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"Well, this is not going to the Great Wall. We went out of Pekin by the north gate, and into a country that was flat and dusty. Fred's pony was not very good-natured, and every little while took it into his head to balance himself on the tip of his tail. This was not the kind of riding we had bargained for, as it made the travel rather wearisome, and interfered with the progress of the whole caravan. We thought the pony would behave himself after a little fatigue had cooled his temper; but the more we went on, the worse he became. When we were about ten miles out, he ran away, and went tearing through a cotton-field as though he owned it, and he ended by pitching his rider over his head across a small ditch.
"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.Near the entrance of one of the castle-yards they met a couple that attracted their attention. It was a respectable-appearing citizen who had evidently partaken too freely of the cup that cheers and also inebriates, as his steps were unsteady, and he would have fallen to the ground had it not been for the assistance of his wife, who was leading him and guiding him in the way he should go. As the strangers went past him he raised his hand to his head; but Frank could not determine whether it was a movement of salutation or of dazed inquiry. The Doctor suggested that it was more likely to have been the latter than the former, since the Japanese do not salute in our manner, and the man was too much under the influence of the "sa-kee" he had swallowed to adopt any foreign modes of politeness. Sights like this are not unknown in the great cities of Japan, but they are far less frequent than in New York or London. The Japanese say that drunkenness is on the decrease in the past few years, owing to the abolition of the Samurai class, who have been compelled to work for a living, instead of being supported out of the revenues of the state, as formerly. They have less time and money for dissipation now than they had in the olden days, and, consequently, their necessities have made them temperate.
The next morning a carriage containing Doctor Bronson and his nephew, Fred, drove up in front of Mr. Bassett's house. There were farewell kisses, and hopes for a prosperous journey; and in a few minutes the three travellers were on their way to the railway station. There was a waving of handkerchiefs as the carriage started from the house and rolled away; Nero barked and looked wistfully after his young master, and the warm-hearted Kathleen wiped her eyes with the corner of her apron, and flung an old shoe after the departing vehicle.
Fred opened his eyes with an expression of astonishment, and said he thought the science of navigation was something wonderful.
"In that case," the Doctor continued, "you want to take up a subject that will be interesting to both, and that has not been touched in your letters thus far."TAE-PING REBELS. TAE-PING REBELS.
"Three or four cormorants and a raft are necessary in this way of fishing. The cormorants are stupid-looking birds about the size of geese, but are of a dark color, so that they cannot be readily seen by the fish. The raft is of bamboo logs bound together, and about three feet wide by twenty[Pg 347] in length. The fisherman is armed with a paddle for propelling his raft and a scoop-net for taking the fish after they have been caught by the cormorant, and he has a large basket for holding the fish after they have been safely secured. Each cormorant has a cord or ring around his neck to prevent him from swallowing the fish he has taken, and it is so tight that he cannot get down any but the smallest fish.The morning after their departure from Nagasaki, Frank went on deck soon after daylight. The wind was so strong that it almost took him from his feet, and he was compelled to grasp something to make sure of remaining upright. The sky was overcast, and every few minutes there came a sprinkling of rain that intimated that the cabin was the better place for any one who was particular about keeping dry. Fred joined him in a few minutes, and soon after Fred's arrival the Doctor made his appearance.ASAKUSA AND YUYENO.—FIRST NATIONAL FAIR AT TOKIO.
THRESHING GRAIN NEAR CHIN-KIANG. THRESHING GRAIN NEAR CHIN-KIANG.
"There are sixteen gates to the city, and each has a name that designates its position. There are two pagodas near the West Gate, and there are a hundred and twenty-four temples, pavilions, and halls inside the walls of Canton. Then there are four prisons, and there is an execution ground, where many a poor fellow has lost his head. The prisons are like all such establishments in China, and a great many men would prefer death to incarceration in one of these horrible places.But, faithful to duty, in our work we'll ne'er cease"The Chinese have a great many gods, and pretty nearly every god has a temple in some part of Pekin. There is a fine temple to Confucius, which is surrounded by some trees that are said to be five hundred years old; the temple has a high roof which is very elaborately carved, and looks pretty both from a distance and when you are close by it. But there are no statues in the temple, as the Chinese do not worship Confucius through a statue, but by means of a tablet on which his name is inscribed. The other deities have their statues, and you may see the god of war with a long beard and mustache. The Chinese have very slight beards, and it is perhaps for this reason that they frequently represent their divinities as having a great deal of hair on their faces, so as to indicate their superiority to mortals. Then they have a god of literature, who is represented standing on the head of a large fish, and waving a pencil in his right hand, while he holds in his left a cap such as is worn by the literary graduates after they have received their degrees.[Pg 368] The god of literature is worshipped a great deal by everybody who is studying for a degree, and by those whose ancestors or other relatives have been successful in carrying away the honors at an examination. Think what it would be to have such a divinity in our colleges and schools[Pg 369] in America, and the amount of worship he would get if the students really believed in him!
"As to the jin-riki-sha," he continued, "my experience with it in my last visit to Japan since its introduction gives me a high opinion of the Japanese power of endurance. A few days after my arrival, I had occasion to go a distance of about forty miles on the great road along the coast,[Pg 111] from Yokohama to Odiwara. I had three men to draw the carriage, and the journey was made in twelve hours, with three halts of fifteen minutes each. You could not have done better than this with a horse and carriage in place of the man-power vehicle. On another occasion I went from Osaka to Nara, a distance of thirty miles, between ten in the morning and five in the afternoon, and halted an hour for lunch at a Japanese inn on the road. Part of the way the road was through fields, where it was necessary to go slowly, and quite frequently the men were obliged to lift the vehicle over water-courses and gullies, and a good deal of time was lost by these detentions.""While we were looking at the audience there came half a dozen raps behind the curtain, as if two pieces of wood had been knocked together; and a moment after the rapping had stopped, the curtain was drawn aside. It was a common sort of curtain, and did not open in the middle like some of ours, or roll up like others; it was pulled aside as if it ran on a wire, and when it was out of sight we saw the stage set to represent a garden with lots of flower-pots and bushes. The stage was very small compared with an American one, and not more than ten or twelve feet deep; but it was set quite well, though not so elaborately as we would arrange it. The orchestra was in a couple of little boxes over the stage, one on each side, and each box contained six persons, three singers and three guitar-players. This is the regulation orchestra and chorus, so they say, in all the Japanese theatres, but it is sometimes differently made up. If a theatre is small and poor, it may have only two performers in each box, and sometimes one box may be empty, but this is not often.THE SAMISEN. THE SAMISEN.
Fred thought he must say something, but was undecided for a moment. The room was open, and as he looked into the hall, he saw the chambermaid approaching the opposite door with the evident intention[Pg 38] of looking through the keyhole. This gave him his opportunity, and he proposed his question.