2021-04-17 12:52:25

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ENGLISH This completed the furniture of the room. When it was removed after dinner, Frank remarked that the only furniture remaining was Doctor Bronson, Fred, and himself. And, as they were quite weary after their ride, they were disposed to be as quiet as well-regulated furniture usually is."Not in the least," Doctor Bronson explained. "It is an old custom for married women to blacken their teeth, and formerly it was most rigidly observed; but of late years, since the foreigners came to Japan, it has not been adhered to. The Japanese see that a married woman can get along without having her teeth discolored, and as they are inclined to fall into the customs of Europe, the most progressive of them not only permit, but require, their wives to keep their teeth white."

"In attempting to pronounce the word 'business,' the Chinese were formerly unable to get nearer to the real sound than 'pidgin' or 'pigeon;' hence the adoption of that word, which means nothing more nor less than 'business.' Pidgin English is therefore business English, and is the language of commerce at the open ports of China, or wherever else the native and foreigner come in contact. A pidgin French has made its appearance in Saigon and at other places, and is steadily increasing as French commerce has increased. On the frontier line between Russia and China there is an important trading-pointKiachtawhere the commerce of the two empires was exclusively conducted for a century and a half. A pidgin Russian exists there, and is the medium of commercial transactions between the Russian and Chinese merchants."If you are deeply interested in the subject of hari-kari," said the Doctor, "I advise you to read Mitford's book entitled 'Tales of Old Japan.' Mr. Mitford lived some time in Japan in an official capacity, and on one occasion he was called upon to be present at the hari-kari of an officer who had given orders for firing on some foreigners. He gives an account of this affair, including a list of the ceremonies to be observed on such an occasion, which he translated from a Japanese work on the subject. Nothing could be more precise than the regulations, and some of them are exceedingly curious, particularly the one that requires the nearest friend of the victim to act as his second. The duty of the second is to cut off the principal's head at the moment he plunges the knife into his body. It is a post of honor, and a gentleman who should refuse thus to act for his friend would be considered no friend at all. Again I say it is a curious custom all through.

"That man belongs to a class which is not at all rare in the far East," said Doctor Bronson to the boys when the subject of the conversation had left them. "A great many adventurers find their way here, some of them being men of ability which borders on genius, while the others are not far removed from rascals. Ward and Burgevine were of the better sort; and there are others whom I could name, but they are not so numerous as the other and worse variety. They are very often men of good manners, and not at all disagreeable as travelling companions, but it is not advisable to be intimate with them. Travelling, like poverty, makes us some strange acquaintances. We can learn a great deal from them if we proceed properly; and if we know where the line of familiarity should be drawn, we are not in any danger of suffering by it."I could hardly say, and we moved pensively toward Major Harper's tent. Evidently the main poison was still in Gholson's stomach, and when I glanced at him he asked, "What d'you reckon brought Ned Ferry here just at this time?"

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"We don't know positively whether there are a million people in Canton or not. We took the figures from the guide-book, just as everybody[Pg 410] else takes them, and we want to acknowledge our indebtedness to it. The guide-book is very useful in a strange country, as it tells you in a few minutes what you might spend hours or days in learning. It gives you an outline which you must fill in for yourself by practical observation; and[Pg 411] unless you have it with you, there is a great deal that you may miss, if your time is limited, and you are compelled to do your sight-seeing rapidly."So powerful did the rebels become that they had nearly a third of the best part of the empire under their control, and the imperial authorities became seriously alarmed. City after city had been captured by the rebels, and at one time the overthrow of the government appeared almost certain. The rebels were numerous and well officered, and they had the advantage of foreign instruction, and, to some extent, of foreign arms. The imperialists went to war after the old system, which consisted of sound rather than sense. They were accustomed to beat gongs, fire guns, and make a great noise to frighten the enemy; and as the enemy knew perfectly well what it was all about, it did not amount to much. The suppression of the rebellion was largely due to foreigners, and the most prominent of these was an American."

They remained an hour or more on the mountain, and then began the descent. It was far easier than the upward journey, but was by no means a pleasurable affair. The boys slipped and fell several times, but, luckily, received no severe hurts; and in little more than three hours from the top they were at the spot where the horses were waiting for them. Altogether, they had been through about twelve hours of the hardest climbing they had ever known in their lives. Frank said he didn't want to climb any more mountains for at least a year, and Fred quite agreed with him. As they descended from their saddles at Muriyama, they were stiff and sore, and could hardly stand. They threw their arms around each other, and Frank said:"Then there were jugglers spinning plates on sticks, and doing other things of a character more or less marvellous. One of their tricks is to spin the plate on two sticks held at right angles to each other, instead of on a single stick, as with us; but how they manage to do it I am unable to say. They make the plate whirl very fast, and can keep it up a long time without any apparent fatigue.

"You know how a tea-chest looks, so I need not describe it any more than to say that the chest is lined with tin, and that the tin is carefully soldered, so that not a single particle of dampness can get in while the tea is on the ocean. If it should, the tea would be spoiled, as the least dampness will injure it, and a great deal will make it quite useless. They always try to hurry the new crop of tea as rapidly as they can, since it is the best, and has more and better flavor than the crop of the previous year. When a ship sails with new tea, she races for home as hard as she can go, and the quickest voyages ever made from this part of the world to Europe and America have been made by ships with cargoes of new tea."The steamer descended the Woosung River to its intersection with the Yang-tse-kiang, and then began the ascent of the latter. The great stream was so broad that it seemed more like a bay than a river. This condition continued for a hundred and fifty miles, when the bay narrowed to a river, and the far-famed Silver Island came in sight. It stands in mid-stream, a steep hill of rock, about three hundred feet high, crowned with a pagoda, and covered from base to summit with trees and bushes and rich grass. At first it might be taken for an uninhabited spot, but as the boat approaches you can see that there are numerous summer-houses and other habitations peeping out from the verdure. A little beyond the island there is a city which straggles over the hills, and is backed by a range of mountains that make a sharp outline against the sky. This is Chin-kiang, the first stopping-place of the steamer as she proceeds from Shanghai to Han-kow. She was to remain several hours, and our friends embraced the opportunity to take a stroll on shore. Here is Frank's account of the expedition:

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Next morning they were not very early risers, and the whole trio were weary and sore from the effect of the ride of ninety miles on the backs of Chinese ponies. Frank said that when he was sitting down he hesitated to rise for fear he should break in two, and Fred asserted that it was dangerous to go from a standing to a sitting position for the same reason.

There lay the great Fusiyama, the holy mountain of Japan, which[Pg 207] they had come so many thousand miles to see. In the afternoon the clouds rolled at its base, but the cone, barren as a hill in the great desert, was uncovered, and all the huge furrows of its sloping sides were distinctly to be seen. Close at hand were forests of the beautiful cedar of Japan, fields of waving corn, and other products of agriculture. Not far off were the waters of the bay that sweeps in from the ocean to near the base of the famous landmark for the mariners who approach this part of the coast. Now and then the wind brought to their ears the roar of[Pg 208] the breakers, as they crashed upon the rocks, or rolled along the open stretches of sandy beach.I said one might respect religion even if he did not--

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Apr-17 12:52:25