

  A Real Live City                                               185

  II

  The Reflections of a Savage                                    191

  III

  The Council of the Gods                                        199

  IV

  On the Banks of the Hugli                                      208

  V

  With the Calcutta Police                                       217

  VI

  The City of Dreadful Night                                     223

  VII

  Deeper and Deeper Still                                        233

  VIII

  Concerning Lucia                                               240


  AMONG THE RAILWAY FOLK

  I

  A Railway Settlement                                           249

  II

  The Shops                                                      257

  III

  Vulcan's Forge                                                 266


  THE GIRIDIH COAL-FIELDS

  I

  On the Surface                                                 275

  II

  In the Depths                                                  284

  III

  The Perils of the Pits                                         291



PART I

LETTERS OF MARQUE



LETTERS OF MARQUE


I

OF THE BEGINNING OF THINGS. OF THE TAJ AND THE GLOBE-TROTTER. THE YOUNG
MAN FROM MANCHESTER AND CERTAIN MORAL REFLECTIONS.

NOV.-DEC., 1887


Except for those who, under compulsion of a sick certificate, are flying
Bombaywards, it is good for every man to see some little of the great
Indian Empire and the strange folk who move about it. It is good to
escape for a time from the House of Rimmon--be it office or
cutchery--and to go abroad under no more exacting master than personal
inclination, and with no more definite plan of travel than has the
horse, escaped from pasture, free upon the countryside. The first result
of such freedom is extreme bewilderment, and the second reduces the
freed to a state of mind which, for his sins, must be the normal portion
of the Globe-trotter--the man who "does" kingdoms in days and writes
books upon them in weeks. And this desperate facility is not as strange
as it seems. By the time that an Englishman has come by sea and rail
_via_ America, Japan, Singapur, and Ceylon, to India, he can--these eyes
have seen him do so--master in five minutes the intricacies of the
_Indian Bradshaw_, and tell an old resident exactly how and where the
trains run. Can we wonder that the intoxication of success in hasty
assimilation should make him overbold, and that he should try to
grasp--but a full account of the insolent Globe-trotter must be
reserved. He is worthy of a book. Given absolute freedom for a month,
the mind, as I have said, fails to take in the situation and, after much
debate, contents itself with following in old and well-beaten
ways--paths that we in India have no time to tread, but must leave to
the country cousin who wears his _pagri_ tail-fashion down his back, and
says "cabman" to the driver of the _ticca-ghari_.

Now, Jeypore from the Anglo-Indian point of view is a station on the
Rajputana-Malwa line, on the way to Bombay, where half an hour is
allowed for dinner, and where there ought to be more protection from the
sun than at present exists. Some few, more learned than the rest, know
that garnets come from Jeypore, and here the limits of our wisdom are
set. We do not, to quote the Calcutta shopkeeper, come out "for the good
of our 'ealth," and what touring we accomplish is for the most part off
the line of rail.

For these reasons, and because he wished to study our winter birds of
passage, one of the few thousand Englishmen in India on a date and in a
place which have no concern with the story, sacrificed all his
self-respect and became--at enormous personal inconvenience--a
Globe-trotter going to Jeypore, and leaving behind him for a little
while all that old and well-known life in which Commissioners and
Deputy-Commissioners, Governors and Lieutenant-Governors, Aides-de-camp,
Colonels and their wives, Majors, Captains, and Subalterns after their
kind move and rule and govern and squabble and fight and sell each
other's horses and tell wicked stories of their neighbours. But before
he had fully settled into his part or accustomed himself to saying,
"Please take out this luggage," to the coolies at the stations, he saw
from the train the Taj wrapped in the mists of the morning.

There is a story of a Frenchman who feared not God, nor regarded man,
sailing to Egypt for the express purpose of scoffing at the Pyramids
and--though this is hard to believe--at the great Napoleon who had
warred under their shadow. It is on record that that blasphemous Gaul
came to the Great Pyramid and wept through mingled reverence and
contrition; for he sprang from an emotional race. To understand his
feelings it is necessary to have read a great deal too much about the
Taj, its design and proportions; to have seen execrable pictures of it
at the Simla Fine Arts Exhibition, to have had its praises sung by
superior and travelled friends till the brain loathed the repetition of
the word; and then, sulky with want of sleep, heavy-eyed, unwashed, and
chilled, to come upon it suddenly. Under these circumstances everything,
you will concede, is in favour of a cold, critical, and not too
impartial verdict. As the Englishman leaned out of the carriage he saw
first an opal-tinted cloud on the horizon, and, later, certain towers.
The mists lay on the ground, so that the Splendour seemed to be floating
free of the earth; and the mists rose in the background, so that at no
time could everything be seen clearly. Then as the train sped forward,
and the mists shifted, and the sun shone upon the mists, the Taj took a
hundred new shapes, each perfect and each beyond description. It was
the Ivory Gate through which all good dreams come; it was the
realization of "the gleaming halls of dawn" that Tennyson sings of; it
was veritably the "aspiration fixed," the "sigh made stone" of a lesser
poet; and, over and above concrete comparisons, it seemed the embodiment
of all things pure, all things holy, and all things unhappy. That was
the mystery of the building! It may be that the mists wrought the
witchery, and that the Taj seen in the dry sunlight is only, as
guide-books say, a noble structure. The Englishman could not tell, and
has made a vow that he will never go nearer the spot, for fear of
breaking the charm of the unearthly pavilions.

It may be, too, that each must view the Taj for himself with his own
eyes, working out his own interpretation of the sight. It is certain
that no man can in cold blood and colder ink set down his impressions if
he has been in the least moved.

To the one who watched and wondered that November morning the thing
seemed full of sorrow--the sorrow of the man who built it for the woman
he loved, and the sorrow of the workmen who died in the building--used
up like cattle. And in the face of this sorrow the Taj flushed in the
sunlight and was beautiful, after the beauty of a woman who has done no
wrong.

Here the train ran in under the walls of Agra Fort, and another
train--of thought incoherent as that written above--came to an end. Let
those who scoff at overmuch enthusiasm look at the Taj and thenceforward
be dumb. It is well on the threshold of a journey to be taught reverence
and awe.

But there is no reverence in the Globe-trotter: he is brazen. A Young
Man from Manchester was travelling to Bombay in order--how the words
hurt!--to be home by Christmas. He had come through America, New
Zealand, and Australia, and finding that he had ten days to spare at
Bombay, conceived the modest idea of "doing India." "I don't say that
I've done it all; but you may say that I've seen a good deal." Then he
explained that he had been "much pleased" at Agra; "much pleased" at
Delhi; and, last profanation, "very much pleased" at the Taj. Indeed, he
seemed to be going through life just then "much pleased" at everything.
With rare and sparkling originality he remarked that India was a "big
place," and that there were many things to buy. Verily, this Young Man
must have been a delight to the Delhi boxwallahs. He had purchased
shawls and embroidery "to the tune of" a certain number of rupees duly
set forth, and he had purchased jewellery to another tune. These were
gifts for friends at home, and he considered them "very Eastern." If
silver filigree work modelled on Palais Royal patterns, or aniline blue
scarves be Eastern, he had succeeded in his heart's desire. For some
inscrutable end it had been decreed that man shall take a delight in
making his fellow-man miserable. The Englishman began to point out
gravely the probable extent to which the Young Man from Manchester had
been swindled, and the Young Man said: "By Jove! You don't say so? I
hate being done. If there's anything I hate, it's being done!"

He had been so happy in the thought of "getting home by Christmas," and
so charmingly communicative as to the members of his family for whom
such and such gifts were intended, that the Englishman cut short the
record of fraud and soothed him by saying that he had not been so very
badly "done," after all. This consideration was misplaced, for, his
peace of mind restored, the Young Man from Manchester looked out of the
window and, waving his hand over the Empire generally, said: "I say.
Look here. All those wells are wrong, you know!" The wells were on the
wheel and inclined plane system; but he objected to the incline, and
said that it would be much better for the bullocks if they walked on
level ground. Then light dawned upon him, and he said: "I suppose it's
to exercise all their muscles. Y' know a canal horse is no use after he
has been on the tow-path for some time. He can't walk anywhere but on
the flat, y' know, and I suppose it's just the same with bullocks." The
spurs of the Aravalis, under which the train was running, had evidently
suggested this brilliant idea which passed uncontradicted, for the
Englishman was looking out of the window.

If one were bold enough to generalise after the manner of
Globe-trotters, it would be easy to build up a theory on the well
incident to account for the apparent insanity of some of our cold
weather visitors. Even the Young Man from Manchester could evolve a
complete idea for the training of well-bullocks in the East at thirty
seconds' notice. How much the more could a cultivated observer from, let
us say, an English constituency, blunder and pervert and mangle? We in
this country have no time to work out the notion, which is worthy of the
consideration of some leisurely Teuton intellect.

Envy may have prompted a too bitter judgment of the Young Man from
Manchester; for, as the train bore him from Jeypore to Ahmedabad, happy
in his "getting home by Christmas," pleased as a child with his Delhi
atrocities, pink-cheeked, whiskered, and superbly self-confident, the
Englishman whose home for the time was a dark bungaloathsome hotel,
watched his departure regretfully; for he knew exactly to what sort of
genial, cheery British household, rich in untravelled kin, that Young
Man was speeding. It is pleasant to play at Globe-trotting; but to enter
fully into the spirit of the piece, one must also be "going home for
Christmas."



II

SHOWS THE CHARM OF RAJPUTANA AND OF JEYPORE, THE CITY OF THE
GLOBE-TROTTER. OF ITS FOUNDER AND ITS EMBELLISHMENT. EXPLAINS THE USE
AND DESTINY OF THE STUD-BRED, AND FAILS TO EXPLAIN MANY MORE IMPORTANT
MATTERS.


If any part of a land strewn with dead men's bones have a special claim
to distinction, Rajputana, as the cock-pit of India, stands first. East
of Suez men do not build towers on the tops of hills for the sake of the
view, nor do they stripe the mountain sides with bastioned stone walls
to keep in cattle. Since the beginning of time, if we are to credit the
legends, there was fighting--heroic fighting--at the foot of the
Aravalis and beyond, in the great deserts of sand penned by those kindly
mountains from spreading over the heart of India. The "Thirty-six Royal
Races" fought as royal races know how to do, Chohan with Rahtor, brother
against brother, son against father. Later--but excerpts from the
tangled tale of force, fraud, cunning, desperate love and more desperate
revenge, crime worthy of demons and virtues fit for gods, may be found,
by all who care to look, in the book of the man who loved the Rajputs
and gave a life's labours in their behalf. From Delhi to Abu, and from
the Indus to the Chambul, each yard of ground has witnessed slaughter,
pillage, and rapine. But, to-day, the capital of the State, that Dhola
Rae, son of Soora Singh, hacked out more than nine hundred years ago
with the sword from some weaker ruler's realm, is lighted with gas, and
possesses many striking and English peculiarities.

Dhola Rae was killed in due time, and for nine hundred years Jeypore,
torn by the intrigues of unruly princes and princelings, fought
Asiatically.

When and how Jeypore became a feudatory of British power and in what
manner we put a slur upon Rajput honour--punctilious as the honour of
the Pathan--are matters of which the Globe-trotter knows more than we
do. He "reads up"--to quote his own words--a city before he comes to us,
and, straightway going to another city, forgets, or, worse still, mixes
what he has learnt--so that in the end he writes down the Rajput a
Mahratta, says that Lahore is in the Northwest Provinces, and was once
the capital of Sivaji, and piteously demands a "guide-book on all India,
a thing that you can carry in your trunk y' know--that gives you plain
descriptions of things without mixing you up." Here is a chance for a
writer of discrimination and void of conscience!

But to return to Jeypore--a pink city set on the border of a blue lake,
and surrounded by the low, red spurs of the Aravalis--a city to see and
to puzzle over. There was once a ruler of the State, called Jey Singh,
who lived in the days of Aurungzeb, and did him service with foot and
horse. He must have been the Solomon of Rajputana, for through the
forty-four years of his reign his "wisdom remained with him." He led
armies, and when fighting was over, turned to literature; he intrigued
desperately and successfully, but found time to gain a deep insight
into astronomy, and, by what remains above ground now, we can tell that
whatsoever his eyes desired, he kept not from him. Knowing his own
worth, he deserted the city of Amber founded by Dhola Rae among the
hills, and, six miles further, in the open plain, bade one Vedyadhar,
his architect, build a new city, as seldom Indian city was built
before--with huge streets straight as an arrow, sixty yards broad, and
cross-streets broad and straight. Many years afterward the good people
of America builded their towns after this pattern, but knowing nothing
of Jey Singh, they took all the credit to themselves.

He built himself everything that pleased him, palaces and gardens and
temples, and then died, and was buried under a white marble tomb on a
hill overlooking the city. He was a traitor, if history speak truth, to
his own kin, and he was an accomplished murderer; but he did his best to
check infanticide, he reformed the Mahometan calendar; he piled up a
superb library and he made Jeypore a marvel.

Later on came a successor, educated and enlightened by all the lamps of
British Progress, and converted the city of Jey Singh into a surprise--a
big, bewildering, practical joke. He laid down sumptuous _trottoirs_ of
hewn stone, and central carriage drives, also of hewn stone, in the main
street, he, that is to say, Colonel Jacob, the Superintending Engineer
of the State, devised a water supply for the city and studded the ways
with standpipes. He built gas works, set afoot a School of Art, a
Museum--all the things in fact which are necessary to Western municipal
welfare and comfort, and saw that they were the best of their kind. How
much Colonel Jacob has done, not only for the good of Jeypore city but
for the good of the State at large, will never be known, because the
officer in question is one of the not small class who resolutely refuse
to talk about their own work. The result of the good work is that the
old and the new, the rampantly raw and the sullenly old, stand
cheek-by-jowl in startling contrast. Thus, the Sacred Bull of Shira
trips over the rails of a steel tramway which brings out the city
rubbish; the lacquered and painted cart behind the two little stag-like
trotting bullocks catches its primitive wheels in the cast-iron gas-lamp
post with the brass nozzle atop, and all Rajputana, gayly clad,
small-turbaned swaggering Rajputana, circulates along the magnificent
pavements.

The fortress-crowned hills look down upon the strange medley. One of
them bears on its flank in huge white letters the cheery inscription,
"Welcome!" This was made when the Prince of Wales visited Jeypore to
shoot his first tiger; but the average traveller of to-day may
appropriate the message to himself, for Jeypore takes great care of
strangers and shows them all courtesy. This, by the way, demoralises the
Globe-trotter, whose first cry is, "Where can we get horses? Where can
we get elephants? Who is the man to write to for all these things?"

Thanks to the courtesy of the Maharaja, it is possible to see
everything, but for the incurious who object to being driven through
their sights, a journey down any one of the great main streets is a
day's delightful occupation. The view is as unobstructed as that of the
Champs Élysées; but in place of the white-stone fronts of Paris, rises a
long line of open-work screen-wall, the prevailing tone of which is
pink, caramel-pink, but house-owners have unlimited license to decorate
their tenements as they please. Jeypore, broadly considered, is Hindu,
and her architecture of the riotous, many-arched type which even the
Globe-trotter after a short time learns to call Hindu. It is neither
temperate nor noble, but it satisfies the general desire for something
that "really looks Indian."

A perverse taste for low company drew the Englishman from the
pavement--to walk upon a real stone pavement is in itself a
privilege--up a side-street, where he assisted at a quail fight and
found the low-caste Rajput a cheery and affable soul. The owner of the
losing quail was a trooper in the Maharaja's army. He explained that his
pay was six rupees a month paid bimonthly. He had to pay the cost of his
khaki blouse, brown-leather accoutrements, and jack-boots; lance,
saddle, sword, and horse were given free. He refused to tell for how
many months in the year he was drilled, and said vaguely that his duties
were mainly escort ones, and he had no fault to find with them. The
defeat of his quail had vexed him, and he desired the Sahib to
understand that the sowars of His Highness's army could ride. A clumsy
attempt at a compliment so fired his martial blood that he climbed into
his saddle, and then and there insisted on showing off his horsemanship.
The road was narrow, the lance was long, and the horse was a big one,
but no one objected, and the Englishman sat him down on a doorstep and
watched the fun. The horse seemed in some shadowy way familiar. His head
was not the lean head of the Kathiawar, nor his crest the crest of the
Marwarri, and his forelegs did not belong to these stony districts.
"Where did he come from?" The sowar pointed northward and said, "from
Amritsar," but he pronounced it "Armtzar." Many horses had been bought
at the spring fairs in the Punjab; they cost about two hundred rupees
each--perhaps more, the sowar could not say. Some came from Hissar and
some from other places beyond Delhi. They were very good horses. "That
horse there," he pointed to one a little distance down the street, "is
the son of a big Government horse--the kind that the Sirkar make for
breeding horses--so high!" The owner of "that horse" swaggered up, jaw
bandaged and cat-moustached, and bade the Englishman look at his mount;
bought, of course, when a colt. Both men together said that the Sahib
had better examine the Maharaja Sahib's stable, where there were
hundreds of horses, huge as elephants or tiny as sheep.

To the stables the Englishman accordingly went, knowing beforehand what
he would find, and wondering whether the Sirkar's "big horses" were
meant to get mounts for Rajput sowars. The Maharaja's stables are royal
in size and appointments. The enclosure round which they stand must be
about half a mile long--it allows ample space for exercising, besides
paddocks for the colts. The horses, about two hundred and fifty, are
bedded in pure white sand--bad for the coat if they roll, but good for
the feet--the pickets are of white marble, the heel-ropes in every case
of good sound rope, and in every case the stables are exquisitely clean.
Each stall contains above the manger, a curious little bunk for the syce
who, if he uses the accommodation, must assuredly die once each hot
weather.

A journey round the stables is saddening, for the attendants are very
anxious to strip their charges, and the stripping shows so much. A few
men in India are credited with the faculty of never forgetting a horse
they have once seen, and of knowing the produce of every stallion they
have met. The Englishman would have given something for their company at
that hour. His knowledge of horse-flesh was very limited; but he felt
certain that more than one or two of the sleek, perfectly groomed
country-breds should have been justifying their existence in the ranks
of the British cavalry, instead of eating their heads off on six
seers[1] of gram and one of sugar per diem. But they had all been
honestly bought and honestly paid for; and there was nothing in the wide
world to prevent His Highness, if he wished to do so, from sweeping up
the pick and pride of all the stud-bred horses in the Punjab. The
attendants appeared to take a wicked delight in saying "eshtud-bred"[2]
very loudly and with unnecessary emphasis as they threw back the
loin-cloth. Sometimes they were wrong, but in too many cases they were
right.

[1] A seer is about two pounds.

[2] Stud-bred, _i.e._ bred at the Indian Government studs.

The Englishman left the stables and the great central maidan, where a
nervous Biluchi was being taught, by a perfect network of ropes, to
"monkey-jump," and went out into the streets reflecting on the working
of horse-breeding operations under the Government of India, and the
advantages of having unlimited money wherewith to profit by other
people's mistakes.

Then, as happened to the great Tartarin of Tarescon, wild beasts began
to roar, and a crowd of little boys laughed. The lions of Jeypore are
tigers, caged in a public place for the sport of the people, who hiss at
them and disturb their royal feelings. Two or three of the six great
brutes are magnificent. All of them are short-tempered, and the bars of
their captivity not too strong. A pariah-dog was furtively trying to
scratch out a fragment of meat from between the bars of one of the
cages, and the occupant tolerated him. Growing bolder, the starveling
growled; the tiger struck at him with his paw, and the dog fled howling
with fear. When he returned, he brought two friends with him, and the
three mocked the captive from a distance.

It was not a pleasant sight and suggested Globe-trotters--gentlemen who
imagine that "more curricles" should come at their bidding, and on being
undeceived become abusive.



III

DOES NOT IN ANY SORT DESCRIBE THE DEAD CITY OF AMBER, BUT GIVES DETAILED
INFORMATION ABOUT A COTTON-PRESS.


And what shall be said of Amber, Queen of the Pass--the city that Jey
Singh bade his people slough as snakes cast their skins? The
Globe-trotter will assure you that it must be "done" before anything
else, and the Globe-trotter is, for once, perfectly correct. Amber lies
between six and seven miles from Jeypore among the "tumbled fragments of
the hills," and is reachable by so prosaic a conveyance as a
_ticca-ghari_, and so uncomfortable a one as an elephant. _He_ is
provided by the Maharaja, and the people who make India their prey, are
apt to accept his services as a matter of course.

Rise very early in the morning, before the stars have gone out, and
drive through the sleeping city till the pavement gives place to cactus
and sand, and educational and enlightened institutions to mile upon mile
of semi-decayed Hindu temples--brown and weather-beaten--running down to
the shores of the great Man Sagar Lake, wherein are more ruined temples,
palaces, and fragments of causeways. The water-birds have their home in
the half-submerged arcades and the crocodile nuzzles the shafts of the
pillars. It is a fitting prelude to the desolation of Amber. Beyond the
Man Sagar the road of to-day climbs up-hill, and by its side runs the
huge stone causeway of yesterday--blocks sunk in concrete. Down this
path the swords of Amber went out to kill. A triple wall rings the city,
and, at the third gate, the road drops into the valley of Amber. In the
half light of dawn, a great city sunk between hills and built round
three sides of a lake is dimly visible, and one waits to catch the hum
that should arise from it as the day breaks. The air in the valley is
bitterly chill. With the growing light, Amber stands revealed, and the
traveller sees that it is a city that will never wake. A few beggars
live in huts at the end of the valley, but the temples, the shrines, the
palaces, and the tiers-on-tiers of houses are desolate. Trees grow upon
and split the walls, the windows are filled with brushwood, and the
cactus chokes the street. The Englishman made his way up the side of the
hill to the great palace that overlooks everything except the red fort
of Jeighur, guardian of Amber. As the elephant swung up the steep roads
paved with stone and built out on the sides of the hill, he looked into
empty houses where the little grey squirrel sat and scratched its ears.
The peacock walked on the house-tops, and the blue pigeon roosted
within. He passed under iron-studded gates whose hinges were eaten out
with rust, and by walls plumed and crowned with grass, and under more
gate-ways, till, at last, he reached the palace and came suddenly into a
great quadrangle where two blinded, arrogant stallions, covered with red
and gold trappings, screamed and neighed at each other from opposite
ends of the vast space. For a little time these were the only visible
living beings, and they were in perfect accord with the spirit of the
spot. Afterwards certain workmen appeared; for it seems that the
Maharaja keeps the old palace of his forefathers in good repair, but
they were modern and mercenary, and with great difficulty were detached
from the skirts of the traveller. A somewhat extensive experience of
palace-seeing had taught him that it is best to see palaces alone, for
the Oriental as a guide is undiscriminating and sets too great a store
on corrugated iron roofs and glazed drain-pipes.

So the Englishman went into this palace built of stone, bedded on stone,
springing out of scarped rock, and reached by stone ways--nothing but
stone. Presently, he stumbled across a little temple of Kali, a gem of
marble tracery and inlay, very dark and, at that hour of the morning,
very cold.

If, as Viollet-le-Duc tells us to believe, a building reflects the
character of its inhabitants, it must be impossible for one reared in an
Eastern palace to think straightly or speak freely or--but here the
annals of Rajputana contradict the theory--to act openly. The cramped
and darkened rooms, the narrow smooth-walled passages with recesses
where a man might wait for his enemy unseen, the maze of ascending and
descending stairs leading nowhither, the ever-present screens of marble
tracery that may hide or reveal so much,--all these things breathe of
plot and counter-plot, league and intrigue. In a living palace where the
sightseer knows and feels that there are human beings everywhere, and
that he is followed by scores of unseen eyes, the impression is almost
unendurable. In a dead palace--a cemetery of loves and hatreds done with
hundreds of years ago, and of plottings that had for their end, though
the greybeards who plotted knew it not, the coming of the British
tourist with guide-book and sun-hat--oppression gives place to simply
impertinent curiosity. The Englishman wandered into all parts of the
palace, for there was no one to stop him--not even the ghosts of the
dead Queens--through ivory-studded doors, into the women's quarters,
where a stream of water once flowed over a chiselled marble channel. A
creeper had set its hands upon the lattice there, and there was dust of
old nests in one of the niches in the wall. Did the lady of light virtue
who managed to become possessed of so great a portion of Jey Singh's
library ever set her dainty feet in the trim garden of the Hall of
Pleasure beyond the screen-work? Was it in the forty-pillared Hall of
Audience that the order went forth that the Chief of Birjooghar was to
be slain, and from what wall did the King look out when the horsemen
clattered up the steep stone path to the palace, bearing on their
saddle-bows the heads of the bravest of Rajore? There were questions
innumerable to be asked in each court and keep and cell; but the only
answer was the cooing of the pigeons.

If a man desired beauty, there was enough and to spare in the palace;
and of strength more than enough. With inlay and carved marble, with
glass and colour, the Kings who took their pleasure in that now desolate
pile, made all that their eyes rested upon royal and superb. But any
description of the artistic side of the palace, if it were not
impossible, would be wearisome. The wise man will visit it when time and
occasion serve, and will then, in some small measure, understand what
must have been the riotous, sumptuous, murderous life to which our
Governors and Lieutenant-Governors, Commissioners and Deputy
Commissioners, Colonels and Captains and the Subalterns, have put an
end.

From the top of the palace you may read if you please the Book of
Ezekiel written in stone upon the hillside. Coming up, the Englishman
had seen the city from below or on a level. He now looked into its very
heart--the heart that had ceased to beat. There was no sound of men or
cattle, or grind-stones in those pitiful streets--nothing but the cooing
of the pigeons. At first it seemed that the palace was not ruined at
all--that soon the women would come up on the house-tops and the bells
would ring in the temples. But as he attempted to follow with his eye
the turns of the streets, the Englishman saw that they died out in wood
tangle and blocks of fallen stone, that some of the houses were rent
with great cracks, and pierced from roof to road with holes that let in
the morning sun. The drip-stones of the eaves were gap-toothed, and the
tracery of the screens had fallen out so that zenana-rooms lay
shamelessly open to the day. On the outskirts of the city, the
strong-walled houses dwindled and sank down to mere stone-heaps and
faint indications of plinth and wall, hard to trace against the
background of stony soil. The shadow of the palace lay over two-thirds
of the city and the trees deepened the shadow. "He who has bent him o'er
the dead" _after_ the hour of which Byron sings, knows that the features
of the man become blunted as it were--the face begins to fade. The same
hideous look lies on the face of the Queen of the Pass, and when once
this is realised, the eye wonders that it could have ever believed in
the life of her. She is the city "whose graves are set in the side of
the pit, and her company is round about her graves," sister of Pathros,
Zoan, and No.

Moved by a thoroughly insular instinct, the Englishman took up a piece
of plaster and heaved it from the palace wall into the dark streets. It
bounded from a house-top to a window-ledge, and thence into a little
square, and the sound of its fall was hollow and echoing, as the sound
of a stone in a well. Then the silence closed up upon the sound, till in
the far-away courtyard below the roped stallions began screaming afresh.
There may be desolation in the great Indian Desert to the westward, and
there is desolation on the open seas; but the desolation of Amber is
beyond the loneliness either of land or sea. Men by the hundred thousand
must have toiled at the walls that bound it, the temples and bastions
that stud the walls, the fort that overlooks all, the canals that once
lifted water to the palace, and the garden in the lake of the valley.
Renan could describe it as it stands to-day, and Verestchaguin could
paint it.

Arrived at this satisfactory conclusion, the Englishman went down
through the palace and the scores of venomous and suggestive little
rooms, to the elephant in the courtyard, and was taken back in due time
to the Nineteenth Century in the shape of His Highness, the Maharaja's
Cotton-Press, returning a profit of twenty-seven per cent, and fitted
with two engines, of fifty horse-power each, an hydraulic press, capable
of exerting a pressure of three tons per square inch, and everything
else to correspond. It stood under a neat corrugated iron roof close to
the Jeypore Railway Station, and was in most perfect order, but somehow
it did not taste well after Amber. There was aggressiveness about the
engines and the smell of the raw cotton.

The modern side of Jeypore must not be mixed with the ancient.



IV

THE TEMPLE OF MAHADEO AND THE MANNERS OF SUCH AS SEE INDIA. THE MAN BY
THE WATER-TROUGHS AND HIS KNOWLEDGE. THE VOICE OF THE CITY AND WHAT IT
SAID. PERSONALITIES AND THE HOSPITAL. THE HOUSE BEAUTIFUL OF JEYPORE AND
ITS BUILDERS.


From the Cotton-Press the Englishman wandered through the wide streets
till he came into an Hindu temple--rich in marble stone and inlay, and a
deep and tranquil silence, close to the Public Library of the State. The
brazen bull was hung with flowers, and men were burning the evening
incense before Mahadeo; while those who had prayed their prayer beat
upon the bells hanging from the roof and passed out, secure in the
knowledge that the God had heard them. If there be much religion, there
is little reverence, as Westerns understand the term, at the services of
the Gods of the East. A tiny little maiden, child of a monstrously ugly,
wall-eyed priest, staggered across the marble pavement to the shrine and
threw, with a gust of childish laughter, the blossoms she was carrying
into the lap of the Great Mahadeo himself. Then she made as though she
would leap up to the bell and ran away, still laughing, into the shadow
of the cells behind the shrine, while her father explained that she was
but a baby and that Mahadeo would take no notice. The temple, he said,
was specially favoured by the Maharaja, and drew from lands an income of
twenty thousand rupees a year. Thakoors and great men also gave gifts
out of their benevolence; and there was nothing in the wide world to
prevent an Englishman from following their example.

By this time--for Amber and the Cotton-Press had filled the hours--night
was falling, and the priests unhooked the swinging jets and began to
light up the impassive face of Mahadeo with gas. They used Swedish
matches!

Full night brought the hotel and its curiously composed human menagerie.

There is, if a work-a-day world will believe, a society entirely
outside, and unconnected with, that of the Station--a planet within a
planet, where nobody knows anything about the Collector's wife, the
Colonel's dinner-party, or what was really the matter with the Engineer.
It is a curious, an insatiably curious, thing, and its literature is
Newman's _Bradshaw_. Wandering "old arms-sellers" and others live upon
it, and so do the garnetmen and the makers of ancient Rajput shields.
The world of the innocents abroad is a touching and unsophisticated
place, and its very atmosphere urges the Anglo-Indian unconsciously to
an extravagant mendacity. Can you wonder, then, that a guide of
long-standing should in time grow to be an accomplished liar?

Into this world sometimes breaks the Anglo-Indian returned from leave,
or a fugitive to the sea, and his presence is like that of a well-known
land-mark in the desert. The old arms-seller knows and avoids him, and
he is detested by the jobber of gharis who calls every one "my lord" in
English, and panders to the "glaring race anomaly" by saying that every
carriage not under his control is "rotten, my lord, having been used by
natives." One of the privileges of playing at tourist is the brevet-rank
of "Lord."

There are many, and some very curious, methods of seeing India. One of
these is buying English translations of the more Zolaistic of Zola's
novels and reading them from breakfast to dinner-time in the verandah.
Yet another, even simpler, is American in its conception. Take a
Newman's _Bradshaw_ and a blue pencil, and race up and down the length
of the Empire, ticking off the names of the stations "done." To do this
thoroughly, keep strictly to the railway buildings and form your
conclusions through the carriage-windows. These eyes have seen both ways
of working in full blast; and, on the whole, the first is the most
commendable.

Let us consider now with due reverence the modern side of Jeypore. It is
difficult to write of a nickel-plated civilisation set down under the
immemorial Aravalis in the first state of Rajputana. The red-grey hills
seem to laugh at it, and the ever-shifting sand-dunes under the hills
take no account of it, for they advance upon the bases of the
monogrammed, coronet-crowned lamp-posts, and fill up the points of the
natty tramways near the Waterworks, which are the outposts of the
civilisation of Jeypore.

Escape from the city by the Railway Station till you meet the cactus and
the mud-bank and the Maharaja's Cotton-Press. Pass between a tramway and
a trough for wayfaring camels till your foot sinks ankle-deep in soft
sand, and you come upon what seems to be the fringe of illimitable
desert--mound upon mound of tussocks overgrown with plumed grass where
the parrots sit and swing. Here, if you have kept to the road, you shall
find a dam faced with stone, a great tank, and pumping machinery fine as
the heart of a municipal engineer can desire--pure water, sound pipes,
and well-kept engines. If you belong to what is sarcastically styled an
"able and intelligent municipality" under the British Rule, go down to
the level of the tank, scoop up the water in your hands and drink,
thinking meanwhile of the defects of the town whence you came. The
experience will be a profitable one. There are statistics in connection
with the Waterworks figures relating to "three-throw-plungers," delivery
and supply, which should be known to the professional reader. They would
not interest the unprofessional who would learn his lesson among the
thronged standpipes of the city.

While the Englishman was preparing in his mind a scathing rebuke for an
erring municipality that he knew of, a camel swung across the sands, its
driver's jaw and brow bound mummy-fashion to guard against the dust. The
man was evidently a stranger to the place, for he pulled up and asked
the Englishman where the drinking-troughs were. He was a gentleman and
bore very patiently with the Englishman's absurd ignorance of his
dialect. He had come from some village, with an unpronounceable name,
thirty _kos_ away, to see his brother's son, who was sick in the big
Hospital. While the camel was drinking the man talked, lying back along
his mount. He knew nothing of Jeypore, except the names of certain
Englishmen in it, the men who, he said, had made the Waterworks and
built the Hospital for his brother's son's comfort.

And this is the curious feature of Jeypore; though happily the city is
not unique in its peculiarity. When the late Maharaja ascended the
throne, more than fifty years ago, it was his royal will and pleasure
that Jeypore should advance. Whether he was prompted by love for his
subjects, desire for praise, or the magnificent vanity with which Jey
Singh must have been so largely dowered, are questions that concern
nobody. In the latter years of his reign, he was supplied with
Englishmen who made the State their fatherland, and identified
themselves with its progress as only Englishmen can. Behind them stood
the Maharaja ready to spend money with a lavishness that no Supreme
Government would dream of; and it would not be too much to say that they
together made the State what it is. When Ram Singh died, Madho Singh,
his successor, a conservative Hindu, forbore to interfere in any way
with the work that was going forward. It is said in the city that he
does not overburden himself with the cares of State, the driving power
being mainly in the hands of a Bengali, who has everything but the name
of Minister. Nor do the Englishmen, it is said in the city, mix
themselves with the business of government; their business being wholly
executive.

They can, according to the voice of the city, do what they please, and
the voice of the city--not in the main roads, but in the little
side-alleys where the stall-less bull blocks the path--attests how well
their pleasure has suited the pleasure of the people. In truth, to men
of action few things could be more delightful than having a State of
fifteen thousand square miles placed at their disposal, as it were, to
leave their mark on. Unfortunately for the vagrant traveller, those who
work hard for practical ends prefer not to talk about their doings, and
he must, therefore, pick up what information he can at second-hand or in
the city. The men at the standpipes explain that the Maharaja Sahib's
father gave the order for the Waterworks and that Yakub (Jacob) Sahib
made them--not only in the city, but out away in the district. "Did the
people grow more crops thereby?" "Of course they did. Were canals made
only to wash in?" "How much more crops?" "Who knows? The Sahib had
better go and ask some official." Increased irrigation means increase of
revenue for the State somewhere, but the man who brought about the
increase does not say so.

After a few days of amateur Globe-trotting, a shamelessness great as
that of the other loafer--the red-nosed man who hangs about one garden
and is always on the eve of starting for Calcutta--possesses the
masquerader; so that he feels equal to asking a Resident for a
parcel-gilt howdah, or dropping into dinner with a Lieutenant-Governor.
No man has a right to keep anything back from a Globe-trotter, who is a
mild, temperate, gentlemanly, and unobtrusive seeker after truth.
Therefore he who, without a word of enlightenment, sends the visitor
into a city which he himself has beautified and adorned and made clean
and wholesome, deserves unsparing exposure. And the city may be trusted
to betray him. The _malli_ in the Ram Newas Gardens--Gardens which are
finer than any in India and fit to rank with the best in Paris--says
that the Maharaja gave the order and Yakub Sahib made the Gardens. He
also says that the Hospital just outside the Gardens was built by Yakub
Sahib, and if the Sahib will go to the centre of the Gardens, he will
find another big building, a Museum by the same hand.

But the Englishman went first to the Hospital, and found the
out-patients beginning to arrive. A Hospital cannot tell lies about its
own progress as a municipality can. Sick folk either come or lie in
their own villages. In the case of the Mayo Hospital, they came, and the
operation book showed that they had been in the habit of coming. Doctors
at issue with provincial and local administrations, Civil Surgeons who
cannot get their indents complied with, ground-down and mutinous
practitioners all India over, would do well to visit the Mayo Hospital,
Jeypore. They might, in the exceeding bitterness of their envy, be able
to point out some defects in its supplies, or its beds, or its splints,
or in the absolute isolation of the women's quarters from the men's.

From the Hospital the Englishman went to the Museum in the centre of the
Gardens, and was eaten up by it, for Museums appealed to him. The casing
of the jewel was in the first place superb--a wonder of carven white
stone of the Indo-Saracenic style. It stood on a stone plinth, and was
rich in stone-tracery, green marble columns from Ajmir, red marble,
white marble colonnades, courts with fountains, richly carved wooden
doors, frescoes, inlay, and colour. The ornamentation of the tombs of
Delhi, the palaces of Agra, and the walls of Amber have been laid under
contribution to supply the designs in bracket, arch, and soffit; and
stone-masons from the Jeypore School of Art have woven into the work the
best that their hands could produce. The building in essence if not in
the fact of to-day, is the work of Freemasons. The men were allowed a
certain scope in their choice of detail and the result--but it should be
seen to be understood, as it stands in those Imperial Gardens. And,
observe, the man who had designed it, who had superintended its
erection, had said no word to indicate that there were such a thing in
the place, or that every foot of it, from the domes of the roof to the
cool green chunam dadoes and the carving of the rims of the fountains in
the courtyard, was worth studying! Round the arches of the great centre
court are written in Sanskrit and Hindi, texts from the great Hindu
writers of old, bearing on the beauty of wisdom and the sanctity of true
knowledge.

In the central corridor are six great frescoes, each about nine feet by
five, copies of illustrations in the Royal Folio of the _Razmnameh_, the
_Mahabharata_, which Abkar caused to be done by the best artists of his
day. The original is in the Museum, and he who can steal it will find a
purchaser at any price up to fifty thousand pounds.



V

OF THE SORDIDNESS OF THE SUPREME GOVERNMENT ON THE REVENUE SIDE; AND OF
THE PALACE OF JEYPORE. A GREAT KING'S PLEASURE-HOUSE, AND THE WORK OF
THE SERVANTS OF STATE.


Internally, there is, in all honesty, no limit to the luxury of the
Jeypore Museum. It revels in "South Kensington" cases--of the approved
pattern--that turn the beholder homesick, and South Kensington labels,
whereon the description, measurements, and price of each object are
fairly printed. These make savage one who knows how labelling is bungled
in some of the Government Museums--our starved barns that are supposed
to hold the economic exhibits, not of little States, but of great
Provinces.

The floors are of dark red chunam, overlaid with a discreet and silent
matting; the doors, where they are not plate glass, are of carved wood,
no two alike, hinged by sumptuous brass hinges on to marble jambs and
opening without noise. On the carved marble pillars of each hall are
fixed revolving cases of the South Kensington pattern to show textile
fabrics, gold lace, and the like. In the recesses of the walls are more
cases, and on the railing of the gallery that runs round each of the
three great central rooms, are fixed low cases to hold natural history
specimens and wax models of fruits and vegetables.

Hear this, Governments of India from the Punjab to Madras! The doors
come true to the jamb, the cases, which have been through a hot weather,
are neither warped nor cracked, nor are there unseemly tallow-drops and
flaws in the glasses. The maroon cloth, on or against which the exhibits
are placed, is of close texture, untouched by the moth, neither stained
nor meagre nor sunfaded; the revolving cases revolve freely without
rattling; there is not a speck of dust from one end of the building to
the other, because the menial staff are numerous enough to keep
everything clean, and the Curator's office is a veritable office--not a
shed or a bath-room, or a loose-box partitioned from the main building.
These things are so because money has been spent on the Museum, and it
is now a rebuke to all other Museums in India from Calcutta downwards.
Whether it is not too good to be buried away in a native State is a
question which envious men may raise and answer as they choose. Not long
ago, the editor of a Bombay paper passed through it, but having the
interests of the Egocentric Presidency before his eyes, dwelt more upon
the idea of the building than its structural beauties; saying that
Bombay, who professed a weakness for technical education, should be
ashamed of herself. And he was quite right.

The system of the Museum is complete in intention, as are its
appointments in design. At present there are some fifteen thousand
objects of art, covering a complete exposition of the arts, from enamels
to pottery and from brass-ware to stone-carving, of the State of
Jeypore. They are compared with similar arts of other lands. Thus a
Damio's sword--a gem of lacquer-plated silk and stud-work--flanks the
_tulwars_ of Marwar and the _jezails_ of Tonk; and reproductions of
Persian and Russian brass-work stand side by side with the handicrafts
of the pupils of the Jeypore School of Art. A photograph of His Highness
the present Maharaja is set among the arms, which are the most prominent
features of the first or metal-room. As the villagers enter, they salaam
reverently to the photo, and then move on slowly, with an evidently
intelligent interest in what they see. Ruskin could describe the scene
admirably--pointing out how reverence must precede the study of art, and
how it is good for Englishmen and Rajputs alike to bow on occasion
before Geisler's cap. They thumb the revolving cases of cloths do those
rustics, and artlessly try to feel the texture through the protecting
glass. The main object of the Museum is avowedly provincial--to show the
craftsman of Jeypore the best that his predecessors could do, and what
foreign artists have done. In time--but the Curator of the Museum has
many schemes which will assuredly bear fruit in time, and it would be
unfair to divulge them. Let those who doubt the thoroughness of a Museum
under one man's control, built, filled, and endowed with royal
generosity--an institution perfectly independent of the Government of
India--go and exhaustively visit Dr. Hendley's charge at Jeypore. Like
the man who made the building, he refuses to talk, and so the greater
part of the work that he has in hand must be guessed at.

At one point, indeed, the Curator was taken off his guard. A huge map of
the kingdom showed in green the portions that had been brought under
irrigation, while blue circles marked the towns that owned
dispensaries. "I want to bring every man in the State within twenty
miles of a dispensary--and I've nearly done it," said he. Then he
checked himself, and went off to food-grains in little bottles as being
neutral and colourless things. Envy is forced to admit that the
arrangement of the Museum--far too important a matter to be explained
off-hand--is Continental in its character, and has a definite end and
bearing--a trifle omitted by many institutions other than Museums.
But--in fine, what can one say of a collection whose very labels are
gilt-edged! Shameful extravagance? Nothing of the kind--only finish,
perfectly in keeping with the rest of the fittings--a finish that we in
_kutcha_[3] India have failed to catch.

[3] casual: half-finished.

From the Museum go out through the city to the Maharaja's
Palace--skilfully avoiding the man who would show you the Maharaja's
European billiard-room,--and wander through a wilderness of sunlit,
sleepy courts, gay with paint and frescoes, till you reach an inner
square, where smiling grey-bearded men squat at ease and play
_chaupur_[4]--just such a game as cost the Pandavs the fair
Draupadi--with inlaid dice and gayly lacquered pieces. These ancients
are very polite and will press you to play, but give no heed to them,
for _chaupur_ is an expensive game--expensive as quail-fighting, when
you have backed the wrong bird and the people are laughing at your
inexperience. The Maharaja's Palace is gay, overwhelmingly rich in
candelabra, painted ceilings, gilt mirrors, and other evidences of a too
hastily assimilated civilisation; but, if the evidence of the ear can be
trusted, the old, old game of intrigue goes on as merrily as of yore. A
figure in saffron came out of a dark arch into the sunlight, almost
falling into the arms of one in pink. "Where have you come from?" "I
have been to see ----" the name was unintelligible. "That is a lie; you
have _not_!" Then, across the court, some one laughed a low, croaking
laugh. The pink and saffron figures separated as though they had been
shot, and disappeared into separate bolt-holes. It was a curious little
incident, and might have meant a great deal or just nothing at all. It
distracted the attention of the ancients bowed above the _chaupur_
cloth.

[4] something like _parchesi_.

In the Palace-gardens there is even a greater stillness than that about
the courts, and here nothing of the West, unless a critical soul might
take exception to the lamp-posts. At the extreme end lies a lake-like
tank swarming with _muggers_.[5] It is reached through an opening under
a block of zenana buildings. Remembering that all beasts by the palaces
of Kings or the temples of priests in this country would answer to the
name of "Brother," the Englishman cried with the voice of faith across
the water. And the mysterious freemasonry did not fail. At the far end
of the tank rose a ripple that grew and grew and grew like a thing in a
nightmare, and became presently an aged _mugger_. As he neared the
shore, there emerged, the green slime thick upon his eyelids, another
beast, and the two together snapped at a cigar-butt--the only reward for
their courtesy. Then, disgusted, they sank stern first with a gentle
sigh. Now a _mugger's_ sigh is the most suggestive sound in animal
speech. It suggested first the zenana buildings overhead, the walled
passes through the purple hills beyond, a horse that might clatter
through the passes till he reached the Man Sagar Lake below the passes,
and a boat that might row across the Man Sagar till it nosed the wall
of the Palace-tank, and then--then uprose the _mugger_ with the filth
upon his forehead and winked one horny eyelid--in truth he did!--and so
supplied a fitting end to a foolish fiction of old days and things that
might have been. But it must be unpleasant to live in a house whose base
is washed by such a tank.

[5] crocodiles.

And so back through the chunamed courts, and among the gentle sloping
paths between the orange trees, up to an entrance of the palace, guarded
by two rusty brown dogs from Kabul, each big as a man, and each
requiring a man's charpoy to sleep upon. Very gay was the front of the
palace, very brilliant were the glimpses of the damask-couched, gilded
rooms within, and very, very civilised were the lamp-posts with Ram
Singh's monogram, devised to look like V. R., at the bottom, and a
coronet at the top. An unseen brass band among the orange bushes struck
up the overture of the _Bronze Horse_. Those who know the music will see
at once that that was the only tune which exactly and perfectly fitted
the scene and its surroundings. It was a coincidence and a revelation.

In his time and when he was not fighting, Jey Singh, the second, who
built the city, was a great astronomer--a royal Omar Khayyam, for he,
like the tent-maker of Nishapur, reformed a calendar, and strove to
wring their mysteries from the stars with instruments worthy of a king.
But in the end he wrote that the goodness of the Almighty was above
everything, and died, leaving his observatory to decay without the
palace-grounds.

From the _Bronze Horse_ to the grass-grown enclosure that holds the
Yantr Samrat, or Prince of Dials, is rather an abrupt passage. Jey
Singh built him a dial with a gnomon some ninety feet high, to throw a
shadow against the sun, and the gnomon stands to-day, though there is
grass in the kiosque at the top and the flight of steps up the
hypotenuse is worn. He built also a zodiacal dial--twelve dials upon one
platform--to find the moment of true noon at any time of the year, and
hollowed out of the earth place for two hemispherical cups, cut by belts
of stone, for comparative observations.

He made cups for calculating eclipses, and a mural quadrant and many
other strange things of stone and mortar, of which people hardly know
the names and but very little of the uses. Once, said a man in charge of
two tiny elephants, _Indur_ and _Har_, a Sahib came with the Viceroy,
and spent eight days in the enclosure of the great neglected
observatory, seeing and writing things in a book. But _he_ understood
_Sanskrit_--the Sanskrit upon the faces of the dials, and the meaning of
the gnoma and pointers. Nowadays no one understands Sanskrit--not even
the Pundits; but without doubt Jey Singh was a great man.

The hearer echoed the statement, though he knew nothing of astronomy,
and of all the wonders in the observatory was only struck by the fact
that the shadow of the Prince of Dials moved over its vast plate so
quickly that it seemed as though Time, wroth at the insolence of Jey
Singh, had loosed the Horses of the Sun and were sweeping
everything--dainty Palace-gardens and ruinous instruments--into the
darkness of eternal night. So he went away chased by the shadow on the
dial, and returned to the hotel, where he found men who said--this must
be a catch-word of Globe-trotters--that they were "much pleased at"
Amber. They further thought that "house-rent would be cheap in those
parts," and sniggered over the witticism. There is a class of tourists,
and a strangely large one, who individually never get farther than the
"much pleased" state under any circumstances. This same class of
tourists, it has also been observed, are usually free with hackneyed
puns, vapid phrases, and alleged or bygone jokes. Jey Singh, in spite of
a few discreditable _laches_, was a temperate and tolerant man; but he
would have hanged those Globe-trotters in their trunk-straps as high as
the Yantr Samrat.

Next morning, in the grey dawn, the Englishman rose up and shook the
sand of Jeypore from his feet, and went with Master Coryatt and Sir
Thomas Roe to "Adsmir," wondering whether a year in Jeypore would be
sufficient to exhaust its interest, and why he had not gone out to the
tombs of the dead Kings and the passes of Gulta and the fort of Motee
Dungri. But what he wondered at most--knowing how many men who have in
any way been connected with the birth of an institution, do, to the end
of their days, continue to drag forward and exhume their labours and the
honours that did _not_ come to them--was the work of the two men who,
together for years past, have been pushing Jeypore along the
stone-dressed paths of civilisation, peace, and comfort. "Servants of
the Raj" they called themselves, and surely they have served the Raj
past all praise. The people in the city and the camel-driver from the
sand-hills told of their work. They themselves held their peace as to
what they had done, and, when pressed, referred--crowning baseness--to
reports. Printed ones!



VI

SHOWING HOW HER MAJESTY'S MAILS WENT TO UDAIPUR AND FELL OUT BY THE WAY.


Arrived at Ajmir, the Englishman fell among tents pitched under the
shadow of a huge banian tree, and in them was a Punjabi. Now there is no
brotherhood like the brotherhood of the Pauper Province; for it is even
greater than the genial and unquestioning hospitality which, in spite of
the loafer and the Globe-trotter, seems to exist throughout India. Ajmir
being British territory, though the inhabitants are allowed to carry
arms, is the headquarters of many of the banking firms who lend to the
Native States. The complaint of the Setts[6] to-day is that their trade
is bad, because an unsympathetic Government induces Native States to
make railways and become prosperous. "Look at Jodhpur!" said a gentleman
whose possessions might be roughly estimated at anything between thirty
and forty-five lakhs. "Time was when Jodhpur was always in debt--and not
so long ago, either. Now, they've got a railroad and are carrying salt
over it, and, as sure as I stand here, they have a _surplus_! What can
we do?" Poor pauper! However, he makes a little profit on the
fluctuations in the coinage of the States round him, for every small
king seems to have the privilege of striking his own image and
inflicting the Great Exchange Question on his subjects. It is a poor
State that has not two seers and five different rupees.

[6] native bankers.

From a criminal point of view, Ajmir is not a pleasant place. The Native
States lie all round and about it, and portions of the district are ten
miles off, Native State-locked on every side. Thus the criminal, who may
be a burglarious Meena lusting for the money bags of the Setts, or a
Peshawari down south on a cold weather tour, has his plan of campaign
much simplified.

The Englishman made only a short stay in the town, hearing that there
was to be a ceremony--_tamasha_ covers a multitude of things--at the
capital of His Highness the Maharana of Udaipur--a town some hundred and
eighty miles south of Ajmir, not known to many people beyond Viceroys
and their Staffs and the officials of the Rajputana Agency. So he took a
Neemuch train in the very early morning and, with the Punjabi, went due
south to Chitor, the point of departure for Udaipur. In time the
Aravalis gave place to a dead, flat, stone-strewn plain, thick with
dhak-jungle. Later the date-palm fraternised with the dhak, and low
hills stood on either side of the line. To this succeeded a tract rich
in pure white stone--the line was ballasted with it. Then came more low
hills, each with a cock's comb of splintered rock, overlooking
dhak-jungle and villages fenced with thorns--places that at once
declared themselves tigerish. Last, the huge bulk of Chitor showed
itself on the horizon. The train crossed the Gumber River and halted
almost in the shadow of the hills on which the old pride of Udaipur was
set.

It is difficult to give an idea of the Chitor fortress; but the long
line of brown wall springing out of bush-covered hill suggested at once
those pictures, such as the _Graphic_ publishes, of the _Inflexible_ or
the _Devastation_--gigantic men-of-war with a very low free-board
ploughing through green sea. The hill on which the fort stands is
ship-shaped and some miles long, and, from a distance, every inch
appears to be scarped and guarded. But there was no time to see Chitor.
The business of the day was to get, if possible, to Udaipur from Chitor
Station, which was composed of one platform, one telegraph-room, a
bench, and several vicious dogs.

The State of Udaipur is as backward as Jeypore is advanced--if we judge
it by the standard of civilisation. It does not approve of the
incursions of Englishmen, and, to do it justice, it thoroughly succeeds
in conveying its silent sulkiness. Still, where there is one English
Resident, one Doctor, one Engineer, one Settlement Officer, and one
Missionary, there must be a mail at least once a day. There was a mail.
The Englishman, men said, might go by it if he liked, or he might not.
Then, with a great sinking of the heart, he began to realise that his
caste was of no value in the stony pastures of Mewar, among the
swaggering gentlemen, who were so lavishly adorned with arms. There was
a mail, the ghost of a tonga, with tattered side-cloths and patched
roof, inconceivably filthy within and without, and it was Her Majesty's.
There was another tonga,--an _aram_ tonga, a carriage of ease--but the
Englishman was not to have it. It was reserved for a Rajput Thakur who
was going to Udaipur with his "tail." The Thakur, in claret-coloured
velvet with a blue turban, a revolver--Army pattern--a sword, and five
or six friends, also with swords, came by and indorsed the statement.
Now, the mail tonga had a wheel which was destined to become the Wheel
of Fate, and to lead to many curious things. Two diseased yellow ponies
were extracted from a dung-hill and yoked to the tonga; and after due
deliberation Her Majesty's mail started, the Thakur following.

In twelve hours, or thereabouts, the seventy miles between Chitor and
Udaipur would be accomplished. Behind the tonga cantered an armed sowar.
He was the guard. The Thakur's tonga came up with a rush, ran
deliberately across the bows of the Englishman, chipped a pony, and
passed on. One lives and learns. The Thakur seems to object to following
the foreigner.

At the halting-stages, once in every six miles, that is to say, the
ponies were carefully undressed and all their accoutrements fitted more
or less accurately on to the backs of any ponies that might happen to be
near; the released animals finding their way back to their stables alone
and unguided. There were no grooms, and the harness hung on by special
dispensation of Providence. Still the ride over a good road, driven
through a pitilessly stony country, had its charms for a while. At
sunset the low hills turned to opal and wine-red and the brown dust flew
up pure gold; for the tonga was running straight into the sinking sun.
Now and again would pass a traveller on a camel, or a gang of
_Bunjarras_[7] with their pack-bullocks and their women; and the sun
touched the brasses of their swords and guns till the poor wretches
seemed rich merchants come back from travelling with Sindbad.

[7] Gipsy traders.

On a rock on the right-hand side, thirty-four great vultures were
gathered over the carcass of a steer. And this was an evil omen. They
made unseemly noises as the tonga passed, and a raven came out of a
bush on the right and answered them. To crown all, one of the hide and
skin castes sat on the left-hand side of the road, cutting up some of
the flesh that he had stolen from the vultures. Could a man desire three
more inauspicious signs for a night's travel? Twilight came, and the
hills were alive with strange noises, as the red moon, nearly at her
full, rose over Chitor. To the low hills of the mad geological
formation, the tumbled strata that seem to obey no law, succeeded level
ground, the pasture lands of Mewar, cut by the Beruch and Wyan, streams
running over smooth water-worn rock, and, as the heavy embankments and
ample waterways showed, very lively in the rainy season.

In this region occurred the last and most inauspicious omen of all.
Something had gone wrong with a crupper, a piece of blue and white
punkah-cord. The Englishman pointed it out, and the driver, descending,
danced on that lonely road an unholy dance, singing the while: "The
_dumchi_![8] The _dumchi_! The _dumchi_!" in a shrill voice. Then he
returned and drove on, while the Englishman wondered into what land of
lunatics he was heading. At an average speed of six miles an hour, it is
possible to see a great deal of the country; and, under brilliant
moonlight, Mewar was desolately beautiful. There was no night traffic on
the road, no one except the patient sowar, his shadow an inky blot on
white, cantering twenty yards behind. Once the tonga strayed into a
company of date trees that fringed the path, and once rattled through a
little town, and once the ponies shied at what the driver said was a
rock. But It jumped up in the moonlight and went away.

[8] The crupper.

Then came a great blasted heath whereon nothing was more than six inches
high--a wilderness covered with grass and low thorn; and here, as nearly
as might be midway between Chitor and Udaipur, the Wheel of Fate, which
had been for some time beating against the side of the tonga, came off,
and Her Majesty's mails, two bags including parcels, collapsed on the
wayside: while the Englishman repented him that he had neglected the
omens of the vultures and the raven, the low-caste man and the mad
driver.

There was a consultation and an examination of the wheel, but the whole
tonga was rotten, and the axle was smashed and the axle pins were bent
and nearly red-hot. "It is nothing," said the driver, "the mail often
does this. What is a wheel?" He took a big stone and began hammering
proudly on the tire, to show that that at least was sound. A hasty
court-martial revealed that there was absolutely not one single relief
vehicle on the whole road between Chitor and Udaipur.

Now this wilderness was so utterly waste that not even the barking of a
dog or the sound of a night-fowl could be heard. Luckily the Thakur had,
some twenty miles back, stepped out to smoke by the roadside, and his
tonga had been passed meanwhile. The sowar was sent back to find that
tonga and bring it on. He cantered into the haze of the moonlight and
disappeared. Then said the driver: "Had there been no tonga behind us, I
should have put the mails on a horse, because the Sirkar's mail cannot
stop." The Englishman sat down upon the parcels-bag, for he felt that
there was trouble coming. The driver looked East and West and said: "I,
too, will go and see if the tonga can be found, for the Sirkar's dak
cannot stop. Meantime, oh, Sahib, do you take care of the mails--one bag
and one bag of parcels." So he ran swiftly into the haze of the
moonlight and was lost, and the Englishman was left alone in charge of
Her Majesty's mails, two unhappy ponies, and a lop-sided tonga. He lit a
fire, for the night was bitterly cold, and only mourned that he could
not destroy the whole of the territories of His Highness, the Maharana
of Udaipur. But he managed to raise a very fine blaze, before he
reflected that all this trouble was his own fault for wandering into
Native States undesirous of Englishmen.

The ponies coughed dolorously from time to time, but they could not lift
the weight of a dead silence that seemed to be crushing the earth. After
an interval measurable by centuries, sowar, driver, and Thakur's tonga
reappeared; the latter full to the brim and bubbling over with humanity
and bedding. "We will now," said the driver, not deigning to notice the
Englishman who had been on guard over the mails, "put the Sirkar's mail
into this tonga and go forward." Amiable heathen! He was going--he said
so--to leave the Englishman to wait in the Sahara, for certainly thirty
hours and perhaps forty-eight. Tongas are scarce on the Udaipur road.
There are a few occasions in life when it is justifiable to delay Her
Majesty's Mail. This was one of them. Seating himself upon the
parcels-bag, the Englishman cried in what was intended to be a very
terrible voice, but the silence soaked it up and left only a thin
trickle of sound, that any one who touched the bags would be hit with a
stick, several times, over the head. The bags were the only link between
him and the civilisation he had so rashly foregone. And there was a
pause.

The Thakur put his head out of the tonga and spoke shrilly in Mewari.
The Englishman replied in English-Urdu. The Thakur withdrew his head,
and from certain grunts that followed seemed to be wakening his
retainers. Then two men fell sleepily out of the tonga and walked into
the night. "Come in," said the Thakur, "you and your baggage. My pistol
is in that corner; be careful." The Englishman, taking a mail-bag in one
hand for safety's sake,--the wilderness inspires an Anglo-Indian
Cockney, with unreasoning fear,--climbed into the tonga, which was then
loaded far beyond Plimsoll mark, and the procession resumed its journey.
Every one in the vehicle--it seemed as full as the railway carriage that
held Alice through the Looking-Glass--was _Sahib_ and _Hazur_. Except
the Englishman. He was simple _tum_ (thou), and a revolver, Army
pattern, was printing every diamond in the chequer-work of its handle,
on his right hip. When men desired him to move, they prodded him with
the handles of _tulwars_ till they had coiled him into an uneasy lump.
Then they slept upon him, or cannoned against him as the tonga bumped.
It was an _aram_ tonga, a tonga for ease. That was the bitterest thought
of all!

In due season the harness began to break once every five minutes, and
the driver vowed that the wheels would give way also.

After eight hours in one position, it is excessively difficult to walk,
still more difficult to climb up an unknown road into a dak-bungalow;
but he who has sought sleep on an arsenal and under the bodies of burly
Rajputs can do it. The grey dawn brought Udaipur and a French bedstead.
As the tonga jingled away, the Englishman heard the familiar crack of
broken harness. So he was not the Jonah he had been taught to consider
himself all through that night of penance!

A jackal sat in the verandah and howled him to sleep, and he dreamed
that he caught a Viceroy under the walls of Chitor and beat him with a
_tulwar_ till he turned into a dak-pony whose near foreleg was
perpetually coming off and who would say nothing but _tum_ when he was
asked why he had not built a railway from Chitor to Udaipur.



VII

TOUCHING THE CHILDREN OF THE SUN AND THEIR CITY, AND THE HAT-MARKED
CASTE AND THEIR MERITS, AND A GOOD MAN'S WORKS IN THE WILDERNESS.


It was worth a night's discomfort and revolver-beds to sleep upon--this
city of the Suryavansi, hidden among the hills that encompass the great
Pichola lake. Truly, the King who governs to-day is wise in his
determination to have no railroad to his capital. His predecessor was
more or less enlightened, and had he lived a few years longer, would
have brought the iron horse through the Dobarri--the green gate which is
the entrance of the Girwa or girdle of hills around Udaipur; and, with
the train, would have come the tourist who would have scratched his name
upon the Temple of Garuda and laughed horse-laughs upon the lake. Let
us, therefore, be thankful that the capital of Mewar is hard to reach.

Each man in this land who has any claims to respectability walks armed,
carrying his tulwar sheathed in his hand, or hung by a short sling of
cotton passing over the shoulder, under his left armpit. His matchlock,
or smooth-bore, if he has one, is borne naked on the shoulder.

Now it is possible to carry any number of lethal weapons without being
actually dangerous. An unhandy revolver, for instance, may be worn for
years, and, at the end, accomplish nothing more noteworthy than the
murder of its owner. But the Rajput's weapons are not meant for display.
The Englishman caught a camel-driver who talked to him in Mewari, which
is a heathenish dialect, something like Multani to listen to; and the
man, very gracefully and courteously, handed him his sword and
matchlock, the latter a heavy stump-stock arrangement without pretence
of sights. The blade was as sharp as a razor, and the gun in perfect
working order. The coiled fuse on the stock was charred at the end, and
the curled ram's-horn powder-horn opened as readily as a much-handled
whisky-flask. Unfortunately, ignorance of Mewari prevented conversation;
so the camel-driver resumed his accoutrements and jogged forward on his
beast--a superb black one, with the short curled _hubshee_ hair--while
the Englishman went to the city, which is built on hills on the borders
of the lake. By the way, everything in Udaipur is built on a hill. There
is no level ground in the place, except the Durbar Gardens, of which
more hereafter. Because colour holds the eye more than form, the first
thing noticeable was neither temple nor fort, but an ever-recurring
picture, painted in the rudest form of native art, of a man on horseback
armed with a lance, charging an elephant-of-war. As a rule, the elephant
was depicted on one side the house-door and the rider on the other.
There was no representation of an army behind. The figures stood alone
upon the whitewash on house and wall and gate, again and again and
again. A highly intelligent priest grunted that it was a picture; a
private of the Maharana's regular army suggested that it was an
elephant; while a wheat-seller, his sword at his side, was equally
certain that it was a Raja. Beyond that point, his knowledge did not go.
The explanation of the picture is this. In the days when Raja Maun of
Amber put his sword at Akbar's service and won for him great kingdoms,
Akbar sent an army against Mewar, whose then ruler was Pertap Singh,
most famous of all the princes of Mewar. Selim, Akbar's son, led the
army of the Toork; the Rajputs met them at the pass of Huldighat and
fought till one-half of their band was slain. Once, in the press of
battle, Pertap on his great horse, Chytak, came within striking distance
of Selim's elephant, and slew the mahout, but Selim escaped, to become
Jehangir afterwards, and the Rajputs were broken. That was three hundred
years ago, and men have reduced the picture to a sort of diagram that
the painter dashes in, in a few minutes, without, it would seem, knowing
what he is commemorating.

Thinking of these things, the Englishman made shift to get to the city,
and presently came to a tall gate, the gate of the Sun, on which the
elephant-spikes, that he had seen rotted with rust at Amber, were new
and pointed and effective. The City gates are said to be shut at night,
and there is a story of a Viceroy's Guard-of-Honour which arrived before
daybreak, being compelled to crawl ignominiously man by man through a
little wicket-gate, while the horses had to wait without till sunrise.
But a civilised yearning for the utmost advantages of octroi, and not a
fierce fear of robbery and wrong, is at the bottom of the continuance of
this custom. The walls of the City are loopholed for musketry, but there
seem to be no mounting for guns, and the moat without the walls is dry
and gives cattle pasture. Coarse rubble in concrete faced with stone
makes the walls moderately strong.

Internally, the City is surprisingly clean, though with the exception of
the main street, paved after the fashion of Jullundur, of which, men
say, the pavement was put down in the time of Alexander and worn by
myriads of naked feet into deep barrels and grooves. In the case of
Udaipur, the feet of the passengers have worn the rock veins that crop
out everywhere, smooth and shiny; and in the rains the narrow gullies
must spout like fire-hoses. The people have been untouched by cholera
for four years, proof that Providence looks after those who do not look
after themselves, for Neemuch Cantonment, a hundred miles away, suffered
grievously last summer. "And what do you make in Udaipur?" "Swords,"
said the man in the shop, throwing down an armful of _tulwars_,
_kuttars_, and _khandas_ on the stones. "Do you want any? Look here!"
Hereat, he took up one of the commoner swords and flourished it in the
sunshine. Then he bent it double, and, as it sprang straight, began to
make it "speak." Arm-venders in Udaipur are a sincere race, for they
sell to people who really use their wares. The man in the shop was
rude--distinctly so. His first flush of professional enthusiasm abated,
he took stock of the Englishman and said calmly: "What do _you_ want
with a sword?" Then he picked up his goods and retreated, while certain
small boys, who deserved a smacking, laughed riotously from the coping
of a little temple hard by. Swords seem to be the sole manufacture of
the place. At least, none of the inhabitants the Englishman spoke to
could think of any other.

There is a certain amount of personal violence in and about the State,
or else where would be the good of the weapons? There are occasionally
dacoities more or less important; but these are not often heard of, and,
indeed, there is no special reason why they should be dragged into the
light of an unholy publicity, for the land governs itself in its own
way, and is always in its own way, which is by no means ours, very
happy. The Thakurs live, each in his own castle on some rock-faced hill,
much as they lived in the days of Tod; though their chances of
distinguishing themselves, except in the school, and dispensary line,
are strictly limited. Nominally, they pay _chutoond_, or a sixth of
their revenues to the State, and are under feudal obligations to supply
their Head with so many horsemen per thousand rupees; but whether the
_chutoond_ justifies its name and what is the exact extent of the "tail"
leviable, they, and perhaps the Rajputana Agency, alone know. They are
quiet, give no trouble except to the wild boar, and personally are
magnificent men to look at. The Rajput shows his breeding in his hands
and feet, which are almost disproportionately small, and as well shaped
as those of a woman. His stirrups and sword-handles are even more
unusable by Westerns than those elsewhere in India, whereas the Bhil's
knife-handle gives as large a grip as an English one. Now the little
Bhil is an aborigine, which is humiliating to think of. His tongue,
which may frequently be heard in the City, seems to possess some variant
of the Zulu click, which gives it a weird and unearthly character. From
the main gate of the City the Englishman climbed uphill towards the
Palace and the Jugdesh Temple built by one Juggat Singh at the
beginning of the last century. This building must be--but ignorance is a
bad guide--Jain in character. From basement to the stone socket of the
temple flagstaff, it is carved in high relief with elephants, men, gods,
and monsters in friezes of wearying profusion.

The management of the temple have daubed a large portion of the building
with whitewash, for which their revenues should be "cut" for a year or
two. The main shrine holds a large brazen image of Garuda, and, in the
corners of the courtyard of the main pile, are shrines to Mahadeo, and
the jovial, pot-bellied Ganesh. There is no repose in this architecture,
and the entire effect is one of repulsion; for the clustered figures of
man and brute seem always on the point of bursting into unclean,
wriggling life. But it may be that the builders of this form of house
desired to put the fear of all their many gods into the hearts of the
worshippers.

From the temple whose steps are worn smooth by the feet of men, and
whose courts are full of the faint smell of stale flowers and old
incense, the Englishman went to the Palaces which crown the highest hill
overlooking the City. Here, too, whitewash had been unsparingly applied,
but the excuse was that the stately fronts and the pierced screens were
built of a perishable stone which needed protection against the weather.
One projecting window in the façade of the main palace had been treated
with Minton tiles. Luckily it was too far up the wall for anything more
than the colour to be visible, and the pale blue against the pure white
was effective.

A picture of Ganesh looks out over the main courtyard, which is entered
by a triple gate, and hard by is the place where the King's elephants
fight over a low masonry wall. In the side of the hill on which the
Palaces stand is built stabling for horses and elephants--proof that the
architects of old must have understood their business thoroughly. The
Palace is not a "show place," and, consequently, the Englishman did not
see much of the interior. But he passed through open gardens with tanks
and pavilions, very cool and restful, till he came suddenly upon the
Pichola lake, and forgot altogether about the Palace. He found a sheet
of steel-blue water, set in purple and grey hills, bound in, on one
side, by marble bunds, the fair white walls of the Palace, and the grey,
time-worn ones of the city; and, on the other, fading away through the
white of shallow water, and the soft green of weed, marsh, and
rank-pastured river-field, into the land.

To enjoy open water thoroughly, live for a certain number of years
barred from anything better than the yearly swell and shrinkage of one
of the Five Rivers, and then come upon two and a half miles of solid,
restful lake, with a cool wind blowing off it and little waves spitting
against the piers of a veritable, albeit hideously ugly, boat-house. On
the faith of an exile from the Sea, you will not stay long among
Palaces, be they never so lovely, or in little rooms panelled with Dutch
tiles.

And here follows a digression. There is no life so good as the life of a
loafer who travels by rail and road; for all things and all people are
kind to him. From the chill miseries of a dak-bungalow where they slew
one hen with as much parade as the French guillotined Pranzini, to the
well-ordered sumptuousness of the Residency, was a step bridged over by
kindly and unquestioning hospitality. So it happened that the Englishman
was not only able to go upon the lake in a soft-cushioned boat, with
everything handsome about him, but might, had he chosen, have killed
wild-duck with which the lake swarms.

The mutter of water under a boat's nose was a pleasant thing to hear
once more. Starting at the head of the lake, he found himself shut out
from sight of the main sheet of water in a loch bounded by a sunk,
broken bund to steer across which was a matter of some nicety. Beyond
that lay a second pool, spanned by a narrow-arched bridge built, men
said, long before the City of the Rising Sun, which is little more than
three hundred years old. The bridge connects the City with Brahmapura--a
whiter walled enclosure filled with many Brahmins and ringing with the
noise of their conches. Beyond the bridge, the body of the lake, with
the City running down to it, comes into full view; and Providence has
arranged for the benefit of such as delight in colours, that the
Rajputni shall wear the most striking tints that she can buy in the
bazaars, in order that she may beautify the ghâts where she comes to
bathe.

The bathing-ledge at the foot of the City wall was lighted with women
clad in raw vermilion, dull red, indigo and sky-blue, saffron and pink
and turquoise; the water faithfully doubling everything. But the first
impression was of the unreality of the sight, for the Englishman found
himself thinking of the Simla Fine Arts Exhibition and the overdaring
amateurs who had striven to reproduce scenes such as these. Then a
woman rose up, and clasping her hands behind her head, looked at the
passing boat, and the ripples spread out from her waist, in blinding
white silver, far across the water. As a picture, a daringly insolent
picture, it was superb.

The boat turned aside to shores where huge turtles were lying, and a
stork had built her a nest, big as a haycock, in a withered tree, and a
bevy of coots were flapping and gabbling in the weeds or between great
leaves of the _Victoria regia_--an "escape" from the State Gardens. Here
were divers and waders, kingfishers and snaky-necked birds of the
cormorant family, but no duck. They had seen the guns in the boat and
were flying to and fro in companies across the lake, or settling--wise
things!--in the glare of the sun on the water. The lake was swarming
with them, but they seemed to know exactly how far a twelve-bore would
carry. Perhaps their knowledge had been gained from the Englishman at
the Residency. Later, as the sun left the lake, and the hills began to
glow like opals, the boat made her way to the shallow side of the lake,
through fields of watergrass and dead lotus-raffle that rose as high as
the bows, and clung lovingly about the rudder, and parted with the noise
of silk when it is torn. There she waited for the fall of twilight when
the duck would come home to bed, and the Englishman sprawled upon the
cushions in deep content and laziness, as he looked across to where two
marble Palaces floated upon the waters, and saw all the glory and beauty
of the City, and wondered whether Tod, in cocked hat and stiff stock,
had ever come shooting among the reeds, and, if so, how in the world he
had ever managed to bowl over....

"Duck and drake, by Jove! Confiding beasts, weren't they. Hi! Lalla,
jump out and get them!" It was a brutal thing, this double-barrelled
murder perpetrated in the silence of the marsh when the kingly wild-duck
came back from his wanderings with his mate at his side, but--but--the
birds were very good to eat.

If the Venetian owned the Pichola Sagar he might say with justice: "See
it and die." But it is better to live and go to dinner, and strike into
a new life--that of the men who bear the hat-mark on their brow as
plainly as the well-born native carries the _trisul_ of Shiva.

They are of the same caste as the toilers on the Frontier--tough,
bronzed men, with wrinkles at the corners of the eyes, gotten by looking
across much sun-glare. When they would speak of horses they mention Arab
ponies, and their talk, for the most part, drifts Bombaywards, or to
Abu, which is their Simla. By these things the traveller may see that he
is far away from the Presidency; and will presently learn that he is in
a land where the railway is an incident and not an indispensable luxury.
Folk tell strange stories of drives in bullock-carts in the rains, of
breakdowns in nullahs fifty miles from everywhere, and of elephants that
used to sink for rest and refreshment half-way across swollen streams.
Every place here seems fifty miles from everywhere, and the legs of a
horse are regarded as the only natural means of locomotion. Also, and
this to the Indian Cockney, who is accustomed to the bleached or office
man, is curious, there are to be found many veritable "tiger-men"--not
story-spinners, but such as have, in their wanderings from Bikaneer to
Indore, dropped their tiger in the way of business. They are
enthusiastic over princelings of little known fiefs, lords of austere
estates perched on the tops of unthrifty hills, hard riders, and good
sportsmen. And five, six, yes fully nine hundred miles to the northward,
lives the sister branch of the same caste--the men who swear by Pathan,
Biluch, and Brahui, with whom they have shot or broken bread.

There is a saying in Upper India that the more desolate the country, the
greater the certainty of finding a Padre-Sahib. The proverb seems to
hold good in Udaipur, where the Scotch Presbyterian Mission have a post,
and others at Todgarh to the north and elsewhere. To arrive, under
Providence, at the cure of souls through the curing of bodies certainly
seems the rational method of conversion; and this is exactly what the
Missions are doing. Their Padre in Udaipur is also an M.D., and of him a
rather striking tale is told. Conceiving that the City could bear
another hospital in addition to the State one, he took furlough, went
home, and there, by crusade and preaching, raised sufficient money for
the scheme, so that none might say that he was beholden to the State.
Returning, he built his hospital, a very model of neatness and comfort,
and, opening the operation-book, announced his readiness to see any one
and every one who was sick. How the call was and is now responded to,
the dry records of that book will show; and the name of the Padre-Sahib
is honoured, as these ears have heard, throughout Udaipur and far
around. The faith that sends a man into the wilderness, and the secular
energy which enables him to cope with an ever-growing demand for medical
aid, must, in time, find their reward. If patience and unwearying
self-sacrifice carry any merit, they should do so soon. To-day the
people are willing enough to be healed, and the general influence of the
Padre-Sahib is very great. But beyond that.... Still it was impossible
to judge aright.



VIII

DIVERS PASSAGES OF SPEECH AND ACTION WHENCE THE NATURE, ARTS, AND
DISPOSITION OF THE KING AND HIS SUBJECTS MAY BE OBSERVED.


In this land men tell "sad stories of the death of Kings" not easily
found elsewhere; and also speak of _sati_, which is generally supposed
to be out of date in a manner which makes it seem very near and vivid.
Be pleased to listen to some of the tales, but with all the names cut
out, because a King has just as much right to have his family affairs
respected as has a British householder paying income tax.

Once upon a time, that is to say when the British power was well
established in the land and there were railways, was a King who lay
dying for many days, and all, including the Englishmen about him, knew
that his end was certain. But he had chosen to lie in an outer court or
pleasure-house of his Palace; and with him were some twenty of his
favourite wives. The place in which he lay was very near to the City;
and there was a fear that his womankind should, on his death, going mad
with grief, cast off their veils and run out into the streets, uncovered
before all men. In which case nothing, not even the power of the Press,
and the locomotive, and the telegraph, and cheap education and
enlightened municipal councils, could have saved them from the
burning-pyre, for they were the wives of a King. So the Political did
his best to induce the dying man to go to the Fort of the City, a safe
place close to the regular zenana, where all the women could be kept
within walls. He said that the air was better in the Fort, but the King
refused; and that he would recover in the Fort; but the King refused.
After some days, the latter turned and said: "_Why_ are you so keen,
Sahib, upon getting my old bones up to the Fort?" Driven to his last
defences, the Political said simply: "Well, Maharana Sahib, the place is
close to the road, you see, and ..." The King saw and said: "Oh,
_that's_ it? I've been puzzling my brain for four days to find out what
on earth you were driving at. I'll go to-night." "But there may be some
difficulty," began the Political. "You think so," said the King. "If I
only hold up my little finger, the women will obey me. Go now, and come
back in five minutes, and all will be ready for departure." As a matter
of fact, the Political withdrew for the space of fifteen minutes, and
gave orders that the conveyances which he had kept in readiness day and
night should be got ready. In fifteen minutes those twenty women, with
their handmaidens, were packed and ready for departure; and the King
died later at the Fort, and nothing happened. Here the Englishman asked
why a frantic woman must of necessity become a _sati_, and felt properly
abashed when he was told that she _must_. There was nothing else for her
if she went out unveiled.

The rush-out forces the matter. And, indeed, if you consider the matter
from the Rajput point of view it does.

Then followed a very grim tale of the death of another King; of the
long vigil by his bedside, before he was taken off the bed to die upon
the ground; of the shutting of a certain mysterious door behind the
bed-head, which shutting was followed by a rustle of women's dress; of a
walk on the top of the palace, to escape the heated air of the sick
room; and then, in the grey dawn, the wail upon wail breaking from the
zenana as the news of the King's death went in. "I never wish to hear
anything more horrible and awful in my life. You could see nothing. You
could only hear the poor wretches," said the Political, with a shiver.

The last resting-place of the Maharanas of Udaipur is at Ahar, a little
village two miles east of the City. Here they go down in their robes of
state, their horse following behind, and here the Political saw, after
the death of a Maharana, the dancing-girls dancing before the poor white
ashes, the musicians playing among the cenotaphs, and the golden hookah,
sword, and water-vessel laid out for the naked soul doomed to hover
twelve days round the funeral pyre, before it could depart on its
journey toward a fresh birth. Once, in a neighbouring State it is said,
one of the dancing-girls stole a march in the next world's precedence
and her lord's affections, upon the legitimate queens. The affair
happened, by the way, after the Mutiny, and was accomplished with great
pomp in the light of day. Subsequently those who might have stopped it
but did not, were severely punished. The girl said that she had no one
to look to but the dead man, and followed him, to use Tod's formula,
"through the flames." It would be curious to know whether _sati_ is
altogether abolished among these lonely hills in the walled holds of the
Thakurs.

But to return from the burning-ground to modern Udaipur, as at present
worked under the Maharana and his Prime Minister Rae Punna Lal, _C. I.
E._ To begin with, His Highness is a racial anomaly in that, judged by
the strictest European standard, he is a man of temperate life, the
husband of one wife whom he married before he was chosen to the throne
after the death of the Maharana Sujjun Singh in 1884. Sujjun Singh died
childless and gave no hint of his desires as to succession and--omitting
all the genealogical and political reasons which would drive a man
mad--Futteh Singh was chosen, by the Thakurs, from the Seorati Branch of
the family which Sangram Singh II. founded. He is thus a younger son of
a younger branch of a younger family, which lucid statement should
suffice to explain everything. The man who could deliberately unravel
the succession of any one of the Rajput States would be perfectly
capable of explaining the politics of all the Frontier tribes from
Jumrood to Quetta.

Roughly speaking, the Maharana and the Prime Minister--in whose family
the office has been hereditary for many generations--divide the power of
the State. They control, more or less, the Mahand Raj Sabha or Council
of Direction and Revision. This is composed of many of the Rawats and
Thakurs of the State, _and_ the Poet Laureate who, under a less genial
administration, would be presumably the Registrar. There are also
District Officers, Officers of Customs, Superintendents of the Mint,
Masters of the Horses, and Supervisor of Doles, which last is pretty and
touching. The State officers itself, and the Englishman's investigations
failed to unearth any Bengalis. The Commandant of the State Army, about
five thousand men of all arms, is a retired non-commissioned officer, a
Mr. Lonergan; who, as the medals on his breast attest, has done the
State some service, and now in his old age rejoices in the local rank of
Major-General, and teaches the Maharaja's guns to make uncommonly good
practice. The Infantry are smart and well set up, while the
Cavalry--rare thing in Native States--have a distinct notion of keeping
their accoutrements clean. They are, further, well mounted on light,
wiry Mewar and Kathiawar horses. Incidentally, it may be mentioned that
the Pathan comes down with his pickings from the Punjab to Udaipur, and
finds a market there for animals that were much better employed in Our
service--but the complaint is a stale one. Let us see, later on, what
the Jodhpur stables hold; and then formulate an indictment against the
Government. So much for the indigenous administration of Udaipur. The
one drawback in the present Maharaja, from the official point of view,
is his want of education. He is a thoroughly good man, but was not
brought up with the kingship before his eyes, consequently he is not an
English-speaking man.

There is a story told of him which is worth the repeating. An Englishman
who flattered himself that he could speak the vernacular fairly well,
paid him a visit and discoursed with a round mouth. The Maharana heard
him politely, and turning to a satellite, demanded a translation; which
was given. Then said the Maharana:--"Speak to him in _Angrezi_." The
_Angrezi_ spoken by the interpreter was Urdu as the Sahibs speak it, and
the Englishman, having ended his conference, departed abashed. But this
backwardness is eminently suited to a place like Udaipur, and a
European prince is not always a desirable thing. The curious and even
startling simplicity of his life is worth preserving. Here is a specimen
of one of his days. Rising at four--and the dawn can be bitterly
chill--he bathes and prays after the custom of his race, and at six is
ready to take in hand the first instalment of the day's work which comes
before him through his Prime Minister, and occupies him for three or
four hours till the first meal of the day is ready. At two o'clock he
attends the Mahand Raj Sabha, and works till five, retiring at a
healthily primitive hour. He is said to have his hand fairly, firmly
upon the reins of rule, and to know as much as most monarchs know of the
way in which his revenues--some thirty lakhs--are disposed of. The Prime
Minister's career has been a chequered and interesting one, including a
dismissal from power (this was worked by the Queens from behind the
screen), an arrest, and an attack with swords which all but ended in his
murder. He has not so much power as his predecessors had, for the reason
that the present Maharaja allows little but tiger-shooting to distract
him from the supervision of the State. His Highness, by the way, is a
first-class shot and has bagged eighteen tigers already. He preserves
his game carefully, and permission to kill tigers is not readily
obtainable.

A curious instance of the old order giving place to the new is in
process of evolution and deserves notice. The Prime Minister's son,
Futteh Lal, a boy of twenty years old, has been educated at the Mayo
College, Ajmir, and speaks and writes English. There are few native
officials in the State who do this; and the consequence is that the lad
has won a very fair insight into State affairs, and knows generally what
is going forward both in the Eastern and Western spheres of the little
Court. In time he may qualify for direct administrative powers, and
Udaipur will be added to the list of the States that are governed
English fashion. What the end will be, after three generations of
Princes and Dewans have been put through the mill of the Rajkumar
Colleges, those who live will learn.

More interesting is the question, For how long can the vitality of a
people whose life was arms be suspended? Men in the North say that, by
the favour of the Government which brings peace, the Sikh Sirdars are
rotting on their lands; and the Rajput Thakurs say of themselves that
they are growing rusty. The old, old problem forces itself on the most
unreflective mind at every turn in the gay streets of Udaipur. A
Frenchman might write: "Behold there the horse of the Rajput--foaming,
panting, caracoling, but always fettered with his head so majestic upon
his bosom so amply filled with a generous heart. He rages, but he does
not advance. See there the destiny of the Rajput who bestrides him, and
upon whose left flank bounds the sabre useless--the haberdashery of the
ironmonger only! Pity the horse in reason, for that life there is his
_raison d'être_. Pity ten thousand times more the Rajput, for he has no
_raison d'être_. He is an anachronism in a blue turban."

The Gaul might be wrong, but Tod wrote things which seem to support this
view, in the days when he wished to make "buffer-states" of the land he
loved so well.

Let us visit the Durbar Gardens, where little naked Cupids are trampling
upon fountains of fatted fish, all in bronze, where there are cypresses
and red paths, and a deer-park full of all varieties of deer, besides
two growling, fluffy little panther cubs, a black panther who is the
Prince of Darkness and a gentleman, and a terrace-full of tigers, bears,
and Guzerat lions brought from the King of Oudh's sale.



IX

OF THE PIG-DRIVE WHICH WAS A PANTHER-KILLING, AND OF THE DEPARTURE TO
CHITOR.


Above the Durbar Gardens lie low hills, in which the Maharana keeps,
very strictly guarded, his pig and his deer, and anything else that may
find shelter in the low scrub or under the scattered boulders. These
preserves are scientifically parcelled out with high, red-stone walls;
and here and there are dotted tiny shooting-stands--masonry
sentry-boxes, in which five or six men may sit at ease and shoot. It had
been arranged to entertain the Englishmen who were gathered at the
Residency to witness the investiture of the King with the G. C. S.
I.--that there should be a little pig-drive in front of the Kala Odey or
black shooting-box. The Rajput is a man and a brother, in respect that
he will ride, shoot, eat pig, and drink strong waters like an
Englishman. Of the pig-hunting he makes almost a religious duty, and of
the wine-drinking no less. Read how desperately they used to ride in
Udaipur at the beginning of the century when Tod, always in his cocked
hat to be sure, counted up the tale of accidents at the end of the day's
sport.

There is something unfair in shooting pig; but each man who went out
consoled himself with the thought that it was utterly impossible to ride
the brutes up the almost perpendicular hillsides, or down rocky
ravines, and that he individually would only go "just for the fun of
the thing." Those who stayed behind made rude remarks on the subject of
"pork butchers," and the dangers that attended shooting from a balcony.
There are ways and ways of slaying pig--from the orthodox method which
begins with "_The Boar--the Boar--the mighty Boar!_" overnight, and ends
with a shaky bridle-hand next morn, to the sober and solitary pot-shot
at dawn, from a railway embankment running through river marsh; but the
perfect way is this. Get a large, four-horse break, and drive till you
meet an unlimited quantity of pad-elephants waiting at the foot of rich
hill-preserves. Mount slowly and with dignity, and go in swinging
procession, by the marble-faced border of one of the most lovely lakes
on earth. Strike off on a semi-road, semi-hill-torrent path through
unthrifty, thorny jungle, and so climb up and up and up, till you see,
spread like a map below, the lake and the Palace and the City, hemmed in
by the sea of hills that lies between Udaipur and Mount Abu a hundred
miles away. Then take your seat in a comfortable chair, in a fine
two-storied Grand Stand, with an awning spread atop to keep off the sun,
while the Rawat of Amet and the Prime Minister's heir--no less--invite
you to take your choice of the many rifles spread on a ledge at the
front of the building. This, gentlemen who screw your pet ponies at
early dawn after the sounder that vanishes into cover soon as sighted,
or painfully follow the tiger through the burning heats of Mewar in May,
this is shooting after the fashion of Ouida--in musk and ambergris and
patchouli.

It is demoralising. One of the best and hardest riders of the Lahore
Tent Club in the old days, as the boars of Bouli Lena Singh knew well,
said openly: "This is a first-class scheme," and fell to testing his
triggers as though he had been a pot-hunter from his birth. Derision and
threats of exposure moved him not. "Give me an arm-chair!" said he.
"This is the proper way to deal with pig!" And he put up his feet on the
ledge and stretched himself.

There were many weapons to choose from the double-barrelled '500
Express, whose bullet is a tearing, rending shell, to the Rawat of
Amet's regulation military Martini-Henri. A profane public at the
Residency had suggested clubs and saws as amply sufficient for the work
in hand. Here they were moved by envy, which passion was ten-fold
increased when--but this comes later on. The beat was along a deep gorge
in the hills, flanked on either crest by stone walls, manned with
beaters. Immediately opposite the shooting-box, the wall on the upper or
higher hill made a sharp turn downhill, contracting the space through
which the pig would have to pass to a gut which was variously said to be
from one hundred and fifty to four hundred yards across. Most of the
shooting was up or down hill.

A philanthropic desire not to murder more Bhils than were absolutely
necessary to maintain a healthy current of human life in the Hilly
Tracts, coupled with a well-founded dread of the hinder, or horse, end
of a double-barrelled '500 Express which would be sure to go off both
barrels together, led the Englishman to take a gunless seat in the
background. Then a silence fell upon the party, and very far away up the
gorge the heated afternoon air was cut by the shrill tremolo squeal of
the Bhil beaters. Now a man may be in no sort or fashion a
_shikari_--may hold Buddhistic objections to the slaughter of living
things--but there is something in the extraordinary noise of an agitated
Bhil, which makes even the most peaceful mortals get up and yearn, like
Tartarin of Tarescon for "lions," always at a safe distance be it
understood. As the beat drew nearer, under the squealing--the
"_ul-al-lu-lu-lu_"--was heard a long-drawn bittern-like boom of
"_So-oor!_" "_So-oor!_" (Pig! Pig!) and the crashing of boulders. The
guns rose in their places, forgetting that each and all had merely come
"to see the fun," and began to fumble among the little mounds of
cartridges under the chairs. Presently, tripping delicately over the
rocks, a pig stepped out of a cactus-bush, and the fusillade began. The
dust flew and the branches chipped, but the pig went on--a blue-grey
shadow almost undistinguishable against the rocks, and took no harm.
"Sighting shots," said the guns, sulkily. The beat came nearer, and then
the listener discovered what the bubbling scream was like; for he forgot
straightway about the beat and went back to the dusk of an Easter Monday
in the Gardens of the Crystal Palace before the bombardment of Kars,
"set piece ten thousand feet square" had been illuminated, and about
five hundred 'Arries were tickling a thousand 'Arriets. Their giggling
and nothing else was the noise of the Bhil. So curiously does Sydenham
and Western Rajputana meet. Then came another pig, who was smitten to
the death and rolled down among the bushes, drawing his last breath in a
human and horrible manner.

But full on the crest of the hill, blown along--there is no other word
to describe it--like a ball of thistle-down, passed a brown shadow, and
men cried: "_Bagheera_," or "Panther!" according to their nationalities,
and blazed. The shadow leaped the wall that had turned the pig downhill,
and vanished among the cactus. "Never mind," said the Prime Minister's
son, consolingly, "we'll beat the other side of the hill afterwards and
get him yet." "Oh, he's a mile off by this time," said the guns; but the
Rawat of Amet, a magnificent young man, smiled a sweet smile and said
nothing. More pig passed and were slain, and many more broke back
through the beaters who presently came through the cover in scores. They
were in russet green and red uniform, each man bearing a long spear, and
the hillside was turned on the instant to a camp of Robin Hood's
foresters. Then they brought up the dead from behind bushes and under
rocks--among others a twenty-seven-inch brute who bore on his flank (all
pigs shot in a beat are _ex-officio_ boars) a hideous, half-healed scar,
big as a man's hand, of a bullet wound. Express bullets are ghastly
things in their effects, for, as the _shikari_ is never tired of
demonstrating, they knock the inside of animals into pulp.

The second beat, of the reverse side of the hill, had barely begun when
the panther returned--uneasily as if something were keeping her
back--much lower down the hill. Then the face of the Rawat of Amet
changed, as he brought his gun up to his shoulder. Looking at him as he
fired, one forgot all about the Mayo College at which he had been
educated, and remembered only some trivial and out-of-date affairs, in
which his forefathers had been concerned, when a bridegroom, with his
bride at his side, charged down the slope of the Chitor road and died
among Akbar's men. There are stories connected with the House of Amet,
which are told in Mewar to-day. The young man's face, for as short a
time as it takes to pull trigger and see where the bullet falls, was a
white light upon all these tales.

Then the mask shut down, as he clicked out the cartridge, and, very
sweetly, gave it as his opinion that some other gun, not his own, had
bagged the panther who lay shot through the spine, feebly trying to drag
herself downhill into cover. It is an awful thing to see a big beast
die, when the soul is wrenched out of the struggling body in ten
seconds. Wild horses shall not make the Englishman disclose the exact
number of shots that were fired. It is enough to say that four
Englishmen, now scattered to the four winds of heaven, are each morally
certain that he and he alone shot that panther. In time, when distance
and the mirage of the sands of Uodhpur shall have softened the harsh
outlines of truth, the Englishman who did _not_ fire a shot will come to
believe that he was the real slayer, and will carefully elaborate that
lie.

A few minutes after the murder, a two-year-old cub came trotting along
the hillside, and was bowled over by a very pretty shot behind the left
ear and through the palate. Then the beaters' lances showed through the
bushes, and the guns began to realise that they had allowed to escape,
or had driven back by their fire, a multitude of pig.

This ended the beat, and the procession returned to the Residency to
heap dead panthers upon those who had called them "pork butchers," and
to stir up the lake of envy with the torpedo of brilliant description.
The Englishman's attempt to compare the fusillade which greeted the
panther to the continuous drumming of a ten-barrelled Nordenfeldt was,
however, coldly received. Thus harshly is truth treated all the world
over.

And then, after a little time, came the end, and a return to the road in
search of new countries. But shortly before the departure, the
Padre-Sahib, who knows every one in Udaipur, read a sermon in a
sentence. The Maharana's investiture, which has already been described
in the Indian papers, had taken place, and the carriages, duly escorted
by the Erinpura Horse, were returning to the Residency. In a niche of
waste land, under the shadow of the main gate, a place strewn with
rubbish and shards of pottery, a dilapidated old man was trying to
control his horse and a _hookah_ on the saddle-bow. The blundering
garron had been made restive by the rush past, and the _hookah_ all but
fell from the hampered hands. "See that man," said the Padre, tersely.
"That's ---- Singh. He intrigued for the throne not so very long ago."
It was a pitiful little picture, and needed no further comment.

For the benefit of the loafer it should be noted that Udaipur will never
be pleasant or accessible until the present Mail Contractors have been
hanged. They are extortionate and untruthful, and their one set of
harness and one tonga are as rotten as pears. However, the weariness of
the flesh must be great indeed, to make the wanderer blind to the
beauties of a journey by clear starlight and in biting cold to Chitor.
About six miles from Udaipur, the granite hills close in upon the road,
and the air grows warmer until, with a rush and a rattle, the tonga
swings through the great Dobarra, the gate in the double circle of hills
round Udaipur on to the pastures of Mewar. More than once the Girwa has
been a death-trap to those who rashly entered it; and an army has been
cut up on the borders of the Pichola Lake. Even now the genius of the
place is strong upon the hills, and as he felt the cold air from the
open ground without the barrier, the Englishman found himself repeating
the words of one of the Hat-marked tribe whose destiny kept him within
the Dobarra. "You must have a hobby of some kind in these parts or
you'll die." Very lovely is Udaipur, and thrice pleasant are a few days
spent within her gates, but ... read what Tod said who stayed two years
behind the Dobarra, and accepted the deserts of Marwar as a delightful
change.

It is good to be free, a wanderer upon the highways, knowing not what
to-morrow will bring forth--whether the walled-in niceties of an English
household, rich in all that makes life fair and desirable, or a
sleepless night in the society of a
goods-_cum_-booking-office-_cum_-parcels-clerk, on fifteen rupees a
month, who tells in stilted English the story of his official life,
while the telegraph gibbers like a maniac once in an hour and then is
dumb, and the pariah-dogs fight and howl over the cotton-bales on the
platform.

Verily, there is no life like life on the road--when the skies are cool
and all men are kind.



X

A LITTLE OF THE HISTORY OF CHITOR, AND THE MALPRACTICES OF A
SHE-ELEPHANT.


There is a certain want of taste, an almost actual indecency, in seeing
the sun rise on the earth. Until the heat-haze begins and the distances
thicken, Nature is so very naked that the Actæon who has surprised her
dressing, blushes. Sunrise on the plains of Mewar is an especially
brutal affair.

The moon was burnt out and the air was bitterly cold, when the
Englishman headed due east in his tonga, and the patient sowar behind
nodded and yawned in the saddle. There was no warning of the day's
advent. The horses were unharnessed, at one halting-stage, in the thick,
soft shadows of night, and ere their successors had limped under the
bar, a raw and cruel light was upon all things, so that the Englishman
could see every rent seam in the rocks around. A little further, and he
came upon the black bulk of Chitor between him and the morning sun. It
has already been said that the Fort resembles a man-of-war. Every
distant view heightens this impression, for the swell of the sides
follows the form of a ship, and the bastions on the south wall make the
sponsons in which the machine-guns are mounted. From bow to stern, the
thing more than three miles long, is between three and five hundred feet
high, and from one-half to one-quarter of a mile broad. Have patience,
now, to listen to a rough history of Chitor.

In the beginning, no one knows clearly who scraped the hillsides of the
hill rising out of the bare plain, and made of it a place of strength.
It is written that, eleven and a half centuries ago, Bappa Rawul, the
demi-god whose stature was twenty cubits, whose loin-cloth was five
hundred feet long, and whose spear was beyond the power of mortal man to
lift, took Chitor from "Man Singh, the Mori Prince," and wrote the first
chapter of the history of Mewar, which he received ready-made from Man
Singh who, if the chronicles speak sooth, was his uncle. Many and very
marvellous legends cluster round the name of Bappa Rawul; and he is said
to have ended his days far away from India, in Khorasan, where he
married an unlimited number of the Daughters of Heth, and was the father
of all the Nowshera Pathans. Some who have wandered, by the sign-posts
of inscription, into the fogs of old time, aver that, two centuries
before Bappa Rawul took Chitor the Mori division of the Pramar Rajputs,
who are the ruling family of Mewar, had found a hold in Bhilwara, and
for four centuries before that time had ruled in Kathiawar; and had
royally sacked and slain, and been sacked and slain in turn. But these
things are for the curious and the scholar, and not for the reader who
reads lightly. Nine princes succeeded Bappa, between 728 and 1068 A.D.,
and among these was one Alluji, who built a Jain tower upon the brow of
the hill, for in those days, though the Sun was worshipped, men were all
Jains.

And here they lived and sallied into the plains, and fought and
increased the borders of their kingdom, or were suddenly and stealthily
murdered, or stood shoulder to shoulder against the incursions of the
"Devil men" from the north. In 1150 A.D. was born Samar Singh, and he
married into the family of Prithi Raj, the last Hindu Emperor of Delhi,
who was at feud, in regard to a succession question, with the Prince of
Kanauj. In the war that followed, Kanauj, being hard pressed by Prithi
Raj, and Samar Singh, called Shahabuddin Ghori to his aid. At first,
Samar Singh and Prithi Raj broke the army of the Northern somewhere in
the lower Punjab, but two years later Shahabuddin came again, and, after
three days' fighting on the banks of the Kaggar, slew Samar Singh,
captured and murdered Prithi Raj, and sacked Delhi and Amber, while
Samar Singh's favourite queen became _sati_ at Chitor. But another wife,
a princess of Patun, kept her life, and when Shahabuddin sent down
Kutbuddin to waste her lands, led the Rajput army, in person, from
Chitor, and defeated Kutbuddin.

Then followed confusion, through eleven turbulent reigns that the
annalist has failed to unravel. Once in the years between 1193 and the
opening of the fourteenth century, Chitor must have been taken by the
Mussulman, for it is written that one prince "recovered Chitor and made
the name of Rana to be recognised by all." Six princes were slain in
battles against the Mussulman, in vain attempts to clear the land from
the presence of the infidel.

Then Ala-ud-din Khilji, the Pathan Emperor, swept the country to the
Dekkan. In those days, and these things are confusedly set down as
having happened at the end of the thirteenth century, a relative of Rana
Lakhsman Singh, the then Rana of Chitor, had married a Rajput princess
of Ceylon--Pudmini, "And she was fairest of all flesh on earth." Her
fame was sung through the land by the poets, and she became, in some
sort, the Helen of Chitor. Ala-ud-din heard of her beauty and promptly
besieged the Fort. When he found his enterprise too difficult, he prayed
that he might be permitted to see Pudmini's face in a mirror, and this
wish, so says the tale, was granted. Knowing that the Rajput was a
gentleman, he entered Chitor almost unarmed, saw the face in the mirror,
and was well treated; the husband of the fair Pudmini accompanying him,
in return, to the camp at the foot of the hill. Like Raja Runjeet in the
ballad the Rajput he--

    "... trusted a Mussulman's word
      Wah! Wah! Trust a liar to lie.
    Out of his eyrie they tempted my bird,
      Fettered his wings that he could not fly."

Pudmini's husband was caught by a trick, and Ala-ud-din demanded Pudmini
as the price of his return. The Rajputs here showed that they too could
scheme, and sent, in great state, Pudmini's litter to the besiegers'
intrenchments. But there was no Pudmini in the litter, and her following
of handmaidens was a band of seven hundred armed men. Thus, in the
confusion of a camp-fight, Pudmini's husband was rescued, and
Ala-ud-din's soldiery followed hard on his heels to the gates of Chitor,
where the best and bravest on the rock were killed before Ala-ud-din
withdrew, only to return soon after and, with a doubled army, besiege in
earnest. His first attack men called the half-sack of Chitor, for,
though he failed to win within the walls, he killed the flower of the
Rajputs. The second attack ended in the first sack and the awful _sati_
of the women on the rock.

When everything was hopeless and the very terrible Goddess, who lives in
the bowels of Chitor, had spoken and claimed for death eleven out of the
twelve of the Rana's sons, all who were young or fair women betook
themselves to a great underground chamber, and the fires were lit and
the entrance was walled up and they died. The Rajputs opened the gates
and fought till they could fight no more, and Ala-ud-din the victorious
entered a wasted and desolated city. He wrecked everything except only
the palace of Pudmini and the old Jain tower before mentioned. That was
all he could do, for there were few men alive of the defenders of Chitor
when the day was won, and the women were ashes underground.

Ajai Singh, the one surviving son of Lakshman Singh, had at his father's
insistence, escaped from Chitor to "carry on the line" when better days
should come. He brought up Hamir, son of one of his elder brothers, to
be a thorn in the side of the invader, and Hamir overthrew Maldeo, chief
of Jhalore and vassal of Ala-ud-din, into whose hands Ala-ud-din had,
not too generously, given what was left of Chitor. So the Sesodias came
to their own again, and the successors of Hamir extended their kingdoms
and rebuilt Chitor, as kings know how to rebuild cities in a land where
human labour and life are cheaper than bread and water. For two
centuries, saith Tod, Mewar flourished exceedingly and was the paramount
kingdom of all Rajasthan. Greatest of all the successors of Hamir, was
Kumbha Rana who, when the Ghilzai dynasty was rotting away and Viceroys
declared themselves kings, met, defeated, took captive, and released
without ransom, Mahmoud of Malwa. Kumbha Rana built a Tower of Victory,
nine stories high, to commemorate this and the other successes of his
reign, and the tower stands to-day a mark for miles across the plains.

But the well-established kingdom weakened, and the rulers took
favourites and disgusted their best supporters--after the immemorial
custom of too prosperous rulers. Also they murdered one another. In 1535
A.D. Bahadur Shah, King of Gujarat, seeing the decay, and remembering
how one of his predecessors, together with Mahmoud of Malwa, had been
humbled by Mewar in years gone by, set out to take his revenge of Time
and Mewar then ruled by Rana Bikrmajit, who had made a new capital at
Deola. Bikrmajit did not stay to give battle in that place. His chiefs
were out of hand, and Chitor was the heart and brain of Mewar; so he
marched thither, and the Gods were against him. Bahadur Shah mined one
of the Chitor bastions, and wiped out in the explosion the Hara Prince
of Boondee, with five hundred followers. Jowahir Bae, Bikrmajit's
mother, headed a sally from the walls, and was slain. There were Frank
gunners among Bahadur Shah's forces, and they hastened the end. The
Rajputs made a second _johur_, a sacrifice greater than the sacrifice of
Pudmini; and thirteen thousand were blown up in the magazines, or
stabbed or poisoned, before the gates were opened and the defenders
rushed down.

Out of the carnage was saved Udai Singh, a babe of the Blood Royal, who
grew up to be a coward, and a shame to his line. The story of his
preservation is written large in Tod, and Edwin Arnold sings it. Read
it, who are interested. But, when Udai Singh came to the throne of
Chitor, through blood and misrule, after Bahadur Shah had withdrawn from
the wreck of the Fort, Akbar sat on the throne of Delhi, and it was
written that few people should withstand the "Guardian of Mankind."
Moreover, Udai Singh was the slave of a woman. It was Akbar's destiny to
subdue the Rajputs, and to win many of them to his own service; sending
a Rajput Prince of Amber to get him far-away Arrakan. Akbar marched
against Chitor once, and was repulsed; the woman who ruled Udai Singh
heading a charge against the besiegers because of the love she bore to
her lover. Something of this sort had happened in Ala-ud-din's time,
and, like Ala-ud-din, Akbar returned and sat down, in a huge camp,
before Chitor in 1568 A.D. Udai Singh fled what was coming; and because
the Goddess of Chitor demands always that a crowned head must fall if
the defence of her home is to be successful, Chitor fell as it had
fallen before--in a _johur_ of thousands, a last rush of the men, and
the entry of the conqueror into a reeking, ruined slaughter-pen. Akbar's
sack was the most terrible of the three, for he killed everything that
had life upon the rock, and wrecked and overturned and spoiled. The
wonder, the lasting wonder, is that he did not destroy Kumbha Rana's
Tower of Victory, the memorial of the defeat of a Mahometan prince. With
the third sack the glory of Chitor departed, and Udai Singh founded
himself a new capital, the city of Udaipur. Though Chitor was recovered
in Jehangir's time by Udai Singh's grandson, it was never again made the
capital of Mewar. It stood, and rotted where it stood, till enlightened
and loyal feudatories, in the present years of grace, made attempts,
with the help of Executive Engineers, to sweep it up and keep it in
repair. The above is roughly, very roughly indeed, the tale of the sacks
of Chitor.

Follows an interlude, for the study even of inaccurate history is
indigestible to many. There was an elephant at Chitor, to take birds of
passage up the hill, and she--she was fifty-one years old, and her name
was Gerowlia--came to the dak-bungalow for the Englishman. Let not the
word dak-bungalow deceive any man into believing that there is even
moderate comfort at Chitor. Gerowlia waited in the sunshine, and
chuckled to herself like a female pauper when she receives snuff. Her
_mahout_ said that he would go away for a drink of water. So he walked,
and walked, and walked, till he disappeared on the stone-strewn plains,
and the Englishman was left alone with Gerowlia, aged fifty-one. She had
been tied by the chain on her near hind leg to a pillar of the verandah;
but the string was coir, and more an emblem of authority than a means of
restraint. When she had thoroughly exhausted all the resources of the
country within range of her trunk, she ate up the string and began to
investigate the verandah. There was more coir string, and she ate it
all, while the carpenter, who was repairing the dak-bungalow, cursed her
and her ancestry from afar. About this time the Englishman was roused to
a knowledge of the business, for Gerowlia, having exhausted the string,
tried to come into the verandah. She had, most unwisely, been pampered
with biscuits an hour before. The carpenter stood on an outcrop of rock,
and said angrily: "See what damage your _hathi_ has done, Sahib."
"'Tisn't my _hathi_," said the Sahib, plaintively. "You ordered it,"
quoth he, "and it has been here ever so long, eating up everything." He
threw pieces of stone at Gerowlia, and went away. It is a terrible thing
to be left alone with an unshackled elephant, even though she be a
venerable spinster. Gerowlia moved round the dak-bungalow, blowing her
nose in a nervous and undecided manner, and presently found some more
string and thatch, which she ate. This was too much. The Englishman went
out and spoke to her. She opened her mouth and salaamed; meaning thereby
"biscuits." So long as she remained in this position she could do no
harm.

Imagine a boundless rock-strewn plain, broken here and there by low
hills, dominated by the rock of Chitor, and bisected by a single
metre-gauge railway track running into the Infinite, and unrelieved by
even a way-inspector's trolly. In the foreground put a brand-new
dak-bungalow, furnished with a French bedstead, and nothing else; in the
verandah place an embarrassed Englishman, smiling into the open mouth of
an idiotic female elephant. But Gerowlia could not live on smiles alone.
Finding that no food was forthcoming, she shut her mouth, and renewed
her attempts to get into the verandah, and ate more thatch. To say "Hi!"
to an elephant is a misdirected courtesy. It quickens the pace, and if
you flick her on the trunk with a wet towel, she curls the trunk out of
harm's way. Special education is necessary. A little breechless boy
passed, carrying a lump of stone. "Hit her on the feet, Sahib," said he;
"hit her on the feet." Gerowlia had by this time nearly scraped off her
pad, and there were no signs of the _mahout_. The Englishman went out
and found a tent-peg, and returning, in the extremity of his wrath
smote her bitterly on the nails of the near forefoot.

Gerowlia held up her foot to be beaten, and made the most absurd
noises--squawked in fact, exactly like an old lady who has narrowly
escaped being run over. She backed out of the verandah, still squawking,
on three feet and in the open held up near and off forefoot alternately
to be beaten. It was very pitiful, for one swing of her trunk could have
knocked the Englishman flat. He ceased whacking her, but she squawked
for some minutes and then fell placidly asleep in the sunshine. When the
_mahout_ returned, he beat her for breaking her tether exactly as the
Englishman had done, but much more severely, and the ridiculous old
thing hopped on three legs for fully five minutes. "Come along, Sahib,"
said the _mahout_. "I will show this mother of bastards who is the
driver. Fat daughter of the Devil, sit down. You would eat thatch, would
you? How does the iron taste?" And he gave Gerowlia a headache, which
affected her temper all through the afternoon. She set off, across the
railway line which runs below the rock of Chitor, into broken ground cut
up with _nullahs_ and covered with low scrub, over which it would have
been difficult to have taken a sure-footed horse, so fragmentary and
disconnected was its nature.



XI.

PROVES CONCLUSIVELY THE EXISTENCE OF THE DARK TOWER VISITED BY CHILDE
ROLANDE, AND OF "BOGEY" WHO FRIGHTENS CHILDREN.


The Gamberi River--clear as a trout-stream--runs through the waste round
Chitor, and is spanned by an old bridge, very solid and massive, said to
have been built before the sack of Ala-ud-din. The bridge is in the
middle of the stream--the floods have raced round either end of it--and
is reached by a steeply sloping stone causeway. From the bridge to the
new town of Chitor, which lies at the foot of the hill, runs a straight
and well-kept road, flanked on either side by the scattered remnants of
old houses, and, here and there, fallen temples. The road, like the
bridge, is no new thing, and is wide enough for twenty horsemen to ride
abreast.

New Chitor is a very dirty, and apparently thriving, little town, full
of grain-merchants and sellers of arms. The ways are barely wide enough
for the elephant of dignity and the little brown babies of impudence.
The Englishman went through, always on a slope painfully accentuated by
Gerowlia who, with all possible respect to her years, must have been a
baggage-animal and no true _Sahib's_ mount. Let the local Baedeker speak
for a moment: "The ascent to Chitor, which begins from within the
southeast angle of the town, is nearly a mile to the upper gate, with a
slope of about 1 in 15. There are two zig-zag bends, and on the three
portions thus formed, are seven gates, of which one, however, has only
the basement left." This is the language of fact, which, very properly,
leaves out of all account the Genius of the Place who sits at the gate
nearest the new city and is with the sightseer throughout. The first
impression of repulsion and awe is given by a fragment of tumbled
sculpture close to a red daubed _lingam_, near the Padal Pol or lowest
gate. It is a piece of frieze, and the figures of the men are worn
nearly smooth by time. What is visible is finely and frankly obscene to
an English mind.

The road is protected on the cliff side by a thick stone wall, loopholed
for musketry, one aperture to every two feet, between fifteen and twenty
feet high. This wall is being repaired throughout its length by the
Maharana of Udaipur. On the hillside, among the boulders, loose stones,
and _dhak_-scrub, lips stone wreckage that must have come down from the
brown bastions above.

As Gerowlia laboured up the stone-shod slope, the Englishman wondered
how much life had flowed down this sluice of battles, and been lost at
the Padal Pol--the last and lowest gate--where, in the old days, the
besieging armies put their best and bravest battalions. Once at the head
of the lower slope, there is a clear run-down of a thousand yards with
no chance of turning aside either to the right or left. Even as he
wondered, he was brought abreast of two stone chhatris, each carrying a
red daubed stone. They were the graves of two very brave men, Jeemal of
Bedmore, and Kalla, who fell in Akbar's sack fighting like Rajputs. Read
the story of their deaths, and learn what manner of warriors they were.
Their graves were all that spoke openly of the hundreds of struggles on
the lower slope where the fight was always fiercest.

At last, after half an hour's climb, the main gate, the Ram Pol, was
gained, and the Englishman passed into the City of Chitor and--then and
there formed a resolution, since broken, not to write one word about it
for fear that he should be set down as a babbling and a gushing
enthusiast. Objects of archæological interest are duly described in an
admirable little book of Chitor which, after one look, the Englishman
abandoned. One cannot "do" Chitor with a guide-book. The Chaplain of the
English Mission to Jehangir said the best that was to be said, when he
described the place three hundred years ago, writing quaintly: "Chitor,
an ancient great kingdom, the chief city so called which standeth on a
mighty high hill, flat on the top, walled about at the least ten English
miles. There appear to this day above a hundred churches ruined and
divers fair palaces which are lodged in like manner among their ruins,
as many Englishmen by the observation have guessed. Its chief
inhabitants to-day are Zum and Ohim, birds and wild beasts, but the
stately ruins thereof give a shadow of its beauty while it flourished in
its pride." Gerowlia struck into a narrow pathway, forcing herself
through garden-trees and disturbing the peacocks. An evil guide-man on
the ground waved his hand, and began to speak; but was silenced. The
death of Amber was as nothing to the death of Chitor--a body whence the
life had been driven by riot and the sword. Men had parcelled the
gardens of her palaces and the courtyards of her temples into fields;
and cattle grazed among the remnants of the shattered tombs. But over
all--over rent and bastion, split temple-wall, pierced roof, and prone
pillar--lay the "shadow of its beauty while it flourished in its pride."
The Englishman walked into a stately palace of many rooms, where the
sunlight streamed in through wall and roof, and up crazy stone
stairways, held together, it seemed, by the marauding trees. In one
bastion, a wind-sown peepul had wrenched a thick slab clear of the wall,
but held it tight pressed in a crook of a branch, as a man holds down a
fallen enemy under his elbow, shoulder, and forearm. In another place, a
strange, uncanny wind sprung from nowhere, was singing all alone among
the pillars of what may have been a Hall of Audience. The Englishman
wandered so far in one palace that he came to an almost black-dark room,
high up in a wall, and said proudly to himself: "I must be the first man
who has been here;" meaning no harm or insult to any one. But he tripped
and fell, and as he put out his hands, he felt that the stairs had been
worn hollow and smooth by the thread of innumerable naked feet. Then he
was afraid, and came away very quickly, stepping delicately over fallen
friezes and bits of sculptured men, so as not to offend the Dead; and
was mightily relieved when he recovered his elephant and allowed the
guide to take him to Kumbha Rana's Tower of Victory.

This stands, like all things in Chitor, among ruins, but time and the
other enemies have been good to it. It is a Jain edifice, nine storeys
high, crowned atop--was this designed insult or undesigned repair?--with
a purely Mahometan dome, where the pigeons and the bats live. Excepting
this blemish, the Tower of Victory is nearly as fair as when it left
the hands of the builder whose name has not been handed down to us. It
is to be observed here that the first, or more ruined, Tower of Victory,
built in Alluji's days, when Chitor was comparatively young, was raised
by some pious Jain as proof of conquest over things spiritual. The
second tower is more worldly in intent.

Those who care to look, may find elsewhere a definition of its
architecture and its more striking peculiarities. It was in kind, but
not in degree, like the Jugdesh Temple at Udaipur, and, as it exceeded
it in magnificence, so its effect upon the mind was more intense. The
confusing intricacy of the figures with which it was wreathed from top
to bottom, the recurrence of the one calm face, the God enthroned,
holding the Wheel of the Law, and the appalling lavishness of
decoration, all worked toward the instilment of fear and aversion.

Surely this must have been one of the objects of the architect. The
tower, in the arrangement of its stairways, is like the interior of a
Chinese carved ivory puzzle-ball. The idea given is that, even while you
are ascending, you are wrapping yourself deeper and deeper in the tangle
of a mighty maze. Add to this the half-light, the thronging armies of
sculptured figures, the mad profusion of design splashed as impartially
upon the undersides of the stone window-slabs as upon the door-beam of
the threshold--add, most abhorrent of all, the slippery sliminess of the
walls always worn smooth by naked men, and you will understand that the
tower is not a soothing place to visit. The Englishman fancied
presumptuously that he had, in a way, grasped the builder's idea; and
when he came to the top storey and sat among the pigeons his theory was
this: To attain power, wrote the builder of old, in sentences of fine
stone, it is necessary to pass through all sorts of close-packed
horrors, treacheries, battles, and insults, in darkness and without
knowledge whether the road leads upward or into a hopeless _cul-de-sac_.
Kumbha Rana must many times have climbed to the top storey, and looked
out toward the uplands of Malwa on the one side and his own great Mewar
on the other, in the days when all the rock hummed with life and the
clatter of hooves upon the stony ways, and Mahmoud of Malwa was safe in
hold. How he must have swelled with pride--fine insolent pride of life
and rule and power--power not only to break things but to compel such
builders as those who piled the tower to his royal will! There was no
decoration in the top storey to bewilder or amaze--nothing but
well-grooved stone-slabs, and a boundless view fit for kings who traced
their ancestry--

    "From times when forth from the sunlight, the first of our Kings
         came down,
    And had the earth for his footstool, and wore the stars for his
         crown."

The builder had left no mark behind him--not even a mark on the
threshold of the door, or a sign in the head of the topmost step. The
Englishman looked in both places, believing that those were the places
generally chosen for mark-cutting. So he sat and meditated on the
beauties of kingship and the unholiness of Hindu art, and what power a
shadowland of lewd monstrosities had upon those who believed in it, and
what Lord Dufferin, who is the nearest approach to a king in this India,
must have thought when aide-de-camps clanked after him up the narrow
steps. But the day was wearing, and he came down--in both senses--and,
in his descent, the carven things on every side of the tower, and above
and below, once more took hold of and perverted his fancy, so that he
arrived at the bottom in a frame of mind eminently fitted for a descent
into the Gau-Mukh, which is nothing more terrible than a little spring,
falling into a reservoir, in the side of the hill.

He stumbled across more ruins and passed between tombs of dead Ranis,
till he came to a flight of steps, built out and cut out from rock,
going down as far as he could see into a growth of trees on a terrace
below him. The stone of the steps had been worn and polished by the
terrible naked feet till it showed its markings clearly as agate; and
where the steps ended in a rock-slope, there was a visible glair, a
great snail-track, upon the rocks. It was hard to keep safe footing upon
the sliminess. The air was thick with the sick smell of stale incense,
and grains of rice were scattered upon the steps. But there was no one
to be seen. Now this in itself was not specially alarming; but the
Genius of the Place must be responsible for making it so. The Englishman
slipped and bumped on the rocks, and arrived, more suddenly than he
desired, upon the edge of a dull blue tank, sunk between walls of
timeless masonry. In a slabbed-in recess, water was pouring through a
shapeless stone gargoyle, into a trough; which trough again dripped into
the tank. Almost under the little trickle of water, was the loathsome
Emblem of Creation, and there were flowers and rice around it. Water was
trickling from a score of places in the cut face of the hill; oozing
between the edges of the steps and welling up between the stone slabs
of the terrace. Trees sprouted in the sides of the tank and hid its
surroundings. It seemed as though the descent had led the Englishman,
firstly, two thousand years away from his own century, and secondly,
into a trap, and that he would fall off the polished stones into the
stinking tank, or that the Gau-Mukh would continue to pour water until
the tank rose up and swamped him, or that some of the stone slabs would
fall forward and crush him flat.

Then he was conscious of remembering, with peculiar and unnecessary
distinctness, that, from the Gau-Mukh, a passage led to the subterranean
chambers in which the fair Pudmini and her handmaids had slain
themselves. And, that Tod had written and the Station-master at Chitor
had said, that some sort of devil, or ghoul, or Something, stood at the
entrance of that approach. All of which was a nightmare bred in full day
and folly to boot; but it was the fault of the Genius of the Place, who
made the Englishman feel that he had done a great wrong in trespassing
into the very heart and soul of all Chitor. And, behind him, the
Gau-Mukh guggled and choked like a man in his death-throe. The
Englishman endured as long as he could--about two minutes. Then it came
upon him that he must go quickly out of this place of years and
blood--must get back to the afternoon sunshine, and Gerowlia, and the
dak-bungalow with the French bedstead. He desired no archæological
information, he wished to take no notes, and, above all, he did not care
to look behind him, where stood the reminder that he was no better than
the beasts that perish. But he had to cross the smooth, worn rocks, and
he felt their sliminess through his bootsoles. It was as though he were
treading on the soft, oiled skin of a Hindu. As soon as the steps gave
refuge, he floundered up them, and so came out of the Gau-Mukh, bedewed
with that perspiration which follows alike on honest toil or--childish
fear.

"This," said he to himself, "is absurd!" and sat down on the fallen top
of a temple to review the situation. But the Gau-Mukh had disappeared.
He could see the dip in the ground and the beginning of the steps, but
nothing more.

Perhaps it was absurd. It undoubtedly appeared so, later. Yet there was
something uncanny about it all. It was not exactly a feeling of danger
or pain, but an apprehension of great evil.

In defence, it may be urged that there is moral, just as much as there
is mine, choke-damp. If you get into a place laden with the latter you
die, and if into the home of the former you ... behave unwisely, as
constitution and temperament prompt. If any man doubt this, let him sit
for two hours in a hot sun on an elephant, stay half an hour in the
Tower of Victory, and then go down into the Gau-Mukh, which, it must
never be forgotten, is merely a set of springs "three or four in number,
issuing from the cliff face at cow-mouth carvings, now mutilated. The
water, evidently percolating from the Hathi Kund above, falls first in
an old pillared hall and thence into the masonry reservoir below,
eventually, when abundant enough, supplying a little waterfall lower
down." That, Gentlemen and Ladies, on the honour of one who has been
frightened of the dark in broad daylight, is the Gau-Mukh, as though
photographed.

The Englishman regained Gerowlia and demanded to be taken away, but
Gerowlia's driver went forward instead and showed him a new Mahal just
built by the present Maharana. Carriage drives, however, do not consort
well with Chitor and the "shadow of her ancient beauty." The return
journey, past temple after temple and palace upon palace, began in the
failing light, and Gerowlia was still blundering up and down narrow
by-paths--for she possessed all an old woman's delusion as to the
slimness of her waist when the twilight fell, and the smoke from the
town below began to creep up the brown flanks of Chitor, and the jackals
howled. Then the sense of desolation, which had been strong enough in
all conscience in the sunshine, began to grow and grow.

Near the Ram Pol there was some semblance of a town with living people
in it, and a priest sat in the middle of the road and howled aloud upon
his gods, until a little boy came and laughed in his face and he went
away grumbling. This touch was deeply refreshing; in the contemplation
of it, the Englishman clean forgot that he had overlooked the gathering
in of materials for an elaborate statistical, historical, geographical
account of Chitor. All that remained to him was a shuddering
reminiscence of the Gau-Mukh and two lines of the "Holy Grail,"

    "And up into the sounding halls he passed,
    But nothing in the sounding halls he saw."

_Post Scriptum._--There was something very uncanny about the Genius of
the Place. He dragged an ease-loving egotist out of the French bedstead
with the gilt knobs at head and foot, into a more than usually big
folly--nothing less than a seeing of Chitor by moonlight. There was no
possibility of getting Gerowlia out of _her_ bed, and a mistrust of the
Maharana's soldiery who in the day-time guarded the gates, prompted the
Englishman to avoid the public way, and scramble straight up the
hillside, along an attempt at a path which he had noted from Gerowlia's
back. There was no one to interfere, and nothing but an infinity of
pestilent nullahs and loose stones to check. Owls came out and hooted at
him, and animals ran about in the dark and made uncouth noises. It was
an idiotic journey, and it ended--Oh, horror! in that unspeakable
Gau-Mukh--this time entered from the opposite or brushwooded side, as
far as could be made out in the dusk and from the chuckle of the water
which, by night, was peculiarly malevolent.

Escaping from this place, crab-fashion, the Englishman crawled into
Chitor and sat upon a flat tomb till the moon, a very inferior and
second-hand one, rose, and turned the city of the dead into a city of
scurrying ghouls--in sobriety, jackals. The ruins took strange shapes
and shifted in the half light and cast objectionable shadows.

It was easy enough to fill the rock with the people of old times, and a
very beautiful account of Chitor restored, made out by the help of Tod,
and bristling with the names of the illustrious dead, would undoubtedly
have been written, had not a woman, a living breathing woman, stolen out
of a temple--what was she doing in that galley?--and screamed in
piercing and public-spirited fashion. The Englishman got off the tomb
and departed rather more noisily than a jackal; feeling for the moment
that he was not much better. Somebody opened a door with a crash, and a
man cried out: "Who is there?" But the cause of the disturbance was, for
his sins, being most horribly scratched by some thorny scrub over the
edge of the hill--there are no bastions worth speaking of near the
Gau-Mukh--and the rest was partly rolling, partly scrambling, and mainly
bad language.

When you are too lucky sacrifice something, a beloved pipe for choice,
to Ganesh. The Englishman has seen Chitor by moonlight--not the best
moonlight truly, but the watery glare of a nearly spent moon--and his
sacrifice to Luck is this. He will never try to describe what he has
seen--but will keep it as a love-letter, a thing for one pair of eyes
only--a memory that few men to-day can be sharers in. And does he,
through this fiction, evade insulting, by pen and ink, a scene as
lovely, wild, and unmatchable as any that mortal eyes have been
privileged to rest upon?

An intelligent and discriminating public are perfectly at liberty to
form their own opinions.



XII

CONTAINS THE HISTORY OF THE BHUMIA OF JHASWARA, AND THE RECORD OF A
VISIT TO THE HOUSE OF STRANGE STORIES. DEMONSTRATES THE FELICITY OF
LOAFERDOM, WHICH IS THE VERITABLE COMPANIONSHIP OF THE INDIAN EMPIRE,
AND PROPOSES A SCHEME FOR THE BETTER OFFICERING OF TWO DEPARTMENTS.


Come away from the monstrous gloom of Chitor and escape northwards. The
place is unclean and terrifying. Let us catch To-day by both hands and
return to the Station-master who is also booking-parcels and
telegraph-clerk, and who never seems to go to bed--and to the
comfortably wadded bunks of the Rajputana-Malwa line.

While the train is running, be pleased to listen to the perfectly true
story of the _bhumia_ of Jhaswara, which is a story the sequel whereof
has yet to be written. Once upon a time, a Rajput landholder; a
_bhumia_, and a Mahometan _jaghirdar_, were next-door neighbours in
Ajmir territory. They hated each other thoroughly for many reasons, all
connected with land; and the _jaghirdar_ was the bigger man of the two.
In those days, it was the law that the victims of robbery or dacoity
should be reimbursed by the owner of the lands on which the affair had
taken place. The ordinance is now swept away as impracticable. There was
a highway robbery on the _bhumia's_ holding; and he vowed that it had
been "put up" by the Mahometan who, he said, was an Ahab. The reive-gelt
payable nearly ruined the Rajput, and he, labouring under a galling
grievance or a groundless suspicion, fired the _jaghirdar's_ crops, was
detected and brought up before the English Judge who gave him four
years' imprisonment. To the sentence was appended a recommendation that,
on release, the Rajput should be put on heavy securities for good
behaviour. "Otherwise," wrote the Judge, who seems to have known the
people he was dealing with, "he will certainly kill the _jaghirdar_."
Four years passed, and the _jaghirdar_ obtained wealth and
consideration, and was made, let us say, a Khan Bahadur, and an Honorary
Magistrate; but the _bhumia_ remained in gaol and thought over the
highway robbery. When the day of release came, a new Judge hunted up his
predecessor's finding and recommendation, and would have put the
_bhumia_ on security. "Sahib," said the _bhumia_, "I have no people. I
have been in gaol. What am I now? And who will find security for me? If
you will send me back to gaol again I can do nothing, and I have no
friends." So they released him, and he went away into an outlying
village and borrowed a sword from one house, and had it sharpened in
another, for love. Two days later fell the birthday of the Khan Bahadur
and the Honorary Magistrate, and his friends and servants and dependants
made a little levee and did him honour after the native custom. The
_bhumia_ also attended the levee, but no one knew him, and he was
stopped at the door of the courtyard by the servant. "Say that the
_bhumia_ of Jhaswara has come to pay his salaams," said he. They let him
in, and in the heart of Ajmir City, in broad daylight, and before all
the _jaghirdar's_ household, he smote off his enemy's head so that it
rolled upon the ground. Then he fled, and though they raised the
countryside against him he was never caught, and went into Bikanir.

Five years later, word came to Ajmir that Chimbo Singh, the _bhumia_ of
Jhaswara, had taken service under the Thakur Sahib of Palitana. The case
was an old one, and the chances of identification misty, but the
suspected was caught and brought in, and one of the leading native
barristers of the Bombay Bar was retained to defend him. He said nothing
and continued to say nothing, and the case fell through. He is believed
to be "wanted" now for a fresh murder committed within the last few
months, out Bikanir way.

And now that the train has reached Ajmir, the Crewe of Rajputana,
whither shall a tramp turn his feet? The Englishman set his stick on
end, and it fell with its point Northwest as nearly as might be. This
being translated, meant Jodhpur, which is the city of the Houyhnhnms. If
you would enjoy Jodhpur thoroughly, quit at Ajmir the decent
conventionalities of "station" life, and make it your business to move
among gentlemen--gentlemen in the Ordnance or the Commissariat, or,
better still, gentlemen on the Railway. At Ajmir, gentlemen will tell
you what manner of place Jodhpur is, and their accounts, though
flavoured with oaths, are amusing. In their eyes the desert that rings
the city has no charms, and they discuss affairs of the State, as they
understand them, in a manner that would curl the hair on a Political's
august head. Jodhpur has been, but things are rather better now, a
much-favoured camping ground for the light-cavalry of the Road--the
loafers with a certain amount of brain and great assurance. The
explanation is simple. There are more than four hundred horses in His
Highness's city stables alone; and where the Houyhnhnm is, there also
will be the Yahoo. This is sad but true.

Besides the Uhlans who come and go on Heaven knows what mysterious
errands, there are bag-men travelling for the big English firms. Jodhpur
is a good customer, and purchases all sorts of things, more or less
useful, for the State or its friends. These are the gentlemen to know,
if you would understand something of matters which are not written in
reports.

The Englishman took a train from Ajmir to Marwar Junction, which is on
the road to Mount Abu, westward from Ajmir, and at five in the morning,
under pale moonlight, was uncarted at the beginning of the Jodhpur State
Railway--one of the quaintest little lines that ever ran a locomotive.
It is the Maharaja's very own, and pays about ten per cent; but its
quaintness does not lie in these things. It is worked with rude economy,
and started life by singularly and completely falsifying the Government
estimates for its construction. An intelligent bureau asserted that it
could not be laid down for less than--but the error shall be glossed
over. It was laid down for a little more than seventeen thousand rupees
a mile, with the help of second-hand rails and sleepers; and it is
currently asserted that the Station-masters are flagmen, pointsmen,
ticket-collectors, and everything else, except platforms, and
lamp-rooms. As only two trains are run in the twenty-four hours, this
economy of staff does not matter. The State line, with the
comparatively new branch to the Pachpadra salt-pits, pays handsomely and
is exactly suited to the needs of its users. True, there is a certain
haziness as to the hour of starting, but this allows laggards more time,
and fills the packed carriages to overflowing.

From Marwar Junction to Jodhpur, the train leaves the Aravalis and goes
northwards into the region of death that lies beyond the Luni River.
Sand, _ak_ bushes, and sand-hills, varied with occasional patches of
unthrifty cultivation, make up the scenery. Rain has been very scarce in
Marwar this year, and the country, consequently, shows at its worst, for
almost every square mile of a kingdom nearly as large as Scotland is
dependent on the sky for its crops. In a good season, a large village
can pay from seven to nine thousand rupees revenue without blenching. In
a bad one, "all the king's horses and all the king's men" may think
themselves lucky if they raise fifteen rupees from the same place. The
fluctuation is startling.

From a countryside, which to the uninitiated seems about as valuable as
a stretch of West African beach, the State gets a revenue of nearly
forty lakhs; and men who know the country vow that it has not been one
tithe exploited, and that there is more to be made from salt marble
and--curious thing in this wilderness--good forest conservancy, than an
open-handed Durbar dreams of. An amiable weakness for unthinkingly
giving away villages where ready cash failed, has somewhat hampered the
revenue in past years; but now--and for this the Maharaja deserves great
credit--Jodhpur has a large and genuine surplus and a very compact
little scheme of railway extension. Before turning to a consideration
of the City of Jodhpur, hear a true story in connection with the
Hyderabad-Pachpadra project which those interested in the scheme may lay
to heart.

His State line, his "ownest own," as has been said, very much delighted
the Maharaja who, in one or two points, is not unlike Sir Theodore Hope
of sainted memory. Pleased with the toy, he said effusively, in words
which may or may not have reached the ears of the Hyderabad-Pachpadra
people: "This is a good business. If the Government will give me
independent jurisdiction, I'll make and open the line straight away from
Pachpadra to the end of my dominions, _i.e._, all but to Hyderabad."

Then "up and spake an elder knight, sat at the King's right knee," who
knew something about the railway map of India and the Controlling Power
of strategical lines: "Maharaja Sahib--here is the Indus Valley State
line and here is the Bombay-Baroda line. Where would _you_ be?" "By
Jove," quoth the Maharaja, though he swore by quite another god: "I
see!" and thus he abandoned the idea of a Hyderabad line, and turned his
attention to an extension to Nagore, with a branch to the Makrana marble
quarries which are close to the Sambhar salt lake near Jeypore. And, in
the fulness of time, that extension will be made and perhaps extended to
Bahawalpur.

The Englishman came to Jodhpur at midday, in a hot, fierce sunshine that
struck back from the sands and the ledges of red rock, as though it were
May instead of December. The line scorned such a thing as a regular
ordained terminus. The single track gradually melted away into the
sands. Close to the station was a grim stone dak-bungalow, and in the
verandah stood a brisk, bag-and-flask-begirdled individual, cracking his
joints with excess of irritation.

_Nota Bene._--When one is on the Road it is above all things necessary
to "pass the time o' day" to fellow-wanderers. Failure to comply with
this law implies that the offender is "too good for his company"; and
this, on the Road, is the unpardonable sin. The Englishman "passed the
time o' day" in due and ample form. "Ha! Ha!" said the gentleman with
the bag. "Isn't this a sweet place? There ain't no _ticca-gharies_, and
there ain't nothing to eat, if you haven't brought your vittles, an'
they charge you three-eight for a bottle of whisky. Oh! it's a sweet
place." Here he skipped about the verandah and puffed. Then turning upon
the Englishman, he said fiercely: "What have you come here for?" Now
this was rude, because the ordinary form of salutation on the Road is
usually "And what are you for?" meaning "what house do you represent?"
The Englishman answered dolefully that he was travelling for pleasure,
which simple explanation offended the little man with the courier-bag.
He snapped his joints more excruciatingly than ever: "For pleasure? My
God! For pleasure? Come here an' wait five weeks for your money, an',
mark what I'm tellin' you now, you don't get it then! But per'aps your
ideas of pleasure is different from most people's. For pleasure! Yah!"
He skipped across the sands toward the station, for he was going back
with the down train, and vanished in a whirlwind of luggage and the
fluttering of female skirts: in Jodhpur the women are baggage coolies. A
level, drawling voice spoke from an inner room: "'E's a bit upset.
That's what 'e is! I remember when I was at Gworlior"--the rest of the
story was lost, and the Englishman set to work to discover the nakedness
of the dak-bungalow. For reasons which do not concern the public, it is
made as bitterly uncomfortable as possible. The food is infamous, and
the charges seem to be wilfully pitched about eighty per cent above the
tariff, so that some portion of the bill, at least, may be paid without
bloodshed, or the unseemly defilement of walls with the contents of
drinking glasses. This is short-sighted policy, and it would, perhaps,
be better to lower the prices and hide the tariff, and put a guard about
the house to prevent jackal-molested donkeys from stampeding into the
verandahs. But these be details. Jodhpur dak-bungalow is a merry, merry
place, and any writer in search of new ground to locate a madly
improbable story in, could not do better than study it diligently. In
front lies sand, riddled with innumerable ant-holes, and beyond the sand
the red sandstone wall of the city, and the Mahometan burying-ground
that fringes it. Fragments of sandstone set on end mark the resting
places of the Faithful, who are of no great account here. Above
everything, a mark for miles around, towers the dun-red pile of the Fort
which is also a Palace. This is set upon sandstone rock whose sharper
features have been worn smooth by the wash of the windblown sand. It is
as monstrous as anything in Dore's illustrations of the _Contes
Drolatiques_ and, wherever it wanders, the eye comes back at last to its
fantastic bulk. There is no greenery on the rock, nothing but fierce
sunlight or black shadow. A line of red hills forms the background of
the city, and this is as bare as the picked bones of camels that lie
bleaching on the sand below.

Wherever the eye falls, it sees a camel or a string of camels--lean,
racer-built _sowarri_ camels, or heavy, black, shag-haired trading ships
bent on their way to the Railway Station. Through the night the air is
alive with the bubbling and howling of the brutes, who assuredly must
suffer from nightmare. In the morning the chorus round the station is
deafening.

Knowing what these camels meant, but trusting nevertheless that the road
would not be _very_ bad, the Englishman went into the city, left a
well-kunkered road, turned through a sand-worn, red sandstone gate, and
sank ankle-deep in fine reddish white sand. This was the main
thoroughfare of the city. Two tame lynxes shared it with a donkey; and
the rest of the population seemed to have gone to bed. In the hot
weather, between ten in the morning and four in the afternoon all
Jodhpur stays at home for fear of death by sun-stroke, and it is
possible that the habit extends far into what is officially called the
"cold weather"; or, perhaps, being brought up among sands, men do not
care to tramp them for pleasure. The city internally is a walled and
secret place; each courtyard being hidden from view by a red sandstone
wall except in a few streets where the shops are poor and mean.

In an old house now used for the storing of tents, Akbar's mother lay
two months, before the "Guardian of Mankind" was born, drawing breath
for her flight to Umarkot across the desert. Seeing this place, the
Englishman thought of many things not worth the putting down on paper,
and went on till the sand grew deeper and deeper, and a great camel,
heavily laden with stone, came round a corner and nearly stepped on him.
As the evening fell, the city woke up, and the goats and the camels and
the kine came in by hundreds, and men said that wild pig, which are
strictly preserved by the Princes for their own sport, were in the habit
of wandering about the roads. Now if they do this in the capital, what
damage must they not do to the crops in the district? Men said that they
did a very great deal of damage, and it was hard to keep their noses out
of anything they took a fancy to. On the evening of the Englishman's
visit, the Maharaja went out, as is his laudable custom, alone and
unattended, to a road actually _in_ the city along which one specially
big pig was in the habit of passing. His Highness got his game with a
single shot behind the shoulder, and in a few days it was pickled and
sent off to the Maharana of Udaipur, as a love-gift. There is great
friendship between Jodhpur and Udaipur, and the idea of one King going
abroad to shoot game for another has something very pretty and quaint in
it.

Night fell and the Englishman became aware that the conservancy of
Jodhpur might be vastly improved. Strong stenches, say the doctors, are
of no importance; but there came upon every breath of heated air--and in
Jodhpur City the air is warm in mid-winter--the faint, sweet, sickly
reek that one has always been taught to consider specially deadly. A few
months ago there was an impressive outbreak of cholera in Jodhpur, and
the Residency Doctor, who really hoped that the people would be brought
to see sense, did his best to bring forward a general cleansing-scheme.
But the city fathers would have none of it. Their fathers had been
trying to poison themselves in well-defined ways for an indefinite
number of years; and they were not going to have any of the Sahib's
"sweeper-nonsense."

To clinch everything, one travelled member of the community rose in his
place and said: "Why, I've been to Simla. Yes, to Simla! And even _I_
don't want it!"

When the black dusk had shut down, the Englishman climbed up a little
hill and saw the stars come out and shine over the desert. Very far
away, some camel-drivers had lighted a fire and were singing as they sat
by the side of their beasts. Sound travels as far over sand as over
water, and their voices came into the city wall and beat against it in
multiplied echoes.

Then he returned to the House of Strange Stories--the Dak-bungalow--and
passed the time o' day with a light-hearted bagman--a Cockney, in whose
heart there was no thought of India, though he had travelled for years
throughout the length and breadth of the Empire and over New Burma as
well. There was a fort in Jodhpur, but you see that was not in his line
of business exactly, and there were stables, but "you may take my word
for it, them who has much to do with horses is a bad lot. You get hold
of the Maharaja's coachman and he'll drive you all round the shop. I'm
only waiting here collecting money." Jodhpur dak-bungalow seems to be
full of men "waiting here." They lie in long chairs in the verandah and
tell each other interminable stories, or stare citywards and express
their opinion of some dilatory debtor. They are all waiting for
something; and they vary the monotony of a life they make wilfully dull
beyond words, by waging war with the dak-bungalow khansama. Then they
return to their long chairs or their couches, and sleep. Some of them,
in old days, used to wait as long as six weeks--six weeks in May, when
the sixty miles from Marwar Junction to Jodhpur was covered in three
days by slow-pacing bullock carts! Some of them are bagmen, able to
describe the demerits of every dak-bungalow from the Peshin to Pagan,
and southward to Hyderabad--men of substance who have "The Trades" at
their back. It is a terrible thing to be in "The Trades," that great
Doomsday Book of Calcutta, in whose pages are written the names of
doubtful clients. Let light-hearted purchasers take note.

And the others, who wait and swear and spit and exchange anecdotes--what
are they? Bummers, land-sharks, skirmishers for their bread. It would be
cruel in a fellow-tramp to call them loafers. Their lien upon the State
may have its origin in horses, or anything else; for the State buys
anything vendible, from Abdul Rahman's most promising importations to a
patent, self-acting corkscrew. They are a mixed crew, but amusing and
full of strange stories of adventure by land and sea. And their ends are
as curiously brutal as their lives. A wanderer was once swept into the
great, still back-water that divides the loaferdom of Upper India--that
is to say, Calcutta and Bombay--from the north-going current of Madras,
where Nym and Pistol are highly finished articles with certificates of
education. This back-water is a dangerous place to break down in, as the
men on the Road know well. "You can run Rajputana in a pair o' sack
breeches an' an old hat, but go to Central Injia with money," says the
wisdom of the Road. So the waif died in the bazaar, and the
Barrack-master Sahib gave orders for his burial. It might have been the
bazaar sergeant, or it might have been an hireling who was charged with
the disposal of the body. At any rate, it was an Irishman who said to
the Barrack-master Sahib: "Fwhat about that loafer?" "Well, what's the
matter?" "I'm considtherin whether I'm to mash in his thick head, or to
break his long legs. He won't fit the store-coffin anyways."

Here the story ends. It may be an old one; but it struck the Englishman
as being rather unsympathetic in its nature; and he has preserved it for
this reason. Were the Englishman a mere Secretary of State instead of an
enviable and unshackled vagabond, he would remodel that Philanthropic
Institution of Teaching Young Subalterns how to Spell--variously called
the Intelligence and the Political Department--and giving each boy the
pair of sack breeches and old hat, above prescribed, would send him out
for a twelvemonth on the Road. Not that he might learn to swear
Australian oaths (which are superior to any ones in the market) or to
drink bazaar-drinks (which are very bad indeed), but in order that he
might gain an insight into the tertiary politics of States--things less
imposing than succession-cases and less wearisome than boundary
disputes, but very well worth knowing.

A small volume might be written of the ways and the tales of Indian
loafers of the more brilliant order--such Chevaliers of the Order of
Industry as would throw their glasses in your face did you call them
loafers. They are a genial, blasphemous, blustering crew, and preëminent
even in a land of liars.



XIII

A KING'S HOUSE AND COUNTRY. FURTHER CONSIDERATION OF THE HAT-MARKED
CASTE.


The hospitality that spreads tables in the wilderness, and shifts the
stranger from the back of the hired camel into a two-horse victoria,
must be experienced to be appreciated.

To those unacquainted with the peculiarities of the native-trained
horse, this advice may be worth something. Sit as far back as ever you
can, and, if Oriental courtesy have put an English bit and bridoon in a
mouth by education intended for a spiked curb, leave the whole
contraption alone. Once acquainted with the comparative smoothness of
English iron-mongery, your mount will grow frivolous. In which event a
four-pound steeplechase saddle, accepted through sheer shame, offers the
very smallest amount of purchase to untrained legs.

The Englishman rode up to the Fort, and by the way learnt all these
things and many more. He was provided with a racking, female horse who
swept the gullies of the city by dancing sideways.

The road to the Fort, which stands on the Hill of Strife, wound in and
out of sixty-foot hills, with a skilful avoidance of all shade; and this
was at high noon, when puffs of heated air blew from the rocks on all
sides. "What must the heat be in May?" The Englishman's companion was a
cheery Brahmin, who wore the lightest of turbans and sat the smallest of
neat little country-breds. "Awful!" said the Brahmin. "But not so bad as
in the district. Look there!" and he pointed from the brow of a bad
eminence, across the quivering heat-haze, to where the white sand faded
into bleach blue sky and the horizon was shaken and tremulous. "It's
very bad in summer. Would knock you--oh yes--all to smash, but _we_ are
accustomed to it." A rock-strewn hill, about half a mile, as the crow
flies, from the Fort was pointed out as the place whence, at the
beginning of this century, the Pretender Sowae besieged Raja Maun for
five months, but could make no headway against his foe. One gun of the
enemy's batteries specially galled the Fort, and the Jodhpur King
offered a village to any of his gunners who should dismount it. "It was
smashed," said the Brahmin. "Oh yes, all to pieces." Practically, the
city which lies below the Fort is indefensible, and during the many wars
of Marwar has generally been taken up by the assailants without
resistance.

Entering the Fort by the Jeypore Gate, and studiously refraining from
opening his umbrella, the Englishman found shadow and coolth, took off
his hat to the tun-bellied, trunk-nosed God of Good-Luck who had been
very kind to him in his wanderings, and sat down near half a dozen of
the Maharaja's guns bearing the mark, "A. Broome, Cossipore, 1857," or
"G. Hutchinson, Cossipore, 1838." Now rock and masonry are so curiously
blended in this great pile that he who walks through it loses sense of
being among buildings. It is as though he walked through
mountain-gorges. The stone-paved, inclined planes, and the tunnel-like
passages driven under a hundred feet height of buildings, increase this
impression. In many places the wall and rock runs up unbroken by any
window for forty feet.

It would be a week's work to pick out even roughly the names of the dead
who have added to the buildings, or to describe the bewildering
multiplicity of courts and ranges of rooms; and, in the end, the result
would be as satisfactory as an attempt to describe a nightmare. It is
said that the rock on which the Fort stands is four miles in circuit,
but no man yet has dared to estimate the size of the city that they call
the Palace, or the mileage of its ways. Ever since Ras Joda, four
hundred years ago, listened to the voice of a _Jogi_, and leaving
Mundore built his eyrie on the "Bird's nest" as the Hill of Strife was
called, the Palaces have grown and thickened. Even to-day the builders
are still at work. Takht Singh, the present ruler's predecessor, built
royally. An incomplete bastion and a Hall of Flowers are among the works
of his pleasure. Hidden away behind a mighty wing of carved red
sandstone lie rooms set apart for Viceroys, Durbar Halls and
dinner-rooms without end. A gentle gloom covers the evidences of the
catholic taste of the State in articles of "bigotry and virtue"; but
there is enough light to show the _raison d'être_ of the men who wait in
the dak-bungalow. And, after all, what is the use of Royalty in these
days if a man may not take delight in the pride of the eye? Kumbha Rana,
the great man of Chitor, fought like a Rajput, but he had an instinct
which made him build the Tower of Victory at, who knows what cost of
money and life. The fighting-instinct thrown back upon itself must have
some sort of outlet; and a merciful Providence wisely ordains that the
Kings of the East in the nineteenth century shall take pleasure in
shopping on an imperial scale. Dresden China snuff-boxes, mechanical
engines, electro-plated fish-slicers, musical boxes, and gilt
blown-glass Christmas-tree balls do not go well with the splendours of a
Palace that might have been built by Titans and coloured by the morning
sun. But there are excuses to be made for Kings who have no fighting to
do.

In one of the higher bastions stands a curious specimen of one of the
earliest _mitrailleuses_--a cumbrous machine carrying twenty gun-barrels
in two rows, which small-arm fire is flanked by two tiny cannon. As a
muzzle-loading implement its value after the first discharge would be
insignificant; but the soldiers lounging by assured the Englishman that
it had done good service in its time.

A man may spend a long hour in the upper tiers of the Palaces, but still
far from the roof-tops, in looking out across the desert. There are
Englishmen in these wastes, who say gravely that there is nothing so
fascinating as the sand of Bikanir and Marwar. "You see," explained an
enthusiast of the Hat-marked Caste, "you are not shut in by roads, and
you can go just as you please. And, somehow, it grows upon you as you
get used to it, and you end, y'know, by falling in love with the place."
Look steadily from the Palace westward where the city with its tanks and
serais is spread at your feet, and you will, in a lame way, begin to
understand the fascination of the Desert which, by those who have felt
it, is said to be even stronger than the fascination of the Road. The
city is of red sandstone and dull and sombre to look at. Beyond it,
where the white sand lies, the country is dotted with camels limping
into the Eiwigkeit or coming from the same place. Trees appear to be
strictly confined to the suburbs of the city. Very good. If you look
long enough across the sands, while a voice in your ear is telling you
of half-buried cities, old as old Time, and wholly unvisited by Sahibs,
of districts where the white man is unknown, and of the wonders of
far-away Jeysulmir ruled by a half-distraught king, sand-locked and now
smitten by a terrible food and water famine, you will, if it happen that
you are of a sedentary and civilised nature, experience a new
emotion--will be conscious of a great desire to take one of the lobbing
camels and get away into the desert, away from the last touch of To-day,
to meet the Past face to face. Some day a novelist will exploit the
unknown land from the Rann, where the wild ass breeds, northward and
eastward, till he comes to the Indus.

But the officials of Marwar do not call their country a desert. On the
contrary, they administer it very scientifically and raise, as has been
said, about thirty-eight lakhs from it. To come back from the influence
and the possible use of the desert to more prosaic facts. Read quickly a
rough record of things in modern Marwar. The old is drawn in Tod, who
speaks the truth. The Maharaja's right hand in the work of the State is
Maharaj Sir Pertab Singh, Prime Minister A.--D.--C. to the Prince of
Wales, capable of managing the Marwari who intrigues like a--Marwari,
equally capable, as has been seen, of moving in London Society, and
Colonel of a newly raised crack cavalry corps. The Englishman would have
liked to have seen him, but he was away in the desert somewhere, either
marking a boundary or looking after a succession case. Not very long
ago, as the Setts of Ajmir knew well, there was a State debt of fifty
lakhs. This has now been changed into a surplus of three lakhs, and the
revenue is growing. Also, the simple Dacoit who used to enjoy himself
very pleasantly, has been put into a department, and the Thug with him.

Consequently, for the department takes a genuine interest in this form
of _shikar_, and the gaol leg-irons are not too light, dacoities have
been reduced to such an extent that men say "you may send a woman, with
her ornaments upon her, from Sojat to Phalodi, and she will not lose a
nose-ring." Again, and this in a Rajput State is an important matter,
the boundaries of nearly every village in Marwar have been demarcated,
and boundary fights, in which both sides preferred small-arm fire to the
regulation club, are unknown. The open-handed system of giving away
villages had raised a large and unmannerly crop of _jaghirdars_. These
have been taken up and brought in hand by Sir Pertab Singh, to the
better order of the State.

A Punjabi Sirdar, Har Dyal Singh, has reformed, or made rather, Courts
on the Civil and Criminal Side; and his hand is said to be found in a
good many sweepings out of old corners. It must always be borne in mind
that everything that has been done, was carried through over and under
unlimited intrigue, for Jodhpur is a Native State. Intrigue must be met
with intrigue by all except Gordons or demi-gods; and it is curious to
hear how a reduction in tariff, or a smoothing out of some tangled
Court, had to be worked by shift and byway. The tales are comic, but not
for publication. Howbeit, Har Dyal Singh got his training in part under
the Punjab Government, and in part in a little Native State far away in
the Himalayas, where intrigue is not altogether unknown. To the credit
of the "Pauper Province" be it said, it is not easy to circumvent a
Punjabi. The details of his work would be dry reading. The result of it
is good, and there is justice in Marwar, and order and firmness in its
administration.

Naturally, the land-revenue is the most interesting thing in Marwar from
an administrative point of view. The basis of it is a tank about the
size of a swimming-bath, with a catchment of several hundred square
yards, draining through leeped channels. When God sends the rain, the
people of the village drink from the tank. When the rains fail, as they
failed this year, they take to their wells, which are brackish and breed
guinea-worm. For these reasons the revenue, like the Republic of San
Domingo, is never alike for two years running. There are no canal
questions to harry the authorities; but the fluctuations are enormous.
Under the Aravalis the soil is good: further north they grow millet and
pasture cattle, though, said a Revenue Officer cheerfully, "God knows
what the brutes find to eat." _Apropos_ of irrigation, the one canal
deserves special mention, as showing how George Stephenson came to
Jodhpur and astonished the inhabitants. Six miles from the city proper
lies the Balsaman Sagar, a great tank. In the hot weather, when the city
tanks ran out or stank, it was the pleasant duty of the women to tramp
twelve miles at the end of the day's work to fill their lotahs. In the
hot weather Jodhpur is--let a simile suffice. Sukkur in June would be
Simla to Jodhpur.

The State Engineer, who is also the Jodhpur State Line, for he has no
European subordinates, conceived the idea of bringing the water from the
Balsaman into the city. Was the city grateful? Not in the least. It is
said that the Sahib wanted the water to run uphill and was throwing
money into the tank. Being true Marwaris, men betted on the subject. The
canal--a built out one, for water must not touch earth in these
parts--was made at a cost of something over a lakh, and the water came
down because its source was a trifle higher than the city. Now, in the
hot weather, the women need not go for long walks, but the Marwari
cannot understand how it was that the waters came down to Jodhpur. From
the Marwari to money matters is an easy step. Formerly, that is to say,
up to within a very short time, the Treasury of Jodhpur was conducted in
a shiftless, happy-go-lucky sort of fashion, not uncommon in Native
States, whereby the Mahajuns "held the bag" and made unholy profits on
discount and other things, to the confusion of the Durbar Funds and
their own enrichment. There is now a Treasury modelled on English lines,
and English in the important particular that money is not to be got from
it for the asking, and the items of expenditure are strictly looked
after.

In the middle of all this bustle of reform planned, achieved,
frustrated, and replanned, and the never-ending underground warfare that
surges in a Native State, move the English officers--the irreducible
minimum of exiles. As a caste, the working Englishmen in Native States
are curiously interesting; and the traveller whose tact by this time has
been blunted by tramping, sits in judgment upon them as he has seen
them. In the first place, they are, they must be, the fittest who have
survived; for though, here and there, you shall find one chafing
bitterly against the burden of his life in the wilderness, one to be
pitied more than any chained beast, the bulk of the caste are honestly
and unaffectedly fond of their work, fond of the country around them,
and fond of the people they deal with. In each State their answer to a
question is the same. The men with whom they are in contact are "all
right" when you know them, but you've got to "know them first," as the
music-hall song says. Their hands are full of work; so full that, when
the incult wanderer said: "What do you find to do?" they look upon him
with contempt and amazement, exactly as the wanderer himself had once
looked upon a Globe-trotter, who had put to him the same impertinent
query. And--but here the Englishman may be wrong--it seemed to him that
in one respect their lives were a good deal more restful and
concentrated than those of their brethren under the British Government.
There was no talk of shiftings and transfers and promotions, stretching
across a Province and a half, and no man said anything about Simla. To
one who has hitherto believed that Simla is the hub of the Empire, it is
disconcerting to hear: "Oh, Simla! That's where you Bengalis go. We
haven't anything to do with Simla down here." And no more they have.
Their talk and their interests run in the boundaries of the States they
serve, and, most striking of all, the gossipy element seems to be cut
altogether. It is a backwater of the river of Anglo-Indian life--or is
it the main current, the broad stream that supplies the motive power,
and is the other life only the noisy ripple on the surface? You who
have lived, not merely looked at, both lives, decide. Much can be learnt
from the talk of the caste, many curious, many amusing, and some
startling things. One hears stories of men who take a poor, impoverished
State as a man takes a wife, "for better or worse," and, moved by some
incomprehensible ideal of virtue, consecrate--that is not too big a
word--consecrate their lives to that State in all single-heartedness and
purity. Such men are few, but they exist to-day, and their names are
great in lands where no Englishman travels. Again the listener hears
tales of grizzled diplomats of Rajputana--Machiavellis who have hoisted
a powerful intriguer with his own intrigue, and bested priestly cunning,
and the guile of the Oswal, simply that the way might be clear for some
scheme which should put money into a tottering Treasury, or lighten the
taxation of a few hundred thousand men--or both; for this can be done.
One tithe of that force spent on their own personal advancement would
have carried such men very far.

Truly the Hat-marked Caste are a strange people. They are so few and so
lonely and so strong. They can sit down in one place for years, and see
the works of their hands and the promptings of their brain grow to
actual and beneficent life, bringing good to thousands. Less fettered
than the direct servant of the Indian Government, and working over a
much vaster charge, they seem a bigger and a more large-minded breed.
And that is saying a good deal.

But let the others, the little people bound down and supervised, and
strictly limited and income-taxed, always remember that the Hat-marked
are very badly off for shops. If they want a neck-tie they must get it
up from Bombay, and in the Rains they can hardly move about; and they
have no amusements and must go a day's railway journey for a rubber, and
their drinking-water is doubtful: and there is less than one white woman
_per_ ten thousand square miles.

After all, comparative civilisation has its advantages.



XIV

AMONG THE HOUYHNHNMS.


Jodhpur differs from the other States of Rajputana in that its Royalty
are peculiarly accessible to an inquiring public. There are wanderers,
the desire of whose life it is "to see Nabobs," which is the
Globe-trotter's title for any one in unusually clean clothes, or an Oudh
Taluqdar in gala dress. Men asked in Jodhpur whether the Englishman
would like to see His Highness. The Englishman had a great desire to do
so, if His Highness would be in no way inconvenienced. Then they
scoffed: "Oh, he won't _durbar_ you, you needn't flatter yourself. If
he's in the humour he'll receive you like an English country-gentleman."
How in the world could the owner of such a place as Jodhpur Palace be in
any way like an English country-gentleman? The Englishman had not long
to wait in doubt. His Highness intimated his readiness to see the
Englishman between eight and nine in the morning at the Raika-Bagh. The
Raika-Bagh is not a Palace, for the lower storey and all the detached
buildings round it are filled with horses. Nor can it in any way be
called a stable, because the upper storey contains sumptuous apartments
full of all manner of valuables both of the East and the West. Nor is it
in any sense a pleasure-garden, for it stands on soft white sand, close
to a multitude of litter and sand training tracks, and is devoid of
trees for the most part. Therefore the Raika-Bagh is simply the
Raika-Bagh and nothing else. It is now the chosen residence of the
Maharaja who loves to live among his four hundred or more horses. All
Jodhpur is horse-mad by the way, and it behoves any one who wishes to be
any one to keep his own race-course. The Englishman went to the
Raika-Bagh, which stands half a mile or so from the city, and passing
through a long room filled with saddles by the dozen, bridles by the
score, and bits by the hundred, was aware of a very small and lively
little cherub on the roof of a garden-house. He was carefully muffled,
for the morning was chill. "Good morning," he cried cheerfully in
English, waving a mittened hand. "Are you going to see my faver and the
horses?" It was the Maharaja Kanwar, the Crown Prince, the apple of the
Maharaja's eye, and one of the quaintest little bodies that ever set an
Englishman disrespectfully laughing. He studies English daily with one
of the English officials of the State, and stands a very good chance of
being thoroughly spoiled, for he is a general pet. As befits his
dignity, he has his own carriage or carriages, his own twelve-hand
stable, his own house and retinue.

A few steps further on, in a little enclosure in front of a small
two-storied white bungalow, sat His Highness the Maharaja, deep in
discussion with the State Engineer. He wore an English ulster, and
within ten paces of him was the first of a long range of stalls. There
was an informality of procedure about Jodhpur which, after the strained
etiquette of other States, was very refreshing. The State Engineer, who
has a growing line to attend to, cantered away and His Highness after a
few introductory words, knowing what the Englishman would be after,
said: "Come along, and look at the horses." Other formality there was
absolutely none. Even the indispensable knot of hangers-on stood at a
distance, and behind a paling, in this most rustic country residence. A
well-bred fox-terrier took command of the proceedings, after the manner
of dogs the world over, and the Maharaja led to the horse-boxes. But a
man turned up, bending under the weight of much bacon. "Oh! here's the
pig I shot for Udaipur last night. You see that is the best piece. It's
pickled, and that's what makes it yellow to look at." He patted the
great side that was held up. "There will be a camel sowar to meet it
half way to Udaipur; and I hope Udaipur will be pleased with it. It was
a very big pig." "And where did you shoot it, Maharaja Sahib?" "Here,"
said His Highness, smiting himself high up under the armpit. "Where else
would you have it?" Certainly this descendant of Raja Maun was more like
an English country-gentleman than the Englishman in his ignorance had
deemed possible. He led on from horse-box to horse-box, the terrier at
his heels, pointing out each horse of note; and Jodhpur has many.
"There's _Raja_, twice winner of the Civil Service Cup." The Englishman
looked reverently and _Raja_ rewarded his curiosity with a vicious snap,
for he was being dressed over, and his temper was out of joint. Close to
him stood _Autocrat_, the grey with the nutmeg marks on the
off-shoulder, a picture of a horse, also disturbed in his mind. Next to
him was a chestnut Arab, a hopeless cripple, for one of his knees had
been smashed and the leg was doubled up under him. It was _Turquoise_,
who, six or eight years ago, rewarded good feeding by getting away from
his groom, falling down and ruining himself, but who, none the less, has
lived an honoured pensioner on the Maharaja's bounty ever since. No
horses are shot in the Jodhpur stables, and when one dies--they have
lost not more than twenty-five in six years--his funeral is an event. He
is wrapped in a white sheet which is strewn with flowers, and, amid the
weeping of the _saises_, is borne away to the burial ground.

After doing the honours for nearly half an hour the Maharaja departed,
and as the Englishman has not seen more than forty horses, he felt
justified in demanding more. And he got them. _Eclipse_ and _Young
Revenge_ were out down-country, but _Sherwood_ at the stud, _Shere Ali_,
_Conqueror_, _Tynedale_, _Sherwood II_, a maiden of Abdul Rahman's, and
many others of note, were in, and were brought out. Among the veterans,
a wrathful, rampant, red horse still, came _Brian Boru_, whose name has
been written large in the chronicles of the Indian turf, jerking his
_sais_ across the road. His near-fore is altogether gone, but as a
pensioner he condescends to go in harness, and is then said to be a
"handful." He certainly looks it.

At the two hundred and fifty-seventh horse, and perhaps the twentieth
block of stables, the Englishman's brain began to reel, and he demanded
rest and information on a certain point. He had gone into some fifty
stalls, and looked into all the rest, and in the looking had searchingly
sniffed. But, as truly as he was then standing far below _Brian Boru's_
bony withers, never the ghost of a stench had polluted the keen morning
air. The City of the Houyhnhnms was specklessly clean--cleaner than any
stable, racing or private, that he had been into. How was it done? The
pure white sand accounted for a good deal, and the rest was explained by
one of the Masters of Horse: "Each horse has one _sais_ at least--old
_Ringwood_ has four--and we make 'em work. If we didn't, we'd be mucked
up to the horses' bellies in no time. Everything is cleaned off at once;
and whenever the sand's tainted it's renewed. There's quite enough sand
you see hereabouts. Of course we can't keep their coats so good as in
other stables, by reason of the rolling; but we can keep 'em pretty
clean."

To the eye of one who knew less than nothing about horse-flesh, this
immaculate purity was very striking, and quite as impressive was the
condition of the horses, which was English--quite English. Naturally,
none of them were in any sort of training beyond daily exercise, but
they were fit and in such thoroughly good fettle. Many of them were out
on the various tracks, and many were coming in. Roughly, two hundred go
out of a morning, and, it is to be feared, learn from the heavy going of
the Jodhpur courses how to hang in their stride. This is a matter for
those who know, but it struck the Englishman that a good deal of the
unsatisfactory performances of the Jodhpur stables might be accounted
for by their having lost their clean stride on the sand, and having to
pick it up gradually on the less holding down-country
courses--unfortunately when they were _not_ doing training gallops, but
the real thing.

It was pleasant to sit down and watch the rush of the horses through the
great opening--gates are not affected--going on to the countryside where
they take the air. Here a boisterous, unschooled Arab shot out across
the road and cried, "Ha! Ha!" in the scriptural manner, before trying
to rid himself of the grinning black imp on his back. Behind him a
Cabuli--surely all Cabulis must have been born with Pelhams in their
mouths--bored sulkily across the road, or threw himself across the path
of a tall, mild-eyed Kurnal-bred youngster, whose cocked ears and
swinging head showed that, though he was so sedate, he was thoroughly
taking in his surroundings, and would very much like to know if there
were anybody better than himself on the course that morning. Impetuous
as a schoolboy and irresponsible as a monkey, one of the Prince's polo
ponies, not above racing in his own set, would answer the question by
rioting past the pupil of Parrott, the monogram on his bodycloth
flapping free in the wind, and his head and hogged tail in the elements.
The youngster would swing himself round, and polka-mazurka for a few
paces, till his attention would be caught by some dainty Child of the
Desert, fresh from the Bombay stables, sweating at every sound, backing
and filling like a rudderless ship. Then, thanking his stars that he was
wiser than some people, Number 177 would lob on to the track and settle
down to his spin like the gentleman he was. Elsewhere, the eye fell upon
a cloud of nameless ones, purchases from Abdul Rahman, whose worth will
be proved next hot weather, when they are seriously taken in
hand--skirmishing over the face of the land and enjoying themselves
immensely. High above everything else, like a collier among barges,
screaming shrilly, a black, flamboyant Marwari stallion, with a crest
like the crest of a barb, barrel-bellied, goose-rumped, and river-maned,
pranced through the press, while the slow-pacing waler carriage-horses
eyed him with deep disfavour, and the Maharaja Kanwar's tiny mount
capered under his pink, Roman nose, kicking up as much dust as the
_Foxhall_ colt who had got on to a lovely patch of sand and was dancing
a saraband in it. In and out of the tangle, going down to or coming back
from the courses, ran, shuffled, rocketed, plunged, sulked, or stampeded
countless horses of all kinds, shapes, and descriptions--so that the eye
at last failed to see what they were, and only retained a general
impression of a whirl of bays, greys, iron greys, and chestnuts with
white stockings, some as good as could be desired, others average, but
not one distinctly bad.

"We have no downright bad 'uns in this stable. What's the use?" said the
Master of Horse, calmly. "They are all good beasts and, one with
another, must cost more than a thousand rupees each. This year's new
ones bought from Bombay and the pick of our own studs are a hundred
strong about. May be more. Yes, they look all right enough; but you can
never know what they are going to turn out. Live-stock is very
uncertain." "And how are the stables managed? how do you make room for
the fresh stock?" Something this way. Here are all the new ones and
Parrott's lot, and the English colts that Maharaja Pertab Singh brought
out with him from Home. _Winterlake_ out o' _Queen's Consort_ that
chestnut is with the two white stockings you're looking at now. Well,
next hot weather we shall see what they're made of and which is who.
There's so many that the trainer hardly knows 'em one from another till
they begin to be a good deal forward. Those that haven't got the pace,
or that the Maharaja don't fancy, they're taken out and sold for what
they'll bring. The man who takes the horses out has a good job of it. He
comes back and says: "I sold such and such for so much, and here's the
money." That's all. Well, our rejections are worth having. They have
taken prizes at the Poona Horse Show. See for yourself. Is there one of
those that you wouldn't be glad to take for a hack, and look well after
too? Only they're no use to us, and so out they go by the score. We've
got sixty riding-boys, perhaps more, and they've got their work cut out
to keep them all going. What you've seen are only the stables. We've got
one stud at Bellara, eighty miles out, and they come in sometimes in
droves of three and four hundred from the stud. They raise Marwaris
there too, but that's entirely under native management. We've got
nothing to do with that. The natives reckon a Marwari the best
country-bred you can lay hands on; and some of them are beauties! Crests
on 'em like the top of a wave. Well, there's that stud and another stud
and, reckoning one with another, I should say the Maharaja has nearer
twelve hundred than a thousand horses of his own. For this place here,
two wagon-loads of grass come in every day from Marwar Junction. Lord
knows how many saddles and bridles we've got. I never counted. I suppose
we've about forty carriages, not counting the ones that get shabby and
are stacked in places in the city, as I suppose you've seen. We take 'em
out in the morning, a regular string altogether, brakes and all; but the
prettiest turn-out we ever turned out was Lady Dufferin's pony
four-in-hand. Walers--thirteen-two the wheelers, I think, and
thirteen-one the leaders. They took prizes in Poona. That _was_ a pretty
turn-out. The prettiest in India. Lady Dufferin, she drove it when the
Viceroy was down here last year. There are bicycles and tricycles in the
carriage department too. I don't know how many, but when the Viceroy's
camp was held, there was about one apiece for the gentlemen, with
remounts. They're somewhere about the place now, if you want to see
them. How do we manage to keep the horses so quiet? You'll find some o'
the youngsters play the goat a good deal when they come out o' stable,
but, as you say, there's no vice generally. It's this way. We don't
allow any curry-combs. If we did, the _saises_ would be wearing out
their brushes on the combs. It's all elbow-grease here. They've got to
go over the horses with their hands. They must handle 'em, and a native
he's afraid of a horse. Now an English groom, when a horse is doing the
fool, clips him over the head with a curry-comb, or punches him in the
belly; and that hurts the horse's feelings. A native, he just stands
back till the trouble is over. He _must_ handle the horse or he'd get
into trouble for not dressing him, so it comes to all handling and no
licking, and that's why you won't get hold of a really vicious brute in
these stables. Old _Ringwood_ he had four _saises_, and he wanted 'em
every one, but the other horses have no more than one _sais_ apiece. The
Maharaja he keeps fourteen or fifteen horses for his own riding. Not
that he cares to ride now, but he likes to have his horses; and no one
else can touch 'em. Then there's the horses that he mounts his visitors
on, when they come for pig-sticking and such like, and then there's a
lot of horses that go to Maharaja Pertab Singh's new cavalry regiment.
So you see a horse can go through all three degrees sometimes before he
gets sold, and be a good horse at the end of it. And I think that's
about all!"

A cloud of youngsters, sweating freely and ready for any mischief, shot
past on their way to breakfast, and the conversation ended in a cloud of
sand and the drumming of hurrying hooves.

In the Raika-Bagh are more racing cups than this memory holds the names
of. Chiefest of all was the Delhi Assemblage Cup--the Imperial Vase, of
solid gold, won by _Crown Prince_. The other pieces of plate were not so
imposing. But of all the Crown Jewels, the most valuable appeared at the
end of the inspection. It was the small Maharaja Kanwar lolling in state
in a huge barouche--his toes were at least two feet off the floor--that
was taking him from his morning drive. "Have you seen _my_ horses?" said
the Maharaja Kanwar. The four twelve-hand ponies had been duly looked
over, and the future ruler of Jodhpur departed satisfied.



XV

TREATS OF THE STARTLING EFFECT OF A REDUCTION IN WAGES AND THE PLEASURES
OF LOAFERDOM. PAINTS THE STATE OF THE BOONDI ROAD AND THE TREACHERY OF
GANESH OF SITUR.


"A twenty-five per cent reduction all roun' an' no certain leave when
you wants it. _Of_ course the best men goes somewhere else. That's only
natural, and 'ere's this sanguinary down mail a-stickin' in the eye of
the Khundwa down! I tell you, Sir, Injia's a bad place--a very bad
place. 'Tisn't what it was when I came out one and thirty year ago, an'
the drivers was getting their seven and eight 'undred rupees a month an'
was treated as _men_."

The Englishman was on his way to Nasirabad, and a gentleman in the
Railway was explaining to him the real reason of the decadence of the
Empire. It was because, the Rajputana-Malwa Railway had cut all its
employés twenty-five per cent. It is ungenerous to judge a caste by a
few samples; but the Englishman had on the Road and elsewhere seen a
good deal of gentlemen on the Railway, and they spend their pay in a
manner that would do credit to an income of a thousand a month. Now they
say that the twenty-five per cent reduction deprives them of all the
pleasures of life. So much the better if it makes them moderately
economical in their expenditure. Revolving these things in his mind,
together with one or two stories of extravagances not quite fit for
publication, the Englishman came to Nasirabad, before sunrise, and there
to an evil-looking tonga. Quoth Ram Baksh, proprietor, driver, _sais_,
and everything else, calmly: "At this time of the year and having regard
to the heat of the sun who wants a top to a tonga? I have no top. I have
a top, but it would take till twelve o'clock to put it on. And behold
Sahib, Padre Martum Sahib went in this tonga to Deoli. All the officer
Sahibs of Deoli and Nasirabad go in this tonga for _shikar_. This is a
'shutin-tonga'!" "When Church and Army are brought against one, argument
is in vain." But to take a soft, office-bred unfortunate into the
wilderness, upon a skeleton, a diagram of a conveyance, is brutality.
Ram Baksh did not see it, and headed his two thirteen-hand rats straight
towards the morning sun, along a beautiful military road. "We shall get
to Deoli in six hours," said Ram Baksh the boastful, and, even as he
spoke, the spring of the tonga bar snapt "mit a harp-like melodious
twang." "What does it matter?" said Ram Baksh. "Has the Sahib never seen
a tonga-iron break before? Padre Martum Sahib and all the Officer Sahibs
in Deoli--" "Ram Baksh," said the Englishman, sternly, "I am not a Padre
Sahib nor an Officer Sahib, and if you say anything more about Padre
Martum Sahib or the officer in Deoli I shall grow very angry, Ram
Baksh."

"Humph," said Ram Baksh, "I knew you were not a Padre Sahib." The little
mishap was patched up with string, and the tonga went on merrily. It is
Stevenson who says that the "invitation to the road," nature's great
morning song, has not yet been properly understood or put to music. The
first note of it is the sound of the dawn-wind through long grass. It is
good, good beyond expression, to see the sun rise upon a strange land
and to know that you have only to go forward and possess that land--that
it will dower you before the day is ended with a hundred new impressions
and, perhaps, one idea. It is good to snuff the wind when it comes in
over large uplands or down from the tops of the blue Aravalis--dry and
keen as a new-ground sword. Best of all is to light the First Pipe--is
there any tobacco so good as that we burn in honour of the breaking
day?--and, while the ponies wake the long white road with their hooves
and the birds go abroad in companions together, to thank your stars that
you are neither the Subaltern who has Orderly Room, the 'Stunt who has
office, or the Judge who has the Court to attend; but are only a loafer
in a flannel shirt bound, if God pleases, to "little Boondi," somewhere
beyond the faint hills beyond the plain.

But there was alloy in this delight. Men had told the Englishman darkly
that Boondi State had no love for Englishmen, that there was nowhere to
stop, and that no one would do anything for money. Love was out of the
question. Further, it was an acknowledged fact that there were no
Englishmen of any kind in Boondi. But the Englishman trusted that Ganesh
would be good to him, and that he would, somehow or other, fall upon his
feet as he had fallen before. The road from Nasirabad to Deoli, being
military in its nature, is nearly as straight as a ruler and about as
smooth. Here and there little rocky hills, the last off-shoots of the
Aravalis to the west, break the ground; but the bulk of it is fair and
without pimples. The Deoli Force are apparently so utterly Irregular
that they can do without a telegraph, have their mails carried by
runners, and dispense with bridges over all the fifty-six miles that
separate them from Nasirabad. However, a man who goes shikarring for any
length of time in one of Ram Baksh's tongas would soon learn to dispense
with anything and everything. "_All_ the Sahibs use my tonga; I've got
eight of them and twenty pairs of horses," said Ram Baksh. "They go as
far as Gangra, where the tigers are, for they are 'shutin-tongas.'" Now
the Englishman knew Gangra slightly, having seen it on the way to
Udaipur; and it was as perverse and rocky a place as any man would
desire to see. He politely expressed doubt. "I tell you my tongas go
anywhere," said Ram Baksh, testily. A hay-wagon--they cut and stack
their hay in these parts--blocked the road. Ram Baksh ran the tonga to
one side, into a rut, fetched up on a tree-stump, rebounded on to a
rock, and struck the road again. "Observe," said Ram Baksh; "but that is
nothing. You wait till we get on the Boondi Road, and I'll make you
shake, shake like a bottle." "Is it _very_ bad?" "I've never been to
Boondi myself, but I hear it is all rocks--great rocks as big as this
tonga." But though he boasted himself and his horses nearly all the way,
he could not reach Deoli in anything like the time he had set forth. "If
I am not at Boondi by four," he had said, at six in the morning, "let me
go without my fee." But by midday he was still far from Deoli, and
Boondi lay twenty-eight miles beyond that station. "What can I do?" said
he. "I've laid out lots of horses--any amount. But the fact is I've
never been to Boondi. I shan't go there in the night." Ram Baksh's "lots
of horses" were three pair between Nasirabad and Deoli--three pair of
undersized ponies who did wonders. At one place, after he had quitted a
cotton wagon, a drove of gipsies, and a man on horseback, with his
carbine across his saddle-bow, the Englishman came to a stretch of road
so utterly desolate that he said: "Now I am clear of everybody who ever
knew me. This is the beginning of the waste into which the scape-goat
was sent."

From a bush by the roadside sprang up a fat man who cried aloud in
English: "How does Your Honour do? I met Your Honour in Simla this year.
Are you quite well? Ya-as, I am here. Your Honour remembers me? I am
travelling. Ya-as. Ha! Ha!" and he went on, leaving His Honour bemazed.
It was a Babu--a Simla Babu, of that there could be no doubt; but who he
was or what he was doing, thirty miles from anywhere, His Honour could
not make out. The native moves about more than most folk, except railway
people, imagine. The big banking firms of Upper India naturally keep in
close touch with their great change-houses in Ajmir, despatching and
receiving messengers regularly. So it comes to pass that the necessitous
circumstances of Lieutenant McRannamack, of the Tyneside Tailtwisters,
quartered on the Frontier, are thoroughly known and discussed, a
thousand miles south of the cantonment where the light-hearted
Lieutenant goes to his money-lender.

This is by the way. Let us return to the banks of the Banas River, where
"poor Carey," as Tod calls him, came when he was sickening for his last
illness. The Banas is one of those streams which runs "over golden
sands with feet of silver," but, from the scarp of its banks, Deoli in
the rains must be isolated. Ram Baksh, questioned hereon, vowed that all
the Officer Sahibs never dreamed of halting, but went over in boats or
on elephants. According to Ram Baksh the men of Deoli must be wonderful
creatures. They do nothing but use his tongas. A break in some low hills
gives on to the dead flat plain in which Deoli stands. "You must stop
here for the night," said Ram Baksh. "I will _not_ take my horses
forward in the dark; God knows where the dak-bungalow is. I've
forgotten, but any one of the Officer Sahibs in Deoli will tell you."

Those in search of a new emotion would do well to run about an
apparently empty cantonment, in a disgraceful shooting-tonga, hunting
for a place to sleep in. Chaprassis come out of back verandahs, and are
rude, and regimental Babus hop off godowns, and are flippant, while in
the distance a Sahib looks out of his room, and eyes the dusty
forlorn-hope with silent contempt. It should be mentioned that the dust
on the Deoli Road not only powders but masks the face and raiment of the
passenger.

Next morning Ram Baksh was awake with the dawn, and clamorous to go on
to Boondi. "I've sent a pair of horses, big horses, out there and the
_sais_ is a fool. Perhaps they will be lost; I want to find them." He
dragged his unhappy passenger on the road once more and demanded of all
who passed the dak-bungalow which was the way to Boondi. "Observe," said
he, "there can be only one road, and if I hit it we are all right, and
I'll show you what the tonga can do." "Amen," said the Englishman,
devoutly, as the tonga jumped into and out of a larger hole. "Without
doubt this is the Boondi Road," said Ram Baksh; "it is so bad."

It has been before said that the Boondi State has no great love for
Sahibs. The state of the road proves it. "This," said Ram Baksh, tapping
the wheel to see whether the last plunge had smashed a spoke, "is a very
good road. You wait till you see what is ahead." And the funeral
staggered on--over irrigation cuts, through buffalo wallows, and dried
pools stamped with the hundred feet of kine (this, by the way, is the
most cruel road of all), up rough banks where the rock ledges peered out
of the dust, down steep-cut dips ornamented with large stones, and along
two-feet deep ruts of the rains, where the tonga went slantwise even to
the verge of upsetting. It was a royal road--a native road--a Raj road
of the roughest, and, through all its jolts and bangs and bumps and dips
and heaves, the eye of Ram Baksh rolled in its blood-shot socket,
seeking for the "big horses" he had so rashly sent into the wilderness.
The ponies that had done the last twenty miles into Deoli were nearly
used up, and did their best to lie down in the dry beds of nullahs.

A man came by on horseback, his servant walking before with platter and
meal-bag. "Have you seen any horses hereabouts?" cried Ram Baksh.
"Horses? What the Devil have I to do with your horses? D'you think I've
stolen them?" Now this was decidedly a strange answer, and showed the
rudeness of the land. An old woman under a tree cried out in a strange
tongue and ran away. It was a dream-like experience, this hunting for
horses in a wilderness with neither house nor hut nor shed in sight.
"If we keep to the road long enough we must find them. Look at the road.
This Raj ought to be smitten with bullets." Ram Baksh had been pitched
forward nearly on the off-pony's rump, and was in a very bad temper
indeed. The funeral found a house--a house walled with thorns--and near
by were two big horses, thirteen-two if an inch, and harnessed quite
regardless of expense.

Everything was repacked and rebound with triple ropes, and the Sahib was
provided with an extra cushion; but he had reached a sort of dreamsome
Nirvana, having several times bitten his tongue through, cut his boot
against the wheel-edge, and twisted his legs into a true-lovers'-knot.
There was no further sense of suffering in him. He was even beginning to
enjoy himself faintly and by gasps. The road struck boldly into hills
with all their teeth on edge, that is to say, their strata breaking
across the road in little ripples. The effect of this was amazing. The
tonga skipped merrily as a young fawn, from ridge to ridge. It shivered,
it palpitated, it shook, it slid, it hopped, it waltzed, it ricochetted,
it bounded like a kangaroo, it blundered like a sledge, it swayed like a
top-heavy coach on a down-grade, it "kicked" like a badly coupled
railway carriage, it squelched like a country-cart, it squeaked in its
torment, and lastly, it essayed to plough up the ground with its nose.
After three hours of this performance, it struck a tiny little ford, set
between steeply sloping banks of white dust, where the water was clear
brown and full of fish. And here a blissful halt was called under the
shadow of the high bank of a tobacco field.

Would you taste one of the real pleasures of Life? Go through severe
acrobatic exercises in and about a tonga for four hours; then, having
eaten and drank till you can no more, sprawl in the cool of a nullah bed
with your head among the green tobacco, and your mind adrift with the
one little cloud in a royally blue sky. Earth has nothing more to offer
her children than this deep delight of animal well-being. There were
butterflies in the tobacco--six different kinds, and a little rat came
out and drank at the ford. To him succeeded the flight into Egypt. The
white banks of the ford framed the picture perfectly--the Mother in
blue, on a great white donkey, holding the Child in her arms, and Joseph
walking beside, his hand upon the donkey's withers. By all the laws of
the East, Joseph should have been riding and the Mother walking. This
was an exception decreed for the Englishman's special benefit. It was
very warm and very pleasant, and, somehow, the passers by the ford grew
indistinct, and the nullah became a big English garden, with a cuckoo
singing far down in the orchard, among the apple-blossoms. The cuckoo
started the dream. He was the only real thing in it, for on waking the
garden slipped back into the water, but the cuckoo remained and called
and called for all the world as though he had been a veritable English
cuckoo. "Cuckoo--cuckoo--cuck;" then a pause and renewal of the cry from
another quarter of the horizon. After that the ford became distasteful,
so the procession was driven forward and in time plunged into what must
have been a big city once, but the only inhabitants were oil-men. There
were abundance of tombs here, and one carried a life-like carving in
high relief of a man on horseback spearing a foot-soldier. Hard by this
place the road or rut turned by great gardens, very cool and pleasant,
full of tombs and black-faced monkeys who quarrelled among the tombs,
and shut in from the sun by gigantic banians and mango trees. Under the
trees and behind the walls, priests sat singing; and the Englishman
would have inquired into what strange place he had fallen, but the men
did not understand him.

Ganesh is a mean little God of circumscribed powers. He was dreaming,
with a red and flushed face, under a banian tree; and the Englishman
gave him four annas to arrange matters comfortably at Boondi. His priest
took the four annas, but Ganesh did nothing whatever, as shall be shown
later. His only excuse is that his trunk was a good deal worn, and he
would have been better for some more silver leaf, but that was no fault
of the Englishman.

Beyond the dead city was a jhil, full of snipe and duck, winding in and
out of the hills; and beyond the jhil, hidden altogether among the
hills, was Boondi. The nearer to the city the viler grew the road and
the more overwhelming the curiosity of the inhabitants. But what befel
at Boondi must be reserved for another chapter.



XVI

THE COMEDY OF ERRORS AND THE EXPLOITATION OF BOONDI. THE CASTAWAY OF THE
DISPENSARY AND THE CHILDREN OF THE SCHOOLS. A CONSIDERATION OF THE
SHIELDS OF RAJASTHAN AND OTHER TRIFLES.


It is high time that a new treaty were made with Maha Rao Raja Ram
Singh, Bahadur, Raja of Boondi. He keeps the third article of the old
one too faithfully, which says that he "shall not enter into
negotiations with any one without the consent of the British
Government." He does not negotiate at all. Arrived at Boondi Gate, the
Englishman asked where he might lay his head for the night, and the
Quarter Guard with one accord said: "The Sukh Mahal, which is beyond the
city," and the tonga went thither through the length of the town till it
arrived at a pavilion on a lake--a place of two turrets connected by an
open colonnade. The "house" was open to the winds of heaven and the
pigeons of the Raj; but the latter had polluted more than the first
could purify. A snowy-bearded _chowkidar_ crawled out of a place of
tombs, which he seemed to share with some monkeys, and threw himself
into Anglo-Saxon attitudes. He was a great deal worse than Ram Baksh,
for he said that all the Officer Sahibs of Deoli came to the Sukh Mahal
for _shikar_ and--never went away again, so pleased were they. The Sahib
had brought the Honour of his Presence, and he was a very old man, and
without a written permit could do nothing. Then he fell deeply asleep
without warning; and there was a pause, of one hour only, which the
Englishman spent in seeing the lake. It, like the jhils on the road,
wound in and out among the hills, and, on the bund side, was bounded by
a hill of black rock crowned with a _chhatri_ of grey stone. Below the
bund was a garden as fair as eye could wish, and the shores of the lake
were dotted with little temples. Given a habitable house,--a mere
dak-bungalow,--it would be a delightful spot to rest in. Warned by some
bitter experiences in the past, the Englishman knew that he was in for
the demi-semi-royal or embarrassing reception, when a man, being the
unwelcome guest of a paternal State, is neither allowed to pay his way
and make himself comfortable, nor is he willingly entertained. When he
saw a one-eyed _munshi_ (clerk), he felt certain that Ganesh had turned
upon him at last. The _munshi_ demanded and received the _purwana_, or
written permit. Then he sat down and questioned the traveller
exhaustively as to his character and profession. Having thoroughly
satisfied himself that the visitor was in no way connected with the
Government or the "Agenty Sahib Bahadur," he took no further thought of
the matter and the day began to draw in upon a grassy bund, an open-work
pavilion, and a disconsolate tonga.

At last the faithful servitor, who had helped to fight the Battle of the
Mail Bags at Udaipur, broke his silence, and vowing that all these
devil-people--not more than twelve--had only come to see the fun,
suggested the breaking of the _munshi's_ head. And, indeed, that seemed
the best way of breaking the ice; for the _munshi_ had, in the politest
possible language, put forward the suggestion that there was nothing
particular to show that the Sahib who held the _purwana_ had really any
right to hold it. The _chowkidar_ woke up and chanted a weird chant,
accompanied by the Anglo-Saxon attitudes, a new set. He was an old man,
and all the Sahib-log said so, and within the pavilion were tables and
chairs and lamps and bath-tubs, and everything that the heart of man
could desire. Even now an enormous staff of menials were arranging all
these things for the comfort of the Sahib Bahadur and Protector of the
Poor, who had brought the honour and glory of his Presence all the way
from Deoli. What did tables and chairs and eggs and fowls and very
bright lamps matter to the Raj? He was an old man and ... "Who put the
present Raja on the throne?" "Lake Sahib," promptly answered the
_chowkidar_. "I was there. That is the news of many old years." Now Tod
says it was he himself who installed "Lalji the beloved" in the year
1821. The Englishman began to lose faith in the _chowkidar_. The
_munshi_ said nothing but followed the Englishman with his one workable
eye. A merry little breeze crisped the waters of the lake, and the fish
began to frolic before going to bed.

"Is nobody going to do or bring anything?" said the Englishman, faintly,
wondering whether the local gaol would give him a bed if he killed the
_munshi_. "I am an old man," said the _chowkidar_, "and because of their
great respect and reverence for the Sahib in whose Presence I am only a
bearer of orders and a servant awaiting them, men, many men, are
bringing now tent-flies which I with my own hands will wrap, here and
there, there and here, in and about the pillars of the place; and thus
you, O Sahib, who have brought the honour of your Presence to the Boondi
Raj over the road to Deoli, which is a _kutcha_ road, will be provided
with a very fine and large apartment over which I will watch while you
go to kill the tigers in these hills."

By this time two youths had twisted _canvas_ round some of the pillars
of the colonnade, making a sort of loose-box with a two-foot air-way all
round the top. There was no door, but there were unlimited windows. Into
this enclosure the _chowkidar_ heaped furniture on which many
generations of pigeons had evidently been carried off by cholera, until
he was entreated to desist. "What," said he, scornfully, "are tables and
chairs to this Raj? If six be not enough, let the Presence give an
order, and twelve shall be forthcoming. Everything shall be
forthcoming." Here he filled a native lamp with kerosene oil and set it
in a box upon a stick. Luckily, the oil which he poured so lavishly from
a quart bottle was bad, or he would have been altogether consumed.

Night had fallen long before this magnificence was ended. The
superfluous furniture--chairs for the most part--was shovelled out into
the darkness, and by the light of a flamboyant lamplet--a merry wind
forbade candles--the Englishman went to bed, and was lulled to sleep by
the rush of the water escaping from the overflow trap and the splash of
the water-turtle as he missed the evasive fish. It was a curious sight.
Cats and dogs rioted about the enclosure, and a wind from the lake
bellied the canvas. The brushwood of the hills around snapped and
cracked as beasts went through it, and creatures--not jackals--made
dolorous noises. On the lake it seemed that hundreds of water-birds were
keeping a hotel, and that there were arrivals and departures throughout
the night. The Raj insisted upon providing a guard of two sepoys, very
pleasant men, on four rupees a month. These said that tigers sometimes
wandered about on the hills above the lake, but were most generally to
be found five miles away. And the Englishman promptly dreamed that a
one-eyed tiger came into his tent without a _purwana_. But it was only a
wild cat after all; and it fled before the shoes of civilisation.

The Sukh Mahal was completely separated from the city, and might have
been a country-house. It should be mentioned that Boondi is jammed into
a V-shaped gorge--the valley at the main entrance being something less
than five hundred yards across. As it splays out, the thickly packed
houses follow its lines, and, seen from above, seem like cattle herded
together preparatory to a stampede through the gate. Owing to the set of
the hills, very little of the city is visible except from the Palace. It
was in search of this latter that the Englishman went abroad and became
so interested in the streets that he forgot all about it for a time.
Jeypore is a show-city and is decently drained; Udaipur is blessed with
a State Engineer and a printed form of Government; for Jodhpur the dry
sand, the burning sun, and an energetic doctor have done a good deal,
but Boondi has none of these things. The crampedness of the locality
aggravates the evil, and it can only be in the rains which channel and
furrow the rocky hillsides that Boondi is at all swept out. The Nal
Sagar, a lovely little stretch of water, takes up the head of the
valley called Banda Gorge, and must, in the nature of things, receive a
good deal of unholy drainage. But setting aside this weakness, it is a
fascinating place--this jumbled city of straight streets and cool
gardens, where gigantic mangoes and peepuls intertwine over gurgling
watercourses, and the cuckoo comes at midday. It boasts no foolish
Municipality to decree when a house is dangerous and uninhabitable. The
newer shops are built into, on to, over, and under time-blackened ruins
of an older day, and the little children skip about tottering arcades
and grass-grown walls, while their parents chatter below in the crowded
bazaar. In the black slums, the same stones seem to be used over and
over again for house-building. Wheeled conveyances are scarce in Boondi
city--there is scant room for carts, and the streets are paved with
knobsome stones, unpleasant to walk over. From time to time an inroad of
_Bunjaras'_ pack-bullocks sweeps the main streets clear of life, or one
of the Raja's elephants--he has twelve of them--blocks the way. But, for
the most part, the foot-passengers have all the city for their own.

They do not hurry themselves. They sit in the sun and think, or put on
all the arms in the family, and, hung with ironmongery, parade before
their admiring friends. Others, lean, dark men, with bound jaws and only
a tulwar for weapon, dive in and out of the dark alleys, on errands of
State. It is a beautifully lazy city, doing everything in the real,
true, original native way, and it is kept in very good order by the
Durbar. There either is or is not an order for everything. There is no
order to sell fishing-hooks, or to supply an Englishman with milk, or
to change for him currency notes. He must only deal with the Durbar for
whatever he requires; and wherever he goes he must be accompanied by at
least two armed men. They will tell him nothing, for they know or affect
to know nothing of the city. They will do nothing except shout at the
little innocents who joyfully run after the stranger and demand _pice_,
but there they are, and there they will stay till he leaves the city,
accompanying him to the gate, and waiting there a little to see that he
is fairly off and away. Englishmen are not encouraged in Boondi. The
intending traveller would do well to take a full suit of Political
uniform with the sunflowers, and the little black sword to sit down
upon. The local god is the "Agenty Sahib," and he is an incarnation
without a name--at least among the lower classes. The educated, when
speaking of him, always use the courtly "Bahadur" affix; and yet it is a
mean thing to gird at a State which, after all, is not bound to do
anything for intrusive Englishmen without any visible means of
livelihood. The King of this fair city should declare the blockade
absolute, and refuse to be troubled with any one except "Colon-nel
Baltah, Agenty Sahib Bahadur" and the Politicals. If ever a railway is
run through Kotah, as men on the Bombay side declare it must be, the
cloistered glory of Boondi will depart, for Kotah is only twenty miles
easterly of the city and the road is moderately good. In that day the
Globe-trotter will pry about the place, and the Charitable Dispensary--a
gem among dispensaries--will be public property.

The Englishman was hunting for the statue of a horse, a great horse
hight Hunja, who was a steed of Irak, and a King's gift to Rao Omeda,
one time monarch of Boondi. He found it in the city square as Tod had
said; and it was an unlovely statue, carven after the dropsical fashion
of later Hindu art. No one seemed to know anything about it. A little
further on, one cried from a byway in rusty English: "Come and see my
Dispensary." There are only two men in Boondi who speak English. One is
the head, and the other the assistant, teacher of the English side of
Boondi Free School. The third was, some twenty years ago, a pupil of the
Lahore Medical College when that institution was young; and he only
remembered a word here and there. He was head of the Charitable
Dispensary; and insisted upon, then and there, organising a small levee
and pulling out all his books. Escape was hopeless: nothing less than a
formal inspection and introduction to all the native physicians would
serve. There were sixteen beds in and about the courtyard, and between
twenty and thirty out-patients stood in attendance. Making allowances
for untouched Orientalism, the Dispensary is a good one, and must
relieve a certain amount of human misery. There is no other in all
Boondi. The operation-book, kept in English, showed the principal
complaints of the country. They were: "Asthama," "Numonia,"
"Skindiseas," "Dabalaty" and "Loin-bite." This last item occurred again
and again--three and four cases per week--and it was not until the
Doctor said "_Sher se mara_" that the Englishman read it aright. It was
"lion-bite," or tiger, if you insist upon zoological accuracy. There was
one incorrigible idiot, a handsome young man, naked as the day, who sat
in the sunshine, shivering and pressing his hands to his head. "I have
given him blisters and setons--have tried native and English treatment
for two years, but it is no use. He is always as you see him, and now he
stays here by the favour of the Durbar, which is a very good and pitiful
Durbar," said the Doctor. There were many such pensioners of the
Durbar--men afflicted with chronic "asthama" who stayed "by favour," and
were kindly treated. They were resting in the sunshine their hands on
their knees, sure that their daily dole of grain and tobacco and opium
would be forthcoming. "All folk, even little children, eat opium here,"
said the Doctor, and the diet-book proved it. After
laborious-investigation of everything, down to the last indent to Bombay
for Europe medicines, the Englishman was suffered to depart. "Sir, I
thank ...," began the Native Doctor, but the rest of the sentence stuck.
Sixteen years in Boondi does not increase knowledge of English; and he
went back to his patients, gravely conning over the name of the
Principal of the Lahore Medical School--a College now--who had taught
him all he knew, and to whom he intended to write. There was something
pathetic in the man's catching at news from the outside world of men he
had known as Assistant and House Surgeons who are now Rai Bahadurs, and
his parade of the few shreds of English that still clung to him. May he
treat "loin-bites" and "catrack" successfully for many years. In the
happy, indolent fashion that must have merits which we cannot
understand, he is doing a good work, and the Durbar allows his
Dispensary as much as it wants.

Close to the Dispensary stood the Free School, and thither an
importunate _munshi_ steered the Englishman, who, by this time, was
beginning to persuade herself that he really was an accredited agent of
Government, sent to report on the progress of Boondi. From a
peepul-shaded courtyard came a clamour of young voices. Thirty or forty
little ones, from five to eight years old, were sitting in an open
verandah learning accounts and Hindustani, said the teacher. No need to
ask from what castes they came, for it was written on their faces that
they were Mahajans, Oswals, Aggerwals, and in one or two cases, it
seemed, Sharawaks of Guzerat. They were learning the business of their
lives, and, in time, would take their father's places, and show in how
many ways money might be manipulated. Here the profession-type came out
with startling distinctness. Through the chubbiness of almost babyhood,
or the delicate suppleness of maturer years, in mouth and eyes and
hands, it betrayed itself. The Rahtor, who comes of a fighting stock, is
a fine animal, and well bred; the Hara, who seems to be more compactly
built, is also a fine animal; but for a race that show blood in every
line of their frame, from the arch of the instep to the modelling of the
head, the financial--trading is too coarse a word--the financial class
of Rajputana appears to be the most remarkable. Later in life may become
clouded with fat jowl and paunch; but in his youth, his quick-eyed,
nimble youth, the young Marwar, to give him his business title, is
really a thing of beauty. His manners are courtly. The bare ground and a
few slates sufficed for the children who were merely learning the ropes
that drag States; but the English class, of boys from ten to twelve, was
supplied with real benches and forms and a table with a cloth top. The
assistant teacher, for the head was on leave, was a self-taught man of
Boondi, young and delicate looking, who preferred reading to speaking
English. His youngsters were supplied with "The Third English Reading
Book," and were painfully thumbing their way through a doggerel poem
about an "old man with hoary hair." One boy, bolder than the rest, slung
an English sentence at the visitor, and collapsed. It was his little
stock-in-trade, and the rest regarded him enviously. The Durbar supports
the school, which is entirely free and open; a just distinction being
maintained between the various castes. The old race prejudice against
payment for knowledge came out in reply to a question. "You must not
sell teaching," said the teacher; and the class murmured applausively,
"You must not sell teaching."

The population of Boondi seems more obviously mixed than that of the
other States. There are four or five thousand Mahometans within its
walls, and a sprinkling of aborigines of various varieties, besides the
human raffle that the Bunjaras bring in their train, with Pathans and
sleek Delhi men. The new heraldry of the State is curious--something
after this sort. _Or_, a demi-god, _sable_, issuant of flames, holding
in right hand a sword and in the left a bow--_all proper_. In chief, a
dagger of the _second_, sheathed _vert_, fessewise over seven arrows in
sheaf of the _second_. This latter blazon Boondi holds in commemoration
of the defeat of an Imperial Prince who rebelled against the Delhi
Throne in the days of Jehangir, when Boondi, for value received, took
service under the Mahometan. It might also be, but here there is no
certainty, the memorial of Rao Rutton's victory over Prince Khoorm, when
the latter strove to raise all Rajputana against Jehangir his father;
or of a second victory over a riotous lordling who harried Mewar a
little later. For this exploit, the annals say, Jehangir gave Rao Rutton
honorary flags and kettle-drums which may have been melted down by the
science of the Heralds College into the blazon aforesaid. All the
heraldry of Rajputana is curious, and, to such as hold that there is any
worth in the "Royal Science," interesting. Udaipur's shield is,
naturally _gules_, a sun in splendour, as befits the "children of the
Sun and Fire," and one of the most ancient houses in India. Her crest is
the straight Rajput sword, the _Khanda_, for an account of the worship
of which very powerful divinity read Tod. The supporters are a Bhil and
a Rajput, attired for the forlorn-hope; commemorating not only the
defences of Chitor, but also the connection of the great Bappa Rawul
with the Bhils, who even now play the principal part in the
Crown-Marking of a Rana of Udaipur. Here, again, Tod explains the matter
at length. Banswara claims alliance with Udaipur, and carries a sun,
with a label of difference of some kind. Jeypore has the five-coloured
flag of Amber with a sun, because the House claim descent from Rama, and
her crest is a kuchnar tree, which is the bearing of Dasaratha, father
of Rama. The white horse, which faces the tiger as supporter, may or may
not be memorial of the great _aswamedha yuga_, or horse sacrifice, that
Jey Singh, who built Jeypore, did--_not_ carry out.

Jodhpur has the five-coloured flag, with a falcon, in which shape Durga,
the patron Goddess of the State, has been sometimes good enough to
appear. She has perched in the form of a wagtail on the howdah of the
Chief of Jeysulmir, whose shield is blazoned with "forts in a desert
land," and a naked left arm holding a broken spear, because, the legend
goes, Jeysulmir was once galled by a horse with a magic spear. They tell
the story to-day, but it is a long one. The supporters of the
shield--this is canting heraldry with a vengeance!--are antelopes of the
desert spangled with gold coin, because the State was long the refuge of
the wealthy bankers of India.

Bikanir, a younger House of Jodhpur, carries three white hawks on the
five-coloured flag. The patron Goddess of Bikanir once turned the thorny
jungle round the city to fruit trees, and the crest therefore is a green
tree--strange emblem for a desert principality. The motto, however, is a
good one. When the greater part of the Rajput States were vassals of
Akbar, and he sent them abroad to do his will, certain Princes objected
to crossing the Indus, and asked Bikanir to head the mutiny because his
State was the least accessible. He consented, on condition that they
would all for one day greet him thus: "_Jey Jangal dar Badshah!_"
History shows what became of the objectors, and Bikanir's motto: "Hail
to the King of the Waste!" proves that the tale _must_ be true. But from
Boondi to Bikanir is a long digression, bred by idleness on the bund of
the Burra. It would have been sinful not to let down a line into those
crowded waters, and the Guards, who were Mahometans, said that if the
Sahib did not eat fish, they did. And the Sahib fished luxuriously,
catching two and three pounders, of a perch-like build, whenever he
chose to cast. He was wearied of schools and dispensaries, and the
futility of heraldry accorded well with sloth--that is to say Boondi.

It should be noted, none the less, that in this part of the world the
soberest mind will believe anything--believe in the ghosts by the Gau
Mukh, and the dead Thakurs who get Out of their tombs and ride round the
Burra Talao at Boondi--will credit every legend and lie that rises as
naturally as the red flush of sunset, to gild the dead glories of
Rajasthan.



XVII

SHOWS THAT THERE MAY BE POETRY IN A BANK, AND ATTEMPTS TO SHOW THE
WONDERS OF THE PALACE OF BOONDI.


"This is a devil's place you have come to, Sahib. No grass for the
horses, and the people don't understand anything, and their dirty _pice_
are no good in Nasirabad. Look here." Ram Baksh wrathfully exhibited a
handful of lumps of copper. The nuisance of taking a native out of his
own beat is that he forthwith regards you not only as the author of his
being, but of all his misfortunes as well. He is as hampering as a
frightened child and as irritating as a man. "Padre Martum Sahib never
came here," said Ram Baksh, with an air of one who had been led against
his will into bad company.

A story about a rat that found a piece of turmeric and set up a bunnia's
shop had sent the one-eyed _munshi_ away, but a company of lesser
_munshis_, runners, and the like were in attendance, and they said that
money might be changed at the Treasury, which was in the Palace. It was
quite impossible to change it anywhere else--there was no order. From
the Sukh Mahal to the Palace the road ran through the heart of the city,
and by reason of the continual shouting of the _munshis_, not more than
ten thousand of the fifty thousand people of Boondi knew for what
purpose the Sahib was journeying through their midst. Cataract was the
most prevalent affliction, cataract in its worst forms, and it was,
therefore, necessary that men should come very close to look at the
stranger. They were in no sense rude, but they stared devoutly. "He has
not come for _shikar_, and he will not take petitions. He has come to
see the place, and God knows what he is." The description was quite
correct, as far as it went; but, somehow or another, when shouted out at
four crossways in the midst of a very pleasant little gathering it did
not seem to add to dignity or command respect.

It has been written "the _coup d'oeil_ of the castellated Palace of
Boondi, from whichever side you approach it, is perhaps the most
striking in India. Whoever has seen the Palace of Boondi can easily
picture to himself the hanging gardens of Semiramis." This is true--and
more too. To give on paper any adequate idea of the Boondi-ki-Mahal is
impossible. Jeypore Palace may be called the Versailles of India;
Udaipur's House of State is dwarfed by the hills round it and the spread
of the Pichola Lake; Jodhpur's House of Strife, grey towers on red rock,
is the work of giants, but the Palace of Boondi, even in broad daylight,
is such a Palace as men build for themselves in uneasy dreams--the work
of goblins more than of men. It is built into and out of the hillside,
in gigantic terrace on terrace, and dominates the whole of the city. But
a detailed description of it were useless. Owing to the dip of the
valley in which the city stands, it can only be well seen from one
place, the main road of the city; and from that point looks like an
avalanche of masonry ready to rush down and block the gorge. Like all
the other Palaces of Rajputana, it is the work of many hands, and the
present Raja has thrown out a bastion of no small size on one of the
lower levels, which has been four or five years in the building. No one
knows where the hill begins and where the Palace ends. Men say that
there are subterranean chambers leading into the heart of the hills, and
passages communicating with the extreme limits of Taragarh, the giant
fortress that crowns the hill and flanks the whole of the valley on the
Palace side. They say that there is as much room under as above ground,
and that none have traversed the whole extent of the Palace. Looking at
it from below, the Englishman could readily believe that nothing was
impossible for those who had built it. The dominant impression was of
height--height that heaved itself out of the hillside and weighed upon
the eyelids of the beholder. The steep slope of the land had helped the
builders in securing this effect. From the main road of the city a steep
stone-paved ascent led to the first gate--name not communicated by the
zealous following. Two gaudily painted fishes faced each other over the
arch, and there was little except glaring colour ornamentation visible.
This gate gave into what they called the _chowk_ of the Palace, and one
had need to look twice ere realising that this open space, crammed with
human life, was a spur of the hill on which the Palace stood, paved and
built over. There had been little attempt at levelling the ground. The
foot-worn stones followed the contours of the ground, and ran up to the
walls of the Palace smooth as glass. Immediately facing the Gate of the
Fish was the Quarter-Guard barracks, a dark and dirty room, and here, in
a chamber hollowed out in a wall, were stored the big drums of State,
the _nakarras_. The appearance of the Englishman seemed to be the signal
for smiting the biggest of all, and the dull thunder rolled up the
Palace _chowk_, and came back from the unpierced Palace walls in hollow
groaning. It was an eerie welcome--this single, sullen boom. In this
enclosure, four hundred years ago, if the legend be true, a son of the
great Rao Bando, who dreamed a dream as Pharaoh did and saved Boondi
from famine, left a little band of Haras to wait his bidding while he
went up into the Palace and slew his two uncles who had usurped the
throne and abandoned the faith of their fathers. When he had pierced one
and hacked the other, as they sat alone and unattended, he called out to
his followers, who made a slaughter-house of the enclosure and cut up
the usurpers' adherents. At the best of times men slip on these smooth
stones; and when the place was swimming in blood, foothold must have
been treacherous indeed.

An inquiry for the place of the murder of the uncles--it is marked by a
staircase slab, or Tod, the accurate, is at fault--was met by the answer
that the Treasury was close at hand. They speak a pagan tongue in
Boondi, swallow half their words, and adulterate the remainder with
local patois. What can be extracted from a people who call four miles
variously _do kosh_, _do kush_, _dhi hkas_, _doo-a koth_, and _diakast_
all one word? The country-folk are quite unintelligible; which
simplifies matters. It is the catching of a shadow of a meaning here and
there, the hunting for directions cloaked in dialect, that is annoying.
Foregoing his archæological researches, the Englishman sought the
Treasury. He took careful notes; he even made a very bad drawing, but
the Treasury of Boondi defied pinning down before the public. There was
a gash in the brown flank of the Palace--and this gash was filled with
people. A broken bees' comb with the whole hive busily at work on
repairs will give a very fair idea of this extraordinary place--the
Heart of Boondi. The sunlight was very vivid without and the shadows
were heavy within, so that little could be seen except this clinging
mass of humanity wriggling like maggots in a carcass. A stone staircase
ran up to a rough verandah built out of the wall, and in the wall was a
cave-like room, the guardian of whose depths was one of the refined
financial classes, a man with very small hands and soft, low voice. He
was girt with a sword, and held authority over the Durbar funds. He
referred the Englishman courteously to another branch of the department,
to find which necessitated a blundering progress up another narrow
staircase crowded with loungers of all kinds. Here everything shone from
constant contact of bare feet and hurrying bare shoulders. The staircase
was the thing that, seen from without, had produced the bees' comb
impression. At the top was a long verandah shaded from the sun, and here
the Boondi Treasury worked, under the guidance of a grey-haired old man,
whose sword lay by the side of his comfortably wadded cushion. He
controlled twenty or thirty writers, each wrapped round a huge, country
paper account-book, and each far too busy to raise his eyes.

The babble on the staircase might have been the noise of the sea so far
as these men were concerned. It ebbed and flowed in regular beats, and
spread out far into the courtyard below. Now and again the
_click-click-click_ of a scabbard tip being dragged against the wall,
cut the dead sound of tramping naked feet, and a soldier would stumble
up the narrow way into the sunlight. He was received, and sent back or
forward by a knot of keen-eyed loungers, who seemed to act as a buffer
between the peace of the Secretariat and the pandemonium of the
Administrative. _Saises_ and grass-cutters, mahouts of elephants,
brokers, mahajuns, villagers from the district, and here and there a
shock-headed aborigine, swelled the mob on and at the foot of the
stairs. As they came up, they met the buffer-men who spoke in low voices
and appeared to filter them according to their merits. Some were sent to
the far end of the verandah, where everything melted away in a fresh
crowd of dark faces. Others were sent back, and joined the detachment
shuffling for their shoes in the _chowk_. One servant of the Palace
withdrew himself to the open, underneath the verandah, and there sat
yapping from time to time like a hungry dog: "The grass! The grass! The
grass!" But the men with the account-books never stirred. And they bowed
their heads gravely and made entry or erasure, turning back the rustling
leaves. Not often does a reach of the River of Life so present itself
that it can without alteration be transferred to canvas. But the
Treasury of Boondi, the view up the long verandah, stood complete and
ready for any artist who cared to make it his own. And by that lighter
and less malicious irony of Fate, who is always giving nuts to those who
have no teeth, the picture was clinched and brought together by a
winking, brass hookah-bowl of quaint design, pitched carelessly upon a
roll of dull red cloth in the foreground. The faces of the accountants
were of pale gold, for they were an untanned breed, and the face of the
old man, their controller, was frosted silver.

It was a strange Treasury, but no other could have suited the Palace.
The Englishman watched, open-mouthed, blaming himself because he could
not catch the meaning of the orders given to the flying chaprassies, nor
make anything of the hum in the verandah and the tumult on the stairs.
The old man took the commonplace currency note and announced his
willingness to give change in silver. "We have no small notes here," he
said. "They are not wanted. In a little while, when you next bring the
Honour of your Presence this way, you shall find the silver."

The Englishman was taken down the steps and fell into the arms of a
bristly giant who had left his horse in the courtyard, and the giant
spoke at length waving his arms in the air, but the Englishman could not
understand him and dropped into the hubbub at the Palace foot. Except
the main lines of the building there is nothing straight or angular
about it. The rush of people seems to have rounded and softened every
corner, as a river grinds down boulders. From the lowest tier, two
zigzags, all of rounded stones sunk in mortar, took the Englishman to a
gate where two carved elephants were thrusting at each other over the
arch; and, because neither he nor any one round him could give the gate
a name, he called it the "Gate of the Elephants." Here the noise from
the Treasury was softened, and entry through the gate brought him into a
well-known world, the drowsy peace of a King's Palace. There was a
courtyard surrounded by stables, in which were kept chosen horses, and
two or three grooms were sleeping in the sun. There was no other life
except the whir and coo of the pigeons. In time--though there really is
no such a thing as time off the line of railway--an official appeared
begirt with the skewer-like keys that open the native bayonet-locks,
each from six inches to a foot long. Where was the Raj Mahal in which,
sixty-six years ago, Tod formally installed Ram Singh, "who is now in
his eleventh year, fair and with a lively, intelligent cast of face"?
The warden made no answer, but led to a room, overlooking the courtyard,
in which two armed men stood before an empty throne of white marble.
They motioned silently that none must pass immediately before the seat
of the King, but go round, keeping to the far side of the double row of
pillars. Near the walls were stone slabs pierced to take the butts of
long, venomous, black bamboo lances; rude coffers were disposed about
the room, and ruder sketches of Ganesh adorned the walls. "The men,"
said the warden, "watch here day and night because this place is the
Rutton Daulat." That, you will concede, is lucid enough. He who does not
understand it, may go to for a thick-headed barbarian.

From the Rutton Daulat the warden unlocked doors that led into a hall of
audience--the Chutter Mahal--built by Raja Chutter Lal, who was killed
more than two hundred years ago in the latter days of Shah Jehan for
whom he fought. Two rooms, each supported on double rows of pillars,
flank the open space, in the centre of which is a marble reservoir. Here
the Englishman looked anxiously for some of the atrocities of the West,
and was pleased to find that, with the exception of a vase of
artificial flowers and a clock, there was nothing that jarred with the
exquisite pillars, and the raw blaze of colour in the roofs of the
rooms. In the middle of these impertinent observations, something
sighed--sighed like a distressed ghost. Unaccountable voices are at all
times unpleasant, especially when the hearer is some hundred feet or so
above ground in an unknown Palace in an unknown land. A gust of wind had
found its way through one of the latticed balconies, and had breathed
upon a thin plate of metal, some astrological instrument, slung gongwise
on a tripod. The tone was as soft as that of an Æolian harp, and,
because of the surroundings, infinitely more plaintive.

There was an inlaid ivory door, set in lintel and posts crusted with
looking-glass--all apparently old work. This opened into a darkened room
where there were gilt and silver charpoys, and portraits, in the native
fashion, of the illustrious dead of Boondi. Beyond the darkness was a
balcony clinging to the sheer side of the Palace, and it was then that
the Englishman realised to what a height he had climbed without knowing
it. He looked down upon the bustle of the Treasury and the stream of
life flowing into and out of the Gate of the Fishes where the big drums
lie. Lifting his eyes, he saw how Boondi City had built itself,
spreading from west to east as the confined valley became too narrow and
the years more peaceable. The Boondi hills are the barrier that
separates the stony, uneven ground near Deoli from the flats of Kotah,
twenty miles away. From the Palace balcony the road to the eye is clear
to the banks of the Chumbul River, which was the Debatable Ford in times
gone by and was leaped, as all rivers with any pretensions to a
pedigree have been, by more than one magic horse. Northward and easterly
the hills run out to Indurgarh, and southward and westerly to territory
marked "disputed" on the map in the present year of grace. From this
balcony the Raja can see to the limit of his territory eastward, his
empire all under his hand. He is, or the Politicals err, that same Ram
Singh who was installed by Tod in 1821, and for whose success in killing
his first deer, Tod was, by the Queen-Mother of Boondi, bidden to
rejoice. To-day the people of Boondi say: "This Durbar is very old; so
old that few men remember its beginning, for that was in our father's
time." It is related also of Boondi that, on the occasion of the Queen's
Jubilee, they said proudly that their ruler had reigned for sixty years,
and he was a man. They saw nothing astonishing in the fact of a woman
having reigned for fifty. History does not say whether they jubilated;
for there are no Englishmen in Boondi to write accounts of
demonstrations and foundation-stone laying to the daily newspaper, and
Boondi is very, very small. In the early morning you may see a man
pantingly chased out of the city by another man with a naked sword. This
is the mail and the mail-guard; and the effect is as though runner and
swordsman lay under a doom--the one to fly with the fear of death always
before him, as men fly in dreams, and the other to perpetually fail of
his revenge.

The warden unlocked more doors and led the Englishman still higher, but
into a garden--a heavily timbered garden with a tank for gold fish in
the midst. For once the impassive following smiled when they saw that
the Englishman was impressed.

"This," said they, "is the Rang Bilas." "But who made it?" "Who knows?
It was made long ago." The Englishman looked over the garden-wall, a
foot-high parapet, and shuddered. There was only the flat side of the
Palace, and a drop on to the stones of the zigzag scores of feet below.
Above him was the riven hillside and the decaying wall of Taragarh, and
behind him this fair garden, hung like Mahomet's coffin, but full of the
noise of birds and the talking of the wind in the branches. The warden
entered into a lengthy explanation of the nature of the delusion,
showing how--but he was stopped before he was finished. His listener did
not want to know "how the trick was done." Here was the garden, and
there were three or four storeys climbed to reach it. At one end of the
garden was a small room, under treatment by native artists who were
painting the panels with historical pictures, in distemper. Theirs was
florid polychromatic art, but skirting the floor was a series of
frescoes in red, black, and white, of combats with elephants, bold and
temperate as good German work. They were worn and defaced in places; but
the hand of some bygone limner, who did not know how to waste a line,
showed under the bruises and scratches, and put the newer work to shame.

Here the tour of the Palace ended; and it must be remembered that the
Englishman had not gone the depth of three rooms into one flank. Acres
of building lay to the right of him, and above the lines of the terraces
he could see the tops of green trees. "Who knew how many gardens, such
as the Rang Bilas, were to be found in the Palace?" No one answered
directly, but all said that there were many. The warden gathered up his
keys, and, locking each door behind him as he passed, led the way down
to earth. But before he had crossed the garden the Englishman heard,
deep down in the bowels of the Palace, a woman's voice singing, and the
voice rang as do voices in caves. All Palaces in India excepting dead
ones, such as that of Amber, are full of eyes. In some, as has been
said, the idea of being watched is stronger than in others. In Boondi
Palace it was overpowering--being far worse than in the green shuttered
corridors of Jodhpur. There were trap-doors on the tops of terraces, and
windows veiled in foliage, and bull's-eyes set low in unexpected walls,
and many other peep-holes and places of vantage. In the end, the
Englishman looked devoutly at the floor, but when the voice of the woman
came up from under his feet, he felt that there was nothing left for him
but to go. Yet, excepting only this voice, there was deep silence
everywhere, and nothing could be seen.

The warden returned to the Chutter Mahal to pick up a lost key. The
brass table of the planets was sighing softly to itself as it swung to
and fro in the wind. That was the last view of the interior of the
Palace, the empty court, and the swinging, sighing astrolabe.

About two hours afterwards, when he had reached the other side of the
valley and seen the full extent of the buildings, the Englishman began
to realise first that he had not been taken through one-tenth of the
Palace; and secondly, that he would do well to measure its extent by
acres, in preference to meaner measures. But what made him blush hotly,
all alone among the tombs on the hillside, was the idea that he with his
ridiculous demands for eggs, firewood, and sweet drinking water should
have clattered and chattered through any part of it at all.

He began to understand why Boondi does not encourage Englishmen.



XVIII

OF THE UNCIVILISED NIGHT AND THE DEPARTURE TO THINGS CIVILISED. SHOWING
HOW A FRIEND MAY KEEP AN APPOINTMENT TOO WELL.


"Let us go hence my songs, she will not hear. Let us go hence together
without fear." But Ram Baksh the irrepressible sang it in altogether a
baser key. He came by night to the pavilion on the lake, while the
sepoys were cooking their fish, and reiterated his whine about the
devildom of the country into which the Englishman had dragged him. Padre
Martum Sahib would never have thus treated the owner of sixteen horses,
all fast and big ones, and eight superior "shutin-tongas." "Let us get
away," said Ram Baksh. "You are not here for _shikar_, and the water is
very bad." It was indeed, except when taken from the lake, and then it
only tasted fishy. "We will go, Ram Baksh," said the Englishman. "We
will go in the very early morning, and in the meantime here is fish to
stay your stomach with."

When a transparent piece of canvas, which fails by three feet to reach
ceiling or floor, is the only bar between the East and the West, he
would be a churl indeed who stood upon invidious race distinctions. The
Englishman went out and fraternised with the Military--the four-rupee
soldiers of Boondi who guarded him. They were armed, one with an old
Tower musket crazy as to nipple and hammer, one with a native-made
smooth-bore, and one with a composite contrivance--English sporting
muzzle-loader stock with a compartment for a jointed cleaning-rod, and
hammered octagonal native barrel, wire-fastened, a tuft of cotton on the
foresight. All three guns were loaded, and the owners were very proud of
them. They were simple folk, these men-at-arms, with an inordinate
appetite for broiled fish. They were not _always_ soldiers they
explained. They cultivated their crops until called for any duty that
might turn up. They were paid now and again, at intervals, but they were
paid in coin and not in kind.

The _munshis_ and the vakils and the runners had departed after seeing
that the Englishman was safe for the night, so the freedom of the little
gathering on the bund was unrestrained. The _chowkidar_ came out of his
cave into the firelight. He took a fish and incontinently choked, for he
was a feeble old man. Set right again, he launched into a very long and
quite unintelligible story while the sepoys said reverently: "He is an
old man and remembers many things." As he babbled, the night shut in
upon the lake and the valley of Boondi. The last cows were driven into
the water for their evening drink, the waterfowl and the monkeys went to
bed, and the stars came out and made a new firmament in the untroubled
bosom of the lake. The light of the fire showed the ruled lines of the
bund springing out of the soft darkness of the wooded hill on the left
and disappearing into the solid darkness of a bare hill on the right.
Below the bund a man cried aloud to keep wandering pigs from the gardens
whose tree-tops rose to a level with the bund-edge. Beyond the trees all
was swaddled in gloom. When the gentle buzz of the unseen city died
out, it seemed as though the bund were the very Swordwide Bridge that
runs, as every one knows, between this world and the next. The water
lapped and muttered, and now and again a fish jumped, with the shatter
of broken glass, blurring the peace of the reflected heavens.

    "And duller should I be than some fat weed
    That rolls itself at ease on Lethe's wharf."

The poet who wrote those lines knew nothing whatever of Lethe's wharf.
The Englishman had found it, and it seemed to him, at that hour and in
that place, that it would be good and desirable never to return to the
Commissioners and the Deputy Commissioners any more, but to lie at ease
on the warm sunlit bund by day, and, at night, near a shadow-breeding
fire, to listen for the strangled voices and whispers of the darkness in
the hills. Thus after as long a life as the _chowkidar's_, dying easily
and pleasantly, and being buried in a red tomb on the borders of the
lake. Surely no one would come to reclaim him, across those weary, weary
miles of rock-strewn road.... "And this," said the _chowkidar_, raising
his voice to enforce attention, "is true talk. Everybody knows it, and
now the Sahib knows it. I am an old man." He fell asleep at once, with
his head on the clay pipe that was doing duty for a whole _huqa_ among
the company. He had been talking for nearly a quarter of an hour.

See how great a man is the true novelist! Six or seven thousand miles
away, Walter Besant of the Golden Pen had created Mr. Maliphant--the
ancient of figure-heads in the _All Sorts and Conditions of Men_, and
here, in Boondi, the Englishman had found Mr. Maliphant in the withered
flesh. So he drank Walter Besant's health in the water of the Burra
Talao. One of the sepoys turned himself round, with a clatter of
accoutrements, shifted his blanket under his elbow, and told a tale. It
had something to do with his _khet_, and a _gunna_ which certainly was
not sugar-cane. It was elusive. At times it seemed that it was a woman,
then changed to a right of way, and lastly appeared to be a tax; but the
more he attempted to get at its meaning through the curious patois in
which its doings or its merits were enveloped, the more dazed the
Englishman became. None the less the story was a fine one, embellished
with much dramatic gesture which told powerfully against the firelight.
Then the second sepoy, who had been enjoying the pipe all the time, told
a tale, the purport of which was that the dead in the tombs round the
lake were wont to get up of nights and go hunting. This was a fine and
ghostly story; and its dismal effect was much heightened by some clamour
of the night far up the lake beyond the floor of stars.

The third sepoy said nothing. He had eaten too much fish and was fast
asleep by the side of the _chowkidar_.

They were all Mahometans, and consequently all easy to deal with. A
Hindu is an excellent person, but ... but ... there is no knowing what
is in his heart, and he is hedged about with so many strange
observances.

This Hindu or Musalman bent, which each Englishman's mind must take
before he has been three years in the country, is, of course, influenced
by Province or Presidency. In Rajputana generally, the Political swears
by the Hindu, and holds that the Mahometan is untrustworthy. But a man
who will eat with you and take your tobacco, sinking the fiction that it
has been doctored with infidel wines, cannot be very bad after all.

That night when the tales were all told and the guard, bless them, were
snoring peaceably in the starlight, a man came stealthily into the
enclosure of canvas and woke the Englishman, muttering "Sahib, Sahib,"
in his ear. It was no robber but some poor devil with a petition--a
grimy, welted paper. He was absolutely unintelligible, and stammered
almost to dumbness. He stood by the bed, alternately bowing to the earth
and standing erect, his arms spread aloft, and his whole body working as
he tried to force out some rebellious word in a key that should not wake
the men without. What could the Englishman do? He was no Government
servant, and had no concern with petitions. The man clicked and choked
and gasped in his desperate desire to make the Sahib understand. But it
was no use; and in the end he departed as he had come-bowed, abject, and
unintelligible.

       *       *       *       *       *

Let every word written against Ganesh be rescinded. It was by his
ordering that the Englishman saw such a dawn on the Burra Talao as he
had never before set eyes on. Every fair morning is a reprint, blurred
perhaps, of the First Day; but this splendour was a thing to be put
aside from all other days and remembered. The stars had no fire in them
and the fish had stopped jumping, when the black water of the lake
paled and grew grey. While he watched it seemed to the Englishman that
voices on the hills were intoning the first verses of Genesis. The grey
light moved on the face of the waters till, with no interval, a
blood-red glare shot up from the horizon and, inky black against the
intense red, a giant crane floated out towards the sun. In the
still-shadowed city the great Palace Drum boomed and throbbed to show
that the gates were open, while the dawn swept up the valley and made
all things clear. The blind man who said, "The blast of a trumpet is
red," spoke only the truth. The breaking of the red dawn is like the
blast of a trumpet.

"What," said the _chowkidar_, picking the ashes of the overnight fire
out of his beard, "what, I say, are five eggs or twelve eggs to such a
Raj as ours? What also are fowls--what are" ... "There was no talk of
fowls. Where is the fowl-man from whom you got the eggs?" "He is here.
No, he is there. I do not know. I am an old man, and I and the Raj
supply everything without price. The fowl-man will be paid by the
State--liberally paid. Let the Sahib be happy. _Wah. Wah._"

Experience of forced labour in Himalayan villages had made the
Englishman very tender in raising supplies that were given gratis; but
the fowl-man could not be found, and the value of his wares was, later,
paid to Ganesh--Ganesh of Situr, for that is the name of the village
full of priests, through which the Englishman had passed in ignorance
two days before. A double handful of sweet smelling flowers made the
receipt.

Boondi was wide-awake before half-past seven in the morning. Her
hunters, on foot and on horse, were filing towards the Deoli Gate. They
would hunt tiger and deer they said, even with matchlocks and muzzle
loaders as uncouth as those the Sahib saw. They were a merry company and
chaffed the Quarter-Guard at the gate unmercifully when a bullock-cart,
laden with the cases of the "Batoum Naphtha and Oil Company" blocked the
road. One of them had been a soldier of the Queen, and, excited by the
appearance of a Sahib, did so rebuke and badger the Quarter-Guard for
their slovenliness that they threatened to come out of the barracks and
destroy him.

So, after one last look at the Palace high up the hillside, the
Englishman was borne away along the Deoli Road. The peculiarity of
Boondi is the peculiarity of the covered pitfall. One does not see it
till one falls into it. A quarter of a mile from the gate, town and
Palace were invisible. But the Englishman was grieved at heart. He had
fallen in love with Boondi the beautiful, and believed that he would
never again see anything half so fair. The utter untouchedness of the
town was one-half the charm and its association the other. Read Tod, who
is far too good to be chipped or sampled; read Tod luxuriously on the
bund of the Burra Talao, and the spirit of the place will enter into you
and you will be happy.

To enjoy life thoroughly, haste and bustle must be abandoned. Ram Baksh
has said that Englishmen are always bothering to go forward, and for
this reason, though beyond doubt they pay well and readily, are not wise
men. He gave utterance to this philosophy after he had mistaken his road
and pulled up in what must have been a disused quarry hard by a
cane-field. There were patches and pockets of cultivation along the
rocky road, where men grew cotton, chillies, tobacco, and sugar-cane. "I
will get you sugar-cane," said Ram Baksh. "Then we will go forward, and
perhaps some of these jungly-fools will tell us where the road is." A
"jungly fool," a tender of goats, did in time appear, but there was no
hurry; the sugar-cane was sweet and purple and the sun warm.

The Englishman lay out at high noon on the crest of a rolling upland
crowned with rock, and heard, as a loafer had told him he would hear,
the "set of the day," which is as easily discernible as the change of
tone between the rising and the falling tide. At a certain hour the
impetus of the morning dies out, and all things, living and inanimate,
turn their thoughts to the prophecy of the coming night. The little
wandering breezes drop for a time, and, when they blow afresh, bring the
message. The "set of the day," as the loafer said, has changed, the
machinery is beginning to run down, the unseen tides of the air are
falling. This moment of change can only be felt in the open and in touch
with the earth, and once discovered, seems to place the finder in deep
accord and fellowship with all things on earth. Perhaps this is why the
genuine loafer, though "frequently drunk," is "always polite to the
stranger," and shows such a genial tolerance towards the weaknesses of
mankind, black, white, or brown.

In the evening when the jackals were scuttling across the roads and the
cranes had gone to roost, came Deoli the desolate, and an unpleasant
meeting. Six days away from his kind had bred in a Cockney heart a
great desire to see a fellow-subject. An elaborate loaf through the
cantonment--fifteen minutes' walk from end to end--showed only one
distant dog-cart and a small English child with an ayah. There was grass
in the soldierly straight roads, and some of the cross-cuts had never
been used at all since the days when the cantonment had been first laid
out. In the western corner lay the cemetery--the only carefully tended
and newly whitewashed thing in this God-forgotten place. Some years ago
a man had said good-by to the Englishman; adding cheerily: "We shall
meet again. The world's a very little place y' know."

His prophecy was a true one, for the two met indeed, but the prophet was
lying in Deoli Cemetery near the well, which is decorated so
ecclesiastically with funeral urns.



XIX

COMES BACK TO THE RAILWAY, AFTER REFLECTIONS ON THE MANAGEMENT OF THE
EMPIRE; AND SO HOME AGAIN, WITH APOLOGY TO ALL WHO HAVE READ THUS FAR.


In the morning the tonga rattled past Deoli Cemetery into the open,
where the Deoli Irregulars were drilling. They marked the beginning of
civilisation and white shirts; and so they seemed altogether detestable.
Yet another day's jolting, enlivened by the philosophy of Ram Baksh, and
then came Nasirabad. The last pair of ponies suggested serious thought.
They had covered eighteen miles at an average speed of eight miles an
hour, and were well-conditioned little rats. "A Colonel Sahib gave me
this one for a present," said Ram Baksh, flicking the near one. "It was
his child's pony. The child was five years old." When he went away, the
Colonel Sahib said: "Ram Baksh, you are a good man. Never have I seen
such a good man. This horse is yours." Ram Baksh was getting a horse's
work out of a child's pony. Surely we in India work the land much as the
Colonel Sahib worked his son's mount; making it do child's work when so
much more can be screwed out of it. A native and a native State deals
otherwise with horse and holding. Perhaps our extreme scrupulousness in
handling may be statecraft, but, after even a short sojourn in places
which are dealt with not so tenderly, it seems absurd. There are States
where things are done, and done without protest, that would make the
hair of the educated native stand on end with horror. These things are
of course not expedient to write; because their publication would give a
great deal of unnecessary pain and heart-searching to estimable native
administrators who have the hope of a Star before their eyes and would
not better matters in the least.

Note this fact though. With the exception of such journals as, occupying
a central position in British territory, levy blackmail from the
neighbouring States, there are no independent papers in Rajputana. A
King may start a weekly, to encourage a taste for Sanskrit and high
Hindi, or a Prince may create a Court Chronicle; but that is all. A
"free press" is not allowed, and this the native journalist knows. With
good management he can, keeping under the shadow of our flag, raise two
hundred rupees from a big man here, and five hundred from a rich man
there, but he does not establish himself across the Border. To one who
has reason to hold a stubborn disbelief in even the elementary morality
of the native press, this bashfulness and lack of enterprise is amusing.
But to return to the native States' administrations. There is nothing
exactly wrong in the methods of government that are overlaid with
English terms and forms. They are vigorous, in certain points; and where
they are not vigorous, there is a cheery happy-go-luckiness about the
arrangement that must be seen to be understood. The shift and play of a
man's fortune across the Border is as sudden as anything in the days of
Haroun-al-Raschid of blessed memory, and there are stories, to be got
for the unearthing, as wild and as improbable as those in the _Thousand
and One Nights_. Most impressive of all is the way in which the country
is "used," and its elasticity under pressure. In the good old days the
Durbar raised everything it could from the people, and the King spent as
much as ever he could on his personal pleasures. Now the institution of
the Political agent has stopped the grabbing, for which, by the way,
some of the monarchs are not in the least grateful--and smoothed the
outward face of things. But there is still a difference, between our
ways and the ways of the other places. A year spent among native States
ought to send a man back to the Decencies and the Law Courts and the
Rights of the Subject with a supreme contempt for those who rave about
the oppressions of our brutal bureaucracy. One month nearly taught an
average Englishman that it was the proper thing to smite anybody of mean
aspect and obstructive tendencies on the mouth with a shoe. Hear what an
intelligent loafer said. His words are at least as valuable as these
babblings. He was, as usual, wonderfully drunk, and the gift of speech
came upon him. The conversation--he was a great politician, this
loafer--had turned on the poverty of India. "Poor?" said he. "Of course,
it's poor. Oh, yes, d----d poor. And I'm poor, an' you're poor,
altogether. Do you expect people will give you money without you ask
'em? No, I tell you, Sir, there's enough money in India to pave Hell
with if you could only get at it. I've kep' servants in my day. Did they
ever leave me without a hundred or a hundred and fifty rupees put
by--and never touched? You mark that. Does any black man who had been
in Guv'ment service go away without hundreds an' hundreds put by, and
never touched? You mark that. Money? The place stinks o' money--just
kept out o' sight. Do you ever know a native that didn't say _Garib
admi_ (I'm a poor man)? They've been sayin' _Garib admi_ so long that
the Guv'ment learns to believe 'em, and now they're all bein' treated as
though they was paupers. I'm a pauper, an' you're a pauper--_we_ 'aven't
got anything hid in the ground--an' so's every white man in this
forsaken country. But the Injian he's a rich man. How do I know? Because
I've tramped on foot, or warrant pretty well from one end of the place
to the other, an' I know what I'm talkin' about, and this 'ere Guv'ment
goes peckin' an' fiddlin' over its tuppenny-ha'penny little taxes as if
it was afraid. Which it is. You see how they do things in ----. It's six
sowars here, and ten sowars there, and--'Pay up, you brutes, or we'll
pull your ears over your head.' And when they've taken all they can get,
the headman, he says: 'This is a dashed poor yield. I'll come again.'
_Of course_ the people digs up something out of the ground, and they
pay. I know the way it's done, and that's the way to do it. You can't go
to an Injian an' say: 'Look here. Can you pay me five rupees?' He says:
'_Garib admi_,' of course, an' would say it if he was as rich as banker.
But if you send half a dozen swords at him and shift the thatch off of
his roof, he'll pay. Guv'ment can't do that. I don't suppose it could.
There is no reason why it shouldn't. But it might do something like it,
to show that it wasn't going to have no nonsense. Why, I'd undertake to
raise a hundred million--what am I talking of?--a hundred and fifty
million pounds from this country _per annum_, and it wouldn't be
strained _then_. One hundred and fifty millions you could raise as easy
as paint, if you just made these 'ere Injians understand that they had
to pay an' make no bones about it. It's enough to make a man sick to go
in over yonder to ---- and see what they do; and then come back an' see
what we do. Perfectly sickenin' it is. Borrer money? Why the country
could pay herself an' everything she wants, if she was only made to do
it. It's this blooomin' _Garib admi_ swindle that's been going on all
these years, that has made fools o' the Guv'ment."

Then he became egotistical, this ragged ruffian who conceived that he
knew the road to illimitable wealth and told the story of his life,
interspersed with anecdotes that would blister the paper they were
written on. But through all his ravings, he stuck to his
hundred-and-fifty-million theory, and though the listener dissented from
him and the brutal cruelty with which his views were stated, an
unscientific impression remained not to be shaken off. Across the Border
one feels that the country is being used, exploited, "made to sit up,"
so to speak. In our territories the feeling is equally strong of wealth
"just round the corner," as the loafer said, of a people wrapped up in
cotton wool and ungetatable. Will any man, who really knows something of
a little piece of India and has not the fear of running counter to
custom before his eyes, explain how this impression is produced, and why
it is an erroneous one?

Nasirabad marked the end of the Englishman's holiday, and there was
sorrow in his heart. "Come back again," said Ram Baksh, cheerfully,
"and bring a gun with you. Then I'll take you to Gungra, and I'll drive
you myself. 'Drive you just as well as I've driven these four days
past." An amicable open-minded soul was Ram Baksh. May his tongas never
grow less!

       *       *       *       *       *

"This 'ere Burma fever is a bad thing to have. It's pulled me down
awful; an' now I am going to Peshawar. Are you the Station-master?" It
was Thomas--white-cheeked, sunken-eyed, drawn-mouthed Thomas--travelling
from Nasirabad to Peshawar on pass; and with him was a Corporal new to
his stripes and doing station duty. Every Thomas is interesting, except
when he is too drunk to speak. This Thomas was an enthusiast. He had
volunteered, from a Home-going regiment shattered by Burma fever, into a
regiment at Peshawar, had broken down at Nasirabad on his way up with
his draft, and was now journeying into the unknown to pick up another
medal. "There's sure to be something on the Frontier," said this gaunt,
haggard boy--he was little more, though he reckoned four years' service
and considered himself somebody. "When there's anything going,
Peshawar's the place to be in, they tell me; but I hear we shall have to
march down to Calcutta in no time." The Corporal was a little man and
showed his friend off with great pride: "Ah, you should have come to
_us_," said he; "we're the regiment, we are." "Well, I went with the
rest of our men," said Thomas. "There's three hundred of us volunteered
to stay on, and we all went for the same regiment. Not but what I'm
saying yours is a good regiment," he added with grave courtesy. This
loosed the Corporal's tongue, and he descanted on the virtues of the
regiment and the merits of the officers. It has been written that Thomas
is devoid of _esprit de corps_, because of the jerkiness of the
arrangements under which he now serves. If this be true, he manages to
conceal his feelings very well; for he speaks most fluently in praise of
his own regiment; and, for all his youth, has a keen appreciation of the
merits of his officers. Go to him when his heart is opened, and hear him
going through the roll of the subalterns, by a grading totally unknown
in the Army List, and you will pick up something worth the hearing.
Thomas, with the Burma fever on him, tried to cut in, from time to time,
with stories of his officers and what they had done "when we was
marchin' all up and down Burma," but the little Corporal went on gayly.

They made a curious contrast--these two types. The lathy, town-bred
Thomas with hock-bottle shoulders, a little education, and a keen desire
to get more medals and stripes; and the little, deep-chested,
bull-necked Corporal brimming over with vitality and devoid of any ideas
beyond the "regiment." And the end of both lives, in all likelihood,
would be a nameless grave in some cantonment burying-ground with, if the
case were specially interesting and the Regimental Doctor had a turn for
the pen, an obituary notice in the Indian Medical Journal. It was an
unpleasant thought.

From the Army to the Navy is a perfectly natural transition, but one
hardly to be expected in the heart of India. Dawn showed the railway
carriage full of riotous boys, for the Agra and Mount Abu schools had
broken up for holidays. Surely it was natural enough to ask a
child--not a boy, but a child--whether he was going home for the
holidays; and surely it was a crushing, a petrifying thing to hear in a
clear treble tinged with icy scorn: "No. I'm on leave. I'm a
midshipman." Two "officers of Her Majesty's Navy"--mids of a man-o'-war
at Bombay--were going up-country on ten days' leave. They had not
travelled much more than twice round the world; but they should have
printed the fact on a label. They chattered like daws, and their talk
was as a whiff of fresh air from the open sea, while the train ran
eastward under the Aravalis. At that hour their lives were bound up in
and made glorious by the hope of riding a horse when they reached their
journey's end. Much had they seen "cities and men," and the artless way
in which they interlarded their conversation with allusions to "one of
those shore-going chaps, you see," was delicious. They had no cares, no
fears, no servants, and an unlimited stock of wonder and admiration for
everything they saw, from the "cute little well-scoops" to a herd of
deer grazing on the horizon. It was not until they had opened their
young hearts with infantile abandon that the listener could guess from
the incidental _argot_ where these pocket-Ulysseses had travelled. South
African, Norwegian, and Arabian words were used to help out the slang of
shipboard, and a copious vocabulary of shipboard terms, complicated with
modern Greek. As free from self-consciousness as children, as ignorant
as beings from another planet of the Anglo-Indian life into which they
were going to dip for a few days, shrewd and observant as befits men of
the world who have authority, and neat-handed and resourceful as ----
blue-jackets, they were a delightful study, and accepted freely and
frankly the elaborate apologies tendered to them for the unfortunate
mistake about the "holidays." The roads divided and they went their way;
and there was a shadow after they had gone, for the Globe-trotter said
to his wife, "What I like about Jeypore"--accent on the first syllable,
if you please--"is its characteristic easternness." And the
Globe-trotter's wife said: "Yes. It is purely Oriental."

This was Jeypore with the gas-jets and the water-pipes as was shown at
the beginning of these trivial letters; and the Globe-trotter and his
wife had not been to Amber. Joyful thought! They had not seen the soft
splendours of Udaipur, the nightmare of Chitor, the grim power of
Jodhpur, and the virgin beauties of Boondi--fairest of all places that
the Englishman had set eyes on. The Globe-trotter was great in the
matter of hotels and food, but he had not lain under the shadow of a
tonga in soft warm sand, eating cold pork with a pocket-knife, and
thanking Providence who put sweet-water streams where wayfarers wanted
them. He had not drunk out the brilliant cold-weather night in the
company of a King of Loafers, a grimy scallawag with a six days' beard
and an unholy knowledge of native States. He had attended service in
cantonment churches; but he had not known what it was to witness the
simple, solemn ceremonial in the dining room of a far-away Residency,
when all the English folk within a hundred-mile circuit bowed their
heads before the God of the Christians. He had blundered about temples
of strange deities with a guide at his elbow; but he had not known what
it was to attempt conversation, with a temple dancing-girl (_not_ such
an one as Edwin Arnold invented), and to be rewarded for a misturned
compliment with a deftly heaved bunch of marigold buds in his
respectable bosom. Yet he had undoubtedly lost much, and the measure of
his loss was proven in his estimate of the Orientalism of Jeypore.

But what had he who sat in judgment upon him gained? One perfect month
of loaferdom, to be remembered above all others and the night of the
visit to Chitor, to be remembered even when the month is forgotten. Also
the sad knowledge that of all the fair things seen, the inept pen gives
but a feeble and blurred picture.

Let those who have read to the end, pardon a hundred blemishes.



FROM SEA TO SEA



FROM SEA TO SEA

MARCH-SEPTEMBER, 1889

No. I

OF FREEDOM AND THE NECESSITY OF USING HER. THE MOTIVE AND THE SCHEME
THAT WILL COME TO NOTHING. A DISQUISITION UPON THE OTHERNESS OF THINGS
AND THE TORMENTS OF THE DAMNED.

    When all the world is young, lad,
      And all the trees are green,
    And every goose a swan, lad,
      And every lass a queen,--
    Then hey for boot and horse, lad,
      And o'er the world away--
    Young blood must have its course, lad,
      And every dog its day.


After seven years it pleased Necessity, whom we all serve, to turn to me
and say: "Now you need do Nothing Whatever. You are free to enjoy
yourself. I will take the yoke of bondage from your neck for one year.
What do you choose to do with my gift?" And I considered the matter in
several lights. At first I held notions of regenerating Society; but it
appeared that this would demand more than a year, and perhaps Society
would not be grateful after all. Then I would fain enter upon one
monumental "bust"; but I reflected that this at the outside could endure
but three months, while the headache would last for nine. Then came by
the person that I most hate,--a Globe-trotter. He, sitting in my chair,
discussed India with the unbridled arrogance of five weeks on a Cook's
ticket. He was from England and had dropped his manners in the Suez
Canal. "I assure you," said he, "that you who live so close to the
actual facts of things cannot form dispassionate judgments of their
merits. You are too near. Now I--" he waved his hand modestly and left
me to fill the gaps.

I considered him, from his new helmet to his deck-shoes, and I perceived
that he was but an ordinary man. I thought of India, maligned and silent
India, given up to the ill-considered wanderings of such as he--of the
land whose people are too busy to reply to the libels upon their life
and manners. It was my destiny to avenge India upon nothing less than
three-quarters of the world. The idea necessitated sacrifices,--painful
sacrifices,--for I had to become a Globe-trotter, with a helmet and
deck-shoes. In the interests of our little world I would endure these
things and more. I would deliver "brawling judgments all day long; on
all things unashamed." I would go toward the rising sun till I reached
the heart of the world and once more smelt London asphalt.

The Indian public never gave me a brief. I took it, appointing myself
Commissioner in General for Our Own Sweet Selves. Then all the aspects
of life changed, as, they say, the appearance of his room grows strange
to a dying man when he sees it upon the last morning, and knows that it
will confront him no more. I had wilfully stepped aside from the current
of our existence, and had no part in any of Our interests. Up-country
the peach was beginning to bud, and men said that by cause of the heavy
snows in the Hills the hot weather would be a short one. That was
nothing to me. The punkahs and their pullers sat together in the
verandah, and the public buildings spawned thermantidotes. The
copper-smith sang in the garden and the early wasp hummed low down by
the door-handle, and they prophesied of the hot weather to come. These
things were no concern of mine. I was dead, and looked upon the old life
as a dead man--without interest and without concern.

It was a strange life; I had lived it for seven years or one day, I
could not be certain which. All that I knew was that I could watch men
going to their offices, while I slept luxuriously; could go out at any
hour of the day and sit up to any hour of the night, secure that each
morning would bring no toil. I understood with what emotions the freed
convict regards the prison he has quitted--insight which had hitherto
been denied me; and I further saw how intense is the selfishness of the
irresponsible man. Some said that the coming year would be one of
scarcity and distress because unseasonable rains were falling. I was
grieved. I feared that the Rains might break the railway line to the
sea, and so delay my departure. Again, the season would be a sickly one.
I fancied that Necessity might repent of her gift and for mere jest wipe
me off the face of the earth ere I had seen anything of what lay upon
it. There was trouble on the Afghan frontier; perhaps an army-corps
would be mobilised, and perhaps many men would die, leaving folk to
mourn for them at the hill-stations. My dread was that a Russian
man-of-war might intercept the steamer which carried my precious self
between Yokohama and San Francisco. Let Armageddon be postponed, I
prayed, for my sake, that my personal enjoyments may not be interfered
with. War, famine, and pestilence would be so inconvenient to me. And I
abased myself before Necessity, the great Goddess, and said
ostentatiously: "It is naught, it is naught, and you needn't look at me
when I wander about." Surely we are only virtuous by compulsion of
earning our daily bread.

So I looked upon men with new eyes, and pitied them very much indeed.
They worked. They had to. I was an aristocrat. I could call upon them at
inconvenient hours and ask them why they worked, and whether they did it
often. Then they grunted, and the envy in their eyes was a delight to
me. I dared not, however, mock them too pointedly, lest Necessity should
drag me back by the collar to take my still warm place by their side.
When I had disgusted all who knew me, I fled to Calcutta, which, I was
pained to see, still persisted in being a city and transacting commerce
after I had formally cursed it one year ago. That curse I now repeat, in
the hope that the unsavoury capital will collapse. One must begin to
smoke at five in the morning--which is neither night nor day--on coming
across the Howrah Bridge, for it is better to get a headache from honest
nicotine than to be poisoned by evil smells. And a man, who otherwise
was a nice man, though he worked with his hands and his head, asked me
why the scandal of the Simla Exodus was allowed to continue. To him I
made answer: "It is because this sewer is unfit for human habitation. It
is because you are all one gigantic mistake,--you and your monuments and
your merchants and everything about you. I rejoice to think that scores
of lakhs of rupees have been spent on public offices at a place called
Simla, that scores and scores will be spent on the Delhi-Kalka line, in
order that civilised people may go there in comfort. When that line is
opened, your big city will be dead and buried and done with, and I hope
it will teach you a lesson. Your city will rot, Sir." And he said: "When
people are buried here, they turn into adipocere in five days if the
weather is rainy. They saponify, you know." I said: "Go and saponify,
for I hate Calcutta." But he took me to the Eden Gardens instead, and
begged me for my own sake not to go round the world in this prejudiced
spirit. I was unhappy and ill, but he vowed that my spleen was due to my
"Simla way of looking at things."

All this world of ours knows something about the Eden Gardens, which are
supposed by the uninitiated of the mofussil to represent the gilded
luxury of the metropolis. As a matter of fact they are hideously dull.
The inhabitants appear in top-hats and frock-coats, and walk dolorously
to and fro under the glare of jerking electric lamps, when they ought to
be sitting in their shirt-sleeves round little tables and treating their
wives to iced lager beer. My friend--it was a muggy March night--wrapped
himself in the prescribed garments and said graciously: "You can wear a
round hat, but you mustn't wear deck-shoes; and for goodness' sake, my
dear fellow, don't smoke on the Red Road--all the people one knows go
there." Most of the people who were people sat in their carriages, in an
atmosphere of hot horse, harness, and panel-lacquer, outside the
gardens, and the remnant tramped up and down, by twos and threes, upon
squashy green grass, until they were wearied, while a band played at
them. "And is this all you do?" I asked. "It is," said my friend. "Isn't
it good enough? We meet every one we know here, and walk with him or
her, unless he or she is among the carriages."

Overhead was a woolly warm sky; underfoot feverish soft grass; and from
all quarters the languorous breeze bore faint reminiscences of stale
sewage upon its wings. Round the horizon were stacked lines of
carriages, and the electric flare bred aches in the strained eyebrow. It
was a strange sight and fascinating. The doomed creatures walked up and
down without cessation, for when one fled away into the lamp-spangled
gloom twenty came to take his place. Slop-hatted members of the
mercantile marine, Armenian merchants, Bengal civilians, shop-girls and
shop-men, Jews, Parthians, and Mesopotamians, were all there in the
tepid heat and the fetid smell.

"This," said my friend, "is how we enjoy ourselves. There are the
Viceregal liveries. Lady Lansdowne comes here." He spoke as though
reading to me the Government House list of Paradise. I reflected that
these people would continue to walk up and down until they died,
drinkless, dusty, sad, and blanched.

In saying this last thing I had made a mistake. Calcutta is no more
Anglo-Indian than West Brompton. In common with Bombay, it has achieved
a mental attitude several decades in advance of that of the raw and
brutal India of fact. An intelligent and responsible financier,
discussing the Empire, said: "But why do we want so large an army in
India? Look at the country all about." I think he meant as far as the
Circular Road or perhaps Raneegunge. Some of these days, when the voice
of the two uncomprehending cities carries to London, and its advice is
acted upon, there will be trouble. Till this second journey to Calcutta
I was unable to account for the acid tone and limited range of the
Presidency journals. I see now that they are ward papers and ought to be
treated as such.

In the fulness of time--there was no hurry--imagine that, O you toilers
of the land--I took ship and fled from Calcutta by that which they call
the Mutton-Mail, because it takes sheep and correspondence to Rangoon.
Half the Punjab was going with us to serve the Queen in the Burma
Military Police, and it was grateful to catch once more the raw, rasping
up-country speech amid the jabber of Burmese and Bengali.

To Rangoon, then, aboard the _Madura_, come with me down the Hughli, and
try to understand what sort of life is led by the pilots, those strange
men who only seem to know the land by watching it from the river.

"And I fetched up under the north ridge with six inches o' water under
me, with a sou'west monsoon blowing, an' me not knowing any more than
the dead where in--Paradise--I was taking her," says one deep voice.

"Well, what do you expect?" says another. "They ought not all to be
occulting lights. Give me a red with two flashes for outlying danger
anyhow. The Hughli's the worst river in the world. Why, off the Lower
Gasper only last year...."

"And look at the way Government treats you!"

The Hughli pilot is human. He may talk Greek in the exercise of his
profession, but he can unite at swearing at the Government as thoroughly
as though he were an uncovenanted civilian. His life is a hard one; but
he is full of strange stories, and when treated with proper respect may
condescend to tell some of them. If he has served on the river for six
years as a "cub," and is neither dead nor decrepit, I believe he can
earn as much as fifty rupees by sending two thousand tons of ship and a
few hundred souls flying down the reaches at twelve miles an hour. Then
he drops over the side with your last love-letters and wanders about the
estuary in a tug until he finds another steamer and brings her up. It
does not take much to comfort him.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Somewhere in the open sea some days later._ I give it up. I _cannot_
write, and to sleep I am not ashamed. A glorious idleness has taken
entire possession of me; journalism is an imposture; so is Literature;
so is Art. All India dropped out of sight yesterday and the rocking
pilot-brig at the Sandheads bore my last message to the prison that I
quit. We have reached blue water--crushed sapphire--and a little breeze
is bellying the awning. Three flying-fish were sighted this morning; the
tea at _chota-hazri_ is not nice, but the captain is excellent. Is this
budget of news sufficiently exciting, or must I in strict confidence
tell you the story of the Professor and the compass? You will hear more
about the Professor later, if, indeed, I ever touch pen again. When he
was in India he worked about nine hours a day. At noon to-day he
conceived an interest in cyclones and things of that kind--would go to
his cabin to get a compass and a meteorological book. He went, but
stopped to reflect by the brink of a drink. "The compass is in a box,"
said he, drowsily, "but the nuisance of it is that to get it I shall
have to pull the box out from under my berth. All things considered, I
don't think it's worth while." He loafed on deck, and I think by this
time is fast asleep. There was no trace of shame in his voice for his
mighty sloth. I would have reproved him, but the words died on my
tongue. I was guiltier than he.

"Professor," said I, "there is a foolish little paper in Allahabad
called the _Pioneer_. I am supposed to be writing it a letter--a letter
with my hands! Did you ever hear of anything so absurd?"

"I wonder if Angostura bitters really go with whisky," said the
Professor, toying with the neck of the bottle.

There is no such place as India; there never was a daily paper called
the _Pioneer_. It was all a weary dream. The only real things in the
world are crystal seas, clean-swept decks, soft rugs, warm sunshine, the
smell of salt in the air, and fathomless, futile indolence.



No. II

THE RIVER OF THE LOST FOOTSTEPS AND THE GOLDEN MYSTERY UPON ITS BANKS.
THE INIQUITY OF JORDAN. SHOWS HOW A MAN MAY GO TO THE SHWAY DAGON PAGODA
AND SEE IT NOT AND TO THE PEGU CLUB AND HEAR TOO MUCH. A DISSERTATION ON
MIXED DRINKS.

    "I am a part of all that I have met,
    Yet all experience is an arch where through
    Gleams that untravelled world whose margin fades
    For ever and for ever when I move."


There was a river and a bar, a pilot and a great deal of nautical
mystery, and the Captain said the journey from Calcutta was ended and
that we should be in Rangoon in a few hours. It is not an impressive
stream, being low-banked, scrubby, and muddy; but as we gave the
staggering rice-boats the go-by, I reflected that I was looking upon the
River of the Lost Footsteps--the road that so many, many men of my
acquaintance had travelled, never to return, within the past three
years. Such a one had gone up to open out Upper Burma, and had himself
been opened out by a Burmese dah in the cruel scrub beyond Minhla; such
another had gone to rule the land in the Queen's name, but could not
rule a hill stream and was carried down under his horse. One had been
shot by his servant; another by a dacoit while he sat at dinner; and a
pitifully long list had found in jungle-fever their sole reward for
"the difficulties and privations inseparably connected with military
service," as the Bengal Army Regulations put it. I ran over half a score
of names--policemen, subalterns, young civilians, employés of big
trading firms, and adventurers. They had gone up the river and they had
died. At my elbow stood one of the workers in New Burma, going to report
himself at Rangoon, and he told tales of interminable chases after
evasive dacoits, of marchings and counter-marchings that came to
nothing, and of deaths in the wilderness as noble as they were sad.

Then, a golden mystery upheaved itself on the horizon--a beautiful
winking wonder that blazed in the sun, of a shape that was neither
Muslim dome nor Hindu temple spire. It stood upon a green knoll, and
below it were lines of warehouses, sheds, and mills. Under what new god,
thought I, are we irrepressible English sitting now?

"There's the old Shway Dagon" (pronounced Dagone, _not_ like the god in
the Scriptures), said my companion. "Confound it!" But it was not a
thing to be sworn at. It explained in the first place why we took
Rangoon, and in the second why we pushed on to see what more of rich or
rare the land held. Up till that sight my uninstructed eyes could not
see that the land differed much in appearance from the Sunderbuns, but
the golden dome said: "This is Burma, and it will be quite unlike any
land you know about." "It's a famous old shrine o' sorts," said my
companion, "and now the Tounghoo-Mandalay line is open, pilgrims are
flocking down by the thousand to see it. It lost its big gold
top--'thing that they call a _'htee_--in an earthquake: that's why it's
all hidden by bamboo-work for a third of its height. You should see it
when it's all uncovered. They're regilding it now."

Why is it that when one views for the first time any of the wonders of
the earth a bystander always strikes in with, "You should see it, etc."?
Such men given twenty minutes from the tomb at the Day of Judgment,
would patronize the naked souls as they hurried up with the glare of
Tophet on their faces, and say: "You should have seen this when Gabriel
first began to blow." What the Shway Dagon really is and how many books
may have been written upon its history and archæology is no part of my
business. As it stood overlooking everything it seemed to explain all
about Burma--why the boys had gone north and died, why the troopers
bustled to and fro, and why the steamers of the Irrawaddy Flotilla lay
like black-backed gulls upon the water.

Then we came to a new land, and the first thing that one of the regular
residents said was: "This place isn't India at all. They ought to have
made it a Crown colony." Judging the Empire as it ought to be judged, by
its most prominent points--_videlicet_, its smells--he was right; for
though there is one stink in Calcutta, another in Bombay, and a third
and most pungent one in the Punjab, yet they have a kinship of stinks,
whereas Burma smells quite otherwise. It is not exactly what China ought
to smell like, but it is not India. "What is it?" I asked; and the man
said "_Napi_," which is fish pickled when it ought to have been buried
long ago. This food, in guide-book language, is inordinately consumed by
... but everybody who has been within downwind range of Rangoon knows
what _napi_ means, and those who do not will not understand.

Yes, it was a very new land--a land where the people understood
colour--a delightfully lazy land full of pretty girls and very bad
cheroots.

The worst of it was that the Anglo-Indian was a foreigner, a creature of
no account. He did not know Burman,--which was no great loss,--and the
Madrassi insisted upon addressing him in English. The Madrassi, by the
way, is a great institution. He takes the place of the Burman, who will
not work, and in a few years returns to his native coast with rings on
his fingers and bells on his toes. The consequences are obvious. The
Madrassi demands, and receives, enormous wages, and gets to know that he
is indispensable. The Burman exists beautifully, while his women-folk
marry the Madrassi and the Chinaman, because these support them in
affluence. When the Burman wishes to work he gets a Madrassi to do it
for him. How he finds the money to pay the Madrassi I was not informed,
but all men were agreed in saying that under no circumstances will the
Burman exert himself in the paths of honest industry. Now, if a
bountiful Providence had clothed you in a purple, green, amber or puce
petticoat, had thrown a rose-pink scarf-turban over your head, and had
put you in a pleasant damp country where rice grew of itself and fish
came up to be caught, putrified and pickled, would _you_ work? Would you
not rather take a cheroot and loaf about the streets seeing what was to
be seen? If two-thirds of your girls were grinning, good-humoured little
maidens and the remainder positively pretty, would you not spend your
time in making love?

The Burman does both these things, and the Englishman, who after all
worked himself to Burma, says hard things about him. Personally I love
the Burman with the blind favouritism born of first impression. When I
die I will be a Burman, with twenty yards of real King's silk, that has
been made in Mandalay, about my body, and a succession of cigarettes
between my lips. I will wave the cigarette to emphasise my conversation,
which shall be full of jest and repartee, and I will always walk about
with a pretty almond-coloured girl who shall laugh and jest too, as a
young maiden ought. She shall not pull a sari over her head when a man
looks at her and glare suggestively from behind it, nor shall she tramp
behind me when I walk: for these are the customs of India. She shall
look all the world between the eyes, in honesty and good fellowship, and
I will teach her not to defile her pretty mouth with chopped tobacco in
a cabbage leaf, but to inhale good cigarettes of Egypt's best brand.

Seriously, the Burmese girls are very pretty, and when I saw them I
understood much that I had heard about--about our army in Flanders let
us say.

Providence really helps those who do not help themselves. I went up a
street, name unknown, attracted by the colour that was so wantonly
flashed down its length. There is colour in Rajputana and in Southern
India, and you can find a whole paletteful of raw tints at any
down-country durbar; but the Burmese way of colouring is different. With
the women the scarf, petticoat, and jacket are of three lively hues, and
with the men putso and head-wrap are gorgeous. Thus you get your colours
dashed down in dots against a background of dark timber houses set in
green foliage. There are no canons of art anywhere, and every scheme of
colouring depends on the power of the sun above. That is why men in a
London fog do still believe in pale greens and sad reds. Give me lilac,
pink, vermilion, lapis lazuli, and blistering blood red under fierce
sunlight that mellows and modifies all. I had just made this discovery
and was noting that the people treated their cattle kindly, when the
driver of an absurd little hired carriage built to the scale of a fat
Burma pony, volunteered to take me for a drive, and we drove in the
direction of the English quarter of the town where the sahibs live in
dainty little houses made out of the sides of cigar boxes. They looked
as if they could be kicked in at a blow and (trust a Globe-trotter for
evolving a theory at a minute's notice) it is to avoid this fate that
they are built for the most part on legs. The houses are not cantonment
bred in any way--nor did the uneven ground and dusty reddish roads fit
in with any part of the Indian Empire except it may be Ootacamund.

The pony wandered into a garden studded with lovely little lakes which,
again, were studded with islands, and there were sahibs in flannels in
the boats. Outside the park were pleasant little monasteries full of
clean-shaved gentlemen in gold amber robes learning to renounce the
world, the flesh, and the devil by chatting furiously amongst
themselves, and at every corner stood the three little maids from
school, almost exactly as they had been dismissed from the side scenes
of the Savoy after the _Mikado_ was over: and the strange part of it all
was that every one laughed--laughed, so it seemed, at the sky above them
because it was blue, at the sun because it was sinking, and at each
other because they had nothing better to do. A small fat child laughed
loudest of all, in spite of the fact that it was smoking a cheroot that
ought to have made it deathly sick. The pagoda was always close at
hand--as brilliant a mystery as when first sighted far down the river;
but it changed its shape as we came nearer, and showed in the middle of
a nest of hundreds of smaller pagodas. There appeared suddenly two
colossal tigers (after the Burmese canons) in plaster on a hillside, and
they were the guardians of Burma's greatest pagoda. Round them rustled a
great crowd of happy people in pretty dresses, and the feet of all were
turned towards a great stoneway that ran from between the tigers even to
the brow of the mound. But the nature of the stairs was peculiar. They
were covered in for the most part by a tunnel, or it may have been a
walled-in colonnade, for there were heavily gilt wooden pillars visible
in the gloom. The afternoon was drawing on as I came to this strange
place and saw that I should have to climb up a long, low hill of stairs
to get to the pagoda.

Once or twice in my life I have seen a Globe-trotter literally gasping
with jealous emotion because India was so much larger and more lovely
than he had ever dreamed, and because he had only set aside three months
to explore it in. My own sojourn in Rangoon was countable by hours, so I
may be forgiven when I pranced with impatience at the bottom of the
staircase because I could not at once secure a full, complete, and
accurate idea of everything that was to be seen. The meaning of the
guardian tigers, the inwardness of the main pagoda, and the countless
little ones, was hidden from me. I could not understand why the pretty
girls with cheroots sold little sticks and coloured candles to be used
before the image of Buddha. Everything was incomprehensible to me, and
there was none to explain. All that I could gather was that in a few
days the great golden _'htee_ that has been defaced by the earthquake
would be hoisted into position with feasting and song, and that half
Upper Burma was coming down to see the show.

I went forward between the two great beasts, across a whitewashed court,
till I came to a flat-headed arch guarded by the lame, the blind, the
leper, and the deformed. These plucked at my clothes as I passed, and
moaned and whined: but the stream that disappeared up the gentle slope
of the stairway took no notice of them. And I stepped into the
semi-darkness of a long, long corridor flanked by booths, and floored
with stones worn very smooth by human feet.

At the far end of the roofed corridor there was a breadth of evening
sky, and at this point rose a second and much steeper flight of stairs,
leading directly to the Shwedagon (this, by the way, is its real
spelling). Down this staircase fell, from gloom to deeper gloom, a
cascade of colour. At this point I stayed, because there was a beautiful
archway of Burmese build, and adorned with a Chinese inscription,
directly in front of me, and I conceived foolishly that I should find
nothing more pleasant to look at if I went farther. Also, I wished to
understand how such a people could produce the dacoit of the newspaper,
and I knew that a great deal of promiscuous knowledge comes to him who
sits down by the wayside. Then I saw a Face--which explained a good
deal. The chin, jowl, lips, and neck were modelled faithfully on the
lines of the worst of the Roman Empresses--the lolloping, walloping
women that Swinburne sings about, and that we sometimes see pictures
of. Above this gross perfection of form came the Mongoloid nose, narrow
forehead, and flaring pig's eyes. I stared intently, and the man stared
back again, with admirable insolence, that puckered one corner of his
mouth. Then he swaggered forward, and I was richer by a new face and a
little knowledge. "I must make further inquiries at the Club," said I,
"but that man seems to be of the proper dacoit type. He could crucify on
occasion."

Then a brown baby came by in its mother's arms and laughed, wherefore I
much desired to shake hands with it, and grinned to that effect. The
mother held out the tiny soft pud and laughed, and the baby laughed, and
we all laughed together, because that seemed to be the custom of the
country, and returned down the now dark corridor where the lamps of the
stall-keepers were twinkling and scores of people were helping us to
laugh. They must be a mild-mannered nation, the Burmese, for they leave
little three-year-olds in charge of a whole wilderness of clay dolls or
a menagerie of jointed tigers.

I had not actually entered the Shwedagon, but I felt just as happy as
though I had.

In the Pegu Club I found a friend--a Punjabi--upon whose broad bosom I
threw myself and demanded food and entertainment. He had not long since
received a visit from the Commissioner of Peshawar, of all places in the
world, and was not to be upset by sudden arrivals. But he had come down
in the world hideously. Years ago in the Black North he used to speak
the vernacular as it should be spoken, and was one of us.

"_Daniel, how many socks master got?_"

The unfinished peg fell from my fist. "Good Heavens!" said I, "is it
possible that you--you--speak that disgusting pidgin-talk to your
_nauker_? It's enough to make one cry. You're no better than a
Bombaywallah."

"I'm a Madrassi," said he, calmly. "We all talk English to our boys
here. Isn't it beautiful? Now come along to the Gymkhana and then we'll
dine here. Daniel, master's hat and stick get."

There must be a few hundred men who are fairly behind the scenes of the
Burma War--one of the least known and appreciated of any of our little
affairs. The Pegu Club seemed to be full of men on their way up or down,
and the conversation was but an echo of the murmur of conquest far away
to the north.

"See that man over there. He was cut over the head the other day at
Zoungloung-goo. Awfully tough man. That chap next him has been on the
dacoit-hunt for about a year. He broke up Boh Mango's gang: caught the
Boh in a paddy field, y'know. The other man's going home on sick
leave--got a lump of iron somewhere in his system. Try our mutton; I
assure you the Club is the only place in Rangoon where you get mutton.
Look here, you must _not_ speak vernacular to our boys. Hi, boy! get
master some more ice. They're all Bombay men or Madrassis. Up at the
front there are some Burman servants: but a real Burman will never work.
He prefers being a simple little _daku_."

"How much?"

"Dear little dacoit. We call 'em _dakus_ for short--sort o' pet name.
That's the butter-fish. I forgot you didn't get much fish up-country.
Yes, I s'pose Rangoon has its advantages. You pay like a Prince. Take
an ordinary married establishment. Little furnished house--one hundred
and fifty rupees. Servants' wages two twenty or two fifty. That's four
hundred at once. My dear fellow, a sweeper won't take less than twelve
or sixteen rupees a month here, and even then he'll work for other
houses. It's worse than Quetta. Any man who comes to Lower Burma in the
hope of living on his pay is a fool."

_Voice from lower end of table._ "Dee fool. It's different in Upper
Burma, where you get command and travelling allowances."

_Another voice in the middle of a conversation._ "They never got that
story into the papers, but I can tell you we weren't quite as quick in
rushing the fort as they made believe. You see Boh Gwee had us in a
regular trap, and by the time we had closed the line our men were being
peppered front and rear: that jungle-fighting is the deuce and all. More
ice please."

Then they told me of the death of an old school-fellow under the ramp of
the Minhla redoubt--does any one remember the affair at Minhla that
opened the third Burmese ball?

"I was close to him," said a voice. "He died in A.'s arms, I fancy, but
I'm not quite sure. Anyhow, I know he died easily. He was a good
fellow."

"Thank you," said I, "and now I think I'll go;" and I went out into the
steamy night, my head ringing with stories of battle, murder, and sudden
death. I had reached the fringe of the veil that hides Upper Burma, and
I would have given much to have gone up the river and seen a score of
old friends, now jungle-worn men of war. All that night I dreamed of
interminable staircases down which swept thousands of pretty girls, so
brilliantly robed that my eyes ached at the sight. There was a great
golden bell at the top of the stairs, and at the bottom, his face turned
to the sky, lay poor old D----dead at Minhla, and a host of unshaven
ragamuffins in khaki were keeping guard over him.



No. III

THE CITY OF ELEPHANTS WHICH IS GOVERNED BY THE GREAT GOD OF IDLENESS,
WHO LIVES ON THE TOP OF A HILL. THE HISTORY OF THREE GREAT DISCOVERIES
AND THE NAUGHTY CHILDREN OF IQUIQUE.

    "I built my soul a lordly pleasure-house
      Wherein at ease for aye to dwell,
    I said: Oh, soul, make merry and carouse,
      Dear soul, for all is well."


So much for making definite programmes of travel beforehand. In my first
letter I told you that I would go from Rangoon to Penang direct. Now we
are lying off Moulmein in a new steamer which does not seem to run
anywhere in particular. Why she should go to Moulmein is a mystery; but
as every soul on the ship is a loafer like myself, no one is
discontented. Imagine a shipload of people to whom time is no object,
who have no desires beyond three meals a day and no emotions save those
caused by a casual cockroach.

Moulmein is situated up the mouth of a river which ought to flow through
South America, and all manner of dissolute native craft appear to make
the place their home. Ugly cargo-steamers that the initiated call
"Geordie tramps" grunt and bellow at the beautiful hills all round, and
the pot-bellied British India liners wallow down the reaches. Visitors
are rare in Moulmein--so rare that few but cargo-boats think it worth
their while to come off from the shore.

Strictly in confidence I will tell you that Moulmein is not a city of
this earth at all. Sindbad the Sailor visited it, if you recollect, on
that memorable voyage when he discovered the burial-ground of the
elephants.

As the steamer came up the river we were aware of first one elephant and
then another hard at work in timber-yards that faced the shore. A few
narrow-minded folk with binoculars said that there were _mahouts_ upon
their backs, but this was never clearly proven. I prefer to believe in
what I saw--a sleepy town, just one house thick, scattered along a
lovely stream and inhabited by slow, solemn elephants, building
stockades for their own diversion. There was a strong scent of freshly
sawn teak in the air--we could not see any elephants sawing--and
occasionally the warm stillness was broken by the crash of the log. When
the elephants had got an appetite for luncheon they loafed off in
couples to their club, and did not take the trouble to give us greeting
and the latest mail papers; at which we were much disappointed, but took
heart when we saw upon a hill a large white pagoda surrounded by scores
of little pagodas. "This," we said with one voice, "is the place to make
an excursion to," and then shuddered at our own profanity, for above all
things we did not wish to behave like mere vulgar tourists.

The _ticca-gharies_ at Moulmein are three sizes smaller than those of
Rangoon, as the ponies are no bigger than decent sheep. Their drivers
trot them uphill and down, and as the _ghari_ is extremely narrow and
the roads are anything but good, the exercise is refreshing. Here again
all the drivers are Madrassis.

I should better remember what that pagoda was like had I not fallen
deeply and irrevocably in love with a Burmese girl at the foot of the
first flight of steps. Only the fact of the steamer starting next noon
prevented me from staying at Moulmein forever and owning a pair of
elephants. These are so common that they wander about the streets, and,
I make no doubt, could be obtained for a piece of sugar-cane.

Leaving this far too lovely maiden, I went up the steps only a few
yards, and, turning me round, looked upon a view of water, island, broad
river, fair grazing ground, and belted wood that made me rejoice that I
was alive. The hillside below me and above me was ablaze with
pagodas--from a gorgeous golden and vermilion beauty to a delicate grey
stone one just completed in honour of an eminent priest lately deceased
at Mandalay. Far above my head there was a faint tinkle, as of golden
bells, and a talking of the breezes in the tops of the toddy-palms.
Wherefore I climbed higher and higher up the steps till I reached a
place of great peace, dotted with Burmese images, spotlessly clean. Here
women now and again paid reverence. They bowed their heads and their
lips moved, because they were praying. I had an umbrella--a black
one--in my hand, deck-shoes upon my feet, and a helmet upon my head. I
did not pray--I swore at myself for being a Globe-trotter, and wished
that I had enough Burmese to explain to these ladies that I was sorry
and would have taken off my hat but for the sun. A Globe-trotter is a
brute. I had the grace to blush as I tramped round the pagoda. That
will be remembered to me for righteousness. But I stared horribly--at a
gold and red side-temple with a beautifully gilt image of Buddha in
it--at the grim figures in the niches at the base of the main pagoda--at
the little palms that grew out of the cracks in the tiled paving of the
court--at the big palms above, and at the low hung bronze bells that
stood at each corner for the women to smite with stag-horns. Upon one
bell rang this amazing triplet in English, evidently the composition of
the caster, who completed his work--and now, let us hope, has reached
Nibban--thirty-five years ago:--

    "He who destroyed this Bell
    They must be in the great Hel
    And unable to coming out."

I respect a man who is not able to spell Hell properly. It shows that he
has been brought up in an amiable creed. You who come to Moulmein treat
this bell with respect, and refrain from playing with it, for that hurts
the feelings of the worshippers.

In the base of the pagoda were four rooms, lined as to three sides with
colossal plaster figures, before each of whom burned one solitary dip
whose rays fought with the flood of evening sunshine that came through
the windows, and the room was filled with a pale yellow light--unearthly
to stand in. Occasionally a woman crept in to one of these rooms to
pray, but nearly all the company stayed in the courtyard; but those that
faced the figures prayed more zealously than the others, so I judged
that their troubles were the greater. Of the actual cult I knew less
than nothing; for the neatly bound English books that we read make no
mention of pointing red-tipped straws at a golden image, or of the
banging of bells after the custom of worshippers in a Hindu temple. It
must be a genial one, however. To begin with, it is quiet and carried on
among the fairest possible surroundings that ever landscape offered.

In this particular case, the massive white pagoda shot into the blue
from the west of a walled hill that commanded four separate and
desirable views as you looked either at the steamer in the river below,
the polished silver reaches to the left, the woods to the right, or the
roofs of Moulmein to the landward. Between each pause of the rustling of
dresses and the low-toned talk of the women fell, from far above, the
tinkle of innumerable metal leaves which were stirred by the breeze as
they hung from the _'htee_ of the pagoda. A golden image winked in the
sun; the painted ones stared straight in front of them over the heads of
the worshippers, and somewhere below a mallet and a plane were lazily
helping to build yet another pagoda in honour of the Lord of the Earth.

Sitting in meditation while the Professor went round with a sacrilegious
camera, to the vast terror of the Burmese youth, I made two notable
discoveries and nearly went to sleep over them. The first was that the
Lord of the Earth is Idleness--thick slab idleness with a little
religion stirred in to keep it sweet, and the second was that the shape
of the pagoda came originally from a bulging toddy-palm trunk. There was
one between me and the far-off sky line, and it exactly duplicated the
outlines of a small grey stone building.

Yet a third discovery, and a much more important one, came to me later
on. A dirty little imp of a boy ran by clothed more or less in a
beautifully worked silk putso, the like of which I had in vain attempted
to secure at Rangoon. A bystander told me that such an article would
cost one hundred and ten rupees--exactly ten rupees in excess of the
price demanded at Rangoon, when I had been discourteous to a pretty
Burmese girl with diamonds in her ears, and had treated her as though
she were a Delhi boxwallah.

"Professor," said I, when the camera spidered round the corner, "there
is something wrong with this people. They won't work, they aren't all
dacoits, and their babies run about with hundred-rupees putsoes on them,
while their parents speak the truth. How in the world do they get a
living?"

"They exist beautifully," said the Professor; "and I only brought half a
dozen plates with me. I shall come again in the morning with some more.
Did I ever dream of a place like this?"

"No," said I. "It's perfect, and for the life of me I can't quite see
where the precise charm lies."

"In its Beastly Laziness," said the Professor, as he packed the camera,
and we went away, regretfully, haunted by the voices of many wind-blown
bells.

Not ten minutes from the pagoda we saw a real British bandstand, a
shanty labelled "Municipal Office," a collection of P. W. D. bungalows
that in vain strove to blast the landscape, and a Madras band. I had
never seen Madrassi troops before. They seem to dress just like Tommies,
and have an air of much culture and refinement. It is said that they
read English books and know all about their rights and privileges. For
further details apply to the Pegu Club, second table from the top on
the right hand side as you enter.

In an evil hour I attempted to revive the drooping trade of Moulmein,
and to this end bound a native of the place to come on board the steamer
next morn with a collection of Burmese silks. It was only a five
minutes' pull, and he could have sat in the stern all the while. Morning
came, but not the man. Not a boat of watermelons, pink fleshy
watermelons, neared the ship. We might have been in quarantine. As we
slipped down the river on our way to Penang, I saw the elephants playing
with the teak logs as solemnly and as mysteriously as ever. They were
the chief inhabitants, and, for aught I know, the rulers of the place.
Their lethargy had corrupted the town, and when the Professor wished to
photograph them, I believe they went away in scorn.

We are now running down to Penang with the thermometer 87° in the
cabins, and anything you please on deck. We have exhausted all our
literature, drunk two hundred lemon squashes; played forty different
games of cards (Patience mostly), organised a lottery on the run (had it
been a thousand rupees instead of ten I should not have won it), and
slept seventeen hours out of the twenty-four. It is perfectly impossible
to write, but you may be morally the better for the story of the Bad
People of Iquique which, "as you have not before heard, I will now
proceed to relate." It has just been told me by a German orchid-hunter,
fresh from nearly losing his head in the Lushai hills, who has been over
most of the world.

Iquique is somewhere in South America--at the back of or beyond
Brazil--and once upon a time there came to it a tribe of Aborigines from
out of the woods, so innocent that they wore nothing at all--absolutely
nothing at all. They had a grievance, but no garments, and the former
they came to lay before His Excellency, the Governor of Iquique. But the
news of their coming and their exceeding nakedness had gone before them,
and good Spanish ladies of the town agreed that the heathen should first
of all be clothed. So they organised a sewing-bee, and the result, which
was mainly aprons, was served out to the Bad People with hints as to its
use. Nothing could have been better. They appeared in their aprons
before the Governor and all the ladies of Iquique, ranged on the steps
of the cathedral, only to find that the Governor could not grant their
demands. And do you know what these children of nature did? In the
twinkling of an eye they had off those aprons, slung them round their
necks, and were dancing naked as the dawn before the scandalised ladies
of Iquique, who fled with their fans before their eyes into the
sanctuary of the cathedral. And when the steps were deserted the Bad
People withdrew, shouting and leaping, their aprons still round their
necks, for good cloth is valuable property. They encamped near the town,
knowing their own power. 'Twas impossible to send the military against
them, and equally impossible that Donnas and Señoritas should be exposed
to the chance of being shocked whenever they went abroad. No one knew at
what hour the Bad People would sweep through the streets. Their demands
were therefore granted and Iquique had rest. Nuda est Veritas et
prevalebit.

"But," said I, "what is there so awful in a naked Indian--or two
hundred naked Indians for that matter?"

"My friend," said the German, "dey vas Indians of Sout' America. I dell
you dey do not demselves shtrip vell."

I put my hand on my mouth and went away.



No. IV

SHOWING HOW I CAME TO PALMISTE ISLAND AND THE PLACE OF PAUL AND
VIRGINIA, AND FELL ASLEEP IN A GARDEN. A DISQUISITION ON THE FOLLY OF
SIGHT-SEEING.

    "Some for the glories of this world and some
    Sigh for the Prophet's paradise to come.
    Ah, take the cash and let the credit go,
    Nor heed the rumble of a distant drum."


There is something very wrong in the Anglo-Saxon character. Hardly had
the _Africa_ dropped anchor in Penang Straits when two of our
fellow-passengers were smitten with madness because they heard that
another steamer was even then starting for Singapur. If they went by it
they would gain several days. Heaven knows why time should have been so
precious to them. The news sent them flying into their cabins, and
packing their trunks as though their salvation depended upon it. Then
they tumbled over the side and were rowed away in a sampan, hot, but
happy. They were on a pleasure-trip, and they had gained perhaps three
days. That was their pleasure.

Do you recollect Besant's description of Palmiste Island in _My Little
Girl_ and _So They Were Married_? Penang is Palmiste Island. I found
this out from the ship, looking at the wooded hills that dominate the
town, and at the regiments of palm trees three miles away that marked
the coast of Wellesley Province. The air was soft and heavy with
laziness, and at the ship's side were boat-loads of much jewelled
Madrassis--even those to whom Besant has alluded. A squall swept across
the water and blotted out the rows of low, red-tiled houses that made up
Penang, and the shadows of night followed the storm.

I put my twelve-inch rule in my pocket to measure all the world by, and
nearly wept with emotion when on landing at the jetty I fell against a
Sikh--a beautiful bearded Sikh, with white leggings and a rifle. As is
cold water in a thirsty land so is a face from the old country. My
friend had come from Jandiala in the Umritsar district. Did I know
Jandiala? Did I not? I began to tell all the news I could recollect
about crops and armies and the movements of big men in the far, far
north while the Sikh beamed. He belonged to the military police, and it
was a good service, but of course it was far from the old country. There
was no hard work, and the Chinamen gave but little trouble. They had
fights among themselves, but "they do not care to give _us_ any
impudence;" and the big man swaggered off with the long roll and swing
of a whole Pioneer regiment, while I cheered myself with the thought
that India--the India I pretend to hold in hatred--was not so far off,
after all.

You know our ineradicable tendency to damn everything in the mofussil.
Calcutta professes astonishment that Allahabad has a good dancing floor;
Allahabad wonders if it is true that Lahore really has an ice-factory;
and Lahore pretends to believe that everybody in Peshawar sleeps armed.
Very much in the same way I was amused at seeing a steam tramway in
Rangoon, and after we had quitted Moulmein fully expected to find the
outskirts of civilisation. Vanity and ignorance were severely shocked
when they confronted a long street of business--a street of two-storied
houses, full of _ticca-gharies_, shop signs, and above all
_jinrickshaws_.

You in India have never seen a proper _'rickshaw_. There are about two
thousand of them in Penang, and no two seem alike. They are lacquered
with bold figures of dragons and horses and birds and butterflies: their
shafts are of black wood bound with white metal, and so strong that the
coolie sits upon them when he waits for his fare. There is only one
coolie, but he is strong, and he runs just as well as six bell-men. He
ties up his pigtail,--being a Cantonese,--and this is a disadvantage to
sahibs who cannot speak Tamil, Malay, or Cantonese. Otherwise he might
be steered like a camel.

The _'rickshaw_ men are patient and long-suffering. The evil-visaged
person who drove my carriage lashed at them when they came within whip
range, and did his best to drive over them as he headed for the
Waterfalls, which are five miles away from Penang Town. I expected that
the buildings should stop, choked out among the dense growth of
cocoanut. But they continued for many streets, very like Park and
Middleton streets in Calcutta, where shuttered houses, which were
half-bred between an Indian bungalow and a Rangoon rabbit-hutch, fought
with the greenery and crotons as big as small trees. Now and again there
blazed the front of a Chinese house, all open-work vermilion,
lamp-black, and gold, with six-foot Chinese lanterns over the doorways
and glimpses of quaintly cut shrubs in the well-kept gardens beyond.

We struck into roads fringed with native houses on piles, shadowed by
the everlasting cocoanut palms heavy with young nuts. The heat was heavy
with the smell of vegetation, and it was not the smell of the earth
after the rains. Some bird-thing called out from the deeps of the
foliage, and there was a mutter of thunder in the hills which we were
approaching: but all the rest was very still--and the sweat ran down our
faces in drops.

"Now you've got to walk up that hill," said the driver, pointing to a
small barrier outside a well-kept botanical garden; "all the carriages
stop here." One's limbs moved as though leaden, and the breath came
heavily, drawing in each time the vapour of a Turkish bath. The soil was
alive with wet and warmth, and the unknown trees--I was too sleepy to
read the labels that some offensively energetic man has written--were
wet and warm too. Up on the hillside the voice of the water was saying
something, but I was too sleepy to listen; and on the top of the hill
lay a fat cloud just like an eider-down quilt tucking everything in
safely.

    "And in the afternoon they came unto a land
    In which it seemed always afternoon."

I sat down where I was, for I saw that the upward path was very steep
and was cut into rude steps, and an exposition of sleep had come upon
me. I was at the mouth of a tiny gorge, exactly where the lotus-eaters
had sat down when they began their song, for I recognised the Waterfall
and the air round my ears "breathing as one that has a weary dream."

I looked and beheld that I could not give in words the genius of the
place. "I can't play the flute, but I have a cousin who plays the
violin." I knew a man who could. Some people said he was not a nice man,
and I might run the risk of contaminating morals, but nothing mattered
in such a climate. See now, go to the very worst of Zola's novels and
read there his description of a conservatory. That was it. Several
months passed away, but there was neither chill nor burning heat to mark
the passage of time. Only, with a sense of acute pain I felt that I must
"do" the Waterfall, and I climbed up the steps in the hillside, though
every boulder cried "sit down," until I found a small stream of water
coursing down the face of a rock, and a much bigger one down my own.

Then we went away to breakfast, the stomach being always more worthy
than any amount of sentiment. A turn in the road hid the gardens and
stopped the noise of the waters, and that experience was over for all
time. Experiences are very like cheroots. They generally begin badly,
taste perfect half way through, and at the butt-end are things to be
thrown away and never picked up again....

His name was John, and he had a pigtail five feet long--all real hair
and no silk braided, and he kept an hotel by the way and fed us with a
chicken, into whose innocent flesh onions and strange vegetables had
been forced. Till then we had feared Chinamen, especially when they
brought food, but now we will eat anything at their hands. The
conclusion of the meal was a half-guinea pineapple and a siesta. This is
a beautiful thing which we of India--but I am of India no more--do not
understand. You lie down and wait for time to pass. You are not in the
least wearied--and you would not go to sleep. You are filled with a
divine drowsiness--quite different from the heavy sodden slumber of a
hot-weather Sunday, or the businesslike repose of a Europe morning. Now
I begin to despise novelists who write about _siestas_ in cold climates.
I know what the real thing means.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have been trying to buy a few things--a _sarong_, which is a _putso_
which is a _dhoti_; a pipe; and a "damned Malayan kris." The _sarongs_
come chiefly from Germany, the pipes from the pawn-shops, and there are
no krises except little toothpick things that could not penetrate the
hide of a Malay. In the native town, I found a large army of
Chinese--more than I imagined existed in China itself--encamped in
spacious streets and houses, some of them sending block-tin to Singapur,
some driving fine carriages, others making shoes, chairs, clothes, and
every other thing that a large town desires. They were the first army
corps on the march of the Mongol. The scouts are at Calcutta, and a
flying column at Rangoon. Here begins the main body, some hundred
thousand strong, so they say. Was it not De Quincey that had a horror of
the Chinese--of their inhumaneness and their inscrutability? Certainly
the people in Penang are not nice; they are even terrible to behold.
They work hard, which in this climate is manifestly wicked, and their
eyes are just like the eyes of their own pet dragons. Our Hindu gods are
passable, some of them even jolly--witness our pot-bellied Ganesh; but
what can you do with a people who revel in D. T. monsters and crown
their roof-ridges with flames of fire, or the waves of the sea? They
swarmed everywhere, and wherever three or four met, there they eat
things without name--the insides of ducks for choice. Our deck
passengers, I know, fared sumptuously on offal begged from the steward
and flavoured with insect-powder to keep the ants off. This, again, is
not natural, for a man should eat like a man if he works like one. I
could quite understand after a couple of hours (this has the true
Globe-trotter twang to it) spent in Chinatown why the lower-caste
Anglo-Saxon hates the Celestial. He frightened me, and so I could take
no pleasure in looking at his houses, at his wares, or at himself....

The smell of printer's ink is marvellously penetrating. It drew me up
two pair of stairs into an office where the exchanges lay about in
delightful disorder, and a little hand-press was clacking out proofs
just in the old sweet way. Something like the _Gazette of India_ showed
that the Straits Settlements--even they--had a Government of their own,
and I sighed for a dead past as my eye caught the beautiful official
phraseology that never varies. How alike we English are! Here is an
extract from a report: "And the Chinese form of decoration which
formerly covered the office has been wisely obliterated with whitewash."

That was just what I came to inquire about. What were they going to do
with the Chinese decoration all over Penang? Would they try to wisely
obliterate that?

The Straits Settlement Council which lives at Singapur had just passed a
Bill (Ordinance they call it) putting down all Chinese secret societies
in the colony, which measure only awaited the Imperial assent. A little
business in Singapur connected with some municipal measure for clearing
away overhanging verandahs created a storm, and for three days those who
were in the place say the town was entirely at the mercy of the Chinese,
who rose all together and made life unpleasant for the authorities. This
incident forced the Government to take serious notice of the secret
societies who could so control the actions of men, and the result has
been a measure which it will not be easy to enforce. A Chinaman _must_
have a secret society of some kind. He has been bred up in a country
where they were necessary to his comfort, his protection, and the
maintenance of his scale of wages from time immemorial, and he will
carry them with him as he will carry his opium and his coffin.

"Do you expect then that the societies will collapse by proclamation?" I
asked the editor.

"No. There will be a row."

"What row? what sort of a row?"

"More troops, perhaps, and perhaps some gunboats. You see, we shall have
Sir Charles Warren then as our Commander-in-Chief at Singapur. Up till
the present our military administration has been subordinate to that of
Hong-Kong; when that is done away with and we have Sir Charles Warren,
things will be different. But there will be a row. Neither you nor I nor
any one else will be able to put these things down. Every joss house
will be the head of a secret society. What can one do? In the past the
Government made some use of them for the detection of crime. Now they
are too big and too important to be treated in that way. You will know
before long whether we have been able to suppress them. There will be a
row."

Certainly the great grievance of Penang is the Chinese question. She
would not be human did she not revile her Municipal Commissioners and
talk about the unsanitary condition of the island. If nose and eyes and
ears be any guide, she is far cleaner even in her streets than many an
Indian cantonment, and her water-supply seems perfection. But I sat in
that little newspaper office and listened to stories of municipal
intrigue that might have suited Serampore or Calcutta, only the names
were a little different, and in place of Ghose and Chuckerbutty one
heard titles such as Yih Tat, Lo Eng, and the like. The Englishman's
aggressive altruism always leads him to build towns for others, and
incite aliens to serve on municipal boards. Then he gets tired of his
weakness and starts papers to condemn himself. They had a Chinaman on
the Municipality last year. They have now got rid of him, and the
present body is constituted of two officials and four non-officials.
_Therefore_ they complain of the influence of officialdom.

Having thoroughly settled all the differences of Penang to my own great
satisfaction, I removed myself to a Chinese theatre set in the open
road, and made of sticks and old gunny-bags. The orchestra alone
convinced me that there was something radically wrong with the Chinese
mind. Once, long ago in Jummu, I heard the infernal clang of the horns
used by the Devil-dancers who had come from far beyond Ladakh to do
honour to the Prince that day set upon his throne. That was about three
thousand miles to the north, but the character of the music was
unchanged. A thousand Chinamen stood as close as possible to the horrid
din and enjoyed it. Once more, can anything be done to a people without
nerves as without digestion, and, if reports speak truly, without
morals? But it is not true that they are born with full-sized pigtails.
The thing grows, and in its very earliest stages is the prettiest
head-dressing imaginable, being soft brown, very fluffy, about three
inches long, and dressed as to the end with red silk. An infant pigtail
is just like the first tender sprout of a tulip bulb, and would be
lovable were not the Chinese baby so very horrible of hue and shape. He
isn't as pretty as the pig that Alice nursed in Wonderland, and he lies
quite still and never cries. This is because he is afraid of being
boiled and eaten. I saw cold boiled babies on a plate being carried
through the heart of the town. They said it was only sucking-pig, but I
knew better. Dead sucking-pigs don't grin with their eyes open.

About this time the faces of the Chinese frightened me more than ever,
so I ran away to the outskirts of the town and saw a windowless house
that carried the Square and Compass in gold and teakwood above the door.
I took heart at meeting these familiar things again, and knowing that
where they were was good fellowship and much charity, in spite of all
the secret societies in the world. Penang is to be congratulated on one
of the prettiest little lodges in the East.



No. V

OF THE THRESHOLD OF THE FAR EAST AND THE DWELLERS THEREON. A
DISSERTATION UPON THE USE OF THE BRITISH LION.

    "How the world is made for each of us,
    How all we perceive and know in it
    Tends to some moment's product--thus
    When a soul declares itself--to wit
    By its fruit, the thing it does."


"I assure you, Sir, weather as hot as this has not been felt in Singapur
for years and years. March is always reckoned our hottest month, but
this is quite abnormal."

And I made answer to the stranger wearily:--

"Yes, of course. They always told that lie in the other places. Leave me
alone and let me drip."

This is the heat of an orchid-house,--a clinging, remorseless,
steam-sweat that knows no variation between night and day. Singapur is
another Calcutta, but much more so. In the suburbs they are building
rows of cheap houses; in the city they run over you and jostle you into
the kennel. These are unfailing signs of commercial prosperity. India
ended so long ago that I cannot even talk about the natives of the
place. They are all Chinese, except where they are French or Dutch or
German. England is by the uninformed supposed to own the island. The
rest belongs to China and the Continent, but chiefly China. I knew I had
touched the borders of the Celestial Empire when I was thoroughly
impregnated with the reek of Chinese tobacco, a fine-cut, greasy, glossy
weed, to whose smoke the aroma of a huqa in the cookhouse is all
Rimmell's shop.

Providence conducted me along a beach, in full view of five miles of
shipping,--five solid miles of masts and funnels,--to a place called
Raffles Hotel, where the food is as excellent as the rooms are bad. Let
the traveller take note. Feed at Raffles and sleep at the Hotel de
l'Europe. I would have done this but for the apparition of two large
ladies tastefully attired in bedgowns, who sat with their feet propped
on a chair. This Joseph ran; but it turned out that they were Dutch
ladies from Batavia, and that that was their national costume till
dinner time.

"If, as you say, they had on stockings and dressing-gowns, you have
nothing to complain of. They generally wear nothing but a night-gown
till five o'clock," quoth a man versed in the habits of the land.

I do not know whether he spoke the truth; I am inclined to think that he
did; but now I know what "Batavian grace" really means, I don't approve
of it. A lady in a dressing-gown disturbs the mind and prevents careful
consideration of the political outlook in Singapur, which is now
supplied with a set of very complete forts, and is hopefully awaiting
some nine-inch breach-loaders that are to adorn them. There is something
very pathetic in the trustful, clinging attitude of the Colonies, who
ought to have been soured and mistrustful long ago. "We hope the Home
Government may do this. It is possible that the Home Government may do
that," is the burden of the song, and in every place where the
Englishman cannot breed successfully must continue to be. Imagine an
India fit for permanent habitation by our kin, and consider what a place
it would be this day, with the painter cut fifty years ago, fifty
thousand miles of railways laid down and ten thousand under survey, and
possibly an annual surplus. Is this sedition? Forgive me, but I am
looking at the shipping outside the verandah, at the Chinamen in the
streets, and at the lazy, languid Englishmen in banians and white
jackets stretched on the cane chairs, and these things are not nice. The
men are not really lazy, as I will try to show later on, but they lounge
and loaf and seem to go to office at eleven, which must be bad for work.
And they all talk about going home at indecently short intervals, as
though that were their right. Once more, if we could only rear children
that did not run to leg and nose in the second generation in this part
of the world and one or two others, what an amazing disruption of the
Empire there would be before half of a Parnell Commission sitting was
accomplished! And then, later, when the freed States had plunged into
hot water, fought their fights, overborrowed, overspeculated, and
otherwise conducted themselves like younger sons, what a coming together
and revision of tariffs, ending in one great iron band girdling the
earth. Within that limit free trade. Without, rancorous Protection. It
would be too vast a hornet's nest for any combination of Powers to
disturb. The dream will not come about for a long time, but we shall
accomplish something like it one of these days. The birds of passage
from Canada, from Borneo,--Borneo that will have to go through a
general rough-and-tumble before she grips her possibilities,--from
Australia, from a hundred scattered islands, are saying the same thing:
"We are not strong enough yet, but some day We shall be."

Oh! dear people, stewing in India and swearing at all the Governments,
it is a glorious thing to be an Englishman. "Our lot has fallen unto us
in a fair ground. Yea, we have a goodly heritage." Take a map and look
at the long stretch of the Malay Peninsula,--a thousand miles southerly
it runs, does it not?--whereon Penang, Malacca, and Singapur are so
modestly underlined in red ink. See, now. We have our Residents at every
one of the Malay native States of any importance, and right up the line
to Kedah and Siam our influence regulates and controls all. Into this
land God put first gold and tin, and after these the Englishman, who
floats companies, obtains concessions and goes forward. Just at present,
one company alone holds a concession of two thousand square miles in the
interior. That means mining rights; and that means a few thousand
coolies and a settled administration such as obtains in the big Indian
collieries, where the heads of the mines are responsible kings.

With the companies will come the railroads. So far the Straits papers
spend their space in talking about them, for at present there are only
twenty-three or twenty-four miles of narrow-gauge railway open, near a
civilised place called Pirates' Creek, in the Peninsula. The Sultan of
Johore is, or has been, wavering over a concession for a railway through
his country, which will ultimately connect with this Pirates' Creek
line. Singapur is resolved ere long to bridge over the mile or
mile-and-a-half Straits between herself and the State of Johore. In this
manner a beginning will be made of the southerly extension of
Colquhoun's great line running, let us say, from Singapur through the
small States and Siam, without a break, into the great Indian railway
systems, so that a man will be able to book from here to Calcutta
direct. Anything like a business summary of the railway schemes that
come up for discussion from time to time would fill a couple of these
letters, and would be uncommonly dry reading. You know the sort of
"shop" talk that rages among engineers when a new line is being run in
India through perfectly known ground, whose traffic-potentialities may
be calculated to the last pie. It is very much the same here, with the
difference that no one knows for a certainty what the country ahead of
the surveys is like, or where the development is likely to stop. This
gives breeziness to the conversation. The audacity of the speakers is
amazing to one who has been accustomed to see things through Indian
eyes. They hint at "running up the Peninsula," establishing
communications here, consolidating influence there, and Providence only
knows what else; but never a word do they breathe about the necessity
for increased troops to stand by and back these little operations.
Perhaps they assume that the Home Government will provide, but it does
seem strange to hear them cold-bloodedly discussing notions that will
inevitably demand doubled garrisons to keep the ventures out of alien
hands. However, the merchant-men will do their work, and I suppose we
shall borrow three files and a sergeant from somewhere or other when
the time comes, and people begin to realise what sort of a gift our
Straits Settlements are. It is so cheap to prophesy. They will in the
near future grow into--

The Professor looked over my shoulder at this point. "Bosh!" said he.
"They will become just a supplementary China--another field for Chinese
cheap labour. When the Dutch Settlements were returned in 1815,--all
these islands hereabouts, you know,--we should have handed over these
places as well. Look!" He pointed at the swarming Chinamen below.

"Let me dream my dream, 'Fessor. I'll take my hat in a minute and settle
the question of Chinese immigration in five minutes." But I confess it
was mournful to look into the street, which ought to have been full of
Beharis, Madrassis, and men from the Konkan--from our India.

Then up and spake a sunburned man who had interests in North Borneo--he
owned caves in the mountains, some of them nine hundred feet high, so
please you, and filled with the guano of ages, and had been telling me
leech-stories till my flesh crawled. "North Borneo," said he, calmly,
"wants a million of labourers to do her any good. One million coolies.
Men are wanted everywhere,--in the Peninsula, in Sumatra for the tobacco
planting, in Java,--everywhere; but Borneo--the Company's provinces that
is to say--needs a million coolies." It is pleasant to oblige a
stranger, and I felt that I spoke with India at my back. "We could
oblige you with two million or twenty, for the matter of that," said I,
generously.

"Your men are no good," said the North Borneo man. "If one man goes
away, he must have a whole village to look after his wants. India as a
labour field is no good to us, and the Sumatra men say that your coolies
either can't or won't tend tobacco properly. We must have China coolies
as the land develops."

Oh, India, oh, my country! This it is to have inherited a highly
organised civilisation and an ancient precedence code. That your
children shall be scoffed at by the alien as useless outside their own
pot-bound provinces. Here was a labour outlet, a door to full dinners,
through which men--yellow men with pigtails--were pouring by the ten
thousand, while in Bengal the cultured native editor was shrieking over
"atrocities" committed in moving a few hundred souls a few hundred miles
into Assam.



No. VI

OF THE WELL-DRESSED ISLANDERS OF SINGAPUR AND THEIR DIVERSIONS; PROVING
THAT ALL STATIONS ARE EXACTLY ALIKE. SHOWS HOW ONE CHICAGO JEW AND AN
AMERICAN CHILD CAN POISON THE PUREST MIND.

    "We are not divided,
    All one body we--
    One in hope and doctrine,
    One in Charity."


When one comes to a new station the first thing to do is to call on the
inhabitants. This duty I had neglected, preferring to consort with
Chinese till the Sabbath, when I learnt that Singapur went to the
Botanical Gardens and listened to secular music.

All the Englishmen in the island congregated there. The Botanical
Gardens would have been lovely at Kew, but here, where one knew that
they were the only place of recreation open to the inhabitants, they
were not pleasant. All the plants of all the tropics grew there
together, and the orchid-house was roofed with thin battens of
wood--just enough to keep off the direct rays of the sun. It held
waxy-white splendours from Manila, the Philippines, and tropical
Africa--plants that were half-slugs, drawing nourishment apparently from
their own wooden labels; but there was no difference between the
temperature of the orchid-house and the open air; both were heavy,
dank, and steaming. I would have given a month's pay--but I have no
month's pay--for a clear breath of stifling hot wind from the sands of
Sirsa, for the darkness of a Punjab dust-storm, in exchange for the
perspiring plants, and the tree-fern that sweated audibly.

Just when I was most impressed with my measureless distance from India,
my carriage advanced to the sound of slow music, and I found myself in
the middle of an Indian station--not quite as big as Allahabad, and
infinitely prettier than Lucknow. It overlooked the gardens that sloped
in ridge and hollow below; and the barracks were set in much greenery,
and there was a mess-house that suggested long and cooling drinks, and
there walked round about a British band. It was just We Our Noble
Selves. In the centre was the pretty _Memsahib_ with light hair and
fascinating manners, and the plump little _Memsahib_ that talks to
everybody and is in everybody's confidence, and the spinster fresh from
home, and the bean-fed, well-groomed subaltern with the light coat and
fox-terrier. On the benches sat the fat colonel, and the large judge,
and the engineer's wife, and the merchant-man and his family after their
kind--male and female met I them, and but for the little fact that they
were entire strangers to me, I would have saluted them all as old
friends. I knew what they were talking about, could see them taking
stock of one another's dresses out of the corners of their eyes, could
see the young men backing and filling across the ground in order to walk
with the young maidens, and could hear the "Do you think so's" and "Not
really's" of our polite conversation. It is an awful thing to sit in a
hired carriage and watch one's own people, and know that though you know
their life, you have neither part nor lot in it.

    "I am a shadow now; alas! alas!
    Upon the skirts of human nature dwelling,"

I said mournfully to the Professor. He was looking at Mrs. ----, or some
one so like her that it came to the same thing. "Am I travelling round
the world to discover _these_ people?" said he. "I've seen 'em all
before. There's Captain Such-an-one and Colonel Such-another and Miss
What's-its-name as large as life and twice as pale."

The Professor had hit it. That was the difference. People in Singapur
are dead-white--as white as Naaman--and the veins on the backs of their
hands are painted in indigo.

It is as though the Rains were just over, and none of the womenfolk had
been allowed to go to the hills. Yet no one talks about the
unhealthiness of Singapur. A man lives well and happily until he begins
to feel unwell. Then he feels worse because the climate allows him no
chance of pulling himself together--and then he dies. Typhoid fever
appears to be one gate of death, as it is in India; also liver. The
nicest thing in the civil station which lies, of course, far from the
native town, and boasts pretty little bungalows--is Thomas--dear,
white-robed, swaggering, smoking, swearing Thomas Atkins the
unchangeable, who listens to the band and wanders down the bazaars, and
slings the unmentionable adjective about the palm trees exactly as
though he were in Mian Mir. The 58th (Northamptonshire) live in these
parts; so Singapur is quite safe, you see.

Nobody would speak to me in the gardens, though I felt that they ought
to have invited me to drink, and I crept back to my hotel to eat six
different fresh chutnies with one curry.

       *       *       *       *       *

I want to go Home! I want to go back to India! I am miserable. The
steamship _Nawab_ at this time of the year ought to have been empty,
instead of which we have one hundred first-class passengers and
sixty-six second. All the pretty girls are in the latter class.
Something must have happened at Colombo--two steamers must have clashed.
We have the results of the collision, and we are a menagerie. The
captain says that there ought to have been only ten or twelve passengers
by rights, and had the rush been anticipated, a larger steamer would
have been provided. Personally, I consider that half our shipmates ought
to be thrown overboard. They are only travelling round the world for
pleasure, and that sort of dissipation leads to the forming of hasty and
intemperate opinions. Anyhow, give me freedom and the cockroaches of the
British India, where we dined on deck, altered the hours of the meals by
plebiscite, and were lords of all we saw. You know the chain-gang
regulations of the P. and O.: how you must approach the captain standing
on your head with your feet waving reverently; how you must crawl into
the presence of the chief steward on your belly and call him
Thrice-Puissant Bottle-washer; how you must not smoke abaft the
sheep-pens; must not stand in the companion; must put on a clean coat
when the ship's library is opened; and crowning injustice, must order
your drinks for tiffin and dinner one meal in advance? How can a man
full of Pilsener beer reach that keen-set state of quiescence needful
for ordering his dinner liquor? This shows ignorance of human nature.
The P. and O. want healthy competition. They call their captains
commanders and act as though 'twere a favour to allow you to embark.
Again, freedom and the British India for ever, and down with the
comforts of a coolie ship and the prices of a palace!

There are about thirty women on board, and I have been watching with a
certain amount of indignation their concerted attempt at killing the
stewardess,--a delicate and sweet-mannered lady. I think they will
accomplish their end. The saloon is ninety feet long, and the stewardess
runs up and down it for nine hours a day. In her intervals of relaxation
she carries cups of beef-tea to the frail sylphs who cannot exist
without food between 9 A.M. and 1 P.M. This morning she advanced to me
and said, as though it were the most natural thing in the world: "Shall
I take away your tea-cup, sir?" She was a real white woman, and the
saloon was full of hulking, half-bred Portuguese. One young Englishman
let her take his cup, and actually did not turn round when he handed it.
This is awful, and teaches me, as nothing else has done, how far I am
from the blessed East. She (the stewardess) talks standing up, to men
who sit down!

We in India are currently supposed to be unkind to our servants. I
should very much like to see a sweeper doing one-half of the work these
strapping white matrons and maids exact from their sister. They make
her carry things about and don't even say, "Thank you." She has no name,
and if you bawl, "Stewardess," she is bound to come. Isn't it degrading?

But the real reason of my wish to return is because I have met a lump of
Chicago Jews and am afraid that I shall meet many more. The ship is full
of Americans, but the American-German-Jew boy is the most awful of all.
One of them has money, and wanders from bow to stern asking strangers to
drink, bossing lotteries on the run, and committing other atrocities. It
is currently reported that he is dying. Unfortunately he does not die
quickly enough.

But the real monstrosity of the ship is an American who is not quite
grown up. I cannot call it a boy, though officially it is only eight,
wears a striped jacket, and eats with the children. It has the wearied
appearance of an infant monkey--there are lines round its mouth and
under its eyebrows. When it has nothing else to do it will answer to the
name of Albert. It has been two years on the continuous travel; has
spent a month in India; has seen Constantinople, Tripoli, Spain; has
lived in tents and on horseback for thirty days and thirty nights, as it
was careful to inform me; and has exhausted the round of this world's
delights. There is no flesh on its bones, and it lives in the
smoking-room financing the arrangements of the daily lottery. I was
afraid of it, but it followed me, and in a level expressionless voice
began to tell me how lotteries were constructed. When I protested that I
knew, it continued without regarding the interruption, and finally, as a
reward for my patience, volunteered to give me the names and
idiosyncracies of all on board. Then it vanished through the
smoking-room window because the door was only eight feet high, and
therefore too narrow for that bulk of abnormal experiences. On certain
subjects it was partly better informed than I; on others it displayed
the infinite credulity of a two-year-old. But the wearied eyes were ever
the same. They will be the same when it is fifty. I was more sorry for
it than I could say. All its reminiscences had got jumbled, and
incidents of Spain were baled into Turkey and India. Some day a
schoolmaster will get hold of it and try to educate it, and I should
dearly like to see at which end he will begin. The head is too full
already and the--the other part does not exist. Albert is, I presume,
but an ordinary American child. He was to me a revelation. Now I want to
see a little American girl--but not now--not just now. My nerves are
shattered by the Jews and Albert; and unless they recover their tone I
shall turn back at Yokohama.



No. VII

SHOWS HOW I ARRIVED IN CHINA AND SAW ENTIRELY THROUGH THE GREAT WALL AND
OUT UPON THE OTHER SIDE.

                      "Where naked ignorance
    Delivers brawling judgments all day long
    On all things unashamed."


The past few days on the _Nawab_ have been spent amid a new people and a
very strange one. There were speculators from South Africa: financiers
from home (these never talked in anything under hundreds of thousands of
pounds and, I fear, bluffed awfully); there were Consuls of far-off
China ports and partners of China shipping houses talking a talk and
thinking thoughts as different from Ours as is Our slang from the slang
of London. But it would not interest you to learn the story of our
shipload--to hear about the hard-headed Scotch merchant with a taste for
spiritualism, who begged me to tell him whether there was really
anything in Theosophy and whether Tibet was full of levitating _chelas_,
as he believed; or of the little London curate out for a holiday who had
seen India and had faith in the progress of missionary work there--who
believed that the C. M. S. was shaking the thoughts and convictions of
the masses, and that the Word of the Lord would ere long prevail above
all other councils. He in the night-watches tackled and disposed of the
great mysteries of Life and Death, and was looking forward to a lifetime
of toil amid a parish without a single rich man in it.

When you are in the China Seas be careful to keep all your flannel-wear
to hand. In an hour the steamer swung from tropical heat (including
prickly) to a cold raw fog, as wet as a Scotch mist. Morning gave us a
new world--somewhere between Heaven and Earth. The sea was smoked glass:
reddish grey islands lay upon it under fog-banks that hovered fifty feet
above our heads. The squat sails of junks danced for an instant like
autumn leaves in the breeze and disappeared, and there was no solidity
in the islands against which the glassy levels splintered in snow. The
steamer groaned and grunted and howled because she was so damp and
miserable, and I groaned also because the guide-book said that Hong-Kong
had the finest harbour in the world, and I could not see two hundred
yards in any direction. Yet this ghost-like in-gliding through the
belted fog was livelily mysterious, and became more so when the movement
of the air vouchsafed us a glimpse of a warehouse and a derrick, both
apparently close aboard, and behind them the shoulder of a mountain. We
made our way into a sea of flat-nosed boats all manned by most muscular
humans, and the Professor said that the time to study the Chinese
question was now. We, however, were carrying a new general to these
parts, and nice, new, well-fitting uniforms came off to make him
welcome; and in the contemplation of things too long withheld from me I
forgot about the Pigtails. Gentlemen of the mess-room, who would wear
linen coats on parade if you could, wait till you have been a month
without seeing a patrol-jacket or hearing a spur go _ling-a-ling_, and
you will know why civilians want you always to wear uniform. The
General, by the way, was a nice General. He did not know much about the
Indian Army or the ways of a gentleman called Roberts, if I recollect
aright; but he said that Lord Wolseley was going to be
Commander-in-Chief one of these days on account of the pressing needs of
our Army. He was a revelation because he talked about nothing but
English military matters, which are very, very different from Indian
ones, and are mixed up with politics.

All Hong-Kong is built on the sea face; the rest is fog. One muddy road
runs for ever in front of a line of houses which are partly Chowringhee
and partly Rotherhithe. You live in the houses, and when wearied of
this, walk across the road and drop into the sea, if you can find a
square foot of unencumbered water. So vast is the accumulation of
country shipping, and such is its dirtiness as it rubs against the bund,
that the superior inhabitants are compelled to hang their boats from
davits above the common craft, who are greatly disturbed by a multitude
of steam-launches. These ply for amusement and the pleasure of
whistling, and are held in such small esteem that every hotel owns one,
and the others are masterless. Beyond the launches lie more steamers
than the eye can count, and four out of five of these belong to Us. I
was proud when I saw the shipping at Singapur, but I swell with
patriotism as I watch the fleets of Hong-Kong from the balcony of the
Victoria Hotel. I can almost spit into the water; but many mariners
stand below and they are a strong breed.

How recklessly selfish does a traveller become! We had dropped for more
than ten days all the world outside our trunks, and almost the first
word in the hotel was: "John Bright is dead, and there has been an awful
hurricane at Samoa."

"Ah! indeed that's very sad; but look here, where do you say my rooms
are?" At home the news would have given talk for half a day. It was
dismissed in half the length of a hotel corridor. One cannot sit down to
think with a new world humming outside the window--with all China to
enter upon and possess.

A rattling of trunks in the halls--a click of heels--and the apparition
of an enormous gaunt woman wrestling with a small Madrassi servant....
"Yes--I haf travelled everywhere and I shall travel everywhere else. I
go now to Shanghai and Pekin. I have been in Moldavia, Russia, Beyrout,
all Persia, Colombo, Delhi, Dacca, Benares, Allahabad, Peshawar, the Ali
Musjid in that pass, Malabar, Singapur, Penang, here in this place, and
Canton. I am Austrian-Croat, and I shall see the States of America and
perhaps Ireland. I travel for ever; I am--how you call?--_veuve_--widow.
My husband, he was dead; and so I am sad--I am always sad und so I
trafel. I am alife of course, but I do not live. You onderstandt? Always
sad. Vill you tell them the name of the ship to which they shall warf my
trunks now. You trafel for pleasure? So! I trafel because I am alone und
sad--always sad."

The trunks disappeared, the door shut, the heels clicked down the
passage, and I was left scratching my head in wonder. How did that
conversation begin--why did it end, and what is the use of meeting
eccentricities who never explained themselves? I shall never get an
answer, but that conversation is true, every word of it. I see now where
the fragmentary school of novelists get their material from.

When I went into the streets of Hong-Kong I stepped into thick slushy
London mud of the kind that strikes chilly through the boot, and the
rattle of innumerable wheels was as the rattle of hansoms. A soaking
rain fell, and all the sahibs hailed 'rickshaws,--they call them 'ricks
here,--and the wind was chillier than the rain. It was the first touch
of honest weather since Calcutta. No wonder with such a climate that
Hong-Kong was ten times livelier than Singapur, that there were signs of
building everywhere, and gas-jets in all the houses, that colonnades and
domes were scattered broadcast, and the Englishmen walked as Englishmen
should--hurriedly and looking forward. All the length of the main street
was verandahed, and the Europe shops squandered plate glass by the
square yard. (_Nota bene._--As in Simla so elsewhere: mistrust the plate
glass shops. You pay for their fittings in each purchase.)

The same Providence that runs big rivers so near to large cities puts
main thoroughfares close to big hotels. I went down Queen Street, which
is not very hilly. All the other streets that I looked up were built in
steps after the fashion of Clovelly, and under blue skies would have
given the Professor scores of good photographs. The rain and the fog
blotted the views. Each upward-climbing street ran out in white mist
that covered the sides of a hill, and the downward-sloping ones were
lost in the steam from the waters of the harbour, and both were very
strange to see. "Hi-yi-yow," said my 'rickshaw coolie and balanced me
on one wheel. I got out and met first a German with a beard, then three
jolly sailor boys from a man-of-war, then a sergeant of Sappers, then a
Parsee, then two Arabs, then an American, then a Jew, then a few
thousand Chinese all carrying something, and then the Professor.

"They make plates--instantaneous plates--in Tokio, I'm told. What d'you
think of that?" he said. "Why, in India, the Survey Department are the
only people who make their own plates. Instantaneous plates in Tokio;
think of it!"

I had owed the Professor one for a long time. "After all," I replied,
"it strikes me that we have made the mistake of thinking too much of
India. We thought we were civilised, for instance. Let us take a lower
place. This beats Calcutta into a hamlet."

And in good truth it did, because it was clean beyond the ordinary,
because the houses were uniform, three storied, and verandahed, and the
pavements were of stone. I met one horse, very ashamed of himself, who
was looking after a cart on the sea road, but upstairs there are no
vehicles save 'rickshaws. Hong-Kong has killed the romance of the
'rickshaw in my mind. They ought to be sacred to pretty ladies, instead
of which men go to office in them, officers in full canonicals use them;
tars try to squeeze in two abreast, and from what I have heard down at
the barracks they do occasionally bring to the guard-room the drunken
defaulter. "He falls asleep inside of it, Sir, and saves trouble." The
Chinese naturally have the town for their own, and profit by all our
building improvements and regulations. Their golden and red signs flame
down the Queen's Road, but they are careful to supplement their own
tongue by well-executed Europe lettering. I found only one exception,
thus:--

        Fussing, Garpenter
      And Gabinet Naktr
    Has good Gabi
          Nets tor Sale.

The shops are made to catch the sailor and the curio hunter, and they
succeed admirably. When you come to these parts put all your money in a
bank and tell the manager man not to give it you, however much you ask.
So shall you be saved from bankruptcy.

The Professor and I made a pilgrimage from Kee Sing even unto Yi King,
who sells the decomposed fowl, and each shop was good. Though it sold
shoes or sucking pigs, there was some delicacy of carving or gilded
tracery in front to hold the eye, and each thing was quaint and striking
of its kind. A fragment of twisted roots helped by a few strokes into
the likeness of huddled devils, a running knop and flower cornice, a
dull red and gold half-door, a split bamboo screen--they were all good,
and their joinings and splicings and mortisings were accurate. The
baskets of the coolies were good in shape, and the rattan fastenings
that clenched them to the polished bamboo yoke were whipped down, so
that there were no loose ends. You could slide in and out the drawers in
the slung chests of the man who sold dinners to the 'rickshaw coolies;
and the pistons of the little wooden hand-pumps in the shops worked
accurately in their sockets.

I was studying these things while the Professor was roaming through
carved ivories, broidered silks, panels of inlay, tortoise-shell
filigree, jade-tipped pipes, and the God of Art only knows what else.

"I don't think even as much of him (meaning our Indian craftsman) as I
used to do," said the Professor, taking up a tiny ivory grotesque of a
small baby trying to pull a water-buffalo out of its wallow--the whole
story of beast and baby written in the hard ivory. The same thought was
in both our minds; we had gone near the subject once or twice before.

"They are a hundred times his superior in mere idea--let alone
execution," said the Professor, his hand on a sketch in woods and gems
of a woman caught in a gale of wind protecting her baby from its
violence.

"Yes; and don't you see that _they_ only introduce aniline dyes into
things intended for _us_. Whereas _he_ wears them on his body whenever
he can. What made this yellow image of a shopman here take delight in a
dwarf orange tree in a turquoise blue pot?" I continued, sorting a
bundle of cheap China spoons--all good in form, colour, and use. The
big-bellied Chinese lanterns above us swayed in the wind with a soft
chafing of oiled paper, but they made no sign, and the shopkeeper in
blue was equally useless.

"You wanchee buy? Heap plitty things here," said he; and he filled a
tobacco-pipe from a dull green leather pouch held at the mouth with a
little bracelet of plasma, or it might have been the very jade. He was
playing with a brown-wood abacus, and by his side was his day-book bound
in oiled paper, and the tray of Indian ink, with the brushes and the
porcelain supports for the brushes. He made an entry in his book and
daintily painted in his latest transaction. The Chinese of course have
been doing this for a few thousand years, but Life, and its experiences,
is as new to me as it was to Adam, and I marvelled.

"Wanchee buy?" reiterated the shopman after he had made his last
flourish.

"You," said I, in the new tongue which I am acquiring, "wanchee know one
piecee information b'long my pidgin. Savvy these things? Have got soul,
you?"

"Have got how?"

"Have got one piecee soul--allee same spilit? No savvy? This way
then--your people lookee allee same devil; but makee culio allee same
pocket-Joss, and not giving any explanation. Why-for are you such a
horrible contradiction?"

"No savvy. Two dollar an' half," he said, balancing a cabinet in his
hand. The Professor had not heard. His mind was oppressed with the fate
of the Hindu.

"There are three races who can work," said the Professor, looking down
the seething street where the 'rickshaws tore up the slush, and the
babel of Cantonese, and pidgin went up to the yellow fog in a jumbled
snarl.

"But there is only one that can swarm," I answered. "The Hindu cuts his
own throat and dies, and there are too few of the Sahib-log to last for
ever. These people work and spread. They must have souls or they
couldn't understand pretty things."

"I can't make it out," said the Professor. "They are better artists than
the Hindu,--that carving you are looking at is Japanese, by the
way,--better artists and stronger workmen, man for man. They pack close
and eat everything, and they can live on nothing."

"And I've been praising the beauties of Indian Art all my days." It was
a little disappointing when you come to think of it, but I tried to
console myself by the thought that the two lay so far apart there was no
comparison possible. And yet accuracy is surely the touchstone of all
Art.

"They will overwhelm the world," said the Professor, calmly, and he went
out to buy tea.

Neither at Penang, Singapur, nor this place have I seen a single
Chinaman asleep while daylight lasted. Nor have I seen twenty men who
were obviously loafing. All were going to some definite end--if it were
only like the coolie on the wharf, to steal wood from the scaffolding of
a half-built house. In his own land, I believe, the Chinaman is treated
with a certain amount of carelessness, not to say ferocity. Where he
hides his love of art, the Heaven that made him out of the yellow earth
that holds so much iron only knows. His love is for little things, or
else why should he get quaint pendants for his pipe, and at the backmost
back of his shop build up for himself a bowerbird's collection of odds
and ends, every one of which has beauty if you hold it sufficiently
close to the eye. It grieves me that I cannot account for the ideas of a
few hundred million men in a few hours. This much, however, seems
certain. If we had control over as many Chinamen as we have natives of
India, and had given them one tithe of the cossetting, the painful
pushing forward, and studious, even nervous, regard of their interests
and aspirations that we have given to India, we should long ago have
been expelled from, or have reaped the reward of, the richest land on
the face of the earth. A pair of my shoes have been, oddly enough,
wrapped in a newspaper which carries for its motto the words, "There is
no Indian nation, though there exists the germs of an Indian
nationality," or something very like that. This thing has been moving me
to unholy laughter. The great big lazy land that we nurse and wrap in
cotton-wool, and ask every morning whether it is strong enough to get
out of bed, seems like a heavy soft cloud on the far-away horizon; and
the babble that we were wont to raise about its precious future and its
possibilities, no more than the talk of children in the streets who have
made a horse out of a pea-pod and match-sticks, and wonder if it will
ever walk. I am sadly out of conceit of mine own other--not
mother--country now that I have had my boots blacked at once every time
I happened to take them off. The blacker did not do it for the sake of a
gratuity, but because it was his work. Like the beaver of old, he had to
climb that tree; the dogs were after him. There was competition.

       *       *       *       *       *

Is there really such a place as Hong-Kong? People say so, but I have not
yet seen it. Once indeed the clouds lifted and I saw a granite house
perched like a cherub on nothing, a thousand feet above the town. It
looked as if it might be the beginning of a civil station, but a man
came up the street and said, "See this fog It will be like this till
September. You'd better go away." I shall not go. I shall encamp in
front of the place until the fog lifts and the rain ceases. At present,
and it is the third day of April, I am sitting in front of a large coal
fire and thinking of the "frosty Caucasus"--you poor creatures in
torment afar. And you think as you go to office and orderly-room that
you are helping forward England's mission in the East. 'Tis a pretty
delusion, and I am sorry to destroy it, but you have conquered the wrong
country.

Let us annex China.



No. VIII

OF JENNY AND HER FRIENDS. SHOWING HOW A MAN MAY GO TO SEE LIFE AND MEET
DEATH THERE. OF THE FELICITY OF LIFE AND THE HAPPINESS OF CORINTHIAN
KATE. THE WOMAN AND THE CHOLERA.

    "Love and let love, and so will I,
    But, sweet, for me no more with you,
    Not while I live, not though I die.
    Good night, good-by!"


I am entirely the man about town, and sickness is no word for my
sentiments. It began with an idle word in a bar-room. It ended goodness
knows where. That the world should hold French, German, and Italian
ladies of the ancient profession is no great marvel; but it is, to one
who has lived in India, something shocking to meet again Englishwomen in
the same sisterhood. When an opulent papa sends his son and heir round
the world to enlarge his mind, does he reflect, I wonder, on the places
into which the innocent strolls under the guidance of equally
inexperienced friends? I am disposed to think that he does not. In the
interest of the opulent papa, and from a genuine desire to see what they
call Life, with a capital Hell, I went through Hong-Kong for the space
of a night. I am glad that I am not a happy father with a stray son who
thinks that he knows all the ropes. Vice must be pretty much the same
all the round world over, but if a man wishes to get out of pleasure
with it, let him go to Hong-Kong.

"Of course things are out and away better at 'Frisco," said my guide,
"but we consider this very fair for the Island." It was not till a fat
person in a black dressing-gown began to squeal demands for horrible
stuff called "a bottle of wine" that I began to understand the glory of
the situation. I was seeing Life. "Life" is a great thing. It consists
in swigging sweet champagne that was stolen from a steward of the P. and
O., and exchanging bad words with pale-faced baggages who laugh demnibly
without effort and without emotion. The _argot_ of the real "chippy"
(this means man of the world--_Anglice_, a half-drunk youth with his hat
on the back of his head) is not easy to come at. It requires an
apprenticeship in America. I stood appalled at the depth and richness of
the American language, of which I was privileged to hear a special
dialect. There were girls who had been to Leadville and Denver and the
wilds of the wilder West, who had acted in minor companies, and who had
generally misconducted themselves in a hundred weary ways. They
chattered like daws and shovelled down the sickly liquor that made the
rooms reek. As long as they talked sensibly things were amusing, but a
sufficiency of liquor made the mask drop, and verily they swore by all
their gods, chief of whom is Obidicut. Very many men have heard a white
woman swear, but some few, and among these I have been, are denied the
experience. It is quite a revelation; and if nobody tilts you backwards
out of your chair, you can reflect on heaps of things connected with
it. So they cursed and they drank and they told tales, sitting in a
circle, till I felt that this was really Life and a thing to be quitted
if I wished to like it. The young man who knew a thing or two, and gave
the girls leave to sell him if they could, was there of course, and the
hussies sold him as he stood for all he considered himself worth; and I
saw the by-play. Surely the safest way to be fooled is to know
everything. Then there was an interlude and some more shrieks and howls,
which the generous public took as indicating immense mirth and enjoyment
of Life; and I came to yet another establishment, where the landlady
lacked the half of her left lung, as a cough betrayed, but was none the
less amusing in a dreary way, until she also dropped the mask and the
playful jesting began. All the jokes I had heard before at the other
place. It is a poor sort of Life that cannot spring one new jest a day.
More than ever did the youth cock his hat and explain that he was a real
"chippy," and that there were no flies on him. Any one without a
cast-iron head would be "real chippy" next morning after one glass of
that sirupy champagne. I understand now why men feel insulted when sweet
fizz is offered to them. The second interview closed as the landlady
gracefully coughed us into the passage, and so into the healthy, silent
streets. She was very ill indeed, and announced that she had but four
months more to live.

"Are we going to hold these dismal levees all through the night?" I
demanded at the fourth house, where I dreaded the repetition of the
thrice-told tales.

"It's better in 'Frisco. Must amuse the girls a little bit, y'know. Walk
round and wake 'em up. That's Life. You never saw it in India?" was the
reply.

"No, thank God, I didn't. A week of this would make me hang myself," I
returned, leaning wearily against a door-post. There were very loud
sounds of revelry by night here, and the inmates needed no waking up.
One of them was recovering from a debauch of three days, and the other
was just entering upon the same course. Providence protected me all
through. A certain austere beauty of countenance had made every one take
me for a doctor or a parson--a qualified parson, I think; and so I was
spared many of the more pronounced jokes, and could sit and contemplate
the Life that was so sweet. I thought of the Oxonian in _Tom and Jerry_
playing jigs at the spinet,--you seen the old-fashioned plate,--while
Corinthian Tom and Corinthian Kate danced a stately saraband in a little
carpeted room. The worst of it was, the women were real women and
pretty, and like some people I knew, and when they stopped the insensate
racket for a while they were well behaved.

"Pass for real ladies anywhere," said my friend. "Aren't these things
well managed?"

Then Corinthian Kate began to bellow for more drinks,--it was three in
the morning,--and the current of hideous talk recommenced.

They spoke about themselves as "gay." This does not look much on paper.
To appreciate the full grimness of the sarcasm hear it from their lips
amid their own surroundings. I winked with vigour to show that I
appreciated Life and was a real chippy, and that upon me, too, there
were no flies. There is an intoxication in company that carries a man to
excess of mirth; but when a party of four deliberately sit down to
drink and swear, the bottom tumbles out of the amusement somehow, and
loathing and boredom follow. A night's reflection has convinced me that
there is no hell for these women in another world. They have their own
in this Life, and I have been through it a little way. Still carrying
the brevet rank of doctor, it was my duty to watch through the night to
the dawn a patient--gay, _toujours_ gay, remember--quivering on the
verge of a complaint called the "jumps." Corinthian Kate will get hers
later on. Her companion, emerging from a heavy drink, was more than
enough for me. She was an unmitigated horror, until I lost detestation
in genuine pity. The fear of death was upon her for a reason that you
shall hear.

"I say, you say you come from India. Do you know anything about
cholera?"

"A little," I answered. The voice of the questioner was cracked and
quavering. A long pause.

"I say, Doctor, what are the symptoms of cholera? A woman died just over
the street there last week."

"This is pleasant," I thought. "But I must remember that it is Life."

"She died last week--cholera. My God, I tell you she was dead in six
hours! I guess I'll get cholera, too. I can't, though. Can I? I thought
I had it two days ago. It hurt me terribly. I can't get it, can I? It
never attacks people twice, does it? Oh, say it doesn't and be damned to
you. Doctor, what are the symptoms of cholera?"

I waited till she had detailed her own attack, assured her that these
and no others were the symptoms, and--may this be set to my credit--that
cholera never attacked twice. This soothed her for ten minutes. Then
she sprang up with an oath and shrieked:--

"I won't be buried in Hong-Kong. That frightens me. When I die--of
cholera--take me to 'Frisco and bury me there. In 'Frisco--Lone Mountain
'Frisco--you hear, Doctor?"

I heard and promised. Outside the birds were beginning to twitter and
the dawn was pencilling the shutters.

"I say, Doctor, did you ever know Cora Pearl?"

"'Knew _of_ her." I wondered whether she was going to walk round the
room to all eternity with her eyes glaring at the ceiling and her hands
twisting and untwisting one within the other.

"Well," she began, in an impressive whisper, "it was young Duval shot
himself on her mat and made a bloody mess there. I mean real bloody. You
don't carry a pistol, Doctor? Savile did. You didn't know Savile. He was
my husband in the States. But I'm English, pure English. That's what I
am. Let's have a bottle of wine, I'm so nervous. Not good for me? What
the--No, you're a doctor. You know what's good against cholera. Tell me!
Tell me."

She crossed to the shutters and stared out, her hand upon the bolt, and
the bolt clacked against the wood because of the tremulous hand.

"I tell you Corinthian Kate's drunk--full as she can hold. She's always
drinking. Did you ever see my shoulder--these two marks on it? They were
given me by a man--a gentleman--the night before last. I _didn't_ fall
against any furniture. He struck me with his cane twice, the beast, the
beast, the beast! If I had been full, I'd have knocked the dust out of
him. The beast! But I only went into the verandah and cried fit to
break my heart. Oh, the beast!"

She paced the room, chafing her shoulder and crooning over it as though
it were an animal. Then she swore at the man. Then she fell into a sort
of stupor, but moaned and swore at the man in her sleep, and wailed for
her _amah_ to come and dress her shoulder.

Asleep she was not unlovely, but the mouth twitched and the body was
shaken with shiverings, and there was no peace in her at all. Daylight
showed her purple-eyed, slack-cheeked, and staring, racked with a
headache and the nervous twitches. Indeed I was seeing Life; but it did
not amuse me, for I felt that I, though I only made capital of her
extreme woe, was guilty equally with the rest of my kind that had
brought her here.

Then she told lies. At least I was informed that they were lies later on
by the real man of the world. They related to herself and her people,
and if untrue must have been motiveless, for all was sordid and
sorrowful, though she tried to gild the page with a book of photos which
linked her to her past. Not being a man of the world, I prefer to
believe that the tales were true, and thank her for the honour she did
me in the telling.

I had fancied that the house had nothing sadder to show me than her
face. Here was I wrong. Corinthian Kate had really been drinking, and
rose up reeling drunk, which is an awful thing to witness, and makes
one's head ache sympathetically. Something had gone wrong in the
slatternly menage where the plated tea-services were mixed with cheap
China; and the household was being called to account. I watched her
clutching the mosquito net for support, a horror and an offence in the
eye of the guiltless day. I heard her swear in a thick, sodden voice as
I have never yet heard a man swear, and I marvelled that the house did
not thunder in on our heads. Her companion interposed, but was borne
down by a torrent of blasphemy, and the half a dozen little dogs that
infested the room removed themselves beyond reach of Corinthian Kate's
hand or foot. That she was a handsome woman only made the matter worse.
The companion collapsed shivering on one of the couches, and Kate swayed
to and fro and cursed God and man and earth and heaven with puffed lips.
If Alma Tadema could have painted her,--an arrangement in white, black
hair, flashing eyes, and bare feet,--we should have seen the true
likeness of the Eternal Priestess of Humanity. Or she would have been
better drawn when the passion was over, tottering across the room, a
champagne glass held high above her head, shouting, at ten o'clock in
the morning, for some more of the infamous brewage that was even then
poisoning the air of the whole house. She got her liquor, and the two
women sat down to share it together. That was their breakfast.

I went away very sick and miserable, and as the door closed I saw the
two drinking.

"Out and away better in 'Frisco," said the real "chippy" one. "But you
see they are awfully nice--could pass for ladies any time they like. I
tell you a man has to go round and keep his eyes open among them when
he's seeing a little sporting life."

I have seen all that I wish to see, and henceforward I will pass. There
may be better champagne and better drinkers in 'Frisco and elsewhere,
but the talk will be the same, and the mouldiness and staleness of it
all will be the same till the end of time. If this be Life, give me a
little honest death, without drinks and without foul jesting. Anyway you
look at it 'tis a poor performance, badly played, and too near to a
tragedy to be pleasant. But it seems to amuse the young man wandering
about the world, and I cannot believe that it is altogether good for
him--unless, indeed, it makes him fonder of his home.

And mine was the greater sin! I was driven by no gust of passion, but
went in cold blood to make my account of this Inferno, and to measure
the measureless miseries of life. For the wholly insignificant sum of
thirty dollars I had purchased information and disgust more than I
required, and the right to look after a woman half crazed with drink and
fear the third part of a terrible night. Mine was the greater sin.

When we stepped back into the world I was glad that the fog stood
between myself and the heaven above.



No. IX

SOME TALK WITH A TAIPAN AND A GENERAL; PROVES IN WHAT MANNER A SEA
PICNIC MAY BE A SUCCESS.

    "I should like to rise and go
    Where the golden apples grow,
    Where beneath another sky
    Parrot-islands anchored lie."

    --_R. L. Stevenson._


Hong-Kong was so much alive, so built, so lighted, and so bloatedly rich
to all outward appearance that I wanted to know how these things came
about. You can't lavish granite by the cubic ton for nothing, or rivet
your cliffs with Portland cement, or build a five-mile bund, or
establish a club like a small palace. I sought a _Taipan_, which means
the head of an English trading firm. He was the biggest _Taipan_ on the
island, and quite the nicest. He owned ships and wharves and houses and
mines and a hundred other things. To him said I:--

"O _Taipan_, I am a poor person from Calcutta, and the liveliness of
your place astounds me. How is it that every one smells of money; whence
come your municipal improvements; and why are the White Men so
restless?"

Said the _Taipan_: "It is because the island is going ahead mightily.
Because everything pays. Observe this share-list."

He took me down a list of thirty or less companies--steam-launch
companies, mining, rope-weaving, dock, trading, agency and general
companies--and with five exceptions all the shares were at premium--some
a hundred, some five hundred, and others only fifty.

"It is not a boom," said the _Taipan_. "It is genuine. Nearly every man
you meet in these parts is a broker, and he floats companies."

I looked out of the window and beheld how companies were floated. Three
men with their hats on the back of their heads converse for ten minutes.
To these enters a fourth with a pocket-book. Then all four dive into the
Hong-Kong Hotel for material wherewith to float themselves and--there is
your company!

"From these things," said the _Taipan_, "comes the wealth of Hong-Kong.
Every notion here pays, from the dairy-farm upwards. We have passed
through our bad times and come to the fat years."

He told me tales of the old times--pityingly because he knew I could not
understand. All I could tell was that the place dressed by America--from
the hair-cutters' saloons to the liquor-bars. The faces of men were
turned to the Golden Gate even while they floated most of the Singapur
companies. There is not sufficient push in Singapur alone, so Hong-Kong
helps. Circulars of new companies lay on the bank counters. I moved amid
a maze of interests that I could not comprehend, and spoke to men whose
minds were at Hankow, Foochoo, Amoy, or even further--beyond the Yangtze
gorges where the Englishman trades.

After a while I escaped from the company-floaters because I knew I could
not understand them, and ran up a hill. Hong-Kong is all hill except
when the fog shuts out everything except the sea. Tree ferns sprouted on
the ground and azaleas mixed with the ferns, and there were bamboos over
all. Consequently it was only natural that I should find a tramway that
stood on its head and waved its feet in the mist. They called it the
Victoria Gap Tramway and hauled it up with a rope. It ran up a hill into
space at an angle of 65°, and to those who have seen the Rigi, Mount
Washington, a switchback railway, and the like would not have been
impressive. But neither you nor I have ever been hauled from Annandale
to the Chaura Maidàn in a bee-line with a five-hundred-foot drop on the
off-side, and we are at liberty to marvel. It is not proper to run up
inclined ways at the tail of a string, more especially when you cannot
see two yards in front of you and all earth below is a swirling cauldron
of mist. Nor, unless you are warned of the opticalness of the delusion,
is it nice to see from your seat, houses and trees at magic-lantern
angles. Such things, before tiffin, are worse than the long roll of the
China seas.

They turned me out twelve hundred feet above the city on the military
road to Dalhousie, as it will be when India has a surplus. Then they
brought me a glorified dandy which, not knowing any better, they called
a chair. Except that it is too long to run corners easily, a chair is
vastly superior to a dandy. It is more like a Bombay side _tonjon_--the
kind we use at Mahableshwar. You sit in a wicker chair, slung low on ten
feet of elastic wooden shafting, and there are light blinds against the
rain.

"We are now," said the Professor, as he wrung out his hat gemmed with
the dews of the driving mist, "we are now on a pleasure trip. This is
the road to Chakrata in the rains."

"Nay," said I; "it is from Solon to Kasauli that we are going. Look at
the black rocks."

"Bosh!" said the Professor. "This is a civilised country. Look at the
road, look at the railings--look at the gutters."

And as I hope never to go to Solon again, the road was cemented, the
railings were of iron mortised into granite blocks, and the gutters were
paved. 'Twas no wider than a hill-path, but if it had been the Viceroy's
pet promenade it could not have been better kept. There was no view.
That was why the Professor had taken his camera. We passed coolies
widening the road, and houses shut up and deserted, solid squat little
houses made of stone, with pretty names after our hill-station
custom--Townend, Craggylands, and the like--and at these things my heart
burned within me. Hong-Kong has no right to mix itself up with Mussoorie
in this fashion. We came to the meeting-place of the winds, eighteen
hundred feet above all the world, and saw forty miles of clouds. That
was the Peak--the great view-place of the island. A laundry on a washing
day would have been more interesting.

"Let us go down, Professor," said I, "and we'll get our money back. This
isn't a view."

We descended by the marvellous tramway, each pretending to be as little
upset as the other, and started in pursuit of a Chinese burying-ground.

"Go to the Happy Valley," said an expert. "The Happy Valley, where the
racecourse and the cemeteries are."

"It's Mussoorie," said the Professor. "I knew it all along."

It was Mussoorie, though we had to go through a half-mile of Portsmouth
Hard first. Soldiers grinned at us from the verandahs of their most
solid three-storied barracks; all the blue-jackets of all the China
squadron were congregated in the Royal Navy Seaman's Club, and they
beamed upon us. The bluejacket is a beautiful creature, and very
healthy, but ... I gave my heart to Thomas Atkins long ago, and him I
love.

By the way, how is it that a Highland regiment--the Argyll and
Southerlandshire for instance--get such good recruits? Do the kilt and
sporran bring in brawny youngsters of five-foot nine, and thirty-nine
inch round the chest? The Navy draws well-built men also. How is it that
Our infantry regiments fare so badly?

We came to the Happy Valley by way of a monument to certain dead
Englishmen. Such things cease to move emotion after a little while. They
are but the seed of the great harvest whereof our children's children
shall assuredly reap the fruits. The men were killed in a fight, or by
disease. We hold Hong-Kong, and by Our strength and wisdom it is a great
city, built upon a rock, and furnished with a dear little seven-furlong
racecourse set in the hills, and fringed as to one side with the homes
of the dead--Mahometan, Christian, and Parsee. A wall of bamboos shuts
off the course and the grand-stand from the cemeteries. It may be good
enough for Hong-Kong, but would you care to watch your pony running with
a grim reminder of "gone to the drawer" not fifty feet behind you? Very
beautiful are the cemeteries, and very carefully tended. The rocky
hillside rises so near to them that the more recent dead can almost
command a view of the racing as they lie. Even this far from the strife
of the Churches they bury the different sects of Christians apart. One
creed paints its wall white, and the other blue. The latter, as close to
the race-stand as may be, writes in straggling letters, "_Hodie mihi
cras tibi._" No, I should _not_ care to race in Hong-Kong. The scornful
assemblage behind the grand-stand would be enough to ruin any luck.

Chinamen do not approve of showing their cemeteries. We hunted ours from
ledge to ledge of the hillsides, through crops and woods and crops
again, till we came to a village of black and white pigs and riven red
rocks beyond which the dead lay. It was a third-rate place, but was
pretty. I have studied that oilskin mystery, the Chinaman, for at least
five days, and why he should elect to be buried in good scenery, and by
what means he knows good scenery when he sees it, I cannot fathom. But
he gets it when the sight is taken from him, and his friends fire
crackers above him in token of the triumph.

That night I dined with the _Taipan_ in a palace. They say the merchant
prince of Calcutta is dead--killed by exchange. Hong-Kong ought to be
able to supply one or two samples. The funny thing in the midst of all
this wealth--wealth such as one reads about in novels--is to hear the
curious deference that is paid to Calcutta. Console yourselves with
that, gentlemen of the Ditch, for by my faith, it is the one thing that
you can boast of. At this dinner I learned that Hong-Kong was
impregnable and that China was rapidly importing twelve and forty ton
guns for the defence of her coasts. The one statement I doubted, but the
other was truth. Those who have occasion to speak of China in these
parts do so deferentially, as who should say: "Germany intends such and
such," or "These are the views of Russia." The very men who talk thus
are doing their best to force upon the great Empire all the stimulants
of the West--railways, tram lines, and so forth. What will happen when
China really wakes up, runs a line from Shanghai to Lhassa, starts
another line of imperial Yellow Flag immigrant steamers, and really
works and controls her own gun-factories and arsenals? The energetic
Englishmen who ship the forty-tonners are helping to this end, but all
they say is: "We're well paid for what we do. There's no sentiment in
business, and anyhow, China will never go to war with England." Indeed,
there is no sentiment in business. The _Taipan's_ palace, full of all
things beautiful, and flowers more lovely than the gem-like cabinets
they adorned, would have made happy half a hundred young men craving for
luxury, and might have made them writers, singers, and poets. It was
inhabited by men with big heads and straight eyes, who sat among the
splendours and talked business.

If I were not going to be a Burman when I die I would be a _Taipan_ at
Hong-Kong. He knows so much and he deals so largely with Princes and
Powers, and he has a flag of his very own which he pins on to all his
steamers.

The blessed chance that looks after travellers sent me next day on a
picnic, and all because I happened to wander into the wrong house. This
is quite true, and very like our Anglo-Indian ways of doing things.

"Perhaps," said the hostess, "this will be our only fine day. Let us
spend it in a steam-launch."

Forthwith we embarked upon a new world--that of Hong-Kong harbour--and
with a dramatic regard for the fitness of things our little ship was the
_Pioneer_. The picnic included the new General--he that came from
England in the _Nawab_ and told me about Lord Wolseley--and his
aide-de-camp, who was quite English and altogether different from an
Indian officer. He never once talked shop, and if he had a grievance hid
it behind his mustache.

The harbour is a great world in itself. Photographs say that it is
lovely, and this I can believe from the glimpses caught through the mist
as the _Pioneer_ worked her way between the lines of junks, the tethered
liners, the wallowing coal hulks, the trim, low-lying American corvette,
the _Orontes_, huge and ugly, the _Cockchafer_, almost as small as its
namesake, the ancient three-decker converted into a military
hospital,--Thomas gets change of air thus,--and a few hundred thousand
sampans manned by women with babies tied on to their backs. Then we
swept down the sea face of the city and saw that it was great, till we
came to an unfinished fort high up on the side of a green hill, and I
watched the new General as men watch an oracle. Have I told you that he
is an Engineer General, specially sent out to attend to the
fortifications? He looked at the raw earth and the granite masonry, and
there was keen professional interest in his eye. Perhaps he would say
something. I edged nearer in that hope. He did:--

"Sherry and sandwiches? Thanks, I will. 'Stonishing how hungry the
sea-air makes a man feel," quoth the General; and we went along under
the grey-green coast, looking at stately country houses made of granite,
where Jesuit fathers and opulent merchants dwell. It was the Mashobra of
this Simla. It was also the Highlands, it was also Devonshire, and it
was specially grey and chilly.

Never did _Pioneer_ circulate in stranger waters. On the one side was a
bewildering multiplicity of islets; on the other, the deeply indented
shores of the main island, sometimes running down to the sea in little
sandy coves, at others falling sheer in cliff and sea-worn cave full of
the boom of the breakers. Behind, rose the hills into the mist, the
everlasting mist.

"We are going to Aberdeen," said the hostess; "then to Stanley, and then
across the island on foot by way of the Ti-tam reservoir. That will show
you a lot of the country."

We shot into a fiord and discovered a brown fishing village which kept
sentry over two docks, and a Sikh policeman. All the inhabitants were
rosy-cheeked women, each owning one-third of a boat, and a whole baby,
wrapped up in red cloth and tied to the back. The mother was dressed in
blue for a reason,--if her husband whacked her over the shoulders, he
would run a fair chance of crushing the baby's head unless the infant
were of a distinct colour.

Then we left China altogether, and steamed into far Lochaber, with a
climate to correspond. Good people under the punkah, think for a moment
of cloud-veiled headlands running out into a steel-grey sea, crisped
with a cheek-rasping breeze that makes you sit down under the bulwarks
and gasp for breath. Think of the merry pitch and roll of a small craft
as it buzzes from island to island, or venturously cuts across the mouth
of a mile-wide bay, while you mature amid fresh scenery, fresh talk, and
fresh faces, an appetite that shall uphold the credit of the great
empire in a strange land. Once more we found a village which they called
Stanley; but it was different from Aberdeen. Tenantless buildings of
brownstone stared seaward from the low downs, and there lay behind them
a stretch of weather-beaten wall. No need to ask what these things
meant. They cried aloud: "It is a deserted cantonment, and the
population is in the cemetery."

I asked, "What regiment?"

"The Ninety-second, I think," said the General. "But that was in the old
times--in the Sixties. I believe they quartered a lot of troops here and
built the barracks on the ground; and the fever carried all the men off
like flies. Isn't it a desolate place?"

My mind went back to a neglected graveyard a stone's throw from
Jehangir's tomb in the gardens of Shalimar, where the cattle and the
cowherd look after the last resting-places of the troops who first
occupied Lahore. We are a great people and very strong, but we build Our
empire in a wasteful manner--on the bones of the dead that have died of
disease.

"But about the fortifications, General? Is it true that etc., etc.?"

"The fortifications are right enough as things go; what we want is men."

"How many?"

"Say about three thousand for the Island--enough to stop any expedition
that might come. Look at all these little bays and coves. There are
twenty places at the back of the island where you could land men and
make things unpleasant for Hong-Kong."

"But," I ventured, "isn't it the theory that any organised expedition
ought to be stopped by our fleet before it got here? Whereas the forts
are supposed to prevent cutting out, shelling, and ransoming by a
disconnected man-of-war or two."

"If you go on that theory," said the General, "the men-of-war ought to
be stopped by our fleets, too. That's all nonsense. If any Power can
throw troops here, you want troops to turn 'em out, and--don't we wish
we may get them!"

"And you? Your command here is for five years, isn't it?"

"Oh, no! Eighteen months ought to see me out. I don't want to stick here
for ever. I've other notions for myself," said the General, scrambling
over the boulders to get at his tiffin.

And that is just the worst of it. Here was a nice General helping to lay
out fortifications, with one eye on Hong-Kong and the other, his right
one, on England. He would be more than human not to sell himself and his
orders for the command of a brigade in the next English affair. He would
be afraid of being too long away from home lest he should drop out of
the running and ... Well, we are just the same in India, and there is
not the least hope of raising a Legion of the Lost for colonial
service--of men who would do their work in one place for ever and look
for nothing beyond it. But remember that Hong-Kong--with five million
tons of coal, five miles of shipping, docks, wharves, huge civil
station, forty million pounds of trade, and the nicest picnic parties
that you ever did see--wants three thousand men and--she won't get them.
She has two batteries of garrison artillery, a regiment, and a lot of
gun lascars--about enough to prevent the guns from rusting on their
carriages. There are three forts on an island--Stonecutter's
Island--between Hong-Kong and the mainland, three on Hong-Kong itself,
and three or four scattered about elsewhere. Naturally the full
complement of guns has not arrived. Even in India you cannot man forts
without trained gunners. But tiffin under the lee of a rock was more
interesting than colonial defence. A man cannot talk politics if he be
empty.

Our one fine day shut in upon the empty plates in wind and rain, and the
march across the island began.

As the launch was blotted out in the haze we squelched past sugar-cane
crops and fat pigs, past the bleak cemetery of dead soldiers on the
hill, across a section of moor, till we struck a hill-road above the
sea. The views shifted and changed like a kaleidoscope. First a shaggy
shoulder of land tufted with dripping rushes and naught above, beneath,
or around but mist and the straight spikes of the rain; then red road
swept by water that fell into the unknown; then a combe, straight walled
almost as a house, at the bottom of which crawled the jade-green sea;
then a vista of a bay, a bank of white sand, and a red-sailed junk
beating out before the squall; then only wet rock and fern, and the
voice of thunder calling from peak to peak.

A landward turn in the road brought us to the pine woods of Theog and
the rhododendrons--but they called them azaleas--of Simla, and ever the
rain fell as though it had been July in the hills instead of April at
Hong-Kong. An invading army marching upon Victoria would have a sad time
of it even if the rain did not fall. There are but one or two gaps in
the hills through which it could travel, and there is a scheme in
preparation whereby they shall be cut off and annihilated when they
come. When I had to climb a clay hill backwards digging my heels into
the dirt, I very much pitied that invading army.

Whether the granite-faced reservoir and two-mile tunnel that supplies
Hong-Kong with water be worth seeing I cannot tell. There was too much
water in the air for comfort even when one tried to think of Home.

But go you and take the same walk--ten miles, and only two of 'em on
level ground. Steam to the forsaken cantonment of Stanley and cross the
island, and tell me whether you have seen anything so wild and wonderful
in its way as the scenery. I am going up the river to Canton, and cannot
stay for word-paintings.



No. X

SHOWS HOW I CAME TO GOBLIN MARKET AND TOOK A SCUNNER AT IT AND CURSED
THE CHINESE PEOPLE. SHOWS FURTHER HOW I INITIATED ALL HONG-KONG INTO OUR
FRATERNITY.


Providence is pleased to be sarcastic. It sent rain and a raw wind from
the beginning till the end. That is one of the disadvantages of leaving
India. You cut yourself adrift, from the only trustworthy climate in the
world. I despise a land that has to waste half its time in watching the
clouds. The Canton trip (I have been that way) introduces you to the
American river steamer, which is not in the least like one of the
Irrawaddy flotilla or an omnibus, as many people believe. It is composed
almost entirely of white paint, sheet-lead, a cow-horn, and a
walking-beam, and holds about as much cargo as a P. and O. The trade
between Canton and Hong-Kong seems to be immense, and a steamer covers
the ninety miles between port and port daily. None the less are the
Chinese passengers daily put under hatches or its equivalent after they
leave port, and daily is the stand of loaded Sniders in the cabin
inspected and cleaned up. Daily, too, I should imagine, the captain of
each boat tells his Globe-trotting passengers the venerable story of the
looting of a river steamer--how two junks fouled her at a convenient
bend in the river, while the native passengers on her rose and made
things very lively for the crew, and ended by clearing out that steamer.
The Chinese are a strange people! They had a difficulty at Hong-Kong not
very long ago about photographing labour coolies, and in the excitement,
which was considerable, a rickety old war junk got into position off the
bund with the avowed intention of putting a three-pound shot through the
windows of the firm who had suggested the photographing. And this though
vessel and crew could have been blown in cigarette-ash in ten minutes!

But no one pirated the _Ho-nam_, though the passengers did their best to
set her on fire by upsetting the lamps of their opium pipes. She blared
her unwieldy way across the packed shipping of the harbour and ran into
grey mist and driving rain. When I say that the scenery was like the
West Highlands you will by this time understand what I mean. Large screw
steamers, China pig-boats very low in the water and choked with
live-stock, wallowing junks and ducking sampans filled the waterways of
a stream as broad as the Hughli and much better defended so far as the
art of man was concerned. Their little difficulty with the French a few
years ago has taught the Chinese a great many things which, perhaps, it
were better for us that they had left alone.

The first striking object of Canton city is the double tower of the big
Catholic Church. Take off your hat to this because it means a great
deal, and stands as the visible standard of a battle that has yet to be
fought. Never have the missionaries of the Mother of the Churches
wrestled so mightily with any land as with China, and never has nation
so scientifically tortured the missionary as has China. Perhaps when
the books are audited somewhere else, each race, the White and the
Yellow, will be found to have been right according to their lights.

I had taken one fair look at the city from the steamer, and threw up my
cards. "I can't describe this place, and besides, I hate Chinamen."

"Bosh! It is only Benares, magnified about eight times. Come along."

It was Benares, without any wide streets or chauks, and yet darker than
Benares, in that the little skyline was entirely blocked by tier on tier
of hanging signs,--red, gold, black, and white. The shops stood on
granite plinths, pukka brick above, and tile-roofed. Their fronts were
carved wood, gilt, and coloured savagely. John knows how to dress a
shop, though he may sell nothing more lovely than smashed fowl and
chitterlings. Every other shop was a restaurant, and the space between
them crammed with humanity. Do you know those horrible sponges full of
worms that grow in warm seas? You break off a piece of it and the worms
break too. Canton was that sponge. "Hi, low yah. To hoh wang!" yelled
the chair-bearers to the crowd, but I was afraid that if the poles
chipped the corner of a house the very bricks would begin to bleed.
Hong-Kong showed me how the Chinaman could work. Canton explained why he
set no value on life. The article was cheaper than in India. I hated the
Chinaman before; I hated him doubly as I choked for breath in his
seething streets where nothing short of the pestilence could clear a
way. There was of course no incivility from the people, but the mere mob
was terrifying. There are three or four places in the world where it is
best for an Englishman to agree with his adversary swiftly, whatever the
latter's nationality may be. Canton heads the list. Never argue with
anybody in Canton. Let the guide do it for you. Then the stinks rose up
and overwhelmed us. In this respect Canton was Benares twenty times
magnified. The Hindu is a sanitating saint compared to the Chinaman. He
is a rigid Malthusian in the same regard.

"Very bad stink, this place. You come right along," said Ah Cum, who had
learned his English from Americans. He was very kind. He showed me
feather-jewellery shops where men sat pinching from the gorgeous wings
of jays, tiny squares of blue and lilac feathers, and pasting them into
gold settings, so that the whole looked like Jeypore enamel of the
rarest. But we went into a shop. Ah Cum drew us inside the big door and
bolted it, while the crowd blocked up the windows and shutter-bars. I
thought more of the crowd than the jewellery. The city was so dark and
the people were so very many and so unhuman.

The March of the Mongol is a pretty thing to write about in magazines.
Hear it once in the gloom of an ancient curio shop, where nameless
devils of the Chinese creed make mouths at you from back-shelves, where
brazen dragons, revelations of uncleanliness, all catch your feet as you
stumble across the floor--hear the tramp of the feet on the granite
blocks of the road and the breaking wave of human speech, that is not
human! "Watch the yellow faces that glare at you between the bars, and
you will be afraid, as I was afraid.

"It's beautiful work," said the Professor, bending over a Cantonese
petticoat--a wonder of pale green, blue, and Silver. "Now I understand
why the civilised European of Irish extraction kills the Chinaman in
America. It is justifiable to kill him. It would be quite right to wipe
the city of Canton off the face of the earth, and to exterminate all the
people who ran away from the shelling. The Chinaman ought not to count."

I had gone off on my own train of thought, and it was a black and bitter
one.

"Why on earth can't you look at the lions and enjoy yourself, and leave
politics to the men who pretend to understand 'em?" said the Professor.

"It's no question of politics," I replied. "This people ought to be
killed off because they are unlike any people I ever met before. Look at
their faces. They despise us. You can see it, and they aren't a bit
afraid of us either."

Then Ah Cum took us by ways that were dark to the temple of the Five
Hundred Genii, which was one of the sights of the rabbit-warren. This
was a Buddhist temple with the usual accessories of altars and altar
lights and colossal figures of doorkeepers at the gates. Round the inner
court runs a corridor lined on both sides with figures about half
life-size, representing most of the races of Asia. Several of the Jesuit
Fathers are said to be in that gallery,--you can find it all in the
guide-books,--and there is one image of a jolly-looking soul in a hat
and full beard, but, like the others, naked to the waist. "That European
gentleman," said Ah Cum. "That Marco Polo." "Make the most of him," I
said. "The time is coming when there will be no European
gentlemen--nothing but yellow people with black hearts--black hearts,
Ah Cum--and a devil-born capacity for doing more work than they ought."

"Come and see a clock," said he. "Old clock. It runs by water. Come on
right along." He took us to another temple and showed us an old
water-clock of four _gurrahs_: just the same sort of thing as they have
in out-of-the-way parts of India for the use of the watchmen. The
Professor vows that the machine, which is supposed to give the time to
the city, is regulated by the bells of the steamers in the river, Canton
water being too thick to run through anything smaller than a half-inch
pipe. From the pagoda of this temple we could see that the roofs of all
the houses below were covered with filled water-jars. There is no sort
of fire organisation in the city. When lighted it burns till it stops.

Ah Cum led us to the Potter's Field, where the executions take place.
The Chinese slay by the hundred, and far be it from me to say that such
generosity of bloodshed is cruel. They could afford to execute in Canton
alone at the rate of ten thousand a year without disturbing the steady
flow of population. An executioner who happened to be wandering
about--perhaps in search of employment--offered us a sword under
guarantee that it had cut off many heads. "Keep it," I said. "Keep it,
and let the good work go on. My friend, you cannot execute too freely in
this land. You are blessed, I apprehend, with a purely literary
bureaucracy recruited--correct me if I am wrong--from all social strata,
more especially those in which the idea of cold-blooded cruelty has, as
it were, become embedded. Now, when to inherited devildom is superadded
a purely literary education of grim and formal tendencies, the result,
my evil-looking friend,--the result, I repeat,--is a state of affairs
which is faintly indicated in the Little Pilgrim's account of the Hell
of Selfishness. You, I presume, have not yet read the works of the
Little Pilgrim."

"He looks as if he was going to cut at you with that sword," said the
Professor. "Come away and see the Temple of Horrors."

That was a sort of Chinese Madame Tussaud's--life-like models of men
being brayed in mortars, sliced, fried, toasted, stuffed, and variously
bedevilled--that made me sick and unhappy. But the Chinese are merciful
even in their tortures. When a man is ground in a mill, he is, according
to the models, popped in head first. This is hard on the crowd who are
waiting to see the fun, but it saves trouble to the executioners. A
half-ground man has to be carefully watched, or else he wriggles out of
his place. To crown all, we went to the prison, which was a pest-house
in a back street. The Professor shuddered. "It's all right," I said.
"The people who sent the prisoners here don't care. The men themselves
look hideously miserable, but I suppose they don't care, and goodness
knows I don't care. They are only Chinamen. If they treat each other
like dogs, why should we regard 'em as human beings? Let 'em rot. I want
to get back to the steamer. I want to get under the guns of Hong-Kong.
Phew!"

Then we ran through a succession of second-rate streets and houses till
we reached the city wall on the west by a long flight of steps. It was
clean here. The wall had a drop of thirty or forty feet to paddy fields.
Beyond these were a semicircle of hills, every square yard of which is
planted out with graves. Her dead watch Canton the abominable, and the
dead are more than the myriads living. On the grass-grown top of the
wall were rusty English guns spiked and abandoned after the war. They
ought not to be there. A five-storied pagoda gave us a view of the city,
but I was wearied of these rats in their pit--wearied and scared and
sullen. The excellent Ah Cum led us to the Viceroy's summer garden-house
on the cityward slope of an azalea-covered hill surrounded by cotton
trees. The basement, was a handsome joss house: upstairs was a
durbar-hall with glazed verandahs and ebony furniture ranged across the
room in four straight lines. It was only an oasis of cleanliness. Ten
minutes later we were back in the swarming city, cut off from light and
sweet air. Once or twice we met a mandarin with thin official mustache
and "little red button a-top." Ah Cum was explaining the nature and
properties of a mandarin when we came to a canal spanned by an English
bridge and closed by an iron gate, which was in charge of a Hong-Kong
policeman. We were in an Indian station with Europe shops and Parsee
shops and everything else to match. This was English Canton, with two
hundred and fifty sahibs in it. 'Twould have been better for a Gatling
behind the bridge gate. The guide-books tell you that it was taken from
the Chinese by the treaty of 1860, the French getting a similar slice of
territory. Owing to the binding power of French officialism, "La
concession Française" has never been let or sold to private individuals,
and now a Chinese regiment squats on it. The men who travel tell you
somewhat similar tales about land in Saigon and Cambodia. Something
seems to attack a Frenchman as soon as he dons a colonial uniform. Let
us call it the red-tape-worm.

"Now where did you go and what did you see?" said the Professor, in the
style of the pedagogue, when we were once more on the _Ho-nam_ and
returning as fast as steam could carry us to Hong-Kong.

"A big blue sink of a city full of tunnels, all dark and inhabited by
yellow devils, a city that Doré ought to have seen. I'm devoutly
thankful that I'm never going back there. The Mongol will begin to march
in his own good time. I intend to wait until he marches up to me. Let us
go away to Japan by the next boat."

The Professor says that I have completely spoiled the foregoing account
by what he calls "intemperate libels on a hard-working nation." He did
not see Canton as I saw it--through the medium of a fevered imagination.

Once, before I got away, I climbed to the civil station of Hong-Kong,
which overlooks the town. There in sumptuous stone villas built on the
edge of the cliff and facing shaded roads, in a wilderness of beautiful
flowers and a hushed calm unvexed even by the roar of the traffic below,
the residents do their best to imitate the life of an India up-country
station. They are better off than we are. At the bandstand the ladies
dress all in one piece--shoes, gloves, and umbrellas come out from
England with the dress, and every _memsahib_ knows what that means--but
the mechanism of their life is much the same. In one point they are
superior. The ladies have a club of their very own to which, I believe,
men are only allowed to come on sufferance. At a dance there are about
twenty men to one lady, and there are practically no spinsters in the
island. The inhabitants complain of being cooped in and shut up. They
look at the sea below them and they long to get away. They have their
"At Homes" on regular days of the week, and everybody meets everybody
else again and again. They have amateur theatricals and they quarrel and
all the men and women take sides, and the station is cleaved asunder
from the top to the bottom. Then they become reconciled and write to the
local papers condemning the local critic's criticism. Isn't it touching?
A lady told me these things one afternoon, and I nearly wept from sheer
home-sickness.

"And then, you know, after she had said _that_ he was obliged to give
the part to the other, and that made _them_ furious, and the races were
so near that nothing could be done, and Mrs. ---- said that it was
altogether impossible. You understand how very unpleasant it must have
been, do you not?"

"Madam," said I, "I do. I have been there before. My heart goes out to
Hong-Kong. In the name of the great Indian Mofussil I salute you.
Henceforward Hong-Kong is one of Us, ranking before Meerut, but after
Allahabad, at all public ceremonies and parades."

I think she fancied I had sunstroke; but you at any rate will know what
I mean.

We do not laugh any more on the P. and O. S. S. _Ancona_ on the way to
Japan. We are deathly sick, because there is a cross-sea beneath us and
a wet sail above. The sail is to steady the ship who refuses to be
steadied. She is full of Globe-trotters who also refuse to be steadied.
A Globe-trotter is extreme cosmopolitan. He will be sick anywhere.



No. XI

OF JAPAN AT TEN HOURS' SIGHT, CONTAINING A COMPLETE ACCOUNT OF THE
MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF ITS PEOPLE, A HISTORY OF ITS CONSTITUTION,
PRODUCTS, ART, AND CIVILISATION, AND OMITTING A MEAL IN A TEA-HOUSE WITH
O-TOYO.

    "Thou canst not wave thy staff in air
    Or dip thy paddle in the lake,
    But it carves the bow of beauty there,
    And ripples in rhyme the oar forsake."--_Emerson._


This morning, after the sorrows of the rolling night, my cabin porthole
showed me two great grey rocks studded and streaked with green and
crowned by two stunted blue-black pines. Below the rocks a boat, that
might have been carved sandal wood for colour and delicacy, was shaking
out an ivory-white frilled sail to the wind of the morning. An
indigo-blue boy with an old ivory face hauled on a rope. Rock and tree
and boat made a panel from a Japanese screen, and I saw that the land
was not a lie. This "good brown earth" of ours has many pleasures to
offer her children, but there be few in her gift comparable to the joy
of touching a new country, a completely strange race, and manners
contrary. Though libraries may have been written aforetime, each new
beholder is to himself another Cortez. And I was in Japan--the Japan of
cabinets and joinery, gracious folk and fair manners. Japan, whence the
camphor and the lacquer and the shark-skin swords come: among what was
it the books said?--a nation of artists. To be sure, we should only stop
at Nagasaki for twelve hours ere going on to Kobé, but in twelve hours
one can pack away a very fair collection of new experiences.

An execrable man met me on the deck, with a pale-blue pamphlet fifty
pages thick. "Have you," said he, "seen the Constitution of Japan? The
Emperor made it himself only the other day. It is on entirely European
lines."

I took the pamphlet and found a complete paper Constitution stamped with
the Imperial Chrysanthemum--an excellent little scheme of
representation, reforms, payment of members, budget estimates, and
legislation. It is a terrible thing to study at close quarters, because
it is so pitifully English.

There was a yellow-shot greenness upon the hills round Nagasaki
different, so my willing mind was disposed to believe, from the green of
other lands. It was the green of a Japanese screen, and the pines were
screen pines. The city itself hardly showed from the crowded harbour. It
lay low among the hills, and its business face--a grimy bund--was sloppy
and deserted. Business, I was rejoiced to learn, was at a low ebb in
Nagasaki. The Japanese should have no concern with business. Close to
one of the still wharves lay a ship of the Bad People; a Russian steamer
down from Vladivostok. Her decks were cumbered with raffle of all kinds;
her rigging was as frowsy and draggled as the hair of a lodging-house
slavey, and her sides were filthy.

"That," said a man of my people, "is a very fair specimen of a Russian.
You should see their men-of-war; they are just as filthy. Some of 'em
come into Nagasaki to clean."

It was a small piece of information and perhaps untrue, but it put the
roof to my good humour as I stepped on to the bund and was told in
faultless English by a young gentleman, with a plated chrysanthemum in
his forage cap and badly fitting German uniform on his limbs, that he
did not understand my language. He was a Japanese customs official. Had
our stay been longer, I would have wept over him because he was a
hybrid--partly French, partly German, and partly American--a tribute to
civilisation. All the Japanese officials from police upwards seem to be
clad in Europe clothes, and never do those clothes fit. I think the
Mikado made them at the same time as the Constitution. They will come
right in time.

When the 'rickshaw, drawn by a beautiful apple-cheeked young man with a
Basque face, shot me into the _Mikado_, First Act, I did not stop and
shout with delight, because the dignity of India was in my keeping. I
lay back on the velvet cushions and grinned luxuriously at Pittising,
with her sash and three giant hair-pins in her blue-black hair, and
three-inch clogs on her feet. She laughed--even as did the Burmese girl
in the old Pagoda at Moulmein. And her laugh, the laugh of a lady, was
my welcome to Japan. Can the people help laughing? I think not. You see
they have such thousands of children in their streets that the elders
must perforce be young lest the babes should grieve. Nagasaki is
inhabited entirely by children. The grown-ups exist on sufferance. A
four-foot child walks with a three-foot child, who is holding the hand
of a two-foot child, who carries on her back a one-foot child, who--but
you will not believe me if I say that the scale runs down to six-inch
little Jap dolls such as they used to sell in the Burlington Arcade.
These dolls wriggle and laugh. They are tied up in a blue bed-gown which
is tied by a sash, which again ties up the bed-gown of the carrier. Thus
if you untie that sash, baby and but little bigger brother are at once
perfectly naked. I saw a mother do this, and it was for all the world
like the peeling of hard-boiled eggs.

If you look for extravagance of colour, for flaming shop fronts and
glaring lanterns, you shall find none of these things in the narrow
stone-paved streets of Nagasaki. But if you desire details of house
construction, glimpses of perfect cleanliness, rare taste, and perfect
subordination of the thing made to the needs of the maker, you shall
find all you seek and more. All the roofs are dull lead colour, being
shingled or tiled, and all the house fronts are of the colour of the
wood as God made it. There is neither smoke nor haze, and in the clear
light of a clouded sky I could see down the narrowest alleyway as into
the interior of a cabinet.

The books have long ago told you how a Japanese house is constructed,
chiefly of sliding screens and paper partitions, and everybody knows the
story of the burglar of Tokio who burgled with a pair of scissors for
jimmy and centrebit and stole the Consul's trousers. But all the telling
in print will never make you understand the exquisite finish of a
tenement that you could kick in with your foot and pound to match-wood
with your fists. Behold a _bunnia's_[9] shop. He sells rice and chillies
and dried fish and wooden scoops made of bamboo. The front of his shop
is very solid. It is made of half-inch battens nailed side by side. Not
one of the battens is broken; and each one is foursquare perfectly.
Feeling ashamed of himself for this surly barring up of his house, he
fills one-half the frontage with oiled paper stretched upon quarter-inch
framing. Not a single square of oil paper has a hole in it, and not one
of the squares, which in more uncivilised countries would hold a pane of
glass if strong enough, is out of line. And the _bunnia_, clothed in a
blue dressing-gown, with thick white stockings on his feet, sits behind,
not among his wares, on a pale gold-coloured mat of soft rice straw
bound with black list at the edges. This mat is two inches thick, three
feet wide and six long. You might, if you were a sufficient pig, eat
your dinner off any portion of it. The _bunnia_ lies with one wadded
blue arm round a big brazier of hammered brass on which is faintly
delineated in incised lines a very terrible dragon. The brazier is full
of charcoal ash, but there is no ash on the mat. By the _bunnia's_ side
is a pouch of green leather tied with a red silk cord, holding tobacco
cut fine as cotton. He fills a long black and red lacquered pipe, lights
it at the charcoal in the brazier, takes two whiffs, and the pipe is
empty. Still there is no speck on the mat. Behind the _bunnia_ is a
shadow-screen of bead and bamboo. This veils a room floored with pale
gold and roofed with panels of grained cedar. There is nothing in the
room save a blood-red blanket laid out smoothly as a sheet of paper.
Beyond the room is a passage of polished wood, so polished that it gives
back the reflections of the white paper wall. At the end of the passage
and clearly visible to this unique _bunnia_ is a dwarfed pine two feet
high in a green glazed pot, and by its side is a branch of azalea, blood
red as the blanket, set in a pale grey crackle-pot. The _bunnia_ has put
it there for his own pleasure, for the delight of his eyes, because he
loves it. The white man has nothing whatever to do with his tastes, and
he keeps his house specklessly pure because he likes cleanliness and
knows it is artistic. What shall we say to such a _bunnia_?

[9] grain-dealer's.

His brother in Northern India may live behind a front of time-blackened
open-work wood, but ... I do not think he would grow anything save
_tulsi_[10] in a pot, and that only to please the Gods and his
womenfolk.

[10] A sacred herb of the Hindus.

Let us not compare the two men, but go on through Nagasaki.

Except for the horrible policemen who insist on being Continental, the
people--the common people, that is--do not run after unseemly costumes
of the West. The young men wear round felt hats, occasionally coats and
trousers, and semi-occasionally boots. All these are vile. In the more
metropolitan towns men say Western dress is rather the rule than the
exception. If this be so, I am disposed to conclude that the sins of
their forefathers in making enterprising Jesuit missionaries into
beefsteak have been visited on the Japanese in the shape of a partial
obscuration of their artistic instincts. Yet the punishment seems rather
too heavy for the offence.

Then I fell admiring the bloom on the people's cheeks, the
three-cornered smiles of the fat babes, and the surpassing "otherness"
of everything round me. It is so strange to be in a clean land, and
stranger to walk among doll's houses. Japan is a soothing place for a
small man. Nobody comes to tower over him, and he looks down upon all
the women, as is right and proper. A dealer in curiosities bent himself
double on his own door-mat, and I passed in, feeling for the first time
that I was a barbarian, and no true Sahib. The slush of the streets was
thick on my boots, and he, the immaculate owner, asked me to walk across
a polished floor and white mats to an inner chamber. He brought me a
foot-mat, which only made matters worse, for a pretty girl giggled round
the corner as I toiled at it. Japanese shopkeepers ought not to be so
clean. I went into a boarded passage about two feet wide, found a gem of
a garden of dwarfed trees, in the space of half a tennis court, whacked
my head on a fragile lintel, and arrived at a four-walled daintiness
where I involuntarily lowered my voice. Do you recollect Mrs.
Molesworth's _Cuckoo Clock_, and the big cabinet that Griselda entered
with the cuckoo? I was not Griselda, but my low-voiced friend, in his
long, soft wraps, was the cuckoo, and the room was the cabinet. Again I
tried to console myself with the thought that I could kick the place to
pieces; but this only made me feel large and coarse and dirty,--a most
unfavourable mood for bargaining. The cuckoo-man caused pale tea to be
brought,--just such tea as you read of in books of travel,--and the tea
completed my embarrassment. What I wanted to say was, "Look here, you
person. You're much too clean and refined for this life here below, and
your house is unfit for a man to live in until he has been taught a lot
of things which I have never learned. Consequently I hate you because I
feel myself your inferior, and you despise me and my boots because you
know me for a savage. Let me go, or I'll pull your house of cedar-wood
over your ears." What I really said was, "Oh, ah yes. Awf'ly pretty.
Awful queer way of doing business."

The cuckoo-man proved to be a horrid extortioner; but I was hot and
uncomfortable till I got outside, and was a bog-trotting Briton once
more. You have never blundered into the inside of a three-hundred-dollar
cabinet, therefore you will not understand me.

We came to the foot of a hill, as it might have been the hill on which
the Shway Dagon stands, and up that hill ran a mighty flight of grey,
weather-darkened steps, spanned here and there by monolithic _torii_.
Every one knows what a _torii_ is. They have them in Southern India. A
great King makes a note of the place where he intends to build a huge
arch, but being a King does so in stone, not ink--sketches in the air
two beams and a cross-bar, forty or sixty feet high, and twenty or
thirty wide. In Southern India the cross-bar is humped in the middle. In
the Further East it flares up at the ends. This description is hardly
according to the books, but if a man begins by consulting books in a new
country he is lost. Over the steps hung heavy blue-green or green-black
pines, old, gnarled, and bossed. The foliage of the hillside was a
lighter green, but the pines set the keynote of colour, and the blue
dresses of the few folk on the steps answered it. There was no sunshine
in the air, but I vow that sunshine would have spoilt all. We climb for
five minutes,--I and the Professor and the camera,--and then we turned,
and saw the roofs of Nagasaki lying at our feet--a sea of lead and
dull-brown, with here and there a smudge of creamy pink to mark the
bloom of the cherry trees. The hills round the town were speckled with
the resting-places of the dead, with clumps of pine and feathery bamboo.

"What a country!" said the Professor, unstrapping his camera. "And have
you noticed, wherever we go there's always some man who knows how to
carry my kit? The _gharri_ driver at Moulmein handed me my stops; the
fellow at Penang knew all about it, too; and the 'rickshaw coolie has
seen a camera before. Curious, isn't it?"

"Professor," said I, "it's due to the extraordinary fact that we are not
the only people in the world. I began to realise it at Hong-Kong. It's
getting plainer now. I shouldn't be surprised if we turned out to be
ordinary human beings, after all."

We entered a courtyard where an evil-looking bronze horse stared at two
stone lions, and a company of children babbled among themselves. There
is a legend connected with the bronze horse, which may be found in the
guide-books. But the real true story of the creature is that he was made
long ago out of the fossil ivory of Siberia by a Japanese Prometheus,
and got life and many foals, whose descendants closely resemble their
father. Long years have almost eliminated the ivory in the blood, but it
crops out in creamy mane and tail; and the pot-belly and marvellous feet
of the bronze horse may be found to this day among the pack-ponies of
Nagasaki, who carry pack-saddles adorned with velvet and red cloth, who
wear grass shoes on their hind feet, and who are made like to horses in
a pantomime.

We could not go beyond this courtyard because a label said, "No
admittance," and thus all we saw of the temple was rich-brown high roofs
of blackened thatch, breaking back and back in wave and undulation till
they were lost in the foliage. The Japanese can play with thatch as men
play with modelling clay, but how their light underpinnings can carry
the weight of the roof is a mystery to the lay eye.

We went down the steps to tiffin, and a half-formed resolve was shaping
itself in my heart the while. Burma was a very nice place, but they eat
_gnapi_ there, and there were smells, and after all, the girls weren't
so pretty as some others--

"You must take off your boots," said Y-Tokai.

I assure you there is no dignity in sitting down on the steps of a
tea-house and struggling with muddy boots. And it is impossible to be
polite in your stockinged feet when the floor under you is as smooth as
glass and a pretty girl wants to know where you would like tiffin. Take
at least one pair of beautiful socks with you when you come this way.
Get them made of embroidered _sambhur_ skin, of silk if you like; but do
not stand as I did in cheap striped brown things with a darn at the
heel, and try to talk to a tea-girl.

They led us--three of them and all fresh and pretty--into a room
furnished with a golden-brown bearskin. The _tokonoma_, recess
aforementioned, held one scroll-picture of bats wheeling in the
twilight, a bamboo flower-holder, and yellow flowers. The ceiling was of
panelled wood, with the exception of one strip at the side nearest the
window, and this was made of plaited shavings of cedar-wood, marked off
from the rest of the ceiling by a wine-brown bamboo so polished that it
might have been lacquered. A touch of the hand sent one side of the room
flying back, and we entered a really large room with another _tokonoma_
framed on one side by eight or ten feet of an unknown wood, bearing the
same grain as a Penang lawyer, and above by a stick of unbarked tree set
there purely because it was curiously mottled. In this second _tokonoma_
was a pearl-grey vase, and that was all. Two sides of the room were of
oiled paper, and the joints of the beams were covered by the brazen
images of crabs, half life-size. Save for the sill of the _tokonoma_,
which was black lacquer, every inch of wood in the place was natural
grain without flaw. Outside was the garden, fringed with a hedge of
dwarf-pines and adorned with a tiny pond, water-smoothed stones sunk in
the soil, and a blossoming cherry tree.

They left us alone in this paradise of cleanliness and beauty, and being
only a shameless Englishman without his boots--a white man is always
degraded when he goes barefoot--I wandered round the wall, trying all
the screens. It was only when I stooped to examine the sunk catch of a
screen that I saw it was a plaque of inlay work representing two white
cranes feeding on fish. The whole was about three inches square and in
the ordinary course of events would never be looked at. The screens hid
a cupboard in which all the lamps and candlesticks and pillows and
sleeping-bags of the household seemed to be stored. An Oriental nation
that can fill a cupboard tidily is a nation to bow down to. Upstairs I
went by a staircase of grained wood and lacquer, into rooms of rarest
device with circular windows that opened on nothing, and so were filled
with bamboo tracery for the delight of the eye. The passages floored
with dark wood shone like ice, and I was ashamed.

"Professor," said I, "they don't spit; they don't eat like pigs; they
can't quarrel, and a drunken man would reel straight through every
portion in the house and roll down the hill into Nagasaki. They can't
have any children." Here I stopped. Downstairs was full of babies.

The maidens came in with tea in blue china and cake in a red lacquered
bowl--such cake as one gets at one or two houses in Simla. We sprawled
ungracefully on red rugs over the mats, and they gave us chopsticks to
separate the cake with. It was a long task.

"Is that all?" growled the Professor. "I'm hungry, and cake and tea
oughtn't to come till four o'clock." Here he took a wedge of cake
furtively with his hands.

They returned--five of them this time--with black lacquer stands a foot
square and four inches high. Those were our tables. They bore a red
lacquered bowlful of fish boiled in brine, and sea-anemones. At least
they were not mushrooms. A paper napkin tied with gold thread enclosed
our chopsticks; and in a little flat saucer lay a smoked crayfish, a
slice of a compromise that looked like Yorkshire pudding and tasted like
sweet omelette, and a twisted fragment of some translucent thing that
had once been alive but was now pickled. They went away, but not empty
handed, for thou, oh, O-Toyo, didst take away my heart--same which I
gave to the Burmese girl in the Shway Dagon pagoda!

The Professor opened his eyes a little, but said no word. The chopsticks
demanded all his attention, and the return of the girls took up the
rest. O-Toyo, ebon-haired, rosy-cheeked, and made throughout of delicate
porcelain, laughed at me because I devoured all the mustard sauce that
had been served with my raw fish, and wept copiously till she gave me
_saki_ from a lordly bottle about four inches high. If you took some
very thin hock, and tried to mull it and forgot all about the brew till
it was half cold, you would get _saki_. I had mine in a saucer so tiny
that I was bold to have it filled eight or ten times and loved O-Toyo
none the less at the end.

After raw fish and mustard sauce came some other sort of fish cooked
with pickled radishes, and very slippery on the chopsticks. The girls
knelt in a semicircle and shrieked with delight at the Professor's
clumsiness, for indeed it was not I that nearly upset the dinner table
in a vain attempt to recline gracefully. After the bamboo-shoots came a
basin of white beans in sweet sauce--very tasty indeed. Try to convey
beans to your mouth with a pair of wooden knitting-needles and see what
happens. Some chicken cunningly boiled with turnips, and a bowlful of
snow-white boneless fish and a pile of rice, concluded the meal. I have
forgotten one or two of the courses, but when O-Toyo handed me the tiny
lacquered Japanese pipe full of hay-like tobacco, I counted nine dishes
in the lacquer stand--each dish representing a course. Then O-Toyo and I
smoked by alternate pipefuls.

My very respectable friends at all the clubs and messes, have you ever
after a good tiffin lolled on cushions and smoked, with one pretty girl
to fill your pipe and four to admire you in an unknown tongue? You do
not know what life is. I looked round me at that faultless room, at the
dwarf pines and creamy cherry blossoms without, at O-Toyo bubbling with
laughter because I blew smoke through my nose, and at the ring of
_Mikado_ maidens over against the golden-brown bearskin rug. Here was
colour, form, food, comfort, and beauty enough for half a year's
contemplation. I would not be a Burman any more. I would be a
Japanese--always with O-Toyo--in a cabinet workhouse on a
camphor-scented hillside.

"Heigho!" said the Professor. "There are worse places than this to live
and die in. D'you know our steamer goes at four? Let's ask for the bill
and get away."

Now I have left my heart with O-Toyo under the pines. Perhaps I shall
get it back at Kobé.



No. XII

A FURTHER CONSIDERATION OF JAPAN. THE INLAND SEA, AND GOOD COOKERY. THE
MYSTERY OF PASSPORTS AND CONSULATES, AND CERTAIN OTHER MATTERS.

    "Rome! Rome! Wasn't that the place where I got the good cigars?"

    --_Memoirs of a Traveller._


Alas for the incompleteness of the written word! There was so much more
that I meant to tell you about Nagasaki and the funeral procession that
I found in her streets. You ought to have read about the wailing women
in white who followed the dead man shut up in a wooden sedan chair that
rocked on the shoulders of the bearers, while the bronze-hued Buddhist
priest tramped on ahead, and the little boys ran alongside.

I had prepared in my mind moral reflections, purviews of political
situations, and a complete essay on the future of Japan. Now I have
forgotten everything except O-Toyo in the tea-garden.

From Nagasaki we--the P. and O. Steamer--are going to Kobé by way of the
Inland Sea. That is to say, we have for the last twenty hours been
steaming through a huge lake, studded as far as the eye can reach with
islands of every size, from four miles long and two wide to little
cocked-hat hummocks no bigger than a decent hayrick. Messrs. Cook and
Son charge about one hundred rupees extra for the run through this part
of the world, but they do not know how to farm the beauties of nature.
Under any skies the islands--purple, amber, grey, green, and black--are
worth five times the money asked. I have been sitting for the last
half-hour among a knot of whooping tourists, wondering how I could give
you a notion of them. The tourists, of course, are indescribable. They
say, "Oh my!" at thirty-second intervals, and at the end of five minutes
call one to another: "Sa-ay, don't you think it's vurry much the same
all along?" Then they play cricket with a broomstick till an unusually
fair prospect makes them stop and shout "Oh my!" again. If there were a
few more oaks and pines on the islands, the run would be three hundred
miles of Naini Tal lake. But we are not near Naini Tal; for as the big
ship drives down the alleys of water, I can see the heads of the
breakers flying ten feet up the side of the echoing cliffs, albeit the
sea is dead-still.

Now we have come to a stretch so densely populated with islands that all
looks solid ground. We are running through broken water thrown up by the
race of the tide round an outlying reef, and apparently are going to hit
an acre of solid rock. Somebody on the bridge saves us, and we head out
for another island, and so on, and so on, till the eye wearies of
watching the nose of the ship swinging right and left, and the finite
human soul, which, after all, cannot repeat "Oh my!" through a chilly
evening, goes below. When you come to Japan--it can be done comfortably
in three months, or even ten weeks--sail through this marvellous sea,
and see how quickly wonder sinks to interest, and interest to apathy. We
brought oysters with us from Nagasaki. I am much more interested in
their appearance at dinner to-night than in the shag-backed starfish of
an islet that has just slidden by like a ghost upon the silver-grey
waters, awakening under the touch of the ripe moon. Yes, it is a sea of
mystery and romance, and the white sails of the junks are silver in the
moonlight. But if the steward curries those oysters instead of serving
them on the shell, all the veiled beauties of cliff and water-carven
rock will not console me. To-day being the seventeenth of April, I am
sitting in an ulster under a thick rug, with fingers so cold I can
barely hold the pen. This emboldens me to ask how your thermantidotes
are working. A mixture of steatite and kerosene is very good for
creaking cranks, I believe, and if the coolie falls asleep, and you wake
up in Hades, try not to lose your temper. I go to my oysters.

_Two days later._ This comes from Kobé (thirty hours from Nagasaki), the
European portion of which is a raw American town. We walked down the
wide, naked streets between houses of sham stucco, with Corinthian
pillars of wood, wooden verandahs and piazzas, all stony grey beneath
stony grey skies, and keeping guard over raw green saplings miscalled
shade trees. In truth, Kobé is hideously American in externals. Even I,
who have only seen pictures of America, recognised at once that it was
Portland, Maine. It lives among hills, but the hills are all scalped,
and the general impression is of out-of-the-wayness. Yet, ere I go
further, let me sing the praises of the excellent M. Begeux, proprietor
of the Oriental Hotel, upon whom be peace. His is a house where you can
dine. He does not merely feed you. His coffee is the coffee of the
beautiful France. For tea he gives you Peliti cakes (but better) and
the _vin ordinaire_ which is _compris_, is good. Excellent Monsieur and
Madame Begeux! If the _Pioneer_ were a medium for puffs, I would write a
leading article upon your potato salad, your beefsteaks, your fried
fish, and your staff of highly trained Japanese servants in blue tights,
who looked like so many small Hamlets without the velvet cloak, and who
obeyed the unspoken wish. No, it should be a poem--a ballad of good
living. I have eaten curries of the rarest at the Oriental at Penang,
the turtle steaks of Raffles's at Singapur still live in my regretful
memory, and they gave me chicken liver and sucking-pig in the Victoria
at Hong-Kong which I will always extol. But the Oriental at Kobé was
better than all three. Remember this, and so shall you who come after
slide round a quarter of the world upon a sleek and contented stomach.

We are going from Kobé to Yokohama by various roads. This necessitates a
passport, because we travel in the interior and do not run round the
coast on shipboard. We take a railroad, which may or may not be complete
as to the middle, and we branch off from that railroad, complete or not,
as the notion may prompt. This will be an affair of some twenty days,
and ought to include forty or fifty miles by 'rickshaw, a voyage on a
lake, and, I believe, bedbugs. _Nota bene._--When you come to Japan stop
at Hong-Kong and send on a letter to the "Envoy Extraordinary and
Minister Plenipotentiary at Tokio," if you want to travel in the
interior of this Fairyland. Indicate your route as roughly as ever you
choose, but for your own comfort give the two extreme towns you intend
to touch. Throw in any details about your age, profession, colour of
hair, and the like that may occur to you, and ask to have a passport
sent to the British Consulate at Kobé to meet you. Allow the man with a
long title a week's time to prepare the passport, and you will find it
at your service when you land. Only write distinctly, to save your
vanity. My papers are addressed to a Mister Kyshrig--Radjerd Kyshrig.

As in Nagasaki, the town was full of babies, and as in Nagasaki, every
one smiled except the Chinamen. I do not like Chinamen. There was
something in their faces which I could not understand, though it was
familiar enough.

"The Chinaman's a native," I said. "That's the look on a native's face,
but the Jap isn't a native, and he isn't a sahib either. What is it?"
The Professor considered the surging street for a while.

"The Chinaman's an old man when he's young, just as a native is, but the
Jap is a child all his life. Think how grown-up people look among
children. That's the look that's puzzling you."

I dare not say that the Professor is right, but to my eyes it seemed he
spoke sooth. As the knowledge of good and evil sets its mark upon the
face of a grown man of Our people, so something I did not understand had
marked the faces of the Chinamen. They had no kinship with the crowd
beyond that which a man has to children.

"They are the superior race," said the Professor, ethnologically.

"They can't be. They don't know how to enjoy life," I answered
immorally. "And, anyway, their art isn't human."

"What does it matter?" said the Professor. "Here's a shop full of the
wrecks of old Japan. Let's go in and look." We went in, but I want
somebody to solve the Chinese question for me. It's too large to handle
alone.

We entered the curio-shop aforementioned, with our hats in our hands,
through a small avenue of carved stone lanterns and wooden sculptures of
devils unspeakably hideous, to be received by a smiling image who had
grown grey among _netsukes_ and lacquer. He showed us the banners and
insignia of daimios long since dead, while our jaws drooped in ignorant
wonder. He showed us a sacred turtle of mammoth size, carven in wood
down to minutest detail. Through room after room he led us, the light
fading as we went, till we reached a tiny garden and a woodwork cloister
that ran round it. Suits of old-time armour made faces at us in the
gloom, ancient swords clicked at our feet, quaint tobacco pouches as old
as the swords swayed to and fro from some invisible support, and the
eyes of a score of battered Buddhas, red dragons, Jain _tirthankars_,
and Burmese _beloos_ glared at us from over the fence of tattered gold
brocade robes of state. The joy of possession lives in the eye. The old
man showed us his treasures, from crystal spheres mounted in sea-worn
wood to cabinet on cabinet full of ivory and wood carvings, and we were
as rich as though we owned all that lay before us. Unfortunately the
merest scratch of Japanese characters is the only clew to the artist's
name, so I am unable to say who conceived, and in creamy ivory executed,
the old man horribly embarrassed by a cuttle-fish; the priest who made
the soldier pick up a deer for him and laughed to think that the brisket
would be his and the burden his companion's; or the dry, lean snake
coiled in derision on a jawless skull mottled with the memories of
corruption; or the Rabelaisan badger who stood on his head and made you
blush though he was not half an inch long; or the little fat boy
pounding his smaller brother; or the rabbit that had just made a joke;
or--but there were scores of these notes, born of every mood of mirth,
scorn, and experience that sways the heart of man; and by this hand that
has held half a dozen of them in its palm I winked at the shade of the
dead carver! He had gone to his rest, but he had worked out in ivory
three or four impressions that I had been hunting after in cold print.

The Englishman is a wonderful animal. He buys a dozen of these things
and puts them on the top of an overcrowded cabinet, where they look like
blobs of ivory, and forgets them in a week. The Japanese hides them in a
beautiful brocaded bag or a quiet lacquer box till three congenial
friends come to tea. Then he takes them out slowly, and they are looked
over with appreciation amid quiet chuckles to the deliberative clink of
cups, and put back again till the mood for inspection returns. That is
the way to enjoy what we call curios. Every man with money is a
collector in Japan, but you shall find no crowds of "things" outside the
best shops.

We stayed long in the half-light of that quaint place, and when we went
away we grieved afresh that such a people should have a "constitution"
or should dress every tenth young man in European clothes, put a white
ironclad in Kobé harbour, and send a dozen myoptic lieutenants in baggy
uniforms about the streets.

"It would pay us," said the Professor, his head in a clog-shop, "it
would pay us to establish an international suzerainty over Japan to
take, away any fear of invasion or annexation, and pay the country as
much as ever it chose, on condition that it simply sat still and went on
making beautiful things while our men learned. It would pay us to put
the whole Empire in a glass case and mark it, '_Hors concours_,' Exhibit
A."

"H'mm," said I. "Who's us?"

"Oh, we generally--the _Sahib log_ all the world over. Our workmen--a
few of them--can do as good work in certain lines, but you don't find
whole towns full of clean, capable, dainty, designful people in Europe."

"Let's go to Tokio and speak to the Emperor about it," I said.

"Let's go to a Japanese theatre first," said the Professor. "It's too
early in the tour to start serious politics."



No. XIII

THE JAPANESE THEATRE AND THE STORY OF THE THUNDER CAT. TREATING ALSO OF
THE QUIET PLACES AND THE DEAD MAN IN THE STREET.


To the theatre we went, through the mud and much rain. Internally it was
nearly dark, for the deep blue of the audience's dress soaked up the
scanty light of the kerosene lamps. There was no standing room anywhere
except next to the Japanese policeman, who in the cause of morals and
the Lord Chamberlain had a corner in the gallery and four chairs all to
himself. He was quite four feet eight inches high, and Napoleon at St.
Helena could not have folded his arms more dramatically. After some
grunting--I fear we were upsetting the principles of the
Constitution--he consented to give us one chair, receiving in return a
Burma cheroot which I have every reason to believe blew his little head
off. A pit containing fifty rows of fifty people and a bonding layer of
babies, with a gallery which might have held twelve hundred, made up the
house. The building was as delicate a piece of cabinet work as any of
the houses; roof, floor, beams, props, verandahs, and partitions were of
naked wood, and every other person in the house was smoking a tiny pipe
and knocking out the ashes every two minutes. Then I wished to fly;
death by the _auto da fe_ not being anywhere paid for in the tour; but
there was no escape by the one little door where pickled fish was being
sold between the acts.

"Yes, it's not exactly safe," said the Professor, as the matches winked
and sputtered all round and below. "But if that curtain catches that
naked light on the stage, or you see this matchwood gallery begin to
blaze, I'll kick out the back of the refreshment buffet, and we can walk
away."

With this warm comfort the drama began. The green curtain dropped from
above and was whisked away, and three gentlemen and a lady opened the
ball by a dialogue conducted in tones between a "burble" and a falsetto
whisper. If you wish to know their costumes, look at the nearest
Japanese fan. Real Japs of course are like men and women, but stage Japs
in their stiff brocades are line for line as Japs are drawn. When the
four sat down, a little boy ran among them and settled their draperies,
pulling out a sash bow here, displaying a skirt-fold there. The costumes
were as gorgeous as the plot was incomprehensible. But we will call the
play "_The Thunder Cat_, or _Harlequin Bag o' Bones and the Amazing Old
Woman_, or _The Mammoth Radish_, or _The Superfluous Badger and the
Swinging Lights_."

A two-sworded man in the black and gold brocade rose up and imitated the
gait of an obscure actor called Henry Irving, whereat, not knowing that
he was serious, I cackled aloud till the Japanese policeman looked at me
austerely. Then the two-sworded man wooed the Japanese-fan lady, the
other characters commenting on his proceedings like a Greek chorus till
something--perhaps a misplaced accent--provoked trouble, and the
two-sworded man and a vermilion splendour enjoyed a Vincent Crummles
fight to the music of all the orchestra--one guitar and something that
clicked--not castanets. The small boy removed their weapons when the men
had sufficiently warred, and, conceiving that the piece wanted light,
fetched a ten-foot bamboo with a naked candle at the end, and held this
implement about a foot from the face of the two-sworded man, following
his every movement with the anxious eye of a child intrusted with a
typewriter. Then the Japanese-fan girl consented to the wooing of the
two-sworded man, and with a scream of eldritch laughter turned into a
hideous old woman--a boy took off her hair, but she did the rest
herself. At this terrible moment a gilded Thunder Cat, which is a cat
issuing from a cloud, ran on wires from the flies to the centre of the
gallery, and a boy with a badger's tail mocked at the two-sworded man.
Then I knew that the two-sworded man had offended a cat and a badger,
and would have a very bad time of it, for these two animals and the fox
are to this day black sorcerers. Fearful things followed, and the
scenery was changed once every five minutes. The prettiest effect was
secured by a double row of candles hung on strings behind a green gauze
far up the stage and set swinging with opposite motions. This, besides
giving a fine idea of uncanniness, made one member of the audience
sea-sick.

But the two-sworded man was far more miserable than I. The bad Thunder
Cat cast such spells upon him that I gave up trying to find out what he
meant to be. He was a fat-faced low comedian King of the Rats, assisted
by other rats, and he ate a magic radish with side-splitting pantomime
till he became a man once more. Then all his bones were taken
away,--still by the Thunder Cat,--and he fell into a horrid heap,
illuminated by the small boy with the candle--and would not recover
himself till somebody spoke to a magic parrot, and a huge hairy villain
and several coolies had walked over him. Then he was a girl, but, hiding
behind a parasol, resumed his shape, and then the curtain came down and
the audience ran about the stage and circulated generally. One small boy
took it into his head that he could turn head-over-heels from the Prompt
side across. With great gravity, before the unregarding house, he set to
work; but rolled over sideways with a flourish of chubby legs. Nobody
cared, and the polite people in the gallery could not understand why the
Professor and I were helpless with laughter when the child, with a clog
for a sword, imitated the strut of the two-sworded man. The actors
changed in public, and any one who liked might help shift scenes. Why
should not a baby enjoy himself if he liked?

A little later we left. The Thunder Cat was still working her wicked
will on the two-sworded man, but all would be set right next day. There
was a good deal to be done, but Justice was at the end of it. The man
who sold pickled fish and tickets said so.

"Good school for a young actor," said the Professor. "He'd see what
unpruned eccentricities naturally develop into. There's every trick and
mannerism of the English stage in that place, magnified thirty
diameters, but perfectly recognisable. How do you intend to describe
it?"

"The Japanese comic opera of the future has yet to be written," I
responded, grandiloquently. "Yet to be written in spite of the _Mikado_.
The badger has not yet appeared on an English stage, and the artistic
mask as an accessory to the legitimate drama has never been utilised.
Just imagine the _Thunder Cat_ as a title for a serio-comic opera. Begin
with a domestic cat possessed of magic powers, living in the house of a
London tea-merchant who kicks her. Consider--"

"The lateness of the hour," was the icy answer. "To-morrow we will go
and write operas in the temple close to this place."

       *       *       *       *       *

To-morrow brought fine drizzling rain. The sun, by the way, has been
hidden now for more than three weeks. They took us to what must be the
chief temple of Kobé and gave it a name which I do not remember. It is
an exasperating thing to stand at the altars of a faith that you know
nothing about. There be rites and ceremonies of the Hindu creed that all
have read of and must have witnessed, but in what manner do they pray
here who look to Buddha, and what worship is paid at the Shinto shrines?
The books say one thing; the eyes, another.

The temple would seem to be also a monastery and a place of great peace
disturbed only by the babble of scores of little children. It stood back
from the road behind a sturdy wall, an irregular mass of steep pitched
roofs bound fantastically at the crown, copper-green where the thatch
had ripened under the touch of time, and dull grey-black where the tiles
ran. Under the eaves a man who believed in his God, and so could do good
work, had carved his heart into wood till it blossomed and broke into
waves or curled with the ripple of live flames. Somewhere on the
outskirts of Lahore city stands a mazy gathering of tombs and cloister
walks called Chajju Bhagat's Chubara, built no one knows when and
decaying no one cares how soon. Though this temple was large and
spotlessly clean within and without, the silence and rest of the place
were those of the courtyards in the far-off Punjab. The priests had made
many gardens in corners of the wall--gardens perhaps forty feet long by
twenty wide, and each, though different from its neighbour, containing a
little pond with goldfish, a stone lantern or two, hummocks of rock,
flat stones carved with inscriptions, and a cherry or peach tree all
blossom.

Stone-paved paths ran across the courtyard and connected building with
building. In an inner enclosure, where lay the prettiest garden of all,
was a golden tablet ten or twelve feet high, against which stood in high
relief of hammered bronze the figure of a goddess in flowing robes. The
space between the paved paths here was strewn with snowy-white pebbles,
and in white pebbles on red they had written on the ground, "How happy."
You might take them as you pleased--for the sigh of contentment or the
question of despair.

The temple itself, reached by a wooden bridge, was nearly dark, but
there was light enough to show a hundred subdued splendours of brown and
gold, of silk and faithfully painted screen. If you have once seen a
Buddhist altar where the Master of the Law sits among golden bells,
ancient bronzes, flowers in vases, and banners of tapestry, you will
begin to understand why the Roman Catholic Church once prospered so
mightily in this country, and will prosper in all lands where it finds
an elaborate ritual already existing. An art-loving folk will have a God
who is to be propitiated with pretty things as surely as a race bred
among rocks and moors and driving clouds will enshrine their deity in
the storm, and make him the austere recipient of the sacrifice of the
rebellious human spirit. Do you remember the story of the Bad People of
Iquique? The man who told me that yarn told me another--of the Good
People of Somewhere Else. They also were simple South Americans with
nothing to wear, and had been conducting a service of their own in
honour of their God before a black-jowled Jesuit father. At a critical
moment some one forgot the ritual, or a monkey invaded the sanctity of
that forest shrine and stole the priest's only garment. Anyhow, an
absurdity happened, and the Good People burst into shouts of laughter
and broke off to play for a while.

"But what will your God say?" asked the Jesuit, scandalised at the
levity.

"Oh! he knows everything. He knows that we forget, and can't attend, and
do it all wrong, but He is very wise and very strong," was the reply.

"Well, that doesn't excuse you."

"Of course it does. He just lies back and laughs," said the Good People
of Somewhere Else, and fell to pelting each other with blossoms.

I forget what is the precise bearing of this anecdote. But to return to
the temple. Hidden away behind a mass of variegated gorgeousness was a
row of very familiar figures with gold crowns on their heads. One does
not expect to meet Krishna the Butter Thief and Kali the husband beater
so far east as Japan.

"What are these?"

"They are other gods," said a young priest, who giggled deprecatingly at
his own creed every time he was questioned about it. "They are very old.
They came from India in the past. I think they are Indian gods, but I do
not know why they are here."

I hate a man who is ashamed of his faith. There was a story connected
with those gods, and the priest would not tell it to me. So I sniffed at
him scornfully, and went my way. It led me from the temple straight into
the monastery, which was all made of delicate screens, polished floors,
and brown wood ceilings. Except for my tread on the boards there was no
sound in the place till I heard some one breathing heavily behind a
screen. The priest slid back what had appeared to me a dead wall, and we
found a very old priest half-asleep over his charcoal handwarmer. This
was the picture. The priest in olive-green, his bald head, pure silver,
bowed down before a sliding screen of white oiled paper which let in
dull silver light. To his right a battered black lacquer stand
containing the Indian ink and brushes with which he feigned to work. To
the right of these, again, a pale yellow bamboo table holding a vase of
olive-green crackle, and a sprig of almost black pine. There were no
blossoms in this place. The priest was too old. Behind the sombre
picture stood a gorgeous little Buddhist shrine,--gold and vermilion.

"He makes a fresh picture for the little screen here every day," said
the young priest, pointing first to his senior, and then to a blank
little tablet on the wall. The old man laughed pitifully, rubbed his
head, and handed me his picture for the day. It represented a flood
over rocky ground; two men in a boat were helping two others on a tree
half-submerged by the water. Even I could tell that the power had gone
from him. He must have drawn well in his manhood, for one figure in the
boat had action and purpose as it leaned over the gunwale; but the rest
was blurred, and the lines had wandered astray as the poor old hand had
quavered across the paper. I had no time to wish the artist a pleasant
old age, and an easy death in the great peace that surrounded him,
before the young man drew me away to the back of the shrine, and showed
me a second smaller altar facing shelves on shelves of little gold and
lacquer tablets covered with Japanese characters.

"These are memorial tablets of the dead," he giggled. "Once and again
the priest he prays here--for those who are dead, you understand?"

"Perfectly. They call 'em masses where I come from. I want to go away
and think about things. You shouldn't laugh, though, when you show off
your creed."

"Ha, ha!" said the young priest, and I ran away down the dark polished
passages with the faded screens on either hand, and got into the main
courtyard facing the street, while the Professor was trying to catch
temple fronts with his camera.

A procession passed, four abreast tramping through the sloshy mud. They
did not laugh, which was strange, till I saw and heard a company of
women in white walking in front of a little wooden palanquin carried on
the shoulders of four bearers and suspiciously light. They sang a song,
half under their breaths--a wailing, moaning song that I had only heard
once before, from the lips of a native far away in the north of India,
who had been clawed past hope of cure by a bear, and was singing his
own death-song as his friends bore him along.

"Have makee die," said my 'rickshaw coolie. "Few-yu-ne-ral."

I was aware of the fact. Men, women, and little children poured along
the streets, and when the death-song died down, helped it forward. The
half-mourners wore only pieces of white cloth about their shoulders. The
immediate relatives of the dead were in white from head to foot. "Aho!
Ahaa! Aho!" they wailed very softly, for fear of breaking the cadence of
the falling rain, and they disappeared. All except one old woman, who
could not keep pace with the procession, and so came along alone,
crooning softly to herself. "Aho! Ahaa! Aho!" she whispered.

The little children in the courtyard were clustered round the
Professor's camera. But one child had a very bad skin disease on his
innocent head,--so bad that none of the others would play with him,--and
he stood in a corner and sobbed and sobbed as though his heart would
break. Poor little Gehazi!



No. XIV

EXPLAINS IN WHAT MANNER I WAS TAKEN TO VENICE IN THE RAIN, AND CLIMBED
INTO A DEVIL FORT; A TIN-POT EXHIBITION, AND A BATH. OF THE MAIDEN AND
THE BOLTLESS DOOR, THE CULTIVATOR AND HIS FIELDS, AND THE MANUFACTURE OF
ETHNOLOGICAL THEORIES AT RAILROAD SPEED. ENDS WITH KIOTO.

    "There's a deal o' fine confused feedin' about sheep's head."

    --_Christopher North._


"Come along to Osaka," said the Professor.

"Why? I'm quite comfy here, and we shall have lobster cutlets for
tiffin; and, anyhow, it is raining heavily, and we shall get wet."

Sorely against my will--for it was in my mind to fudge Japan from a
guide-book while I enjoyed the cookery of the Oriental at Kobé--I was
dragged into a 'rickshaw and the rain, and conveyed to a railway
station. Even the Japanese cannot make their railway stations lovely,
though they do their best. Their system of baggage-booking is borrowed
from the Americans; their narrow-gauge lines, locos, and rolling stock
are English; their passenger-traffic is regulated with the precision of
the Gaul, and the uniforms of their officials come from the nearest
ragbag. The passengers themselves were altogether delightful. A large
number of them were modified Europeans, and resembled nothing more than
Tenniel's picture of the White Rabbit on the first page of _Alice in
Wonderland_. They were dressed in neat little tweed suits with
fawn-coloured overcoats, and they carried ladies' reticules of black
leather and nickel platings. They wore paper and celluloid stuck-up
collars which must have been quite thirteen inches round the neck, and
their boots were number fours. On their hands--their wee-wee hands--they
had white cotton gloves, and they smoked cigarettes from fairy little
cigarette cases. That was young Japan--the Japan of the present day.

"Wah, wah, God is great," said the Professor. "But it isn't in human
nature for a man who sprawls about on soft mats by instinct to wear
Europe clothes as though they belonged to him. If you notice, the last
thing that they take to is shoes."

A lapis-lazuli coloured locomotive which, by accident, had a mixed train
attached to it happened to loaf up to the platform just then, and we
entered a first-class English compartment. There was no stupid double
roof, window shade, or abortive thermantidote. It was a London and
South-Western carriage. Osaka is about eighteen miles from Kobé, and
stands at the head of the bay of Osaka. The train is allowed to go as
fast as fifteen miles an hour and to play at the stations all along the
line. You must know that the line runs between the hills and the shore,
and the drainage-fall is a great deal steeper than anything we have
between Saharunpur and Umballa. The rivers and the hill torrents come
down straight from the hills on raised beds of their own formation,
which beds again have to be bunded and spanned with girder bridges
or--here, perhaps, I may be wrong--tunnelled.

The stations are black-tiled, red-walled, and concrete-floored, and all
the plant from signal levers to goods-truck is English. The official
colour of the bridges is a yellow-brown most like unto a faded
chrysanthemum. The uniform of the ticket-collectors is a peaked forage
cap with gold lines, black frock-coat with brass buttons, very long in
the skirt, trousers with black mohair braid, and buttoned kid boots. You
cannot be rude to a man in such raiment.

But the countryside was the thing that made us open our eyes. Imagine a
land of rich black soil, very heavily manured, and worked by the spade
and hoe almost exclusively, and if you split your field (of vision) into
half-acre plots, you will get a notion of the raw material the
cultivator works on. But all I can write will give you no notion of the
wantonness of neatness visible in the fields, of the elaborate system of
irrigation, and the mathematical precision of the planting. There was no
mixing of crops, no waste of boundary in footpath, and no difference of
value in the land. The water stood everywhere within ten feet of the
surface, as the well-sweeps attested. On the slopes of the foot-hills
each drop between the levels was neatly riveted with unmortared stones,
and the edges of the watercuts were faced in like manner. The young rice
was transplanted very much as draughts are laid on the board; the tea
might have been cropped garden box; and between the lines of the mustard
the water lay in the drills as in a wooden trough, while the purple of
the beans ran up to the mustard and stopped as though cut with a rule.

On the seaboard we saw an almost continuous line of towns variegated
with factory chimneys; inland, the crazy-quilt of green, dark-green and
gold. Even in the rain the view was lovely, and exactly as Japanese
pictures had led me to hope for. Only one drawback occurred to the
Professor and myself at the same time. Crops don't grow to the full
limit of the seed on heavily worked ground dotted with villages except
at a price.

"Cholera?" said I, watching a stretch of well-sweeps.

"Cholera," said the Professor. "Must be, y'know. It's all sewage
irrigation."

I felt that I was friends with the cultivators at once. These
broad-hatted, blue-clad gentlemen who tilled their fields by
hand--except when they borrowed the village buffalo to drive the share
through the rice-slough--knew what the scourge meant.

"How much do you think the Government takes in revenue from vegetable
gardens of that kind?" I demanded.

"Bosh," said he, quietly, "you aren't going to describe the land-tenure
of Japan. Look at the yellow of the mustard!"

It lay in sheets round the line. It ran up the hills to the dark pines.
It rioted over the brown sandbars of the swollen rivers, and faded away
by mile after mile to the shores of the leaden sea. The high-peaked
houses of brown thatch stood knee-deep in it, and it surged up to the
factory chimneys of Osaka.

"Great place, Osaka," said the guide. "All sorts of manufactures there."

Osaka is built into and over and among one thousand eight hundred and
ninety-four canals, rivers, dams, and watercuts. What the multitudinous
chimneys mean I cannot tell. They have something to do with rice and
cotton; but it is not good that the Japs should indulge in trade, and I
will not call Osaka a "great commercial _entrepot_." "People who live in
paper houses should never sell goods," as the proverb says.

Because of his many wants there is but one hotel for the Englishman in
Osaka, and they call it Juter's. Here the views of two civilisations
collide and the result is awful. The building is altogether Japanese;
wood and tile and sliding screen from top to bottom; but the fitments
are mixed. My room, for instance, held a _tokonoma_, made of the
polished black stem of a palm and delicate woodwork, framing a scroll
picture representing storks. But on the floor over the white mats lay a
Brussels carpet that made the indignant toes tingle. From the back
verandah one overhung the river which ran straight as an arrow between
two lines of houses. They have cabinet-makers in Japan to fit the rivers
to the towns. From my verandah I could see three bridges--one a hideous
lattice-girder arrangement--and part of a fourth. We were on an island
and owned a watergate if we wanted to take a boat.

_Apropos_ of water, be pleased to listen to a Shocking Story. It is
written in all the books that the Japanese though cleanly are somewhat
casual in their customs. They bathe often with nothing on and together.
This notion my experience of the country, gathered in the seclusion of
the Oriental at Kobé, made me scoff at. I demanded a tub at Juter's. The
infinitesimal man led me down verandahs and upstairs to a beautiful
bath-house full of hot and cold water and fitted with cabinet-work,
somewhere in a lonely out-gallery. There was naturally no bolt to the
door any more than there would be a bolt to a dining-room. Had I been
sheltered by the walls of a big Europe bath, I should not have cared,
but I was preparing to wash when a pretty maiden opened the door, and
indicated that she also would tub in the deep, sunken Japanese bath at
my side. When one is dressed only in one's virtue and a pair of
spectacles it is difficult to shut the door in the face of a girl. She
gathered that I was not happy, and withdrew giggling, while I thanked
heaven, blushing profusely the while, that I had been brought up in a
society which unfits a man to bathe _à deux_. Even an experience of the
Paddington Swimming Baths would have helped me; but coming straight from
India Lady Godiva was a ballet-girl in sentiment compared to this
Actæon.

It rained monsoonishly, and the Professor discovered a castle which he
needs must see. "It's Osaka Castle," he said, "and it has been fought
over for hundreds of years. Come along."

"I've seen castles in India. Raighur, Jodhpur--all sorts of places.
Let's have some more boiled salmon. It's good in this station."

"Pig," said the Professor.

We threaded our way over the four thousand and fifty-two canals, etc.,
where the little children played with the swiftly running water, and
never a mother said "don't," till our 'rickshaw stopped outside a fort
ditch thirty feet deep, and faced with gigantic granite slabs. On the
far side uprose the walls of a fort. But such a fort! Fifty feet was the
height of the wall, and never a pinch of mortar in the whole. Nor was
the face perpendicular, but curved like the ram of a man-of-war. They
know the curve in China, and I have seen French artists, introduce it
into books describing a devil-besieged city of Tartary. Possibly
everybody else knows it too, but that is not my affair; life as I have
said being altogether new to me. The stone was granite, and the men of
old time had used it like mud. The dressed blocks that made the profile
of the angles were from twenty feet long, ten or twelve feet high, and
as many in thickness. There was no attempt at binding, but there was no
fault in the jointing.

"And the little Japs built this!" I cried, awe-stricken at the quarries
that rose round me.

"Cyclopean masonry," grunted the Professor, punching with a stick a
monolith of seventeen feet cube. "Not only did they build it, but they
took it. Look at this. Fire!"

The stones had been split and bronzed in places, and the cleavage was
the cleavage of fire. Evil must it have been for the armies that led the
assault on these monstrous walls. Castles in India I know, and the forts
of great Emperors I had seen, but neither Akbar in the north, nor
Scindia in the south, had built after this fashion--without ornament,
without colour, but with a single eye to savage strength and the utmost
purity of line. Perhaps the fort would have looked less forbidding in
sunlight. The grey, rain-laden atmosphere through which I saw it suited
its spirit. The barracks of the garrison, the commandant's very dainty
house, a peach-garden, and two deer were foreign to the place. They
should have peopled it with giants from the mountains, instead
of--Gurkhas! A Jap infantryman is not a Gurkha, though he might be
mistaken for one as long as he stood still. The sentry at the
quarter-guard belonged, I fancy, to the 4th Regiment. His uniform was
black or blue, with red facings, and shoulder-straps carrying the number
of the regiment in cloth. The rain necessitated an overcoat, but why he
should have carried knapsack, blanket, boots, _and_ binoculars I could
not fathom. The knapsack was of cowskin with the hair on, the boots were
strapped soles, cut on each side, while a heavy country blanket was
rolled U-shape over the head of the knapsack, fitting close to the back.
In the place usually occupied by the mess-tin was a black leather case
shaped like a field-glass. This must be a mistake of mine, but I can
only record as I see. The rifle was a side-bolt weapon of some kind, and
the bayonet an uncommonly good sword one, locked to the muzzle, English
fashion. The ammunition pouches, as far as I could see under the
greatcoat, ran on the belt in front, and were double-strapped down.
White spatterdashes--very dirty--and peaked cap completed the outfit. I
surveyed the man with interest, and would have made further examination
of him but for fear of the big bayonet. His arms were well kept,--not
speckless by any means,--but his uniform would have made an English
colonel swear. There was no portion of his body except the neck that it
pretended to fit. I peeped into the quarter-guard. Fans and dainty
tea-sets do not go with one's notions of a barrack. One drunken
defaulter of certain far-away regiments that I could name would not only
have cleared out that quarter-guard, but brought away all its fittings
except the rifle-racks. Yet the little men, who were always gentle, and
never got drunk, were mounting guard over a pile that, with a blue fire
on the bastions, might have served for the guard-gates of Hell.

I climbed to the top of the fort and was rewarded by a view of thirty
miles of country, chiefly pale yellow mustard and blue-green pine, and
the sight of the very large city of Osaka fading away into mist. The
guide took most pleasure in the factory chimneys. "There is an
exposition here--an exposition of industrialities. Come and see," said
he. He took us down from that high place and showed us the glory of the
land in the shape of corkscrews, tin mugs, egg-whisks, dippers, silks,
buttons, and all the trumpery that can be stitched on a card and sold
for five-pence three farthings. The Japanese unfortunately make all
these things for themselves, and are proud of it. They have nothing to
learn from the West as far as finish is concerned, and by intuition know
how to case and mount wares tastefully. The exposition was in four large
sheds running round a central building which held only screens, pottery,
and cabinet-ware loaned for the occasion. I rejoiced to see that the
common people did not care for the penknives, and the pencils, and the
mock jewellery. They left those sheds alone and discussed the screens,
first taking off their clogs that the inlaid floor of the room might not
suffer. Of all the gracious things I beheld, two only remain in my
memory,--one a screen in grey representing the heads of six devils
instinct with malice and hate; the other, a bold sketch in monochrome of
an old woodcutter wrestling with the down-bent branch of a tree. Two
hundred years have passed since the artist dropped his pencil, but you
may almost hear the tough wood jar under the stroke of the chopper, as
the old man puts his back into the task and draws in the labouring
breath. There is a picture by Legros of a beggar dying in a ditch, which
might have been suggested by that screen.

Next morning, after a night's rain, which sent the river racing under
the frail balconies at eight miles an hour, the sun broke through the
clouds. Is this a little matter to you who can count upon him daily? I
had not seen him since March, and was beginning to feel anxious. Then
the land of peach blossom spread its draggled wings abroad and rejoiced.
All the pretty maidens put on their loveliest crêpe sashes,--fawn
colour, pink, blue, orange, and lilac,--all the little children picked
up a baby each, and went out to be happy. In a temple garden full of
blossom I performed the miracle of Deucalion with two cents' worth of
sweets. The babies swarmed on the instant, till, for fear of raising all
the mothers too, I forbore to give them any more. They smiled and nodded
prettily, and trotted after me, forty strong, the big ones helping the
little, and the little ones skipping in the puddles. A Jap child never
cries, never scuffles, never fights, and never makes mud pies except
when it lives on the banks of a canal. Yet, lest it should spread its
sash-bow and become a bald-headed angel ere its time, Providence has
decreed that it should never, never blow its little nose.
Notwithstanding the defect, I love it.

There was no business in Osaka that day because of the sunshine and the
budding of the trees. Everybody went to a tea-house with his friends. I
went also, but first ran along a boulevard by the side of the river,
pretending to look at the Mint. This was only a common place of solid
granite where they turn out dollars and rubbish of that kind. All along
the boulevard the cherry, peach, and plum trees, pink, white, and red,
touched branches and made a belt of velvety soft colour as far as the
eye could reach. Weeping willows were the normal ornaments of the
waterside, this revel of bloom being only part of the prodigality of
Spring. The Mint may make a hundred thousand dollars a day, but all the
silver in its keeping will not bring again the three weeks of the peach
blossom which, even beyond the chrysanthemum, is the crown and glory of
Japan. For some act of surpassing merit performed in a past life I have
been enabled to hit those three weeks in the middle.

"Now is the Japanese festival of the cherry blossom," said the guide.
"All the people will be festive. They will pray too and go to the
tea-gardens."

Now you might wall an Englishman about with cherry trees in bloom from
head to heel, and after the first day he would begin to complain of the
smell. As you know, the Japanese arrange a good many of their festivals
in honour of flowers, and this is surely commendable, for blossoms are
the most tolerant of gods.

The tea-house system of the Japanese filled me with pleasure at a
pleasure that I could not fully comprehend. It pays a company in Osaka
to build on the outskirts of the town a nine-storied pagoda of wood and
iron, to lay out elaborate gardens round it, and to hang the whole with
strings of blood-red lanterns, because the Japanese will come wherever
there is a good view to sit on a mat and discuss tea and sweetmeats and
_saki_. This Eiffel Tower is, to tell the truth, anything but pretty,
yet the surroundings redeem it. Although it was not quite completed,
the lower storeys were full of tea-stalls and tea-drinkers. The men and
women were obviously admiring the view. It is an astounding thing to see
an Oriental so engaged; it is as though he had stolen something from a
sahib.

From Osaka--canal-cut, muddy, and fascinating Osaka--the Professor,
Mister Yamagutchi,--the guide,--and I took train to Kioto, an hour from
Osaka. On the road I saw four buffaloes at as many rice-ploughs--which
was noticeable as well as wasteful. A buffalo at rest must cover the
half of a Japanese field; but perhaps they are kept on the mountain
ledges and only pulled down when wanted. The Professor says that what I
call buffalo is really bullock. The worst of travelling with an accurate
man is his accuracy. We argued about the Japanese in the train, about
his present and his future, and the manner in which he has ranged
himself on the side of the grosser nations of the earth.

"Did it hurt his feelings very much to wear our clothes? Didn't he rebel
when he put on a pair of trousers for the first time? Won't he grow
sensible some day and drop foreign habits?" These were some of the
questions I put to the landscape and the Professor.

"He was a baby," said the latter, "a big baby. I think his sense of
humour was at the bottom of the change, but he didn't know that a nation
which once wears trousers never takes 'em off. You see 'enlightened'
Japan is only one-and-twenty years old, and people are not very wise at
one-and-twenty. Read Reed's _Japan_ and learn how the change came about.
There was a Mikado and a _Shogun_ who was Sir Frederick Roberts, but he
tried to be the Viceroy and--"

"Bother the _Shogun_! I've seen something like the Babu class, and
something like the farmer class. What I want to see is the Rajput
class--the man who used to wear the thousands and thousands of swords in
the curio-shops. Those swords were as much made for use as a Rajputana
sabre. Where are the men who used 'em? Show me a Samurai."

The Professor answered not a word, but scrutinised heads on the wayside
platforms. "I take it that the high-arched forehead, club nose, and eyes
close together--the Spanish type--are from Rajput stock, while the
German-faced Jap is the Khattri--the lower class."

Thus we talked of the natures and dispositions of men we knew nothing
about till we had decided (1) that the painful politeness of the
Japanese nation rose from the habit, dropped only twenty years ago, of
extended and emphatic sword-wearing, even as the Rajput is the pink of
courtesy because his friend goes armed; (2) that this politeness will
disappear in another generation, or will at least be seriously impaired;
(3) that the cultured Japanese of the English pattern will corrupt and
defile the tastes of his neighbours till (4) Japan altogether ceases to
exist as a separate nation and becomes a button-hook manufacturing
appanage of America; (5) that these things being so, and sure to happen
in two or three hundred years, the Professor and I were lucky to reach
Japan betimes; and (6) that it was foolish to form theories about the
country until we had seen a little of it.

So we came to the city of Kioto in regal sunshine, tempered by a breeze
that drove the cherry blossoms in drifts about the streets. One
Japanese town, in the southern provinces at least, is very like another
to look at--a grey-black sea of house roofs, speckled with the white
walls of the fire-proof godowns where merchants and rich men keep their
chief treasures. The general level is broken by the temple roofs, which
are turned up at the edges, and remotely resemble so many terai-hats.
Kioto fills a plain almost entirely surrounded by wooded hills, very
familiar in their aspect to those who have seen the Siwaliks. Once upon
a time it was the capital of Japan, and to-day numbers two hundred and
fifty thousand people. It is laid out like an American town. All the
streets run at right angles to each other. That, by the way, is exactly
what the Professor and I are doing. We are elaborating the theory of the
Japanese people, and we can't agree.



No. XV

KIOTO AND HOW I FELL IN LOVE WITH THE CHIEF BELLE THERE AFTER I HAD
CONFERRED WITH CERTAIN CHINA MERCHANTS WHO TRAFFICKED IN TEA. SHOWS
FURTHER HOW, IN A GREAT TEMPLE, I BROKE THE TENTH COMMANDMENT IN
FIFTY-THREE PLACES AND BOWED DOWN BEFORE KANO AND A CARPENTER. TAKES ME
TO ARASHIMA.

    "Could I but write the things I see,
    My world would haste to gaze with me.
    But since the traitor Pen hath failed
    To paint earth's loveliness unveiled,
    I can but pray my folk who read:--
    'For lavish Will take starveling Deed.'"


We are consorting with sixty of the _Sahib-log_ in the quaintest hotel
that ever you saw. It stands on the hillside overlooking the whole town
of Kioto, and its garden is veritable Japanese. Fantastically trimmed
tea trees, junipers, dwarfed pine, and cherry, are mixed up with ponds
of goldfish, stone lanterns, quaint rock-work, and velvety turf all at
an angle of thirty-five degrees. Behind us the pines, red and black,
cover the hill and run down in a long spur to the town. But an
auctioneer's catalogue cannot describe the charms of the place or deal
justly with the tea-garden full of cherry trees that lies a hundred
yards below the hotel. We were solemnly assured that hardly any one
came to Kioto. That is why we meet every soul in the ship that had
brought us to Nagasaki; and that is why our ears are constantly assailed
with the clamour of people who are discussing places which must be
"done." An Englishman is a very horrible person when he is on the
war-path; so is an American, a Frenchman, or a German.

I had been watching the afternoon sunlight upon the trees and the town,
the shift and play of colour in the crowded street of the cherry, and
crooning to myself because the sky was blue and I was alive beneath it
with a pair of eyes in my head.

Immediately the sun went down behind the hills the air became bitterly
cold, but the people in crêpe sashes and silk coats never ceased their
sober frolicking. There was to be a great service in honour of the
cherry blossom the next day at the chief temple of Kioto, and they were
getting ready for it. As the light died in a wash of crimson, the last
thing I saw was a frieze of three little Japanese babies with fuzzy
top-knots and huge sashes trying to hang head downwards from a bamboo
rail. They did it, and the closing eye of day regarded them solemnly as
it shut. The effect in _silhouette_ was immense!

A company of China tea-merchants were gathered in the smoking-room after
dinner, and by consequence talked their own "shop," which was
interesting. Their language is not Our language, for they know nothing
of the tea-gardens, of drying and withering and rolling, of the
assistant who breaks his collar-bone in the middle of the busiest
season, or of the sickness that smites the coolie lines at about the
same time. They are happy men who get their tea by the break of a
thousand chests from the interior of the country and play with it upon
the London markets. None the less they have a very wholesome respect for
Indian tea, which they cordially detest. Here is the sort of argument
that a Foochow man, himself a very heavy buyer, flung at me across the
table.

"You may talk about your Indian teas,--Assam and Kangra, or whatever you
call them,--but I tell _you_ that if ever they get a strong hold in
England, the doctors will be down on them, Sir. They'll be medically
forbidden. See if they aren't. They shatter your nerves to pieces. Unfit
for human consumption--that's what they are. Though I don't deny they
_are_ selling at Home. They don't keep, though. After three months, the
sorts that I've seen in London turn to hay."

"I think you are wrong there," said a Hankow man. "My experience is that
the Indian teas keep better than ours by a long way. But"--turning to
me--"if we could only get the China Government to take off the duties,
we could smash Indian tea and every one connected with it. We could lay
down tea in Mincing Lane at threepence a pound. No, we do not adulterate
our teas. That's one of _your_ tricks in India. We get it as pure as
yours--every chest in the break equal to sample."

"You can trust your native buyers then?" I interrupted.

"Trust 'em? Of course we can," cut in the Foochow merchant. "There are
no tea-gardens in China as you understand them. The peasantry cultivate
the tea, and the buyers buy from them for cash each season. You can
give a Chinaman a hundred thousand dollars and tell him to turn it into
tea of your own particular chop--up to sample. Of course the man may be
a thorough-paced rogue in many ways, but he knows better than to play
the fool with an English house. Back comes your tea--a thousand
half-chests, we'll say. You open perhaps five, and the balance go home
untried. But they are all equal to sample. That's business, that is. The
Chinaman's a born merchant and full of backbone. I like him for business
purposes. The Jap's no use. He isn't man enough to handle a hundred
thousand dollars. Very possibly he'd run off with it--or try to."

"The Jap has no business savvy. God knows I hate the Chinamen," said a
bass voice behind the tobacco smoke, "but you can do business with him.
The Jap's a little huckster who can't see beyond his nose."

They called for drinks and told tales, these merchants of China,--tales
of money and bales and boxes,--but through all their stories there was
an implied leaning upon native help which, even allowing for the
peculiarities of China, was rather startling. "The compradore did this:
Ho Whang did that: a syndicate of Pekin bankers did the other
thing"--and so on. I wondered whether a certain lordly indifference as
to details had anything to do with eccentricities in the China
tea-breaks and fluctuations of quality, which do occur in spite of all
the men said to the contrary. Again, the merchants spoke of China as a
place where fortunes are made--a land only waiting to be opened up to
pay a hundredfold. They told me of the Home Government helping private
trade, in kind and unobtrusive ways, to get a firmer hold on the Public
Works Department contracts that are now flying abroad. This was
pleasant hearing. But the strangest thing of all was the tone of hope
and almost contentment that pervaded their speech. They were well-to-do
men making money, and they liked their lives. You know how, when two or
three of Us are gathered together in our own barren pauper land, we
groan in chorus and are disconsolate. The civilian, the military man,
and the merchant, they are all alike. The one overworked and broken by
exchange, the second a highly organised beggar, and the third a nobody
in particular, always at loggerheads with what he considers an
academical Government. I knew in a way that We were a grim and miserable
community in India, but I did not know the measure of Our fall till I
heard men talking about fortunes, success, money, and the pleasure, good
living, and frequent trips to England that money brings. Their friends
did not seem to die with unnatural swiftness, and their wealth enabled
them to endure the calamity of Exchange with calm. Yes, we of India are
a wretched folk.

Very early in the dawn, before the nesting sparrows were awake, there
was a sound in the air which frightened me out of my virtuous sleep. It
was a lisping mutter--very deep and entirely strange. "That's an
earthquake, and the hillside is beginning to slide," quoth I, taking
measures of defence. The sound repeated itself again and again, till I
argued, that if it were the precursor of an earthquake, the affair had
stuck half-way. At breakfast men said: "That was the great bell of Kioto
just next door to the hotel a little way up the hillside. As a bell,
y'know, it's rather a failure, from an English point of view. They
don't ring it properly, and the volume of sound is comparatively
insignificant."

"So I fancied when I first heard it," I said casually, and went out up
the hill under sunshine that filled the heart and trees, that filled the
eye with joy. You know the unadulterated pleasure of that first clear
morning in the Hills when a month's solid idleness lies before the
loafer, and the scent of the deodars mixes with the scent of the
meditative cigar. That was my portion when I stepped through the
violet-studded long grass into forgotten little Japanese cemeteries--all
broken pillars and lichened tablets--till I found, under a cut in the
hillside, the big bell of Kioto--twenty feet of green bronze hung inside
a fantastically roofed shed of wooden beams. A beam, by the way, _is_ a
beam in Japan; anything under a foot thick is a stick. These beams were
the best parts of big trees, clamped with bronze and iron. A knuckle
rapped lightly on the lip of the bell--it was not more than five feet
from the ground--made the great monster breathe heavily, and the blow of
a stick started a hundred shrill-voiced echoes round the darkness of its
dome. At one side, guyed by half a dozen small hawsers, hung a
battering-ram, a twelve-foot spar bound with iron, its nose pointing
full-butt at a chrysanthemum in high relief on the belly of the bell.
Then, by special favour of Providence, which always looks after the
idle, they began to sound sixty strokes. Half a dozen men swung the ram
back and forth with shoutings and outcries, till it had gathered
sufficient way, and the loosened ropes let it hurl itself against the
chrysanthemum. The boom of the smitten bronze was swallowed up by the
earth below and the hillside behind, so that its volume was not
proportionate to the size of the bell, exactly as the men had said. An
English ringer would have made thrice as much of it. But then he would
have lost the crawling jar that ran through rock-stone and pine for
twenty yards round, that beat through the body of the listener and died
away under his feet like the shock of a distant blasting. I endured
twenty strokes and removed myself, not in the least ashamed of mistaking
the sound for an earthquake. Many times since I have heard the bell
speak when I was far off. It says _B-r-r-r_ very deep down in its
throat, but when you have once caught the noise you will never forget
it. And so much for the big bell of Kioto.

From its house a staircase of cut stone takes you down to the temple of
Chion-in, where I arrived on Easter Sunday just before service, and in
time to see the procession of the Cherry Blossom. They had a special
service at a place called St. Peter's at Rome about the same time, but
the priests of Buddha excelled the priests of the Pope. Thus it
happened. The main front of the temple was three hundred feet long, a
hundred feet deep, and sixty feet high. One roof covered it all, and
saving for the tiles there was no stone in the structure; nothing but
wood three hundred years old, as hard as iron. The pillars that upheld
the roof were three feet, four feet, and five feet in diameter, and
guiltless of any paint. They showed the natural grain of the wood till
they were lost in the rich brown darkness far overhead. The cross-beams
were of grained wood of great richness; cedar-wood and camphor-wood and
the hearts of gigantic pine had been put under requisition for the great
work. One carpenter--they call him only a carpenter--had designed the
whole, and his name is remembered to this day. A half of the temple was
railed off for the congregation by a two-foot railing, over which silks
of ancient device had been thrown. Within the railing were all the
religious fittings, but these I cannot describe. All I remember was row
upon row of little lacquered stands each holding a rolled volume of
sacred writings; an altar as tall as a cathedral organ where gold strove
with colour, colour with lacquer, and lacquer with inlay, and candles
such as Holy Mother Church uses only on her greatest days, shed a yellow
light that softened all. Bronze incense-burners in the likeness of
dragons and devils fumed under the shadow of silken banners, behind
which, wood tracery, as delicate as frost on a window-pane, climbed to
the ridge-pole. Only there was no visible roof to this temple. The light
faded away under the monstrous beams, and we might have been in a cave a
hundred fathoms below the earth but for the sunshine and blue sky at the
portals where the little children squabbled and shouted.

On my word, I tried to note down soberly what lay before me, but the eye
tired, and the pencil ran off into fragmentary ejaculations. But what
would you have done if you had seen what I saw when I went round the
temple verandah to what we must call a vestry at the back? It was a big
building connected with the main one by a wooden bridge of deepest
time-worn brown. Down the bridge ran a line of saffron-coloured matting,
and down the matting, very slowly and solemnly, as befitted their high
office, filed three and fifty priests, each one clad in at least four
garments of brocade, crêpe, and silk. There were silks that do not see
the light of the markets, and brocades that only temple wardrobes know.

There was sea-green watered silk with golden dragons; terra-cotta crêpe
with ivory-white chrysanthemums clustering upon it; black-barred silk
shot with yellow flames; lapis-lazuli silk and silver fishes; avanturine
silk with plaques of grey-green let in; cloth of gold over dragon's
blood; and saffron and brown silk stiff as a board with embroidery. We
returned to the temple now filled with the gorgeous robes. The little
lacquer stands were the priests' book-racks. Some lay down among them,
while others moved very softly about the golden altars and the
incense-burners; and the high priest disposed himself, with his back to
the congregation, in a golden chair through which his robe winked like
the shards of a tiger-beetle.

In solemn calm the books were unrolled, and the priests began chanting
Pali texts in honour of the Apostle of Unworldliness, who had written
that they were not to wear gold or mixed colours, or touch the precious
metals. But for a few unimportant accessories in the way of half-seen
images of great men--but these could have been called saints--the scene
before me might have been unrolled in a Roman Catholic cathedral, say
the rich one at Arundel. The same thought was in other minds, for in a
pause of the slow chant a voice behind me whispered:--

    "To hear the blessed mutter of the mass
    And see God made and eaten all day long."

It was a man from Hong-Kong, very angry that he too had not been
permitted to photograph an interior. He called all this splendour of
ritual and paraphernalia just "an interior," and revenged himself by
spitting Browning at it.

The chant quickened as the service drew to an end, and the candles
burned low.

We went away to other parts of the temple pursued by the chorus of the
devout till we were out of earshot in a paradise of screens. Two or
three hundred years ago there lived a painterman of the name of Kano.
Him the temple of Chion-in brought to beautify the walls of the rooms.
Since a wall is a screen, and a screen is a wall, Kano, R. A., had
rather a large job. But he was helped by pupils and imitators, and in
the end left a few hundred screens which are all finished pictures. As
you already know, the interior of a temple is very simple in its
arrangements. The priests live on white mats, in little rooms, with
brown ceilings, that can at pleasure be thrown into one large room. This
also was the arrangement at Chion-in, though the rooms were
comparatively large and gave on to sumptuous verandahs and passages.
Since the Emperor occasionally visited the place there was a room set
apart for him of more than ordinary splendour. Twisted silk tassels of
intricate design served in lieu of catches to pull back the sliding
screens, and the woodwork was lacquered. These be only feeble words, but
it is not in my grip to express the restfulness of it all, or the power
that knew how to secure the desired effect with a turn of the wrist. The
great Kano drew numbed pheasants huddled together on the snow-covered
bough of a pine; or a peacock in his pride spreading his tail to delight
his womenfolk; or a riot of chrysanthemums poured out of a vase; or the
figures of toilworn countryfolk coming home from market; or a hunting
scene at the foot of Fujiyama. The equally great carpenter who built the
temple framed each picture with absolute precision under a ceiling that
was a miracle of device, and Time, the greatest artist of the three,
touched the gold so that it became amber, and the woodwork so that it
grew dark honey-colour, and the shining surface of the lacquer so that
it became deep and rich and semi-transparent. As in one room, so in all
the others. Sometimes we slid back the screens and discovered a tiny
bald-pated acolyte praying over an incense-burner, and sometimes a lean
priest eating his rice; but generally the rooms were empty, swept and
garnished.

Minor artists had worked with Kano the magnificent. These had been
allowed to lay brush upon panels of wood in the outer verandahs, and
very faithfully had they toiled. It was not till the guide called my
attention to them that I discovered scores of sketches in monochrome low
down on the verandah doors. An iris broken by the fall of a branch torn
off by a surly ape; a bamboo spray bowed before the wind that was
ruffling a lake; a warrior of the past ambushing his enemy in a thicket,
hand on sword, and mouth gathered into puckers of intensest
concentration, were among the many notes that met my eye. How long,
think you, would a sepia-drawing stand without defacement in the midst
of our civilisation were it put on the bottom panel of a door, or the
scantling of a kitchen passage? Yet in this gentle country a man may
stoop down and write his name in the very dust, certain that, if the
writing be craftily done, his children's children will reverently let it
stand.

"Of course there are no such temples made nowadays," I said, when we
regained the sunshine, and the Professor was trying to find out how
panel pictures and paper screens went so well with the dark dignity of
massive woodwork.

"They are building a temple on the other side of the city," said Mister
Yamagutchi. "Come along, and see the hair-ropes which hang there."

We came flying in our 'rickshaws across Kioto, till we saw netted in a
hundred cobwebs of scaffolding a temple even larger than the great
Chion-in.

"That was burned down long ago,--the old temple that was here, you know.
Then the people made a penny subscription from all parts of Japan, and
those who could not send money sent their hair to be made into rope.
They have been ten years building this new temple. It is all wood," said
the guide.

The place was alive with men who were putting the finishing touches to
the great tiled roof and laying down the floors. Wooden pillars as
gigantic, carving as wantonly elaborate, eaves as intricate in their
mouldings, and joinery as perfect as anything in the Chion-in temple met
me at every turn. But the fresh-cut wood was creamy white and lemon
where, in the older building, it had been iron-hard and brown. Only the
raw ends of the joists were stopped with white lacquer to prevent the
incursions of insects, and the deeper tracery was protected against
birds by fine wire netting. Everything else was wood--wood down to the
massive clamped and bolted beams of the foundation which I investigated
through gaps in the flooring.

Japan is a great people. Her masons play with stone, her carpenters
with wood, her smiths with iron, and her artists with life, death, and
all the eye can take in. Mercifully she has been denied the last touch
of firmness in her character which would enable her to play with the
whole round world. We possess that--We, the nation of the glass
flower-shade, the pink worsted mat, the red and green china puppy-dog,
and the poisonous Brussels carpet. It is our compensation....

"Temples!" said a man from Calcutta, some hours later as I raved about
what I had seen. "Temples! I'm sick of temples. If I've seen one, I've
seen fifty thousand of 'em--all exactly alike. But I tell you what is
exciting. Go down the rapids at Arashima,--eight miles from here. It's
better fun than any temple with a fat-faced Buddha in the middle."

But I took my friend's advice. Have I managed to convey the impression
that April is fine in Japan? Then I apologise. It is generally rainy,
and the rain is cold; but the sunshine when it comes is worth it all. We
shouted with joy of living when our fiery, untamed 'rickshaws bounded
from stone to stone of the vilely paved streets of the suburbs and
brought us into what ought to have been vegetable gardens but were
called fields. The face of the flat lands was cut up in every direction
by bunds, and all the roads seem to run on the top of them.

"Never," said the Professor, driving his stick into the black soil,
"never have I imagined irrigation so perfectly controlled as this is.
Look at the _rajbahars_ faced with stone and fitted with sluices; look
at the water-wheels and,--phew! but they manure their fields too well."

The first circle of fields round any town is always pretty rank, but
this superfluity of scent continued throughout the country. Saving a few
parts near Dacca and Patna, the face of the land was more thickly
populated than Bengal and was worked five times better. There was no
single patch untilled, and no cultivation that was not up to the full
limit of the soil's productiveness. Onions, barley, in little ridges
between the ridges of tea, beans, rice, and a half a dozen other things
that we did not know the names of, crowded the eye already wearied with
the glare of the golden mustard. Manure is a good thing, but manual
labour is better. We saw both even to excess. When a Japanese ryot has
done everything to his field that he can possibly think of, he weeds the
barley stalk by stalk with his finger and thumb. This is true. I saw a
man doing it.

We headed through the marvellous country straight across the plain on
which Kioto stands, till we reached the range of hills on the far side,
and found ourselves mixed up with half a mile of lumber-yard.

Cultivation and water-cuts were gone, and our tireless 'rickshaws were
running by the side of a broad, shallow river, choked with logs of every
size. I am prepared to believe anything of the Japanese, but I do not
see why Nature, which they say is the same pitiless Power all the world
over, should send them their logs unsplintered by rocks, neatly barked,
and with a slot neatly cut at the end of each pole for the reception of
a rope, I have seen timber fly down the Ravi in spate, and it was hooked
out as ragged as a tooth-brush. This material comes down clean.
Consequently the slot is another miracle.

"When the day is fine," said the guide, softly, "all the people of Kioto
come to Arashima to have picnics."

"But they are always having picnics in the cherry-tree gardens. They
picnic in the tea-houses. They--they--"

"Yes, when it is a fine day, they always go somewhere and picnic."

"But why? Man isn't made to picnic."

"But why? Because it is a fine day. Englishmen say that the money of the
Japanese comes from heaven, because they always do nothing--so you
think. But look now, here is a pretty place."

The river charged down a turn in the pine-grown hills, and broke in
silver upon the timber and the remains of a light bridge washed away
some days before. On our side, and arranged so as to face the fairest
view of the young maples, stood a row of tea-houses and booths built
over the stream. The sunlight that could not soften the gloom of the
pines dwelt tenderly among the green of the maples and touched the
reaches below where the cherry blossom broke in pink foam against the
black-roofed houses of a village across the water.

There I stopped.



No. XVI

THE PARTY IN THE PARLOUR WHO PLAYED GAMES. A COMPLETE HISTORY OF ALL
MODERN JAPANESE ART; A SURVEY OF THE PAST, AND A PROPHECY OF THE FUTURE,
ARRANGED AND COMPOSED IN THE KIOTO FACTORIES.

    "Oh, brave new world that has such creatures in it,
    How beautiful mankind is!"


How I got to the tea-house I cannot tell. Perhaps a pretty girl waved a
bough of cherry blossom at me, and I followed the invitation. I know
that I sprawled upon the mats and watched the clouds scudding across the
hills and the logs flying down the rapids, and smelt the smell of the
raw peeled timber, and listened to the grunts of the boatmen as they
wrestled with that and the rush of the river, and was altogether happier
than it is lawful for a man to be.

The lady of the tea-house insisted upon screening us off from the other
pleasure-parties who were tiffining in the same verandah. She brought
beautiful blue screens with storks on them and slid them into grooves. I
stood it as long as I could. There were peals of laughter in the next
compartment, the pattering of soft feet, the clinking of little dishes,
and at the chinks of the screens the twinkle of diamond eyes. A whole
family had come in from Kioto for the day's pleasuring. Mamma looked
after grandmamma, and the young aunt looked after a guitar, and the two
girls of fourteen and fifteen looked after a merry little tomboy of
eight, who, when she thought of it, looked after the baby who had the
air of looking after the whole party. Grandmamma was dressed in dark
blue, mamma in blue and grey, the girls had gorgeous dresses of lilac,
fawn, and primrose crêpe with silk sashes, the colour of apple blossom
and the inside of a newly cut melon; the tomboy was in old gold and
russet brown; but the baby tumbled his fat little body across the floor
among the dishes in the colours of the Japanese rainbow, which owns no
crude tints. They were all pretty, all except grandmamma, who was merely
good-humoured and very bald, and when they had finished their dainty
dinner, and the brown lanquer stands, the blue and white crockery, and
the jade-green drinking-cups had been taken away, the aunt played a
little piece on the _samisen_, and the girls played blindman's-buff all
round the tiny room.

Flesh and blood could not have stayed on the other side of the screens.
I wanted to play too, but I was too big and too rough, and so could only
sit in the verandah, watching these dainty bits of Dresden at their
game. They shrieked and giggled and chattered and sat down on the floor
with the innocent abandon of maidenhood, and broke off to kiss the baby
when he showed signs of being overlooked. They played
puss-in-the-corner, their feet tied with blue and white handkerchiefs
because the room did not allow unfettered freedom of limb, and when they
could play no more for laughing, they fanned themselves as they lay
propped up against the blue screens,--each girl a picture no painter
could reproduce,--and I shrieked with the best of them till I rolled
off the verandah and nearly dropped into the laughing street. Was I a
fool? Then I fooled in good company, for an austere man from India--a
person who puts his faith in race-horses and believes nothing except the
Civil Code--was also at Arashima that day. I met him flushed and
excited.

"'Had a lively time," he panted, with a hundred children at his heels.
"There's a sort of roulette table here where you can gamble for cakes. I
bought the owner's stock-in-trade for three dollars and ran the Monte
Carlo for the benefit of the kids--about five thousand of 'em. Never had
such fun in my life. It beats the Simla lotteries hollow. They were
perfectly orderly till they had cleared the tables of everything except
a big sugar-tortoise. Then they rushed the bank, and I ran away."

And he was a hard man who had not played with anything as innocent as
sweetmeats for many years!

When we were all weak with laughing, and the Professor's camera was
mixed up in a tangle of laughing maidens to the confusion of his
pictures, we too ran away from the tea-house and wandered down the river
bank till we found a boat of sewn planks which poled us across the
swollen river, and landed us on a little rocky path overhanging the
water where the iris and the violet ran riot together and jubilant
waterfalls raced through the undergrowth of pine and maple. We were at
the foot of the Arashima rapids, and all the pretty girls of Kioto were
with us looking at the view. Up-stream a lonely black pine stood out
from all its fellows to peer up the bend where the racing water ran
deep in oily swirls. Down-stream the river threshed across the rocks and
troubled the fields of fresh logs on its bosom, while men in blue drove
silver-white boats gunwale-deep into the foam of its onset and hooked
the logs away. Underfoot the rich earth of the hillside sent up the
breath of the turn of the year to the maples that had already caught the
message from the fire-winds of April. Oh! it was good to be alive, to
trample the stalks of the iris, to drag down the cherry-bloom spray in a
wash of dew across the face, and to gather the violets for the mere
pleasure of heaving them into the torrent and reaching out for fairer
flowers.

"What a nuisance it is to be a slave to the camera," said the Professor,
upon whom the dumb influences of the season were working though he knew
it not.

"What a nuisance it is to be a slave to the pen," I answered, for the
spring had come to the land. I had hated the spring for seven years
because to me it meant discomfort.

"Let us go straight home and see the flowers come out in the Parks."

"Let us enjoy what lies to our hand, you Philistine." And we did till a
cloud darkened and a wind ruffled the river reaches, and we returned to
our 'rickshaws sighing with contentment.

"How many people do you suppose the land supports to the square mile?"
said the Professor, at a turn in the homeward road. He had been reading
statistics.

"Nine hundred," I said at a venture. "It's thicker set with humans than
Sarun or Behar. Say one thousand."

"Two thousand two hundred and fifty odd. Can you believe it?"

"Looking at the landscape I can, but I don't suppose India will believe
it. S'pose I write fifteen hundred?"

"They'll say you exaggerate just the same. Better stick to the true
total. Two thousand two hundred and fifty-six to the square mile, and
not a sign of poverty in the houses. How do they do it?"

I should like to know the answer to that question. Japan of my limited
view is inhabited almost entirely by little children whose duty is to
prevent their elders from becoming too frivolous. The babies do a little
work occasionally, but their parents interfere by petting them. At
Yami's hotel the attendance is in the hands of ten-year-olds because
everybody else has gone out picnicing among the cherry trees. The little
imps find time to do a man's work and to scuffle on the staircase
between whiles. My special servitor, called "The Bishop" on account of
the gravity of his appearance, his blue apron, and gaiters, is the
liveliest of the lot, but even his energy cannot account for the
Professor's statistics of population....

I have seen one sort of work among the Japanese, but it was not the kind
that makes crops. It was purely artistic. A ward of the city of Kioto is
devoted to manufactures. A manufacturer in this part of the world does
not hang out a sign. He may be known in Paris and New York: that is the
concern of the two cities. The Englishman who wishes to find his
establishment in Kioto has to hunt for him up and down slums with the
aid of a guide. I have seen three manufactories. The first was of
porcelain-ware, the second of _cloissonnée_, and the third of lacquer,
inlay, and bronzes. The first was behind black wooden palings, and for
external appearance might just as well have been a tripe-shop. Inside
sat the manager opposite a tiny garden four feet square in which a
papery-looking palm grew out of a coarse stoneware pot and overshadowed
a dwarfed pine. The rest of the room was filled with pottery waiting to
be packed--modern Satsuma for the most part, the sort of thing you get
at an auction.

"This made send Europe--India--America," said the manager, calmly. "You
come to see?"

He took us along a verandah of polished wood to the kilns, to the clay
vats, and the yards where the tiny "saggers" were awaiting their
complement of pottery. There are differences many and technical between
Japanese and Burslem pottery in the making, but these are of no
consequence. In the moulding house, where they were making the bodies of
Satsuma vases, the wheels, all worked by hand, ran true as a hair. The
potter sat on a clean mat with his tea-things at his side. When he had
turned out a vase-body he saw that it was good, nodded appreciatively to
himself, and poured out some tea ere starting the next one. The potters
lived close to the kilns and had nothing pretty to look at. It was
different in the painting rooms. Here in a cabinet-like house sat the
men, women, and boys who painted the designs on the vases after the
first firing. That all their arrangements were scrupulously neat is only
saying that they were Japanese; that their surroundings were fair and
proper is only saying that they were artists. A sprig of a cherry
blossom stood out defiantly against the black of the garden paling; a
gnarled pine cut the blue of the sky with its spiky splinters as it
lifted itself above the paling, and in a little pond the iris and the
horsetail nodded to the wind. The workers when at fault had only to
lift their eyes, and Nature herself would graciously supply the missing
link of a design. Somewhere in dirty England men dream of craftsmen
working under conditions which shall help and not stifle the half-formed
thought. They even form guilds and write semi-rhythmical prayers to Time
and Chance and all the other gods that they worship, to bring about the
desired end. Would they have their dream realised, let them see how they
make pottery in Japan, each man sitting on a snowy mat with loveliness
of line and colour within arm's length of him, while with downcast eyes
he--splashes in the conventional diaper of a Satsuma vase as fast as he
can! The Barbarians want Satsuma and they shall have it, if it has to be
made in Kioto one piece per twenty minutes. So much for the baser forms
of the craft!

The owner of the second establishment lived in a blackwood cabinet--it
was profanation to call it a house--alone with a bronze of priceless
workmanship, a set of blackwood furniture, and all the medals that his
work had won for him in England, France, Germany, and America. He was a
very quiet and cat-like man, and spoke almost in a whisper. Would we be
pleased to inspect the manufactory? He led us through a garden--it was
nothing in his eyes, but we stopped to admire long. Stone lanterns,
green with moss, peeped through clumps of papery bamboos where bronze
storks were pretending to feed. A dwarfed pine, its foliage trimmed to
dish-like plaques, threw its arms far across a fairy pond where the fat,
lazy carp grubbed and rooted, and a couple of eared grebes squawked at
us from the protection of the--waterbutt. So perfect was the silence of
the place that we heard the cherry blossoms falling into the water and
the lisping of the fish against the stones. We were in the very heart of
the Willow-Pattern Plate and loath to move for fear of breaking it. The
Japanese are born bower-birds. They collect water-worn stones, quaintly
shaped rocks, and veined pebbles for the ornamentation of their homes.
When they shift house they take the garden away with them--pine trees
and all--and the incoming tenant has a free hand.

Half a dozen steps took us over the path of mossy stones to a house
where the whole manufactory was at work. One room held the enamel
powders all neatly arranged in jars of scrupulous cleanliness, a few
blank copper vases ready to be operated on, an invisible bird who
whistled and whooped in his cage, and a case of gaily painted
butterflies ready for reference when patterns were wanted. In the next
room sat the manufactory--three men, five women, and two boys--all as
silent as sleep. It is one thing to read of _cloissonnée_ making, but
quite another to watch it being made. I began to understand the cost of
the ware when I saw a man working out a pattern of sprigs and
butterflies on a plate about ten inches in diameter. With finest silver
ribbon wire, set on edge, less than the sixteenth of an inch high, he
followed the curves of the drawing at his side, pinching the wire into
tendrils and the serrated outlines of leaves with infinite patience. A
rough touch on the raw copper-plate would have sent the pattern flying
into a thousand disconnected threads. When all was put down on the
copper, the plate would be warmed just sufficiently to allow the wires
to stick firmly to the copper, the pattern then showing in raised
lines. Followed the colouring, which was done by little boys in
spectacles. With a pair of tiniest steel chopsticks they filled from
bowls at their sides each compartment of the pattern with its proper hue
of paste. There is not much room allowed for error in filling the spots
on a butterfly's wing with avanturine enamel when the said wings are
less than an inch across. I watched the delicate play of wrist and hand
till I was wearied, and the manager showed me his patterns--terrible
dragons, clustered chrysanthemums, butterflies, and diapers as fine as
frost on a window-pane--all drawn in unerring line. "Those things are
our subjects. I compile from them, and when I want some new colours I go
and look at those dead butterflies," said he. After the enamel has been
filled in, the pot or plate goes to be fired, and the enamel bubbles all
over the boundary lines of wires, and the whole comes from the furnace
looking like delicate majolica. It may take a month to put a pattern on
the plate in outline, another month to fill in the enamel, but the real
expenditure of time does not commence till the polishing. A man sits
down with the rough article, all his tea-things, a tub of water, a
flannel, and two or three saucers full of assorted pebbles from the
brook. He does not get a wheel with tripoli, or emery, or buff. He sits
down and rubs. He rubs for a month, three months, or a year. He rubs
lovingly, with his soul in his finger ends, and little by little the
efflorescence of the fired enamel gives way, and he comes down to the
lines of silver, and the pattern in all its glory is there waiting for
him. I saw a man who had only been a month over the polishing of one
little vase five inches high. He would go on for two months. When I am
in America he will be rubbing still, and the ruby-coloured dragon that
romped on a field of lazuli, each tiny scale and whisker a separate
compartment of enamel, will be growing more lovely.

"There is also cheap _cloissonnée_ to be bought," said the manager, with
a smile. "We cannot make that. The vase will be seventy dollars."

I respected him for saying "cannot" instead of "do not." There spoke the
artist.

Our last visit was paid to the largest establishment in Kioto, where
boys made gold inlay on iron, sitting in camphor-wood verandahs
overlooking a garden lovelier than any that had gone before. They had
been caught young, even as is the custom in India. A real grown-up man
was employed on the horrible story, in iron, gold, and silver, of two
priests who waked up a Rain-dragon and had to run for it, all round the
edge of a big shield; but the liveliest worker of the batch was a small
fat baby who had been given a tenpenny nail, a hammer, and a block of
metal to play with, that he might soak in the art by which he would
live, through the pores of his skin. He crowed and chuckled as he
whacked. There are not many five-year-olds in England who could hammer
anything without pulping their little pink fingers. The baby had learned
how to hit straight. On the wall of the room hung a Japanese painting of
the Apotheosis of Art. It represented with fidelity all the processes of
pottery from the digging of the clay to the last firing. But all the
pencilled scorn of the artist was reserved for the closing scene, where
an Englishman, his arm round his wife's waist, was inspecting a shop
full of curios. The Japanese are not impressed with the grace of our
clothing or the beauty of our countenances. Later we beheld the
manufacture of gold lacquer, which is laid on speck by speck from an
agate palette fitted on the artist's thumb; and the carving of ivory,
which is exciting until you begin to realise that the graver never
slips.

"A lot of their art is purely mechanical" said the Professor, when he
was safe back in the hotel.

"So's a lot of ours--'specially our pictures. Only we can't be
spiritedly mechanical," I answered. "Fancy a people like the Japanese
solemnly going in for a constitution. Observe! The only two nations with
constitution worth having are the English and the Americans. The English
can only be artistic in spots and by way of the art of other
nations--Sicilian tapestries, Persian saddle-bags, Khoten carpets, and
the sweepings of pawn-brokers' shops. The Americans are artistic so long
as a few of 'em can buy their Art to keep abreast of the times with.
Spain is artistic, but she is also disturbed at intervals; France is
artistic, but she must have her revolution every twenty years for the
sake of fresh material; Russia is artistic, but she occasionally wishes
to kill her Czar, and has no sort of Government; Germany is not
artistic, because she experienced religion; and Italy is artistic,
because she did very badly. India--"

"When you have finished your verdict on the world, perhaps you'll go to
bed."

"Consequently," I continued, with scorn, "I am of opinion that a
constitution is the worst thing in the world for a people who are
blessed with souls above the average. Now the first demand of the
artistic temperament is mundane uncertainty. The second is--"

"Sleep," said the Professor, and left the room.



No. XVII

OF THE NATURE OF THE TOKAIDO AND JAPANESE RAILWAY CONSTRUCTION. ONE
TRAVELLER EXPLAINS THE LIFE OF THE SAHIB-LOG, AND ANOTHER THE ORIGIN OF
DICE. OF THE BABIES IN THE BATH TUB AND THE MAN IN D. T.

    "When I went to Hell I spoke to the man on the road."

    --_Old Saw._


You know the story of the miner who borrowed a dictionary and returned
it with the remark that the stories, though interesting in the main,
were too various. I have the same complaint to make against Japanese
scenery--twelve hours of it by train from Nagoya to Yokohama. About
seven hundred years ago the king of those days built a sea-road which he
called the Tokaido (or else all the sea-coast was called the Tokaido,
but it's of no importance), which road endures to the present. Later on,
when the English engineer appeared, he followed the Grand Trunk more or
less closely, and the result has been a railway that any nation might
take off their hat to. The last section of the through line from Kioto
to Yokohama was only opened five days before the Professor and I
honoured it with an unofficial inspection.

The accommodation of all kinds is arranged for the benefit of the
Japanese; and this is distressing to the foreigner, who expects in a
carriage remotely resembling E. I. R. rolling-stock the conveniences of
that pea-green and very dusty old line. But it suits the Japanese
admirably: they hop out at every other station--_pro re nata_--and
occasionally get left behind. Two days ago they managed to kill a
Government official of high standing between a footboard and a platform,
and to-day the Japanese papers are seriously discussing the advantages
of lavatories. Far be it from me to interfere with the arrangements of
an artistic empire; but for a twelve hours' run there might at least be
arrangements.

We had left the close-packed cultivation at the foot of the hills and
were running along the shores of a great lake, all steel-blue from one
end to the other, except where it was dotted with little islands. Then
the lake turned into an arm of the sea, and we ran across it on a
cut-stone causeway, and the profligacy of the pines ceased, as the trees
had to come down from clothing dank hills, and fight with bowed head,
outstretched arms, and firmly planted feet, against the sands of the
Pacific, whose breakers were spouting and blowing not a quarter of a
mile away from the causeway. The Japs know all about forestry. They
stake down wandering sand-torrents, which are still allowed to ruin our
crops in the Hoshiarpur district, and they plug a shifting sand-dune
with wattle dams and pine seedlings as cleverly as they would pin plank
to plank. Were their forest officers trained at Nancy, or are they local
products? The stake-binding used to hold the sand is of French pattern,
and the diagonal planting out of the trees is also French.

Half a minute after the train dropped this desolate, hardly controlled
beach it raced through four or five miles of the suburbs of Patna, but
a clean and glorified Patna bowered in bamboo plantations. Then it hit a
tunnel and sailed forth into a section of the London, Brighton, and
South Coast, or whatever the line is that wants to make the Channel
tunnel. At any rate, the embankment was on the beach, and the waves
lapped the foot of it, and there was a wall of cut rock to landward.
Then we disturbed many villages of fishermen, whose verandahs gave on to
the track, and whose nets lay almost under our wheels. The railway was
still a new thing in that particular part of the world, for mothers held
up their babes to see it.

Any one can keep pace with Indian scenery, arranged as it is in reaches
of five hundred miles. This blinding alternation of field, mountain,
sea-beach, forest, bamboo grove, and rolling moor covered with azalea
blossoms was too much for me, so I sought the society of a man who had
lived in Japan for twenty years.

"Yes, Japan's an excellent country as regards climate. The rains begin
in May or latter April. June, July, and August are hot months. I've
known the thermometer as high as 86° at night, but I'd defy the world to
produce anything more perfect than the weather between September and
May. When one gets seedy, one goes to the hot springs in the Hakone
mountains close to Yokohama. There are heaps of places to recruit in,
but we English are a healthy lot. Of course we don't have half as much
fun as you do in India. We are a small community, and all our amusements
are organised by ourselves for our own benefit--concerts, races, and
amateur theatricals and the like. You have heaps of 'em in India,
haven't you?"

"Oh, yes!" I said, "we enjoy ourselves awfully, 'specially about this
time of the year. I quite understand, though, that small communities
dependent on themselves for enjoyment are apt to feel a little slow and
isolated--almost bored, in fact. But you were saying--?"

"Well, living is not very dear, and house rent is. A hundred dollars a
month gets you a decent house and you can get one for sixty. But house
property is down just now in Yokohama. The races are on in Yokohama
to-day and Monday. Are you going? No? You ought to go and see all the
foreigners enjoying themselves. But I suppose you've seen much better
things in India, haven't you? You haven't anything better than old
Fuji--Fujiyama. There he is now to the left of the line. What do you
think of him?"

I turned and beheld Fujiyama across a sea of upward-sloping fields and
woods. It is about fourteen thousand feet high--not very much, according
to our ideas. But fourteen thousand feet above the sea when one stands
in the midst of sixteen-thousand-foot peaks, is quite another thing from
the same height noted at sea-level in a comparatively flat country. The
labouring eye crawls up every foot of the dead crater's smooth flank,
and at the summit confesses that it has seen nothing in all the
Himalayas to match the monster. I was satisfied. Fujiyama was exactly as
I had seen it on fans and lacquer boxes; I would not have sold my sight
of it for the crest of Kinchinjunga flushed with the morning. Fujiyama
is the keynote of Japan. When you understand the one you are in a
position to learn something about the other. I tried to get information
from my fellow-traveller.

"Yes, the Japanese are building railways all over the island. What I
mean to say is that the companies are started and financed by Japs, and
they make 'em pay. I can't quite tell you where the money comes from,
but it's all to be found in the country. Japan's neither rich nor poor,
but just comfortable. I'm a merchant myself. Can't say that I altogether
like the Jap way o' doing business. You can never be certain whether the
little beggar means what he says. Give me a Chinaman to deal with. Other
men have told you that, have they? You'll find that opinion at most of
the treaty ports. But what I will say is, that the Japanese Government
is about as enterprising a Government as you could wish, and a good one
to have dealings with. When Japan has finished reconstructing herself on
the new lines, she'll be quite a respectable little Power. See if she
isn't. Now we are coming into the Hakone mountains. Watch the railway.
It's rather a curiosity."

We came into the Hakone mountains by way of some Irish scenery, a Scotch
trout-stream, a Devonshire combe, and an Indian river running masterless
over half a mile of pebbles. This was only the prelude to a set of
geological illustrations, including the terraces formed by ancient
river-beds, denudation, and half a dozen other ations. I was so busy
telling the man from Yokohama lies about the height of the Himalayas
that I did not watch things closely, till we got to Yokohama, at eight
in the evening, and went to the Grand Hotel, where all the clean and
nicely dressed people who were just going in to dinner regarded us with
scorn, and men, whom we had met on steamers aforetime, dived into
photograph books and pretended not to see us. There's a deal of human
nature in a man--got up for dinner--when a woman is watching him--and
you look like a brick-layer--even in Yokohama.

The Grand is the Semi or Cottage Grand really, but you had better go
there unless a friend tells you of a better. A long course of good luck
has spoiled me for even average hotels. They are too fine and large at
the Grand, and they don't always live up to their grandeur; unlimited
electric bells, but no one in particular to answer 'em; printed menu,
but the first comers eat all the nice things, and so forth. None the
less there are points about the Grand not to be despised. It is modelled
on the American fashion, and is but an open door through which you may
catch the first gust from the Pacific slope. Officially, there are twice
as many English as Americans in the port. Actually, you hear no
languages but French, German, or American in the street. My experience
is sadly limited, but the American I have heard up to the present, is a
tongue as distinct from English as Patagonian.

A gentleman from Boston was kind enough to tell me something about it.
He defended the use of "I guess" as a Shakespearian expression to be
found in _Richard the Third_. I have learned enough never to argue with
a Bostonian.

"All right," I said, "I've never heard a real American say 'I guess';
but what about the balance of your extraordinary tongue? Do you mean to
say that it has anything in common with ours except the auxiliary verbs,
the name of the Creator, and Damn? Listen to the men at the next table."

"They are Westerners," said the man from Boston, as who should say
"observe this cassowary." "They are Westerners, and if you want to make
a Westerner mad tell him he is not like an Englishman. They think they
are like the English. They are awfully thin-skinned in the West. Now in
Boston it's different. _We_ don't care what the English people think of
us."

The idea of the English people sitting down to think about Boston, while
Boston on the other side of the water ostentatiously "didn't care," made
me snigger. The man told me stories. He belonged to a Republic. That was
why every man of his acquaintance belonged either "to one of the first
families in Boston" or else "was of good Salem stock, and his fathers
had come over in the _Mayflower_." I felt as though I were moving in the
midst of a novel. Fancy having to explain to the casual stranger the
blood and breeding of the hero of every anecdote. I wonder whether many
people in Boston are like my friend with the Salem families. I am going
there to see.

"There's no romance in America--it's all hard, business facts," said a
man from the Pacific slope, after I had expressed my opinion about some
rather curious murder cases which might have been called miscarriages of
justice. Ten minutes later, I heard him say slowly, _apropos_ of a game
called "Round the Horn" (this is a bad game. Don't play it with a
stranger.) "Well, it's a good thing for this game that Omaha came up.
Dice were invented in Omaha, and the man who invented 'em he made a
colossal fortune."

I said nothing. I began to feel faint. The man must have noticed it.
"Six-and-twenty years ago, Omaha came up," he repeated, looking me in
the eye, "and the number of dice that have been made in Omaha since
that time is incalculable."

"There is no romance in America," I moaned like a stricken ring-dove, in
the Professor's ear. "Nothing but hard business facts, and the first
families of Boston, Massachusetts, invented dice at Omaha when it first
came up, twenty-six years ago, and that's the solid truth. What am I to
do with a people like this?"

"Are you describing Japan or America? For goodness' sake, stick to one
or the other," said the Professor.

"It wasn't my fault. There's a bit of America in the bar-room, and on my
word it's rather more interesting than Japan. Let's go across to 'Frisco
and hear some more lies."

"Let's go and look at photographs, and refrain from mixing our countries
or our drinks."

By the way, wherever you go in the Further East be humble to the white
trader. Recollect that you are only a poor beast of a buyer with a few
dirty dollars in your pockets, and you can't expect a man to demean
himself by taking them. And observe humility not only in the shops, but
elsewhere. I was anxious to know how I should cross the Pacific to
'Frisco, and very foolishly went to an office where they might, under
certain circumstances, be supposed to attend to these things. But no
anxiety troubled the sprightly soul who happened to be in the
office-chair. "There's heaps of time for finding out later on," he said,
"and anyhow, I'm going to the races this afternoon. Come later on." I
put my head in the spittoon, and crawled out under the door.

When I am left behind by the steamer it will console me to know that
that young man had a good time, and won heavily. Everybody keeps horses
in Yokohama, and the horses are nice little fat little tubs, of the
circus persuasion. I didn't go to the races, but a Calcutta man did, and
returned saying that "they ran 13-2 cart-horses, and even time for a
mile was four minutes and twenty-seven seconds." Perhaps he had lost
heavily, but I can vouch for the riding of the few gentlemen I saw
outside the animals. It is very impartial and remarkably all round.

Just when the man from Boston was beginning to tell me some more stories
about first families, the Professor developed an unholy taste for hot
springs, and bore me off to a place called Myanoshita to wash myself.
"We'll come back and look at Yokohama later on, but we must go to this
because it's so beautiful."

"I'm getting tired of scenery. It's all beautiful and it can't be
described, but these men here tell you stories about America. Did you
ever hear how the people of Carmel lynched Edward M. Petree for
preaching the gospel without making a collection at the end of the
service? There's no romance in America--it's all hard business facts.
Edward M. Petree was--"

"_Are_ you going to see Japan or are you not?"

I went to see. First in a train for one hour in the company of a
carriageful of howling Globe-trotters, then in a 'rickshaw for four. You
cannot appreciate scenery unless you sit in a 'rickshaw. We struck after
seven miles of modified flat--the flattery of Nature that lures you to
her more rugged heart--a mountain river all black pools and boiling
foam. Him we followed into the hills along a road cut into the crumbling
volcanic rock and entirely unmetalled. It was as hard as the Simla
cartroad, but those far hills behind Kalka have no such pine and maple,
ash and willow. It was a land of green-clothed cliff and silver
waterfall, lovely beyond the defilement of the pen. At every turn in the
road whence a view could be commanded, stood a little tea-house full of
admiring Japanese. The Jap dresses in blue because he knows that it
contrasts well with the colour of the pines. When he dies he goes to a
heaven of his own because the colouring of ours is too crude to suit
him.

We kept the valley of the glorified stream till the waters sank out of
sight down the cliff side and we could but hear them calling to one
another through the tangle of the trees. Where the woodlands were
lovelier, the gorge deepest, and the colours of the young hornbeam most
tender, they had clapped down two vile hostelries of wood and glass, and
a village that lived by selling turned wood and glass inlay things to
the tourist.

Australians, Anglo-Indians, dwellers in London and the parts beyond the
Channel were running up and down the slopes of the hotel garden, and by
their strange dresses doing all they knew to deface the landscape. The
Professor and I slid down the cliff at the back and found ourselves back
in Japan once more. Rough steps took us five or six hundred feet down
through dense jungle to the bed of that stream we had followed all the
day. The air vibrated with the rush of a hundred torrents, and whenever
the eye could pierce the undergrowth it saw a headlong stream breaking
itself on a boulder. Up at the hotel we had left the gray chill of a
November day and cold that numbed the fingers; down in the gorge we
found the climate of Bengal with real steam thrown in. Green bamboo
pipes led the hot water to a score of bathing-houses in whose verandahs
Japanese in blue and white dressing-gowns lounged and smoked. From
unseen thickets came the shouts of those who bathed, and--oh shame!
round the corner strolled a venerable old lady chastely robed in a white
bathing towel, and not too much of that. Then we went up the gorge,
mopping our brows, and staring to the sky through arches of rampant
foliage.

Japanese maids of fourteen or fifteen are not altogether displeasing to
behold. I have not seen more than twenty or thirty of them. Of these
none were in the least disconcerted at the sight of the stranger. After
all, 'twas but Brighton beach without the bathing-gowns. At the head of
the gorge the heat became greater, and the hot water more abundant. The
joints of the water-pipes on the ground gave off jets of steam; there
was vapour rising from boulders on the river-bed, and the stab of a
stick into the warm, moist soil was followed by a little pool of warm
water. The existing supply was not enough for the inhabitants. They were
mining for more in a casual and disconnected fashion. I tried to crawl
down a shaft eighteen inches by two feet in the hillside, but the steam,
which had no effect on the Japanese hide, drove me out. What happens, I
wonder, when the pick strikes the liquid, and the miner has to run or be
parboiled?

In the twilight, when we had reached upper earth once more and were
passing through the one street of Myanoshita, we saw two small fat
cherubs about three years old taking their evening tub in a barrel sunk
under the eaves of a shop. They feigned great fear, peeping at us behind
outspread fingers, attempting futile dives, and trying to hide one
behind the other in a hundred poses of spankable chubbiness, while their
father urged them to splash us. It was the prettiest picture of the day,
and one worth coming even to the sticky, paint-reeking hotel to see.

       *       *       *       *       *

He was dressed in a black frock-coat, and at first I took him for a
missionary as he mooned up and down the empty corridor.

"I have been under a ban for three days," he whispered in a husky voice,
"through no fault of mine--no fault of mine. They told me to take the
third watch, but they didn't give me a printed notification which I
always require, and the manager of this place says that whisky would
hurt me. Through no fault of mine, God knows, no fault of mine!"

I do not like being shut up in an echoing wooden hotel next door to a
gentleman of the marine persuasion, who is just recovering from D. T.,
and who talks to himself all through the dark hours.



No. XVIII

CONCERNING A HOT-WATER TAP, AND SOME GENERAL CONVERSATION.

    "Always speak to the stranger. If he doesn't shoot, the chances
    are he'll answer you."--_Western Proverb._


It is a far cry from Myanoshita to Michni and Mandalay. That is why we
have met men from both those stations, and have spent a cheerful time
talking about dacoits and the Black Mountain Expedition. One of the
advantages of foreign travel is that one takes such a keen interest in,
and hears so much about, Home. Truly, they change their trains, but not
their train of thought, who run across the sea.

"This is a most extraordinary place," said the Professor, red as a
boiled lobster. "You sit in your bath and turn on the hot or cold
spring, as you choose, and the temperature is phenomenal. Let's go and
see where it all comes from, and then let's go away."

There is a place called the Burning Mountain five miles in the hills.
There went we, through unbroken loveliness of bamboo-copse, pine wood,
grass downs, and pine wood again, while the river growled below. In the
end we found an impoverished and second-hand Hell, set out orderly on
the side of a raw and bleeding hillside. It looked as though a
match-factory had been whelmed by a landslip. Water, in which bad eggs
had been boiled, stood in blister-lipped pools, and puffs of thin white
smoke went up from the labouring under-earth. Despite the smell and the
sulphur incrustations on the black rocks, I was disappointed, till I
felt the heat of the ground, which was the heat of a boiler-sheathing.
They call the mountain extinct. If untold tons of power, cased in a few
feet of dirt, be the Japanese notion of extinction, glad I am that I
have not been introduced to a lively volcano. Indeed, it was not an
overweening notion of my own importance, but a tender regard for the
fire-crust below, and a dread of starting the machinery by accident,
that made me step so delicately, and urge return upon the Professor.

"Huh! It's only the boiler of your morning bath. All the sources of the
springs are here," said he.

"I don't care. Let 'em alone. Did you never hear of a boiler bursting?
Don't prod about with your stick in that amateur way. You'll turn on the
tap."

When you have seen a burning mountain you begin to appreciate Japanese
architecture. It is not solid. Every one is burned out once or twice
casually. A business isn't respectable until it has received its baptism
of fire. But fire is of no importance. The one thing that inconveniences
a Jap is an earthquake. Consequently, he arranges his house that it
shall fall lightly as a bundle of broom upon his head. Still further
safeguarding himself, he has no foundations, but the corner-posts rest
on the crowns of round stones sunk in the earth. The corner-posts take
the wave of the shock, and, though the building may give way like an
eel-trap, nothing very serious happens. This is what epicures of
earthquakes aver. I wait for mine own experiences, but not near a
suspected district such as the Burning Mountain.

It was only to escape from one terror to another that I fled Myanoshita.
A blue-breeched dwarf thrust me into a dwarf 'rickshaw on spidery
wheels, and down the rough road that we had taken four hours to climb
ran me clamorously in half an hour. Take all the parapets off the Simla
Road and leave it alone for ten years. Then run down the steepest four
miles of any section,--not steeper than the drop to the old Gaiety
Theatre,--behind one man!

"We couldn't get six hill-men to take us in this style," shouted the
Professor as he spun by, his wheels kicking like a duck's foot, and the
whole contraption at an angle of thirty. I am proud to think that not
even sixty hill-men would have gambolled with a sahib in that
disgraceful manner. Nor would any tramway company in the Real East have
run its cars to catch a train that used to start last year, but
now--rest its soul--is as dead as Queen Anne. This thing a queer little
seven-mile tramway accomplished with much dignity. It owned a
first-class car and a second-class car,--two horses to each,--and it ran
them with a hundred yards headway--the one all but empty, and the other
half full. When the very small driver could not control his horses,
which happened on the average once every two minutes, he did not waste
time by pulling them in. He screwed down the brake and laughed--possibly
at the company who had paid for the very elaborate car. Yet he was an
artistic driver. He wore no Philistine brass badge. Between the
shoulders of his blue jerkin were done in white, three railheads in a
circle, and on the skirts as many tram-wheels conventionalised. Only
the Japanese know how to conventionalise a tram-wheel or make a
key-pattern of railheads. Though we took twelve hours to cover the
thirty miles that separated us from Yokohama, we admitted this much
while we waited for our train in a village by the sea. A village of any
size is about three miles long in the main street. Villages with a
population of more than ten thousand souls take rank as towns.

"And yet," said a man at Yokohama that night, "you have not seen the
densest population. That's away in the western _kens_--districts, as you
call them. The folk really are crowded thereabouts, but virtually
poverty does not exist in the country. You see, an agricultural labourer
can maintain himself and his family, as far as rice goes, for four cents
a day, and the price of fish is nominal. Rice now costs a hundred pounds
to the dollar. What do you make it by Indian standards? From twenty to
twenty-five seers the rupee. Yes, that's about it. Well, he gets,
perhaps, three dollars and a-half a month. The people spend a good deal
in pleasuring. They must enjoy themselves. I don't think they save much.
How do they invest their savings? In jewellery? No, not exactly; though
you'll find that the women's hair-pins, which are about the only
jewellery they wear, cost a good deal. Seven and eight dollars are paid
for a good hair-pin, and of course jade may cost anything. What the
women really lock their money up in is in their _obis_--the things you
call sashes. An _obi_ is ten or twelve yards long, and I've known them
sold wholesale for fifty dollars each. Every woman above the poorest
class has at least one good dress of silk and an _obi_. Yes, all their
savings go in dress, and a handsome dress is always worth having. The
western _kens_ are the richest taken all round. A skilled mechanic there
gets a dollar or dollar and a-half a day, and, as you know,
lacquer-workers and inlayers--artists--get two. There's enough money in
Japan for all current expenses. They won't borrow any for railroads.
They raise it 'emselves. Most progressive people the Japanese are as
regards railways. They make them very cheaply, much more cheaply than
any European lines. I've some experience, and I take it that two
thousand pounds a mile is the average cost of construction. Not on the
Tokaido, of course--the line that you came up by. That's a Government
line, State built, and a very expensive one. I'm speaking of the
Japanese Railway Company with a mileage of three hundred, and the line
from Kobé south, and the Kinshin line in the Southern island. There are
lots of little companies with a few score miles of line, but all the
companies are extending. The reason why the construction is so cheap is
the nature of the land. There's no long haulage of rails, because you
can nearly always find a creek running far up into the country, and dump
out your rails within a few miles of the place where they are wanted.
Then, again, all your timber lies to your hand, and your staff are Japs.
There are a few European engineers, but they are quite the heads of the
departments, and I believe if they were cleared out to-morrow, the Japs
would go on building their lines. They know how to make 'em pay. One
line started on a State guarantee of eight per cent. It hasn't called
for the guarantee yet. It's making twelve per cent on its own hook.
There's a very heavy freight traffic in wood and provisions for the big
towns, and there's a local traffic that you can have no idea of unless
you've watched it. The people seem to move in twenty-mile circles for
business or pleasure--'specially pleasure. Oh, I tell you, Japan will be
a gridiron of railways before long. In another month or two you'll be
able to travel nearly seven hundred miles on and by the Tokaido line
alone from one end to the other, of the central islands. Getting from
east to west is harder work. The backbone-hills of the country are just
cruel, and it will be some time before the Japs run many lines across.
But they'll do it, of course. Their country must go forward.

"If you want to know anything about their politics, I'm afraid I can't
help you much. They are, so to speak, drunk with Western liquor, and are
sucking it up by the hogshead. In a few years they will see how much of
what we call civilisation they really want, and how much they can
discard. 'Tisn't as if they had to learn the arts of life or how to make
themselves comfortable. They knew all that long ago. When their railway
system is completed, and they begin to understand their new
Constitution, they will have learned as much as we can teach 'em. That's
my opinion; but it needs time to understand this country. I've been a
matter of eight or ten years in it, and my views aren't worth much. I've
come to know some of the old families that used to be of the feudal
nobility. They keep themselves to themselves and live very quietly. I
don't think you'll find many of them in the official classes. Their one
fault is that they entertain far beyond their means. They won't receive
you informally and take you into their houses. They raise dancing-girls,
or take you to their club and have a big feed. They don't introduce you
to their wives, and they haven't yet given up the rule of making the
wife eat after the husband. Like the native of India you say? Well, I am
very fond of the Jap; but I suppose he _is_ a native any way you look at
him. You wouldn't think that he is careless in his workmanship and
dishonest. A Chinaman, on an average, is out and away a bigger rogue
than a Jap; but he has sense enough to see that honesty is the best
policy, and to act by that light. A Jap will be dishonest just to save
himself trouble. He's like a child that way."

How many times have I had to record such an opinion as the foregoing?
Everywhere the foreigner says the same thing of the neat-handed, polite
little people that live among flowers and babies, and smoke tobacco as
mild as their own manners. I am sorry; but when you come to think of it,
a race without a flaw would be perfect. And then all the other nations
of the earth would rise up and hammer it to pieces. And then there would
be no Japan.

"I'll give you a day to think over things generally," said the
Professor. "After that we'll go to Nikko and Tokio. Who has not seen
Nikko does not know how to pronounce the world 'beautiful.'"

Yokohama is not the proper place to arrange impressions in. The Pacific
Ocean knocks at your door, asking to be looked at; the Japanese and
American men-of-war demand serious attention through a telescope; and if
you wander about the corridors of the Grand Hotel, you stop to play with
Spanish Generals, all gold lace and spurs, or are captured by touts for
curio-shops. It is not a nice experience to find a Sahib in a Panama hat
handing you the card of his firm for all the world like a Delhi
silk-merchant. You are inclined to pity that man, until he sits down,
gives you a cigar, and tells you all about his diseases, his past career
in California, where he was always making money and always losing it,
and his hopes for the future. You see then that you are entering upon a
new world. Talk to every one you meet, if they show the least
disposition to talk to you, and you will gather, as I have done, a host
of stories that will be of use to you hereafter. Unfortunately, they are
not all fit for publication. When I tore myself away from the
distractions of the outer world, and was just sitting down to write
seriously on the Future of Japan, there entered a fascinating man, with
heaps of money, who had collected Indian and Japanese curios all his
life, and was now come to this country to get some old books which his
collection lacked. Can you imagine a more pleasant life than his
wanderings over the earth, with untold special knowledge to back each
signature of his cheque-book?

In five minutes he had carried me far away from the clattering, fidgetty
folk around, to a quiet world where men meditated for three weeks over a
bronze, and scoured all Japan for a sword-guard designed by a great
artist and--were horribly cheated in the end.

"Who is the best artist in Japan now?" I asked.

"He died in Tokio, last Friday, poor fellow, and there is no one to take
his place. His name was K----, and as a general rule he could never be
persuaded to work unless he was drunk. He did his best pictures when he
was drunk."

"_Ému._ Artists are never drunk."

"Quite right. I'll show you a sword-guard that he designed. All the
best artists out here do a lot of designing. K---- used to fritter away
his time on designs for old friends. Had he stuck to pictures he could
have made twice as much. But he never turned out potboilers. When you go
to Tokio, make it your business to get two little books of his called
_Drunken Sketches_--pictures that he did, when he was--_ému_. There is
enough dash and go in them to fill half a dozen studios. An English
artist studied under him for some time. But K----'s touch was not
communicable, though he might have taught his pupil something about
technique. Have you ever come across one of K----'s crows? You could
tell it anywhere. He could put all the wicked thoughts that ever came
into the mind of a crow--and a crow is first cousin to the Devil--on a
piece of paper six inches square, with a brush of Indian ink and two
turns of his wrist. Look at the sword-guard I spoke of. How is that for
feeling?"

On a circular piece of iron four inches in diameter and pierced by the
pole for the tang of the blade, poor K----, who died last Friday, had
sketched the figure of a coolie trying to fold up a cloth which was
bellying to a merry breeze--not a cold wind, but a sportive summer gust.
The coolie was enjoying the performance, and so was the cloth. It would
all be folded up in another minute and the coolie would go on his way
with a grin.

This thing had K---- conceived, and the faithful workman executed, with
the lightest touches of the graver, to the end that it might lie in a
collector's cabinet in London.

"Wah! Wah!" I said, and returned it reverently. "It would kill a man who
could do that to live after his touch had gone. Well for him he
died--but I wish I had seen him. Show me some more."

"I've got a painting by Hokusai--the great artist who lived at the end
of the last century and the beginning of this. Even _you_ have heard of
Hokusai, haven't you?"

"A little. I have heard it was impossible to get a genuine painting with
his signature attached."

"That's true; but I've shown this one to the Japanese Government expert
in pictures--the man the Mikado consults in cases of doubt--to the first
European authority on Japanese art, and of course I have my own opinion
to back the signed guarantee of the seller. Look!"

He unrolled a silk-scroll and showed me the figure of a girl in pale
blue and grey crêpe, carrying in her arms a bundle of clothes that, as
the tub behind her showed, had just been washed. A dark-blue
handkerchief was thrown lightly over the left forearm, shoulder, and
neck, ready to tie up the clothes when the bundle should be put down.
The flesh of the right arm showed through the thin drapery of the
sleeve. The right hand merely steadied the bundle from above; the left
gripped it firmly from below. Through the stiff blue-black hair showed
the outline of the left ear.

That there was enormous elaboration in the picture, from the
ornamentation of the hair-pins to the graining of the clogs, did not
strike me till after the first five minutes, when I had sufficiently
admired the certainty of touch.

"Recollect there is no room for error in painting on silk," said the
proud possessor. "The line must stand under any circumstances. All that
is possible before painting is a little dotting with charcoal, which is
rubbed off with a feather-brush. Did he know anything about drapery or
colour or the shape of a woman? Is there any one who could teach him
more if he were alive to-day?"

Then we went to Nikko.



No. XIX

THE LEGEND OF NIKKO FORD AND THE STORY OF THE AVOIDANCE OF MISFORTUNE.

    A rose-red city, half as old as Time.


Five hours in the train took us to the beginning of a 'rickshaw journey
of twenty-five miles. The guide unearthed an aged cart on Japanese
lines, and seduced us into it by promises of speed and comfort beyond
anything that a 'rickshaw could offer. Never go to Nikko in a cart. The
town of departure is full of pack-ponies who are not used to it, and
every third animal tries to get a kick at his friends in the shafts.
This renders progress sufficiently exciting till the bumpsomeness of the
road quenches all emotions save one. Nikko is reached through one avenue
of _cryptomerias_--cypress-like trees eighty feet high, with red or dull
silver trunks and hearse-plume foliage of darkest green. When I say one
avenue, I mean one continuous avenue twenty-five miles long, the trees
so close to each other throughout that their roots interlace and form a
wall of wood on either side of the sunken road. Where it was necessary
to make a village along the line of march,--that is to say once every
two or three miles,--a few of the giants had been wrenched out--as teeth
are wrenched from a full-planted jaw--to make room for the houses. Then
the trees closed up as before to mount guard over the road. The banks
between which we drove were alight with azaleas, camelias, and violets.
"Glorious! Stupendous! Magnificent!" sang the Professor and I in chorus
for the first five miles, in the intervals of the bumps. The avenue took
not the least notice of our praise except by growing the trees even more
closely together. "Vistas of pillared shade" are very pleasant to read
about, but on a cold day the ungrateful heart of man could cheerfully
dispense with a mile or two of it if that would shorten the journey. We
were blind to the beauty around; to the files of pack-ponies with manes
like hearth-brooms and the tempers of Eblis kicking about the path; to
the pilgrims with blue and white handkerchiefs on their heads, enviable
silver-grey leggings on their feet, and Buddha-like babies on their
backs; to the trim country drays pulled by miniature cart-horses
bringing down copper from the mines and _saki_ from the hills; to the
colour and movement in the villages where all the little children
shouted "Ohio's!" and all the old people laughed. The grey tree-trunks
marched us solemnly along over that horrid bad road which had been
mended with brushwood, and after five hours we got Nikko in the shape of
a long village at the foot of a hill, and capricious Nature, to reward
us for our sore bones, laughed on the instant in floods of sunshine. And
upon what a mad scene did the light fall! The _cryptomerias_ rose in
front of us a wall of green darkness, a tearing torrent ran deep-green
over blue boulders, and between stream and trees was thrown a blood-red
bridge--the sacred bridge of red lacquer that no foot save the Mikado's
may press.

Very cunning artists are the Japanese. Long ago a great-hearted king
came to Nikko River and looked across at the trees, up-stream at the
torrent and the hills whence it came, and down-stream at the softer
outlines of the crops and spurs of wooded mountains. "It needs only a
dash of colour in the foreground to bring this all together," said he,
and he put a little child in a blue and white dressing-gown under the
awful trees to judge the effect. Emboldened by his tenderness, an aged
beggar ventured to ask for alms. Now it was the ancient privilege of the
great to try the temper of their blades upon beggars and such cattle.
Mechanically the king swept off the old man's head, for he did not wish
to be disturbed. The blood spurted across the granite slabs of the
river-ford in a sheet of purest vermilion. The king smiled. Chance had
solved the problem for him. "Build a bridge here," he said to the court
carpenter, "of just such a colour as that stuff on the stones. Build
also a bridge of grey stone close by, for I would not forget the wants
of my people." So he gave the little child across the stream a thousand
pieces of gold and went his way. He had composed a landscape. As for the
blood, they wiped it up and said no more about it; and that is the story
of Nikko Bridge. You will not find it in the guide-books.

I followed the voice of the river through a rickety toy-village, across
some rough bottom-land, till, crossing a bridge, I found myself among
lichened stones, scrub, and the blossoms of spring. A hillside, steep
and wooded as the flanks of the red Aravallis, rose on my left; on my
right, the eye travelled from village to cropland, crop to towering
cypress, and rested at last on the cold blue of an austere hill-top
encircled by streaks of yet unmelted snow. The Nikko hotel stood at the
foot of this hill; and the time of the year was May. Then a sparrow came
by with a piece of grass in her beak, for she was building her nest; and
I knew that the spring was come to Nikko. One is so apt to forget the
changes of the year over there with you in India.

Sitting in a solemn line on the banks of the river were fifty or sixty
cross-legged images which the untrained eye put down immediately as so
many small Buddhas. They had all, even when the lichen had cloaked them
with leprosy, the calm port and unwinking regard of the Lord of the
World. They are not Buddhas really, but other things--presents from
forgotten great men to dead and gone institutions, or else memorials of
ancestors. The guide-book will tell you. They were a ghostly crew. As I
examined them more closely I saw that each differed from the other. Many
of them held in their joined arms a little store of river pebbles,
evidently put there by the pious. When I inquired the meaning of the
gift from a stranger who passed, he said: "Those so distinguished are
images of the God who Plays with Little Children up in the Sky. He tells
them stories and builds them houses of pebbles. The stones are put in
his arms either that he may not forget to amuse the babies or to prevent
his stock running low."

I have no means of telling whether the stranger spoke the truth, but I
prefer to believe that tale as gospel truth. Only the Japanese could
invent the God who Plays with Little Children. Thereafter the images
took a new aspect in my eyes and were no longer "Græco-Buddhist
sculptures," but personal friends. I added a great heap of pebbles to
the stock of the cheeriest among them. His bosom was ornamented with
small printed slips of prayers which gave him the appearance of a
disreputable old parson with his bands in disorder. A little further up
the bank of the river was a rough, solitary rock hewn with what men
called a Shinto shrine. I knew better: the thing was Hindu, and I looked
at the smooth stones on every side for the familiar dab of red paint. On
a flat rock overhanging the water were carved certain characters in
Sanscrit, remotely resembling those on a Thibetan prayer-wheel. Not
comprehending these matters, and grateful that I had brought no
guide-book with me, I clambered down to the lip of the river--now
compressed into a raging torrent. Do you know the Strid near
Bolton--that spot where the full force of the river is pent up in two
yards' breadth? The Nikko Strid is an improvement upon the Yorkshire
one. The blue rocks are hollowed like soapstone by the rush of the
water. They rise above head-level and in spring are tufted with azalea
blossom. The stranger of the godlings came up behind me as I basked on a
boulder. He pointed up the little gorge of rocks, "Now if I painted that
as it stands, every critic in the papers would say I was a liar."

The mad stream came down directly from a blue hill blotched with pink,
through a sky-blue gorge also pink-blotched. An obviously impossible
pine mounted guard over the water. I would give much to see an accurate
representation of that view. The stranger departed growling over some
hidden grief--connected with the Academy perhaps.

Hounded on by the Professor, the guide sought me by banks of the river
and bade me "come and see temples." Then I fairly and squarely cursed
all temples, being stretched at my ease on some warm sand in the hollow
of a rock, and ignorant as the grass-shod cattle that tramped the
further bank. "Very fine temples," said the guide, "you come and see. By
and by temple be shut up because priests make half an hour more time."
Nikko time is half an hour ahead of the standard, because the priests of
the temples have discovered that travellers arriving at three p.m. try
to do all the temples before four--the official-hour of closing. This
defrauds the church of her dues, so her servants put the clock on, and
Nikko, knowing naught of the value of time, is well content.

When I cursed the temples I did a foolish thing, and one for which this
poor pen can never make fitting reparation. We went up a hill by way of
a flight of grey stone slabs. The _cryptomerias_ of the Nikko road were
as children to the giants that overshadowed us here. Between their
iron-grey boles were flashes of red--the blood-red of the Mikado's
bridge. That great king who killed the beggar at the ford had been well
pleased with the success of his experiment. Passing under a mighty stone
arch we came into a square of splendour alive with the sound of hammers.
Thirty or forty men were tapping the pillars and steps of a carnelian
shrine heavy with gold. "That," said the guide, impassively, "is a
godown. They are renewing the lacquer. First they extract it."

Have you ever "extracted" lacquer from wood? I smote the foot of a
pillar with force, and after half a dozen blows chipped off one small
fragment of the stuff, in texture like red horn. Betraying no surprise,
I demanded the name of a yet more magnificent shrine across the
courtyard. It was red lacquered like the others, but above its main door
were carved in open work three apes--one with his hands to his ears,
another covering his mouth, and a third blinding his eyes.

"That place," said the guide, "used to be a stable when the Daimio kept
his horses there. The monkeys are the three who hear no wrong, say no
wrong, and see no wrong."

"Of course," I said. "What a splendid device for a stable where the
grooms steal the grain!" I was angry because I had grovelled before a
godown and a stable, though the round world cannot hold their equals.

We entered a temple, or a tomb, I do not know which, through a gateway
of carven pillars. Eleven of them bore a running pattern of trefoil--the
apex pointing earthward--the twelfth had its pattern reversed.

"Make 'em all the same--no good," said the guide, emphatically.
"Something sure to come bad by an' by. Make one different all right.
Save him so. Nothing happen then."

Unless I am mistaken, that voluntarily breaking of the set was the one
sacrifice that the designer had made to the great Gods above who are so
jealous of the craft of men. For the rest he had done what he
pleased--even as a god might have done--with the wood in its gleaming
lacquer sheath, with enamel and inlay and carving and bronze, hammered
work, and the work of the inspired chisel. When he went to his account
he saved himself from the jealousy of his judges, by pointing to the
trefoil pillars for proof that he was only a weak mortal and in no
sense their equals. Men say that never man has given complete drawings,
details, or descriptions of the temples of Nikko. Only a German would
try, and he would fail in spirit. Only a Frenchman could succeed in
spirit, but he would be inaccurate. I have a recollection of passing
through a door with _cloisonnée_ hinges, with a golden lintel and red
lacquer jambs, with panels of tortoise-shell lacquer and clamps of
bronze tracery. It opened into a half-lighted hall on whose blue ceiling
a hundred golden dragons romped and spat fire. A priest moved about the
gloom with noiseless feet, and showed me a pot-bellied lantern four feet
high, that the Dutch traders of old time had sent as a present to the
temple. There were posts of red lacquer dusted over with gold, to
support the roof. On one post lay a rib of lacquer, six inches thick,
that had been carved or punched over with high relief carvings and had
set harder than crystal.

The temple steps were of black lacquer, and the frames of the sliding
screens red. That money, lakhs and lakhs of money, had been lavished on
the wonder impressed me but little. I wished to know who were the men
that, when the _cryptomerias_ were saplings, had sat down and spent
their lives on a niche or corner of the temple, and dying passed on the
duty of adornment to their sons, though neither father nor child hoped
to see the work completed. This question I asked the guide, who plunged
me in a tangle of Daimios and Shoguns, all manifestly extracted from a
guide-book.

After a while the builder's idea entered into my soul.

He had said: "Let us build blood-red chapels in a Cathedral." So they
planted the Cathedral three hundred years ago, knowing that tree-boles
would make the pillars and the sky the roof.

Round each temple stood a small army of priceless bronze or stone
lanterns, stamped, as was everything else, with the three leaves that
make the Daimio's crest. The lanterns were dark green or lichened grey,
and in no way lightened the gloom of the red. Down below, by the sacred
bridge, I believed red was a joyous colour. Up the hillside under the
trees and the shadow of the temple eaves I saw that it was the hue of
sorrow. When the great king killed the beggar at the ford he did not
laugh, as I have said. He was very sorry, and said: "Art is Art, and
worth any sacrifice. Take that corpse away and pray for the naked soul."
Once, in one of the temple courtyards, nature dared to rebel against the
scheme of the hillside. Some forest tree, all unimpressed by the
_cryptomerias_, had tossed a torrent of tenderest pink flowers down the
face of a grey retaining wall that guarded a cutting. It was as if a
child had laughed aloud at some magnificence it could not understand.

"You see that cat?" said the guide, pointing out a pot-bellied pussy
painted above a door. "That is the Sleeping Cat. The artist he paint it
left-handed. We are proud of that cat."

"And did they let him remain left-handed after he had painted that
thing?"

"Oh yes. You see he was always left-handed."

The infinite tenderness of the Japanese towards their children extends,
it would seem, even to artists. Every guide will take you to see the
Sleeping Cat. Don't go. It is bad. Coming down the hill, I learned that
all Nikko was two feet under snow in the winter, and while I was trying
to imagine how fierce red, white, and black-green would look under the
light of a winter sun I met the Professor murmuring expletives of
admiration.

"What have you done? What have you seen?" said he.

"Nothing. I've accumulated a lot of impressions of no use to any one but
the owner."

"Which means you are going to slop over for the benefit of the people in
India," said the Professor.

And the notion so disgusted me that I left Nikko that very afternoon,
the guide clamouring that I had not seen half its glories. "There is a
lake," he said; "there are mountains. You must go see!"

"I will return to Tokio and study the modern side of Japan. This place
annoys me because I do not understand it."

"Yet I am _the_ good guide of Yokohama," said the guide.



No. XX

SHOWS HOW I GROSSLY LIBELLED THE JAPANESE ARMY, AND EDITED A CIVIL AND
MILITARY GAZETTE WHICH IS NOT IN THE LEAST TRUSTWORTHY.

    "And the Duke said, 'Let there be cavalry,' and there were
    cavalry. And he said, 'Let them be slow,' and they were slow,
    d----d slow; and the Japanese Imperial Horse called he them."


I was wrong. I know it. I ought to have clamoured at the doors of the
Legation for a pass to see the Imperial Palace. I ought to have
investigated Tokio and called upon some of the political leaders of the
Liberal and Radical parties. There are a hundred things which I ought to
have done, but somehow or other the bugles began to blare through the
chill of the morning, and I heard the tramp of armed men under my
window. The parade-ground was within a stone's throw of the Tokio hotel;
the Imperial troops were going on parade. Would _you_ have bothered your
head about politics or temples? I ran after them.

It is rather difficult to get accurate information about the Japanese
army. It seems to be in perpetual throes of reorganisation. At present,
so far as one can gather, it is about one hundred and seventy thousand
strong. Everybody has to serve for three years, but payment of one
hundred dollars will shorten the term of service by one year at least.
This is what a man who had gone through the mill told me. He capped his
information with this verdict: "English army no use. Only navy any
good. Have seen two hundred English army. No use."

On the parade-ground they had a company of foot and a wing of what, for
the sake of brevity, I will call cavalry under instruction. The former
were being put through some simple evolutions in close order; the latter
were variously and singularly employed. To the former I took off the hat
of respect; at the latter I am ashamed to say I pointed the finger of
derision. But let me try to describe what I saw. The likeness of the Jap
infantryman to the Gurkha grows when you see him in bulk. Thanks to
their wholesale system of conscription the quality of conscripts varies
immensely. I have seen scores of persons with spectacles whom it were
base flattery to call soldiers, and who I hope were in the medical or
commissariat departments. Again I have seen dozens of bull-necked,
deep-chested, flat-backed, thin-flanked little men who were as good as a
colonel commanding could desire. There was a man of the 2d Infantry whom
I met at an up-country railway station. He carried just the proper
amount of insolent swagger that a soldier should, refused to answer any
questions of mine, and parted the crowd round him without ceremony. A
Gurkha of the Prince of Wales' Own could not have been trimmer. In the
crush of a ticket-collecting--we both got out together--I managed to run
my hand over that small man's forearm and chest. They must have a very
complete system of gymnastics in the Japanese army, and I would have
given much to have stripped my friend and seen how he peeled. If the 2d
Infantry are equal to sample, they are good.

The men on parade at Tokio belonged either to the 4th or the 9th, and
turned out with their cowskin valises strapped, but I think not packed.
Under full kit, such as I saw on the sentry at Osaka Castle, they ought
to be much too heavily burdened. Their officers were as miserable a set
of men as Japan could furnish--spectacled, undersized even for Japan,
hollow-backed and hump-shouldered. They squeaked their words of command
and had to trot by the side of their men to keep up with them. The Jap
soldier has the long stride of the Gurkha, and he doubles with the easy
lope of the 'rickshaw coolie. Throughout the three hours that I watched
them they never changed formation but once, when they doubled in pairs
across the plain, their rifles at the carry. Their step and intervals
were as good as those of our native regiments, but they wheeled rather
promiscuously, and were not checked for this by their officers. So far
as my limited experience goes, their formation was not Ours, but
continental. The words of command were as beautifully unintelligible as
anything our parade-grounds produce; and between them the officers of
each half-company vehemently harangued their men, and shook their swords
at 'em in distinctly unmilitary style. The precision of their movements
was beyond praise. They enjoyed three hours of steady drill, and in the
rare intervals when they stood easy to draw breath I looked for
slackness all down the ranks, inasmuch as "standing easy" is the crucial
test of men after the first smartness of the morning has worn off. They
stood "easy," neither more nor less, but never a hand went to a shoe or
stock or button while they were so standing. When they knelt, still in
this queer column of company, I understood the mystery of the
long-sword bayonet which has puzzled me sorely. I had expected to see
the little fellows lifted into the air as the bayonet-sheath took
ground; but they were not. They kicked it sideways as they dropped. All
the same, the authorities tie men to the bayonets instead of bayonets to
the men. When at the double there was no grabbing at the cartridge pouch
with one hand or steadying the bayonet with the other, as may be seen
any day at running-firing on Indian ranges. They ran cleanly--as our
Gurkhas run.

It was an unchristian thought, but I would have given a good deal to see
that company being blooded on an equal number of Our native
infantry--just to know how they would work. If they have pluck, and
there is not much in their past record to show that they have not, they
ought to be first-class enemies. Under British officers instead of the
little anatomies at present provided, and with a better rifle, they
should be as good as any troops recruited east of Suez. I speak here
only for the handy little men I saw. The worst of conscription is that
it sweeps in such a mass of fourth and fifth-rate citizens who, though
they may carry a gun, are likely, by their own excusable ineptitude, to
do harm to the morale and set-up of a regiment. In their walks abroad
the soldiery never dream of keeping step. They tie things to their
side-arms, they carry bundles, they slouch, and dirty their uniforms.

And so much for a raw opinion on Japanese infantry. The cavalry were
having a picnic on the other side of the parade-ground--circling right
and left by sections, trying to do something with a troop, and so forth.
I would fain believe that the gentlemen I saw were recruits. But they
wore all their arms, and their officers were just as clever as
themselves. Half of them were in white fatigue-dress and flat cap,--and
wore half-boots of brown leather with short hunting-spurs and black
straps; no chains. They carried carbine and sword--the sword fixed to
the man, and the carbine slung over the back. No martingales, but
breastplates and crupper, a huge, heavy saddle, with single hide-girth,
over two _numdahs_, completed the equipment which a thirteen-hand pony,
all mane and tail, was trying to get rid of. When you thrust a two-pound
bit and bridoon into a small pony's mouth, you hurt his feelings. When
the riders wear, as did my friends, white worsted gloves, they cannot
take a proper hold of the reins. When they ride with both hands, sitting
well on the mount's neck, knuckles level with its ears and the stirrup
leathers as short as they can be, the chances of the pony getting rid of
the rider are manifestly increased. Never have I seen such a wild dream
of equitation as the Tokio parade-ground showed. Do you remember the
picture in _Alice in Wonderland_, just before Alice found the Lion and
the Unicorn; when she met the armed men coming through the woods? I
thought of that, and I thought of the White Knight in the same classic,
and I laughed aloud. Here were a set of very fair ponies, sure-footed as
goats, mostly entires, and full of go. Under Japanese weights they would
have made very thorough mounted infantry. And here was this blindly
imitative nation trying to turn them into heavy cavalry. As long as the
little beasts were gravely trotting in circles they did not mind their
work. But when it came to slashing at the Turk's head they objected
very much indeed. I affiliated myself to a section who, armed with long
wooden swords, were enjoying some Turk's-heading. Out started a pony at
the gentlest of canters, while the rider bundled all the reins into one
hand, and held his sword like a lance. Then the pony shied a little shy,
shook his shaggy head, and began to passage round the Turk's head. There
was no pressure of knee or rein to tell him what was wanted. The man on
top began kicking with the spurs from shoulder to rump, and shaking up
the ironmongery in the poor brute's mouth. The pony could neither rear,
nor kick, nor buck; but it shook itself free of the incubus who slid
off. Three times I saw this happen. The catastrophe didn't rise to the
dignity of a fall. It was the blundering collapse of incompetence plus
worsted gloves, two-handed riding, and a haystack of equipment. Very
often the pony went at the post, and the man delivered a back-handed cut
at the Turk's head which nearly brought him out of his world-too-wide
saddle. Again and again this solemn performance was repeated. I can
honestly say that the ponies are very willing to break rank and leave
their companions, which is what an English troop-horse fails in; but I
fancy this is more due to the urgent private affairs of the pony than
any skill in training. The troops charged once or twice in a terrifying
canter. When the men wished to stop they leaned back and tugged, and the
pony put his head to the ground, and bored all he knew. They charged me,
but I was merciful, and forebore to empty half the saddles, as I
assuredly could have done by throwing up my arms and yelling "Hi!" The
saddest thing of all was the painful conscientiousness displayed by all
the performers in the circus. They had to turn these rats into cavalry.
They knew nothing about riding, and what they did know was wrong; but
the rats must be made troop-horses. Why wouldn't the scheme work? There
was a patient, pathetic wonder on the faces of the men that made me long
to take one of them in my arms and try to explain things to
him--bridles, for instance, and the futility of hanging on by the spurs.
Just when the parade was over, and the troops were ambling off,
Providence sent diagonally across the parade-ground, at a gallop, a big,
rawboned man on a lathy-red American horse. The brute cracked his
nostrils, and switched his flag abroad, and romped across the plain,
while his rider dropped one hand and sat still, swaying lightly from the
hips. The two served to scale the surroundings. Some one really ought to
tell the Mikado that ponies were never intended for dragoons.

If the changes and chances of military service ever send you against
Japanese troops, be tender with their cavalry. They mean no harm. Put
some fusees down for the horses to step on, and send a fatigue-party out
to pick up the remnants. But if you meet Japanese infantry, led by a
Continental officer, commence firing early and often and at the longest
ranges compatible with getting at them. They are bad little men who know
too much.

Having thoroughly settled the military side of the nation exactly as my
Japanese friend at the beginning of this letter settled Us,--on the
strength of two hundred men caught at random,--I devoted myself to a
consideration of Tokio. I am wearied of temples. Their monotony of
splendour makes my head ache. You also will weary of temples unless you
are an artist, and then you will be disgusted with yourself. Some folk
say that Tokio covers an area equal to London. Some folk say that it is
not more than ten miles long and eight miles broad. There are a good
many ways of solving the question. I found a tea-garden situated on a
green plateau far up a flight of steps, with pretty girls smiling on
every step. From this elevation I looked forth over the city, and it
stretched away from the sea, far as the eye could reach--one grey
expanse of packed house-roof, the perspective marked by numberless
factory chimneys. Then I went several miles away and found a park,
another eminence, and some more tea-girls prettier than the last; and,
looking again, the city stretched out in a new direction as far as the
eye could reach. Taking the scope of the eye on a clear day at eighteen
miles, I make Tokio thirty-six miles long by thirty-six miles broad
exactly; and there may be some more which I missed. The place roared
with life through all its quarters. Double lines of trams ran down the
main streets for mile on mile, rows of omnibuses stood at the principal
railway station, and the "Compagnie General des Omnibus de Tokio"
paraded the streets with gold and vermilion cars. All the trams were
full, all the private and public omnibuses were full, and the streets
were full of 'rickshaws. From the sea-shore to the shady green park,
from the park to the dim distance, the land pullulated with people.

Here you saw how Western civilisation had eaten into them. Every tenth
man was attired in Europe clothes from hat to boots. It is a queer race.
It can parody every type of humanity to be met in a large English town.
Eat and prosperous merchant with mutton-chop whiskers; mild-eyed,
long-haired professor of science, his clothes baggy about him; schoolboy
in Eton jacket, broadcloth trousers; young clerk, member of the Clapham
Athletic Club in tennis flannels; artisans in sorely worn tweeds;
top-hatted lawyer with clean-shaven upper lip and black leather bag;
sailor out of work; and counter-jumper; all these and many, many more
you shall find in the streets of Tokio in half an hour's walk. But when
you come to speak to the imitation, behold it can only talk Japanese.
You touch it, and it is not what you thought. I fluctuated down the
streets addressing myself to the most English-looking folk I saw. They
were polite with a graciousness that in no way accorded with their
raiment, but they knew not a word of my tongue. One small boy in the
uniform of the Naval College said suddenly: "I spik Inglees," and
collapsed. The rest of the people in our clothes poured their own
vernacular upon my head. Yet the shop-signs were English, the tramway
under my feet was English gauge, the commodities sold were English, and
the notices on the streets were in English. It was like walking in a
dream. I reflected. Far away from Tokio and off the line of rail I had
met men like these men in the streets. Perfectly dressed Englishmen to
the outer eye, but dumb. The country must be full of their likes.

"Good gracious! Here is Japan going to run its own civilisation without
learning a language in which you can say Damn satisfactorily. I must
inquire into this."

Chance had brought me opposite the office of a newspaper, and I ran in
demanding an editor. He came--the Editor of the _Tokio Public Opinion_,
a young man in a black frock-coat. There are not many editors in other
parts of the world who would offer you tea and a cigarette ere beginning
a conversation. My friend had but little English. His paper, though the
name was printed in English, was Japanese. But he knew his business.
Almost before I had explained my errand, which was the pursuit of
miscellaneous information, he began: "You are English. How you think now
the American Revision Treaty?" Out came a note-book and I sweated cold.
It was not in the bargain that he should interview me.

"There's a great deal," I answered, remembering Sir Roger, of blessed
memory,--"a great deal to be said on both sides. The American Revision
Treaty--h'm--demands an enormous amount of matured consideration and may
safely be referred--"

"But we of Japan are now civilised."

Japan says that she is now civilised. That is the crux of the whole
matter so far as I understand it. "Let us have done with the idiotic
system of treaty-ports and passports for the foreigner who steps beyond
them," says Japan in effect. "Give us our place among the civilised
nations of the earth, come among us, trade with us, hold land in our
midst. Only be subject to our jurisdiction and submit to our--tariffs."
Now since one or two of the foreign nations have won special tariffs for
their goods in the usual way, they are not over-anxious to become just
ordinary folk. The effect of accepting Japan's views would be excellent
for the individual who wanted to go up-country and make his money, but
bad for the nation. For Our nation in particular.

All the same I was not prepared to have my ignorance of a burning
question put down in any note-book save my own. I Gladstoned about the
matter with the longest words I could. My friend recorded them much
after the manner of Count Smorltork. Then I attacked him on the subject
of civilisation--speaking very slowly because he had a knack of running
two words of mine together, and turning them into something new.

"You are right," said he. "We are becoming civilised. But not too quick,
for that is bad. Now there are two parties in the State--the Liberal and
the Radical: one Count he lead one, one Count lead the other. The
Radical say that we should swiftly become all English. The Liberal he
says not so quick, because that nation which too swiftly adopt other
people's customs he decay. That question of civilisation and the
American Revision Treaty he occupied our chief attentions. Now we are
not so zealous to become civilised as we were two--three years gone. Not
so quick--that is our watchword. Yes."

If matured deliberation be the wholesale adoption of imperfectly
understood arrangements, I should dearly like to see Japan in a hurry.
We discussed comparative civilisations for a short time, and I protested
feebly against the defilement of the streets of Tokio by rows of houses
built after glaring European models. Surely there is no need to discard
your own architecture, I said.

"Ha," snorted the chief of the _Public Opinion_. "You call it
picturesque. I call it too. Wait till he light up--incendiate. A
Japanese house then is one only fire box. _That_ is why we think good to
build in European fashion. I tell you, and you must believe, that we
take up no change without thinking upon it. Truth, indeed, it is not
because we are curious children, wanting new things, as some people have
said. We have done with that season of picking up things and throwing
them down again. You see?"

"Where did you pick up your Constitution, then?"

I did not know what the question would bring forth, yet I ought to have
been wise. The first question that a Japanese on the railway asks an
Englishman is: "Have you got the English translation of our
Constitution?" All the book-stalls sell it in English and Japanese, and
all the papers discuss it. The child is not yet three months old.

"Our Constitution?--That was promised to us--promised twenty years ago.
Fourteen years ago the provinces they have been allowed to elect their
big men--their heads. Three years ago they have been allowed to have
assemblies, and thus Civil Liberty was assured."

I was baffled here for some time. In the end I thought I made out that
the municipalities had been given certain control over police funds and
the appointment of district officials. I may have been entirely wrong,
but the editor bore me along on a torrent of words, his body rocking and
his arms waving with the double agony of twisting a foreign tongue to
his service and explaining the to-be-taken-seriouslyness of Japan. Whack
come the little hand on the little table, and the little tea-cups jumped
again.

"Truly, and indeed, this Constitution of ours has _not_ come too soon.
It proceeded step-by. You understand that? Now your Constitution, the
Constitutions of the foreign nations, are all bloody--bloody
Constitutions. Ours has come step-by. We did not fight as the barons
fought with King John at Runnymede."

This was a quotation from a speech delivered at Otsu, a few days
previously, by a member of the Government. I grinned at the brotherhood
of editors all the world over. Up went the hand anew.

"We shall be happy with this Constitution and a people civilised among
civilisations."

"Of course. But what will you actually do with it? A Constitution is
rather a monotonous thing to work after the fun of sending members to
Parliament has died out. You have a Parliament, have you not?"

"Oh yes, _with_ parties--Liberal and Radical."

"Then they will both tell lies to you and to each other. Then they will
pass bills, and spend their time fighting each other. Then all the
foreign governments will discover that you have no fixed policy."

"Ah, yes. But the Constitution." The little hands were crossed in his
lap. The cigarette hung limply from his mouth.

"No fixed policy. Then, when you have sufficiently disgusted the foreign
Powers, they will wait until the Liberals and Radicals are fighting very
hard, and then they will blow you out of the water."

"You are not making fun? I do not quite understand," said he. "Your
Constitutions are all so bloody."

"Yes. That is exactly what they are. You are very much in earnest about
yours, are you not?"

"Oh yes, we all talk politics now."

"And write politics, of course. By the way, under what--h'm,
arrangements with the Government is a Japanese paper published? I mean,
must you pay anything before starting a press?"

"Literary, scientific, and religious papers--no. Quite free. All purely
political papers pay five hundred yen--give to the Government to keep,
or else some man says he will pay."

"You must give security, you mean?"

"I do not know, but sometimes the Government can keep the money. We are
purely political."

Then he asked questions about India, and appeared astonished to find
that the natives there possessed considerable political power, and
controlled districts.

"But have you a Constitution in India?"

"I am afraid that we have not."

"Ah!"

He crushed me there, and I left very humbly, but cheered by the promise
that the _Tokio Public Opinion_ would contain an account of my words.
Mercifully, that respectable journal is printed in Japanese, so the hash
will not be served up to a large table. I would give a good deal to
discover what meaning he attached to my forecast of Constitutional
government in Japan.

"We all talk politics now." That was the sentence which remained to me.
It was true talk. Men of the Educational Department in Tokio told me
that the students would "talk politics" by the hour if you allowed them.
At present they were talking in the abstract about their new plaything,
the Constitution, with its Upper House and its Lower House, its
committees, its questions of supply, its rules of procedure, and all the
other skittles we have played with for six hundred years.

Japan is the second Oriental country which has made it impossible for a
strong man to govern alone. This she has done of her own free will.
India, on the other hand, has been forcibly ravished by the Secretary of
State and the English M. P.

Japan is luckier than India.



No. XXI

SHOWS THE SIMILARITY BETWEEN THE BABU AND THE JAPANESE. CONTAINS THE
EARNEST OUTCRY OF AN UNBELIEVER. THE EXPLANATION OF MR. SMITH OF
CALIFORNIA AND ELSEWHERE. TAKES ME ON BOARD SHIP AFTER DUE WARNING TO
THOSE WHO FOLLOW.

    Very sadly did we leave it, but we gave our hearts in pledge
    To the pine above the city, to the blossoms by the hedge,
    To the cherry and the maple and the plum tree and the peach,
    And the babies--Oh, the babies!--romping fatly under each.
    Eastward ho! Across the water see the black bow drives and swings
    From the land of Little Children, where the Babies are the Kings.


The Professor discovered me in meditation amid tea-girls at the back of
the Ueno Park in the heart of Tokio. My 'rickshaw coolie sat by my side
drinking tea from daintiest china, and eating maccaroons. I thought of
Sterne's donkey and smiled vacuously into the blue above the trees. The
tea-girls giggled. One of them captured my spectacles, perched them on
her own snubby-chubby nose, and ran about among her cackling fellows.

"And loose thy fingers in the tresses of The cypress-slender minister of
wine," quoted the Professor, coming round a booth suddenly. "Why aren't
you at the Mikado's garden party?"

"Because he didn't invite me, and, anyhow, he wears Europe clothes--so
does the Empress--so do all the Court people. Let's sit down and
consider things. This people puzzles me."

And I told my story of the interview with the Editor of the _Tokio
Public Opinion_. The Professor had been making investigation into the
Educational Department. "And further," said he at the end of the tale,
"the ambition of the educated student is to get a place under
Government. Therefore he comes to Tokio: will accept any situation at
Tokio that he may be near to his chance."

"Whose son is that student?"

"Son of the peasant, yeoman farmer, and shopkeeper, _ryot_, _tehsildar_,
and _bunnia_. While he waits he imbibes Republican leanings on account
of the nearness of Japan to America. He talks and writes and debates,
and is convinced he can manage the Empire better than the Mikado."

"Does he go away and start newspapers to prove that?"

"He may; but it seems to be unwholesome work. A paper can be suspended
without reason given under the present laws; and I'm told that one
enterprising editor has just got three years' simple imprisonment for
caricaturing the Mikado."

"Then there is yet hope for Japan. I can't quite understand how a people
with a taste for fighting and quick artistic perceptions can care for
the things that delight our friends in Bengal."

"You make the mistake of looking on the Bengali as unique. So he is in
his own peculiar style; but I take it that the drunkenness of Western
wine affects all Oriental folk in much the same way. What misleads you
is that very likeness. Followest thou? Because a Jap struggles with
problems beyond his grip in much the same phraseology as a Calcutta
University student, and discusses Administration with a capital A, you
lump Jap and Chatterjee together."

"No, I don't. Chatterjee doesn't sink his money in railway companies, or
sit down and provide for the proper sanitation of his own city, or of
his own notion cultivate the graces of life, as the Jap does. He is like
the _Tokio Public Opinion_--'purely political.' He has no art whatever,
he has no weapons, and there is no power of manual labour in him. Yet he
is like the Jap in the pathos of his politics. Have you ever studied
Pathetic Politics? _Why_ is he like the Jap?"

"Both drunk, I suppose," said the Professor. "Get that girl to give back
your gig-lamps, and you will be able to see more clearly into the soul
of the Far East."

"The 'Far East' hasn't got a soul. She swapped it for a Constitution on
the Eleventh of February last. Can any Constitution make up for the
wearing of Europe clothes? I saw a Jap lady just now in full afternoon
calling-kit. She looked atrocious. Have you seen the later Japanese
art--the pictures on the fans and in the shop windows? They are faithful
reproductions of the changed life--telegraph poles down the streets,
conventionalised tram-lines, top-hats, and carpet-bags in the hands of
the men. The artists can make those things almost passable, but when it
comes to conventionalising a Europe dress, the effect is horrible."

"Japan wishes to take her place among civilised nations," said the
Professor.

"That's where the pathos comes in. It's enough to make you weep to watch
this misdirected effort--this wallowing in unloveliness for the sake of
recognition at the hands of men who paint their ceilings white, their
grates black, their mantelpieces French grey, and their carriages yellow
and red. The Mikado wears blue and gold and red, his guards wear orange
breeches with a stone-blue stripe down them; the American missionary
teaches the Japanese girl to wear bangs--"shingled bangs"--on her
forehead, plait her hair into a pigtail, and to tie it up with magenta
and cobalt ribbons. The German sells them the offensive chromos of his
own country and the labels of his beer-bottles. Allen and Ginter
devastate Tokio with their blood-red and grass-green tobacco-tins. And
in the face of all these things the country wishes to progress toward
civilisation! I have read the entire Constitution of Japan, and it is
dearly bought at the price of one of the kaleidoscope omnibuses plying
in the street there."

"Are you going to inflict all that nonsense on them at home?" said the
Professor.

"I am. For this reason. In the years to come, when Japan has sold her
birthright for the privilege of being cheated on equal terms by her
neighbours; when she has so heavily run into debt for her railways and
public works that the financial assistance of England and annexation is
her only help; when the Daimios through poverty have sold the treasures
of their houses to the curio-dealer, and the dealer has sold them to the
English collector; when all the people wear slop-trousers and ready-made
petticoats, and the Americans have established soap factories on the
rivers and a boarding-house on the top of Fujiyama, some one will turn
up the files of the _Pioneer_ and say: 'This thing was prophesied.' Then
they will be sorry that they began tampering with the great
sausage-machine of civilisation. What is put into the receiver must come
out at the spout; but it must come out mincemeat. _Dixi!_ And now let us
go to the tomb of the Forty-Seven Ronins."

"It has been said some time ago, and much better than you can say it,"
said the Professor, _apropos_ of nothing that I could see.

Distances are calculated by the hour in Tokio. Forty minutes in a
'rickshaw, running at full speed, will take you a little way into the
city; two hours from the Ueno Park brings you to the tomb of the famous
Forty-Seven, passing on the way the very splendid temples of Shiba,
which are all fully described in the guide-books. Lacquer, gold-inlaid
bronze-work, and crystals carved with the words "Om" and "Shri" are fine
things to behold, but they do not admit of very varied treatment in
print. In one tomb of one of the temples was a room of lacquer panels
overlaid with gold leaf. An animal of the name of V. Gay had seen fit to
scratch his entirely uninteresting name on the gold. Posterity will take
note that V. Gay never cut his fingernails, and ought not to have been
trusted with anything prettier than a hog-trough.

"It is the handwriting upon the wall," I said.

"Presently there will be neither gold nor lacquer--nothing but the
finger-marks of foreigners. Let us pray for the soul of V. Gay all the
same. Perhaps he was a missionary."

       *       *       *       *       *

The Japanese papers occasionally contain, sandwiched between notes of
railway, mining, and tram concessions, announcements like the following:
"Dr. ---- committed _hara-kiri_ last night at his private residence in
such and such a street. Family complications are assigned as the reason
of the act." Nor does _hara-kiri_ merely mean suicide by any method.
_Hara-kiri_ is _hara-kiri_, and the private performance is even more
ghastly than the official one. It is curious to think that any one of
the dapper little men with top-hats and reticules who have a
Constitution of their own, may in time of mental stress, strip to the
waist, shake their hair over their brows, and, after prayer, rip
themselves open. When you come to Japan, look at Farsari's _hara-kiri_
pictures and his photos of the last crucifixion (twenty years ago) in
Japan. Then at Deakin's, inquire for the modelled head of a gentleman
who was not long ago executed in Tokio. There is a grim fidelity in the
latter work of art that will make you uncomfortable. The Japanese, in
common with the rest of the East, have a strain of blood-thirstiness in
their compositions. It is very carefully veiled now, but some of
Hokusai's pictures show it, and show that not long ago the people
revelled in its outward expression. Yet they are tender to all children
beyond the tenderness of the West, courteous to each other beyond the
courtesy of the English, and polite to the foreigner alike in the big
towns and in the Mofussil. What they will be after their Constitution
has been working for three generations the Providence that made them
what they are alone knows!

All the world seems ready to proffer them advice. Colonel Olcott is
wandering up and down the country now, telling them that the Buddhist
religion needs reformation, offering to reform it, and eating with
ostentation rice gruel which is served to him in cups by admiring
handmaidens. A wanderer from Kioto tells me that in the Chion-in,
loveliest of all the temples, he saw only three days ago the Colonel
mixed up with a procession of Buddhist priests, just such a procession
as the one I tried vainly to describe, and "tramping about as if the
whole show belonged to him." You cannot appreciate the solemnity of this
until you have seen the Colonel and the Chion-in temple. The two are
built on entirely different lines, and they don't seem to harmonise. It
only needs now Madame Blavatsky, cigarette in mouth, under the
_cryptomerias_ of Nikko, and the return of Mr. Caine, M. P., to preach
the sin of drinking _saki_, and the menagerie would be full.

Something should be done to America. There are many American
missionaries in Japan, and some of them construct clapboard churches and
chapels for whose ugliness no creed could compensate. They further
instil into the Japanese mind wicked ideas of "Progress," and teach that
it is well to go ahead of your neighbour, to improve your situation, and
generally to thresh yourself to pieces in the battle of existence. They
do not mean to do this; but their own restless energy enforces the
lesson. The American is objectionable. And yet--this is written from
Yokohama--how pleasant in every way is a nice American whose tongue is
cleansed of "right there," "all the time," "noos," "revoo," "raound,"
and the Falling Cadence. I have met such an one even now--a Californian
ripened in Spain, matured in England, polished in Paris, and yet always
a Californian. His voice and manners were soft alike, temperate were his
judgments and temperately expressed, wide was his range of experience,
genuine his humour, and fresh from the mint of his mind his reflections.
It was only at the end of the conversation that he startled me a little.

"I understand that you are going to stay some time in California. Do you
mind my giving you a little advice? I am speaking now of towns that are
still rather brusque in their manners. When a man offers you a drink
accept at once, and then stand drinks all round. I don't say that the
second part of the programme is as necessary as the first, but it puts
you on a perfectly safe footing. Above all, remember that where you are
going you must never carry anything. The men you move among will do that
for you. They have been accustomed to it. It is in some places,
unluckily, a matter of life and death as well as daily practice to draw
first. I have known really lamentable accidents occur from a man
carrying a revolver when he did not know what to do with it. Do you
understand anything about revolvers?"

"N-no," I stammered, "of course not."

"Do you think of carrying one?"

"Of course not. I don't want to kill myself."

"Then you are safe. But remember you will be moving among men who go
heeled, and you will hear a good deal of talk about the thing and a
great many tall stories. You may listen to the yarns, but you must not
conform to the custom however much you may feel tempted. You invite your
own death if you lay your hand on a weapon you don't understand. No man
flourishes a revolver in a bad place. It is produced for one specified
purpose and produced before you can wink."

"But surely if you draw first you have an advantage over the other man,"
said I, valorously.

"You think so? Let me show you. I have no use for any weapon, but I
believe I have one about me somewhere. An ounce of demonstration is
worth a ton of theory. Your pipe-case is on the table. My hands are on
the table too. Use that pipe case as a revolver and as quickly as you
can."

I used it in the approved style of the penny dreadful--pointed it with a
stiff arm at my friend's head. Before I knew how it came about the pipe
case had quitted my hand, which was caught close to the funny-bone and
tingled horribly. I heard four persuasive clicks under the table almost
before I knew that my arm was useless. The gentleman from California had
jerked out his pistol from its pocket and drawn the trigger four times,
his hand resting on his hip while I was lifting my right arm.

"Now, do you believe?" he said. "Only an Englishman or an Eastern man
fires from the shoulder in that melodramatic manner. I had you safe
before your arm went out, merely because I happened to know the trick;
and there are men out yonder who in a trouble could hold me as safe as I
held you. They don't reach round for their revolver, as novelists say.
It's here in front, close to the second right brace-button, and it is
fired, without aim, at the other man's stomach. You will understand now
why in event of a dispute you should show very clearly that you are
unarmed. You needn't hold up your hands ostentatiously; keep them out of
your pockets, or somewhere where your friend can see them. No man will
touch you then. Or if he does, he is pretty sure to be shot by the
general sense of the room."

"That must be a singular consolation to the corpse," I said.

"I see I've misled you. Don't fancy that any part in America is as free
and easy as my lecture shows. Only in a few really tough towns do you
require _not_ to own a revolver. Elsewhere you are all right. Most
Americans of my acquaintance have got into the habit of carrying
something; but it's only a habit. They'd never dream of using it unless
they are hard pressed. It's the man who draws to enforce a proposition
about canning peaches, orange-culture, or town lots or water-rights
that's a nuisance."

"Thank you," I said faintly. "I purpose to investigate these things
later on. I'm much obliged to you for your advice."

When he had departed it struck me that, in the language of the East, "he
might have been pulling my leg." But there remained no doubt whatever as
to his skill with the weapon he excused so tenderly.

I put the case before the Professor. "We will go to America before you
forejudge it altogether," said he. "To America in an American ship will
we go, and say good-by to Japan." That night we counted the gain of our
sojourn in the Land of Little Children more closely than many men count
their silver. Nagasaki with the grey temples, green hills, and all the
wonder of a first-seen shore; the Inland Sea, a thirty-hour panorama of
passing islets drawn in grey and buff and silver for our delight; Kobé,
where we fed well and went to a theatre; Osaka of the canals and the
peach blossom; Kioto--happy, lazy, sumptuous Kioto, and the blue rapids
and innocent delights of Arashima; Otzu on the shoreless, rainy lake;
Myanoshita in the hills; Kamakura by the tumbling Pacific, where the
great god Buddha sits and equably hears the centuries and the seas
murmur in his ears; Nikko, fairest of all places under the sun; Tokio,
the two-thirds civilised and altogether progressive warren of humanity;
and composite Franco-American Yokohama; we renewed them all, sorting out
and putting aside our special treasures of memory. If we stayed longer,
we might be disillusioned, and yet--surely, that would be impossible.

"What sort of mental impression do you carry away?" said the Professor.

"A tea-girl in fawn-coloured crêpe under a cherry tree all blossom.
Behind her, green pines, two babies, and a hog-backed bridge spanning a
bottle-green river running over blue boulders. In the foreground a
little policeman in badly fitting Europe clothes drinking tea from blue
and white china on a black lacquered stand. Fleecy white clouds above
and a cold wind up the street," I said, summarising hastily.

"Mine is a little different. A Japanese boy in a flat-headed German cap
and baggy Eton jacket; a King taken out of a toy-shop, a railway taken
out of a toy-shop, hundreds of little Noah's Ark trees and fields made
of green-painted wood. The whole neatly packed in a camphor-wood box
with an explanatory book called the Constitution--price twenty cents."

"You looked on the darker side of things. But what's the good of writing
impressions? Every man has to get his own at first hand. Suppose I give
an itinerary of what we saw?"

"You couldn't do it," said the Professor, blandly. "Besides, by the
time the next Anglo-Indian comes this way there will be a hundred more
miles of railway and all the local arrangements will have changed. Write
that a man should come to Japan without any plans. The guide-books will
tell him a little, and the men he meets will tell him ten times more.
Let him get first a good guide at Kobé, and the rest will come easily
enough. An itinerary is only a fresh manifestation of that unbridled
egoism which--"

"I shall write that a man can do himself well from Calcutta to Yokohama,
stopping at Rangoon, Moulmein, Penang, Singapur, Hong-Kong, Canton, and
taking a month in Japan, for about sixty pounds--rather less than more.
But if he begins to buy curios, that man is lost. Five hundred rupees
cover his month in Japan and allow him every luxury. Above all, he
should bring with him thousands of cheroots--enough to serve him till he
reaches 'Frisco. Singapur is the last place on the line where you can
buy Burmas. Beyond that point wicked men sell Manila cigars with fancy
names for ten, and Havanas for thirty-five, cents. No one inspects your
boxes till you reach 'Frisco. Bring, therefore, at least one thousand
cheroots."

"Do you know, it seems to me you have a very queer sense of proportion?"

And that was the last word the Professor spoke on Japanese soil.



No. XXII

SHOWS HOW I CAME TO AMERICA BEFORE MY TIME AND WAS MUCH SHAKEN IN BODY
AND SOUL.

    "Then spoke der Captain Stossenheim
    Who had theories of God,
    'Oh, Breitmann, this is judgment on
    Der ways dot you have trod.
    You only lifs to enjoy yourself
    While you yourself agree
    Dot self-development requires
    Der religious Idee.'"--_C. G. Leland._


This is America. They call her the _City of Peking_, and she belongs to
the Pacific Mail Company, but for all practical purposes she is the
United States. We are divided between missionaries and
generals--generals who were at Vicksburg and Shiloh, and German by
birth, but more American than the Americans, who in confidence tell you
that they are not generals at all, but only brevet majors of militia
corps. The missionaries are perhaps the queerest portion of the cargo.
Did you ever hear an English minister lecture for half an hour on the
freight-traffic receipts and general working of, let us say, the
Midland? The Professor has been sitting at the feet of a keen-eyed,
close-bearded, swarthy man who expounded unto him kindred mysteries with
a fluency and precision that a city leader-writer might have envied.
"Who's your financial friend with the figures at his fingers' ends?" I
asked. "Missionary--Presbyterian Mission to the Japs," said the
Professor. I laid my hand upon my mouth and was dumb.

As a counterpoise to the missionaries, we carry men from Manila--lean
Scotchmen who gamble once a month in the Manila State lottery and
occasionally turn up trumps. One, at least, drew a ten-thousand-dollar
prize last December and is away to make merry in the New World.
Everybody on the staff of an American steamer this side the Continent
seems to gamble steadily in that lottery, and the talk of the
smoking-room runs almost entirely on prizes won by accident or lost
through a moment's delay. The tickets are sold more or less openly at
Yokahama and Hong-Kong, and the drawings--losers and winners both agree
here--are above reproach.

We have resigned ourselves to the infinite monotony of a twenty days'
voyage. The Pacific Mail advertises falsely. Only under the most
favorable circumstances of wind and steam can their under-engined boats
cover the distance in fifteen days. Our _City of Peking_, for instance,
had been jogging along at a gentle ten knots an hour, a pace out of all
proportion to her bulk. "When we get a wind," says the Captain, "we
shall do better." She is a four-master and can carry any amount of
canvas. It is not safe to run steamers across this void under the poles
of Atlantic liners. The monotony of the sea is paralysing. We have
passed the wreck of a little sealing-schooner lying bottom up and
covered with gulls. She weltered by in the chill dawn, unlovely as the
corpse of a man, and the wild birds piped thinly at us as they steered
her across the surges. The pulse of the Pacific is no little thing even
in the quieter moods of the sea. It set our bows swinging and nosing and
ducking ere we were a day clear of Yokohama, and yet there was never
swell nor crested wave in sight. "We ride very high," said the Captain,
"and she's a dry boat. She has a knack of crawling over things somehow;
but we shan't need to put her to the test this journey."

       *       *       *       *       *

The Captain was mistaken. For four days we have endured the sullen
displeasure of the North Pacific, winding up with a night of discomfort.
It began with a grey sea, flying clouds, and a head-wind that smote
fifty knots off the day's run. Then rose from the southeast a beam sea
warranted by no wind that was abroad upon the waters in our
neighbourhood, and we wallowed in the trough of it for sixteen mortal
hours. In the stillness of the harbour, when the newspaper man is
lunching in her saloon and the steam-launch is crawling round her sides,
a ship of pride is a "stately liner." Out in the open, one rugged
shoulder of a sea between you and the horizon, she becomes "the old
hooker," a "lively boat," and other things of small import, for this is
necessary to propitiate the Ocean. "There's a storm to the southeast of
us," explained the Captain. "That's what's kicking up this sea."

The _City of Peking_ did not belie her reputation. She crawled over the
seas in liveliest wise, never shipping a bucket till--she was forced to.
Then she took it green over the bows to the vast edification of, at
least, one passenger who had never seen the scuppers full before.

Later in the day the fun began. "Oh, she's a daisy at rolling," murmured
the chief steward, flung starfish-wise on a table among his glassware.
"She's rolling some," said a black apparition new risen from the
stoke-hold. "Is she going to roll any more?" demanded the ladies grouped
in what ought to have been the ladies' saloon, but, according to
American custom, was labelled "Social Hall."

Passed in the twilight the chief officer--a dripping, bearded face.
"Shall I mark out the bull-board?" said he, and lurched aft, followed by
the tongue of a wave. "She'll roll her guards under to-night," said a
man from Louisiana, where their river-steamers do not understand the
meaning of bulwarks. We dined to a dashing accompaniment of crockery,
the bounds of emancipated beer-bottles livelier than their own corks,
and the clamour of the ship's gong broken loose and calling to meals on
its own account.

After dinner the real rolling began. She did roll "guards under," as the
Louisiana man had prophesied. At thirty-minute intervals to the second
arrived one big sea, when the electric lamps died down to nothing, and
the screw raved and the blows of the sea made the decks quiver. On those
occasions we moved from our chairs, not gently, but discourteously. At
other times we were merely holding on with both hands.

It was then that I studied Fear--Terror bound in black silk and fighting
hard with herself. For reasons which will be thoroughly understood,
there was a tendency among the passengers to herd together and to
address inquiries to every officer who happened to stagger through the
saloon. No one was in the least alarmed,--oh dear, no!--but all were
keenly anxious for information. This anxiety redoubled after a more than
usually vicious roll. Terror was a large, handsome, and cultured lady
who knew the precise value of human life, the inwardness of _Robert
Elsmere_, the latest poetry--everything in fact that a clever woman
should know. When the rolling was near its worst, she began to talk
swiftly. I do not for a moment believe that she knew what she was
talking about. The rolling increased. She buckled down to the task of
making conversation. By the heave of the labouring bust, the restless
working of the fingers on the tablecloth, and the uncontrollable eyes
that turned always to the companion stairhead, I was able to judge the
extremity of her fear. Yet her words were frivolous and commonplace
enough; they poured forth unceasingly, punctuated with little laughs and
giggles, as a woman's speech should be. Presently, a member of her group
suggested going to bed. No, she wanted to sit up; she wanted to go on
talking, and as long as she could get a soul to sit with her she had her
desire. When for sheer lack of company she was forced to get to her
cabin, she left reluctantly, looking back to the well-lighted saloon
over her shoulder. The contrast between the flowing triviality of her
speech and the strained intentness of eye and hand was a quaint thing to
behold. I know now how Fear should be painted.

No one slept very heavily that night. Both arms were needed to grip the
berth, while the trunks below wound the carpet-slips into knots and
battered the framing of the cabins. Once it seemed to me that the whole
of the labouring fabric that cased our trumpery fortunes stood on end
and in this undignified posture hopped a mighty hop. Twice I know I shot
out of my berth to join the adventurous trunks on the floor. A hundred
times the crash of the wave on the ship's side was followed by the roar
of the water, as it swept the decks and raved round the deckhouses. In a
lull I heard the flying feet of a man, a shout, and a far-away chorus of
lost spirits singing somebody's requiem.

_May 24_ (Queen's Birthday).--If ever you meet an American, be good to
him. This day the ship was dressed with flags from stem to stern, and
chiefest of the bunting was the Union-Jack. They had given no word of
warning to the English, who were proportionately pleased. At dinner up
rose an ex-Commissioner of the Lucknow Division (on my honour,
Anglo-India extends to the ends of the earth!) and gave us the health of
Her Majesty and the President. It was afterwards that the trouble began.
A small American penned half a dozen English into a corner and lectured
them soundly on--their want of patriotism!

"What sort of Queen's Birthday do you call this?" he thundered. "What
did you drink our President's health for? What's the President to you on
this day of all others? Well, suppose you _are_ in the minority, all the
more reason for standing by your country. Don't talk to me. You
Britishers made a mess of it--a mighty bungle of the whole thing. I'm an
American of the Americans; but if no one can propose Her Majesty's
health better than by just throwing it at your heads, I'm going to
try."

Then and there he delivered a remarkably neat little oration--pat, well
put together, and clearly delivered. So it came to pass that the Queen's
health was best honoured by an American. We English were dazed. I
wondered how many Englishmen not trained to addressing their fellows
would have spoken half so fluently as the gentleman from 'Frisco.

"Well, you see," said one of us feebly, "she's our Queen, anyhow,
and--and--she's been ours for fifty years, and not one of us here has
seen England for seven years, and we can't enthuse over the matter.
We've lived to be hauled over the coals for want of patriotism by an
American! We'll be more careful next time."

And the conversation drifted naturally into the question of the
government of men--English, Japanese (we have several travelled Japanese
aboard), and Americans throwing the ball from one to another. We bore in
mind the golden rule: "Never agree with a man who abuses his own
country," and got on well enough.

"Japan," said a little gentleman who was a rich man there, "Japan is
divided into two administrative sides. On the one the remains of a very
strict and quite Oriental despotism; on the other a mass of--what do you
call it?--red-tapeism which is not understood even by the officials who
handle it. We copy the red tape, and when it is copied we believe that
we administer. That is a vice of all Oriental nations. We are
Orientals."

"Oh no, say the most westerly of the westerns," purred an American,
soothingly.

The little man was pleased. "Thanks. That is what we hope to believe,
but up to the present it is not so. Look now. A farmer in my country
holds a hillside cut into little terraces. Every year he must submit to
his Government a statement of the size and revenue paid, not on the
whole hillside, but on each terrace. The complete statement makes a pile
three inches high, and is of no use when it is made except to keep in
work thousands of officials to check the returns. Is that
administration? By God! we call it so, but we multiply officials by the
twenty, and _they_ are not administration. What country is such a fool?
Look at our Government offices eaten up with clerks! Some day, I tell
you, there will be a smash."

This was new to me, but I might have guessed it. In every country where
swords and uniforms accompany civil office there is a natural tendency
towards an ill-considered increase of officialdom.

"You might pay India a visit some day," I said. "I fancy that you would
find that our country shares your trouble."

Thereupon a Japanese gentleman in the Educational Department began to
cross-question me on the matters of his craft in India, and in a quarter
of an hour got from me the very little that I knew about primary
schools, higher education, and the value of an M. A. degree. He knew
exactly what he wanted to ask, and only dropped me when the tooth of
Desire had clean picked the bone of Ignorance.

Then an American held forth, harping on a string that has already been
too often twanged in my ear. "What will it be in America itself?"

"The whole system is rotten from top to bottom," he said. "As rotten as
rotten can be."

"That's so," said the Louisiana man, with an affirmative puff of smoke.

"They call us a Republic. We may be. I don't think it. You Britishers
have got the only republic worth the name. You choose to run your ship
of state with a gilt figurehead; but I know, and so does every man who
has thought about it, that your Queen doesn't cost you one-half what our
system of pure democracy costs us. Politics in America? There aren't
any. The whole question of the day is spoils. That's all. We fight our
souls out over tram-contracts, gas-contracts, road-contracts, and any
darned thing that will turn a dishonest dollar, and we call that
politics. No one but a low-down man will run for Congress and the
Senate--the Senate of the freest people on earth are bound slaves to
some blessed monopoly. If I had money enough, I could buy the Senate of
the United States, the Eagle, and the Star-Spangled Banner complete."

"And the Irish vote included?" said some one--a Britisher, I fancy.

"Certainly, if I chose to go yahooing down the street at the tail of the
British lion. Anything dirty will buy the Irish vote. That's why our
politics are dirty. Some day you Britishers will grant Home Rule to the
vermin in our blankets. Then the real Americans will invite the Irish to
get up and git to where they came from. 'Wish you'd hurry up that time
before we have another trouble. We're bound hand and foot by the Irish
vote; or at least that's the excuse for any unusual theft that we
perpetrate. I tell you there's no good in an Irishman except as a
fighter. He doesn't understand work. He has a natural gift of the gab,
and he can drink a man blind. These three qualifications make him a
first-class politician."

With one accord the Americans present commenced to abuse Ireland and its
people as they had met them, and each man prefaced his commination
service with: "I am an American by birth--an American from way back."

It must be an awful thing to live in a country where you have to explain
that you really belong there. Louder grew the clamour and crisper the
sentiments.

"If we weren't among Americans, I should say we were consorting with
Russians," said a fellow-countryman in my ear.

"They can't mean what they say," I whispered. "Listen to this fellow."
He was saying:

"And I know, for I have been three times round the world and resided in
most countries on the Continent, that there was never people yet could
govern themselves."

"Allah! This from an American!"

"And who should know better than an American?" was the retort. "For the
ignorant--that is to say for the majority--there is only one
argument--fear; the fear of Death. In our case we give any scallawag who
comes across the water all the same privileges that we have made for
ourselves. There we make a mistake. They thank us by playing the fool.
Then we shoot them down. You can't persuade the mob of any country to
become decent citizens. If they misbehave themselves, shoot them. I saw
the bombs thrown at Chicago when our police were blown to bits. I saw
the banners in the procession that threw the bombs. All the mottoes on
them were in German. The men were aliens in our midst, and they were
shot down like dogs. I've been in labour riots and seen the militia go
through a crowd like a finger through tissue paper."

"I was in the riots at New Orleans," said the man from Louisiana. "We
turned the Gatling on the other crowd, and they were sick."

"Whew! I wonder what would have happened if a Gatling had been used when
the West End riots were in full swing?" said an Englishman. "If a single
rioter were killed in an English town by the police, the chances are
that the policeman would have to stand his trial for murder and the
Ministry of the day would go out."

"Then you've got all your troubles before you. The more power you give
the people, the more trouble they will give. With us our better classes
are corrupt and our lower classes are lawless. There are millions of
useful, law-abiding citizens, and they are very sick of this thing. We
execute our justice in the streets. The law courts are no use. Take the
case of the Chicago Anarchists. It was all we could do to get 'em
hanged: whereas the dead in the streets had been punished off-hand. We
were sure of _them_. Guess that's the reason we are so quick to fire on
a mob. But it's unfair, all the same. We receive all these
cattle--Anarchists, Socialists, and ruffians of every sort--and then we
shoot them. The States are as republican as they make 'em. We have no
use for a man who wants to try any more experiments on the Constitution.
We are the biggest people on God's earth. All the world knows that.
We've been shouting that we are also the greatest people. No one cares
to contradict us but ourselves; and we are now wondering whether we are
what we claim to be. Never mind; you Britishers will have the same
experiences to go through. You're beginning to rot now. Your County
Councils will make you more rotten because you are putting power into
the hands of untrained people. When you reach our level,--every man with
a vote and the right to sell it; the right to nominate fellows of his
own kidney to swamp out better men,--you'll be what we are now--rotten,
rotten, rotten!"

The voice ceased, and no man rose up to contradict.

"We'll worry through it somehow," said the man from Louisiana. "What
would do us a world of good now would be a big European war. We're
getting slack and sprawly. Now a war outside our borders would make us
all pull together. But that's a luxury we shan't get."

"Can't you raise one within your own borders?" I said flippantly, to get
rid of the thought of the great blind nation in her unrest putting out
her hand to the Sword. Mine was a most unfortunate remark.

"I hope not," said an American, very seriously. "We have paid a good
deal to keep ourselves together before this, and it is not likely that
we shall split up without protest. Yet some say we are too large, and
some say that Washington and the Eastern States are running the whole
country. If ever we do divide,--God help us when we do,--it will be East
and West this time."

"We built the old hooker too long in the run. We put the engine room
aft. Break her back," said an American who had not yet spoken. "'Wonder
if our forbears knew how she was going to grow."

"A very large country." The speaker sighed as though the weight of it
from New York to 'Frisco lay upon his shoulders. "If ever we do divide,
it means that we are done for. There is no room for four first-class
empires in the States. One split will lead to another if the first is
successful. What's the use of talking?"

What was the use? Here's our conversation as it ran, the night of the
Queen's Birthday. What do _you_ think?



No. XXIII

HOW I GOT TO SAN FRANCISCO AND TOOK TEA WITH THE NATIVES THERE.

    "Serene, indifferent to fate,
    Thou sittest at the western gate,
    Thou seest the white seas fold their tents,
    Oh warder of two Continents.
    Thou drawest all things small and great
    To thee beside the Western Gate."


This is what Bret Harte has written of the great city of San Francisco,
and for the past fortnight I have been wondering what made him do it.
There is neither serenity nor indifference to be found in these parts;
and evil would it be for the Continent whose wardship were intrusted to
so reckless a guardian. Behold me pitched neck-and-crop from twenty days
of the High Seas, into the whirl of California, deprived of any
guidance, and left to draw my own conclusions. Protect me from the wrath
of an outraged community if these letters be ever read by American eyes.
San Francisco is a mad city--inhabited for the most part by perfectly
insane people whose women are of a remarkable beauty. When the _City of
Peking_ steamed through the Golden Gate I saw with great joy that the
block-house which guarded the mouth of the "finest harbour in the world,
Sir," could be silenced by two gunboats from Hong-Kong with safety,
comfort, and despatch.

Then a reporter leaped aboard, and ere I could gasp held me in his
toils. He pumped me exhaustively while I was getting ashore, demanding,
of all things in the world, news about Indian journalism. It is an awful
thing to enter a new land with a new lie on your lips. I spoke the truth
to the evil-minded Custom-house man who turned my most sacred raiment on
a floor composed of stable-refuse and pine-splinters; but the reporter
overwhelmed me not so much by his poignant audacity as his beautiful
ignorance. I am sorry now that I did not tell him more lies as I passed
into a city of three hundred thousand white men. Think of it! Three
hundred thousand white men and women gathered in one spot, walking upon
real pavements in front of real plate-glass windowed shops, and talking
something that was not very different from English. It was only when I
had tangled myself up in a hopeless maze of small wooden houses, dust,
street-refuse, and children who play with empty kerosene tins, that I
discovered the difference of speech.

"You want to go to the Palace Hotel?" said an affable youth on a dray.
"What in hell are you doing here, then? This is about the lowest place
in the city. Go six blocks north to corner of Geary and Market; then
walk around till you strike corner of Gutter and Sixteenth, and that
brings you there."

I do not vouch for the literal accuracy of these directions, quoting but
from a disordered memory.

"Amen," I said. "But who am I that I should strike the corners of such
as you name? Peradventure they be gentlemen of repute, and might hit
back. Bring it down to dots, my son."

I thought he would have smitten me, but he didn't. He explained that no
one ever used the word "street," and that every one was supposed to know
how the streets run; for sometimes the names were upon the lamps and
sometimes they weren't. Fortified with these directions I proceeded till
I found a mighty street full of sumptuous buildings four or five stories
high, but paved with rude cobble stones in the fashion of the Year One.
A cable-car without any visible means of support slid stealthily behind
me and nearly struck me in the back. A hundred yards further there was a
slight commotion in the street--a gathering together of three or
four--and something that glittered as it moved very swiftly. A ponderous
Irish gentleman with priest's cords in his hat and a small nickel-plated
badge on his fat bosom emerged from the knot, supporting a Chinaman who
had been stabbed in the eye and was bleeding like a pig. The bystanders
went their ways, and the Chinaman, assisted by the policeman, his own.
Of course this was none of my business, but I rather wanted to know what
had happened to the gentleman who had dealt the stab. It said a great
deal for the excellence of the municipal arrangements of the town that a
surging crowd did not at once block the street to see what was going
forward. I was the sixth man and the last who assisted at the
performance, and my curiosity was six times the greatest. Indeed, I felt
ashamed of showing it.

There were no more incidents till I reached the Palace Hotel, a
seven-storied warren of humanity with a thousand rooms in it. All the
travel-books will tell you about hotel arrangements in this country.
They should be seen to be appreciated. Understand clearly--and this
letter is written after a thousand miles of experiences--that money
will not buy you service in the West.

When the hotel clerk--the man who awards your room to you and who is
supposed to give you information--when that resplendent individual
stoops to attend to your wants, he does so whistling or humming, or
picking his teeth, or pauses to converse with some one he knows. These
performances, I gather, are to impress upon you that he is a free man
and your equal. From his general appearance and the size of his diamonds
he ought to be your superior. There is no necessity for this swaggering,
self-consciousness of freedom. Business is business, and the man who is
paid to attend to a man might reasonably devote his whole attention to
the job.

In a vast marble-paved hall under the glare of an electric light sat
forty or fifty men; and for their use and amusement were provided
spittoons of infinite capacity and generous gape. Most of the men wore
frock-coats and top-hats,--the things that we in India put on at a
wedding breakfast if we possessed them,--but they all spat. They spat on
principle. The spittoons were on the staircases, in each bedroom--yea,
and in chambers even more sacred than these. They chased one into
retirement, but they blossomed in chiefest splendour round the Bar, and
they were all used, every reeking one of 'em. Just before I began to
feel deathly sick, another reporter grappled me. What he wanted to know
was the precise area of India in square miles. I referred him to
Whittaker. He had never heard of Whittaker. He wanted it from my own
mouth, and I would not tell him. Then he swerved off, like the other
man, to details of journalism in our own country. I ventured to suggest
that the interior economy of a paper most concerned the people who
worked it. "That's the very thing that interests us," he said. "Have you
got reporters anything like our reporters on Indian news papers?" "We
have not," I said, and suppressed the "thank God" rising to my lips.
"_Why_ haven't you?" said he. "Because they would die," I said. It was
exactly like talking to a child--a very rude little child. He would
begin almost every sentence with: "Now tell me something about India,"
and would turn aimlessly from one question to another without the least
continuity. I was not angry, but keenly interested. The man was a
revelation to me. To his questions I returned answers mendacious and
evasive. After all, it really did not matter what I said. He could not
understand. I can only hope and pray that none of the readers of the
_Pioneer_ will ever see that portentous interview. The man made me out
to be an idiot several sizes more drivelling than my destiny intended,
and the rankness of his ignorance managed to distort the few poor facts
with which I supplied him into large and elaborate lies. Then thought I:
"The matter of American journalism shall be looked into later on. At
present I will enjoy myself."

No man rose to tell me what were the lions of the place. No one
volunteered any sort of conveyance. I was absolutely alone in this big
city of white folk. By instinct I sought refreshment and came upon a
bar-room, full of bad Salon pictures, in which men with hats on the
backs of their heads were wolfing food from a counter. It was the
institution of the "Free Lunch" that I had struck. You paid for a drink
and got as much as you wanted to eat. For something less than a rupee a
day a man can feed himself sumptuously in San Francisco, even though he
be bankrupt. Remember this if ever you are stranded in these parts.

Later, I began a vast but unsystematic exploration of the streets. I
asked for no names. It was enough that the pavements were full of white
men and women, the streets clanging with traffic, and that the restful
roar of a great city rang in my ears. The cable-cars glided to all
points of the compass. I took them one by one till I could go no
farther. San Francisco has been pitched down on the sand-bunkers of the
Bikaneer desert. About one-fourth of it is ground reclaimed from the
sea--any old-timer will tell you all about that. The remainder is
ragged, unthrifty sand-hills, pegged down by houses.

From an English point of view there has not been the least attempt at
grading those hills, and indeed you might as well try to grade the
hillocks of Sind. The cable-cars have for all practical purposes made
San Francisco a dead level. They take no count of rise or fall, but
slide equably on their appointed courses from one end to the other of a
six-mile street. They turn corners almost at right angles; cross other
lines, and, for aught I know, may run up the sides of houses. There is
no visible agency of their flight; but once in a while you shall pass a
five-storied building, humming with machinery that winds up an
everlasting wire-cable, and the initiated will tell you that here is the
mechanism. I gave up asking questions. If it pleases Providence to make
a car run up and down a slit in the ground for many miles, and if for
twopence-halfpenny I can ride in that car, why shall I seek the reasons
of the miracle? Rather let me look out of the windows till the shops
give place to thousands and thousands of little houses made of
wood--each house just big enough for a man and his family. Let me watch
the people in the cars, and try to find out in what manner they differ
from us, their ancestors. They delude themselves into the belief that
they talk English,--_the_ English,--and I have already been pitied for
speaking with "an English accent." The man who pitied me spoke, so far
as I was concerned, the language of thieves. And they all do. Where we
put the accent forward, they throw it back, and _vice versa_; where we
use the long _a_, they use the short; and words so simple as to be past
mistaking, they pronounce somewhere up in the dome of their heads. How
do these things happen? Oliver Wendell Holmes says that Yankee
schoolmarms, the cider, and the salt codfish of the Eastern States are
responsible for what he calls a nasal accent. A Hindu is a Hindu, and a
brother to the man who knows his vernacular; and a Frenchman is French
because he speaks his own language; but the American has no language. He
is dialect, slang, provincialism, accent, and so forth. Now that I have
heard their voices, all the beauty of Bret Harte is being ruined for me,
because I find myself catching through the roll of his rhythmical prose
the cadence of his peculiar fatherland. Get an American lady to read to
you "How Santa Claus came to Simpson's Bar," and see how much is, under
her tongue, left of the beauty of the original.

But I am sorry for Bret Harte. It happened this way. A reporter asked me
what I thought of the city, and I made answer suavely that it was
hallowed ground to me because of Bret Harte. That was true: "Well,"
said the reporter, "Bret Harte claims California, but California don't
claim Bret Harte. He's been so long in England that he's quite English.
Have you seen our cracker-factories and the new offices of the
_Examiner_?" He could not understand that to the outside world the city
was worth a great deal less than the man.

       *       *       *       *       *

Night fell over the Pacific, and the white sea-fog whipped through the
streets, dimming the splendours of the electric lights. It is the use of
this city, her men and women, to parade between the hours of eight and
ten a certain street, called Kearney Street, where the finest shops are
situated. Here the click of heels on the pavement is loudest, here the
lights are brightest, and here the thunder of the traffic is most
overwhelming. I watched Young California and saw that it was at least
expensively dressed, cheerful in manner, and self-asserting in
conversation. Also the women are very fair. The maidens were of generous
build, large, well-groomed, and attired in raiment that even to my
inexperienced eyes must have cost much. Kearney Street, at nine o'clock,
levels all distinctions of rank as impartially as the grave. Again and
again I loitered at the heels of a couple of resplendent beings, only to
overhear, when I expected the level voice of culture, the _staccato_
"Sez he," "Sez I," that is the mark of the white servant-girl all the
world over.

This was depressing because, in spite of all that goes to the contrary,
fine feathers ought to make fine birds. There was wealth--unlimited
wealth--in the streets, but not an accent that would not have been dear
at fifty cents. Wherefore, revolving in my mind that these folk were
barbarians, I was presently enlightened and made aware that they also
were the heirs of all the ages, and civilised after all. There appeared
before me an affable stranger of prepossessing appearance, with a blue
and an innocent eye. Addressing me by name, he claimed to have met me in
New York at the Windsor, and to this claim I gave a qualified assent. I
did not remember the fact, but since he was so certain of it, why
then--I waited developments. "And what did you think of Indiana when you
came through?" was the next question. It revealed the mystery of
previous acquaintance, and one or two other things. With reprehensible
carelessness, my friend of the light-blue eye had looked up the name of
his victim in the hotel register and read "India" for Indiana. He could
not imagine an Englishman coming through the States from West to East
instead of by the regularly ordained route. My fear was that in his
delight at finding me so responsive he would make remarks about New York
and the Windsor which I could not understand. And indeed, he adventured
in this direction once or twice, asking me what I thought of such and
such streets, which, from his tone, I gathered were anything but
respectable. It is trying to talk unknown New York in almost unknown San
Francisco. But my friend was merciful. He protested that I was one after
his own heart, and pressed upon me rare and curious drinks at more than
one bar. These drinks I accepted with gratitude, as also the cigars with
which his pockets were stored. He would show me the Life of the city.
Having no desire to watch a weary old play again, I evaded the offer,
and received in lieu of the Devil's instruction much coarse flattery.
Curiously constituted is the soul of man. Knowing how and where this man
lied, waiting idly for the finale, I was distinctly conscious, as he
bubbled compliments in my ear, of soft thrills of gratified pride. I was
wise, quoth he, anybody could see that with half an eye; sagacious;
versed in the affairs of the world; an acquaintance to be desired; one
who had tasted the cup of Life with discretion. All this pleased me, and
in a measure numbed the suspicion that was thoroughly aroused.
Eventually the blue-eyed one discovered, nay insisted, that I had a
taste for cards (this was clumsily worked in, but it was my fault, in
that I met him half-way, and allowed him no chance of good acting).
Hereupon, I laid my head to one side, and simulated unholy wisdom,
quoting odds and ends of poker-talk, all ludicrously misapplied. My
friend kept his countenance admirably; and well he might, for five
minutes later we arrived, always by the purest of chances, at a place
where we could play cards, and also frivol with Louisiana State Lottery
tickets. Would I play? "Nay," said I, "for to me cards have neither
meaning nor continuity; but let us assume that I am going to play. How
would you and your friends get to work? Would you play a straight game,
or make me drunk, or--well, the fact is I'm a newspaper man, and I'd be
much obliged if you'd let me know something about bunco-steering." My
blue-eyed friend cursed me by his gods,--the Right and the Left Bower;
he even cursed the very good cigars he had given me. But, the storm
over, he quieted down and explained. I apologised for causing him to
waste an evening, and we spent a very pleasant time together.
Inaccuracy, provincialism, and a too hasty rushing to conclusions were
the rocks that he had split on; but he got his revenge when he said:
"How would I play with you? From all the poppycock" (_Anglice_, bosh)
"you talked about poker, I'd ha' played a straight game and skinned you.
I wouldn't have taken the trouble to make you drunk. You never knew
anything of the game; but the way I was mistaken in you makes me sick."
He glared at me as though I had done him an injury. To-day I know how it
is that, year after year, week after week, the bunco-steerer, who is the
confidence-trick and the card-sharper man of other climes, secures his
prey. He slavers them over with flattery, as the snake slavers the
rabbit. The incident depressed me because it showed I had left the
innocent East far behind, and was come to a country where a man must
look out for himself. The very hotel bristled with notices about keeping
my door locked, and depositing my valuables in a safe. The white man in
a lump is bad. Weeping softly for O-Toyo (little I knew then that my
heart was to be torn afresh from my bosom!), I fell asleep in the
clanging hotel.

Next morning I had entered upon the Deferred Inheritance. There are no
princes in America,--at least with crowns on their heads,--but a
generous-minded member of some royal family received my letter of
introduction. Ere the day closed I was a member of the two clubs and
booked for many engagements to dinner and party. Now this prince, upon
whose financial operations be continual increase, had no reason, nor had
the others, his friends, to put himself out for the sake of one Briton
more or less; but he rested not till he had accomplished all in my
behalf that a mother could think of for her _débutante_ daughter. Do you
know the Bohemian Club of San Francisco? They say its fame extends over
the world. It was created somewhat on the lines of the Savage by men who
wrote or drew things, and it has blossomed into most unrepublican
luxury. The ruler of the place is an owl--an owl standing upon a skull
and cross-bones, showing forth grimly the wisdom of the man of letters
and the end of his hopes for immortality. The owl stands on the
staircase, a statue four feet high, is carved in the woodwork, flutters
on the frescoed ceilings, is stamped on the note paper, and hangs on the
walls. He is an Ancient and Honourable Bird. Under his wing 'twas my
privilege to meet with white men whose lives were not chained down to
routine of toil, who wrote magazine articles instead of reading them
hurriedly in the pauses of office-work, who painted pictures instead of
contenting themselves with cheap etchings picked up at another man's
sale of effects. Mine were all the rights of social intercourse that
India, stony-hearted step-mother of Collectors, has swindled us out of.
Treading soft carpets and breathing the incense of superior cigars, I
wandered from room to room studying the paintings in which the members
of the club had caricatured themselves, their associates, and their
aims. There was a slick French audacity about the workmanship of these
men of toil unbending that went straight to the heart of the beholder.
And yet it was not altogether French. A dry grimness of treatment,
almost Dutch, marked the difference. The men painted as they spoke--with
certainty. The club indulges in revelries which it calls "jinks"--high
and low,--at intervals,--and each of these gatherings is faithfully
portrayed in oils by hands that know their business. In this club were
no amateurs spoiling canvas because they fancied they could handle oils
without knowledge of shadows or anatomy--no gentleman of leisure ruining
the temper of publishers and an already ruined market with attempts to
write "because everybody writes something these days." My hosts were
working, or had worked, for their daily bread with pen or paint, and
their talk for the most part was of the shop shoppy--that is to say,
delightful. They extended a large hand of welcome and were as brethren,
and I did homage to the Owl and listened to their talk. An Indian Club
about Christmas-time will yield, if properly worked, an abundant harvest
of queer tales; but at a gathering of Americans from the uttermost ends
of their own continent the tales are larger, thicker, more spinous, and
even more azure than any Indian variety. Tales of the War I heard told
by an ex-officer of the South over his evening drink to a Colonel of the
Northern army; my introducer, who had served as a trooper in the
Northern Horse, throwing in emendations from time to time.

Other voices followed with equally wondrous tales of riata-throwing in
Mexico or Arizona, of gambling at army posts in Texas, of newspaper wars
waged in godless Chicago, of deaths sudden and violent in Montana and
Dakota, of the loves of half-breed maidens in the South, and fantastic
huntings for gold in mysterious Alaska. Above all, they told the story
of the building of old San Francisco, when the "finest collection of
humanity on God's earth, Sir, started this town, and the water came up
to the foot of Market Street." Very terrible were some of the tales,
grimly humorous the others, and the men in broadcloth and fine linen who
told them had played their parts in them.

"And now and again when things got too bad they would toll the city
bell, and the Vigilance Committee turned out and hanged the suspicious
characters. A man didn't begin to be suspected in those days till he had
committed at least one unprovoked murder," said a calm-eyed, portly old
gentleman. I looked at the pictures around me, the noiseless,
neat-uniformed waiter behind me, the oak-ribbed ceiling above, the
velvety carpet beneath. It was hard to realise that even twenty years
ago you could see a man hanged with great pomp. Later on I found reason
to change my opinion. The tales gave me a headache and set me thinking.
How in the world was it possible to take in even one-thousandth of this
huge, roaring, many-sided continent? In the silence of the sumptuous
library lay Professor Bryce's book on the American Republic. "It is an
omen," said I. "He has done all things in all seriousness, and he may be
purchased for half a guinea. Those who desire information of the most
undoubted must refer to his pages. For me is the daily round of
vagabondage, the recording of the incidents of the hour, and talk with
the travelling companion of the day. I will not 'do' this country at
all."

And I forgot all about India for ten days while I went out to dinners
and watched the social customs of the people, which are entirely
different from our customs, and was introduced to the men of many
millions. These persons are harmless in their earlier stages; that is
to say, a man worth three or four million dollars may be a good talker,
clever, amusing, and of the world; a man with twice that amount is to be
avoided; and a twenty-million man is--just twenty millions. Take an
instance. I was speaking to a newspaper man about seeing the proprietor
of his journal. My friend snorted indignantly: "See _him_! Great Scott!
_No!_ If he happens to appear in the office, I have to associate with
him; but, thank Heaven, outside of that I move in circles where he
cannot come."

And yet the first thing I have been taught to believe is that money was
everything in America!



No. XXIV

SHOWS HOW THROUGH FOLLY I ASSISTED AT A MURDER AND WAS AFRAID. THE RULE
OF THE DEMOCRACY AND THE DESPOTISM OF THE ALIEN.

    "Poor men--God made, and all for that!"


It was a bad business throughout, and the only consolation is that it
was all my fault. A man took me round the Chinese quarter of San
Francisco, which is a ward of the city of Canton set down in the most
eligible business-quarter of the place. The Chinaman with his usual
skill has possessed himself of good brick fire-proof buildings and,
following instinct, has packed each tenement with hundreds of souls, all
living in filth and squalor not to be appreciated save by you in India.
That cursory investigation ought to have sufficed; but I wanted to know
how deep in the earth the Pig-tail had taken root. Therefore I explored
the Chinese quarter a second time and alone, which was foolishness. No
one in the filthy streets (but for the blessed sea breezes San Francisco
would enjoy cholera every season) interfered with my movements, though
many asked for _cumshaw_. I struck a house about four stories high full
of celestial abominations, and began to burrow down; having heard that
these tenements were constructed on the lines of icebergs--two-thirds
below sight level. Downstairs I crawled past Chinamen in bunks,
opium-smokers, brothels, and gambling hells, till I had reached the
second cellar--was in fact, in the labyrinths of a warren. Great is the
wisdom of the Chinaman. In time of trouble that house could be razed to
the ground by the mob, and yet hide all its inhabitants in brick-walled
and wooden-beamed subterranean galleries, strengthened with iron-framed
doors and gates. On the second underground floor a man asked for
_cumshaw_ and took me downstairs to yet another cellar, where the air
was as thick as butter, and the lamps burned little holes in it not more
than an inch square. In this place a poker club had assembled and was in
full swing. The Chinaman loves "pokel," and plays it with great skill,
swearing like a cat when he loses. Most of the men round the table were
in semi-European dress, their pigtails curled up under billy-cock hats.
One of the company looked like a Eurasian, whence I argued that he was a
Mexican--a supposition that later inquiries confirmed. They were a
picturesque set of fiends and polite, being too absorbed in their game
to look at the stranger. We were all deep down under the earth, and save
for the rustle of a blue gown sleeve and the ghostly whisper of the
cards as they were shuffled and played, there was no sound. The heat was
almost unendurable. There was some dispute between the Mexican and the
man on his left. The latter shifted his place to put the table between
himself and his opponent, and stretched a lean yellow hand towards the
Mexican's winnings.

Mark how purely man is a creature of instinct. Rarely introduced to the
pistol, I saw the Mexican half rise in his chair and at the same instant
found myself full length on the floor. None had told me that this was
the best attitude when bullets are abroad. I was there prone before I
had time to think--dropping as the room was filled with an intolerable
clamour like the discharge of a cannon. In those close quarters the
pistol report had no room to spread any more than the smoke--then acrid
in my nostrils. There was no second shot, but a great silence in which I
rose slowly to my knees. The Chinaman was gripping the table with both
hands and staring in front of him at an empty chair. The Mexican had
gone, and a little whirl of smoke was floating near the roof. Still
gripping the table, the Chinaman said: "Ah!" in the tone that a man
would use when, looking up from his work suddenly, he sees a well-known
friend in the doorway. Then he coughed and fell over to his own right,
and I saw that he had been shot in the stomach.

I became aware that, save for two men leaning over the stricken one, the
room was empty; and all the tides of intense fear, hitherto held back by
intenser curiosity, swept over my soul. I ardently desired the outside
air. It was possible that the Chinamen would mistake me for the
Mexican,--everything horrible seemed possible just then,--and it was
more than possible that the stairways would be closed while they were
hunting for the murderer. The man on the floor coughed a sickening
cough. I heard it as I fled, and one of his companions turned out the
lamp. Those stairs seemed interminable, and to add to my dismay there
was no sound of commotion in the house. No one hindered, no one even
looked at me. There was no trace of the Mexican. I found the doorway
and, my legs trembling under me, reached the protection of the clear
cool night, the fog, and the rain. I dared not run, and for the life of
me I could not walk. I must have effected a compromise, for I remember
the light of a street lamp showed the shadow of one half
skipping--caracoling along the pavements in what seemed to be an ecstacy
of suppressed happiness. But it was fear--deadly fear. Fear compounded
of past knowledge of the Oriental--only other white man--available
witness--three stories underground--and the cough of the Chinaman now
some forty feet under my clattering boot-heels. It was good to see the
shop-fronts and electric lights again. Not for anything would I have
informed the police, because I firmly believed that the Mexican had been
dealt with somewhere down there on the third floor long ere I had
reached the air; and, moreover, once clear of the place, I could not for
the life of me tell where it was. My ill-considered flight brought me
out somewhere a mile distant from the hotel; and the clank of the lift
that bore me to a bed six stories above ground was music in my ears.
Wherefore I would impress it upon you who follow after, do not knock
about the Chinese quarters at night and alone. You may stumble across a
picturesque piece of human nature that will unsteady your nerves for
half a day.

       *       *       *       *       *

And this brings me by natural sequence to the great drink question. As
you know, of course, the American does not drink at meals as a sensible
man should. Indeed, he has no meals. He stuffs for ten minutes thrice a
day. Also he has no decent notions about the sun being over the yard-arm
or below the horizon. He pours his vanity into himself at unholy hours,
and indeed he can hardly help it. You have no notion of what "treating"
means on the Western slope. It is more than an institution; it is a
religion, though men tell me that it is nothing to what it was. Take a
very common instance. At 10.30 A.M. a man is smitten with desire for
stimulants. He is in the company of two friends. All three adjourn to
the nearest bar,--seldom more than twenty yards away,--and take three
straight whiskys. They talk for two minutes. The second and third man
then treats in order; and thus each walks into the street, two of them
the poorer by three goes of whisky under their belt and one with two
more liquors than he wanted. It is not etiquette yet to refuse a treat.
The result is peculiar. I have never yet, I confess, seen a drunken man
in the streets, but I have heard more about drunkenness among white men,
and seen more decent men above or below themselves with drink, than I
care to think about. And the vice runs up into all sorts of circles and
societies. Never was I more astonished than at one pleasant dinner party
to hear a pair of pretty lips say casually of a gentleman friend then
under discussion, "He was drunk." The fact was merely stated without
emotion. That was what startled me. But the climate of California deals
kindly with excess, and treacherously covers up its traces. A man
neither bloats nor shrivels in this dry air. He continues with the false
bloom of health upon his cheeks, an equable eye, a firm mouth, and a
steady hand till a day of reckoning arrives, and suddenly breaking up,
about the head, he dies, and his friends speak his epitaph accordingly.
Why people who in most cases cannot hold their liquor should play with
it so recklessly I leave to others to decide. This unhappy state of
affairs has, however, produced one good result which I will confide to
you. In the heart of the business quarter, where banks and bankers are
thickest, and telegraph wires most numerous, stands a semi-subterranean
bar tended by a German with long blond locks and a crystalline eye. Go
thither softly, treading on the tips of your toes, and ask him for a
Button Punch. 'Twill take ten minutes to brew, but the result is the
highest and noblest product of the age. No man but one knows what is in
it. I have a theory it is compounded of the shavings of cherubs' wings,
the glory of a tropical dawn, the red clouds of sunset, and fragments of
lost epics by dead masters. But try you for yourselves, and pause a
while to bless me, who am always mindful of the truest interests of my
brethren.

But enough of the stale spilth of bar-rooms. Turn now to the august
spectacle of a Government of the people, by the people, for the people,
as it is understood in the city of San Francisco. Professor Bryce's book
will tell you that every American citizen over twenty-one years of age
possesses a vote. He may not know how to run his own business, control
his wife, or instil reverence into his children, may be pauper,
half-crazed with drink, bankrupt, dissolute, or merely a born fool; but
he has a vote. If he likes, he can be voting most of his time--voting
for his State Governor, his municipal officers, local option, sewage
contracts, or anything else of which he has no special knowledge.

Once every four years he votes for a new President. In his spare moments
he votes for his own judges--the men who shall give him justice. These
are dependent on popular favour for re-election inasmuch as they are
but chosen for a term of years--two or three, I believe. Such a
position is manifestly best calculated to create an independent and
unprejudiced administrator. Now this mass of persons who vote is divided
into two parties--Republican and Democrat. They are both agreed in
thinking that the other part is running creation (which is America) into
red flame. Also the Democrat as a party drinks more than the Republican,
and when drunk may be heard to talk about a thing called the Tariff,
which he does not understand, but which he conceives to be the bulwark
of the country or else the surest power for its destruction. Sometimes
he says one thing and sometimes another, in order to contradict the
Republican, who is always contradicting himself. And this is a true and
lucid account of the forepart of American politics. The behind-part is
otherwise.

Since every man has a vote and may vote on every conceivable thing, it
follows that there exist certain wise men who understand the art of
buying up votes retail, and vending them wholesale to whoever wants them
most urgently. Now an American engaged in making a home for himself has
not time to vote for turn-cocks and district attorneys and cattle of
that kind, but the unemployed have much time because they are always on
hand somewhere in the streets. They are called "the boys," and form a
peculiar class. The boys are young men; inexpert in war, unskilled in
labour; who have neither killed a man, lifted cattle, or dug a well. In
plain English, they are just the men in the streets who can always be
trusted to rally round any cause that has a glass of liquor for a
visible heart. They wait--they are on hand--; and in being on hand lies
the crown and the glory of American politics. The wise man is he who,
keeping a liquor-saloon and judiciously dispensing drinks, knows how to
retain within arm's reach a block of men who will vote for or against
anything under the canopy of Heaven. Not every saloon-keeper can do
this. It demands careful study of city politics, tact, the power of
conciliation, and infinite resources of anecdote to amuse and keep the
crowd together night after night, till the saloon becomes a salon. Above
all, the liquor side of the scheme must not be worked for immediate
profit. The boys who drink so freely will ultimately pay their host a
thousandfold. An Irishman, and an Irishman pre-eminently, knows how to
work such a saloon parliament. Observe for a moment the plan of
operations. The rank and file are treated to drink and a little
money--and they vote. He who controls ten votes receives a proportionate
reward; the dispenser of a thousand votes is worthy of reverence, and so
the chain runs on till we reach the most successful worker of public
saloons--the man most skilful in keeping his items together and using
them when required. Such a man governs the city as absolutely as a king.
And you would know where the gain comes in? The whole of the public
offices of a city (with the exception of a very few where special
technical skill is required) are short-term offices distributed
according to "political" leanings. What would you have? A big city
requires many officials. Each office carries a salary and influence
worth twice the pay. The offices are for the representatives of the men
who keep together and are on hand to vote. The Commissioner of Sewage,
let us say, is a gentleman who has been elected to his office by a
Republican vote. He knows little and cares less about sewage, but he
has sense enough to man the pumping-works and the
street-sweeping-machines with the gentlemen who elected him. The
Commissioner of Police has been helped to his post very largely by the
influence of the boys at such and such a saloon. He may be the guardian
of city morals, but he is not going to allow his subordinates to enforce
early closing or abstention from gambling in that saloon. Most offices
are limited to four years, consequently he is a fool who does not make
his office pay him while he is in it.

The only people who suffer by this happy arrangement are, in fact, the
people who devised the lovely system. And they suffer because they are
Americans. Let us explain. As you know, every big city here holds at
least one big foreign vote--generally Irish, frequently German. In San
Francisco, the gathering place of the races, there is a distinct Italian
vote to be considered, but the Irish vote is more important. For this
reason the Irishman does not kill himself with overwork. He is made for
the cheery dispensing of liquors, for everlasting blarney, and possesses
a wonderfully keen appreciation of the weaknesses of lesser human
nature. Also he has no sort of conscience, and only one strong
conviction--that of deep-rooted hatred toward England. He keeps to the
streets, he is on hand, he votes joyously, spending days lavishly,--and
time is the American's dearest commodity. Behold the glorious result.
To-day the city of San Francisco is governed by the Irish vote and the
Irish influence, under the rule of a gentleman whose sight is impaired,
and who requires a man to lead him about the streets. He is called
officially "Boss Buckley," and unofficially the "Blind White Devil." I
have before me now the record of his amiable career in black and white.
It occupies four columns of small print, and perhaps you would think it
disgraceful. Summarised, it is as follows: Boss Buckley, by tact and
deep knowledge of the seamy side of the city, won himself a following of
voters. He sought no office himself, or rarely: but as his following
increased he sold their services to the highest bidder, himself taking
toll of the revenues of every office. He controlled the Democratic party
in the city of San Francisco. The people appoint their own judges. Boss
Buckley's people appointed judges. These judges naturally were Boss
Buckley's property. I have been to dinner parties and heard educated
men, not concerned with politics, telling stories one to another of
"justice," both civil and criminal, being bought with a price from the
hands of these judges. Such tales they told without heat, as men
recording facts. Contracts for road-mending, public buildings, and the
like are under the control of Boss Buckley, because the men whom
Buckley's following sent to the City Council adjudicate on these
contracts; and on each and every one of these contracts Boss Buckley
levies his percentage for himself and his allies.

The Republican party in San Francisco also have their boss. He is not so
great a genius as Boss Buckley, but I decline to believe that he is any
whit more virtuous. He has a smaller number of votes at his command.



  From Sea to Sea
  Letters of Travel


  By Rudyard Kipling


  NEW YORK
  DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY

  1913


  COPYRIGHT, 1899, 1907,
  BY RUDYARD KIPLING.



CONTENTS OF PART II


FROM SEA TO SEA

  XXV                                                           PAGE

  Tells how I dropped into Politics and the Tenderer
  Sentiments. Contains a Moral Treatise on American Maidens
  and an Ethnological One on the Negro. Ends with a Banquet
  and a Type-writer                                                3

  XXVI

  Takes me through Bret Harte's Country and to Portland with
  "Old Man California." Explains how Two Vagabonds became
  Homesick through looking at Other People's Houses               18

  XXVII

  Shows how I caught Salmon in the Clackamas                      33

  XXVIII

  Takes me from Vancouver to the Yellowstone National Park        50

  XXIX

  Shows how Yankee Jim introduced me to Diana of the
  Crossways on the Banks of the Yellowstone and how a German
  Jew said I was no True Citizen. Ends with the Celebration
  of the 4th of July and a Few Lessons therefrom                  62

  XXX

  Shows how I entered Mazanderan of the Persians and saw
  Devils of Every Colour, and Some Troopers. Hell and the
  Old Lady from Chicago. The Captain and the Lieutenant           73

  XXXI

  Ends with the Cañon of the Yellowstone. The Maiden from
  New Hampshire--Larry--"Wrap-up-his-Tail"--Tom--The Old
  Lady from Chicago--and a Few Natural Phenomena--including
  One Briton                                                      88

  XXXII

  Of the American Army and the City of the Saints. The
  Temple, the Book of Mormon, and the Girl from Dorset. An
  Oriental Consideration of Polygamy                             106

  XXXIII

  How I met Certain People of Importance between Salt Lake
  and Omaha                                                      120

  XXXIV

  Across the Great Divide; and how the Man Gring showed me
  the Garments of the Ellewomen                                  130

  XXXV

  How I struck Chicago, and how Chicago struck me. Of
  Religion, Politics, and Pig-sticking, and the Incarnation
  of the City among Shambles                                     139

  XXXVI

  How I found Peace at Musquash on the Monongahela               154

  XXXVII

  An Interview with Mark Twain                                   167


  THE CITY OF DREADFUL NIGHT

  I

  A Real Live City                                               185

  II

  The Reflections of a Savage                                    191

  III

  The Council of the Gods                                        199

  IV

  On the Banks of the Hugli                                      208

  V

  With the Calcutta Police                                       217

  VI

  The City of Dreadful Night                                     223

  VII

  Deeper and Deeper Still                                        233

  VIII

  Concerning Lucia                                               240


  AMONG THE RAILWAY FOLK

  I

  A Railway Settlement                                           249

  II

  The Shops                                                      257

  III

  Vulcan's Forge                                                 266


  THE GIRIDIH COAL-FIELDS

  I

  On the Surface                                                 275

  II

  In the Depths                                                  284

  III

  The Perils of the Pits                                         291



PART II

FROM SEA TO SEA



No. XXV

TELLS HOW I DROPPED INTO POLITICS AND THE TENDERER SENTIMENTS. CONTAINS
A MORAL TREATISE ON AMERICAN MAIDENS AND AN ETHNOLOGICAL ONE ON THE
NEGRO. ENDS WITH A BANQUET AND A TYPE-WRITER.


I have been watching machinery in repose after reading about machinery
in action. An excellent gentleman who bears a name honoured in the
magazines writes, much as Disraeli orated, of "the sublime instincts of
an ancient people," the certainty with which they can be trusted to
manage their own affairs in their own way, and the speed with which they
are making for all sorts of desirable goals. This he called a statement
or purview of American politics. I went almost directly afterwards to a
saloon where gentlemen interested in ward politics nightly congregate.
They were not pretty persons. Some of them were bloated, and they all
swore cheerfully till the heavy gold watch-chains on their fat stomachs
rose and fell again; but they talked over their liquor as men who had
power and unquestioned access to places of trust and profit. The
magazine-writer discussed theories of government; these men the
practice. They had been there. They knew all about it. They banged their
fists on the table and spoke of political "pulls," the vending of votes,
and so forth. Theirs was not the talk of village babblers
reconstructing the affairs of the nation, but of strong, coarse, lustful
men fighting for spoil and thoroughly understanding the best methods of
reaching it. I listened long and intently to speech I could not
understand, or only in spots. It was the speech of business, however. I
had sense enough to know _that_, and to do my laughing outside the door.
Then I began to understand why my pleasant and well-educated hosts in
San Francisco spoke with a bitter scorn of such duties of citizenship as
voting and taking an interest in the distribution of offices. Scores of
men have told me with no false pride that they would as soon concern
themselves with the public affairs of the city or State as rake muck.
Read about politics as the cultured writer of the magazines regards 'em,
and then, _and not till then_, pay your respects to the gentlemen who
run the grimy reality.

I'm sick of interviewing night-editors, who, in response to my demand
for the record of a prominent citizen, answer: "Well, you see, he began
by keeping a saloon," etc. I prefer to believe that my informants are
treating me as in the old sinful days in India I was used to treat our
wandering Globe-trotters. They declare that they speak the truth, and
the news of dog-politics lately vouchsafed to me in groggeries incline
me to believe--but I won't. The people are much too nice to slangander
as recklessly as I have been doing. Besides, I am hopelessly in love
with about eight American maidens--all perfectly delightful till the
next one comes into the room. O-Toyo was a darling, but she lacked
several things; conversation, for one. You cannot live on giggles. She
shall remain unmoved at Nagasaki while I roast a battered heart before
the shrine of a big Kentucky blonde who had for a nurse, when she was
little, a negro "mammy." By consequence she has welded on to Californian
beauty, Paris dresses, Eastern culture, Europe trips, and wild Western
originality, the queer dreamy superstitions of the negro quarters, and
the result is soul-shattering. And she is but one of many stars. _Item_,
a maiden who believes in education and possesses it, with a few hundred
thousand dollars to boot, and a taste for slumming. _Item_, the leader
of a sort of informal salon where girls congregate, read papers, and
daringly discuss metaphysical problems and candy--a sloe-eyed,
black-browed, imperious maiden. _Item_, a very small maiden, absolutely
without reverence, who can in one swift sentence trample upon and leave
gasping half a dozen young men. _Item_, a millionnairess, burdened with
her money, lonely, caustic, with a tongue keen as a sword, yearning for
a sphere, but chained up to the rock of her vast possessions. _Item_, a
typewriter-maiden earning her own bread in this big city, because she
doesn't think a girl ought to be a burden on her parents. She quotes
Théophile Gautier, and moves through the world manfully, much respected,
for all her twenty inexperienced summers. _Item_, a woman from Cloudland
who has no history in the past, but is discreetly of the present, and
strives for the confidences of male humanity on the grounds of
"sympathy." (This is not altogether a new type.) _Item_, a girl in a
"dive" blessed with a Greek head and eyes that seem to speak all that is
best and sweetest in the world. But woe is me!--she has no ideas in this
world or the next, beyond the consumption of beer (a commission on each
bottle), and protests that she sings the songs allotted to her nightly
with no more than the vaguest notion of their meaning.

Sweet and comely are the maidens of Devonshire; delicate and of gracious
seeming those who live in the pleasant places of London; fascinating for
all their demureness the damsels of France clinging closely to their
mothers, and with large eyes wondering at the wicked world; excellent in
her own place and to those who understand her is the Anglo-Indian "spin"
in her second season; but the girls of America are above and beyond them
all. They are clever; they can talk. Yea, it is said that they think.
Certainly they have an appearance of so doing. They are original, and
look you between the brows with unabashed eyes as a sister might look at
her brother. They are instructed in the folly and vanity of the male
mind, for they have associated with "the boys" from babyhood, and can
discerningly minister to both vices, or pleasantly snub the possessor.
They possess, moreover, a life among themselves, independent of
masculine associations. They have societies and clubs and unlimited
tea-fights where all the guests are girls. They are self-possessed
without parting with any tenderness that is their sex-right; they
understand; they can take care of themselves; they are superbly
independent. When you ask them what makes them so charming, they say:
"It is because we are better educated than your girls and--and we are
more sensible in regard to men. We have good times all round, but we
aren't taught to regard every man as a possible husband. Nor is he
expected to marry the first girl he calls on regularly." Yes, they have
good times, their freedom is large, and they do not abuse it. They can
go driving with young men, and receive visits from young men to an
extent that would make an English mother wink with horror; and neither
driver nor drivee have a thought beyond the enjoyment of a good time. As
certain also of their own poets have said:--

    "Man is fire and woman is tow,
    And the Devil he comes and begins to blow."

In America the tow is soaked in a solution that makes it fire-proof, in
absolute liberty and large knowledge; consequently accidents do not
exceed the regular percentage arranged by the Devil for each class and
climate under the skies. But the freedom of the young girl has its
drawbacks. She is--I say it with all reluctance--irreverent, from her
forty-dollar bonnet to the buckles in her eighteen-dollar shoes. She
talks flippantly to her parents and men old enough to be her
grandfather. She has a prescriptive right to the society of the Man who
Arrives. The parents admit it. This is sometimes embarrassing,
especially when you call on a man and his wife for the sake of
information; the one being a merchant of varied knowledge, the other a
woman of the world. In five minutes your host has vanished. In another
five his wife has followed him, and you are left with a very charming
maiden doubtless, but certainly not the person you came to see. She
chatters and you grin; but you leave with the very strong impression of
a wasted morning. This has been my experience once or twice. I have even
said as pointedly as I dared to a man: "I came to see you." "You'd
better see me in my office, then. The house belongs to my women-folk--to
my daughter, that is to say." He spoke with truth. The American of
wealth is owned by his family. They exploit him for bullion, and
sometimes it seems to me that his lot is a lonely one. The women get the
ha'pence; the kicks are all his own. Nothing is too good for an
American's daughter (I speak here of the moneyed classes). The girls
take every gift as a matter of course. Yet they develop greatly when a
catastrophe arrives and the man of many millions goes up or goes down
and his daughters take to stenography or type-writing. I have heard many
tales of heroism from the lips of girls who counted the principals among
their friends. The crash came; Mamie or Hattie or Sadie gave up their
maid, their carriages and candy, and with a No. 2 Remington and a stout
heart set about earning their daily bread.

"And did I drop her from the list of my friends? No, Sir," said a
scarlet-lipped vision in white lace. "That might happen to me any day."

It may be this sense of possible disaster in the air that makes San
Franciscan society go with so captivating a rush and whirl. Recklessness
is in the air. I can't explain where it comes from, but there it is. The
roaring winds off the Pacific make you drunk to begin with. The
aggressive luxury on all sides helps out the intoxication, and you spin
for ever "down the ringing groves of change" (there is no small change,
by the way, west of the Rockies) as long as money lasts. They make
greatly and they spend lavishly; not only the rich but the artisans, who
pay nearly five pounds for a suit of clothes and for other luxuries in
proportion. The young men rejoice in the days of their youth. They
gamble, yacht, race, enjoy prize-fights and cock-fights--the one openly,
the other in secret--they establish luxurious clubs; they break
themselves over horse-flesh and--other things; and they are instant in
quarrel. At twenty they are experienced in business; embark in vast
enterprises, take partners as experienced as themselves, and go to
pieces with as much splendour as their neighbours. Remember that the men
who stocked California in the Fifties were physically, and as far as
regards certain tough virtues, the pick of the earth. The inept and the
weakly died _en route_ or went under in the days of construction. To
this nucleus were added all the races of the Continent--French, Italian,
German, and, of course, the Jew. The result you shall see in
large-boned, deep-chested, delicate-handed women, and long, elastic,
well-built boys. It needs no little golden badge swinging from his
watch-chain to mark the Native Son of the Golden West--the country-bred
of California. Him I love because he is devoid of fear, carries himself
like a man, and has a heart as big as his boots. I fancy, too, he knows
how to enjoy the blessings of life that his world so abundantly bestows
upon him. At least I heard a little rat of a creature with hock-bottle
shoulders explaining that a man from Chicago could pull the eye-teeth of
a Californian in business. Well, if I lived in Fairyland, where cherries
were as big as plums, plums as big as apples, and strawberries of no
account; where the procession of the fruits of the seasons was like a
pageant in a Drury Lane pantomime and where the dry air was wine, I
should let business slide once in a way and kick up my heels with my
fellows. The tale of the resources of California--vegetable and
mineral--is a fairy tale. You can read it in books. You would never
believe me. All manner of nourishing food from sea-fish to beef may be
bought at the lowest prices; and the people are well developed and of a
high stomach. They demand ten shillings for tinkering a jammed lock of a
trunk; they receive sixteen shillings a day for working as carpenters;
they spend many sixpences on very bad cigars, and they go mad over a
prize-fight. When they disagree, they do so fatally, with firearms in
their hands, and on the public streets. I was just clear of Mission
Street when the trouble began between two gentlemen, one of whom
perforated the other. When a policeman, whose name I do not recollect,
"fatally shot Ed. Kearney," for attempting to escape arrest, I was in
the next street. For these things I am thankful. It is enough to travel
with a policeman in a tram-car and while he arranges his coat-tails as
he sits down, to catch sight of a loaded revolver. It is enough to know
that fifty per cent of the men in the public saloons carry pistols about
them. The Chinaman waylays his adversary and methodically chops him to
pieces with his hatchet. Then the Press roar about the brutal ferocity
of the Pagan. The Italian reconstructs his friend with a long knife. The
Press complains of the waywardness of the alien. The Irishman and the
native Californian in their hours of discontent use the revolver, not
once, but six times. The Press records the fact, and asks in the next
column whether the world can parallel the progress of San Francisco. The
American who loves this country will tell you that this sort of thing is
confined to the lower classes. Just at present an ex-judge who was sent
to jail by another judge (upon my word, I cannot tell whether these
titles mean anything) is breathing red-hot vengeance against his enemy.
The papers have interviewed both parties and confidently expect a fatal
issue.

Now let me draw breath and curse the negro waiter and through him the
negro in service generally. He has been made a citizen with a vote;
consequently both political parties play with him. But that is neither
here nor there. He will commit in one meal every _bétise_ that a
scullion fresh from the plough-tail is capable of, and he will continue
to repeat those faults. He is as complete a heavy-footed,
uncomprehending, bungle-fisted fool as any _memsahib_ in the East ever
took into her establishment. But he is according to law a free and
independent citizen--consequently above reproof or criticism. He, and he
alone, in this insane city will wait at table (the Chinaman doesn't
count). He is untrained, inept, but he will fill the place and draw the
pay. Now God and his father's Kismet made him intellectually inferior to
the Oriental. He insists on pretending that he serves tables by
accident--as a sort of amusement. He wishes you to understand this
little fact. You wish to eat your meals, and if possible to have them
properly served. He is a big, black, vain baby and a man rolled into
one. A coloured gentleman who insisted on getting me pie when I wanted
something else, demanded information about India. I gave him some facts
about wages. "Oh hell," said he, cheerfully, "that wouldn't keep me in
cigars for a month." Then he fawned on me for a ten-cent piece. Later he
took it upon himself to pity the natives of India--"heathen" he called
them, this Woolly One whose race has been the butt of every comedy on
the Asiatic stage since the beginning. And I turned and saw by the head
upon his shoulders that he was a Yoruba man, if there be any truth in
ethnological castes. He did his thinking in English, but he was a Yoruba
negro, and the race type had remained the same throughout his
generations. And the room was full of other races--some that looked
exactly like Gallas (but the trade was never recruited from that side of
Africa), some duplicates of Cameroon heads, and some Kroomen, if ever
Kroomen wore evening dress. The American does not consider little
matters of descent, though by this time he ought to know all about
"damnable heredity." As a general rule he keeps himself very far from
the negro and says unpretty things about him. There are six million
negroes more or less in the States, and they are increasing. The
Americans once having made them citizens cannot unmake them. He says, in
his newspapers, they ought to be elevated by education. He is trying
this: but it is like to be a long job, because black blood is much more
adhesive than white, and throws back with annoying persistence. When the
negro gets a religion he returns, directly as a hiving bee, to the first
instincts of his people. Just now a wave of religion is sweeping over
some of the Southern States. Up to the present, two Messiahs and one
Daniel have appeared; and several human sacrifices have been offered up
to these incarnations. The Daniel managed to get three young men, who he
insisted were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, to walk into a blast
furnace; guaranteeing non-combustion. They did not return. I have seen
nothing of this kind, but I have attended a negro church. The
congregation were moved by the spirit to groans and tears, and one of
them danced up the aisle to the mourners' bench. The motive may have
been genuine. The movements of the shaken body were those of a Zanzibar
stick-dance, such as you see at Aden on the coal boats; and even as I
watched the people, the links that bound them to the white man snapped
one by one, and I saw before me--the _hubshi_ (the Woolly One) praying
to the God he did not understand. Those neatly dressed folk on the
benches, the grey-headed elder by the window, were savages--neither more
nor less. What will the American do with the negro? The South will not
consort with him. In some States miscegenation is a penal offence. The
North is every year less and less in need of his services. And he will
not disappear. He will continue as a problem. His friends will urge that
he is as good as the white man. His enemies ... it is not good to be a
negro in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

But this has nothing to do with San Francisco and her merry maidens, her
strong, swaggering men, and her wealth of gold and pride. They bore me
to a banquet in honour of a brave Lieutenant--Carlin, of the
_Vandalia_--who stuck by his ship in the great cyclone at Apia and
comported himself as an officer should. On that occasion--'twas at the
Bohemian Club--I heard oratory with the roundest of O's; and devoured a
dinner the memory of which will descend with me into the hungry grave.
There were about forty speeches delivered; and not one of them was
average or ordinary. It was my first introduction to the American Eagle
screaming for all it was worth. The Lieutenant's heroism served as a peg
from which those silver-tongued ones turned themselves loose and kicked.
They ransacked the clouds of sunset, the thunderbolts of Heaven, the
deeps of Hell, and the splendours of the Resurrection, for tropes and
metaphors, and hurled the result at the head of the guest of the
evening. Never since the morning stars sang together for joy, I
learned, had an amazed creation witnessed such superhuman bravery as
that displayed by the American navy in the Samoa cyclone. Till earth
rotted in the phosphorescent star-and-stripe slime of a decayed universe
that God-like gallantry would not be forgotten. I grieve that I cannot
give the exact words. My attempt at reproducing their spirit is pale and
inadequate. I sat bewildered on a coruscating Niagara
of--blatherumskite. It was magnificent--it was stupendous; and I was
conscious of a wicked desire to hide my face in a napkin and grin. Then,
according to rule, they produced their dead, and across the snowy
tablecloths dragged the corpse of every man slain in the Civil War, and
hurled defiance at "our natural enemy" (England, so please you!) "with
her chain of fortresses across the world." Thereafter they glorified
their nation afresh, from the beginning, in case any detail should have
been overlooked, and that made me uncomfortable for their sakes. How in
the world can a white man, a Sahib of Our blood, stand up and plaster
praise on his own country? He can think as highly as he likes, but his
open-mouthed vehemence of adoration struck me almost as indelicate. My
hosts talked for rather more than three hours, and at the end seemed
ready for three hours more. But when the Lieutenant--such a big, brave,
gentle giant!--rose to his feet, he delivered what seemed to me as the
speech of the evening. I remember nearly the whole of it, and it ran
something in this way: "Gentlemen--it's very good of you to give me this
dinner and to tell me all these pretty things, but what I want you to
understand--the fact is--what we want and what we ought to get at once
is a navy--more ships--lots of 'em--" Then we howled the top of the roof
off, and I, for one, fell in love with Carlin on the spot. Wallah! He
was a man.

The Prince among merchants bade me take no heed to the warlike
sentiments of some of the old Generals. "The sky-rockets are thrown in
for effect," quoth he, "and whenever we get on our hind legs we always
express a desire to chaw up England. It's a sort of family affair."

And indeed, when you come to think of it, there is no other country for
the American public speaker to trample upon.

France has Germany; we have Russia; for Italy, Austria is provided; and
the humblest Pathan possesses an ancestral enemy. Only America stands
out of the racket; and therefore, to be in fashion, makes a sand-bag of
the mother-country, and bangs her when occasion requires. "The chain of
fortresses" man, a fascinating talker, explained to me after the affair
that he was compelled to blow off steam. Everybody expected it. When we
had chanted "The Star-Spangled Banner" not more than eight times, we
adjourned. America is a very great country, but it is not yet Heaven
with electric lights and plush fittings, as the speakers professed to
believe. My listening mind went back to the politicians in the saloon
who wasted no time in talking about freedom, but quietly made
arrangements to impose their will on the citizens. "The Judge is a great
man, but give thy presents to the Clerk," as the proverb saith.

And what more remains to tell? I cannot write connectedly, because I am
in love with all those girls aforesaid and some others who do not
appear in the invoice. The type-writer girl is an institution of which
the comic papers make much capital, but she is vastly convenient. She
and a companion rent a room in a business quarter, and copy manuscript
at the rate of six annas a page. Only a woman can manage a type-writing
machine, because she has served apprenticeship to the sewing-machine.
She can earn as much as a hundred dollars a month, and professes to
regard this form of bread-winning as her natural destiny. But oh how she
hates it in her heart of hearts! When I had got over the surprise of
doing business and trying to give orders to a young woman of coldly
clerkly aspect, intrenched behind gold-rimmed spectacles, I made
inquiries concerning the pleasures of this independence. They liked
it--indeed, they did. 'Twas the natural fate of almost all girls,--the
recognised custom in America,--and I was a barbarian not to see it in
that light.

"Well, and after?" said I. "What happens?"

"We work for our bread."

"And then what do you expect?"

"Then we shall work for our bread."

"Till you die?"

"Ye-es--unless--"

"Unless what? A man works till he dies."

"So shall we." This without enthusiasm--"I suppose."

Said the partner in the firm audaciously: "Sometimes we marry our
employers--at least that's what the newspapers say." The hand banged on
half a dozen of the keys of the machine at once. "Yes, I don't care. I
hate it--I _hate_ it--I hate it, and you needn't look so!"

The senior partner was regarding the rebel with grave-eyed reproach.

"I thought you did," said I. "I don't suppose American girls are much
different from English ones in instinct."

"Isn't it Théophile Gautier who says that the only differences between
country and country lie in the slang and the uniform of the police?"

Now in the name of all the Gods at once, what is one to say to a young
lady (who in England would be a Person) who earns her own bread, and
very naturally hates the employ, and slings out-of-the-way quotations at
your head? That one falls in love with her goes without saying; but that
is not enough.

A mission should be established.



No. XXVI

TAKES ME THROUGH BRET HARTE'S COUNTRY, AND TO PORTLAND WITH "OLD MAN
CALIFORNIA." EXPLAINS HOW TWO VAGABONDS BECAME HOMESICK THROUGH LOOKING
AT OTHER PEOPLE'S HOUSES.

    "I walked in the lonesome even,
    And who so sad as I,
    As I saw the young men and maidens
    Merrily passing by?"


San Francisco has only one drawback. 'Tis hard to leave. When like the
pious Hans Breitmann I "cut that city by the sea" it was with regrets
for the pleasant places left behind, for the men who were so clever, and
the women who were so witty, for the "dives," the beer-halls, the
bucket-shops, and the poker-hells where humanity was going to the Devil
with shouting and laughter and song and the rattle of dice-boxes. I
would fain have stayed, but I feared that an evil end would come to me
when my money was all spent and I descended to the street corner. A
voice inside me said: "Get out of this. Go north. Strike for Victoria
and Vancouver. Bask for a day under the shadow of the old flag." So I
set forth from San Francisco to Portland in Oregon, and that was a
railroad run of thirty-six hours.

The Oakland railway terminus, whence all the main lines start, does not
own anything approaching to a platform. A yard with a dozen or more
tracks is roughly asphalted, and the traveller laden with hand-bags
skips merrily across the metals in search of his own particular train.
The bells of half a dozen shunting engines are tolling suggestively in
his ears. If he is run down, so much the worse for him. "When the bell
rings, look out for the locomotive." Long use has made the nation
familiar and even contemptuous towards trains to an extent which God
never intended. Women who in England would gather up their skirts and
scud timorously over a level crossing in the country, here talk dress
and babies under the very nose of the cow-catcher, and little children
dally with the moving car in a manner horrible to behold. We pulled out
at the wholly insignificant speed of twenty-five miles an hour through
the streets of a suburb of fifty thousand, and in our progress among the
carts and the children and the shop fronts slew nobody; at which I was
not a little disappointed.

When the negro porter bedded me up for the night and I had solved the
problem of undressing while lying down,--I was much cheered by the
thought that if anything happened I should have to stay where I was and
wait till the kerosene lamps set the overturned car alight and burned me
to death. It is easier to get out of a full theatre than to leave a
Pullman in haste.

By the time I had discovered that a profusion of nickel-plating, plush,
and damask does not compensate for closeness and dust, the train ran
into the daylight on the banks of the Sacramento River. A few windows
were gingerly opened after the bunks had been reconverted into seats,
but that long coffin-car was by no means ventilated, and we were a
gummy, grimy crew who sat there. At six in the morning the heat was
distinctly unpleasant, but seeing with the eye of the flesh that I was
in Bret Harte's own country, I rejoiced. There were the pines and
madrone-clad hills his miners lived and fought among; there was the
heated red earth that showed whence the gold had been washed; the dry
gulch, the red, dusty road where Hamblin was used to stop the stage in
the intervals of his elegant leisure and superior card-play; there was
the timber felled and sweating resin in the sunshine; and, above all,
there was the quivering pungent heat that Bret Harte drives into your
dull brain with the magic of his pen. When we stopped at a collection of
packing-cases dignified by the name of a town, my felicity was complete.
The name of the place was something offensive,--Amberville or
Jacksonburgh,--but it owned a cast-iron fountain worthy of a town of
thirty thousand. Next to the fountain was a "hotel," at least seventeen
feet high including the chimney, and next to the hotel was the
forest--the pine, the oak, and the untrammelled undergrowth of the
hillside. A cinnamon-bear cub--Baby Sylvester in the very fur--was tied
to the stump of a tree opposite the fountain; a pack-mule dozed in the
dust-haze, a red-shirted miner in a slouch hat supported the hotel, a
blue-shirted miner swung round the corner, and the two went indoors for
a drink. A girl came out of the only other house but one, and shading
her eyes with a brown hand stared at the panting train. She didn't
recognise me, but I knew her--had known her for years. She was M'liss.
She never married the schoolmaster, after all, but stayed, always young
and always fair, among the pines. I knew Red-Shirt too. He was one of
the bearded men who stood back when Tennessee claimed his partner from
the hands of the Law. The Sacramento River, a few yards away, shouted
that all these things were true. The train went on while Baby Sylvester
stood on his downy head, and M'liss swung her sun-bonnet by the strings.

"What do you think?" said a lawyer who was travelling with me. "It's a
new world to you; isn't it?"

"No. It's quite familiar. I was never out of England; it's as if I saw
it all."

Quick as light came the answer: "'Yes, they lived once thus at Venice
when the miners were the kings.'"

I loved that lawyer on the spot. We drank to Bret Harte who, you
remember, "claimed California, but California never claimed him. He's
turned English."

Lying back in state, I waited for the flying miles to turn over the
pages of the book I knew. They brought me all I desired--from the Man of
no Account sitting on a stump and playing with a dog, to "that most
sarcastic man, the quiet Mister Brown." He boarded the train from out of
the woods, and there was venom and sulphur on his tongue. He had just
lost a lawsuit. Only Yuba Bill failed to appear. The train had taken his
employment from him. A nameless ruffian backed me into a corner and
began telling me about the resources of the country, and what it would
eventually become. All I remember of his lecture was that you could
catch trout in the Sacramento River--the stream that we followed so
faithfully.

Then rose a tough and wiry old man with grizzled hair and made
inquiries about the trout. To him was added the secretary of a
life-insurance company. I fancy he was travelling to rake in the dead
that the train killed. But he, too, was a fisherman, and the two turned
to meward. The frankness of a Westerner is delightful. They tell me that
in the Eastern States I shall meet another type of man and a more
reserved. The Californian always speaks of the man from the New England
States as a different breed. It is our Punjab and Madras over again, but
more so. The old man was on a holiday in search of fish. When he
discovered a brother-loafer he proposed a confederation of rods. Quoth
the insurance-agent, "I'm not staying any time in Portland, but I will
introduce you to a man there who'll tell you about fishing." The two
told strange tales as we slid through the forests and saw afar off the
snowy head of a great mountain. There were vineyards, fruit orchards,
and wheat fields where the land opened out, and every ten miles or so,
twenty or thirty wooden houses and at least three churches. A large town
would have a population of two thousand and an infinite belief in its
own capacities. Sometimes a flaring advertisement flanked the line,
calling for men to settle down, take up the ground, and make their home
there. At a big town we could pick up the local newspaper, narrow as the
cutting edge of a chisel and twice as keen--a journal filled with the
prices of stock, notices of improved reaping and binding machines,
movements of eminent citizens--"whose fame beyond their own abode
extends--for miles along the Harlem road." There was not much grace
about these papers, but all breathed the same need for good men, steady
men who would plough, and till, and build schools for their children,
and make a township in the hills. Once only I found a sharp change in
the note and a very pathetic one. I think it was a young soul in trouble
who was writing poetry. The editor had jammed the verses between the
flamboyant advertisement of a real-estate agent--a man who sells you
land and lies about it--and that of a Jew tailor who disposed of "nobby"
suits at "cut-throat prices." Here are two verses; I think they tell
their own story:--

    "God made the pine with its root in the earth,
        Its top in the sky;
    They have burned the pine to increase the worth
        Of the wheat and the silver rye.

    "Go weigh the cost of the soul of the pine
        Cut off from the sky;
    And the price of the wheat that grows so fine
        And the worth of the silver rye!"

The thin-lipped, keen-eyed men who boarded the train would not read that
poetry, or, if they did, would not understand. Heaven guard that poor
pine in the desert and keep "its top in the sky"!

When the train took to itself an extra engine and began to breathe
heavily, some one said that we were ascending the Siskiyou Mountains. We
had been climbing steadily from San Francisco, and at last won to over
four thousand feet above sea-level, always running through forest. Then,
naturally enough, we came down, but we dropped two thousand two hundred
feet in about thirteen miles. It was not so much the grinding of the
brakes along the train, or the sight of three curves of track apparently
miles below us, or even the vision of a goods-train apparently just
under our wheels, or even the tunnels, that made me reflect; it was the
trestles over which we crawled,--trestles something over a hundred feet
high and looking like a collection of match-sticks.

"I guess our timber is as much a curse as a blessing," said the old man
from Southern California. "These trestles last very well for five or six
years; then they get out of repair, and a train goes through 'em, or
else a forest fire burns 'em up."

This was said in the middle of a groaning, shivering trestle. An
occasional plate-layer took a look at us as we went down, but that
railway didn't waste men on inspection duty. Very often there were
cattle on the track, against which the engine used a diabolical form of
whistling. The old man had been a driver in his youth, and beguiled the
way with cheery anecdotes of what might be expected if we fouled a young
calf.

"You see, they get their legs under the cow-catcher and that'll put an
engine off the line. I remember when a hog wrecked an excursion-train
and killed sixty people. 'Guess the engineer will look out, though."

There is considerably too much guessing about this large nation. As one
of them put it rather forcibly: "We guess a trestle will stand for ever,
and we guess that we can patch up a washout on the track, and we guess
the road's clear, and sometimes we guess ourselves into the _deepot_,
and sometimes we guess ourselves into Hell."

       *       *       *       *       *

The descent brought us far into Oregon and a timber and wheat country.
We drove through wheat and pine in alternate slices, but pine chiefly,
till we reached Portland, which is a city of fifty thousand, possessing
the electric light of course, equally, of course, devoid of pavements,
and a port of entry about a hundred miles from the sea at which big
steamers can load. It is a poor city that cannot say it has no equal on
the Pacific coast. Portland shouts this to the pines which run down from
a thousand-foot ridge clear up to the city. You may sit in a bedizened
bar-room furnished with telephone and clicker, and in half an hour be in
the woods.

Portland produces lumber and jig-saw fittings for houses, and beer and
buggies, and bricks and biscuit; and, in case you should miss the fact,
there are glorified views of the town hung up in public places with the
value of the products set down in dollars. All this is excellent and
exactly suitable to the opening of a new country; but when a man tells
you it is civilisation, you object. The first thing that the civilised
man learns to do is to keep the dollars in the background, because they
are only the oil of the machine that makes life go smoothly.

Portland is so busy that it can't attend to its own sewage or paving,
and the four-storey brick blocks front cobble-stones and plank sidewalks
and other things much worse. I saw a foundation being dug out. The
sewage of perhaps twenty years ago, had thoroughly soaked into the soil,
and there was a familiar and Oriental look about the compost that flew
up with each shovel-load. Yet the local papers, as was just and proper,
swore there was no place like Portland, Oregon, U.S.A., chronicled the
performances of Oregonians, "claimed" prominent citizens elsewhere as
Oregonians, and fought tooth and nail for dock, rail, and wharfage
projects. And you could find men who had thrown in their lives with the
city, who were bound up in it, and worked their life out for what they
conceived to be its material prosperity. Pity it is to record that in
this strenuous, labouring town there had been, a week before, a
shooting-case. One well-known man had shot another on the street, and
was now pleading self-defence because the other man had, or the murderer
thought he had, a pistol about him. Not content with shooting him dead,
he squibbed off his revolver into him as he lay. I read the pleadings,
and they made me ill. So far as I could judge, if the dead man's body
had been found with a pistol on it, the shooter would have gone free.
Apart from the mere murder, cowardly enough in itself, there was a
refinement of cowardice in the plea. Here in this civilised city the
surviving brute was afraid he would be shot--fancied he saw the other
man make a motion to his hip-pocket, and so on. Eventually the jury
disagreed. And the degrading thing was that the trial was reported by
men who evidently understood all about the pistol, was tried before a
jury who were versed in the etiquette of the hip-pocket, and was
discussed on the streets by men equally initiate.

But let us return to more cheerful things. The insurance-agent
introduced us as friends to a real-estate man, who promptly bade us go
up the Columbia River for a day while he made inquiries about fishing.
There was no overwhelming formality. The old man was addressed as
"California," I answered indifferently to "England" or "Johnny Bull,"
and the real-estate man was "Portland." This was a lofty and spacious
form of address.

So California and I took a steamboat, and upon a sumptuous blue and gold
morning steered up the Willamette River, on which Portland stands, into
the great Columbia--the river that brings the salmon that goes into the
tin that is emptied into the dish when the extra guest arrives in India.
California introduced me to the boat and the scenery, showed me the
"texas," the difference between a "tow-head" and a "sawyer," and the
precise nature of a "slue." All I remember is a delightful feeling that
Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn and Mississippi Pilot were quite true, and
that I could almost recognise the very reaches down which Huck and Jim
had drifted. We were on the border line between Oregon State and
Washington Territory, but that didn't matter. The Columbia was the
Mississippi so far as I was concerned. We ran along the sides of wooded
islands whose banks were caving in with perpetual smashes, and we
skipped from one side to another of the mile-wide stream in search of a
channel, exactly like a Mississippi steamer, and when we wanted to pick
up or set down a passenger we chose a soft and safe place on the shore
and ran our very snub nose against it. California spoke to each new
passenger as he came aboard and told me the man's birthplace. A
long-haired tender of kine crashed out of the underwood, waved his hat,
and was taken aboard forthwith. "South Carolina," said California,
almost without looking at him. "When he talks you will hear a softer
dialect than mine." And it befell as he said: whereat I marvelled, and
California chuckled. Every island in the river carried fields of rich
wheat, orchards, and a white, wooden house; or else, if the pines grew
very thickly, a sawmill, the tremulous whine of whose saws flickered
across the water like the drone of a tired bee. From remarks he let fall
I gathered that California owned timber ships and dealt in lumber, had
ranches too, a partner, and everything handsome about him; in addition
to a chequered career of some thirty-five years. But he looked almost as
disreputable a loafer as I.

"Say, young feller, we're going to see scenery now. You shout and sing,"
said California, when the bland wooded islands gave place to bolder
outlines, and the steamer ran herself into a hornet's nest of
black-fanged rocks not a foot below the boiling broken water. We were
trying to get up a slue, or back channel, by a short cut, and the
stern-wheel never spun twice in the same direction. Then we hit a
floating log with a jar that ran through our system, and then,
white-bellied, open-gilled, spun by a dead salmon--a lordly twenty-pound
Chinook salmon who had perished in his pride. "You'll see the
salmon-wheels 'fore long," said a man who lived "way back on the
Washoogle," and whose hat was spangled with trout-flies. "Those Chinook
salmon never rise to the fly. The canneries take them by the wheel." At
the next bend we sighted a wheel--an infernal arrangement of wire-gauze
compartments worked by the current and moved out from a barge in shore
to scoop up the salmon as he races up the river. California swore long
and fluently at the sight, and the more fluently when he was told of the
weight of a good night's catch--some thousands of pounds. Think of the
black and bloody murder of it! But you out yonder insist in buying
tinned salmon, and the canneries cannot live by letting down lines.

About this time California was struck with madness. I found him dancing
on the fore-deck shouting, "Isn't she a daisy? Isn't she a darling?" He
had found a waterfall--a blown thread of white vapour that broke from
the crest of a hill--a waterfall eight hundred and fifty feet high whose
voice was even louder than the voice of the river. "Bridal Veil," jerked
out the purser. "D--n that purser and the people who christened her! Why
didn't they call her Mechlin lace Falls at fifty dollars a yard while
they were at it?" said California. And I agreed with him. There are many
"bridal veil" falls in this country, but few, men say, lovelier than
those that come down to the Columbia River. Then the scenery
began--poured forth with the reckless profusion of Nature, who when she
wants to be amiable succeeds only in being oppressively magnificent. The
river was penned between gigantic stone walls crowned with the ruined
bastions of Oriental palaces. The stretch of green water widened and was
guarded by pine-clad hills three thousand feet high. A wicked devil's
thumb nail of rock shot up a hundred feet in midstream. A sand-bar of
blinding white sand gave promise of flat country that the next bend
denied; for, lo! we were running under a triple tier of fortifications,
lava-topped, pine-clothed, and terrible. Behind them the white dome of
Mount Hood ran fourteen thousand feet into the blue, and at their feet
the river threshed among a belt of cottonwood trees. There I sat down
and looked at California half out of the boat in his anxiety to see both
sides of the river at once. He had seen my note-book, and it offended
him. "Young feller, let her go--and you shut your head. It's not you nor
anybody like you can put this down. Black, the novelist, he could. He
can describe salmon-fishing, _he_ can." And he glared at me as though he
expected me to go and do likewise.

"I can't. I know it," I said humbly.

"Then thank God that you came along this way."

We reached a little railway, on an island, which was to convey us to a
second steamer, because, as the purser explained, the river was "a
trifle broken." We had a six-mile run, sitting in the sunshine on a
dummy wagon, whirled just along the edge of the river-bluffs. Sometimes
we dived into the fragrant pine woods, ablaze with flowers; but we
generally watched the river now narrowed into a turbulent millrace. Just
where the whole body of water broke in riot over a series of cascades,
the United States Government had chosen to build a lock for steamers,
and the stream was one boiling, spouting mob of water. A log shot down
the race, struck on a rock, split from end to end, and rolled over in
white foam. I shuddered because my toes were not more than sixty feet
above the log, and I feared that a stray splinter might have found me.
But the train ran into the river on a sort of floating trestle, and I
was upon another steamer ere I fully understood why. The cascades were
not two hundred yards below us, and when we cast off to go upstream, the
rush of the river, ere the wheel struck the water, dragged us as though
we had been towed. Then the country opened out; and California mourned
for his lost bluffs and crags, till we struck a rock wall four hundred
feet high, crowned by the gigantic figure of a man watching us. On a
rocky island we saw the white tomb of an old-time settler who had made
his money in San Francisco, but had chosen to be buried in an Indian
burying-ground. A decayed wooden "wickyup," where the bones of the
Indian dead are laid, almost touched the tomb. The river ran into a
canal of basaltic rock, painted in yellow, vermilion, and green by
Indians and, by inferior brutes, adorned with advertisements of "bile
beans." We had reached The Dalles--the centre of a great sheep and wool
district, and the head of navigation.

When an American arrives at a new town it is his bounden duty to "take
it in." California swung his coat over his shoulder with the gesture of
a man used to long tramps, and together, at eight in the evening, we
explored The Dalles. The sun had not yet set, and it would be light for
at least another hour. All the inhabitants seemed to own a little villa
and one church apiece. The young men were out walking with the young
maidens, the old folks were sitting on the front steps,--not the ones
that led to the religiously shuttered best drawing-room, but the
side-front-steps,--and the husbands and wives were tying back pear trees
or gathering cherries. A scent of hay reached me, and in the stillness
we could hear the cattle bells as the cows came home across the
lava-sprinkled fields. California swung down the wooden pavements,
audibly criticising the housewives' hollyhocks and the more perfect ways
of pear-grafting, and, as the young men and maidens passed, giving
quaint stories of his youth. I felt that I knew all the people
aforetime, I was so interested in them and their life. A woman hung over
a gate talking to another woman, and as I passed I heard her say,
"skirts," and again, "skirts," and "I'll send you over the pattern"; and
I knew they were talking dress. We stumbled upon a young couple saying
good-by in the twilight, and "When shall I see you again?" quoth he; and
I understood that to the doubting heart the tiny little town we paraded
in twenty minutes might be as large as all London and as impassable as
an armed camp. I gave them both my blessing, because "When shall I see
you again?" is a question that lies very near to hearts of all the
world. The last garden gate shut with a click that travelled far down
the street, and the lights of the comfortable families began to shine in
the confidingly uncurtained windows.

"Say, Johnny Bull, doesn't all this make you feel lonesome?" said
California. "Have you got any folks at home? So've I--a wife and five
children--and I'm only on a holiday."

"And I'm only on a holiday," I said, and we went back to the
Spittoon-wood Hotel. Alas! for the peace and purity of the little town
that I had babbled about. At the back of a shop, and discreetly
curtained, was a room where the young men who had been talking to the
young maidens could play poker and drink and swear, and on the shop were
dime novels of bloodshed to corrupt the mind of the little boy, and
prurient servant-girl-slush yarns to poison the mind of the girl.
California only laughed grimly. He said that all these little one-house
towns were pretty much the same all over the States.

That night I dreamed I was back in India with no place to sleep in;
tramping up and down the Station mall and asking everybody, "When shall
I see you again?"



No. XXVII

SHOWS HOW I CAUGHT SALMON IN THE CLACKAMAS.

    "The race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong; but
    time and chance cometh to all."


I have lived! The American Continent may now sink under the sea, for I
have taken the best that it yields, and the best was neither dollars,
love, nor real estate. Hear now, gentlemen of the Punjab Fishing Club,
who whip the reaches of the Tavi, and you who painfully import trout to
Ootacamund, and I will tell you how "old man California" and I went
fishing, and you shall envy. We returned from The Dalles to Portland by
the way we had come, the steamer stopping _en route_ to pick up a
night's catch of one of the salmon wheels on the river, and to deliver
it at a cannery down-stream. When the proprietor of the wheel announced
that his take was two thousand two hundred and thirty pounds' weight of
fish, "and not a heavy catch, neither," I thought he lied. But he sent
the boxes aboard, and I counted the salmon by the hundred--huge
fifty-pounders, hardly dead, scores of twenty and thirty-pounders, and a
host of smaller fish.

The steamer halted at a rude wooden warehouse built on piles in a lonely
reach of the river, and sent in the fish. I followed them up a
scale-strewn, fishy incline that led to the cannery. The crazy building
was quivering with the machinery on its floors, and a glittering bank
of tin-scraps twenty feet high showed where the waste was thrown after
the cans had been punched. Only Chinamen were employed on the work, and
they looked like blood-besmeared yellow devils, as they crossed the
rifts of sunlight that lay upon the floor. When our consignment arrived,
the rough wooden boxes broke of themselves as they were dumped down
under a jet of water, and the salmon burst out in a stream of
quicksilver. A Chinaman jerked up a twenty-pounder, beheaded and
de-tailed it with two swift strokes of a knife, flicked out its internal
arrangements with a third, and cast it into a bloody-dyed tank. The
headless fish leaped from under his hands as though they were facing a
rapid. Other Chinamen pulled them from the vat and thrust them under a
thing like a chaff-cutter, which, descending, hewed them into unseemly
red gobbets fit for the can. More Chinamen with yellow, crooked fingers,
jammed the stuff into the cans, which slid down some marvellous machine
forthwith, soldering their own tops as they passed. Each can was hastily
tested for flaws, and then sunk, with a hundred companions, into a vat
of boiling water, there to be half cooked for a few minutes. The cans
bulged slightly after the operation, and were therefore slidden along by
the trolleyful to men with needles and soldering irons, who vented them,
and soldered the aperture. Except for the label, the "finest Columbia
salmon" was ready for the market. I was impressed, not so much with the
speed of the manufacture, as the character of the factory. Inside, on a
floor ninety by forty, the most civilised and murderous of machinery.
Outside, three footsteps, the thick-growing pines and the immense
solitude of the hills. Our steamer only stayed twenty minutes at that
place, but I counted two hundred and forty finished cans, made from the
catch of the previous night, ere I left the slippery, blood-stained,
scale-spangled, oily floors, and the offal-smeared Chinamen.

We reached Portland, California and I, crying for salmon, and the
real-estate man, to whom we had been intrusted by "Portland" the
insurance man, met us in the street saying that fifteen miles away,
across country, we should come upon a place called Clackamas where we
might perchance find what we desired. And California, his coat-tails
flying in the wind, ran to a livery stable and chartered a wagon and
team forthwith. I could push the wagon about with one hand, so light was
its structure. The team was purely American--that is to say, almost
human in its intelligence and docility. Some one said that the roads
were not good on the way to Clackamas and warned us against smashing the
springs. "Portland," who had watched the preparations, finally reckoned
"he'd come along too," and under heavenly skies we three companions of a
day set forth; California carefully lashing our rods into the carriage,
and the bystanders overwhelming us with directions as to the sawmills we
were to pass, the ferries we were to cross, and the sign-posts we were
to seek signs from. Half a mile from this city of fifty thousand souls
we struck (and this must be taken literally) a plank-road that would
have been a disgrace to an Irish village.

Then six miles of macadamised road showed us that the team could move. A
railway ran between us and the banks of the Willamette, and another
above us through the mountains. All the land was dotted with small
townships, and the roads were full of farmers in their town wagons,
bunches of tow-haired, boggle-eyed urchins sitting in the hay behind.
The men generally looked like loafers, but their women were all well
dressed. Brown hussar-braiding on a tailor-made jacket does not,
however, consort with hay-wagons. Then we struck into the woods along
what California called a "_camina reale_,"--a good road,--and Portland a
"fair track." It wound in and out among fire-blackened stumps, under
pine trees, along the corners of log-fences, through hollows which must
be hopeless marsh in the winter, and up absurd gradients. But nowhere
throughout its length did I see any evidence of road-making. There was a
track,--you couldn't well get off it,--and it was all you could do to
stay on it. The dust lay a foot thick in the blind ruts, and under the
dust we found bits of planking and bundles of brushwood that sent the
wagon bounding into the air. Sometimes we crashed through bracken; anon
where the blackberries grew rankest we found a lonely little cemetery,
the wooden rails all awry, and the pitiful stumpy headstones nodding
drunkenly at the soft green mulleins. Then with oaths and the sound of
rent underwood a yoke of mighty bulls would swing down a "skid" road,
hauling a forty-foot log along a rudely made slide. A valley full of
wheat and cherry trees succeeded, and halting at a house we bought ten
pound weight of luscious black cherries for something less than a rupee
and got a drink of icy-cold water for nothing, while the untended team
browsed sagaciously by the roadside. Once we found a wayside camp of
horse-dealers lounging by a pool, ready for a sale or a swap, and once
two sun-tanned youngsters shot down a hill on Indian ponies, their full
creels banging from the high-pommelled saddles. They had been fishing,
and were our brethren therefore. We shouted aloud in chorus to scare a
wild-cat; we squabbled over the reasons that had led a snake to cross a
road; we heaved bits of bark at a venturesome chipmunk, who was really
the little grey squirrel of India and had come to call on me; we lost
our way and got the wagon so beautifully fixed on a steep road that we
had to tie the two hind-wheels to get it down. Above all, California
told tales of Nevada and Arizona, of lonely nights spent out
prospecting, of the slaughter of deer and the chase of men; of woman,
lovely woman, who is a firebrand in a Western city, and leads to the
popping of pistols, and of the sudden changes and chances of Fortune,
who delights in making the miner or the lumberman a quadruplicate
millionnaire, and in "busting" the railroad king. That was a day to be
remembered, and it had only begun when we drew rein at a tiny farmhouse
on the banks of the Clackamas and sought horse-feed and lodging ere we
hastened to the river that broke over a weir not a quarter of a mile
away.

Imagine a stream seventy yards broad divided by a pebbly island, running
over seductive riffles, and swirling into deep, quiet pools where the
good salmon goes to smoke his pipe after meals. Set such a stream amid
fields of breast-high crops surrounded by hills of pines, throw in where
you please quiet water, log-fenced meadows, and a hundred-foot bluff
just to keep the scenery from growing too monotonous, and you will get
some faint notion of the Clackamas.

Portland had no rod. He held the gaff and the whisky. California sniffed
upstream and downstream across the racing water, chose his ground, and
let the gaudy spoon drop in the tail of a riffle. I was getting my rod
together when I heard the joyous shriek of the reel and the yells of
California, and three feet of living silver leaped into the air far
across the water. The forces were engaged. The salmon tore up stream,
the tense line cutting the water like a tide-rip behind him, and the
light bamboo bowed to breaking. What happened after I cannot tell.
California swore and prayed, and Portland shouted advice, and I did all
three for what appeared to be half a day, but was in reality a little
over a quarter of an hour, and sullenly our fish came home with spurts
of temper, dashes head-on, and sarabands in the air; but home to the
bank came he, and the remorseless reel gathered up the thread of his
life inch by inch. We landed him in a little bay, and the spring-weight
checked at eleven and a half pounds. Eleven and one-half pounds of
fighting salmon! We danced a war dance on the pebbles, and California
caught me round the waist in a hug that went near to breaking my ribs
while he shouted: "Partner! Partner! This _is_ glory! Now you catch your
fish! Twenty-four years I've waited for this!"

I went into that icy-cold river and made my cast just above a weir, and
all but foul-hooked a blue and black water-snake with a coral mouth who
coiled herself on a stone and hissed maledictions. The next cast--ah,
the pride of it, the regal splendour of it! the thrill that ran down
from finger-tip to toe! The water boiled. He broke for the spoon and got
it! There remained enough sense in me to give him all he wanted when he
jumped not once but twenty times before the upstream flight that ran my
line out to the last half-dozen turns, and I saw the nickled reel-bar
glitter under the thinning green coils. My thumb was burned deep when I
strove to stopper the line, but I did not feel it till later, for my
soul was out in the dancing water praying for him to turn ere he took my
tackle away. The prayer was heard. As I bowed back, the butt of the rod
on my left hip-bone and the top joint dipping like unto a weeping
willow, he turned, and I accepted each inch of slack that I could by any
means get in as a favour from on High. There be several sorts of success
in this world that taste well in the moment of enjoyment, but I question
whether the stealthy theft of line from an able-bodied salmon who knows
exactly what you are doing and why you are doing it is not sweeter than
any other victory within human scope. Like California's fish, he ran at
me head-on and leaped against the line, but the Lord gave me two hundred
and fifty pairs of fingers in that hour. The banks and the pine trees
danced dizzily round me, but I only reeled--reeled as for life--reeled
for hours, and at the end of the reeling continued to give him the butt
while he sulked in a pool. California was farther up the reach, and with
the corner of my eye I could see him casting with long casts and much
skill. Then he struck, and my fish broke for the weir in the same
instant, and down the reach we came, California and I; reel answering
reel even as the morning stars sung together.

The first wild enthusiasm of capture had died away. We were both at work
now in deadly earnest to prevent the lines fouling, to stall off a
downstream rush for deep water just above the weir, and at the same time
to get the fish into the shallow bay downstream that gave the best
practicable landing. Portland bade us both be of good heart, and
volunteered to take the rod from my hands. I would rather have died
among the pebbles than surrender my right to play and land my first
salmon, weight unknown, on an eight-ounce rod. I heard California, at my
ear it seemed, gasping: "He's a fighter from Fightersville sure!" as his
fish made a fresh break across the stream. I saw Portland fall off a log
fence, break the overhanging bank, and clatter down to the pebbles, all
sand and landing-net, and I dropped on a log to rest for a moment. As I
drew breath the weary hands slackened their hold, and I forgot to give
him the butt. A wild scutter in the water, a plunge and a break for the
head-waters of the Clackamas was my reward, and the hot toil of
reeling-in with one eye under the water and the other on the top joint
of the rod, was renewed. Worst of all, I was blocking California's path
to the little landing-bay aforesaid, and he had to halt and tire his
prize where he was. "The Father of all Salmon!" he shouted. "For the
love of Heaven, get your _trout_ to bank, Johnny Bull." But I could no
more. Even the insult failed to move me. The rest of the game was with
the salmon. He suffered himself to be drawn, skipping with pretended
delight at getting to the haven where I would fain have him. Yet no
sooner did he feel shoal water under his ponderous belly than he backed
like a torpedo-boat, and the snarl of the reel told me that my labour
was in vain. A dozen times at least this happened ere the line hinted he
had given up that battle and would be towed in. He was towed. The
landing-net was useless for one of his size, and I would not have him
gaffed. I stepped into the shallows and heaved him out with a
respectful hand under the gill, for which kindness he battered me about
the legs with his tail, and I felt the strength of him and was proud.
California had taken my place in the shallows, his fish hard held. I was
up the bank lying full length on the sweet-scented grass, and gasping in
company with my first salmon caught, played and landed on an eight-ounce
rod. My hands were cut and bleeding. I was dripping with sweat, spangled
like harlequin with scales, wet from the waist down, nose-peeled by the
sun, but utterly, supremely, and consummately happy. He, the beauty, the
darling, the daisy, my Salmon Bahadur, weighed twelve pounds, and I had
been seven and thirty minutes bringing him to bank! He had been lightly
hooked on the angle of the right jaw, and the hook had not wearied him.
That hour I sat among princes and crowned heads--greater than them all.
Below the bank we heard California scuffling with his salmon, and
swearing Spanish oaths. Portland and I assisted at the capture, and the
fish dragged the spring-balance out by the roots. It was only
constructed to weigh up to fifteen pounds. We stretched the three fish
on the grass,--the eleven and a half, the twelve, and fifteen
pounder,--and we swore an oath that all who came after should merely be
weighed and put back again.

How shall I tell the glories of that day so that you may be interested?
Again and again did California and I prance down that reach to the
little bay, each with a salmon in tow, and land him in the shallows.
Then Portland took my rod, and caught some ten-pounders, and my spoon
was carried away by an unknown leviathan. Each fish, for the merits of
the three that had died so gamely, was hastily hooked on the balance
and flung back, Portland recording the weight in a pocket-book, for he
was a real-estate man. Each fish fought for all he was worth, and none
more savagely than the smallest--a game little six-pounder. At the end
of six hours we added up the list. Total: 16 fish, aggregate weight 142
lbs. The score in detail runs something like this--it is only
interesting to those concerned: 15, 11-1/2, 12, 10, 9-3/4, 8, and so
forth; as I have said, nothing under six pounds, and three ten-pounders.

Very solemnly and thankfully we put up our rods--it was glory enough for
all time--and returned weeping in each other's arms--weeping tears of
pure joy--to that simple bare-legged family in the packing-case house by
the waterside. The old farmer recollected days and nights of fierce
warfare with the Indians--"way back in the Fifties," when every ripple
of the Columbia River and her tributaries hid covert danger. God had
dowered him with a queer crooked gift of expression, and a fierce
anxiety for the welfare of his two little sons--tanned and reserved
children who attended school daily, and spoke good English in a strange
tongue. His wife was an austere woman who had once been kindly and
perhaps handsome. Many years of toil had taken the elasticity out of
step and voice. She looked for nothing better than everlasting work--the
chafing detail of housework, and then a grave somewhere up the hill
among the blackberries and the pines. But in her grim way she
sympathised with her eldest daughter, a small and silent maiden of
eighteen, who had thoughts very far from the meals she tended or the
pans she scoured. We stumbled into the household at a crisis; and there
was a deal of downright humanity in that same. A bad, wicked dressmaker
had promised the maiden a dress in time for a to-morrow's railway
journey, and, though the barefooted Georgie, who stood in very wholesome
awe of his sister, had scoured the woods on a pony in search, that dress
never arrived. So with sorrow in her heart, and a hundred Sister Anne
glances up the road, she waited upon the strangers, and, I doubt not,
cursed them for the wants that stood between her and her need for tears.
It was a genuine little tragedy. The mother in a heavy, passionless
voice rebuked her impatience, yet sat bowed over a heap of sewing for
the daughter's benefit. These things I beheld in the long
marigold-scented twilight and whispering night, loafing round the little
house with California, who unfolded himself like a lotus to the moon; or
in the little boarded bunk that was our bedroom, swapping tales with
Portland and the old man. Most of the yarns began in this way: "Red
Larry was a bull-puncher back of Lone County, Montanna," or "There was a
man riding the trail met a jack-rabbit sitting in a cactus," or "'Bout
the time of the San Diego land boom, a woman from Monterey," etc. You
can try to piece out for yourselves what sort of stories they were.

And next day California tucked me under his wing and told me we were
going to see a city smitten by a boom, and catch trout. So we took a
train and killed a cow--she wouldn't get out of the way, and the
locomotive "chanced" her and slew--and crossing into Washington
Territory won the town of Tacoma, which stands at the head of Puget
Sound upon the road to Alaska and Vancouver.

California was right. Tacoma was literally staggering under a boom of
the boomiest. I do not quite remember what her natural resources were
supposed to be, though every second man shrieked a selection in my ear.
They included coal and iron, carrots, potatoes, lumber, shipping, and a
crop of thin newspapers all telling Portland that her days were
numbered. California and I struck the place at twilight. The rude
boarded pavements of the main streets rumbled under the heels of
hundreds of furious men all actively engaged in hunting drinks and
eligible corner-lots. They sought the drinks first. The street itself
alternated five-storey business blocks of the later and more abominable
forms of architecture with board shanties. Overhead the drunken
telegraph, telephone, and electric-light wires tangled on the tottering
posts whose butts were half-whittled through by the knife of the loafer.
Down the muddy, grimy, unmetalled thoroughfare ran a horse-car line--the
metals three inches above road level. Beyond this street rose many
hills, and the town was thrown like a broken set of dominoes over all. A
steam tramway--it left the track the only time I used it--was nosing
about the hills, but the most prominent features of the landscape were
the foundations in brick and stone of a gigantic opera house and the
blackened stumps of the pines. California sized up the town with one
comprehensive glance. "Big boom," said he; and a few instants later:
"About time to step off, _I_ think," meaning thereby that the boom had
risen to its limit, and it would be expedient not to meddle with it. We
passed down ungraded streets that ended abruptly in a fifteen-foot drop
and a nest of brambles; along pavements that beginning in pine-plank
ended in the living tree; by hotels with Turkish mosque trinketry on
their shameless tops, and the pine stamps at their very doors; by a
female seminary, tall, gaunt and red, which a native of the town bade us
marvel at, and we marvelled; by houses built in imitation of the ones on
Nob Hill, San Francisco,--after the Dutch fashion; by other houses
plenteously befouled with jig-saw work, and others flaring with the
castlemented, battlemented bosh of the wooden Gothic school.

"You can tell just about when those fellers had their houses built,"
quoth California. "That one yonder wanted to be _I_talian, and his
architect built him what he wanted. The new houses with the low straddle
roofs and windows pitched in sideways and red brick walls are Dutch.
That's the latest idea. I can read the history of the town." I had no
occasion so to read. The natives were only too glad and too proud to
tell me. The hotel walls bore a flaming panorama of Tacoma in which by
the eye of faith I saw a faint resemblance to the real town. The hotel
stationary advertised that Tacoma bore on its face all the advantages of
the highest civilisation, and the newspapers sang the same tune in a
louder key. The real-estate agents were selling house-lots on unmade
streets miles away for thousands of dollars. On the streets--the rude,
crude streets, where the unshaded electric light was fighting with the
gentle northern twilight--men were babbling of money, town lots, and
again money--how Alf or Ed had done such and such a thing that had
brought him so much money; and round the corner in a creaking boarded
hall the red-jerseyed Salvationists were calling upon mankind to
renounce all and follow their noisy God. The men dropped in by twos and
threes, listened silently for a while, and as silently went their way,
the cymbals clashing after them in vain. I think it was the raw, new
smell of fresh sawdust everywhere pervading the air that threw upon me a
desolating homesickness. It brought back in a moment all remembrances of
that terrible first night at school when the establishment has been
newly whitewashed, and a soft smell of escaping gas mingles with the
odour of trunks and wet overcoats. I was a little boy, and the school
was very new. A vagabond among collarless vagabonds, I loafed up the
street, looking into the fronts of little shops where they sold slop
shirts at fancy prices, which shops I saw later described in the papers
as "great." California had gone off to investigate on his own account,
and presently returned, laughing noiselessly. "They are all mad here,"
he said, "all mad. A man nearly pulled a gun on me because I didn't
agree with him that Tacoma was going to whip San Francisco on the
strength of carrots and potatoes. I asked him to tell me what the town
produced, and I couldn't get anything out of him except those two darned
vegetables. Say, what do you think."

I responded firmly, "I'm going into British territory a little while--to
draw breath."

"I'm going up the Sound, too, for a while," said he, "but I'm coming
back--coming back to our salmon on the Clackamas. A man has been
pressing me to buy real estate here. Young feller, don't you buy real
estate here."

California disappeared with a kindly wave of his overcoat into worlds
other than mine,--good luck go with him for he was a true
sportsman!--and I took a steamer up Puget Sound for Vancouver, which is
the terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway. That was a queer voyage.
The water, landlocked among a thousand islands, lay still as oil under
our bows, and the wake of the screw broke up the unquivering reflections
of pines and cliffs a mile away. 'Twas as though we were trampling on
glass. No one, not even the Government, knows the number of islands in
the Sound. Even now you can get one almost for the asking; can build a
house, raise sheep, catch salmon, and become a king on a small
scale--your subjects the Indians of the reservation, who glide among the
islets in their canoes and scratch their hides monkeywise by the beach.
A Sound Indian is unlovely and only by accident picturesque. His wife
drives the canoe, but he himself is so thorough a mariner that he can
spring up in his cockle-craft and whack his wife over the head with a
paddle without tipping the whole affair into the water. This I have seen
him do unprovoked. I fancy it must have been to show off before the
whites.

Have I told you anything about Seattle--the town that was burned out a
few weeks ago when the insurance men at San Francisco took their losses
with a grin? In the ghostly twilight, just as the forest fires were
beginning to glare from the unthrifty islands, we struck it--struck it
heavily, for the wharves had all been burned down, and we tied up where
we could, crashing into the rotten foundations of a boathouse as a pig
roots in high grass. The town, like Tacoma, was built upon a hill. In
the heart of the business quarters there was a horrible black smudge, as
though a Hand had come down and rubbed the place smooth. I know now what
being wiped out means. The smudge seemed to be about a mile long, and
its blackness was relieved by tents in which men were doing business
with the wreck of the stock they had saved. There were shouts and
counter-shouts from the steamer to the temporary wharf, which was laden
with shingles for roofing, chairs, trunks, provision-boxes, and all the
lath and string arrangements out of which a western town is made. This
is the way the shouts ran:--

"Oh, George! What's the best with you?"

"Nawthin'. Got the old safe out. She's burned to a crisp. Books all
gone."

"'Save anythin'?"

"Bar'l o' crackers and my wife's bonnet. Goin' to start store on them
though."

"Bully for you. Where's that Emporium? I'll drop in."

"Corner what used to be Fourth and Main--little brown tent close to
militia picquet. Sa-ay! We're under martial law, an' all the saloons are
shut down."

"Best for you, George. Some men gets crazy with a fire, an' liquor makes
'em crazier."

"'Spect any creator-condemned son of a female dog who has lost all his
fixin's in a conflagration is going to put ice on his head an' run for
Congress, do you? How'd you like us act?"

The Job's comforter on the steamer retired into himself.

"Oh George" dived into the bar for a drink.

P. S.--Among many curiosities I have unearthed one. It was a Face on the
steamer--a face above a pointed straw-coloured beard, a face with thin
lips and eloquent eyes. We conversed, and presently I got at the ideas
of the Face. It was, though it lived for nine months of the year in the
wilds of Alaska and British Columbia, an authority on the canon law of
the Church of England--a zealous and bitter upholder of the supremacy of
the aforesaid Church. Into my amazed ears, as the steamer plodded
through the reflections of the stars, it poured the battle-cry of the
Church Militant here on earth, and put forward as a foul injustice that
in the prisons of British Columbia the Protestant chaplain did not
always belong to the Church. The Face had no official connection with
the august body, and by force of his life very seldom attended service.

"But," said he, proudly, "I should think it direct disobedience to the
orders of my Church if I attended any other places of worship than those
prescribed. I was once for three months in a place where there was only
a Wesleyan Methodist chapel, and I never set foot in it once, Sir. Never
once. 'Twould have been heresy. Rank heresy."

And as I leaned over the rail methought that all the little stars in the
water were shaking with austere merriment! But it may have been only the
ripple of the steamer, after all.



No. XXVIII

TAKES ME FROM VANCOUVER TO THE YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK.

    "But who shall chronicle the ways
    Of common folk, the nights and days
    Spent with rough goatherds on the snows,
    And travellers come whence no man knows?"


This day I know how a deserter feels. Here in Victoria, a hundred and
forty miles out of America, the mail brings me news from our Home--the
land of regrets. I was enjoying myself by the side of a trout-stream,
and I feel inclined to apologise for every rejoicing breath I drew in
the diamond clear air. The sickness, they said, is heavy with you; from
Rewari to the south good men are dying. Two names come in by the mail of
two strong men dead--men that I dined and jested with only a little time
ago, and it seems unfair that I should be here, cut off from the
chain-gang and the shot-drill of our weary life. After all, there is no
life like it that we lead over yonder. Americans are Americans, and
there are millions of them; English are English; but we of India are Us
all the world over, knowing the mysteries of each other's lives and
sorrowing for the death of a brother. How can I sit down and write to
you of the mere joy of being alive? The news has killed the pleasure of
the day for me, and I am ashamed of myself. There are seventy brook
trout lying in a creel, fresh drawn from Harrison Hot Springs, and they
do not console me. They are like the stolen apples that clinch the fact
of a bad boy's playing truant. I would sell them all, with my heritage
in the woods and air and the delight of meeting new and strange people,
just to be back again in the old galling harness, the heat and the dust,
the gatherings in the evenings by the flooded tennis-courts, the ghastly
dull dinners at the Club when the very last woman has been packed off to
the hills and the four or five surviving men ask the doctor the symptoms
of incubating smallpox. I should be troubled in body, but at peace in
the soul. O excellent and toil-worn public of mine--men of the
brotherhood, griffins new joined from the February troopers, and
gentlemen waiting for your off-reckonings--take care of yourselves and
keep well! It hurts so when any die. There are so few of Us, and we know
one another too intimately.

       *       *       *       *       *

Vancouver three years ago was swept off by fire in sixteen minutes, and
only one house was left standing. To-day it has a population of fourteen
thousand people, and builds its houses out of brick with dressed granite
fronts. But a great sleepiness lies on Vancouver as compared with an
American town: men don't fly up and down the streets telling lies, and
the spittoons in the delightfully comfortable hotel are unused; the
baths are free and their doors are unlocked. You do not have to dig up
the hotel clerk when you want to bathe, which shows the inferiority of
Vancouver. An American bade me notice the absence of bustle, and was
alarmed when in a loud and audible voice I thanked God for it. "Give me
granite--hewn granite and peace," quoth I, "and keep your deal boards
and bustle for yourselves."

The Canadian Pacific terminus is not a very gorgeous place as yet, but
you can be shot directly from the window of the train into the liner
that will take you in fourteen days from Vancouver to Yokohama. The
_Parthia_, of some five thousand tons, was at her berth when I came, and
the sight of the ex-Cunard on what seemed to be a little lake was
curious. Except for certain currents which are not much mentioned, but
which make the entrance rather unpleasant for sailing-boats, Vancouver
possesses an almost perfect harbour. The town is built all round and
about the harbour, and young as it is, its streets are better than those
of western America. Moreover, the old flag waves over some of the
buildings, and this is cheering to the soul. The place is full of
Englishmen who speak the English tongue correctly and with clearness,
avoiding more blasphemy than is necessary, and taking a respectable
length of time to getting outside their drinks. These advantages and
others that I have heard about, such as the construction of elaborate
workshops and the like by the Canadian Pacific in the near future, moved
me to invest in real estate. He that sold it me was a delightful English
Boy who, having tried for the Army and failed, had somehow meandered
into a real-estate office, where he was doing well. I couldn't have
bought it from an American. He would have overstated the case and proved
me the possessor of the original Eden. All the Boy said was: "I give you
my word it isn't on a cliff or under water, and before long the town
ought to move out that way. I'd advise you to take it." And I took it
as easily as a man buys a piece of tobacco. _Me voici_, owner of some
four hundred well-developed pines, a few thousand tons of granite
scattered in blocks at the roots of the pines, and a sprinkling of
earth. That's a town-lot in Vancouver. You or your agent hold to it till
property rises, then sell out and buy more land further out of town and
repeat the process. I do not quite see how this sort of thing helps the
growth of a town, but the English Boy says that it is the "essence of
speculation," so it must be all right. But I wish there were fewer pines
and rather less granite on my ground. Moved by curiosity and the lust of
trout, I went seventy miles up the Canadian Pacific in one of the
cross-Continent cars, which are cleaner and less stuffy than the
Pullman. A man who goes all the way across Canada is liable to be
disappointed--not in the scenery, but in the progress of the country. So
a batch of wandering politicians from England told me. They even went so
far as to say that Eastern Canada was a failure and unprofitable. The
place didn't move, they complained, and whole counties--they said
provinces--lay under the rule of the Roman Catholic priests, who took
care that the people should not be overcumbered with the good things of
this world to the detriment of their souls. My interest was in the
line--the real and accomplished railway which is to throw actual
fighting troops into the East some day when our hold of the Suez Canal
is temporarily loosened.

All that Vancouver wants is a fat earthwork fort upon a hill,--there are
plenty of hills to choose from,--a selection of big guns, a couple of
regiments of infantry, and later on a big arsenal. The raw
self-consciousness of America would be sure to make her think these
arrangements intended for her benefit, but she could be enlightened. It
is not seemly to leave unprotected the head-end of a big railway; for
though Victoria and Esquimalt, our naval stations on Vancouver Island,
are very near, so also is a place called Vladivostok, and though
Vancouver Narrows are strait, they allow room enough for a man-of-war.
The people--I did not speak to more than two hundred of them--do not
know about Russia or military arrangements. They are trying to open
trade with Japan in lumber, and are raising fruit, wheat, and sometimes
minerals. All of them agree that we do not yet know the resources of
British Columbia, and all joyfully bade me note the climate, which was
distinctly warm. "We never have killing cold here. It's the most perfect
climate in the world." Then there are three perfect climates, for I have
tasted 'em--California, Washington Territory, and British Columbia. I
cannot say which is the loveliest.

When I left by steamer and struck across the Sound to our naval station
at Victoria, Vancouver Island, I found in that quite English town of
beautiful streets quite a colony of old men doing nothing but talking,
fishing, and loafing at the Club. That means that the retired go to
Victoria. On a thousand a year pension a man would be a millionnaire in
these parts, and for four hundred he could live well. It was at Victoria
they told me the tale of the fire in Vancouver. How the inhabitants of
New Westminster, twelve miles from Vancouver, saw a glare in the sky at
six in the evening, but thought it was a forest fire; how later bits of
burnt paper flew about their streets, and they guessed that evil had
happened; how an hour later a man rode into the city crying that there
was no Vancouver left. All had been wiped out by the flames in sixteen
minutes. How, two hours later, the Mayor of New Westminster having voted
nine thousand dollars from the Municipal funds, relief-wagons with food
and blankets were pouring into where Vancouver stood. How fourteen
people were supposed to have died in the fire, but how even now when
they laid new foundations the workmen unearth charred skeletons, many
more than fourteen. "That night," said the teller, "all Vancouver was
houseless. The wooden town had gone in a breath. Next day they began to
build in brick, and you have seen what they have achieved."

The sight afar off of three British men-of-war and a torpedo-boat
consoled me as I returned from Victoria to Tacoma and discovered _en
route_ that I was surfeited with scenery. There is a great deal in the
remark of a discontented traveller: "When you have seen a fine forest, a
bluff, a river, and a lake you have seen all the scenery of western
America. Sometimes the pine is three hundred feet high, and sometimes
the rock is, and sometimes the lake is a hundred miles long. But it's
all the same, don't you know. I'm getting sick of it." I dare not say
getting sick. I'm only tired. If Providence could distribute all this
beauty in little bits where people most wanted it,--among you in
India,--it would be well. But it is _en masse_, overwhelming, with
nobody but the tobacco-chewing captain of a river steamboat to look at
it. Men said if I went to Alaska I should see islands even more wooded,
snow-peaks loftier, and rivers more lovely than those around me. That
decided me not to go to Alaska. I went east--east to Montana, after
another horrible night in Tacoma among the men who spat. Why does the
Westerner spit? It can't amuse him, and it doesn't interest his
neighbour.

But I am beginning to mistrust. Everything good as well as everything
bad is supposed to come from the East. Is there a shooting-scrape
between prominent citizens? Oh, you'll find nothing of that kind in the
East. Is there a more than usually revolting lynching? They don't do
that in the East. I shall find out when I get there whether this
unnatural perfection be real.

Eastward then to Montana I took my way for the Yellowstone National
Park, called in the guide-books "Wonderland." But the real Wonderland
began in the train. We were a merry crew. One gentleman announced his
intention of paying no fare and grappled the conductor, who neatly
cross-buttocked him through a double plate-glass window. His head was
cut open in four or five places. A doctor on the train hastily stitched
up the biggest gash, and he was dropped at a wayside station, spurting
blood at every hair--a scarlet-headed and ghastly sight. The conductor
guessed that he would die, and volunteered the information that there
was no profit in monkeying with the North Pacific Railway.

Night was falling as we cleared the forests and sailed out upon a
wilderness of sage brush. The desolation of Montgomery, the wilderness
of Sind, the hummock-studded desert of Bikaneer, are joyous and homelike
compared to the impoverished misery of the sage. It is blue, it is
stunted, it is dusty. It wraps the rolling hills as a mildewed shroud
wraps the body of a long-dead man. It makes you weep for sheer
loneliness, and there is no getting away from it. When Childe Roland
came to the dark Tower he traversed the sage brush.

Yet there is one thing worse than sage unadulterated, and that is a
prairie city. We stopped at Pasco Junction, and a man told me that it
was the Queen City of the Prairie. I wish Americans didn't tell such
useless lies. I counted fourteen or fifteen frame-houses, and a portion
of a road that showed like a bruise on the untouched surface of the blue
sage, running away and away up to the setting sun. The sailor sleeps
with a half-inch plank between himself and death. He is at home beside
the handful of people who curl themselves up o' nights with nothing but
a frail scantling, almost as thin as a blanket, to shut out the
unmeasurable loneliness of the sage.

When the train stopped on the road, as it did once or twice, the solid
silence of the sage got up and shouted at us. It was like a nightmare,
and one not in the least improved by having to sleep in an emigrant-car;
the regularly ordained sleepers being full. There was a row in our car
toward morning, a man having managed to get querulously drunk in the
night. Up rose a Cornishman with a red head full of strategy, and
strapped the obstreperous one, smiling largely as he did so, and a
delicate little woman in a far bunk watched the fray and called the
drunken man a "damned hog," which he certainly was, though she needn't
have put it quite so coarsely. Emigrant cars are clean, but the
accommodation is as hard as a plank bed.

Later we laid our bones down to crossing the Rockies. An American train
can climb up the side of a house if need be, but it is not pleasant to
sit in it. We clomb till we struck violent cold and an Indian
reservation, and the noble savage came to look at us. He was a Flathead
and unlovely. Most Americans are charmingly frank about the Indian. "Let
us get rid of him as soon as possible," they say. "We have no use for
him." Some of the men I meet have a notion that we in India are
exterminating the native in the same fashion, and I have been asked to
fix a date for the final extinguishment of the Aryan. I answer that it
will be a long business. Very many Americans have an offensive habit of
referring to natives as "heathen." Mahometans and Hindus are heathen
alike in their eyes, and they vary the epithet with "pagan" and
"idolater." But this is beside the matter, which is the Stampede
Tunnel--our actual point of crossing the Rockies. Thank Heaven, I need
never take that tunnel again! It is about two miles long, and in effect
is nothing more than the gallery of a mine shored with timber and
lighted with electric lamps. Black darkness would be preferable, for the
lamps just reveal the rough cutting of the rocks, and that is very rough
indeed. The train crawls through, brakes down, and you can hear the
water and little bits of stone falling on the roof of the car. Then you
pray, pray fervently, and the air gets stiller and stiller, and you dare
not take your unwilling eyes off the timber shoring, lest a prop should
fall, for lack of your moral support. Before the tunnel was built you
crossed in the open air by a switchback line. A watchman goes through
the tunnel after each train, but that is no protection. He just guesses
that another train will pull through, and the engine-driver guesses the
same thing. Some day between the two of them there will be a cave in the
tunnel. Then the enterprising reporter will talk about the shrieks and
groans of the buried and the heroic efforts of the Press in securing
first information, and--that will be all. Human life is of small account
out here.

I was listening to yarns in the smoking-compartment of the Pullman, all
the way to Helena, and with very few exceptions, each had for its point,
violent, brutal, and ruffianly murder--murder by fraud and the craft of
the savage--murder unavenged by the law, or at the most by an outbreak
of fresh lawlessness. At the end of each tale I was assured that the old
days had passed away, and that these were anecdotes of five years'
standing. One man in particular distinguished himself by holding up to
admiration the exploits of some cowboys of his acquaintance, and their
skill in the use of the revolver. Each tale of horror wound up with "and
that's the sort of man he was," as who should say: "Go and do likewise."
Remember that the shootings, the cuttings, and the stabbings were not
the outcome of any species of legitimate warfare; the heroes were not
forced to fight for their lives. Far from it. The brawls were bred by
liquor in which they assisted--in saloons and gambling-hells they were
wont to "pull their guns" on a man, and in the vast majority of cases
without provocation. The tales sickened me, but taught one thing. A man
who carries a pistol may be put down as a coward--a person to be shut
out from every decent mess and club, and gathering of civilised folk.
There is neither chivalry nor romance in the weapon, for all that
American authors have seen fit to write. I would I could make you
understand the full measure of contempt with which certain aspects of
Western life have inspired me. Let us try a comparison. Sometimes it
happens that a young, a very young, man, whose first dress-coat is yet
glossy, gets slightly flushed at a dinner-party among his seniors. After
the ladies are gone, he begins to talk. He talks, you will remember, as
a "man of the world" and a person of varied experiences, an authority on
all things human and divine. The grey heads of the elders bow
assentingly to his wildest statement; some one tries to turn the
conversation when what the youngster conceives to be wit has offended a
sensibility; and another deftly slides the decanters beyond him as they
circle round the table. You know the feeling of discomfort--pity mingled
with aversion--over the boy who is making an exhibition of himself. The
same emotion came back to me, when an old man who ought to have known
better appealed from time to time for admiration of his pitiful
sentiments. It was right in his mind to insult, to maim, and to kill;
right to evade the law where it was strong and to trample over it where
it was weak; right to swindle in politics, to lie in affairs of State,
and commit perjury in matters of municipal administration. The car was
full of little children, utterly regardless of their parents, fretful,
peevish, spoilt beyond anything I have ever seen in Anglo-India. They in
time would grow up into men such as sat in the smoker, and had no regard
for the law; men who would conduct papers siding with defiance of any
and every law. But it's of no consequence, as Mr. Toots says.

During the descent of the Rockies we journeyed for a season on a trestle
only two hundred and eighty-six feet high. It was made of iron, but up
till two years ago a wooden structure bore up the train, and was used
long after it had been condemned by the civil engineers. Some day the
iron one will come down, just as Stampede Tunnel will, and the results
will be even more startling.

Late in the night we ran over a skunk--ran over it in the dark.
Everything that has been said about the skunk is true. It is an Awesome
Stink.



No. XXIX

SHOWS HOW YANKEE JIM INTRODUCED ME TO DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS ON THE
BANKS OF THE YELLOWSTONE, AND HOW A GERMAN JEW SAID I WAS NO TRUE
CITIZEN. ENDS WITH THE CELEBRATION OF THE 4TH OF JULY AND A FEW LESSONS
THEREFROM.


Livingstone is a town of two thousand people, and the junction for the
little side-line that takes you to the Yellowstone National Park. It
lies in a fold of the prairie, and behind it is the Yellowstone River
and the gate of the mountains through which the river flows. There is
one street in the town, where the cowboy's pony and the little foal of
the brood-mare in the buggy rest contentedly in the blinding sunshine
while the cowboy gets himself shaved at the only other barber's shop,
and swaps lies at the bar. I exhausted the town, including the saloons,
in ten minutes, and got away on the rolling grass downs where I threw
myself to rest. Directly under the hill I was on, swept a drove of
horses in charge of two mounted men. That was a picture I shall not soon
forget. A light haze of dust went up from the hoof-trodden green,
scarcely veiling the unfettered deviltries of three hundred horses who
very much wanted to stop and graze. "Yow! Yow! Yow!" yapped the mounted
men in chorus like coyotes. The column moved forward at a trot, divided
as it met a hillock and scattered into fan shape all among the suburbs
of Livingstone. I heard the "snick" of a stock whip, half a dozen "Yow,
yows," and the mob had come together again, and, with neighing and
whickering and squealing and a great deal of kicking on the part of the
youngsters, rolled like a wave of brown water toward the uplands.

I was within twenty feet of the leader, a grey stallion--lord of many
brood-mares all deeply concerned for the welfare of their fuzzy foals. A
cream-coloured beast--I knew him at once for the bad character of the
troop--broke back, taking with him some frivolous fillies. I heard the
snick of the whips somewhere in the dust, and the fillies came back at a
canter, very shocked and indignant. On the heels of the last rode both
the stockmen--picturesque ruffians who wanted to know "what in hell" I
was doing there, waved their hats, and sped down the slope after their
charges. When the noise of the troop had died there came a wonderful
silence on all the prairie--that silence, they say, which enters into
the heart of the old-time hunter and trapper and marks him off from the
rest of his race. The town disappeared in the darkness, and a very young
moon showed herself over a bald-headed, snow-flecked peak. Then the
Yellowstone, hidden by the water-willows, lifted up its voice and sang a
little song to the mountains, and an old horse that had crept up in the
dusk breathed inquiringly on the back of my neck. When I reached the
hotel I found all manner of preparation under way for the 4th of July,
and a drunken man with a Winchester rifle over his shoulder patrolling
the sidewalk. I do not think he wanted any one. He carried the gun as
other folk carry walking-sticks. None the less I avoided the direct line
of fire and listened to the blasphemies of miners and stockmen till far
into the night. In every bar-room lay a copy of the local paper, and
every copy impressed it upon the inhabitants of Livingstone that they
were the best, finest, bravest, richest, and most progressive town of
the most progressive nation under Heaven; even as the Tacoma and
Portland papers had belauded their readers. And yet, all my purblind
eyes could see was a grubby little hamlet full of men without clean
collars and perfectly unable to get through one sentence unadorned by
three oaths. They raise horses and minerals round and about Livingstone,
but they behave as though they raised cherubims with diamonds in their
wings.

From Livingstone the National Park train follows the Yellowstone River
through the gate of the mountains and over arid volcanic country. A
stranger in the cars saw me look at the ideal trout-stream below the
windows and murmured softly: "Lie off at Yankee Jim's if you want good
fishing." They halted the train at the head of a narrow valley, and I
leaped literally into the arms of Yankee Jim, sole owner of a log hut,
an indefinite amount of hay-ground, and constructor of twenty-seven
miles of wagon-road over which he held toll right. There was the
hut--the river fifty yards away, and the polished line of metals that
disappeared round a bluff. That was all. The railway added the finishing
touch to the already complete loneliness of the place. Yankee Jim was a
picturesque old man with a talent for yarns that Ananias might have
envied. It seemed to me, presumptuous in my ignorance, that I might
hold my own with the old-timer if I judiciously painted up a few lies
gathered in the course of my wanderings. Yankee Jim saw every one of my
tales and went fifty better on the spot. He dealt in bears and
Indians--never less than twenty of each; had known the Yellowstone
country for years, and bore upon his body marks of Indian arrows; and
his eyes had seen a squaw of the Crow Indians burned alive at the stake.
He said she screamed considerable. In one point did he speak the
truth--as regarded the merits of that particular reach of the
Yellowstone. He said it was alive with trout. It was. I fished it from
noon till twilight, and the fish bit at the brown hook as though never a
fat trout-fly had fallen on the water. From pebbly reaches, quivering in
the heat-haze where the foot caught on stumps cut foursquare by the
chisel-tooth of the beaver; past the fringe of the water-willow crowded
with the breeding trout-fly and alive with toads and water-snakes; over
the drifted timber to the grateful shadow of big trees that darkened the
holes where the fattest fish lay, I worked for seven hours. The mountain
flanks on either side of the valley gave back the heat as the desert
gives it, and the dry sand by the railway track, where I found a
rattlesnake, was hot-iron to the touch. But the trout did not care for
the heat. They breasted the boiling river for my fly and they got it. I
simply dare not give my bag. At the fortieth trout I gave up counting,
and I had leached the fortieth in less than two hours. They were small
fish,--not one over two pounds,--but they fought like small tigers, and
I lost three flies before I could understand their methods of escape. Ye
gods! That was fishing, though it peeled the skin from my nose in
strips.

At twilight Yankee Jim bore me off, protesting, to supper in the hut.
The fish had prepared me for any surprise, wherefore when Yankee Jim
introduced me to a young woman of five-and-twenty, with eyes like the
deep-fringed eyes of the gazelle, and "on the neck the small head
buoyant, like a bell-flower in its bed," I said nothing. It was all in
the day's events. She was California-raised, the wife of a man who owned
a stock-farm "up the river a little ways," and, with her husband, tenant
of Yankee Jim's shanty. I know she wore list slippers and did not wear
stays; but I know also that she was beautiful by any standard of beauty,
and that the trout she cooked were fit for a king's supper. And after
supper strange men loafed up in the dim delicious twilight, with the
little news of the day--how a heifer had "gone strayed" from
Nicholson's; how the widow at Grant's Fork wouldn't part with a little
hayland nohow, though "she's an' her big brothers can't manage more than
ha-af their land now. She's so darned proud." Diana of the Crossways
entertained them in queenly wise, and her husband and Yankee Jim bade
them sit right down and make themselves at home. Then did Yankee Jim
uncurl his choicest lies on Indian warfare aforetime; then did the
whisky-flask circle round the little crowd; then did Diana's husband
'low that he was quite handy with the lariat, but had seen men rope a
steer by any foot or horn indicated; then did Diana unburden herself
about her neighbours. The nearest house was three miles away, "but the
women aren't nice, neighbourly folk. They talk so. They haven't got
anything else to do seemingly. If a woman goes to a dance and has a good
time, they talk, and if she wears a silk dress, they want to know how
jest ranchin' folks--folk on a ranche--come by such things; and they
make mischief down all the lands here from Gardiner City way back up to
Livingstone. They're mostly Montanna raised, and they haven't been
nowheres. Ah, how they talk!" "Were things like this," demanded Diana,
"in the big world outside, whence I had come?" "Yes," I said, "things
were very much the same all over the world," and I thought of a far-away
station in India where new dresses and the having of good times at
dances raised cackle more grammatical perhaps, but no less venomous than
the gossip of the "Montanna-raised" folk on the ranches of the
Yellowstone.

Next morn I fished again and listened to Diana telling the story of her
life. I forget what she told me, but I am distinctly aware that she had
royal eyes and a mouth that the daughter of a hundred earls might have
envied--so small and so delicately cut it was. "An' you come back an'
see us again," said the simple-minded folk. "Come back an' we'll show
you how to catch six-pound trout at the head of the cañon."

To-day I am in the Yellowstone Park, and I wish I were dead. The train
halted at Cinnabar station, and we were decanted, a howling crowd of us,
into stages, variously horsed, for the eight-mile drive to the first
spectacle of the Park--a place called the Mammoth Hot Springs. "What
means this eager, anxious throng?" I asked the driver. "You've struck
one of Rayment's excursion parties--that's all--a crowd of
creator-condemned fools mostly. Aren't you one of 'em?" "No," I said.
"May I sit up here with you, great chief and man with a golden tongue? I
do not know Mister Rayment. I belong to T. Cook and Son." The other
person, from the quality of the material he handles, must be the son of
a sea-cook. He collects masses of Down-Easters from the New England
States and elsewhere and hurls them across the Continent and into the
Yellowstone Park on tour. A brake-load of Cook's Continental tourists
trapezing through Paris (I've seen 'em) are angels of light compared to
the Rayment trippers. It is not the ghastly vulgarity, the oozing,
rampant Bessemer-steel self-sufficiency and ignorance of the men that
revolts me, so much as the display of these same qualities in the
women-folk. I saw a new type in the coach, and all my dreams of a better
and more perfect East died away. "Are these--um--persons here any sort
of persons in their own places?" I asked a shepherd who appeared to be
herding them.

"Why, certainly. They include very many prominent and representative
citizens from seven States of the Union, and most of them are wealthy.
Yes, _sir_. Representative and prominent."

We ran across bare hills on an unmetalled road under a burning sun in
front of a volley of playful repartee from the prominent citizens
inside. It was the 4th of July. The horses had American flags in their
head-stalls, some of the women wore flags and coloured handkerchiefs in
their belts, and a young German on the box-seat with me was bewailing
the loss of a box of crackers. He said he had been sent to the Continent
to get his schooling and so had lost his American accent; but no
Continental schooling writes German Jew all over a man's face and nose.
He was a rabid American citizen--one of a very difficult class to deal
with. As a general rule, praise unsparingly, and without discrimination.
That keeps most men quiet: but some, if you fail to keep up a continuous
stream of praise, proceed to revile the Old Country--Germans and Irish
who are more Americans than the Americans are the chief offenders. This
young American began to attack the English army. He had seen some of it
on parade and he pitied the men in bearskins as "slaves." The citizen,
by the way, has a contempt for his own army which exceeds anything you
meet among the most illiberal classes in England. I admitted that our
army was very poor, had done nothing, and had been nowhere. This
exasperated him, for he expected an argument, and he trampled on the
British Lion generally. Failing to move me, he vowed that I had no
patriotism like his own. I said I had not, and further ventured that
very few Englishmen had; which, when you come to think of it, is quite
true. By the time he had proved conclusively that before the Prince of
Wales came to the throne we should be a blethering republic, we struck a
road that overhung a river, and my interest in "politics" was lost in
admiration of the driver's skill as he sent his four big horses along
that winding road. There was no room for any sort of accident--a shy or
a swerve would have dropped us sixty feet into the roaring Gardiner
River. Some of the persons in the coach remarked that the scenery, was
"elegant." Wherefore, even at the risk of my own life, I did urgently
desire an accident and the massacre of some of the more prominent
citizens. What "elegance" lies in a thousand-foot pile of honey-coloured
rock, riven into peak and battlement, the highest peak defiantly
crowned by an eagle's nest, the eaglet peering into the gulf and
screaming for his food, I could not for the life of me understand. But
they speak a strange tongue.

_En route_ we passed other carriages full of trippers, who had done
their appointed five days in the Park, and yelped at us fraternally as
they disappeared in clouds of red dust. When we struck the Mammoth Hot
Spring Hotel--a huge yellow barn--a sign-board informed us that the
altitude was six thousand two hundred feet. The Park is just a howling
wilderness of three thousand square miles, full of all imaginable freaks
of a fiery nature. An hotel company, assisted by the Secretary of State
for the Interior, appears to control it; there are hotels at all the
points of interest, guide-books, stalls for the sale of minerals, and so
forth, after the model of Swiss summer places.

The tourists--may their master die an evil death at the hand of a mad
locomotive!--poured into that place with a joyful whoop, and, scarce
washing the dust from themselves, began to celebrate the 4th of July.
They called it "patriotic exercises"; elected a clergyman of their own
faith as president, and, sitting on the landing of the first floor,
began to make speeches and read the Declaration of Independence. The
clergyman rose up and told them they were the greatest, freest,
sublimest, most chivalrous, and richest people on the face of the earth,
and they all said Amen. Another clergyman asserted in the words of the
Declaration that all men were created equal, and equally entitled to
Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. I should like to know
whether the wild and woolly West recognises this first right as freely
as the grantors intended. The clergyman then bade the world note that
the tourists included representatives of seven of the New England
States; whereat I felt deeply sorry for the New England States in their
latter days. He opined that this running to and fro upon the earth,
under the auspices of the excellent Rayment, would draw America more
closely together, especially when the Westerners remembered the perils
that they of the East had surmounted by rail and river. At duly
appointed intervals the congregation sang "My country, 'tis of thee" to
the tune of "God save the Queen" (here they did not stand up) and the
"Star-Spangled Banner" (here they did), winding up the exercise with
some doggrel of their own composition to the tune of "John Brown's
Body," movingly setting forth the perils before alluded to. They then
adjourned to the verandahs and watched fire-crackers of the feeblest,
exploding one by one, for several hours.

What amazed me was the calm with which these folks gathered together and
commenced to belaud their noble selves, their country, and their
"institootions" and everything else that was theirs. The language was,
to these bewildered ears, wild advertisement, gas, bunkum, blow,
anything you please beyond the bounds of common sense. An archangel,
selling town-lots on the Glassy Sea, would have blushed to the tips of
his wings to describe his property in similar terms. Then they gathered
round the pastor and told him his little sermon was "perfectly
glorious," really grand, sublime, and so forth, and he bridled
ecclesiastically. At the end a perfectly unknown man attacked me and
asked me what I thought of American patriotism. I said there was
nothing like it in the Old Country. By the way, always tell an American
this. It soothes him.

Then said he: "Are you going to get out your letters,--your letters of
naturalisation?"

"Why?" I asked.

"I presoom you do business in this country, and make money out of
it,--and it seems to me that it would be your dooty."

"Sir," said I, sweetly, "there is a forgotten little island across the
seas called England. It is not much bigger than the Yellowstone Park. In
that island a man of your country could work, marry, make his fortune or
twenty fortunes, and die. Throughout his career not one soul would ask
him whether he were a British subject or a child of the Devil. Do you
understand?"

I think he did, because he said something about "Britishers" which
wasn't complimentary.



No. XXX

SHOWS HOW I ENTERED MAZANDERAN OF THE PERSIANS AND SAW DEVILS OF EVERY
COLOUR, AND SOME TROOPERS. HELL AND THE OLD LADY FROM CHICAGO. THE
CAPTAIN AND THE LIEUTENANT.

    "That desolate land and lone
    Where the Big Horn and Yellowstone
    Roar down their mountain path."


Twice have I written this letter from end to end. Twice have I torn it
up, fearing lest those across the water should say that I had gone mad
on a sudden. Now we will begin for the third time quite solemnly and
soberly. I have been through the Yellowstone National Park in a buggy,
in the company of an adventurous old lady from Chicago and her husband,
who disapproved of scenery as being "ongodly." I fancy it scared them.

We began, as you know, with the Mammoth Hot Springs. They are only a
gigantic edition of those pink and white terraces not long ago destroyed
by earthquake in New Zealand. At one end of the little valley in which
the hotel stands the lime-laden springs that break from the pine-covered
hillsides have formed a frozen cataract of white, lemon, and palest pink
formation, through and over and in which water of the warmest bubbles
and drips and trickles from pale-green lagoon to exquisitely fretted
basin. The ground rings hollow as a kerosene-tin, and some day the
Mammoth Hotel, guests and all, will sink into the caverns below and be
turned into a stalactite. When I set foot on the first of the terraces,
a tourist-trampled ramp of scabby grey stuff, I met a stream of iron-red
hot water which ducked into a hole like a rabbit. Followed a gentle
chuckle of laughter, and then a deep, exhausted sigh from nowhere in
particular. Fifty feet above my head a jet of steam rose up and died out
in the blue. It was worse than the boiling mountain at Myanoshita. The
dirty white deposit gave place to lime whiter than snow; and I found a
basin which some learned hotel-keeper has christened Cleopatra's
pitcher, or Mark Antony's whisky-jug, or something equally poetical. It
was made of frosted silver; it was filled with water as clear as the
sky. I do not know the depth of that wonder. The eye looked down beyond
grottoes and caves of beryl into an abyss that communicated directly
with the central fires of earth. And the pool was in pain, so that it
could not refrain from talking about it; muttering and chattering and
moaning. From the lips of the lime-ledges, forty feet under water,
spurts of silver bubbles would fly up and break the peace of the crystal
atop. Then the whole pool would shake and grow dim, and there were
noises. I removed myself only to find other pools all equally unhappy,
rifts in the ground, full of running, red-hot water, slippery sheets of
deposit overlaid with greenish grey hot water, and here and there
pit-holes dry as a rifled tomb in India, dusty and waterless. Elsewhere
the infernal waters had first boiled dead and then embalmed the pines
and underwood, or the forest trees had taken heart and smothered up a
blind formation with greenery, so that it was only by scraping the earth
you could tell what fires had raged beneath. Yet the pines will win the
battle in years to come, because Nature, who first forges all her work
in her great smithies, has nearly finished this job, and is ready to
temper it in the soft brown earth. The fires are dying down; the hotel
is built where terraces have overflowed into flat wastes of deposit; the
pines have taken possession of the high ground whence the terraces first
started. Only the actual curve of the cataract stands clear, and it is
guarded by soldiers who patrol it with loaded six-shooters, in order
that the tourist may not bring up fence-rails and sink them in a pool,
or chip the fretted tracery of the formations with a geological hammer,
or, walking where the crust is too thin, foolishly cook himself.

I manoeuvred round those soldiers. They were cavalry in a very
slovenly uniform, dark-blue blouse, and light-blue trousers unstrapped,
cut spoon-shape over the boot; cartridge belt, revolver, peaked cap, and
worsted gloves--black buttons! By the mercy of Allah I opened
conversation with a spectacled Scot. He had served the Queen in the
Marines and a Line regiment, and the "go-fever" being in his bones, had
drifted to America, there to serve Uncle Sam. We sat on the edge of an
extinct little pool, that under happier circumstances would have grown
into a geyser, and began to discuss things generally. To us appeared yet
another soldier. No need to ask his nationality or to be told that the
troop called him "The Henglishman." A cockney was he, who had seen
something of warfare in Egypt, and had taken his discharge from a
Fusilier regiment not unknown to you.

"And how do things go?"

"Very much as you please," said they. "There's not half the discipline
here that there is in the Queen's service--not half--nor the work
either, but what there is, is rough work. Why, there's a sergeant now
with a black eye that one of our men gave him. They won't say anything
about that, of course. Our punishments? Fines mostly, and then if you
carry on too much you go to the cooler--that's the clink. Yes, Sir.
Horses? Oh, they're devils, these Montanna horses. Bronchos mostly. We
don't slick 'em up for parade--not much. And the amount of schooling
that you put into one English troop-horse would be enough for a whole
squadron of these creatures. You'll meet more troopers further up the
Park. Go and look at their horses and their turnouts. I fancy it'll
startle you. I'm wearing a made tie and a breastpin under my blouse? Of
course I am! I can wear anything I darn please. We aren't particular
here. I shouldn't dare come on parade--no, nor yet fatigue duty--in this
condition in the Old Country; but it don't matter here. But don't you
forget, Sir, that it's taught me how to trust to myself, and my shooting
irons. I don't want fifty orders to move me across the Park, and catch a
poacher. Yes, they poach here. Men come in with an outfit and ponies,
smuggle in a gun or two, and shoot the bison. If you interfere, they
shoot at you. Then you confiscate all their outfit and their ponies. We
have a pound full of them now down below. There's our Captain over
yonder. Speak to him if you want to know anything special. This service
isn't a patch on the Old Country's service; but you look, if it was
worked up it would be just a Hell of a service. But these citizens
despise us, and they put us on to road-mending, and such like. 'Nough to
ruin any army."

To the Captain I addressed myself after my friends had gone. They told
me that a good many American officers dressed by the French army. The
Captain certainly might have been mistaken for a French officer of light
cavalry, and he had more than the courtesy of a Frenchman. Yes, he had
read a good deal about our Indian border warfare, and had been much
struck with the likeness it bore to Red Indian warfare. I had better,
when I reached the next cavalry post, scattered between two big geyser
basins, introduce myself to a Captain and Lieutenant. They could show me
things. He himself was devoting all his time to conserving the terraces,
and surreptitiously running hot water into dried-up basins that fresh
pools might form. "I get very interested in that sort of thing. It's not
duty, but it's what I'm put here for." And then he began to talk of his
troop as I have heard his brethren in India talk. Such a troop! Built up
carefully, and watched lovingly; "not a man that I'd wish to exchange,
and, what's more, I believe not a man that would wish to leave on his
own account. We're different, I believe, from the English. Your officers
value the horses; we set store on the men. We train them more than we do
the horses."

Of the American trooper I will tell you more hereafter. He is not a
gentleman to be trifled with.

Next dawning, entering a buggy of fragile construction, with the old
people from Chicago, I embarked on my perilous career. We ran straight
up a mountain till we could see, sixty miles away, the white houses of
Cook City on another mountain, and the whiplash-like trail leading
thereto. The live air made me drunk. If Tom, the driver, had proposed to
send the mares in a bee-line to the city, I should have assented, and so
would the old lady, who chewed gum and talked about her symptoms. The
tub-ended rock-dog, which is but the translated prairie-dog, broke
across the road under our horses' feet, the rabbit and the chipmunk
danced with fright; we heard the roar of the river, and the road went
round a corner. On one side piled rock and shale, that enjoined silence
for fear of a general slide-down; on the other a sheer drop, and a fool
of a noisy river below. Then, apparently in the middle of the road, lest
any should find driving too easy, a post of rock. Nothing beyond that
save the flank of a cliff. Then my stomach departed from me, as it does
when you swing, for we left the dirt, which was at least some guarantee
of safety, and sailed out round the curve, and up a steep incline, on a
plank-road built out from the cliff. The planks were nailed at the outer
edge, and did not shift or creak very much--but enough, quite enough.
That was the Golden Gate. I got my stomach back again when we trotted
out on to a vast upland adorned with a lake and hills. Have you ever
seen an untouched land--the face of virgin Nature? It is rather a
curious sight, because the hills are choked with timber that has never
known an axe, and the storm has rent a way through this timber, so that
a hundred thousand trees lie matted together in swathes; and, since each
tree lies where it falls, you may behold trunk and branch returning to
the earth whence they sprang--exactly as the body of man returns--each
limb making its own little grave, the grass climbing above the bark,
till at last there remains only the outline of a tree upon the rank
undergrowth.

Then we drove under a cliff of obsidian, which is black glass, some two
hundred feet high; and the road at its foot was made of black glass that
crackled. This was no great matter, because half an hour before Tom had
pulled up in the woods that we might sufficiently admire a mountain who
stood all by himself, shaking with laughter or rage.

The glass cliff overlooks a lake where the beavers built a dam about a
mile and a half long in a zig-zag line, as their necessities prompted.
Then came the Government and strictly preserved them, and, as you shall
learn later on, they be damn impudent beasts. The old lady had hardly
explained the natural history of beavers before we climbed some
hills--it really didn't matter in that climate, because we could have
scaled the stars--and (this mattered very much indeed) shot down a
desperate, dusty slope, brakes shrieking on the wheels, the mares
clicking among unseen rocks, the dust dense as a fog, and a wall of
trees on either side. "How do the heavy four-horse coaches take it,
Tom?" I asked, remembering that some twenty-three souls had gone that
way half an hour before. "Take it at the run!" said Tom, spitting out
the dust. Of course there was a sharp curve, and a bridge at the bottom,
but luckily nothing met us, and we came to a wooden shanty called an
hotel, in time for a crazy tiffin served by very gorgeous handmaids with
very pink cheeks. When health fails in other and more exciting
pursuits, a season as "help" in one of the Yellowstone hotels will
restore the frailest constitution.

Then by companies after tiffin we walked chattering to the uplands of
Hell. They call it the Norris Geyser Basin on Earth. It was as though
the tide of desolation had gone out, but would presently return, across
innumerable acres of dazzling white geyser formation. There were no
terraces here, but all other horrors. Not ten yards from the road a
blast of steam shot up roaring every few seconds, a mud volcano spat
filth to Heaven, streams of hot water rumbled under foot, plunged
through the dead pines in steaming cataracts and died on a waste of
white where green-grey, black-yellow, and pink pools roared, shouted,
bubbled, or hissed as their wicked fancies prompted. By the look of the
eye the place should have been frozen over. By the feel of the feet it
was warm. I ventured out among the pools, carefully following tracks,
but one unwary foot began to sink, a squirt of water followed, and
having no desire to descend quick into Tophet I returned to the shore
where the mud and the sulphur and the nameless fat ooze-vegetation of
Lethe lay. But the very road rang as though built over a gulf; and
besides, how was I to tell when the raving blast of steam would find its
vent insufficient and blow the whole affair into Nirvana? There was a
potent stench of stale eggs everywhere, and crystals of sulphur crumbled
under the foot, and the glare of the sun on the white stuff was
blinding. Sitting under a bank, to me appeared a young trooper--ex-Cape
mounted Rifles, this man: the real American seems to object to his
army--mounted on a horse half-maddened by the noise and steam and smell.
He carried only the six-shooter and cartridge-belt. On service the
Springfield carbine (which is clumsy) and a cartridge-belt slung
diagonally complete equipment. The sword is no earthly use for Border
warfare and, except at state parades, is never worn. The saddle is the
McClellan tree over a four-folded blanket. Sweat-leathers you must pay
for yourself. And the beauty of the tree is that it necessitates first
very careful girthing and a thorough knowledge of tricks with the
blanket to suit the varying conditions of the horse--a broncho will
bloat in a night if he can get at a bellyful--and, secondly, even more
careful riding to prevent galling. Crupper and breast-band do not seem
to be used,--but they are casual about their accoutrements,--and the bit
is the single, jaw-breaking curb which American war-pictures show us.
That young man was very handsome, and the grey service hat--most like
the under half of a seedy terai--shaded his strong face admirably as his
horse backed and shivered and sidled and plunged all over the road, and
he lectured from his saddle, one foot out of the heavy-hooded stirrup,
one hand on the sweating neck. "He's not used to the Park, this brute,
and he's a confirmed bolter on parade; but we understand each other."
_Whoosh!_ went the steam-blast down the road with a dry roar. Round spun
the troop horse prepared to bolt, and, his momentum being suddenly
checked, reared till I thought he would fall back on his rider. "Oh no;
we've settled that little matter when I was breaking him," said Centaur.
"He used to try to fall back on me. Isn't he a devil? I think you'd
laugh to see the way our regiments are horsed. Sometimes a big Montana
beast like mine has a thirteen-two broncho pony for neighbour, and it's
annoying if you're used to better things. And oh, how you have to ride
your mount! It's necessary; but I can tell you at the end of a long
day's march, when you'd give all the world to ride like a sack, it isn't
sweet to get extra drill for slouching. When we're turned out, we're
turned out for _anything_--not a fifteen-mile trot, but for the use and
behoof of all the Northern States. I've been in Arizona. A trooper there
who had been in India told me that Arizona was like Afghanistan. There's
nothing under Heaven there except horned toads and rattlesnakes--and
Indians. Our trouble is that we only deal with Indians and they don't
teach us much, and of course the citizens look down on us and all that.
As a matter of fact, I suppose we're really only mounted infantry, but
remember we're the best mounted infantry in the world." And the horse
danced a fandango in proof.

"My faith!" said I, looking at the dusty blouse, grey hat, soiled
leather accoutrements, and whalebone poise of the wearer. "If they are
all like you, you are."

"Thanks, whoever you may be. Of course if we were turned into a
lawn-tennis court and told to resist, say, your heavy cavalry, we'd be
ridden off the face of the earth if we couldn't get away. We have
neither the weight nor the drill for a charge. My horse, for instance,
by English standards, is half-broken, and like all the others, he bolts
when we're in line. But cavalry charge against cavalry charge doesn't
happen often, and if it did, well--all our men know that up to a hundred
yards they are absolutely safe behind this old thing." He patted his
revolver pouch. "Absolutely safe from any shooting of yours. What man do
you think would dare to use a pistol at even thirty yards, if his life
depended oh it? Not one of _your_ men. They can't shoot. We can. You'll
hear about that down the Park--further up."

Then he added, courteously: "Just now it seems that the English supply
all the men to the American Army. That's what makes them so good
perhaps." And with mutual expressions of good-will we parted--he to an
outlying patrol fifteen miles away, I to my buggy and the old lady, who,
regarding the horrors of the fire-holes, could only say, "Good Lord!" at
thirty-second intervals. Her husband talked about "dreffel waste of
steam-power," and we went on in the clear, crisp afternoon, speculating
as to the formation of geysers.

"What I say," shrieked the old lady _apropos_ of matters theological,
"and what I say more, after having seen all that, is that the Lord has
ordained a Hell for such as disbelieve his gracious works."

_Nota bene._--Tom had profanely cursed the near mare for stumbling. He
looked straight in front of him and said no word, but the left corner of
his left eye flickered in my direction.

"And if," continued the old lady, "if we find a thing so dreffel as all
that steam and sulphur allowed on the face of the earth, musn't we
believe that there is something ten thousand times more terrible below
prepared un_toe_ our destruction?"

Some people have a wonderful knack of extracting comfort from things. I
am ashamed to say I agreed ostentatiously with the old lady. She
developed the personal view of the matter.

"_Now_ I shall be able to say something to Anna Fincher about her way
of living. Shan't I, Blake?" This to her husband.

"Yes," said he, speaking slowly after a heavy tiffin. "But the girl's a
good girl;" and they fell to arguing as to whether the luckless Anna
Fincher really stood in need of lectures edged with Hell fire (she went
to dances I believe), while I got out and walked in the dust alongside
of Tom.

"I drive blame cur'ous kinder folk through this place," said he. "Blame
cur'ous. 'Seems a pity that they should ha' come so far just to liken
Norris Basin to Hell. 'Guess Chicago would ha' served 'em, speaking in
comparison, jest as good."

We curved the hill and entered a forest of spruce, the path serpentining
between the tree-boles, the wheels running silent on immemorial mould.
There was nothing alive in the forest save ourselves. Only a river was
speaking angrily somewhere to the right. For miles we drove till Tom
bade us alight and look at certain falls. Wherefore we stepped out of
that forest and nearly fell down a cliff which guarded a tumbled river
and returned demanding fresh miracles. If the water had run uphill, we
should perhaps have taken more notice of it; but 'twas only a waterfall,
and I really forget whether the water was warm or cold. There is a
stream here called Firehole River. It is fed by the overflow from the
various geysers and basins,--a warm and deadly river wherein no fish
breed. I think we crossed it a few dozen times in the course of a day.

Then the sun began to sink, and there was a taste of frost about, and we
went swiftly from the forest into the open, dashed across a branch of
the Firehole River and found a wood shanty, even rougher than the last,
at which, after a forty-mile drive, we were to dine and sleep. Half a
mile from this place stood, on the banks of the Firehole River, a
"beaver-lodge," and there were rumours of bears and other cheerful
monsters in the woods on the hill at the back of the building.

In the cool, crisp quiet of the evening I sought that river, and found a
pile of newly gnawed sticks and twigs. The beaver works with the
cold-chisel, and a few clean strokes suffice to level a four-inch bole.
Across the water on the far bank glimmered, with the ghastly white of
peeled dead timber, the beaver-lodge--a mass of dishevelled branches.
The inhabitants had dammed the stream lower down and spread it into a
nice little lake. The question was would they come out for their walk
before it got too dark to see. They came--blessings on their blunt
muzzles, they came--as shadows come, drifting down the stream, stirring
neither foot nor tail. There were three of them. One went down to
investigate the state of the dam; the other two began to look for
supper. There is only one thing more startling than the noiselessness of
a tiger in the jungle, and that is the noiselessness of a beaver in the
water. The straining ear could catch no sound whatever till they began
to eat the thick green river-scudge that they call beaver-grass. I,
bowed among the logs, held my breath and stared with all my eyes. They
were not ten yards from me, and they would have eaten their dinner in
peace so long as I had kept absolutely still. They were dear and
desirable beasts, and I was just preparing to creep a step nearer when
that wicked old lady from Chicago clattered down the bank, an umbrella
in her hand, shrieking: "Beavers, beavers! Young man, whurr are those
beavers? Good Lord! What was that now?"

The solitary watcher might have heard a pistol shot ring through the
air. I wish it had killed the old lady, but it was only the beaver
giving warning of danger with the slap of his tail on the water. It was
exactly like the "phink" of a pistol fired with damp powder. Then there
were no more beavers--not a whisker-end. The lodge, however, was there,
and a beast lower than any beaver began to throw stones at it because
the old lady from Chicago said: "P'raps, if you rattle them up they'll
come out. I do so want to see a beaver."

Yet it cheers me to think I have seen the beaver in his wilds. Never
will I go to the Zoo. That even, after supper--'twere flattery to call
it dinner--a Captain and a Subaltern of the cavalry post appeared at the
hotel. These were the officers of whom the Mammoth Springs Captain had
spoken. The Lieutenant had read everything that he could lay hands on
about the Indian army, especially our cavalry arrangements, and was very
full of a scheme for raising the riding Red Indians--it is not every
noble savage that will make a trooper--into frontier levies--a sort of
Khyber guard. "Only," as he said ruefully, "there is no frontier these
days, and all our Indian wars are nearly over. Those beautiful beasts
will die out, and nobody will ever know what splendid cavalry they can
make."

The Captain told stories of Border warfare--of ambush, firing on the
rear-guard, heat that split the skull better than any tomahawk, cold
that wrinkled the very liver, night-stampedes of baggage-mules, raiding
of cattle, and hopeless stern-chases into inhospitable hills, when the
cavalry knew that they were not only being outpaced but outspied. Then
he spoke of one fair charge when a tribe gave battle in the open and the
troopers rode in swordless, firing right and left with their revolvers
and--it was excessively uncomfy for that tribe. And I spoke of what men
had told me of huntings in Burma, of hill-climbing in the Black Mountain
affair, and so forth.

"Exactly!" said the Captain. "Nobody knows and nobody cares. What does
it matter to the Down-Easter who Wrap-up-his-Tail was?"

"And what does the fat Briton know or care about Boh Hla-Oo?" said I.
Then both together: "Depend upon it, my dear Sir, the army in both
Anglo-Saxon countries is a mischievously underestimated institution, and
it's a pleasure to meet a man who," etc., etc. And we nodded
triangularly in all good will, and swore eternal friendship. The
Lieutenant made a statement which rather amazed me. He said that, on
account of the scarcity of business, many American officers were to be
found getting practical instruction from little troubles among the South
American Republics. When the need broke out they would return. "There is
so little for us to do, and the Republic has a trick of making us hedge
and ditch for our pay. A little road-making on service is not a bad
thing, but continuous navvying is enough to knock the heart out of any
army."

I agreed, and we sat up till two in the morning swapping the lies of
East and West. As that glorious chief Man-afraid-of-Pink-Rats once said
to the Agent on the Reservation: "'Melican officer good man. Heap good
man. Drink me. Drink he. Drink me. Drink he. Drink _he_. Me blind.
_Heap_ good man!"



No. XXXI

ENDS WITH THE CAÑON OF THE YELLOWSTONE. THE MAIDEN FROM NEW
HAMPSHIRE--LARRY--"WRAP-UP-HIS-TAIL"--TOM--THE OLD LADY FROM
CHICAGO--AND A FEW NATURAL PHENOMENA--INCLUDING ONE BRITON.

    "What man would read and read the selfsame faces
    And like the marbles which the windmill grinds,
    Rub smooth forever with the same smooth minds,
    This year retracing last year's every year's dull traces,
    When there are woods and unmanstifled places?"
    --_Lowell._


Once upon a time there was a carter who brought his team and a friend
into the Yellowstone Park without due thought. Presently they came upon
a few of the natural beauties of the place, and that carter turned his
team into his friend's team howling: "Get back o' this, Jim. All Hell's
alight under our noses." And they call the place Hell's Half-acre to
this day. We, too, the old lady from Chicago, her husband, Tom, and the
good little mares came to Hell's Half-acre, which is about sixty acres,
and when Tom said: "Would you like to drive over it?" we said:
"Certainly no, and if you do, we shall report you to the authorities."
There was a plain, blistered and peeled and abominable, and it was given
over to the sportings and spoutings of devils who threw mud and steam
and dirt at each other with whoops and halloos and bellowing curses.
The place smelt of the refuse of the Pit, and that odour mixed with the
clean, wholesome aroma of the pines in our nostrils throughout the day.
Be it known that the Park is laid out, like Ollendorf, in exercises of
progressive difficulty. Hell's Half-acre was a prelude to ten or twelve
miles of geyser formation. We passed hot streams boiling in the forest;
saw whiffs of steam beyond these, and yet other whiffs breaking through
the misty green hills in the far distance; we trampled on sulphur, and
sniffed things much worse than any sulphur which is known to the upper
world; and so came upon a park-like place where Tom suggested we should
get out and play with the geysers.

Imagine mighty green fields splattered with lime beds: all the flowers
of the summer growing up to the very edge of the lime. That was the
first glimpse of the geyser basins. The buggy had pulled up close to a
rough, broken, blistered cone of stuff between ten and twenty feet high.
There was trouble in that place--moaning, splashing, gurgling, and the
clank of machinery. A spurt of boiling water jumped into the air and a
wash of water followed. I removed swiftly. The old lady from Chicago
shrieked. "What a wicked waste!" said her husband. I think they call it
the Riverside Geyser. Its spout was torn and ragged like the mouth of a
gun when a shell has burst there. It grumbled madly for a moment or two
and then was still. I crept over the steaming lime--it was the burning
marl on which Satan lay--and looked fearfully down its mouth. You should
never look a gift geyser in the mouth. I beheld a horrible slippery
slimy funnel with water rising and falling ten feet at a time. Then the
water rose to lip level with a rush and an infernal bubbling troubled
this Devil's Bethesda before the sullen heave of the crest of a wave
lapped over the edge and made me run. Mark the nature, of the human
soul! I had begun with awe, not to say terror. I stepped back from the
flanks of the Riverside Geyser saying: "Pooh! Is that all it can do?"
Yet for aught I knew the whole thing might have blown up at a minute's
notice; she, he, or it being an arrangement of uncertain temper.

We drifted on up that miraculous valley. On either side of us were hills
from a thousand to fifteen hundred feet high and wooded from heel to
crest. As far as the eye could range forward were columns of steam in
the air, misshapen lumps of lime, most like preadamite monsters, still
pools of turquoise blue, stretches of blue cornflowers, a river that
coiled on itself twenty times, boulders of strange colours, and ridges
of glaring, staring white.

The old lady from Chicago poked with her parasol at the pools as though
they had been alive. On one particularly innocent-looking little puddle
she turned her back for a moment, and there rose behind her a
twenty-foot column of water and steam. Then she shrieked and protested
that "she never thought it would ha' done it," and the old man chewed
his tobacco steadily, and mourned for steam power wasted. I embraced the
whitened stump of a middle-sized pine that had grown all too close to a
hot pool's lip, and the whole thing turned over under my hand as a tree
would do in a nightmare. From right and left came the trumpetings of
elephants at play. I stepped into a pool of old dried blood rimmed with
the nodding cornflowers; the blood changed to ink even as I trod; and
ink and blood were washed away in a spurt of boiling sulphurous water
spat out from the lee of a bank of flowers. This sounds mad, doesn't it?

A moonfaced trooper of German extraction--never was Park so carefully
patrolled--came up to inform us that as yet we had not seen any of the
real geysers, that they were all a mile or so up the valley, tastefully
scattered round the hotel in which we would rest for the night. America
is a free country, but the citizens look down on the soldier. _I_ had to
entertain that trooper. The old lady from Chicago would have none of
him; so we loafed along together, now across half-rotten pine logs sunk
in swampy ground, anon over the ringing geyser formation, then knee-deep
through long grass.

"And why did you 'list?" said I.

The moonfaced one's face began to work. I thought he would have a fit,
but he told me a story instead--such a nice tale of a naughty little
girl who wrote love letters to two men at once. She was a simple village
wife, but a wicked "Family Novelette" countess couldn't have
accomplished her ends better. She drove one man nearly wild with her
pretty little treachery; and the other man abandoned her and came West
to forget. Moonface was that man.

We rounded a low spur of hill, and came out upon a field of aching snowy
lime, rolled in sheets, twisted into knots, riven with rents and
diamonds and stars, stretching for more than half a mile in every
direction. In this place of despair lay most of the big geysers who know
when there is trouble in Krakatoa, who tell the pines when there is a
cyclone on the Atlantic seaboard, and who--are exhibited to visitors
under pretty and fanciful names. The first mound that I encountered
belonged to a goblin splashing in his tub. I heard him kick, pull a
shower-bath on his shoulders, gasp, crack his joints, and rub himself
down with a towel; then he let the water out of the bath, as a
thoughtful man should, and it all sank down out of sight till another
goblin arrived. Yet they called this place the Lioness and the Cubs. It
lies not very far from the Lion, which is a sullen, roaring beast, and
they say that when it is very active the other geysers presently follow
suit. After the Krakatoa eruption all the geysers went mad together,
spouting, spurting, and bellowing till men feared that they would rip up
the whole field. Mysterious sympathies exist among them, and when the
Giantess speaks (of her more anon) they all hold their peace.

I was watching a solitary spring, when, far across the fields, stood up
a plume of spun glass, iridescent and superb, against the sky. "That,"
said the trooper, "is Old Faithful. He goes off every sixty-five minutes
to the minute, plays for five minutes, and sends up a column of water a
hundred and fifty feet high. By the time you have looked at all the
other geysers he will be ready to play."

So we looked and we wondered at the Beehive, whose mouth is built up
exactly like a hive; at the Turban (which is not in the least like a
turban); and at many, many other geysers, hot holes, and springs. Some
of them rumbled, some hissed, some went off spasmodically, and others
lay still in sheets of sapphire and beryl.

Would you believe that even these terrible creatures have to be guarded
by the troopers to prevent the irreverent American from chipping the
cones to pieces, or worse still, making the geysers sick? If you take of
soft-soap a small barrelful and drop it down a geyser's mouth, that
geyser will presently be forced to lay all before you and for days
afterwards will be of an irritated and inconsistent stomach. When they
told me the tale I was filled with sympathy. Now I wish that I had
stolen soap and tried the experiment on some lonely little beast of a
geyser in the woods. It sounds so probable--and so human.

Yet he would be a bold man who would administer emetics to the Giantess.
She is flat-lipped, having no mouth, she looks like a pool, fifty feet
long and thirty wide, and there is no ornamentation about her. At
irregular intervals she speaks, and sends up a column of water over two
hundred feet high to begin with; then she is angry for a day and a
half--sometimes for two days. Owing to her peculiarity of going mad in
the night not many people have seen the Giantess at her finest; but the
clamour of her unrest, men say, shakes the wooden hotel, and echoes like
thunder among the hills. When I saw her trouble was brewing. The pool
bubbled seriously, and at five-minute intervals, sank a foot or two,
then rose, washed over the rim, and huge steam bubbles broke on the top.
Just before an eruption the water entirely disappears from view.
Whenever you see the water die down in a geyser-mouth get away as fast
as you can. I saw a tiny little geyser suck in its breath in this way,
and instinct made me retire while it hooted after me.

Leaving the Giantess to swear, and spit, and thresh about, we went over
to Old Faithful, who by reason of his faithfulness has benches close to
him whence you may comfortably watch. At the appointed hour we heard the
water flying up and down the mouth with the sob of waves in a cave. Then
came the preliminary gouts, then a roar and a rush, and that glittering
column of diamonds rose, quivered, stood still for a minute. Then it
broke, and the rest was a confused snarl of water not thirty feet high.
All the young ladies--not more than twenty--in the tourist band remarked
that it was "elegant," and betook themselves to writing their names in
the bottoms of shallow pools. Nature fixes the insult indelibly, and the
after-years will learn that "Hattie," "Sadie," "Mamie," "Sophie," and so
forth, have taken out their hair-pins, and scrawled on the face of Old
Faithful.

The congregation returned to the hotel to put down their impressions in
diaries and note-books which they wrote up ostentatiously in the
verandahs. It was a sweltering hot day, albeit we stood somewhat higher
than the summit of Jakko, and I left that raw pine-creaking caravanserai
for the cool shade of a clump of pines between whose trunks glimmered
tents. A batch of troopers came down the road, and flung themselves
across country into their rough lines. Verily the 'Melican cavalry-man
_can_ ride, though he keeps his accoutrements pig, and his horse
cow-fashion.

I was free of that camp in five minutes--free to play with the heavy
lumpy carbines, to have the saddles stripped, and punch the horses
knowingly in the ribs. One of the men had been in the fight with
"Wrap-up-his-Tail" before alluded to, and he told me how that great
chief, his horse's tail tied up in red calico, swaggered in front of
the United States cavalry, challenging all to single combat. But he was
slain, and a few of his tribe with him. "There's no use in an Indian,
anyway," concluded my friend.

A couple of cowboys--real cowboys, not the Buffalo Bill article--jingled
through the camp amid a shower of mild chaff. They were on their way to
Cook City, I fancy, and I know that they never washed. But they were
picturesque ruffians with long spurs, hooded stirrups, slouch hats, fur
weather-cloths over their knees, and pistol-butts easy to hand.

"The cowboy's goin' under before long," said my friend. "Soon as the
country's settled up he'll have to go. But he's mighty useful now. What
should we do without the cowboy?"

"As how?" said I, and the camp laughed.

"He has the money. We have the know-how. He comes in in winter to play
poker at the military posts. _We_ play poker--a few. When he's lost his
money we make him drunk and let him go. Sometimes we get the wrong man."
And he told a tale of an innocent cowboy who turned up, cleaned out, at
a post, and played poker for thirty-six hours. But it was the post that
was cleaned out when that long-haired Caucasian Ah Sin removed himself,
heavy with everybody's pay, and declining the proffered liquor. "Naow,"
said the historian, "I don't play with no cowboy unless he's a little
bit drunk first."

Ere I departed I gathered from more than one man that significant fact
that _up to one hundred yards_ he felt absolutely secure behind his
revolver.

"In England, I understand," quoth a limber youth from the South, "in
England a man aren't allowed to play with no firearms. He's got to be
taught all that when he enlists. I didn't want much teaching how to
shoot straight 'fore I served Uncle Sam. And that's just where it is.
But you was talking about your horse guards now?"

I explained briefly some peculiarities of equipment connected with our
crackest crack cavalry. I grieve to say the camp roared.

"Take 'em over swampy ground. Let 'em run around a bit an' work the
starch out of 'em, an' then, Almighty, if we wouldn't plug 'em at ease
I'd eat their horses!"

"But suppose they engaged in the open?" said I.

"Engage the Hades. Not if there was a tree-trunk within twenty miles
they _couldn't_ engage in the open!"

Gentlemen, the officers, have you ever seriously considered the
existence on earth of a cavalry who by preference would fight in timber?
The evident sincerity of the proposition made me think hard as I moved
over to the hotel and joined a party exploration, which, diving into the
woods, unearthed a pit pool of burningest water fringed with jet black
sand--all the ground near by being pure white. But miracles pall when
they arrive at the rate of twenty a day. A flaming dragonfly flew over
the pool, reeled and dropped on the water, dying without a quiver of his
gorgeous wings, and the pool said nothing whatever, but sent its thin
steam wreaths up to the burning sky. I prefer pools that talk.

There was a maiden--a very trim maiden--who had just stepped out of one
of Mr. James's novels. She owned a delightful mother and an equally
delightful father, a heavy-eyed, slow-voiced man of finance. The
parents thought that their daughter wanted change. She lived in New
Hampshire. Accordingly, she had dragged them up to Alaska, to the
Yosemite Valley, and was now returning leisurely _via_ the Yellowstone
just in time for the tail-end of the summer season at Saratoga. We had
met once or twice before in the Park, and I had been amazed and amused
at her critical commendation of the wonders that she saw. From that very
resolute little mouth I received a lecture on American literature, the
nature and inwardness of Washington society, the precise value of
Cable's works as compared with "Uncle Remus" Harris, and a few other
things that had nothing whatever to do with geysers, but were altogether
delightful. Now an English maiden who had stumbled on a dust-grimed,
lime-washed, sun-peeled, collarless wanderer come from and going to
goodness knows where, would, her mother inciting her and her father
brandishing his umbrella, have regarded him as a dissolute adventurer.
Not so those delightful people from New Hampshire. They were good enough
to treat me--it sounds almost incredible--as a human being, possibly
respectable, probably not in immediate need of financial assistance.
Papa talked pleasantly and to the point. The little maiden strove
valiantly with the accent of her birth and that of her reading, and
mamma smiled benignly in the background.

Balance this with a story of a young English idiot I met knocking about
inside his high collars, attended by a valet. He condescended to tell me
that "you can't be too careful who you talk to in these parts," and
stalked on, fearing, I suppose, every minute for his social chastity.
Now that man was a barbarian (I took occasion to tell him so), for he
comported himself after the manner of the head-hunters of Assam, who are
at perpetual feud one with another.

You will understand that these foolish tales are introduced in order to
cover the fact that this pen cannot describe the glories of the Upper
Geyser basin. The evening I spent under the lee of the Castle Geyser
sitting on a log with some troopers and watching a baronial keep forty
feet high spouting hot water. If the Castle went off first, they said
the Giantess would be quiet, and _vice versa_; and then they told tales
till the moon got up and a party of campers in the woods gave us all
something to eat.

Next morning Tom drove us on, promising new wonders. He pulled up after
a few miles at a clump of brushwood where an army was drowning. I could
hear the sick gasps and thumps of the men going under, but when I broke
through the brushwood the hosts had fled, and there were only pools of
pink, black, and white lime, thick as turbid honey. They shot up a pat
of mud every minute or two, choking in the effort. It was an uncanny
sight. Do you wonder that in the old days the Indians were careful to
avoid the Yellowstone? Geysers are permissible, but mud is terrifying.
The old lady from Chicago took a piece of it, and in half an hour it
died into lime-dust and blew away between her fingers. All
_maya_,--illusion,--you see! Then we clinked over sulphur in crystals;
there was a waterfall of boiling water; and a road across a level park
hotly contested by the beavers. Every winter they build their dam and
flood the low-lying land; every summer that dam is torn up by the
Government, and for half a mile you must plough axle-deep in water, the
willows brushing into the buggy, and little waterways branching off
right and left. The road is the main stream--just like the Bolan line in
flood. If you turn up a byway, there is no more of you, and the beavers
work your buggy into next year's dam.

Then came soft, turfy forest that deadened the wheels, and two
troopers--on detachment duty--came noiselessly behind us. One was the
Wrap-up-his-Tail man, and we talked merrily while the half-broken horses
bucked about among the trees till we came to a mighty hill all strewn
with moss agates, and everybody had to get out and pant in that thin
air. But how intoxicating it was! The old lady from Chicago clucked like
an emancipated hen as she scuttled about the road cramming pieces of
rock into her reticule. She sent me fifty yards down the hill to pick up
a piece of broken bottle which she insisted was moss agate! "I've some
o' that at home an' they shine. You go get it, young feller."

As we climbed the long path, the road grew viler and viler till it
became without disguise the bed of a torrent; and just when things were
at their rockiest we emerged into a little sapphire lake--but never
sapphire was so blue--called Mary's Lake; and that between eight and
nine thousand feet above the sea. Then came grass downs, all on a
vehement slope, so that the buggy following the new-made road ran on to
the two off-wheels mostly, till we dipped head-first into a ford,
climbed up a cliff, raced along a down, dipped again and pulled up
dishevelled at "Larry's" for lunch and an hour's rest. Only "Larry"
could have managed that school-feast tent on the lonely hillside. Need
I say that he was an Irishman? His supplies were at their lowest ebb,
but Larry enveloped us all in the golden glamour of his speech ere we
had descended, and the tent with the rude trestle-table became a palace,
the rough fare, delicacies of Delmonico, and we, the abashed recipients
of Larry's imperial bounty. It was only later that I discovered I had
paid eight shillings for tinned beef, biscuits, and beer, but on the
other hand Larry had said: "Will I go out an' kill a buffalo?" And I
felt that for me and for me alone would he have done it. Everybody else
felt that way. Good luck go with Larry!

"An' now you'll all go an' wash your pocket-handkerchiefs in that
beautiful hot spring round the corner," said he. "There's soap an' a
washboard ready, an' 'tis not every day that ye can get hot water for
nothing." He waved us large-handedly to the open downs while he put the
tent to rights. These was no sense of fatigue on the body or distance in
the air. Hill and dale rode on the eyeball. I could have clutched the
far-off snowy peaks by putting out my hand. Never was such maddening
air. Why we should have washed pocket-handkerchiefs Larry alone knows.
It appeared to be a sort of religious rite. In a little valley overhung
with gay painted rocks ran a stream of velvet brown and pink. It was
hot--hotter than the hand could bear--and it coloured the boulders in
its course.

There was the maiden from New Hampshire, the old lady from Chicago,
papa, mamma, the woman who chewed gum, and all the rest of them, gravely
bending over a washboard and soap. Mysterious virtues lay in that queer
stream. It turned the linen white as driven snow in five minutes, and
then we lay on the grass and laughed with sheer bliss of being alive.
This have I known once in Japan, once on the banks of the Columbia, what
time the salmon came in and "California" howled, and once again in the
Yellowstone by the light of the eyes of the maiden from New Hampshire.
Four little pools lay at my elbow: one was of black water (tepid), one
clear water (cold), one clear water (hot), one red water (boiling); my
newly washed handkerchief covered them all. We marvelled as children
marvel.

"This evening we shall do the grand cañon of the Yellowstone?" said the
maiden.

"Together?" said I; and she said yes.

The sun was sinking when we heard the roar of falling waters and came to
a broad river along whose banks we ran. And then--oh, then! I might at a
pinch describe the infernal regions, but not the other place. Be it
known to you that the Yellowstone River has occasion to run through a
gorge about eight miles long. To get to the bottom of the gorge it makes
two leaps, one of about one hundred and twenty and the other of three
hundred feet. I investigated the upper or lesser fall, which is close to
the hotel. Up to that time nothing particular happens to the
Yellowstone, its banks being only rocky, rather steep, and plentifully
adorned with pines. At the falls it comes round a corner, green, solid,
ribbed with a little foam and not more than thirty yards wide. Then it
goes over still green and rather more solid than before. After a minute
or two you, sitting upon a rock directly above the drop, begin to
understand that something has occurred; that the river has jumped a huge
distance between solid cliff walls and what looks like the gentle froth
of ripples lapping the sides of the gorge below is really the outcome of
great waves. And the river yells aloud; but the cliffs do not allow the
yells to escape.

That inspection began with curiosity and finished in terror, for it
seemed that the whole world was sliding in chrysolite from under my
feet. I followed with the others round the corner to arrive at the brink
of the cañon: we had to climb up a nearly perpendicular ascent to begin
with, for the ground rises more than the river drops. Stately pine woods
fringe either lip of the gorge, which is--the Gorge of the Yellowstone.

All I can say is that without warning or preparation I looked into a
gulf seventeen hundred feet deep with eagles and fish-hawks circling far
below. And the sides of that gulf were one wild welter of
colour--crimson, emerald, cobalt, ochre, amber, honey splashed with
port-wine, snow-white, vermilion, lemon, and silver-grey, in wide
washes. The sides did not fall sheer, but were graven by time and water
and air into monstrous heads of kings, dead chiefs, men and women of the
old time. So far below that no sound of its strife could reach us, the
Yellowstone River ran--a finger-wide strip of jade-green. The sunlight
took those wondrous walls and gave fresh hues to those that nature had
already laid there. Once I saw the dawn break over a lake in Rajputana
and the sun set over the Oodey Sagar amid a circle of Holman Hunt hills.
This time I was watching both performances going on below me--upside
down you understand--and the colours were real! The cañon was burning
like Troy town; but it would burn for ever, and, thank goodness, neither
pen nor brush could ever portray its splendours adequately. The Academy
would reject the picture for a chromolithograph. The public would scoff
at the letter-press for _Daily Telegraphese_. "I will leave this thing
alone," said I; "'tis my peculiar property. Nobody else shall share it
with me." Evening crept through the pines that shadowed us, but the full
glory of the day flamed in that cañon as we went out very cautiously to
a jutting piece of rock--blood-red or pink it was--that overhung the
deepest deeps of all. Now I know what it is to sit enthroned amid the
clouds of sunset. Giddiness took away all sensation of touch or form;
but the sense of blinding colour remained. When I reached the mainland
again I had sworn that I had been floating. The maid from New Hampshire
said no word for a very long time. She then quoted poetry, which was
perhaps the best thing she could have done.

"And to think that this show-place has been going on all these days an'
none of we ever saw it," said the old lady from Chicago, with an acid
glance at her husband.

"No, only the Injuns," said he, unmoved; and the maiden and I laughed
long. Inspiration is fleeting, beauty is vain, and the power of the mind
for wonder limited. Though the shining hosts themselves had risen
choiring from the bottom of the gorge they would not have prevented her
papa and one baser than himself from rolling stones down those
stupendous rainbow-washed slides. Seventeen hundred feet of steepest
pitch and rather more than seventeen hundred colours for log or boulder
to whirl through! So we heaved things and saw them gather way and bound
from white rock to red or yellow, dragging behind them torrents of
colour, till the noise of their descent ceased and they bounded a
hundred yards clear at the last into the Yellowstone.

"I've been down there," said Tom that evening. "It's easy to get down if
you're careful--just sit and slide; but getting up is worse. An' I
found, down below there, two rocks just marked with a picture of the
cañon. I wouldn't sell those rocks not for fifteen dollars."

And papa and I crawled down to the Yellowstone--just above the first
little fall--to wet a line for good luck. The round moon came up and
turned the cliffs and pines into silver; a two-pound trout came up also,
and we slew him among the rocks, nearly tumbling into that wild river.

       *       *       *       *       *

Then out and away to Livingstone once more. The maiden from New
Hampshire disappeared; papa and mamma with her disappeared. Disappeared,
too, the old lady from Chicago and all the rest, while I thought of all
that I had _not_ seen--the forest of petrified trees with amethyst
crystals in their black hearts; the great Yellowstone Lake where you
catch your trout alive in one spring and drop him into another to boil
him; and most of all of that mysterious Hoodoo region where all the
devils not employed in the geysers live and kill the wandering bear and
elk, so that the scared hunter finds in Death Gulch piled carcasses of
the dead whom no man has smitten. Hoodoo-land with the overhead noises,
the bird and beast and devil-rocks, the mazes and the bottomless
pits,--all these things I missed. On the return road Yankee Jim and
Diana of the Crossways gave me kindly greeting as the train paused an
instant before their door, and at Livingstone whom should I see but Tom
the driver?

"I've done with the Yellowstone and decided to clear out East
somewheres," said he. "Your talkin' about movin' round so gay an'
careless made me kinder restless; I'm movin' out."

Lord forgie us for our responsibility one to another!

"And your partner?" said I.

"Here's him," said Tom, introducing a gawky youth with a bundle; and I
saw those two young men turn their faces to the East.



No. XXXII

OF THE AMERICAN ARMY AND THE CITY OF THE SAINTS. THE TEMPLE, THE BOOK OF
MORMON, AND THE GIRL FROM DORSET. AN ORIENTAL CONSIDERATION OF POLYGAMY.

    "A fool also is full of words: a man cannot tell what shall be;
    and what shall be after him who can tell?"


It has just occurred to me with great force that delightful as these
letters are to myself their length and breadth and depth may be just the
least little bit in the world wearisome to you over there. I will
compress myself rigorously, though I should very much like to deliver a
dissertation on the American Army and the possibilities of its
extension.

The American army is a beautiful little army. Some day, when all the
Indians are happily dead or drunk, it ought to make the finest
scientific and survey corps that the world has ever seen. It does
excellent work now, but there is this defect in its nature: it is
officered, as you know, from West Point, but the mischief of it is that
West Point seems to be created for the purpose of spreading a general
knowledge of military matters among the people. A boy goes up to that
institution, gets his pass, and returns to civil life, so they tell me,
with a dangerous knowledge that he is a sucking Moltke, and may apply
his learning when occasion offers. Given trouble, that man will be a
nuisance, because he is a hideously versatile American to begin with,
as cocksure of himself as a man can be, and with all the racial
disregard for human life to back him through his demi-semi-professional
generalship. In a country where, as the records of the daily papers
show, men engaged in a conflict with police or jails are all too ready
to adopt a military formation, and get heavily shot in a sort of cheap,
half-instructed warfare instead of being decently scared by the
appearance of the military, this sort of arrangement does not seem wise.
The bond between the States is of amazing tenuity. So long as they do
not absolutely march into the District of Columbia, sit on the
Washington statues, and invent a flag of their own, they can legislate,
lynch, hunt negroes through swamps, divorce, railroad, and rampage as
much as ever they choose. They do not need knowledge of their own
military strength to back their genial lawlessness. That Regular Army,
which is a dear little army, should be kept to itself, blooded on
detachment duty, turned into the paths of science, and now and again
assembled at feasts of Freemasons and so forth. It's too tiny to be a
political power. The immortal wreck of the Grand Army of the Republic is
a political power of the largest and most unblushing description. It
ought not to help to lay the foundations of an amateur military power
that is blind and irresponsible....

Be thankful that the balance of this lecture is suppressed, and with it
the account of a "shiveree" which I attended in Livingstone City: and
the story of the editor and the sub-editor (the latter was a pet cougar,
or mountain lion, who used, they said, skilfully to sub-edit disputants
in the office) of the Livingstone daily paper.

Omitting a thousand matters of first importance, let me pick up the
thread of things on a narrow-gauge line that took me down to Salt Lake.
The run between Delhi and Ahmedabad on a May day would have been bliss
compared to this torture. There was nothing but glare and desert and
alkali dust. There was no smoking-accommodation. I sat in the lavatory
with the conductor and a prospector who told stories about Indian
atrocities in the voice of a dreaming child--oath following oath as
smoothly as clotted cream laps the mouth of the jug. I don't think he
knew he was saying anything out of the way, but nine or ten of those
oaths were new to me, and one even made the conductor raise his
eyebrows.

"And when a man's alone mostly, leadin' his horse across the hills, he
gets to talk aloud to himself as it was," said the weather-worn retailer
of tortures. A vision rose before me of this man trampling the Bannack
City trail under the stars--swearing, always swearing!

Bundles of rags that were pointed out as Red Indians, boarded the train
from time to time. Their race privileges allow them free transit on the
platforms of the cars. They mustn't come inside of course, and equally
of course the train never thinks of pulling up for them. I saw a squaw
take us flying and leave us in the same manner when we were spinning
round a curve. Like the Punjabi, the Red Indian gets out by preference
on the trackless plain and walks stolidly to the horizon. He never says
where he is going....

_Salt Lake._ I am concerned for the sake of Mr. Phil Robinson, his soul.
You will remember that he wrote a book called _Saints and Sinners_ in
which he proved very prettily that the Mormon was almost altogether an
estimable person. Ever since my arrival at Salt Lake I have been
wondering what made him write that book. On mature reflection, and after
a long walk round the city, I am inclined to think it was the sun, which
is very powerful hereabouts.

By great good luck the evil-minded train, already delayed twelve hours
by a burnt bridge, brought me to the city on a Saturday by way of that
valley which the Mormons aver their efforts had caused to blossom like
the rose. Some hours previously I had entered a new world where, in
conversation, every one was either a Mormon or a Gentile. It is not
seemly for a free and independent citizen to dub himself a Gentile, but
the Mayor of Ogden--which is the Gentile city of the valley--told me
that there must be some distinction between the two flocks. Long before
the fruit orchards of Logan or the shining levels of the Salt Lake had
been reached that Mayor--himself a Gentile, and one renowned for his
dealings with the Mormons--told me that the great question of the
existence of the power within the power was being gradually solved by
the ballot and by education. "We have," quoth he, "hills round and about
here, stuffed full of silver and gold and lead, and all Hell atop of the
Mormon church can't keep the Gentile from flocking in when that's the
case. At Ogden, thirty miles from Salt Lake, this year the Gentile vote
swamped the Mormon at the Municipal elections, and next year we trust
that we shall be able to repeat our success in Salt Lake itself. In that
city the Gentiles are only one-third of the total population, but the
mass of 'em are grown men, capable of voting. Whereas the Mormons are
cluttered up with children. I guess as soon as we have purely Gentile
officers in the township, and the control of the policy of the city, the
Mormons will have to back down considerable. They're bound to go before
long. My own notion is that it's the older men who keep alive the
opposition to the Gentile and all his works. The younger ones, spite of
all the elders tell 'em, _will_ mix with the Gentile, and read Gentile
books, and you bet your sweet life there's a holy influence working
toward conversion in the kiss of an average Gentile--specially when the
girl knows that he won't think it necessary for her salvation to load
the house up with other woman-folk. I guess the younger generation are
giving sore trouble to the elders. What's that you say about polygamy?
It's a penal offence now under a Bill passed not long ago. The Mormon
has to elect one wife and keep to her. If he's caught visiting any of
the others--do you see that cool and restful brown stone building way
over there against the hillside? That's the penitentiary. He is sent
there to consider his sins, and he pays a fine, too. But most of the
police in Salt Lake are Mormons, and I don't suppose they are too hard
on their friends. I presoom there's a good deal of polygamy practised on
the sly. But the chief trouble is to get the Mormon to see that the
Gentile isn't the doubly-damned beast that the elders represent. Only
get the Gentiles well into the State, and the whole concern is bound to
go to pieces in a very little time."

And the wish being father to the thought, "Why, certainly," said I, and
began to take in the valley of Deseret, the home of the latter-day
saints, and the abode perhaps of as much misery as has ever been
compressed into forty years. The good folk at home will not understand,
but you will, what follows. You know how in Bengal to this day the
child-wife is taught to curse her possible co-wife, ere yet she has gone
to her husband's house? And the Bengali woman has been accustomed to
polygamy for a few hundred years. You know, too, the awful jealousy
between mother wife and barren behind the purdah--the jealousy that
culminates sometimes in the poisoning of the well-beloved son? Now and
again, an Englishwoman employs a high-caste Mussulman nurse, and in the
offices of that hire women are apt to forget the differences of colour,
and to speak unreservedly as twin daughters under Eve's curse. The nurse
tells very strange and awful things. She has, and this the Mormons count
a privilege, been born into polygamy; but she loathes and detests it
from the bottom of her jealous soul. And to the lot of the Bengali
co-wife--"the cursed of the cursed--the daughter of the dunghill--the
scald-head and the barren-mute" (you know the rest of that sweet
commination-service)--one creed, of all the White creeds to-day,
deliberately introduces the white woman taken from centuries of
training, which have taught her that it is right to control the
undivided heart of one man. To quench her most natural rebellion, that
amazing creed and fantastic jumble of Mahometanism, the Mosaical law,
and imperfectly comprehended fragments of Freemasonry, calls to its aid
all the powers of a hell conceived and elaborated by coarse-minded
hedgers and ditchers. A sweet view, isn't it?

All the beauty of the valley could not make me forget it. But the valley
is very fair. Bench after bench of land, flat as a table against the
flanks of the ringing hills, marks where the Salt Lake rested for a
while as it sunk from an inland sea to a lake fifty miles long and
thirty broad. Before long the benches will be covered with houses. At
present these are hidden among the green trees on the dead flat of the
valley. You have read a hundred times how the streets of Salt Lake City
are very broad, furnished with rows of shade trees and gutters of fresh
water. This is true, but I struck the town in a season of great
drouth--that same drouth which is playing havoc with the herds of
Montana. The trees were limp, and the rills of sparkling water that one
reads about were represented by dusty, paved courses. Main Street
appears to be inhabited by the commercial Gentile, who has made of it a
busy, bustling thoroughfare, and, in the eye of the sun, swigs the
ungodly lager and smokes the improper cigar all day long. For which I
like him. At the head of Main Street stand the lions of the place; the
Temple and the Tabernacle, the Tithing House, and the houses of Brigham
Young, whose portrait is on sale in most of the booksellers' shops.
Incidentally it may be mentioned that the late Amir of Utah does not
unremotely resemble His Highness the Amir of Afghanistan, whom these
fortunate eyes have seen. And I have no desire to fall into the hands of
the Amir. The first thing to be seen was, of course, the Temple, the
outward exponent of a creed. Armed with a copy of the Book of Mormon,
for better comprehension, I went to form rash opinions. Some day the
Temple will be finished. It was begun only thirty years ago, and up to
date rather more than three million dollars and a half have been
expended in its granite bulk. The walls are ten feet thick; the edifice
itself is about a hundred feet high; and its towers will be nearly two
hundred. And that is all there is of it, unless you choose to inspect
more closely; always reading the Book of Mormon as you walk. Then the
wondrous puerility, of what I suppose we must call the design, becomes
apparent. These men, directly inspired from on High, heaped stone on
stone and pillar on pillar, without achieving either dignity, relief, or
interest. There is, over the main door, some pitiful scratching in stone
representing the all-seeing eye, the Masonic Grip, the sun, moon, and
stars, and, perhaps, other skittles. The flatness and meanness of the
thing almost makes you weep when you look at the magnificent granite in
blocks strewn abroad, and think of the art that three million dollars
might have called in to the aid of the church. It is as though a child
had said: "Let us draw a great, big, fine house--finer than any house
that ever was,"--and in that desire had laboriously smudged along with a
ruler and pencil, piling meaningless straight lines on compass-drawn
curves, with his tongue following every movement of the inept hand. Then
sat I down on a wheelbarrow and read the Book of Mormon, and behold the
spirit of the book was the spirit of the stone before me. The estimable
Joseph and Hyrum Smith struggling to create a new Bible, when they knew
nothing of the history of Old and New Testament, and the inspired
architect muddling with his bricks--they were brothers. But the book was
more interesting than the building. It is written, and all the world has
read, how to Joseph Smith an angel came down from Heaven with a pair of
celestial gig-lamps, whereby he was marvellously enabled to interpret
certain plates of gold scribbled over with dots and scratches, and
discovered by him in the ground. Which plates Joseph Smith did
translate--only he spelt the mysterious characters "caractors"--and out
of the dots and scratches produced a volume of six hundred closely
printed pages, containing the books of Nephi, first and second, Jacob,
Enos, Jarom, Omni, Mormon, Mosiah, the Record of Zeniff, the book of
Alma Helaman, the third of Nephi, the book of Ether (the whole thing is
a powerful anæsthetic, by the way), and the final book of Mononi. Three
men, of whom one I believe is now living, bear solemn witness that the
angel with the spectacles appeared unto them; eight other men swear
solemnly that they have seen the golden plates of the revelation; and
upon this testimony the book of Mormon stands. The Mormon Bible begins
at the days of Zedekiah, King of Judah, and ends in a wild and weltering
quagmire of tribal fights, bits of revelation, and wholesale cribs from
the Bible. Very sincerely did I sympathise with the inspired brothers as
I waded through their joint production. As a humble fellow-worker in the
field of fiction, I knew what it was to get good names for one's
characters. But Joseph and Hyrum were harder bestead than ever I have
been; and bolder men to boot. They created Teancum and Coriantumy,
Pakhoran, Kishkumen, and Gadianton, and other priceless names which the
memory does not hold; but of geography they wisely steered clear, and
were astutely vague as to the localities of places, because you see they
were by no means certain what lay in the next county to their own. They
marched and countermarched bloodthirsty armies across their pages; and
added new and amazing chapters to the records of the New Testament, and
reorganised the heavens and the earth as it is always lawful to do in
print. But they could not achieve style, and it was foolish of them to
let into their weird Mosaic pieces of the genuine Bible whenever the
labouring pen dropped from its toilsome parody to a sentence or two of
vile, bad English or downright "penny dreadfulism." "And Moses said unto
the people of Israel: 'Great Scott! what air you doing?'" There is no
sentence in the Book of Mormon word for word like the foregoing; but the
general tone is not widely different.

There are the makings of a very fine creed about Mormonism. To begin
with, the Church is rather more absolute than that of Rome. Drop the
polygamy plank in the platform, but on the other hand deal lightly with
certain forms of excess. Keep the quality of the recruits down to a low
mental level and see that the best of the agricultural science available
is in the hands of the Elders, and you have there a first-class engine
for pioneer work. The tawdry mysticism and the borrowings from
Freemasonry serve the low-caste Swede and the Dane, the Welshman and the
Cornish cottar, just as well as a highly organised Heaven.

I went about the streets and peeped into people's front windows, and the
decorations upon the tables were after the manner of the year 1850. Main
Street was full of country folk from the outside come in to trade with
the Zion Mercantile Co-operative Institute. The Church, I fancy, looks
after the finances of this thing, and it consequently pays good
dividends. The faces of the women were not lovely. Indeed, but for the
certainty that ugly persons are just as irrational in the matter of
undivided love as the beautiful, it seemed that polygamy was a blessed
institution for the women, and that only the spiritual power could drive
the hulking, board-faced men into it. The women wore hideous garments,
and the men seemed to be tied up with string. They would market all that
afternoon, and on Sunday go to the praying-place. I tried to talk to a
few of them, but they spoke strange tongues and stared and behaved like
cows. Yet one woman, and not an altogether ugly one, confided to me that
she hated the idea of Salt Lake City being turned into a show-place for
the amusement of the Gentile.

"If we 'ave our own institutions, that ain't no reason why people should
come 'ere and stare at us, his it?"

The dropped "h" betrayed her.

"And when did you leave England?" I said.

"Summer of '84. I am from Dorset," she said. "The Mormon agents was very
good to us, and we was very poor. Now we're better off--my father an'
mother an' me."

"Then you like the State?"

She misunderstood at first. "Oh, I ain't livin' in the state of
polygamy. Not me yet. I ain't married. I like where I am. I've got
things o' my own--and some land."

"But I suppose you will--"

"Not me. I ain't like them Swedes an' Danes. I ain't got nothin' to say
for or against polygamy. It's the Elders' business, an' between you an'
me I don't think it's going on much longer. You'll 'ear them in the
'ouse to-morrer talkin' as if it was spreadin' all over America. The
Swedes they think it _his_. I know it hisn't."

"But you've got your land all right."

"Oh, yes, we've got our land an' we never say aught against polygamy o'
course--father an' mother an' me."

It strikes me that there is a fraud somewhere. You've never heard of the
rice-Christians, have you?

I should have liked to have spoken to the maiden at length, but she
dived into the Zion Co-op. and a man captured me, saying that it was my
bounden duty to see the sights of Salt Lake. These comprised the
egg-shaped Tabernacle, the Beehive, and town houses of Brigham Young;
the same great ruffian's tomb with assorted samples of his wives
sleeping round him (just as the eleven faithful ones sleep round the
ashes of Runjit Singh outside Fort Lahore), and one or two other
curiosities. But all these things have been described by abler pens than
mine. The animal-houses where Brigham used to pack his wives are grubby
villas; the Tabernacle is a shingled fraud, and the Tithing House where
all the revenue returns seem to be made, much resembles a stable. The
Mormons have a paper currency of their own--ecclesiastical bank-notes
which are exchanged for local produce. But the little boys of the place
prefer the bullion of the Gentiles. It is not pleasant to be taken round
a township with your guide stopping before every third house to say:
"That's where Elder so and so kept Amelia Bathershins, his fifth
wife--no, his third. Amelia she was took on after Keziah, but Keziah was
the Elder's pet, an' he didn't dare to let Amelia come across Keziah for
fear of her spilin' Keziah's beauty." The Mussulmans are quite right.
The minute that all the domestic details of polygamy are discussed in
the mouths of the people, that institution is ready to fall. I shook off
my guide when he had told me his very last doubtful tale, and went on
alone. An ordered peace and a perfection of quiet luxury is the note of
the city of Salt Lake. The houses stand in generous and well-groomed
grass-plots, none very much worse or better than their neighbours.
Creepers grow over the house fronts, and there is a very pleasant music
of wind among the trees in the vast empty streets bringing a smell of
hay and the flowers of summer.

On a tableland overlooking all the city stands the United States
garrison of infantry and artillery. The State of Utah can do nearly
anything it pleases until that much-to-be-desired hour when the Gentile
vote shall quietly swamp out Mormonism; but the garrison is kept there
in case of accidents. The big, shark-mouthed, pig-eared, heavy-boned
farmers sometimes take to their creed with wildest fanaticism, and in
past years have made life excessively unpleasant for the Gentile when he
was few in the land. But to-day, so far from killing openly or secretly,
or burning Gentile farms, it is all the Mormon dares do to feebly try to
boycott the interloper. His journals preach defiance to the United
States Government, and in the Tabernacle of a Sunday the preachers
follow suit. When I went down there the place was full of people who
would have been much better for a washing. A man rose up and told them
that they were the chosen of God, the elect of Israel, that they were to
obey their priest, and that there was a good time coming. I fancy that
they had heard all this before so many times it produced no impression
whatever; even as the sublimest mysteries of another Faith lost salt
through constant iteration. They breathed heavily through their noses
and stared straight in front of them--impassive as flatfish.

And that evening I went up to the garrison post--one of the most coveted
of all the army commands--and overlooked the City of the Saints as it
lay in the circle of its forbidding hills. You can speculate a good deal
about the mass of human misery, the loves frustrated, the gentle hearts
broken, and the strong souls twisted from the law of life to a fiercer
following of the law of death, that the hills have seen. How must it
have been in the old days when the footsore emigrants broke through into
the circle and knew that they were cut off from hope of return or sight
of friends--were handed over to the power of the friends that called
themselves priests of the Most High? "But for the grace of God there
goes Richard Baxter," as the eminent divine once said. It seemed good
that fate did not order me to be a brick in the up-building of the
Mormon church, that has so aptly established herself by the borders of a
lake bitter, salt, and hopeless.



No. XXXIII

HOW I MET CERTAIN PEOPLE OF IMPORTANCE BETWEEN SALT LAKE AND OMAHA.

    "Much have I seen,
    Cities and men."


Let there be no misunderstanding about the matter. I love this People,
and if any contemptuous criticism has to be done, I will do it myself.
My heart has gone out to them beyond all other peoples; and for the life
of me I cannot tell why. They are bleeding-raw at the edges, almost more
conceited than the English, vulgar with a massive vulgarity which is as
though the Pyramids were coated with Christmas-cake sugar-works.
Cocksure they are, lawless and as casual as they are cocksure; but I
love them, and I realised it when I met an Englishman who laughed at
them. He proved conclusively that they were all wrong, from their tariff
to their go-as-you-please Civil Service, and beneath the consideration
of a true Briton.

"I admit everything," said I. "Their Government's provisional; their
law's the notion of the moment; their railways are made of hair-pins and
match-sticks, and most of their good luck lives in their woods and mines
and rivers and not in their brains; but for all that, they be the
biggest, finest, and best people on the surface of the globe! Just you
wait a hundred years and see how they'll behave when they've had the
screw put on them and have forgotten a few of the patriarchal teachings
of the late Mister George Washington. Wait till the
Anglo-American-German-Jew--the Man of the Future--is properly equipped.
He'll have just the least little kink in his hair now and again; he'll
carry the English lungs above the Teuton feet that can walk for ever;
and he will wave long, thin, bony Yankee hands with the big blue veins
on the wrist, from one end of the earth to the other. He'll be the
finest writer, poet, and dramatist, 'specially dramatist, that the world
as it recollects itself has ever seen. By virtue of his Jew blood--just
a little, little drop--he'll be a musician and a painter too. At present
there is too much balcony and too little Romeo in the life-plays of his
fellow-citizens. Later on, when the proportion is adjusted and he sees
the possibilities of his land, he will produce things that will make the
effete East stare. He will also be a complex and highly composite
administrator. There is nothing known to man that he will not be, and
his country will sway the world with one foot as a man tilts a see-saw
plank!"

"But this is worse than the Eagle at its worst. Do you seriously believe
all that?" said the Englishman.

"If I believe anything seriously, all this I most firmly believe. You
wait and see. Sixty million people, chiefly of English instincts, who
are trained from youth to believe that nothing is impossible, don't
slink through the centuries like Russian peasantry. They are bound to
leave their mark somewhere, and don't you forget it."

But isn't it sad to think that with all Eternity behind and before us we
cannot, even though we would pay for it with sorrow, filch from the
Immensities one hundred poor years of life, wherein to watch the two
Great Experiments? A hundred years hence India and America will be worth
observing. At present the one is burned out and the other is only just
stoking up. When I left my opponent there was much need for faith,
because I fell into the hands of a perfectly delightful man whom I had
met casually in the street, sitting in a chair on the pavement, smoking
a huge cigar. He was a commercial traveller, and his beat lay through
Southern Mexico, and he told me tales, of forgotten cities, stone gods
up to their sacred eyes in forest growth, Mexican priests, rebellions,
and dictatorships, that made my hair curl. It was he who dragged me
forth to bathe in Salt Lake, which is some fifteen miles away from the
city, and reachable by many trains which are but open tram-cars. The
track, like all American tracks, was terrifying in its roughness; and
the end of the journey disclosed the nakedness of the accommodation.
There were piers and band houses and refreshment stalls built over the
solid grey levels of the lake, but they only accentuated the utter
barrenness of the place. Americans don't mix with their scenery as yet.

And "Have faith," said the commercial traveller as he walked into water
heavy as quicksilver. "Walk!" I walked, and I walked till my legs flew
up and I had to walk as one struggling with a high wind, but still I
rode head and shoulders above the water. It was a horrible feeling, this
inability to sink. Swimming was not much use. You couldn't get a grip of
the water, so I e'en sat me down and drifted like a luxurious anemone
among the hundreds that were bathing in that place. You could wallow for
three-quarters of an hour in that warm, sticky brine and fear no evil
consequences; but when you came out you were coated with white salt from
top to toe. And if you accidentally swallowed a mouthful of the water,
you died. This is true, because I swallowed half a mouthful and was
half-dead in consequence.

The commercial traveller on our return journey across the level flats
that fringe the lake's edge bade me note some of the customs of his
people. The great open railway car held about a hundred men and maidens,
"coming up with a song from the sea." They sang and they shouted and
they exchanged witticisms of the most poignant, and comported themselves
like their brothers and sisters over the seas--the 'Arries and 'Arriets
of the older world. And there sat behind me two modest maidens in white,
alone and unattended. To these the privileged youth of the car--a youth
of a marvellous range of voice--proffered undying affection. They
laughed, but made no reply in words. The suit was renewed, and with
extravagant imagery; the nearest seats applauding. When we arrived at
the city the maidens turned and went their way up a dark tree-shaded
street, and the boys elsewhere. Whereat, recollecting what the London
rough was like, I marvelled that they did not pursue. "It's all right,"
said the commercial traveller. "If they had followed--well, I guess some
one would ha' shot 'em." The very next day on those very peaceful cars
returning from the Lake some one was shot--dead. He was what they call a
"sport," which is American for a finished "leg," and he had an argument
with a police officer, and the latter slew him. I saw his funeral go
down the main street. There were nearly thirty carriages, filled with
doubtful men, and women not in the least doubtful, and the local papers
said that deceased had his merits, but it didn't much matter, because if
the Sheriff hadn't dropped him he would assuredly have dropped the
Sheriff. Somehow this jarred on my sensitive feelings, and I went away,
though the commercial traveller would fain have entertained me in his
own house, he knowing not my name. Twice through the long hot nights we
talked, tilting up our chairs on the sidewalk, of the future of America.

You should hear the Saga of the States reeled off by a young and
enthusiastic citizen who had just carved out for himself a home, filled
it with a pretty little wife, and is preparing to embark on commerce on
his own account. I was tempted to believe that pistol-shots were
regrettable accidents and lawlessness only the top scum on the great sea
of humanity. I am tempted to believe that still, though baked and dusty
Utah is very many miles behind me.

Then chance threw me into the arms of another and very different
commercial traveller, as we pulled out of Utah on our way to Omaha _via_
the Rockies. He travelled in biscuits, of which more anon, and Fate had
smitten him very heavily, having at one stroke knocked all the beauty
and joy out of his poor life. So he journeyed with a case of samples as
one dazed, and his eyes took no pleasure in anything that he saw. In his
despair he had withdrawn himself to his religion,--he was a
Baptist,--and spoke of its consolation with the artless freedom that an
American generally exhibits when he is talking about his most sacred
private affairs. There was a desert beyond Utah, hot and barren as Mian
Mir in May. The sun baked the car-roof, and the dust caked the windows,
and through the dust and the glare the man with the biscuits bore
witness to his creed, which seems to include one of the greatest
miracles in the world--the immediate unforeseen, self-conscious
redemption of the soul by means very similar to those which turned Paul
to the straight path.

"You must experi_ence_ religion," he repeated, his mouth twitching and
his eyes black-ringed with his recent loss. "You must experi_ence_
religion. You can't tell when you're goin' to get, or haow; but it will
come--it will come, Sir, like a lightning stroke, an' you will wrestle
with yourself before you receive full conviction and assurance."

"How long does that take?" I asked reverently.

"It may take hours. It may take days. I knew a man in San Jo who lay
under conviction for a month an' then he got the sperrit--as you _must_
git it."

"And then?"

"And then you are saved. You feel that, an' you kin endure anything," he
sighed. "Yes, anything. I don't care what it is, though I allow that
some things are harder than others."

"Then you have to wait for the miracle to be worked by powers outside
yourself. And if the miracle doesn't work?"

"But it _must_. I tell you it must. It comes to all who profess with
faith."

I learned a good deal about that creed as the train fled on; and I
wondered as I learned. It was a strange thing to watch that poor human
soul, broken and bowed by its loss, nerving itself against each new pang
of pain with the iterated assurance that it was safe against the pains
of Hell.

The heat was stifling. We quitted the desert and launched into the
rolling green plains of Colorado. Dozing uneasily with every removable
rag removed, I was roused by a blast of intense cold and the drumming of
a hundred drums. The train had stopped. Far as the eye could range the
land was white under two feet of hail--each hailstone as big as the top
of a sherry-glass. I saw a young colt by the side of the track standing
with his poor little fluffy back to the pitiless pelting. He was pounded
to death. An old horse met his doom on the run. He galloped wildly
towards the train, but his hind legs dropped into a hole half water and
half ice. He beat the ground with his fore-feet for a minute and then
rolling over on his side submitted quietly to be killed.

When the storm ceased, we picked our way cautiously and crippledly over
a track that might give way at any moment. The Western driver urges his
train much as does the Subaltern the bounding pony, and 'twould seem
with an equal sense of responsibility. If a foot does go wrong, why
there you are, don't you know, and if it is all right, why all right it
is, don't you know. But I would sooner be on the pony than the train.

This seems a good place wherein to preach on American versatility. When
Mr. Howells writes a novel, when a reckless hero dams a flood by heaving
a dynamite-shattered mountain into it, or when a notoriety-hunting
preacher marries a couple in a balloon, you shall hear the great
American press rise on its hind legs and walk round mouthing over the
versatility of the American citizen. And he is versatile--horribly so.
The unlimited exercise of the right of private judgment (which, by the
way, is a weapon not one man in ten is competent to handle), his blatant
cocksureness, and the dry-air-bred restlessness that makes him crawl all
over the furniture when he is talking to you, conspire to make him
versatile. But what he calls versatility the impartial bystander of
Anglo-Indian extraction is apt to deem mere casualness, and dangerous
casualness at that. No man can grasp the inwardness of an employ by the
light of pure reason--even though that reason be republican. He must
serve an apprenticeship to one craft and learn that craft all the days
of his life if he wishes to excel therein. Otherwise he merely "puts the
thing through somehow;" and occasionally he doesn't. But wherein lies
the beauty of this form of mental suppleness? Old man California, whom I
shall love and respect always, told me one or two anecdotes about
American versatility and its consequences that came back to my mind with
direful force as the train progressed. We didn't upset, but I don't
think that that was the fault of the driver or the men who made the
track. Take up--you can easily find them--the accounts of ten
consecutive railway catastrophes--not little accidents, but first-class
fatalities, when the long cars turn over, take fire, and roast the
luckless occupants alive. To seven out of the ten you shall find
appended the cheerful statement: "The accident is supposed to have been
due to the rails spreading." That means the metals were spiked down to
the ties with such versatility that the spikes or the tracks drew under
the constant vibration of the traffic, and the metals opened out. No one
is hanged for these little affairs.

We began to climb hills, and then we stopped--at night in darkness,
while men threw sand under the wheels and crowbarred the track and then
"guessed" that we might proceed. Not being in the least anxious to face
my Maker half asleep and rubbing my eyes, I went forward to a common
car, and was rewarded by two hours' conversation with the stranded,
broken-down, husband-abandoned actress of a fourth-rate, stranded,
broken-down, manager-bereft company. She was muzzy with beer, reduced to
her last dollar, fearful that there would be no one to meet her at
Omaha, and wept at intervals because she had given the conductor a
five-dollar bill to change, and he hadn't come back. He was an Irishman,
so I knew he couldn't steal, and I addressed myself to the task of
consolation. I was rewarded, after a decent interval, by the history of
a life so wild, so mixed, so desperately improbable, and yet so simply
probable, and above all so quick--not fast--in its kaleidoscopic changes
that the _Pioneer_ would reject any summary of it. And so you will never
know how she, the beery woman with the tangled blond hair, was once a
girl on a farm in far-off New Jersey. How he, a travelling actor, had
wooed and won her,--"but Paw he was always set against Alf,"--and how he
and she embarked all their little capital on the word of a faithless
manager who disbanded his company a hundred miles from nowhere, and how
she and Alf and a third person who had not yet made any noise in the
world, had to walk the railway-track and beg from the farm-houses; how
that third person arrived and went away again with a wail, and how Alf
took to the whisky and other things still more calculated to make a wife
unhappy; and how after barn-stormings, insults, shooting-scrapes, and
pitiful collapses of poor companies she had once won an encore. It was
not a cheerful tale to listen to. There was a real actress in the
Pullman,--such an one as travels sumptuously with a maid and
dressing-case,--and my draggle-tail thought of appealing to her for
help, but broke down after several attempts to walk into the car
jauntily as befitted a sister in the profession. Then the conductor
reappeared,--the five-dollar bill honestly changed,--and she wept by
reason of beer and gratitude together, and then fell asleep waveringly,
alone in the car, and became almost beautiful and quite kissable; while
the Man with the Sorrow stood at the door between actress and actress
and preached grim sermons on the certain end of each if they did not
mend their ways and find regeneration through the miracle of the Baptist
creed. Yes, we were a queer company going up to the Rockies together. I
was the luckiest, because when a breakdown occurred, and we were delayed
for twelve hours, I ate all the Baptist's sample-biscuits. They were
various in composition, but nourishing. Always travel with a "drummer."



No. XXXIV

ACROSS THE GREAT DIVIDE; AND HOW THE MAN GRING SHOWED ME THE GARMENTS OF
THE ELLEWOMEN.


After much dallying and more climbing we came to a pass like all the
Bolan Passes in the world, and the Black Cañon of the Gunnison called
they it. We had been climbing for very many hours, and attained a modest
elevation of some seven or eight thousand feet above the sea, when we
entered a gorge, remote from the sun, where the rocks were two thousand
feet sheer, and where a rock-splintered river roared and howled ten feet
below a track which seemed to have been built on the simple principle of
dropping miscellaneous dirt into the river and pinning a few rails
a-top. There was a glory and a wonder and a mystery about that mad ride
which I felt keenly (you will find it properly dressed up in the
guide-books), until I had to offer prayers for the safety of the train.
There was no hope of seeing the track two hundred yards ahead. We seemed
to be running into the bowels of the earth at the invitation of an
irresponsible stream. Then the solid rock would open and disclose a
curve of awful twistfulness. Then the driver put on all steam, and we
would go round that curve on one wheel chiefly, the Gunnison River
gnashing its teeth below. The cars overhung the edge of the water, and
if a single one of the rails had chosen to spread, nothing in the wide
world could have saved us from drowning. I knew we should damage
something in the end--the sombre horrors of the gorge, the rush of the
jade-green water below, and the cheerful tales told by the conductor
made me certain of the catastrophe.

We had just cleared the Black Cañon and another gorge, and were sailing
out into open country nine thousand feet above the level of the sea,
when we came most suddenly round a corner upon a causeway across a waste
water--half dam and half quarry-pool. The locomotive gave one wild "Hoo!
Hoo! Hoo!" but it was too late. He was a beautiful bull, and goodness
only knows why he had chosen the track for a constitutional with his
wife. _She_ was flung to the left, but the cow-catcher caught _him_, and
turning him round, heaved him shoulder deep into the pool. The
expression of blank, blind bewilderment on his bovine, jovine face was
wonderful to behold. He was not angry. I don't think he was even scared,
though he must have flown ten yards through the air. All he wanted to
know was: "Will somebody have the goodness to tell a respectable old
gentleman what in the world, or out of it, has occurred?" And five
minutes later the stream that had been snapping at our heels in the
gorges split itself into a dozen silver threads on a breezy upland, and
became an innocent trout beck, and we halted at a half-dead city, the
name of which does not remain with me. It had originally been built on
the crest of a wave of prosperity. Once ten thousand people had walked
its street; but the boom had collapsed. The great brick houses and the
factories were empty. The population lived in little timber shanties on
the fringes of the deserted town. There were some railway workshops and
things, and the hotel (whose pavement formed the platform of the
railway) contained one hundred and more rooms--empty. The place, in its
half-inhabitedness, was more desolate than Amber or Chitor. But a man
said: "Trout--six pounds--two miles away," and the Sorrowful Man and
myself went in search of 'em. The town was ringed by a circle of hills
all alive with little thunder-storms that broke across the soft green of
the plain in wisps and washes of smoke and amber.

To our tiny party associated himself a lawyer from Chicago. We
foregathered on the question of flies, but I didn't expect to meet
Elijah Pogram in the flesh. He delivered orations on the future of
England and America, and of the Great Federation that the years will
bring forth when America and England will belt the globe with their
linked hands. According to the notions of the British, he made an ass of
himself, but for all his high-falutin he talked sense. I might knock
through England on a four months' tour and not find a man capable of
putting into words the passionate patriotism that possessed the little
Chicago lawyer. And he was a man with points, for he offered me three
days' shooting in Illinois, if I would step out of my path a little. I
might travel for ten years up and down England ere I found a man who
would give a complete stranger so much as a sandwich, and for twenty ere
I squeezed as much enthusiasm out of a Britisher. He and I talked
politics and trout-flies all one sultry day as we wandered up and down
the shallows of the stream aforesaid. Little fish are sweet. I spent two
hours whipping a ripple for a fish that I knew was there, and in the
pasture-scented dusk caught a three-pounder on a ragged old brown hackle
and landed him after ten minutes' excited argument. He was a beauty. If
ever any man works the Western trout-streams, he would do well to bring
out with him the dingiest flies he possesses. The natives laugh at the
tiny English hooks, but they hold, and duns and drabs and sober greys
seem to tickle the æsthetic tastes of the trout. For salmon (but don't
say that I told you) use the spoon--gold on one side, silver on the
other. It is as killing as is a similar article with fish of another
calibre. The natives seem to use much too coarse tackle.

It was a search for a small boy who should know the river that revealed
to me a new phase of life--slack, slovenly, and shiftless, but very
interesting. There was a family in a packing-case hut on the outskirts
of the town. They had seen the city when it was on the boom and made
pretence of being the metropolis of the Rockies; and when the boom was
over, they did not go. She was affable, but deeply coated with dirt; he
was grim and grimy, and the little children were simply caked with filth
of various descriptions. But they lived in a certain sort of squalid
luxury, six or eight of them in two rooms; and they enjoyed the local
society. It was their eight-year-old son whom I tried to take out with
me, but he had been catching trout all his life and "guessed he didn't
feel like coming," though I proffered him six shillings for what ought
to have been a day's pleasuring. "I'll stay with Maw," he said, and from
that attitude I could not move him. Maw didn't attempt to argue with
him. "If he says he won't come, he won't," she said, as though he were
one of the elemental forces of nature instead of a spankable brat; and
"Paw," lounging by the store, refused to interfere. Maw told me that she
had been a school-teacher in her not-so-distant youth, but did not tell
me what I was dying to know--how she arrived at this mucky tenement at
the back of beyond, and why. Though preserving the prettinesses of her
New England speech, she had come to regard washing as a luxury. Paw
chewed tobacco and spat from time to time. Yet, when he opened his mouth
for other purposes, he spoke like a well-educated man. There was a story
there, but I couldn't get at it.

Next day the Man with the Sorrow and myself and a few others began the
real ascent of the Rockies; up to that time our climbing didn't count.
The train ran violently up a steep place and was taken to pieces. Five
cars were hitched on to two locomotives, and two cars to one locomotive.
This seemed to be a kind and thoughtful act, but I was idiot enough to
go forward and watch the coupling-on of the two rear cars in which Cæsar
and his fortunes were to travel. Some one had lost or eaten the
regularly ordained coupling, and a man picked up from the tailboard of
the engine a single iron link about as thick as a fetter-link
watch-chain, and "guessed it would do." Get hauled up a Simla cliff by
the hook of a lady's parasol if you wish to appreciate my sentiments
when the cars moved uphill and the link drew tight. Miles away and two
thousand feet above our heads rose the shoulder of a hill epauletted
with the long line of a snow-tunnel. The first section of the cars
crawled a quarter of a mile ahead of us, the track snaked and looped
behind, and there was a black drop to the left. So we went up and up
and up till the thin air grew thinner and the _chunk-chunk-chunk_, of
the labouring locomotive was answered by the oppressed beating of the
exhausted heart. Through the chequed light and shade of the snow tunnels
(horrible caverns of rude timbering) we ground our way, halting now and
again to allow a down-train to pass. One monster of forty mineral-cars
slid past, scarce held by four locomotives, their brakes screaming and
chortling in chorus; and in the end, after a glimpse at half America
spread mapwise leagues below us, we halted at the head of the longest
snow tunnel of all, on the crest of the divide, between ten and eleven
thousand feet above the level of the sea. The locomotive wished to draw
breath, and the passengers to gather the flowers that nodded
impertinently through the chinks of the boarding. A lady passenger's
nose began to bleed, and other ladies threw themselves down on the seats
and gasped with the gasping train, while a wind as keen as a knife-edge
rioted down the grimy tunnel.

Then, despatching a pilot-engine to clear the way, we began the downward
portion of the journey with every available brake on, and frequent
shrieks, till after some hours we reached the level plain, and later the
city of Denver, where the Man with the Sorrow went his way and left me
to journey on to Omaha alone, after one hasty glance at Denver. The
pulse of that town was too like the rushing mighty wind in the Rocky
Mountain tunnel. It made me tired because complete strangers desired me
to do something to mines which were in mountains, and to purchase
building blocks upon inaccessible cliffs; and once, a woman urged that I
should supply her with strong drinks. I had almost forgotten that such
attacks were possible in any land, for the outward and visible signs of
public morality in American towns are generally safe-guarded. For that I
respect this people. Omaha, Nebraska, was but a halting-place on the
road to Chicago, but it revealed to me horrors that I would not
willingly have missed. The city to casual investigation seemed to be
populated entirely by Germans, Poles, Slavs, Hungarians, Croats,
Magyars, and all the scum of the Eastern European States, but it must
have been laid out by Americans. No other people would cut the traffic
of a main street with two streams of railway lines, each some eight or
nine tracks wide, and cheerfully drive tram-cars across the metals.
Every now and again they have horrible railway-crossing accidents at
Omaha, but nobody seems to think of building an overhead-bridge. That
would interfere with the vested interests of the undertakers.

Be blessed to hear some details of one of that class.

There was a shop the like of which I had never seen before. Its windows
were filled with dress-coats for men, and dresses for women. But the
studs of the shirts were made of stamped cloth upon the shirt front, and
there were no trousers to those coats--nothing but a sweep of cheap
black cloth falling like an abbé's frock. In the doorway sat a young man
reading Pollock's _Course of Time_, and by that I knew that he was an
undertaker. His name was Gring, which is a beautiful name, and I talked
to him on the mysteries of his Craft. He was an enthusiast and an
artist. I told him how corpses were burnt in India. Said he: "We're
vastly superior. We hold--that is to say, embalm--our dead. So!"
Whereupon he produced the horrible weapons of his trade, and most
practically showed me how you "held" a man back from that corruption
which is his birthright. "And I wish I could live a few generations just
to see how my people keep. But I'm sure it's all right. Nothing can
touch 'em after _I_'ve embalmed 'em." Then he displayed one of those
ghastly dress-suits, and when I laid a shuddering hand upon it, behold
it crumpled to nothing, for the white linen was sewn on to the black
cloth and--there was no back to it! That was the horror. The garment was
a shell. "We dress a man in that," said Gring, laying it out tastily on
the counter. "As you see here, our caskets have a plate-glass window in
front" (Oh me, but that window in the coffin was fitted with plush like
a brougham-window!), "and you don't see anything below the level of the
man's waistcoat. Consequently ..." He unrolled the terrible cheap black
cloth that falls down over the stark feet, and I jumped back. "Of course
a man can be dressed in his own clothes if he likes, but these are the
regular things: and for women look at this!" He took up the body of a
high-necked dinner-dress in subdued lilac, slashed and puffed and
bedeviled with black, but, like the dress-suit, backless, and below the
waist turning to shroud. "That's for an old maid. But for young girls we
give white with imitation pearls round the neck. That looks very pretty
through the window of the casket--you see there's a cushion for the
head--with flowers banked all round." Can you imagine anything more
awful than to take your last rest as much of a dead fraud as ever you
were a living lie--to go into the darkness one half of you shaved,
trimmed and dressed for an evening party, while the other half--the
half that your friends cannot see--is enwrapped in a flapping black
sheet?

I know a little about burial customs in various places in the world, and
I tried hard to make Mr. Gring comprehend dimly the awful heathendom
that he was responsible for--the grotesquerie--the giggling horror of it
all. But he couldn't see it. Even when he showed me a little boy's last
suit, he couldn't see it. He said it was quite right to embalm and trick
out and hypocritically bedizen the poor innocent dead in their superior
cushioned and pillowed caskets with the window in front.

Bury me cased in canvas like a fishing-rod, in the deep sea; burn me on
a back-water of the Hughli with damp wood and no oil; pin me under a
Pullman car and let the lighted stove do its worst; sizzle me with a
fallen electric wire or whelm me in the sludge of a broken river dam;
but may I never go down to the Pit grinning out of a plate-glass window,
in a backless dress-coat, and the front half of a black stuff
dressing-gown; not though I were "held" against the ravage of the grave
for ever and ever. Amen!



No. XXXV

HOW I STRUCK CHICAGO, AND HOW CHICAGO STRUCK ME. OF RELIGION, POLITICS,
AND PIG-STICKING, AND THE INCARNATION OF THE CITY AMONG SHAMBLES.

    "I know thy cunning and thy greed,
    Thy hard, high lust and wilful deed,
    And all thy glory loves to tell
    Of specious gifts material."


I have struck a city,--a real city,--and they call it Chicago. The other
places do not count. San Francisco was a pleasure-resort as well as a
city, and Salt Lake was a phenomenon. This place is the first American
city I have encountered. It holds rather more than a million people with
bodies, and stands on the same sort of soil as Calcutta. Having seen it,
I urgently desire never to see it again. It is inhabited by savages. Its
water is the water of the Hugli, and its air is dirt. Also it says that
it is the "boss" town of America.

I do not believe that it has anything to do with this country. They told
me to go to the Palmer House, which is a gilded and mirrored
rabbit-warren, and there I found a huge hall of tessellated marble,
crammed with people talking about money and spitting about everywhere.
Other barbarians charged in and out of this inferno with letters and
telegrams in their hands, and yet others shouted at each other. A man
who had drunk quite as much as was good for him told me that this was
"the finest hotel in the finest city on God Almighty's earth." By the
way, when an American wishes to indicate the next county or State he
says, "God A'mighty's earth." This prevents discussion and flatters his
vanity.

Then I went out into the streets, which are long and flat and without
end. And verily it is not a good thing to live in the East for any
length of time. Your ideas grow to clash with those held by every
right-thinking white man. I looked down interminable vistas flanked with
nine, ten, and fifteen storied houses, and crowded with men and women,
and the show impressed me with a great horror. Except in London--and I
have forgotten what London is like--I had never seen so many white
people together, and never such a collection of miserables. There was no
colour in the street and no beauty--only a maze of wire-ropes overhead
and dirty stone flagging underfoot. A cab-driver volunteered to show me
the glory of the town for so much an hour, and with him I wandered far.
He conceived that all this turmoil and squash was a thing to be
reverently admired; that it was good to huddle men together in fifteen
layers, one atop of the other, and to dig holes in the ground for
offices. He said that Chicago was a live town, and that all the
creatures hurrying by me were engaged in business. That is to say, they
were trying to make some money, that they might not die through lack of
food to put into their bellies. He took me to canals, black as ink, and
filled with untold abominations, and bade me watch the stream of traffic
across the bridges. He then took me into a saloon, and, while I drank,
made me note that the floor was covered with coins sunk into cement. A
Hottentot would not have been guilty of this sort of barbarism. The
coins made an effect pretty enough, but the man who put them there had
no thought to beauty, and therefore he was a savage. Then my cab-driver
showed me business-blocks, gay with signs and studded with fantastic and
absurd advertisements of goods, and looking down the long street so
adorned it was as though each vender stood at his door howling: "For the
sake of money, employ or buy of _me_ and me only!" Have you ever seen a
crowd at our famine relief distributions? You know then how men leap
into the air, stretching out their arms above the crowd in the hope of
being seen; while the women dolorously slap the stomachs of their
children and whimper. I had sooner watch famine-relief than the white
man engaged in what he calls legitimate competition. The one I
understand. The other makes me ill. And the cabman said that these
things were the proof of progress; and by that I knew he had been
reading his newspaper, as every intelligent American should. The papers
tell their readers in language fitted to their comprehension that the
snarling together of telegraph wires, the heaving up of houses, and the
making of money is progress.

I spent ten hours in that huge wilderness, wandering through scores of
miles of these terrible streets, and jostling some few hundred thousand
of these terrible people who talked money through their noses. The
cabman left me: but after a while I picked up another man who was full
of figures, and into my ears he poured them as occasion required or the
big blank factories suggested. Here they turned out so many hundred
thousand dollars' worth of such and such an article; there so many
million other things; this house was worth so many million dollars; that
one so many million more or less. It was like listening to a child
babbling of its hoard of shells. It was like watching a fool playing
with buttons. But I was expected to do more than listen or watch. He
demanded that I should admire; and the utmost that I could say was: "Are
these things so? Then I am very sorry for you." That made him angry, and
he said that insular envy made me unresponsive. So, you see, I could not
make him understand.

About four and a half hours after Adam was turned out of the garden of
Eden he felt hungry, and so, bidding Eve take care that her head was not
broken by the descending fruit, shinned up a cocoanut palm. That hurt
his legs, cut his breast, and made him breathe heavily, and Eve was
tormented with fear lest her lord should miss his footing and so bring
the tragedy of this world to an end ere the curtain had fairly risen.
Had I met Adam then, I should have been sorry for him. To-day I find
eleven hundred thousand of his sons just as far advanced as their father
in the art of getting food, and immeasurably inferior to him in that
they think that their palm-trees lead straight to the skies.
Consequently I am sorry in rather more than a million different ways. In
our East bread comes naturally even to the poorest by a little
scratching or the gift of a friend not quite so poor. In less favoured
countries one is apt to forget. Then I went to bed. And that was on a
Saturday night.

Sunday brought me the queerest experience of all--a revelation of
barbarism complete. I found a place that was officially described as a
church. It was a circus really, but that the worshippers did not know.
There were flowers all about the building, which was fitted up with
plush and stained oak and much luxury, including twisted brass
candlesticks of severest Gothic design. To these things, and a
congregation of savages, entered suddenly a wonderful man completely in
the confidence of their God, whom he treated colloquially and exploited
very much as a newspaper reporter would exploit a foreign potentate.
But, unlike the newspaper reporter, he never allowed his listeners to
forget that he and not He was the centre of attraction. With a voice of
silver and with imagery borrowed from the auction-room, he built up for
his hearers a heaven on the lines of the Palmer House (but with all the
gilding real gold and all the plate-glass diamond) and set in the centre
of it a loud-voiced, argumentative, and very shrewd creation that he
called God. One sentence at this point caught my delighted ear. It was
_apropos_ of some question of the Judgment Day and ran: "No! I tell you
God doesn't do business that way." He was giving them a deity whom they
could comprehend, in a gold and jewel heaven in which they could take a
natural interest. He interlarded his performance with the slang of the
streets, the counter, and the Exchange, and he said that religion ought
to enter into daily life. Consequently I presume he introduced it _as_
daily life--his own and the life of his friends.

Then I escaped before the blessing, desiring no benediction at such
hands. But the persons who listened seemed to enjoy themselves, and I
understood that I had met with a popular preacher. Later on when I had
perused the sermons of a gentleman called Talmage and some others, I
perceived that I had been listening to a very mild specimen. Yet that
man, with his brutal gold and silver idols, his hands-in-pocket,
cigar-in-mouth, and hat-on-the-back-of-the-head style of dealing with
the sacred vessels would count himself spiritually quite competent to
send a mission to convert the Indians. All that Sunday I listened to
people who said that the mere fact of spiking down strips of iron to
wood and getting a steam and iron thing to run along them was progress.
That the telephone was progress, and the network of wires overhead was
progress. They repeated their statements again and again. One of them
took me to their city hall and board of trade works and pointed it out
with pride. It was very ugly, but very big, and the streets in front of
it were narrow and unclean. When I saw the faces of the men who did
business in that building I felt that there had been a mistake in their
billeting.

By the way, 'tis a consolation to feel that I am not writing to an
English audience. Then should I have to fall into feigned ecstasies over
the marvellous progress of Chicago since the days of the great fire, to
allude casually to the raising of the entire city so many feet above the
level of the lake which it faces, and generally to grovel before the
golden calf. But you, who are desperately poor, and therefore by these
standards of no account, know things, and will understand when I write
that they have managed to get a million of men together on flat land,
and that the bulk of these men appear to be lower than _mahajans_ and
not so companionable as a punjabi _jat_ after harvest. But I don't think
it was the blind hurry of the people, their argot, and their grand
ignorance of things beyond their immediate interests that displeased me
so much as a study of the daily papers of Chicago. Imprimis, there was
some sort of dispute between New York and Chicago as to which town
should give an exhibition of products to be hereafter holden, and
through the medium of their more dignified journals the two cities were
ya-hooing and hi-yi-ing at each other like opposition newsboys. They
called it humour, but it sounded like something quite different. That
was only the first trouble. The second lay in the tone of the
productions. Leading articles which include gems such as: "Back of such
and such a place," or "We noticed, Tuesday, such an event," or "don't"
for "does not" are things to be accepted with thankfulness. All that
made me want to cry was that, in these papers, were faithfully
reproduced all the war-cries and "back-talk" of the Palmer House bar,
the slang of the barbers' shops, the mental elevation and integrity of
the Pullman-car porter, the dignity of the Dime Museum, and the accuracy
of the excited fishwife. I am sternly forbidden to believe that the
paper educates the public. Then I am compelled to believe that the
public educate the paper?

Just when the sense of unreality and oppression were strongest upon me,
and when I most wanted help, a man sat at my side and began to talk what
he called politics. I had chanced to pay about six shillings for a
travelling-cap worth eighteen pence, and he made of the fact a text for
a sermon. He said that this was a rich country and that the people liked
to pay two hundred per cent on the value of a thing. They could afford
it. He said that the Government imposed a protective duty of from ten
to seventy per cent on foreign-made articles, and that the American
manufacturer consequently could sell his goods for a healthy sum. Thus
an imported hat would, with duty, cost two guineas. The American
manufacturer would make a hat for seventeen shillings and sell it for
one pound fifteen. In these things, he said, lay the greatness of
America and the effeteness of England. Competition between factory and
factory kept the prices down to decent limits, but I was never to forget
that this people were a rich people, not like the pauper Continentals,
and that they enjoyed paying duties. To my weak intellect this seemed
rather like juggling with counters. Everything that I have yet purchased
costs about twice as much as it would in England, and when native-made
is of inferior quality. Moreover, since these lines were first thought
of I have visited a gentleman who owned a factory which used to produce
things. He owned the factory still. Not a man was in it, but he was
drawing a handsome income from a syndicate of firms for keeping it
closed in order that it might not produce things. This man said that if
protection were abandoned, a tide of pauper labour would flood the
country, and as I looked at his factory I thought how entirely better it
was to have no labour of any kind whatever, rather than face so horrible
a future. Meantime, do you remember that this peculiar country enjoys
paying money for value not received. I am an alien, and for the life of
me cannot see why six shillings should be paid for eighteen-penny caps,
or eight shillings for half-crown cigar-cases. When the country fills up
to a decently populated level a few million people who are not aliens
will be smitten with the same sort of blindness.

But my friend's assertion somehow thoroughly suited the grotesque
ferocity of Chicago. See now and judge! In the village of Isser Jang on
the road to Montgomery there be four _changar_ women who winnow
corn--some seventy bushels a year. Beyond their hut lives Puran Dass,
the money-lender, who on good security lends as much as five thousand
rupees in a year. Jowala Singh, the _lohar_, mends the village
ploughs--some thirty, broken at the share, in three hundred and
sixty-five days; and Hukm Chund, who is letter-writer and head of the
little club under the travellers' tree, generally keeps the village
posted in such gossip as the barber and the midwife have not yet made
public property. Chicago husks and winnows her wheat by the million
bushels, a hundred banks lend hundreds of millions of dollars in the
year, and scores of factories turn out plough gear and machinery by
steam. Scores of daily papers do work which Hukm Chund and the barber
and the midwife perform, with due regard for public opinion, in the
village of Isser Jang. So far as manufactures go, the difference between
Chicago on the lake and Isser Jang on the Montgomery road is one of
degree only, and not of kind. As far as the understanding of the uses of
life goes Isser Jang, for all its seasonal cholera, has the advantage
over Chicago. Jowala Singh knows and takes care to avoid the three or
four ghoul-haunted fields on the outskirts of the village; but he is not
urged by millions of devils to run about all day in the sun and swear
that his ploughshares are the best in the Punjab; nor does Puran Dass
fly forth in a cart more than once or twice a year, and he knows, on a
pinch, how to use the railway and the telegraph as well as any son of
Israel in Chicago. But this is absurd. The East is not the West, and
these men must continue to deal with the machinery of life, and to call
it progress. Their very preachers dare not rebuke them. They gloss over
the hunting for money and the twice-sharpened bitterness of Adam's curse
by saying that such things dower a man with a larger range of thoughts
and higher aspirations. They do not say: "Free yourself from your own
slavery," but rather, "If you can possibly manage it, do not set quite
so much store on the things of this world." And they do not know what
the things of this world are.

I went off to see cattle killed by way of clearing my head, which, as
you will perceive, was getting muddled. They say every Englishman goes
to the Chicago stockyards. You shall find them about six miles from the
city; and once having seen them will never forget the sight. As far as
the eye can reach stretches a township of cattle-pens, cunningly divided
into blocks so that the animals of any pen can be speedily driven out
close to an inclined timber path which leads to an elevated covered way
straddling high above the pens. These viaducts are two-storied. On the
upper storey tramp the doomed cattle, stolidly for the most part. On the
lower, with a scuffling of sharp hooves and multitudinous yells, run the
pigs. The same end is appointed for each. Thus you will see the gangs of
cattle waiting their turn--as they wait sometimes for days; and they
need not be distressed by the sight of their fellows running about in
the fear of death. All they know is that a man on horseback causes their
next-door neighbours to move by means of a whip. Certain bars and
fences are unshipped, and, behold, that crowd have gone up the mouth of
a sloping tunnel and return no more. It is different with the pigs. They
shriek back the news of the exodus to their friends, and a hundred pens
skirl responsive. It was to the pigs I first addressed myself. Selecting
a viaduct which was full of them, as I could hear though I could not
see, I marked a sombre building whereto it ran, and went there, not
unalarmed by stray cattle who had managed to escape from their proper
quarters. A pleasant smell of brine warned me of what was coming. I
entered the factory and found it full of pork in barrels, and on another
storey more pork unbarrelled, and in a huge room, the halves of swine
for whose use great lumps of ice were being pitched in at the window.
That room was the mortuary chamber where the pigs lie for a little while
in state ere they begin their progress through such passages as kings
may sometimes travel. Turning a corner and not noting an overhead
arrangement of greased rail, wheel, and pulley, I ran into the arms of
four eviscerated carcasses, all pure white and of a human aspect, being
pushed by a man clad in vehement red. When I leaped aside, the floor was
slippery under me. There was a flavour of farmyard in my nostrils and
the shouting of a multitude in my ears. But there was no joy in that
shouting! Twelve men stood in two lines--six a-side. Between them and
overhead ran the railway of death that had nearly shunted me through the
window. Each man carried a knife, the sleeves of his shirt were cut off
at the elbows, and from bosom to heel he was blood-red. The atmosphere
was stifling as a night in the Rains, by reason of the steam and the
crowd. I climbed to the beginning of things and, perched upon a narrow
beam, overlooked very nearly all the pigs ever bred in Wisconsin. They
had just been shot out of the mouth of the viaduct and huddled together
in a large pen. Thence they were flicked persuasively, a few at a time,
into a smaller chamber, and there a man fixed tackle on their hinder
legs so that they rose in the air suspended from the railway of death.
Oh! it was then they shrieked and called on their mothers and made
promises of amendment till the tackle-man punted them in their backs,
and they slid head down into a brick-floored passage, very like a big
kitchen sink that was blood-red. There awaited them a red man with a
knife which he passed jauntily through their throats, and the
full-voiced shriek became a sputter, and then a fall as of heavy
tropical rain. The red man who was backed against the passage wall stood
clear of the wildly kicking hoofs and passed his hand over his eyes, not
from any feeling of compassion, but because the spurted blood was in his
eyes, and he had barely time to stick the next arrival. Then that first
stuck swine dropped, still kicking, into a great vat of boiling water,
and spoke no more words, but wallowed in obedience to some unseen
machinery, and presently came forth at the lower end of the vat and was
heaved on the blades of a blunt paddle-wheel-thing which said, "Hough!
Hough! Hough!" and skelped all the hair off him except what little a
couple of men with knives could remove. Then he was again hitched by the
heels to that said railway and passed down the line of the twelve
men--each man with a knife--leaving with each man a certain amount of
his individuality which was taken away in a wheel-barrow, and when he
reached the last man he was very beautiful to behold, but immensely
unstuffed and limp. Preponderance of individuality was ever a bar to
foreign travel. That pig could have been in no case to visit you in
India had he not parted with some of his most cherished notions.

The dissecting part impressed me not so much as the slaying. They were
so excessively alive, these pigs. And then they were so excessively
dead, and the man in the dripping, clammy, hot passage did not seem to
care, and ere the blood of such an one had ceased to foam on the floor,
such another, and four friends with him, had shrieked and died. But a
pig is only the Unclean animal--forbidden by the Prophet.

I was destined to make rather a queer discovery when I went over to the
cattle-slaughter. All the buildings here were on a much larger scale,
and there was no sound of trouble, but I could smell the salt reek of
blood before I set foot in the place. The cattle did not come directly
through the viaduct as the pigs had done. They debouched into a yard by
the hundred, and they were big red brutes carrying much flesh. In the
centre of that yard stood a red Texan steer with a headstall on his
wicked head. No man controlled him. He was, so to speak, picking his
teeth and whistling in an open byre of his own when the cattle arrived.
As soon as the first one had fearfully quitted the viaduct, this red
devil put his hands in his pockets and slouched across the yard, no man
guiding him. Then he lowed something to the effect that he was the
regularly appointed guide of the establishment and would show them
round. They were country folk, but they knew how to behave; and so
followed Judas some hundred strong, patiently, and with a look of bland
wonder in their faces. I saw his broad back jogging in advance of them,
up a lime-washed incline where I was forbidden to follow. Then a door
shut, and in a minute back came Judas with the air of a virtuous
plough-bullock and took up his place in his byre. Somebody laughed
across the yard, but I heard no sound of cattle from the big brick
building into which the mob had disappeared. Only Judas chewed the cud
with a malignant satisfaction, and so I knew there was trouble, and ran
round to the front of the factory and so entered and stood aghast.

Who takes count of the prejudices which we absorb through the skin by
way of our surroundings? It was not the spectacle that impressed me. The
first thought that almost spoke itself aloud was: "They are killing
kine;" and it was a shock. The pigs were nobody's concern, but
cattle--the brothers of the Cow, the Sacred Cow--were quite otherwise.
The next time an M.P. tells me that India either Sultanises or
Brahminises a man, I shall believe about half what he says. It is
unpleasant to watch the slaughter of cattle when one has laughed at the
notion for a few years. I could not see actually what was done in the
first instance, because the row of stalls in which they lay was
separated from me by fifty impassable feet of butchers and slung
carcasses. All I know is that men swung open the doors of a stall as
occasion required, and there lay two steers already stunned, and
breathing heavily. These two they pole-axed, and half raising them by
tackle they cut their throats. Two men skinned each carcase, somebody
cut off the head, and in half a minute more the overhead rail carried
two sides of beef to their appointed place. There was clamour enough in
the operating room, but from the waiting cattle, invisible on the other
side of the line of pens, never a sound. They went to their death,
trusting Judas, without a word. They were slain at the rate of five a
minute, and if the pig men were spattered with blood, the cow butchers
were bathed in it. The blood ran in muttering gutters. There was no
place for hand or foot that was not coated with thicknesses of dried
blood, and the stench of it in the nostrils bred fear.

And then the same merciful Providence that has showered good things on
my path throughout sent me an embodiment of the city of Chicago, so that
I might remember it forever. Women come sometimes to see the slaughter,
as they would come to see the slaughter of men. And there entered that
vermilion hall a young woman of large mould, with brilliantly scarlet
lips, and heavy eyebrows, and dark hair that came in a "widow's peak" on
the forehead. She was well and healthy and alive, and she was dressed in
flaming red and black, and her feet (know you that the feet of American
women are like unto the feet of fairies?) her feet, I say, were cased in
red leather shoes. She stood in a patch of sunlight, the red blood under
her shoes, the vivid carcasses packed round her, a bullock bleeding its
life away not six feet away from her, and the death factory roaring all
round her. She looked curiously, with hard, bold eyes, and was not
ashamed.

Then said I: "This is a special Sending. I have seen the City of
Chicago." And I went away to get peace and rest.



No. XXXVI

HOW I FOUND PEACE AT MUSQUASH ON THE MONONGAHELA.

    "Prince, blown by many a western breeze
    Our vessels greet you treasure-laden;
    We send them all--but best of these
    A free and frank young Yankee maiden."


It is a mean thing and an unhandsome to "do" a continent in
five-hundred-mile jumps. But after those swine and bullocks at Chicago I
felt that complete change of air would be good. The United States at
present hinge in or about Chicago, as a double-leaved screen hinges. To
be sure, the tiny New England States call a trip to Pennsylvania "going
west," but the larger-minded citizen seems to reckon his longitude from
Chicago. Twenty years hence the centre of population--that shaded square
on the census map--will have shifted, men say, far west of Chicago.
Twenty years later it will be on the Pacific slope. Twenty years after
that America will begin to crowd up, and there will be some trouble.
People will demand manufactured goods for their reduced-establishment
households at the cheapest possible rates, and the cry that the land is
rich enough to afford protection will cease with a great abruptness. At
present it is the farmer who pays most dearly for the luxury of high
prices. In the old days, when the land was fresh and there was plenty
of it and it cropped like the garden of Eden, he did not mind paying.
Now there is not so much free land, and the old acres are needing
stimulants, which cost money, and the farmer, who pays for everything,
is beginning to ask questions. Also the great American nation, which
individually never shuts a door behind its noble self, very seldom
attempts to put back anything that it has taken from Nature's shelves.
It grabs all it can and moves on. But the moving-on is nearly finished
and the grabbing must stop, and then the Federal Government will have to
establish a Woods and Forests Department the like of which was never
seen in the world before. And all the people who have been accustomed to
hack, mangle, and burn timber as they please will object, with shots and
protestations, to this infringement of their rights. The nigger will
breed bounteously, and _he_ will have to be reckoned with; and the
manufacturer will have to be contented with smaller profits, and _he_
will have to be reckoned with; and the railways will no longer rule the
countries through which they run, and they will have to be reckoned
with. And nobody will approve of it in the least.

Yes; it will be a spectacle for all the world to watch, this big,
slashing colt of a nation, that has got off with a flying start on a
freshly littered course, being pulled back to the ruck by that very
mutton-fisted jockey Necessity. There will be excitement in America when
a few score millions of "sovereigns" discover that what they considered
the outcome of their own Government is but the rapidly diminishing
bounty of Nature; and that if they want to get on comfortably they must
tackle every single problem from labour to finance humbly, without
gasconade, and afresh. But at present they look "that all the to-morrows
shall be as to-day," and if you argue with them they say that the
Democratic Idea will keep things going. They believe in that Idea, and
the less well-informed fortify themselves in their belief by curious
assertions as to the despotism that exists in England. This is pure
provincialism, of course; but it is very funny to listen to, especially
when you compare the theory with the practice (pistol, chiefly) as
proven in the newspapers. I have striven to find out where the central
authority of the land lies. It isn't at Washington, because the Federal
Government can't do anything to the States save run the mail and collect
a Federal tax or two. It isn't in the States, because the townships can
do as they like; and it isn't in the townships, because these are bossed
by alien voters or rings of patriotic homebred citizens. And it
certainly is not in the citizens, because they are governed and coerced
by despotic power of public opinion as represented by their papers,
preachers, or local society. I found one man who told me that if
anything went wrong in this huge congress of kings,--if there was a
split or an upheaval or a smash,--the people in detail would be subject
to the Idea of the sovereign people in mass. This is a survival from the
Civil War, when, you remember, the people in a majority did with guns
and swords slay and wound the people in detail. All the same, the notion
seems very much like the worship by the savage of the unloaded rifle as
it leans against the wall.

But the men and women set Us an example in patriotism. They believe in
their land and its future, and its honour, and its glory, and they are
not ashamed to say so. From the largest to the least runs this same
proud, passionate conviction to which I take off my hat and for which I
love them. An average English householder seems to regard his country as
an abstraction to supply him with policemen and fire-brigades. The
cockney cad cannot understand what the word means. The bloomin' toffs he
knows, and the law, and the soldiers that supply him with a spectacle in
the Parks; but he would laugh in your face at the notion of any duty
being owed by himself to his land. Pick an American of the second
generation anywhere you please--from the cab-rank, the porter's room, or
the plough-tail,--'specially the plough-tail,--and that man will make
you understand in five minutes that he understands what manner of thing
his Republic is. He might laugh at a law that didn't suit his
convenience, draw your eye-teeth in a bargain, and applaud 'cuteness on
the outer verge of swindling: but you should hear him stand up and
sing:--

    "My country 'tis of thee,
    Sweet land of liberty,
    Of thee I sing!"

I have heard a few thousand of them engaged in that employment. I
respect him. There is too much Romeo and too little balcony about our
National Anthem. With the American article it is all balcony. There must
be born a poet who shall give the English _the_ song of their own, own
country--which is to say, of about half the world. Remains then only to
compose the greatest song of all--The Saga of the Anglo-Saxon all round
the earth--a pæan that shall combine the terrible slow swing of the
_Battle Hymn of the Republic_ (which, if you know not, get chanted to
you) with _Britannia needs no Bulwarks_, the skirl of the _British
Grenadiers_ with that perfect quickstep, _Marching through Georgia_, and
at the end the wail of the _Dead March_. For We, even We who share the
earth between us as no gods have ever shared it, we also are mortal in
the matter of our single selves. Will any one take the contract?

It was with these rambling notions that I arrived at the infinite peace
of the tiny township of Musquash on the Monongahela River. The clang and
tumult of Chicago belonged to another world. Imagine a rolling, wooded,
English landscape, under softest of blue skies, dotted at three-mile
intervals with fat little, quiet little villages, or aggressive little
manufacturing towns that the trees and the folds of the hills mercifully
prevented from betraying their presence. The golden-rod blazed in the
pastures against the green of the mulleins, and the cows picked their
way home through the twisted paths between the blackberry bushes. All
summer was on the orchards, and the apples--such apples as we dream of
when we eat the woolly imitations of Kashmir--were ripe and toothsome.
It was good to lie in a hammock with half-shut eyes, and, in the utter
stillness, to hear the apples dropping from the trees, and the tinkle of
the cowbells as the cows walked statelily down the main road of the
village. Everybody in that restful place seemed to have just as much as
he wanted; a house with all comfortable appliances, a big or little
verandah wherein to spend the day, a neatly shaved garden with a wild
wealth of flowers, some cows, and an orchard. Everybody knew everybody
else intimately, and what they did not know, the local daily paper--a
daily for a village of twelve hundred people!--supplied. There was a
court-house where justice was done, and a jail where some most enviable
prisoners lived, and there were four or five churches of four or five
denominations. Also it was impossible to buy openly any liquor in that
little paradise. But--and this is a very serious _but_--you could by
procuring a medical certificate get strong drinks from the chemist. That
is the drawback of prohibition. It makes a man who wants a drink a
shirker and a contriver, which things are not good for the soul of a
man, and presently, 'specially if he be young, causes him to believe
that he may just as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb; and the
end of that young man is not pretty. Nothing except a rattling fall will
persuade an average colt that a fence is not meant to be jumped over;
whereas if he be turned out into the open he learns to carry himself
with discretion. One heard a good deal of this same dread of drink in
Musquash, and even the maidens seemed to know too much about its effects
upon certain unregenerate youths, who, if they had been once made
thoroughly, effectually, and persistently drunk--with a tepid brandy and
soda thrust before their goose-fleshed noses on the terrible Next
Morning--would perhaps have seen the futility of their ways. It was a
sin by village canons to imbibe lager, though--_experto crede_--you can
get dropsy on that stuff long before you can get drunk. "But what man
knows his mind?" Besides, it was all their own affair.

The little community seemed to be as self-contained as an Indian
village. Had the rest of the land sunk under the sea, Musquash would
have gone on sending its sons to school in order to make them "good
citizens," which is the constant prayer of the true American father,
settling its own road-making, local cesses, town-lot arbitrations, and
internal government by ballot and vote and due respect to the voices of
the headmen (which is the salvation of the ballot), until such time as
all should take their places in the cemetery appointed for their faith.
Here were Americans and no aliens--men ruling themselves by themselves
and for themselves and their wives and their children--in peace, order,
and decency.

But what went straightest to this heart, though they did not know it,
was that they were Methody folk for the most part--ay, Methody as ever
trod a Yorkshire Moor, or drove on a Sunday to some chapel of the Faith
in the Dales. The old Methody talk was there, with the discipline
whereby the souls of the Just are, sometimes to their intense vexation,
made perfect on this earth in order that they may "take out their
letters and live and die in good standing." If you don't know the talk,
you won't know what that means. The discipline, or dis_cip_line, is no
thing to be trifled with, and its working among a congregation depends
entirely upon the tact, humanity, and sympathy of the leader who works
it. He, knowing what youth's desires are, can turn the soul in the
direction of good, gently, instead of wrenching it savagely towards the
right path only to see it break away quivering and scared. The arm of
the Dis_cip_line is long. A maiden told me, as a new and strange fact
and one that would interest a foreigner, of a friend of hers who had
once been admonished by some elders somewhere--not in Musquash--for the
heinous crime of dancing. She, the friend, did not in the least like it.
She would not. Can't you imagine the delightful results of a formal
wigging administered by a youngish and austere elder who was not
accustomed to make allowances for the natural dancing instincts of the
young of the human animal? The hot irons that are held forth to scare
may also sear, as those who have ever lain under an unfortunate
exposition of the old Faith can attest.

But it was all immensely interesting--the absolutely fresh, wholesome,
sweet life that paid due reverence to the things of the next world, but
took good care to get enough tennis in the cool of the evening; that
concerned itself as honestly and thoroughly with the daily round, the
trivial task (and that same task is anything but trivial when you are
"helped" by an American "help") as with the salvation of the soul. I had
the honour of meeting in the flesh, even as Miss Louisa Alcott drew
them, Meg and Joe and Beth and Amy, whom you ought to know. There was no
affectation of concealment in their lives who had nothing to conceal.
There were many "little women" in that place, because, even as is the
case in England, the boys had gone out to seek their fortunes. Some were
working in the thundering, clanging cities, others had removed to the
infinite West, and others had disappeared in the languid, lazy South;
and the maidens waited their return, which is the custom of maidens all
over the world. Then the boys would come back in the soft sunlight,
attired in careful raiment, their tongues cleansed of evil words and
discourtesy. They had just come to call--bless their carefully groomed
heads so they had,--and the maidens in white dresses glimmered like
ghosts on the stoop and received them according to their merits. Mamma
had nothing to do with this, nor papa either, for he was down-town
trying to drive reason into the head of a land surveyor; and all along
the shaded, lazy, intimate street you heard the garden-gates click and
clash, as the mood of the man varied, and bursts of pleasant laughter
where three or four--be sure the white muslins were among
them,--discussed a picnic past or a buggy-drive to come. Then the
couples went their ways and talked together till the young men had to go
at last on account of the trains, and all trooped joyously down to the
station and thought no harm of it. And, indeed, why should they? From
her fifteenth year the American maiden moves among "the boys" as a
sister among brothers. They are her servants to take her out
riding,--which is driving,--to give her flowers and candy. The last two
items are expensive, and this is good for the young man, as teaching him
to value friendship that costs a little in cash and may necessitate
economy on the cigar side. As to the maiden, she is taught to respect
herself, that her fate is in her own hands, and that she is the more
stringently bound by the very measure of the liberty so freely accorded
to her. Wherefore, in her own language, "she has a lovely time" with
about two or three hundred boys who have sisters of their own, and a
very accurate perception that if they were unworthy of their trust a
syndicate of other boys would probably pass them into a world where
there is neither marrying nor giving in marriage. And so time goes till
the maiden knows the other side of the house,--knows that a man is not a
demi-god nor a mysteriously veiled monster, but an average, egotistical,
vain, gluttonous, but on the whole companionable, sort of person, to be
soothed, fed, and managed--knowledge that does not come to her sister in
England till after a few years of matrimony. And then she makes her
choice. The Golden Light touches eyes that are full of comprehension;
but the light is golden none the less, for she makes just the same
sweet, irrational choices that an English girl does. With this
advantage: she knows a little more, has experience in entertaining,
insight into the businesses, employ, and hobbies of men, gathered from
countless talks with the boys, and talks with the other girls who find
time at those mysterious conclaves to discuss what Tom, Ted, Stuke, or
Jack have been doing. Thus it happens that she is a companion, in the
fullest sense of the word, of the man she weds, zealous for the interest
of the firm, to be consulted in time of stress and to be called upon for
help and sympathy in time of danger. Pleasant it is that one heart
should beat for you; but it is better when the head above that heart has
been thinking hard on your behalf, and when the lips, that are also very
pleasant to kiss, give wise counsel.

When the American maiden--I speak now for the rank and file of that
noble army--is once married, why, it is finished. She has had her lovely
time. It may have been five, seven, or ten years according to
circumstances. She abdicates promptly with startling speed, and her
place knows her no more except as with her husband. The Queen is dead,
or looking after the house. This same household work seems to be the
thing that ages the American woman. She is infamously "helped" by the
Irish trollop and the negress alike. It is not fair upon her, because
she has to do three parts of the housework herself, and in dry,
nerve-straining air the "chores" are a burden. Be thankful, O my people,
for Mauz Baksh, Kadir Baksh, and the _ayah_ while they are with you.
They are twice as handy as the unkempt slatterns of the furnished
apartments to which you will return, Commissioners though you be; and
five times as clever as the Amelia Araminta Rebellia Secessia Jackson
(coloured) under whose ineptitude and insolence the young American
housewife groans. But all this is far enough from peaceful, placid
Musquash and its boundless cordiality, its simple, genuine hospitality,
and its--what's the French word that just covers
all?--_gra_--_gracieuseness_, isn't it? Oh, be good to an American
wherever you meet him. Put him up for the club, and he will hold you
listening till three in the morning; give him the best tent, and the
gram-fed mutton. I have incurred a debt of salt that I can never repay,
but do you return it piecemeal to any of that Nation, and the account
will be on my head till our paths in the world cross again. He drinks
iced water just as we do; but he doesn't quite like our cigars.

And how shall I finish the tale? Would it interest you to learn of the
picnics in the hot, still woods that overhang the Monongahela, when
those idiotic American buggies that can't turn round got stuck among the
brambles and all but capsized; of boating in the blazing sun on the
river that but a little time before had cast at the feet of the
horrified village the corpses of the Johnstown tragedy? I saw one, only
one, remnant of that terrible wreck. He had been a minister. House,
church, congregation, wife, and children had been swept away from him
in one night of terror. He had no employment; he could have employed
himself at nothing; but God had been very good to him. He sat in the sun
and smiled a little weakly. It was in his poor blurred mind that
something had happened--he was not sure what it was, but undoubtedly
something had occurred. One could only pray that the light would never
return.

But there be many pictures on my mind. Of a huge manufacturing city of
three hundred thousand souls lighted and warmed by natural gas, so that
the great valley full of flaming furnaces sent up no smoke wreaths to
the clear sky. Of Musquash itself lighted by the same mysterious agency,
flares of gas eight feet long, roaring day and night at the corners of
the grass-grown streets because it wasn't worth while to turn them out;
of fleets of coal-flats being hauled down the river on an interminable
journey to St. Louis; of factories nestling in woods where all the
axe-handles and shovels in the world seemed to be manufactured daily;
and last, of that quaint forgotten German community, the Brotherhood of
Perpetual Separation, who founded themselves when the State was yet
young and land cheap, and are now dying out because they will neither
marry nor give in marriage and their recruits are very few. The advance
in the value of land has almost smothered these poor old people in a
golden affluence that they never desired. They live in a little village
where the houses are built old Dutch fashion, with their front doors
away from the road, and cobbled paths all about. The cloistered peace of
Musquash is a metropolitan riot beside the hush of that village. And
there is, too, a love-tale tucked away among the flowers. It has taken
seventy years in the telling, for the brother and sister loved each
other well, but they loved their duty to the brotherhood more. So they
have lived and still do live, seeing each other daily, and separated for
all time. Any trouble that might have been is altogether wiped out of
their faces, which are as calm as those of very little children. To the
uninitiated those constant ones resemble extremely old people in
garments of absurd cut. But they love each other, and that seems to
bring one back quite naturally to the girls and the boys in Musquash.
The boys were nice boys--graduates of Yale of course; you mustn't
mention Harvard here--but none the less skilled in business, in stocks
and shares, the boring for oil, and the sale of everything that can be
sold by one sinner to another. Skilled, too, in baseball,
big-shouldered, with straight eyes and square chins--but not above
occasional diversion and mild orgies. They will make good citizens and
possess the earth, and eventually wed one of the nice white muslin
dresses. There are worse things in this world than being "one of the
boys" in Musquash.



No. XXXVII

AN INTERVIEW WITH MARK TWAIN.


You are a contemptible lot, over yonder. Some of you are Commissioners,
and some Lieutenant-Governors, and some have the V. C., and a few are
privileged to walk about the Mall arm in arm with the Viceroy; but _I_
have seen Mark Twain this golden morning, have shaken his hand, and
smoked a cigar--no, two cigars--with him, and talked with him for more
than two hours! Understand clearly that I do not despise you; indeed, I
don't. I am only very sorry for you, from the Viceroy downward. To
soothe your envy and to prove that I still regard you as my equals, I
will tell you all about it.

They said in Buffalo that he was in Hartford, Conn.; and again they said
"perchance he is gone upon a journey to Portland"; and a big, fat
drummer vowed that he knew the great man intimately, and that Mark was
spending the summer in Europe--which information so upset me that I
embarked upon the wrong train, and was incontinently turned out by the
conductor three-quarters of a mile from the station, amid the wilderness
of railway tracks. Have you ever, encumbered with great-coat and valise,
tried to dodge diversely-minded locomotives when the sun was shining in
your eyes? But I forgot that you have not seen Mark Twain, you people
of no account!

Saved from the jaws of the cow-catcher, me wandering devious a stranger
met.

"Elmira is the place. Elmira in the State of New York--this State, not
two hundred miles away;" and he added, perfectly unnecessarily, "Slide,
Kelley, slide."

I slid on the West Shore line, I slid till midnight, and they dumped me
down at the door of a frowzy hotel in Elmira. Yes, they knew all about
"that man Clemens," but reckoned he was not in town; had gone East
somewhere. I had better possess my soul in patience till the morrow, and
then dig up the "man Clemens'" brother-in-law, who was interested in
coal.

The idea of chasing half a dozen relatives in addition to Mark Twain up
and down a city of thirty thousand inhabitants kept me awake. Morning
revealed Elmira, whose streets were desolated by railway tracks, and
whose suburbs were given up to the manufacture of door-sashes and
window-frames. It was surrounded by pleasant, fat, little hills, rimmed
with timber and topped with cultivation. The Chemung River flowed
generally up and down the town, and had just finished flooding a few of
the main streets.

The hotel-man and the telephone-man assured me that the much-desired
brother-in-law was out of town, and no one seemed to know where "the man
Clemens" abode. Later on I discovered that he had not summered in that
place for more than nineteen seasons, and so was comparatively a new
arrival.

A friendly policeman volunteered the news that he had seen Twain or
"some one very like him" driving a buggy the day before. This gave me a
delightful sense of nearness. Fancy living in a town where you could see
the author of _Tom Sawyer_, or "some one very like him," jolting over
the pavements in a buggy!

"He lives out yonder at East Hill," said the policeman; "three miles
from here."

Then the chase began--in a hired hack, up an awful hill, where
sunflowers blossomed by the roadside, and crops waved, and _Harper's
Magazine_ cows stood in eligible and commanding attitudes knee-deep in
clover, all ready to be transferred to photogravure. The great man must
have been persecuted by outsiders aforetime, and fled up the hill for
refuge.

Presently the driver stopped at a miserable, little, white wood shanty,
and demanded "Mister Clemens."

"I know he's a big-bug and all that," he explained, "but you can never
tell what sort of notions those sort of men take into their heads to
live in, anyways."

There rose up a young lady who was sketching thistle-tops and goldenrod,
amid a plentiful supply of both, and set the pilgrimage on the right
path.

"It's a pretty Gothic house on the left-hand side a little way farther
on."

"Gothic h----," said the driver. "Very few of the city hacks take this
drive, specially if they know they are coming out here," and he glared
at me savagely.

It was a very pretty house, anything but Gothic, clothed with ivy,
standing in a very big compound, and fronted by a verandah full of
chairs and hammocks. The roof of the verandah was a trellis-work of
creepers, and the sun peeping through moved on the shining boards
below.

Decidedly this remote place was an ideal one for work, if a man could
work among these soft airs and the murmur of the long-eared crops.

Appeared suddenly a lady used to dealing with rampageous outsiders. "Mr.
Clemens has just walked down-town. He is at his brother-in-law's house."

Then he was within shouting distance, after all, and the chase had not
been in vain. With speed I fled, and the driver, skidding the wheel and
swearing audibly, arrived at the bottom of that hill without accidents.
It was in the pause that followed between ringing the brother-in-law's
bell and getting an answer that it occurred to me for the first time
Mark Twain might possibly have other engagements than the entertainment
of escaped lunatics from India, be they never so full of admiration. And
in another man's house--anyhow, what had I come to do or say? Suppose
the drawing-room should be full of people,--suppose a baby were sick,
how was I to explain that I only wanted to shake hands with him?

Then things happened somewhat in this order. A big, darkened
drawing-room; a huge chair; a man with eyes, a mane of grizzled hair, a
brown mustache covering a mouth as delicate as a woman's, a strong,
square hand shaking mine, and the slowest, calmest, levellest voice in
all the world saying:--

"Well, you think you owe me something, and you've come to tell me so.
That's what I call squaring a debt handsomely."

"Piff!" from a cob-pipe (I always said that a Missouri meerschaum was
the best smoking in the world), and, behold! Mark Twain had curled
himself up in the big armchair, and I was smoking reverently, as befits
one in the presence of his superior.

The thing that struck me first was that he was an elderly man; yet,
after a minute's thought, I perceived that it was otherwise, and in five
minutes, the eyes looking at me, I saw that the grey hair was an
accident of the most trivial. He was quite young. I was shaking his
hand. I was smoking his cigar, and I was hearing him talk--this man I
had learned to love and admire fourteen thousand miles away.

Reading his books, I had striven to get an idea of his personality, and
all my preconceived notions were wrong and beneath the reality. Blessed
is the man who finds no disillusion when he is brought face to face with
a revered writer. That was a moment to be remembered; the landing of a
twelve-pound salmon was nothing to it. I had hooked Mark Twain, and he
was treating me as though under certain circumstances I might be an
equal.

About this time I became aware that he was discussing the copyright
question. Here, so far as I remember, is what he said. Attend to the
words of the oracle through this unworthy medium transmitted. You will
never be able to imagine the long, slow surge of the drawl, and the
deadly gravity of the countenance, the quaint pucker of the body, one
foot thrown over the arm of the chair, the yellow pipe clinched in one
corner of the mouth, and the right hand casually caressing the square
chin:--

"Copyright? Some men have morals, and some men have--other things. I
presume a publisher is a man. He is not born. He is created--by
circumstances. Some publishers have morals. Mine have. They pay me for
the English productions of my books. When you hear men talking of Bret
Harte's works and other works and my books being pirated, ask them to be
sure of their facts. I think they'll find the books are paid for. It was
ever thus.

"I remember an unprincipled and formidable publisher. Perhaps he's dead
now. He used to take my short stories--I can't call it steal or pirate
them. It was beyond these things altogether. He took my stories one at a
time and made a book of it. If I wrote an essay on dentistry or theology
or any little thing of that kind--just an essay that long (he indicated
half an inch on his finger), any sort of essay--that publisher would
amend and improve my essay.

"He would get another man to write some more to it or cut it about
exactly as his needs required. Then he would publish a book called
_Dentistry by Mark Twain_, that little essay and some other things not
mine added. Theology would make another book, and so on. I do not
consider that fair. It's an insult. But he's dead now, I think. I didn't
kill him.

"There is a great deal of nonsense talked about international copyright.
The proper way to treat a copyright is to make it exactly like
real-estate in every way.

"It will settle itself under these conditions. If Congress were to bring
in a law that a man's life was not to extend over a hundred and sixty
years, somebody would laugh. That law wouldn't concern anybody. The man
would be out of the jurisdiction of the court. A term of years in
copyright comes to exactly the same thing. No law can make a book live
or cause it to die before the appointed time.

"Tottletown, Cal., was a new town, with a population of three
thousand--banks, fire-brigade, brick buildings, and all the modern
improvements. It lived, it flourished, and it disappeared. To-day no man
can put his foot on any remnant of Tottletown, Cal. It's dead. London
continues to exist. Bill Smith, author of a book read for the next year
or so, is real-estate in Tottletown. William Shakespeare, whose works
are extensively read, is real-estate in London. Let Bill Smith, equally
with Mr. Shakespeare now deceased, have as complete a control over his
copyright as he would over his real-estate. Let him gamble it away,
drink it away, or--give it to the church. Let his heirs and assigns
treat it in the same manner.

"Every now and again I go up to Washington, sitting on a board to drive
that sort of view into Congress. Congress takes its arguments against
international copyright delivered ready made, and--Congress isn't very
strong. I put the real-estate view of the case before one of the
Senators.

"He said: 'Suppose a man has written a book that will live for ever?'

"I said: 'Neither you nor I will ever live to see that man, but we'll
assume it. What then?'

"He said: 'I want to protect the world against that man's heirs and
assigns, working under your theory.'

"I said: 'You think that all the world has no commercial sense. The book
that will live for ever can't be artificially kept up at inflated
prices. There will always be very expensive editions of it and cheap
ones issuing side by side.'

"Take the case of Sir Walter Scott's novels," Mark Twain continued,
turning to me. "When the copyright notes protected them, I bought
editions as expensive as I could afford, because I liked them. At the
same time the same firm were selling editions that a cat might buy. They
had their real estate, and not being fools, recognised that one portion
of the plot could be worked as a gold mine, another as a vegetable
garden, and another as a marble quarry. Do you see?"

What I saw with the greatest clearness was Mark Twain being forced to
fight for the simple proposition that a man has as much right to the
work of his brains (think of the heresy of it!) as to the labour of his
hands. When the old lion roars, the young whelps growl. I growled
assentingly, and the talk ran on from books in general to his own in
particular.

Growing bold, and feeling that I had a few hundred thousand folk at my
back, I demanded whether Tom Sawyer married Judge Thatcher's daughter
and whether we were ever going to hear of Tom Sawyer as a man.

"I haven't decided," quoth Mark Twain, getting up, filling his pipe, and
walking up and down the room in his slippers. "I have a notion of
writing the sequel to _Tom Sawyer_ in two ways. In one I would make him
rise to great honour and go to Congress, and in the other I should hang
him. Then the friends and enemies of the book could take their choice."

Here I lost my reverence completely, and protested against any theory of
the sort, because, to me at least, Tom Sawyer was real.

"Oh, he _is_ real," said Mark Twain. "He's all the boy that I have known
or recollect; but that would be a good way of ending the book"; then,
turning round, "because, when you come to think of it, neither
religion, training, nor education avails anything against the force of
circumstances that drive a man. Suppose we took the next four and twenty
years of Tom Sawyer's life, and gave a little joggle to the
circumstances that controlled him. He would, logically and according to
the joggle, turn out a rip or an angel."

"Do you believe that, then?"

"I think so. Isn't it what you call Kismet?"

"Yes; but don't give him two joggles and show the result, because he
isn't your property any more. He belongs to us."

He laughed--a large, wholesome laugh--and this began a dissertation on
the rights of a man to do what he liked with his own creations, which
being a matter of purely professional interest, I will mercifully omit.

Returning to the big chair, he, speaking of truth and the like in
literature, said that an autobiography was the one work in which a man,
against his own will and in spite of his utmost striving to the
contrary, revealed himself in his true light to the world.

"A good deal of your life on the Mississippi is autobiographical, isn't
it?" I asked.

"As near as it can be--when a man is writing to a book and about
himself. But in genuine autobiography, I believe it is impossible for a
man to tell the truth about himself or to avoid impressing the reader
with the truth about himself.

"I made an experiment once. I got a friend of mine--a man painfully
given to speak the truth on all occasions--a man who wouldn't dream of
telling a lie--and I made him write his autobiography for his own
amusement and mine. He did it. The manuscript would have made an octavo
volume, but--good, honest man that he was--in every single detail of his
life that I knew about he turned out, on paper, a formidable liar. He
could not help himself.

"It is not in human nature to write the truth about itself. None the
less the reader gets a general impression from an autobiography whether
the man is a fraud or a good man. The reader can't give his reasons any
more than a man can explain why a woman struck him as being lovely when
he doesn't remember her hair, eyes, teeth, or figure. And the impression
that the reader gets is a correct one."

"Do you ever intend to write an autobiography?"

"If I do, it will be as other men have done--with the most earnest
desire to make myself out to be the better man in every little business
that has been to my discredit; and I shall fail, like the others, to
make my readers believe anything except the truth."

This naturally led to a discussion on conscience. Then said Mark Twain,
and his words are mighty and to be remembered:--

"Your conscience is a nuisance. A conscience is like a child. If you pet
it and play with it and let it have everything that it wants, it becomes
spoiled and intrudes on all your amusements and most of your griefs.
Treat your conscience as you would treat anything else. When it is
rebellious, spank it--be severe with it, argue with it, prevent it from
coming to play with you at all hours, and you will secure a good
conscience; that is to say, a properly trained one. A spoiled one simply
destroys all the pleasure in life. I think I have reduced mine to
order. At least, I haven't heard from it for some time. Perhaps I have
killed it from over-severity. It's wrong to kill a child, but, in spite
of all I have said, a conscience differs from a child in many ways.
Perhaps it's best when it's dead."

Here he told me a little--such things as a man may tell a stranger--of
his early life and upbringing, and in what manner he had been influenced
for good by the example of his parents. He spoke always through his
eyes, a light under the heavy eyebrows; anon crossing the room with a
step as light as a girl's, to show me some book or other; then resuming
his walk up and down the room, puffing at the cob pipe. I would have
given much for nerve enough to demand the gift of that pipe--value, five
cents when new. I understood why certain savage tribes ardently desired
the liver of brave men slain in combat. That pipe would have given me,
perhaps, a hint of his keen insight into the souls of men. But he never
laid it aside within stealing reach.

Once, indeed, he put his hand on my shoulder. It was an investiture of
the Star of India, blue silk, trumpets, and diamond-studded jewel, all
complete. If hereafter, in the changes and chances of this mortal life,
I fall to cureless ruin, I will tell the superintendent of the workhouse
that Mark Twain once put his hand on my shoulder; and he shall give me a
room to myself and a double allowance of paupers' tobacco.

"I never read novels myself," said he, "except when the popular
persecution forces me to--when people plague me to know what I think of
the last book that every one is reading."

"And how did the latest persecution affect you?"

"Robert?" said he, interrogatively.

I nodded.

"I read it, of course, for the workmanship. That made me think I had
neglected novels too long--that there might be a good many books as
graceful in style somewhere on the shelves; so I began a course of novel
reading. I have dropped it now; it did not amuse me. But as regards
Robert, the effect on me was exactly as though a singer of street
ballads were to hear excellent music from a church organ. I didn't stop
to ask whether the music was legitimate or necessary. I listened, and I
liked what I heard. I am speaking of the grace and beauty of the style."

"You see," he went on, "every man has his private opinion about a book.
But that is my private opinion. If I had lived in the beginning of
things, I should have looked around the township to see what popular
opinion thought of the murder of Abel before I openly condemned Cain. I
should have had my private opinion, of course, but I shouldn't have
expressed it until I had felt the way. You have my private opinion about
that book. I don't know what my public ones are exactly. They won't
upset the earth."

He recurled himself into the chair and talked of other things.

"I spend nine months of the year at Hartford. I have long ago satisfied
myself that there is no hope of doing much work during those nine
months. People come in and call. They call at all hours, about
everything in the world. One day I thought I would keep a list of
interruptions. It began this way:--

"A man came and would see no one but Mr. Clemens. He was an agent for
photogravure reproductions of Salon pictures. I very seldom use Salon
pictures in my books.

"After that man another man, who refused to see any one but Mr. Clemens,
came to make me write to Washington about something. I saw him. I saw a
third man, then a fourth. By this time it was noon. I had grown tired of
keeping the list. I wished to rest.

"But the fifth man was the only one of the crowd with a card of his own.
He sent up his card. 'Ben Koontz, Hannibal, Mo.' I was raised in
Hannibal. Ben was an old schoolmate of mine. Consequently I threw the
house wide open and rushed with both hands out at a big, fat, heavy man,
who was not the Ben I had ever known--nor anything like him.

"'But _is_ it you, Ben?' I said. 'You've altered in the last thousand
years.'

"The fat man said: 'Well, I'm not Koontz exactly, but I met him down in
Missouri, and he told me to be sure and call on you, and he gave me his
card, and'--here he acted the little scene for my benefit--'if you can
wait a minute till I can get out the circulars--I'm not Koontz exactly,
but I'm travelling with the fullest line of rods you ever saw.'"

"And what happened?" I asked breathlessly.

"I shut-the door. He was not Ben Koontz--exactly--not my old
school-fellow, but I had shaken him by both hands in love, and ... I had
been bearded by a lightning-rod man in my own house.

"As I was saying, I do very little work in Hartford. I come here for
three months every year, and I work four or five hours a day in a study
down the garden of that little house on the hill. Of course, I do not
object to two or three interruptions. When a man is in the full swing
of his work these little things do not affect him. Eight or ten or
twenty interruptions retard composition."

I was burning to ask him all manner of impertinent questions, as to
which of his works he himself preferred, and so forth; but, standing in
awe of his eyes, I dared not. He spoke on, and I listened, grovelling.

It was a question of mental equipment that was on the carpet, and I am
still wondering whether he meant what he said.

"Personally I never care for fiction or story-books. What I like to read
about are facts and statistics of any kind. If they are only facts about
the raising of radishes, they interest me. Just now, for instance,
before you came in"--he pointed to an encyclopædia on the shelves--"I
was reading an article about 'Mathematics.' Perfectly pure mathematics.

"My own knowledge of mathematics stops at 'twelve times twelve,' but I
enjoyed that article immensely. I didn't understand a word of it: but
facts, or what a man believes to be facts, are always delightful. That
mathematical fellow believed in his facts. So do I. Get your facts
first, and"--the voice dies away to an almost inaudible drone--"then you
can distort 'em as much as you please."

Bearing this precious advice in my bosom, I left; the great man assuring
me with gentle kindness that I had not interrupted him in the least.
Once outside the door, I yearned to go back and ask some questions--it
was easy enough to think of them now--but his time was his own, though
his books belonged to me.

I should have ample time to look back to that meeting across the graves
of the days. But it was sad to think of the things he had not spoken
about.

In San Francisco the men of _The Call_ told me many legends of Mark's
apprenticeship in their paper five and twenty years ago; how he was a
reporter delightfully incapable of reporting according to the needs of
the day. He preferred, so they said, to coil himself into a heap and
meditate until the last minute. Then he would produce copy bearing no
sort of relationship to his legitimate work--copy that made the editor
swear horribly, and the readers of _The Call_ ask for more.

I should like to have heard Mark's version of that, with some stories of
his joyous and variegated past. He has been journeyman printer (in those
days he wandered from the banks of the Missouri even to Philadelphia),
pilot cub and full-blown pilot, soldier of the South (that was for three
weeks only), private secretary to a Lieutenant-Governor of Nevada (that
displeased him), miner, editor, special correspondent in the Sandwich
Islands, and the Lord only knows what else. If so experienced a man
could by any means be made drunk, it would be a glorious thing to fill
him up with composite liquors, and, in the language of his own country,
"let him retrospect." But these eyes will never see that orgy fit for
the gods!



THE CITY OF DREADFUL NIGHT



THE CITY OF DREADFUL NIGHT



CHAPTER I

JAN.-FEB., 1888

A REAL LIVE CITY


We are all backwoodsmen and barbarians together--we others dwelling
beyond the Ditch, in the outer darkness of the Mofussil. There are no
such things as commissioners and heads of departments in the world, and
there is only one city in India. Bombay is too green, too pretty, and
too stragglesome; and Madras died ever so long ago. Let us take off our
hats to Calcutta, the many-sided, the smoky, the magnificent, as we
drive in over the Hugli Bridge in the dawn of a still February morning.
We have left India behind us at Howrah Station, and now we enter foreign
parts. No, not wholly foreign. Say rather too familiar.

All men of a certain age know the feeling of caged irritation--an
illustration in the _Graphic_, a bar of music or the light words of a
friend from home may set it ablaze--that comes from the knowledge of our
lost heritage of London. At Home they, the other men, our equals, have
at their disposal all that Town can supply--the roar of the streets, the
lights, the music, the pleasant places, the millions of their own kind,
and a wilderness full of pretty, fresh-coloured Englishwomen, theatres
and restaurants. It is their right. They accept it as such, and even
affect to look upon it with contempt. And we--we have nothing except the
few amusements that we painfully build up for ourselves--the dolorous
dissipations of gymkhanas where every one knows everybody else, or the
chastened intoxication of dances where all engagements are booked, in
ink, ten days ahead, and where everybody's antecedents are as patent as
his or her method of waltzing. We have been deprived of our inheritance.
The men at home are enjoying it all, not knowing how fair and rich it
is, and we at the most can only fly westward for a few months and gorge
what, properly speaking, should take seven or eight or ten luxurious
years. That is the lost heritage of London; and the knowledge of the
forfeiture, wilful or forced, comes to most men at times and seasons,
and they get cross.

Calcutta holds out false hopes of some return. The dense smoke hangs
low, in the chill of the morning, over an ocean of roofs, and, as the
city wakes, there goes up to the smoke a deep, full-throated boom of
life and motion and humanity. For this reason does he who sees Calcutta
for the first time hang joyously out of the _ticca-ghari_[11] and sniff
the smoke, and turn his face toward the tumult, saying: "This is, at
last, some portion of my heritage returned to me. This is a City. There
is life here, and there should be all manner of pleasant things for the
having, across the river and under the smoke."

[11] hired carriage.

The litany is an expressive one and exactly describes the first emotions
of a wandering savage adrift in Calcutta. The eye has lost its sense of
proportion, the focus has contracted through overmuch residence in
up-country stations--twenty minutes' canter from hospital to
parade-ground, you know--and the mind has shrunk with the eye. Both say
together, as they take in the sweep of shipping above and below the
Hugli Bridge: "Why, this is London! This is the docks. This is Imperial.
This is worth coming across India to see!"

Then a distinctly wicked idea takes possession of the mind: "What a
divine--what a heavenly place to _loot_!" This gives place to a much
worse devil--that of Conservatism. It seems not only a wrong but a
criminal thing to allow natives to have any voice in the control of such
a city--adorned, docked, wharfed, fronted, and reclaimed by Englishmen,
existing only because England lives, and dependent for its life on
England. All India knows of the Calcutta Municipality; but has any one
thoroughly investigated the Big Calcutta Stink? There is only one.
Benares is fouler in point of concentrated, pent-up muck, and there are
local stenches in Peshawar which are stronger than the B. C. S.; but,
for diffused, soul-sickening expansiveness, the reek of Calcutta beats
both Benares and Peshawar. Bombay cloaks her stenches with a veneer of
assafoetida and tobacco; Calcutta is above pretence. There is no
tracing back the Calcutta plague to any one source. It is faint, it is
sickly, and it is indescribable; but Americans at the Great Eastern
Hotel say that it is something like the smell of the Chinese quarter in
San Francisco. It is certainly not an Indian smell. It resembles the
essence of corruption that has rotted for the second time--the clammy
odour of blue slime. And there is no escape from it. It blows across the
_maidan_; it comes in gusts into the corridors of the Great Eastern
Hotel; what they are pleased to call the "Palaces of Chowringhi" carry
it; it swirls round the Bengal Club; it pours out of by-streets with
sickening intensity, and the breeze of the morning is laden with it. It
is first found, in spite of the fume of the engines, in Howrah Station.
It seems to be worst in the little lanes at the back of Lai Bazar where
the drinking-shops are, but it is nearly as bad opposite Government
House and in the Public Offices. The thing is intermittent. Six
moderately pure mouthfuls of air may be drawn without offence. Then
comes the seventh wave and the queasiness of an uncultured stomach. If
you live long enough in Calcutta you grow used to it. The regular
residents admit the disgrace, but their answer is: "Wait till the wind
blows off the Salt Lakes where all the sewage goes, and _then_ you'll
smell something." That is their defence! Small wonder that they consider
Calcutta is a fit place for a permanent Viceroy. Englishmen who can
calmly extenuate one shame by another are capable of asking for
anything--and expecting to get it.

If an up-country station holding three thousand troops and twenty
civilians owned such a possession as Calcutta does, the Deputy
Commissioner or the Cantonment Magistrate would have all the natives off
the board of management or decently shovelled into the background until
the mess was abated. Then they might come on again and talk of
"high-handed oppression" as much as they liked. That stink, to an
unprejudiced nose, damns Calcutta as a City of Kings. And, in spite of
that stink, they allow, they even encourage, natives to look after the
place! The damp, drainage-soaked soil is sick with the teeming life of a
hundred years, and the Municipal Board list is choked with the names of
natives--men of the breed born in and raised off this surfeited
muck-heap! They own property, these amiable Aryans on the Municipal and
the Bengal Legislative Council. Launch a proposal to tax them on that
property, and they naturally howl. They also howl up-country, but there
the halls for mass-meetings are few, and the vernacular papers fewer,
and with a strong Secretary and a President whose favour is worth the
having and whose wrath is undesirable, men are kept clean despite
themselves, and may not poison their neighbours. Why, asks a savage, let
them vote at all? They can put up with this filthiness. They _cannot_
have any feelings worth caring a rush for. Let them live quietly and
hide away their money under our protection, while we tax them till they
know through their purses the measure of their neglect in the past, and
when a little of the smell has been abolished, let us bring them back
again to talk and take the credit of enlightenment. The better classes
own their broughams and barouches; the worse can shoulder an Englishman
into the kennel and talk to him as though he were a cook. They can refer
to an English lady as an _aurat_[12]; they are permitted a freedom--not
to put it too coarsely--of speech which, if used by an Englishman toward
an Englishman, would end in serious trouble. They are fenced and
protected and made inviolate. Surely they might be content with all
those things without entering into matters which they cannot, by the
nature of their birth, understand.

[12] woman.

Now, whether all this genial diatribe be the outcome of an unbiassed
mind or the result first of sickness caused by that ferocious stench,
and secondly of headache due to day-long smoking to drown the stench,
is an open question. Anyway, Calcutta is a fearsome place for a man not
educated up to it.

A word of advice to other barbarians. Do not bring a north-country
servant into Calcutta. He is sure to get into trouble, because he does
not understand the customs of the city. A Punjabi in this place for the
first time esteems it his bounden duty to go to the _Ajaib-ghar_--the
Museum. Such an one has gone and is even now returned very angry and
troubled in the spirit. "I went to the Museum," says he, "and no one
gave me any abuse. I went to the market to buy my food, and then I sat
upon a seat. There came an orderly who said, 'Go away, I want to sit
here.' I said, 'I am here first.' He said, 'I am a _chaprassi_![13] get
out!' and he hit me. Now that sitting-place was open to all, so I hit
him till he wept. He ran away for the Police, and I went away too, for
the Police here are all Sahibs. Can I have leave from two o'clock to go
and look for that man and hit him again?"

[13] messenger.

Behold the situation! An unknown city full of smell that makes one long
for rest and retirement, and a champing servant, not yet six hours in
the stew, who has started a blood-feud with an unknown _chaprassi_ and
clamours to go forth to the fray.

Alas! for the lost delusion of the heritage that was to be restored. Let
us sleep, let us sleep, and pray that Calcutta may be better to-morrow.

At present it is remarkably like sleeping with a corpse.



CHAPTER II

THE REFLECTIONS OF A SAVAGE.


Morning brings counsel. _Does_ Calcutta smell so pestiferously after
all? Heavy rain has fallen in the night. She is newly washed, and the
clear sunlight shows her at her best. Where, oh where, in all this
wilderness of life shall a man go?

The Great Eastern hums with life through all its hundred rooms. Doors
slam merrily, and all the nations of the earth run up and down the
staircases. This alone is refreshing, because the passers bump you and
ask you to stand aside. Fancy finding any place outside the Levée-room
where Englishmen are crowded together to this extent! Fancy sitting down
seventy strong to _tâble d'hôte_ and with a deafening clatter of knives
and forks! Fancy finding a real bar whence drinks may be obtained! and,
joy of joys, fancy stepping out of the hotel into the arms of a live,
white, helmeted, buttoned, truncheoned Bobby! What would happen if one
spoke to this Bobby? Would he be offended? He is not offended. He is
affable. He has to patrol the pavement in front of the Great Eastern and
to see that the crowding carriages do not jam. Toward a presumably
respectable white he behaves as a man and a