The Belted Seas
Part 2 out of 3
"Ah, senorito, little rogue!" he says. "Alas! what behaviour!" and he
chuckled and patted Craney on the arm.
The official was sociable too. He took out a cigarette, and
explained there had been a complaint lodged with the authorities
against the keeper, that he'd been drawing illicit gains from the
peasantry. In fact, Padre Filippo had complained. The Padre laughed
"Why," says Craney, "I know something about that."
"Truly, I think so!" chuckles the Padre. "And if they've a mind to
present him with a bag of beans now and then, whose business is it?"
"The alcalde's," says the official, very calm. "It's not mine. I
have but to take him before the alcalde, and here is the keeper of
the lighthouse who takes his place. In candour I think Senor
de Avila does not return. It is no affair of mine."
"Why," I says, "he'll never condescend to go before your alcalde!
Why, an alcalde's too small for him to see."
"Chut!" says the Padre. "Speak in reverence of authorities, my son.
You are both little rogues."
"It is possible," says the official.
Craney lay on his back and thought a bit. Then he says to the
official, "I'm thinking the keeper wouldn't mind resigning, supposing
my friend Buckingham here went up and talked him over. He might go
back to Spain, maybe. Maybe you don't know his popularity in this
section, but I tell you this, he could make you plenty of trouble.
You've got an idea he's going to be arrested and jailed and
blackguarded by an alcalde. Well, he isn't, or these Mituas people of
his will know why. Padre Filippo here, he'd always rather things were
"Surely," says the Padre, "surely."
"You'd better let us arrange it. Besides, in that case it might
interest you--say, ten dollars' worth of interest."
"Fifteen," says the other, very calm. "It is no affair of mine."
Then I went up to the Torre Ananias, up to the lantern story where
the keeper was looking over the sea and brooding.
"Senor," I says, "why don't you go to Aragon and buy
"True," he said quietly, "why not? But you have some reason for
speaking, for suggesting."
"Why--yes. It's not the fault of the people on the estate, but
there's a government somewhere around here, and they're getting
offish, and it can't be helped. You don't want to squabble over the
lighthouse. Why not buy some vineyards in Aragon? You can afford it
now. The officials want to interfere with you. Why not get up and
He stood up and wrapped his coat around him, and said, "I will go,"
and started downstairs for Spain.
We sailed for Corazon in the Padre's cat-boat and left the new
keeper in the tower, and I never but once again have landed on the
point. That was when I came some days after to gather a few things
It was in the evening, and there were great bonfires burning in the
open space by the banana tree, and a crowd of figures around it, but
all that was hidden when the sailboat drew under the bluffs. I
stepped ashore and went into the shed, and some one rose in the dark
and grabbed me, and I dragged him out into the starlight. It was the
"Senor," he gasped. "Do not go up! They drove me with sticks
and stones that I fled to the water. They are mad! Hear them! They
mourn for Senor de Avila. They build a great fire and they
sing thus in no Christian language. Come away in your boat. They are
It seemed to me too they'd better be left to themselves. We drew out
again from under the bluffs, and caught the breeze, and stood away.
The shouting and the chant kept on, and the fire shone after us like
a red path on the water.
I don't know any more about the Tower of Ananias. But I know the
Mituas people were sore about losing the keeper, who went to Lima,
meaning to go to Spain, and never knew he'd been supernatural. Craney
told me afterwards he'd heard the keeper died on the voyage and was
dropped overboard to punctuate the end of his story,--only, no name
was given, and maybe it wasn't him but some other aristocracy.
Craney himself stayed on at Corazon in the cocoa trade, meaning to
take up contracts with the French and English agencies. He asked me
to stay with him, and when I wouldn't, he asked for reasons, and I
gave him a reason. Not that I mentioned the hundred and forty lost at
Colon. For if he took it (and I guessed pretty near he did) he'd paid
it back with a long leeway by sharing the Mituas business with me,
when the whole thing was his. I thought the less said the better. If
he was nervous to know what was my mind about that point, why, I
thought it was good for him to be nervous. I gave for a reason that I
was thinking to go back to Greenough on Long Island Sound.
"Greenough!" he says. "It's next to where Abe Dalrimple lives?
Adrian's the name of his town."
"What do you know of it, Craney?"
"I went there with Abe Dalrimple," he says, "and left him there
planting lobster pots. That wouldn't do for me. None of it in mine.
Abe's got no more ambition than to dodge the next kettle Mrs.
Dalrimple throws at him, but me, I'm ambitious, I got to spread out.
I'm a romantic man, Tommy. That's my secret. That's the key of me.
Give me largeness. Give me space for my talents. What do you want
with Greenough? You stay with me and I'll show you who's the natural
lord of all lands that's fertile and foolish. Ain't I showed you what
I could do in a small way? Why, I only just began. That's nothing,
I'm a soarer, Tommy, I've got visions."
I took a look at his one hard bright eye, and thought him over, and
"You've got 'em all right, but they're slippery," and I says:
"Did you hear news of any one in Greenough?"
"Give 'em a name."
"Happen it might be the name of Pemberton," I says. "Madge Pemberton."
"There was a man in Adrian named Andrew McCulloch," he says, "that
married a girl named Pemberton from Greenough. Aye, I recollect,
Pemberton's was a hotel."
"It was that name."
I recollect it was a little cafe in Corazon, where Craney and
I sat that evening. It was thick with smoke and crowded with round
tables, at which mixed breeds of people, mostly square-shouldered
little men, were discussing the time of day and the merits of wine
--which hadn't any--in a way of excitement that you'd think they were
crying out against oppression. Each table had a tallow candle on it,
burning dim in the smoke.
I says, "Oh!"
Then Craney went on talking, but I don't know what it was about.
Then I says, "It don't suit me in Corazon," and I got up. I went out
in the steep cobbled street that runs down to the shore of Corazon Bay.
I lay all night on the shore and watched 'the waves come up and
crumble on the shingle. I remembered the verse Sadler used to chant
to me in the _Hebe Maitland_ days, when I was acting more gay
than he thought becoming to the uselessness of me. "Oh, sailor boy,"
"Oh, sailor, my sailor boy, bonny and blue,
You're rompin', you're roamin',
The long slantin' sorrows are waiting for you
In the gloamin', the gloamin'."
I remember, when it came morning, on the beach at Corazon, I got up,
and I says:
"Clyde's mucky old bags can stay there till I'm ready," I says.
"What's the use!"
I took a dislike to Clyde's money. I bought a passage to San
Francisco, and came there in the year '75.
There I put the profits of six years on the West Coast into shares
in a ship called the _Anaconda_, and shipped on her myself as
I found Stevey Todd cooking in a restaurant in San Francisco. He'd
gone into gold mines, after getting loose from the _Jane Allen_.
He'd left his profits from the Hotel Helen Mar in the gold mines.
Every mine he'd invested in got discouraged, so he said, but I judge
the truth was more likely Stevey Todd was taken in by mining sharks.
He'd made up his mind property wasn't his stronghold and gone back to
cooking, and never took any more interest in property after that, nor
had any to take interest in. But he told me Sadler was in business
and getting rich, and in partnership with a Chinaman, and living in a
town called "Saleratus," sixty miles down the coast, which none of
these statements seemed likely at the time. Stevey Todd didn't know
why the town was named Saleratus. He thought maybe Sadler had named
it, or maybe gone there on account of the name, foreseeing
interesting rhymes with "potatoes" and "tomatoes." But I didn't look
Sadler up at that time.
* * * * *
The Captain turned to Uncle Abimelech, and said:
"Happen you might remember Sadler's tune to that verse, 'Sailor, my
sailor boy, bonny and blue'?"
"He never said no such impudent thing to me," said Uncle Abimelech
wrathfully. "I'd 'a' whaled him good."
"Why, that's true, Abe," said Captain Buckingham. "You wasn't much
Stevey Todd said:
"They changed that name, Saleratus."
"That's true too," said Captain Buckingham. "An outlandish name is
bad for a town, or a ship, or a man; same as the _Anaconda,_ for
the _Anaconda_ had bad luck, same as Abimelech Dalrimple. He'd
never've got his brains frazzled if he'd been named Bill."
He paused several minutes before going on, to think over this theory
LIEBCHEN. THE EWIGWEIBLICHE. THE NARRATIVE RESUMED, WITH THE LOSS OF
I invested the profits of the Hotel Helen Mar and the Ananias
plantation in shares in the _Anaconda_, and shipped myself as
second mate. She was carrying a cargo of steel rails for a railroad
There was a man named Kreps who came aboard at Honolulu. He was a
round-faced, chubby man, with spectacles and a trunk full of
preserved specimens, and out of breath with his enthusiasm; and he
was a German, too, and a Professor of Allerleiwissenschaft, which I
take to mean Things in General. He was around gathering in culture
and twelve-sided fish in the Pacific, and had a pailful of island
dialects and sentiments that were milky and innocent. But I liked him.
I had no objection to the _Anaconda_ either, except that she
went to the bottom of the Pacific without any argument about that,
and left me stranded on a little island there along with Kreps, and a
hen named Veronica, and a Kanaka named Kamelillo. There was a fourth
that got stranded there too. We called her "Liebchen" and she surely
acted singular, did Liebchen, but I liked her too. Kreps said she was
"symbol," but his ideas and mine didn't agree. He said she was a type
of the "Ewigweibliche," which is another good word though a Dutch
one. Maybe she was. Maybe Veronica was another type. I guess it's a
word that's got some varieties to it.
Veronica belonged to the ship, but had never been cooked, being thin
and stringy; and Kamelillo was a silent, sulky Kanaka that had lived
up and down the Pacific, and harpooned whales, and been shipwrecked
now and then, and was sometimes drunk and sometimes starved, and had
no opinion on these things, except that he'd rather be drunk than
starved. I never knew one that took less interest in life, provided
he was let alone. I liked them all well enough, too. I took things as
they came in those days. I'd as soon have bunked in with an alligator
as a Patagonian.
It was south of Midway Island that we ran into the typhoon come over
from Asia. A typhoon is to an ordinary storm what a surf is to a
deep-sea wave, for it's short but ugly. When it was done with us the
_Anaconda_ began to leak fearful in the waist, and I dare say
the typhoon was excuse enough if she'd broken in two. She went down
easy and slow, with all I had and owned sticking in her. It's bad
luck to give a ship an outlandish name.
There were two large boats and a small one, and trouble came from
Kreps' tin cans of specimens, for the captain wouldn't take them in
his boat, nor the first mate in his, so Kreps wanted to put them in
the small boat. He shed tears and got low in his mind.
"Dey are von der sciences ignorant, obtuse," he says.
I says, "So's the Pacific Ocean."
"But you, so young, so intelligent! Not as de Pacific Ocean, hein?"
I allowed there was difference between me and the Pacific. Kreps got
his tin cans in, and I put the boat off. Kamelillo was spreading the
cat-sail and had no opinion. Veronica came flapping over the rail
with a squawk, and lit on Kamelillo, and fell into the bottom of the
boat. We got away after the other boats, the night coming on clear,
and Kamelillo talked island dialects at Veronica for scratching him
when he wanted to be let alone. Kreps sat over his specimens,
innocent and happy and singing German lullabies.
The next morning the other boats were not in sight. We steered
north, for there were odd islands in that direction by the chart,
without names enough to go around them; and on the second morning we
saw a high shore to port, with surf like a white rag sewed along the
bottom, and rags of mist sticking to the black bluffs.
"Ach," says Kreps, and the tears trickled down under his spectacles.
"Gott sei dank! I am mude of the sea. It iss too large."
"How she get up them high?" Kamelillo says. "No! Maybe dam hen fly
up. Not me. No!"
We coasted by the east side a little way and came to a place where
the water was quiet and black in a slip of maybe a hundred feet in
width, where the bluff had broken in two. The channel appeared to
curve, so that you could only see a little way up. We dropped sail
and pulled through. It might have been twenty feet deep in the
channel, being high tide, and running in slow. Wine-palms and
cocoanut trees grew on the bluffs on each side. Some leaned over,
with roots out where the earth had caved away. We came about the
curve and saw a closed bay, shut in by the bluffs from the outer sea
and even the winds. It was wooded on the north and very rocky on the
south, and might have been a quarter of a mile across. We landed on
the north side and camped, and set a signal on the bluffs, and then
we laid off to wait for accidents. I knew there were whalers cruising
in the neighbourhood, and thought likely it would be seen.
Now Liebchen came in one day at high tide, chasing those little
goggle-eyed squids that lived so many in the harbour. The first
we saw was tons of her gambolling around in the water. She was a
medium-sized whale, and might have been forty feet in length, but I
never was in the whaling business, and Liebchen was the only one I
ever got real acquainted with. I've heard it's common for them to be
stranded on shallow shores, and get off again if let alone. The harbour
may have been Liebchen's boudoir for aught I know. Maybe she'd come
there before. She surely knew how to get out if let alone. After an
hour or so she was over by the entrance trying to leave. She seemed
to be in trouble, and then we saw the tide had gone out, and left the
channel too shallow to heave over.
When Kreps understood that she was penned in, he acted outrageous,
and pranced like a red rubber balloon.
"Gieb mir das axe! Ich will de habits of de cetacean studieren!" he
He ran away through the woods around the north shore, and I ran
after, to see him study the habits of the cetacean. Liebchen had
sidled off and was rolling about in the middle of the harbour when we
came to the bluffs, where the wine-palms and cocoanut trees leaned
over and the channel was narrow. Kreps fell to chopping the landward
roots, and I saw he wanted to block the channel.
We slid a tree down under the water, and then another, and so on,
till it was a messy-looking channel, a sort of log jam, with roots
and palm-tree tops mixed in, which I thought the tide would float
out, and it did afterward, some of it.
Then we went back to where Kamelillo was cooking, squatted on the
shore with his bare back turned to the water. He took no interest in
Liebchen. He was making a kind of paste of ground roots, called
"poi," which wasn't bad, if you rolled a fish in it, and baked it on
the coals, and thought about something else. But at that time
Liebchen came round the north shore in a roar of foam, bringing her
flukes down now and then with a slap to make the harbour ache, and
she slapped near a barrel of water over Kamelillo and his fire and
his poi. Kamelillo says:
"Why for? She not my whale. You keep her out a my suppa. Why for?"
Kreps was disgusted because Kamelillo didn't like Liebchen. He went
and stood on the bank, in the interest of science, and studied the
habits of the cetacean, but he got no results. She had no habits, to
speak uprightly, only notions. They weren't any use to science.
Sometimes she'd flutter with her fins, and twitter her flukes, and
sidle off like she was bashful, and then she'd come swooping around
enough to make the harbour sizzle, and stick her nose in the bottom
and her tail in the air, trembling with her emotions, and then she'd
come up and smile at you a rod each way. I judged she meant all
right, but she didn't understand her limitations. Her strong hold was
the majestic. She appeared to have it fixed she wanted to be
kittenish. That was the way it seemed to me. But Kreps studied her
mornings and afternoons and into the night, and day after day it went
on, and she bothered him. Then he saw he was on the wrong tack, and
put his helm about, and he says:
"She is de Ewigweibliche. She is not science. She is boetry. She is
de sharm of everlasting feminine," and he heaved a sigh. I says:
"Ewigweibliche!" I says. "Everlasting feminine! What's the use of
I took to studying Liebchen too, and it appeared to me Kreps' idea
wasn't useful He was a man to have sentiments naturally. He'd sit out
on the end of a log moonlight nights, with his fat face and
spectacles shining, and Liebchen would muzzle around with a ten-foot
snout like an engine boiler, and a piggy eye; and he'd sing German
lullabies; "Du bist wie eine Blume." I didn't think she was like a
flower. She was more like an oil tank.
So Kreps would sing to her in the moonlight, but Kamelillo didn't
like her. Veronica didn't like her either, and would stand off and
cackle at her pointedly. She seemed to think Liebchen carried on
improper and had no refinement. Why, I guess from her point of view
sea bathing wasn't becoming, and when Liebchen stood on her head in
the water, Veronica used to take to the woods with her feelings
pretty rumpled. Kamelillo disliked Veronica on account of her
fussiness, and because she had lit on him and scratched him when he
wanted to be let alone. He wanted to make Veronica into poi, but I
didn't think there was any real nourishment in her; and he wanted to
break the log jam and let the whale out, but I told him it was Kreps'
"Ain' harbour belong him," said Kamelillo. "Ain' him slap harbour on
me. Thas whale bad un. I show him." He went to Kreps. "I tell you,
dam Dutchman," he says, meaning to be soothing and persuasive. "I
tell you, we cutta bamboo, harpoon whale. Donnerblissen! Easy!"
"Du animal!" says Kreps. "Mitout perception, mitout soul, mitout
"Oh!" says Kamelillo; "girl whale. All right, dam Dutchman, me fren.
You break jam. Letta go."
"It iss not of use," said Kreps, and he sighed. "You understand not
de yearning, de ideal. Listen! Liebchen, she iss de abstraction, de
principle. Aber no. You cannot. De soul iss alone, iss not comprehend."
"All right," says Kamelillo. "You look here. Go see thas girl whale
on a bamboo raft. No good sit on log all night, sing hoohoo song."
Kreps was taken with that notion. "So, my friend?" he says.
"You teach her like missionary teach Kanaka girl," says Kamelillo,
getting interested. "You teach her to she wear petticoat, no stan' on
her head. You teach her go Sunday school."
I says, "Look out, Kreps. That whale'll drown you. She's got no
But Kreps was calm. "I vill approach Liebchen more near," he says.
"It iss time to advance. I vill go mit Kamelillo, my friend."
Kamelillo spent the morning making a bamboo raft, and in the
afternoon they put out. Liebchen was over by the harbour entrance,
lying low in the water and maybe asleep. Kamelillo had a bamboo pole
in his hand to pole the raft with, but he had shod it with his
harpoon head. They drew alongside, and Kreps was facing front, with
his back to Kamelillo. He lifted his oar to slap the water, and
Kamelillo drew off, and cast the harpoon. Liebchen, she came out of
her maiden fancies. She acted plain whale. That's a way of acting
which calls for respect, but it's not romantic. She slapped the
bamboo raft, and there was no such thing. She swallowed the harbour
and spit it out. She whooped and danced and teetered. She let out all
her primeval feelings. She put on no airs, and she made no pretences.
She turned everything she could find into scrambled eggs, and played
the "Marseillaise" on her blow-hole. She did herself up into knots to
break whalebone, and untied them like a pop of a cork. She was no
more female than she was science. She was wrath and earthquakes and
the day of judgment. She scooped out the bottom of the harbour and
laid it on top, and turned somersets through the middle of chaos.
Veronica took to the woods. I ran along the north shore, thinking
they were both scrambled, but I found Kamelillo pulling Kreps through
the shallows by his collar, and shaking the water out of his eyes,
and not seeming to be disturbed. But Kreps took off his spectacles
and wiped them, and he says:
"Ach, Liebchen!" he says. "She iss too much."
"Thas whale!" says Kamelillo. "Thas all right!"
"Liebchen iss too much of her," says Kreps very dignified, and
stalked to the camp.
"Thas whale!" says Kamelillo. "Thas all right!"
He chopped the jam that afternoon, and it floated out in the night
or early morning with the ebb. We went to the bank when the tide was
in again to watch Liebchen go out. Kreps was pretty tearful.
"Aber," he says, "she iss too much of her."
She came feeling her way through the channel with her snout under
water. Kamelillo's bamboo stuck out of her fat side six feet or more.
Veronica cackled at her, and her feathers stood up, so that you could
see she thought Liebchen was no lady. Liebchen passed close beneath
us. Seemed like she felt mortified. Kreps broke down, but Kamelillo
"Dam hen!" he says, and grabbed Veronica with both hands. "Go too!"
and he flung her at Liebchen, and she went through the air squawking
and fluttering. She lit on Liebchen's slippery back, and she slid
till she struck the bamboo, and roosted. If she had had time to think
she might have flopped ashore, but she was flustered, and Liebchen
got out of the channel and steered into the Pacific. Veronica
squawked a few times, and no more. The sea was quiet. The two moved
off, going eastward very slow. Kamelillo went back to his camp fire
and made poi, but Kreps and I watched, expecting that Liebchen would
go under and Veronica be lost. But they kept on till there was only a
black spot near the edge of the sky.
It came on afternoon. The tide was out, and we lay about. There was
not enough wind to flutter the signal on the bluffs, which was Kreps'
red shirt, and hung there to entertain any one that might come by.
Kamelillo suddenly sat up. "Hear im?" he says.
There was a great noise over in the channel out of sight, a kind of
splashing, thumping, and blowing, and the waves rolled into the
harbour. We ran along the shore and came to the bluffs. There was
Liebchen! She appeared to have grounded in the channel, trying to get
in quick at low tide. But there were two harpoons, more than the
bamboo, sticking in her very deep, and the lines were hitched to a
longboat, the longboat coming inshore now full of men. Veronica
squatting on the thwart of the same, comfortable and dignified.
Kamelillo says, "Whale ain't got sense, thas whale!" And Kreps says,
She struck her last flurry, and filled the air with spray. The
longboat held off, seeing she was likely to stay there and needed all
the room. After a while she grew quiet. A few motions of her flukes,
and that was all. The longboat came in, and we slid down the bluffs.
The man in the stern says, "That your hen?"
I said I was acquainted with her.
"Oh! Maybe that's your whale?"
"Ach, Liebchen!" says Kreps.
Kamelillo waded in, and looked at the harpoons, and shook his head,
for he knew the laws and rights of the trade.
"No," he says. "Thas your whale."
"Been cast up, have ye?" says the steersman, looking around. "We
struck that whale ten miles out. We comes up quiet, and I see that
bamboo sticking in her, with that hen squatting on it. 'Queer!' says
I. And just as Billy here was letting her have it, the hen gives a
squawk and comes flopping aboard; and Billy lets her have it, and
Dick here lets her have it, and she goes plumb down sudden. Then up
she comes and starts, like she was going to see her Ma and knew her
own mind, and up this channel she comes, and runs aground foolish. I
never see a whale act so foolish. Thought she might be a friend of
yours," says he, "meaning no reflections."
I said I was acquainted with her, and Kreps took off his glasses and
wiped his eyes.
"She vass of de tenderness, das Zartlichkeit." It made him sad
to see Liebchen dead, that was full of sensibility, and Veronica come
back with dignity, she being a conventional hen and scornful and cold
"Ach, Liebchen!" he says; and we went back to gather up his tin
cans; and I says:
"Ewigweibliche's a good word, though a Dutch one;" then we came away
on the whaler.
But all I owned went down on the _Anaconda_. I got back to San
Francisco in course of time, but no richer than when I left
Greenough, and ten years or more older.
Kreps was a man very given to sentiments, in particular about
"Ewigweibliche," and I never knew a man that kept himself more
entertained. He settled down for the time, with Veronica and
Kamelillo for his family, in a fine house in the upper town of San
Francisco. Kamelillo used to cook unlikely things which Kreps and
Veronica ate peaceable between them. Kreps was well-to-do, and he
seemed cut out for a happy life. Any kind of cooking suited him. The
whole world grew knowledge for him to collect. He could suck
sentiment out of a hard-boiled egg. But I went to live with Stevey
Todd where the cooking was better, and loafed about the streets and
docks, wondering what I'd do next. I never knew what became of Kreps
after we left San Francisco.
SADLER IN SALERATUS. THE GREEN DRAGON PAGODA. THE NARRATIVE GOES ON.
One day I was by the docks, where some people were busy and
some were like me, loafing or looking for a berth; and I came on a
neat-looking, three-masted ship, named the _Good Sister_, which
appeared to me a kindly name. She was being overhauled by the
carpenters. I asked one of them, "Where's the captain?"
"She ain't got any," he says. "It's the owners are doing it."
"Maybe you'll remark," I says, "who they happen to be."
"Shan and Sadler of Saleratus," he says.
"I believe you're a liar," I says, surprised at the name.
"Which there's a little tallow-faced runt in perspective," he says,
climbing down the stays, "that I can lick," he says, being misled by
my size. And when that was over, I started for Saleratus.
It was a town to the south, down near the coast. That's not its name
now, because it's reformed and doesn't like to remember the days
before it was regenerated. At that time some of it was Mexican, and
more of it was Chinese, and some of it wasn't connected with anything
Shan and Sadler did a mixed mercantile business, and they seemed to
be prosperous people, but I take it Fu Shan mainly carried on the
business, and Sadler was the reason why the firm's property was
respected and let alone by the Caucasians. There is a big Chinese
company in Singapore, called "Shan Brothers," whose name is well
known on bills of lading, and Fu Shan was connected with them. But a
man wouldn't have thought to find Sadler a partner in banking,
mercantile, and shipping business, with a Chinaman. He'd been the
wildest of us all in the _Hebe Maitland_ days, and always acted
youthful for his years. There were two things in him that never could
get to keep the peace with each other, his conscience and his
sporting instinct. Yet he was a capable man, and forceful, and I
judge he could do 'most anything he set his hand to.
He and Fu Shan lived just outside the town of Saleratus in two
ornamented and expensive houses, side by side, on a hill that was
bare and mostly sand banks, and that hung over the creek which ran
past the town into the bay. Sadler lived alone with Irish, but Fu
Shan was domestic. He was a pleasant Oriental with a mild, squeaking
voice, and had more porcelain jars than you would think a body would
need, and fat yellow cheeks, and a queue down to his knees. He wore
cream-coloured silk, and was a picture of calmness and culture. Irish
hadn't changed, but Sadler was looking older and more melancholy,
though I judged that some of the lines on his face, that simulated
care, came from the kind of life folks led in Saleratus to avoid
monotony. We spoke of Craney among others, but Sadler knew no more of
Craney than I did. Likely he was still in Corazon.
We were sitting one evening on Sadler's porch, that looked over the
creek, waiting for supper. Fu Shan was there, and Sadler said
Saleratus was monotonous. Yet there were going on in Saleratus to my
knowledge at that moment the following entertainments: three-card
monte at the Blue Light Saloon; a cockfight at Pasquarillo's; two
alien sheriffs in town looking for horse thieves, and had one
corralled on the roof of the courthouse; finally some other fellows
were trying to drown a Chinaman in the creek and getting into all
kinds of awkwardness on account of there being no water in the creek
to speak of, and other Chinamen throwing stones. But Sadler said it
"I don't get no satisfaction out of it,"
Over the top of the town you could catch the sunset on the sea, and
the smoke of the chimneys rose up between. There were red roses all
over the pillars and eaves of the porch. Seemed to me it was a good
enough place. Fu Shan smoked scented and sugared tobacco in a
porcelain pipe with an ivory stem. The fellows down by the creek ran
away, feeling pretty good and cracking their revolvers in the air,
and the Chinamen got bunched about their injured countryman.
"Have no water in cleek," says Fu Shan, aristocratic and peaceful.
"Dried up. Played out," says Sadler, not understanding him. "Fu
Shan's a dry-rotted Asiatic. Doesn't anything make any difference to
him. Got any nerves? Not one. Got any seethin' emotions? Not a seeth.
He's a wornout race in the numbness of decrepitude."
Fu Shan chuckled.
"But me, I'm different," says Sadler, "The uselessness of things
bothers me. Look at 'em. I been in Saleratus five years, partner with
Fu Shan. Sometimes I had a good time. Where is it now? You laugh, or
you sigh. Same amount of wind, nothing left either way.
What's the use?
You chew tobacco and spit out the juice.
What's the use?
If there's anybody with a destiny that's got any assets at all, and
he wants to swap even, bring him along. Look at this town! Is it any
sort of a town? No honesty, for there ain't a man in it that can
shuffle a pack without stackin' it. No ability, for there ain't
more'n one or two can stack it real well. No seriousness, for they
start in to drown a Chinaman in a dry creek, and they cut away as
happy as if they'd succeeded. I sits up here on my porch, and I says,
'What is it but a dream? Fu Shan,' I says, 'this here life's a
shadow!' Then that forsaken, conceited, blank heathen, he says one of
his ancestors discovered the same three thousand years ago. But, he
says, another ancestor, pretty near as distinguished, he discovered
that, if you put enough curry on your rice, it gives things an
appearance of reality. Which, says he, they discovered the
uselessness of things in Asia so long ago they've forgot when, and
then they discovered the uselessness of the discovery. They
discovered gunpowder, he says, long before we did, but they use it
for fireworks in the interests of irony. They've forgotten more'n we
ever knew, says he, the stuck-up little cast-eyed pig. Go on! I'm
disgusted. Haven't I put on curry till it give me a furred mouth and
dyspepsia of the soul? What's the use?"
Fu Shan chuckled again.
"What's the use?" says Sadler. "Things happen, but they don't mean
anything by it. You hustle around the circle. You might as well have
sat down on the circumference. Maybe the trouble is with me, maybe
it's Saleratus. One of us is played out!"
Fu Shan took the ivory pipestem from his mouth, and spoke placid and
squeaking. "My got blother have joss house by Langoon. Velly good
joss house, velly good ploperty. Tlee hundred Buddha joss and gleen
dlagons. My ancestors make him. Gleen dlagon joss house. Velly good."
"My! You'd think he's an idjit to hear him," says Sadler, and looked
at Fu Shan, admiring. "But he ain't, not really."
Fu Shan chuckled a third time.
He took no more stock in the happiness of his countrymen than Sadler
did in the morals of his. They seemed to be a profitable combination,
but I didn't make out to understand Sadler, though I went as far as
to see that he had a variegated way of putting it.
Then I told him I wanted a first mate's berth on the _Good
Sister_, supposing he was willing, either on account of old times
or because he might happen to be convinced I was good enough for it.
I told him the experiences I'd had. What had happened to the _Helen
Mar_ I told him, and about the Mituas business, and the loss of
the _Anaconda_, and even about Kreps and Liebchen.
"My! My! Tommy," he says, after the last. "That's a lyric poem," he
says, referring to Kreps and Liebchen.
But he said nothing then about the _Good Sister_, and I decided
to hang around till he did, and one day he brought me a bundle of
"Here's your papers, Tommy," he says.
"Which?" I says.
"Captain's articles for Tommy Buckingham. Sign 'em," he says, "and
don't be monotonous," and I was that scared I signed my name so it
looked like a rail fence. I contracted to be master of the ship
_Good Sister_, the same to go to Hong-Kong Manila, Singapore,
"You go up to 'Frisco and 'list the crew," he says. "I'm coming
myself by-and-by to look 'em over."
It was my first ship, and long ago, but the pride of it sticks out
of me yet.
I went back to 'Frisco and hired Stevey Todd for cook, and I
recollect taking for ship's carpenter the man that called me a
"tallow little runt," which he got misled, there, and he went by the
name of "Mitchigan." I took Kamelillo too, who wanted to go to sea
again, but Kreps stayed where he was.
On the day the _Good Sister_ sailed, Sadler came aboard with a
valise in his hand, and after him, carrying a valise, was Irish, and
after Irish was an old Burmese servant of Fu Shan's that I used to
see sweeping the porch, whose name was Maya Dala.
"I'm going along," says Sadler, and Irish says, "Soime here." But
neither of them said what for, and I thought maybe Sadler was
thinking he'd see me safe through the first trip, or maybe it
occurred to him to go and take a look at Asia. How should I know?
We went through the Golden Gate that afternoon, and we sat that
night in the cabin, while Maya Dala and Irish cleared the table. The
oil lamp swung overhead with the lift and fall of the ship, and
Sadler spread himself six feet and more on the cabin lounge, and
unloaded his mind.
"You remember what Fu Shan said of his brother's joss house?" he
says. "It's this way. Why, Fu Shan had a father once, named Lo Tsin
Shan, and he was a sort of mandarin family in China. He went to
Singapore and started in the tea business. He had a large hard head.
He went into a lot of different enterprises, and cut a considerable
swath. He died and left ten or twelve sons, who scattered to look
after his enterprises. That's how Fu Shan came to Saleratus six years
ago. Fu Shan was always some stuck on his own intellect, and at that
time he thought he could play cards, but he couldn't. I cleared him
out of two hundred and fifty one night, and we went into partnership,
but that's neither here nor there. Now, Lo Tsin Shan appears to have
been a little fishy as to his feelings, but he had brains. Fu Shan's
opinion is reverential, and he don't admit the fish. Lo Tsin had an
agency at Calcutta, and Burmah lies on the way, but it wasn't
commercial in those days. Now, in Burmah there's a navigable river
that runs the length of the country, and all along it are cities full
of temples, some of 'em deserted, and some of 'em lively. One of the
best is at Rangoon on a hill, and it's called the Shway Dagohn
Pagoda. There's a lot of relics in it, and smaller temples around,
and strings of pilgrims coming from as far as Ceylon and China.
Remarkable holy place. Old Lo Tsin, he drops down there one day and
looks around. His fishy feelin's got interested, and he says to
himself, 'Guess I'll come into this.' He went sailin' up the river
till he found a king somewhere, who appeared to own the whole
country. This one's pastime was miscellaneous murder, but his taste
for tea was cultured and accurate. Then Lo Tsin got down on the floor
and kowtowed to this king for an hour and a half, the way it comes
natural if you have the right kind of clothes. Then he bought a
temple of him. It stands at the foot of the south stairway of the
Shway Dagohn. Fu Shan ain't sure what the old man's idea was, whether
it was pure business or not. Anyway he worked up the reputation of
the temple, till there was none in the place to equal it, except the
Shway Dagohn, which he didn't pretend to compete with. He advertised
it on his tea. 'Shan Brothers' have a brand still called 'Green
Dragon Pagoda Tea.' There wasn't no real doubt but the income of the
temple was large, and yet it didn't appear at Lo Tsin's death that
he'd ever drawn anything out of it. The whole thing was gold-leafed
from top to bottom, and full of bronze and lacquer statues, and two
green dragons at the gate, and ministerin' angels know what besides.
Maybe Fu Shan's information ain't complete on that point, but this
was a fact, that Lo Tsin, by the will he made, instead of going back
to his ancestral cemetery in China, he had himself carried up from
Singapore and buried in that same temple; and there he is under the
stone floor in the temple of the Green Dragon, but that's not to the
point. Now, when they came to split up his enterprises among his
sons, one of 'em took the temple for a living. His name was Lum Shan.
But Fu Shan says, Lum would rather come over to America and go into
business in Saleratus. Lum Shan don't like his temple, but I don't
know why. Well, then, I says, 'Speak up, Fu Shan. Don't be bashful,
Asia. If you've got a medicine for the hopeless, let it come, Asia.
What's five thousand years got to say to a man with an absolute
constitution, a stomach voracious and untroubled, who looks around
him and sees no utility anywhere? Ebb and flow, work and eat, born
and dead, rain and shine, things swashin' around, a heave this way
and then that. You write a figure on the board and wipe it out.
What's the use? Speak up, Asia, but don't recommend no more curry.'
'Hi! Hi!' says Fu Shan, the little yeller idjit! 'My got blother have
joss house by Langoon. All light. He tlade. You go lun joss house by
Langoon. Vely good ploperty.' That's what he said. Why not? That's
the way I looked at it."
He paused and blew smoke. Maya Dala and Irish were gone. I asked,
"Are you learning Burmese off Maya Dala?" and he nodded.
"Now," I says, "what I don't see is this temple business. Where was
the profit? Don't temples belong to the priests?"
"Seems not always," he says. "They're a kind of monks, anyway. It's
where old Lo Tsin Shan was original to begin with and mysterious
afterward. Suppose a Siamese prince brings a pound of gold leaf to
gild things with, and some Ceylon pilgrims leave a few dozen little
bronze images with a ruby in each eye. They've 'acquired merit,' so
they say. It goes to their credit on some celestial record. Their
next existence will be the better to that extent anyway, now. Suppose
the temple's gilded all over, and lumber rooms packed to the roof
with bronze images already. Do they care what becomes of these
things? Don't seem to. Why should they? They're credited on one
ledger. You credit the same to the business on another. Economic,
ain't it? That was the old man's perception, to begin with. But
afterwards,--maybe his joss house got to be a hobby with him. Oh, I
don't know! Nor I don't care. Fu Shan says it's good property. What
he says is generally so. Profits! I don't care about profits. What
good would they do me? I'm going to run that temple if it ain't too
That was the limit of Sadler's knowledge of this thing. Maya Dala
remembered the Shway Dagohn, but as to the other pagodas and
monasteries,--there were many--he didn't know--he thought they
belonged to the monks, or to the caretakers, or to no one at all, or
maybe the government. What became of the offerings? He thought they
were kept in the pagodas. Sometimes they were sold? It might be so.
He thought it made no difference, for it was taught in the monastery
schools, that the "Giver acquires merit only by his action and the
spirit of his giving, wherefore are the merits of the poor and rich
equal." Why should they care what became of their gifts? From Maya
Dala's talk one seemed to catch a glimpse of the idea, which occurred
to old Lo Tsin Shan, that fishy Oriental, one day forty years before,
and sent him up the river to interview King Tharawady on his gold-lacquer
and mosaic throne. Yet he had let the profits lie there, if there were
any, maybe thinking all along of the handsome tomb he was putting
up for himself, when his time came. You couldn't guess all his
Mongolian thoughts, nor those of his son, Fu Shan, of whom Sadler
asked medicine for a dyspeptic soul. Fu Shan said, "Go lun joss house
by Langoon." Sadler didn't seem to care about the business part of it
either, though it looked interesting. He only wanted the medicine.
Days and nights we talked it over, and got no further than that, and
drew nearer the East. The East is a muddy sea with no bottom, and it
swallows a man like a fog bank swallows a ship.
Sadler made some verses that he called his "Prayer;"--"Sadler's
prayer," and he told me them one wet day, when a half gale was
blowing, and he sat smoking with his feet hitched over the rail. He
appeared to be trying to get a bead on infinity across the point of
his shoe. It ran this way, beginning, "Lord God that o'erulest":
"Lord God that o'er-rulest
The waters, and coolest
The face of the foolish
With the touch of thy death,
I, Sadler, a Yankee,
Lean, leathery, lanky,
Red-livered and cranky,
And weary of breath,
"That hain't no theology
But a sort of doxology,
Here's my apology,
Maker of me,
Here where I'm sittin',
Smooth as a kitten,
Smokin' and spittin'
Into the sea.
"The storm winds come sweepin',
Come widowed and weepin',
Come rippin' and reapin',
The wheat of the loam,
And some says, it's sport, boys,
It's timbrels and hautboys,
And some is the sort, boys,
That's sorry he come.
"Lord God of the motions
Of lumberin' oceans,
There's some of your notions
Is handsome and free,
But what in the brewin'
And sizzlin,' and stewin'
Did you think you was doin'
The time you done me?
"Evil and good
Did ye squirt in my blood?
I stand where I stood
When my runnin' began;
And the start and the goal
Were the same in my soul,
And the damnable whole
Was entitled a man.
"Lord God that o'er-gazest
The waste and wet places,
The faint foolish faces
Turned upward to Thee,
Though Thy sight goeth far
O'er our rabble and war
Yet remember we are
The drift of Thy sea."
Sadler left the _Good Sister_ at Singapore, and disappeared.
He dropped out of sight. Afterward his name went from the letter
heads of "Sadler and Shan." They read, "Shan Brothers, Saleratus,
Cal. Fu Shan--Lum Shan."
He was a singular man was Sadler. He held the opinion that this life
was an idea that occurred to somebody, who was tired of it and would
like to get it off his mind. I took him for one that had got too much
conscience, or too much restlessness, one of the two, and between
them they gave him dyspepsia of the soul. Sometimes that dyspepsia
took him bad, and when he had one of those spells he'd light out into
poetry scandalous. Some folks are built that way, some not. J. R.
Craney, for instance, he was a romantic man, and gifted according to
his own line, and had airy notions ahead of him that he pretty near
caught up to; but as to metres, he couldn't tell metres from cord-wood.
Yet the first time I saw him again, after leaving him at Corazon,
he heaved some at me, but he didn't know it was poetry. It was
some years later. I sailed the _Good Sister_ quite a time, and
did pretty well by her.
It was back in San Francisco and several years after, and I was
master of the _Good Sister_ still, but not feeling agreeable at
the time, because Fu Shan and the agent at 'Frisco kept me sitting
around collecting barnacles. They didn't seem to know what they
wanted me to do with her. I guess the business of Sadler and Shan
didn't prosper well for a while after Sadler left, on account of
I was leaning over the rail one day, looking across the wharf, and I
saw J. R. Craney come strolling down with one hand in his pocket and
the other pulling a chin beard. He hadn't changed so much, except
that he looked older and had a chin beard and wore a long black coat
and plush vest. He looked at the _Good Sister_, and he looked
at me, and neither of us said anything for a long time, and his business
eye was absent-minded and calm, and the blind one pale and
dead-looking. Then I says:
"Why don't you get a glass eye, Craney?" and he says, "I wished
you'd call me J. R. Phipp. What you doing with that there ship?"
which was a promising rhyme, but he didn't know he'd done it. I
judged his family name had been collecting barnacles, till it wasn't
worth cleaning maybe, or maybe he was a fugitive or exile from
Corazon, or maybe he'd speculated in matrimony, and was fleeing from
hot water, or maybe kettles, or maybe he'd assassinated his great
aunt's second cousin's husband, which was no business of mine, any of
"Look here," I says, not feeling agreeable. "Here's my programme.
You go up to 22 Market Street, and ask the agent. Then he'll say he
don't know. Then you'll tell him he's a three-cornered idiot, because
you'll admire the truth, and come back and we'll have a drink."
"All right," he says, absent-minded and calm, and went off up Market
Street. By-and-by the agent came down with Craney floating behind.
"This is Mr. J. R. Phipp," says the agent, "who has chartered the
_Good Sister_. Get her ready. Mr. Phipp will superintend cargo
himself and sail with you."
That was the way it happened. Craney spent days going round the
stores in the city and buying everything that took his eyes. He
bought house-furnishings and pictures, toys, horns, drums, cases of
tobacco and spirits, glass ornaments and plaster statues, crockery
and cutlery, guns, clothes, neckties, and silk handkerchiefs, and
cheap jewelry. He'd go in and ask for a drygoods box. Then he'd
potter around the shop till the box was full. He'd buy out a show
case of goods, and maybe he'd buy the show case. He bought barrels
full of old magazines and books on theology and law, and a cord or
two of ten-cent novels, and some poetry that was handy, and three
encyclopaedias, and two or three kinds of dogs, and a basket
phaeton with green wheels, and a printing press, and a stereopticon.
The agent says to me:
"He has a scheme for trading in the South Pacific. He's a lunatic,
and he's paid for six months. Send me news when you get a chance, and
come back by Honolulu for directions. He's a lunatic," he says, "and
you'd better lose him somewhere and get a commission on the time
Then he hurried off the way you'd think he was a man with energy,
instead of one that would sit still and let the weeds grow in his
hair. But Craney went on buying chandeliers and chess-boards and
clocks and women's things, such as dresses and ostrich-feathers
hats, and baby carriages, and parasols, and an allotment of assorted
dinner-bells, and one side of a drug store. I don't know all there
was in his cases, only I judged there wasn't any monotony. I says:
"Maybe now you might be done."
He came aboard and looked thoughtful. Then he felt in his pocket and
pulled out a bunch of knitting needles, and looked thoughtful.
"Well," he says. "I rather wanted to look up some front porches,
ready made, with door-knockers, but I didn't get to it. It's just as
We dropped out of the Gate with the tide on a Saturday night, and
stood away to the southwest.
Craney was always a talkative man, liking to open out his point of
view. At first I thought he'd gone lunatic of late, and then again
when he showed me his point of view, I found he hadn't changed so
much, as got more so.
Many nights we sat on deck in the moonlight and with a light breeze
pushing in the sails, for the weather in the main was steady, and
he'd smoke a fat cigar, and look at the little shining clouds. He'd
talk and speculate, sometimes shrewd, and then again it was like a
matter of adding a shipload of pirates to the signs of the zodiac,
and getting the New Jerusalem for a result. By-and-by, I felt that
way myself, as if, supposing you kept on sailing long enough, you
might run down an island full of mixed myths and happy angels. Sure
he was romantic.
"I'm a romantic man, Tommy," he says. "That's my secret. Yes, sir,
Romance, that's me! That's the centre of my circumference, that's the
gravity of my orbit, that's the number of my combination. Visions,
ideals! I'm a man to get up and look for the beyond. I want to
expand! I want to permeate! I want the beyond! Here I am, fifty years
old. I gets up and looks out on to the world. I says: 'J. R., this
won't do. Is it for nothing that you're a man of romance? Is it for
nothing that you long to permeate, to expand? The soul of man' I
says, 'is airy; it's full of draughts. Your soul, J. R., flaps like a
tent,' I says, 'in the breezes of dawn. The world is round. Time is
fleeting. Is man an ox? No. Is he a patent inkstand? No. Was he
created to occupy a house and fit his head to a hat? No. Then why
delay? Why smother your longings?' I says; 'J. R., this won't do.
This ain't your destiny. Rise! Be winged! Chase the ideal! Get on the
vastness! Seek and find!' But what? I says, 'Fame, fortune, a
vocation that's worthy of you.' Where? I says, 'In the beyond.' Then
I took a map, Tommy, and looked over the world; I examined the globe;
I took stock of the earth, and compared lands, seas, climates. The
likeliest-looking place appeared to be the South Pacific Ocean. Why?
It appeared to be, in general, beyond. It was the biggest thing on
the map. It was tropical. Palm-trees, spicy odours, corals, pearls.
'All right,' I says: 'J. R., it wouldn't take much to be a
millionaire in those unpolluted regions. You'd be a potentate. You'd
wear picturesque clothes, and lie on poppies and lotuses. You'd be a
Solomon to those guileless nations. You'd instruct their ignorance
and preserve their morals. You'd lead their armies to victory on
account of your natural gifts. You'd have your birthdays celebrated
with torch-light processions. You'd be a luxurious patriot.' Now
that's a pleasant way of looking at it. But it seemed to me the
likeliest thing was to go out as a trader. Now as to trading. Sitting
on a stool and figuring discounts is business, and trading cheese-cloth
for parrots is business too. A horse is an animal, and so's a
potato-bug. But I take it where society is loose and business isn't a
system, there's always chance for a man with natural gifts. But
you're going to ask me: What for is all this mixture I've got aboard?
If some of it's tradable, you'd say, there must be a deal of it
isn't. And I ask you back, Tommy: Take it in general, haven't I got a
mixture that represents civilisation? Did you ever see a ship that
had more commodious, miscellaneous, and sufficient civilisation in
her than this? I'm taking out civilisation. Maybe I'm calculating on
a boom. Now, the secret of a boom is to spread out as far as you can
reach, and then flap. That's business. When you've got people's
attention, you can settle down and make your bargains. Mind you,"
says Craney, turning on me an eye that was cold and calm--"mind you,
I don't say that's what I'm going to do, nor I don't say what I'm
calculating to trade for. Maybe I have an idea, and maybe I haven't."
I says, "Course you have."
"You think so?" he says. "It's no more than reasonable. But look at
all this now"--with one thumb in the armhole of his vest and waving
his cigar with the other hand toward the moon and sea--"look at this
here hemisphere. It's big and still. The kinks and creases of me are
smoothing out. I'm expanding, permeating. I look out. I see those
there shining waves. I says to myself, 'J. R., as a romantic man, you
may be said to be getting there.'"
He used to read some in the daytime, but mostly he'd smoke
and meditate and pull his chin beard, sitting on deck in a red
plush-covered easy-chair, with his feet on the rail. One time he
had a volume of poetry in his hand, turning over the leaves.
"Some of it appears to be sawed down smooth one side," he says, "and
left ragged on the other, and some of it's ragged both sides."
Then he read a bit of it aloud, but it didn't go right, for sometimes
he'd trot, as you might say, when he ought to have galloped,
and sometimes he'd gallop when he ought to have trotted, and
sometimes he'd come along at a mixed gait. As a rule, he bumped.
He was no hand at poetry. Nor was he romantic to look at, but thin,
and sinewy, and one-eyed, and some dried up, clean shaven except
for a wisp of greyish whisker on his chin, and always neatly dressed
now. When he'd laugh to himself, the wrinkles would spread around his
eyes, one blind, and the other calm and calculating, and absent-minded.
He'd sit with his cigar tilted up in one corner of his mouth, and his
hat tilted forward, and whittle sticks. He'd talk with anybody, but
mostly with me and Kamelillo, whom he appeared to be asking for
information. Kamelillo knew island dialects about the same as he did
English, but wasn't much for conversation. Craney came one day
with a bundle of charts, and he collected me and Kamelillo in a
corner and spread his charts on the deck. They were old charts.
"Now," he says, "here is the lines of trade."
He had the regular routes all marked on his charts.
"There appears to be some vacant spaces," he says. And there did.
"And here's about the biggest!" And it was. "There don't seem to be
any island there, but here's a name, 'Lua,' only you can't tell what
it belongs to." No more you could. The name appeared to be dropped
down there so that section of the Pacific wouldn't look so lonely. I
brought out the ship's chart, but it didn't give any name, only two
or three islands sorted around where Craney's chart said "Lua." It
looked as if you might find one of them, and then again you might not.
"Ever been on any of 'em?" he asked. I hadn't and Kamelillo didn't
know, but looked as if he might have swallowed one without
"Nor I," says Craney, "but I know there's likely to be natives when
the islands are sizable."
"These might be only coral circles," I says.
"Well, I guess we'll go and look at 'Lua,' anyway," he says. "A man
don't put 'Lua' on a map without he's got some idea."
It was nearly two months from the day we left the coast of the
States when we came to the edge of the letter "L," as according to
Craney's chart, and we sailed along the bottom of it and around the
curve of "U," and up the inside on the right, where the ship's chart
had an island, but we missed it, if it was there. Then we came to the
top of the right leg of "U," where there might be an island on
Craney's chart, except that it looked more like part of the letter.
We cut across into "A." It was in the curve of the twist at the end
of the "A" that we sighted land at last. The ship's chart had an
island in the neighbourhood, but somewhat to the north. Likely
Craney's notion of coasting the edge of the letters was as good as
any. I never claimed the ship's chart was a good one, for it wasn't.
I only told him I'd rather sail by the advertisements in a newspaper
than by his.
There was a reef at the north end of the island, and we ran south
down the coast some miles to where it fell away to the southwest, and
dropped anchor at night in a bay with a white beach and a long row of
huts back from it under the trees. A bunch of natives ran down and
stood looking at us. Some of them swam out a little, or paddled on a
log, and then went back. There was a splashing and calling all night,
and fires shining on the beach. Kamelillo thought he'd been there
before, but he didn't remember when; but if he had, it stuck in his
mind, there was some trouble connected with it, and with one he
called a "bad-lot chief"; but I told Craney that Kamelillo had seen
too many islands and too much strong drink in his career, and he
might be thinking of something that happened in New Zealand.
In the morning Craney took Kamelillo and went ashore. I saw the
natives gathered around him. They all went up the beach and
disappeared, and the boat came back with word from Craney that he and
Kamelillo were going inland and wouldn't be back before night. I
didn't think he ought to go off careless like that; but they came
back safely about seven o'clock, only Craney seemed to be thoughtful
and not talkative. He said there was a business opening there, and he
guessed he'd speculate; and he sat on deck in his red plush chair
till past twelve, smoking fat cigars and staring at the shore. The
next day he had up three or four cases from the hold. There was a
crowd waiting for him on the beach, and I saw him tying the boxes on
poles, and some of the barbarians shouldered the poles, and they all
went off in procession. I didn't ask him when he'd come back, and he
didn't come for near a week. Only every day there would be a native
come down and dance around in the shallow to attract attention, or
maybe swim out to the ship with a bit of paper in his mouth. And the
paper would read: "O. K. Business progressing. Yours, J. R." or; "I'm
permeating. Yours, Julius R." So I judged it was a peaceful island,
and likely Craney had found something worth trading for. We went
ashore every day, but not inland. We were satisfied to stay on the
beach, and to watch the naked little children dive in the surf, and
to play tag with the population.
But one day I followed a path a mile inland, and climbed a hill and
saw an open valley to the south with several hundred palm-leaf huts,
and farther up was more open country and some hills beyond thickly
wooded. I judged the island was twenty miles north and south, but
couldn't see how far it went westward, and coming back, found a note
for me: "O. K. I never see folks so open to conviction. Yours, J. R."
It was Craney's business, and not mine. I thought to myself,
sometimes these men you'd think lunatic weren't that way, only they
had their point of view. Next day there was another note: "Two of 'em
are dead. I guess it's a good thing. I bought it anyway. Julius R."
And while I was thinking it over, and thinking sometimes these men
that claimed they'd got a point of view were really lunatic, Craney
came back. He must have had three hundred natives following him, and
they camped on the beach and seemed to rejoice, for they danced and
sang most of the night, while he and I sat on the deck and talked it
"This island," says Craney, "is full of politics. I'll tell you.
They had a king lately, and, according to accounts, he was old and
fat, and his morals were bad. But he died, and up came five
candidates for the place, and their claims to it I didn't make out,
but if it was a question of votes, I gathered the ballot was
tolerable corrupt, and if it was inheritance, I took it the late
royalty had so many heirs they were common like anybody else. But
everybody was busy, and it looked as if business would be dull for
me, and they told me it was no use trying to be neutral. I'd have to
back one of 'em. Course, I didn't know. Each of the candidates
occupied a corner of the island, and now and then they'd meet in the
middle for slaughter. What could I do? Well, I tell you what I did. I
hired five messengers and invited the candidates to a congress. I says:
"'Not more'n ten to each party.' And they came.
"Kamelillo's a good enough interpreter, only he's sort of condensed.
If a man makes a speech of half an hour, Kamelillo gives a grunt to
cover most of it, and then he states what he guesses is the point of
the rest. But he did well enough.
"Then I got in the middle of 'em and I argued. I says:
"'Gentlemen, this is a peaceful interview. Pile your weapons.'
"I got 'em piled in a heap and I sat on 'em, and argued, and the
candidates argued. They did pretty well, considering only one of 'em
had a shirt. He was old, too, and had chicken bones in his hair, and,
it was curious, but he knew considerable English, and could cuss
skilful in it. The other four were younger, and they appeared a good
deal surprised with the way I argued it. I says:
"'Gentlemen, there ain't room in this island for a Civil War. You
see it for yourself. Now I'll show you. Each of you five take one
spear and one shield, and get into the middle here and fight it out.
The rest of us'll watch.'
"I appealed to the fifty followers, and they all agreed that was a
good thing. The five candidates were doubtful. The old man said he
wasn't any good at that. I says:
"'Venerable, what you want is comfort, not to say luxury, for your
declining years. I'll guarantee you that. You stay quiet.' Then I
knocked open a box and showed him assorted drygoods, and says, 'What
do you say?'
"He thought it looked luxurious, and said he'd think it over. By
this time the others were willing to fight, for their followers all
agreed it was a good thing.
"I never saw the equal of it, Tom, never! I never saw a dog-fight
come up to it for prompt execution. I won't harrow your feelings as
mine were harrowed. I won't puncture you with thrills as I was
punctured. We buried two of 'em decent. The other two were cut up and
played out quite a little. I collected weapons, and I says:
"'Now there are two ways. Either you two can have it out, and when
you're through, anything that's left can have it out with me, or I'll
buy you as you stand.'
"They looked surprised to see it put that way. They were low in
their spirits. They said they didn't want to fight any more that
week. I knocked open the boxes and spread the goods, and then they
acted avaricious, particularly the old man with the chicken bones.
Burying two of 'em was economic. I says:
"'Gentlemen, what's the value you put on your claims? State 'em, and
state 'em reasonable."
"I dribbled out gingham dresses, and hair-brushes, and pocket
mirrors, and colored prints, and bottles of bay-rum. I never saw
folks act happier. I bought up the claims. I scattered what was left
of the goods among the crowd. I got on the empty boxes, and I says:
"'Here's your monarch. That's me, Julius the First, and only. If
anybody else from now on claims he's a monarch in these regions, he
shall be skinned and melted.' And they all cried: 'Hoi! Hoi!' or
words to that effect. They were unanimous. Kamelillo said they 'liked
Craney was silent a while, and I didn't say much. I didn't know how
to get along with monarchs, anyway. The men forward were working by
lantern, hauling up stuff from the hold, and piling it on deck to
start unloading in the morning.
"I'm going out of trade," he went on. "I'm going into royalty.
That's my retinue on the beach. What's more, it's most of the male
population, including nobility and masses. I'll show 'em. The old
king was a bad lot. I'll be a benevolent monarch. I'll give 'em free
schools and a constitution.
"Tommy," he says after a long silence, "you'll be going back to San
Francisco, and maybe you'll see some folks that are looking for me,
and maybe they'll be hostile. Very good. You come back with 'em and
you watch me. You're an old friend of me, Tommy. You're a man capable
of expanding. You can get on to large ideas. You can take in
vastness. You come back, and I'll make you heir to the throne."
But I didn't hanker for Craney's throne. The last I saw of him for
that time was bidding him good-bye on the beach. He appeared to have
most of the public to carry up his cargo, and he appeared to be
popular. Kamelillo stayed with him as interpreter.
At Honolulu there came two men aboard with a letter from the agent
in San Francisco, which agent was irritating on account of slowness,
and had weedy-looking hair. But the letter said:
"Put the _Good Sister_ at service of bearers. They have a
warrant for Phipp." I says:
"Warrant for Phipp! What for?"
One of them was a sheriff named Breen, a slow, temperate man, and
the other a detective named Jessamine, a yellow-bearded one with
light open eyes, who seemed a pleasant talker, but to the best of my
recollection was one you might call obstinate. They showed me their
papers, and these appeared to be correct. Jessamine's papers stated
that he represented parties in St. Louis, whose names don't count.
"Warrant!" I says. "What for?"
"Why," says Jessamine, "Phipp isn't his name, as you will see by the
warrant;" which was no particular news to me. But I didn't like the
job of going back after Craney. I didn't seem to take much interest
in parties in St. Louis, but it set me arguing again whether he was a
lunatic, or had a point of view. And so, though I thought it might be
they were going to be surprised when they came to Lua, I said nothing
about that, but fitted up a bit in Honolulu, taking my time, and set
sail once more for Lua. We came there in a high wind on a rainy
morning, about six weeks since I'd left it.
No one was in sight on the beach at first, but the sky clearing, I
went ashore with Breen and Jessamine, and several natives ran out of
the huts and across the beach to meet us. I says, "Man, Ship," and
pointed inland, at which they seemed to be pleased and set off; and
we followed them by a long trail that came at last in the cleared
valley, where were long-strung-out villages, leading inland to the
open country this side of the wooded hills. By this time we were a
procession. We knew when we had arrived, for there appeared a long
range of roofs through the stems of a palm grove, and a broad path
led to it through bushes covered with red thick-scented flowers. It
was King Julius's palace. The front of it was all one piazza, maybe
two-hundred feet long and forty deep, with slim bamboo pillars; and
men seemed to be still shingling one end of it with layers of
plantain leaves. But the king was out in a sort of square to one
side, and had about fifty warriors with feathers in their hair,
practising spears at a mark. Then he saw us, and then he said
something sharp, and the fifty fell into line behind, with spears and
shields in disciplined order. They marched very pretty, and came down
on us in a way to make a man feel shy. I says, "Which of you is going
to arrest him, and how's he going to do it?" Breen says, "You have
me!" And Jessamine says: "Let's see."
Then the king halted his company and came on alone, looking calm,
with the thumb of one hand in the armhole of his vest, and the other
pulling his chin beard. And Jessamine stepped forward and says:
"J. R. Craney, I arrest you for embezzlement." And the king looked
him over calm and benevolent. He says, "You don't mean it! Better be
careful. Why, the trouble is, the army ain't really disciplined yet.
They'd jab you full of holes, when I wasn't looking, if they caught
your idea. Better come and have tea. I didn't expect you'd be along
for two months yet."
It appeared he calculated on three or four months, and my meeting
Jessamine at Honolulu had cut him short. But I didn't see but he held
the cards. Jessamine might arrest till he was blown. The crew of the
_Good Sister_ hadn't shipped to be speared by a king's bodyguard,
and I didn't care much for parties in St. Louis.
Soon we were eating comfortably, sitting on the big piazza around
one of Craney's black walnut tables. The palace seemed to be fitted
and furnished so far mainly from the cargo. Each of us had two or
three waiters back of his chair, some men, some women. The warriors
squatted in line out in front among the flowers. Whenever we were
through with a dish, Craney would send the rest of it down to the
warriors, and they'd gobble it, and watch for more, with their eyes
shining, but very quiet. I recollect there was something that was
like a duck, and some canned tomatoes, and a kind of fruit with a
"There's two hundred in my army," says Craney sociably, "in four
divisions. This is a special one. Mighty fond of drilling they are.
Fact, 'most everybody's in the army. They're softening under
discipline, but some of 'em are bloodthirsty yet."
"J. R.," says Jessamine, "I hate to do it. It's a painful duty."
Craney says: "Just so. Say no more. You couldn't be expected to know
the law of this state touching the person of the king. Fact is,
foreigners ain't allowed to arrest royalty here. Fact, it's a new
law. I just passed it the other day. You didn't mean any harm. We'll
say no more."
Jessamine looked hurt. "Come now, J. R., it's no use. You're not
going to resist the law."
"I'm going to maintain it, Jessamine, maintain it."
"I say, I got the authority of the States of Missouri and California."
"I asks you, what authority they've got here? First place, you want
extradition papers. You can't have 'em. I won't give 'em to you.
Trouble with you, Jessamine, is you're narrow. You're small, there
ain't any vastness about you, Jessamine."
"J. R.," says Jessamine, remonstrating, "this isn't right, and you
"You don't expand, Jessamine," says Craney. "You don't permeate. You
ain't got on to large ideas."
Craney here distributed cigars, lit a fat one himself, pushed back
from the table, crossed his legs, stuck a thumb in the arm-hole of
his plush vest, and went on unfolding his mind.
"It ain't the king's pleasure to leave this island, nor it ain't the
ways of monarchs, as I take it, to apologise. But putting aside all
that, and supposing you was expanded enough to take that in, I'm
going on to state the way it appears. You says, 'J.R., how'd you come
to take the cash of parties that trusted you?' I answers, 'It comes
from being romantic.' You ain't romantic, Jessamine? That's too bad.
You don't see it. You don't expand to my circumference. You don't
permeate my orbit. You don't get on to me. It was this way. I got up
and looked out on the world. I says: 'J. R., it's clear you haven't
enough cash for your ambitions. But you've got a opportunity. Throw
it in. Be bold. If your conscience squirms, let it squirm. If it
wriggles, let it wriggle. Take the risk. Expand to large ideas.' I
took it. Say, I made parties unwilling investors in me. Now, then,
there they are, as delegated in you. Here's me, Julius R., monarch by
purchase and election of the sovereign state of Lua. You asks, 'What
next?' I says: 'This. I'll pay. I'll settle the claims with
interest on investment' But I've got to have time. Pay with what?
Now there's the point. I've been investigating the produce of this
island, the pearl-fishing, the coral, the hardwood. The pearl-fishing
is good. As a business man, I tell you it can be done."
Jessamine shook his head. "I haven't any authority to settle the
case. I'm told to go and bring you. I've got to do it. It's a painful
The king smoked a while silently, then said something to his
warriors, who got up and marched away around the corner. "Mighty,
Jessamine!" he says, "you're slow. Most mulish man I ever saw. Well,
let it go. You can't do it. Recollect, attempting the person of the
king is a capital crime. That's the law of this land. It's decided
and it don't change. We'll drop it."
So nothing more was said of the matter, and we talked agreeably.
Whether Craney's account of his motives was accurate I couldn't say.
It didn't seem likely he ever expected to settle, when he started, or
he took all the chances that he never would. Maybe he cooked up the
theory to suit things as they stood. Maybe not. I don't defend him,
and I'm not clear where he lied or where he fancied. But it seemed to
me if he'd made a long calculation, his luck was standing by him at
When the king left us we went for a walk through the village,
talking it over. Breen said they'd better take the offer, and I
thought they'd have to, but Jessamine wasn't satisfied. He says:
"We haven't the authority. How do you know we wouldn't get into
trouble at home? We've got to take him back. But you see, that isn't
the point. The point is, here's where we make a hit. It's
professional with me. It's reputation. It's the chance of a lifetime."
I say: "But where's the chance?"
"We'll see. But J. R.'s been the one white man so far. Now we're
three to one. If he can usurp a crown, I don't see but what we can
get up an insurrection."
The village was a long row of huts built of bamboo and big brown
leaves, and stretched up and down the valley. There was a large hut
with two doors opposite us, and sitting on mats in front was a fat
man with little bones stuck at angles in his grizzled hair. He wore a
pink shirt with studs and a pair of carpet slippers, and around his
neck a lot of glass pendants from a chandelier, and he looked surly
and sleepy. I says:
"You can leave me out. I think you ought to take the offer. If you
slip up, the king'll hang you for treason. If he's the government
here, he's got a right to say what the law is. I'm going back to the
ship. You needn't ask me for backing, for you won't get it."
We stopped beside the fat man, and I asked him if he hadn't been one
of the rival candidates, thinking it might be the old one with the
chicken bones that spoke English; and he set to work swearing, so I
knew it was; and I judged from the style he swore in he'd been
intimate one time with seamen, and I judged; too, he felt
dissatisfied. He said he was rightly chief of the island, and that
man, all of whose grandfathers were low and disgusting, meaning
Julius R., was living in his house, and, moreover, had given him only
three pink shirts. Jessamine sat down by him, and said nothing, but
listened, and I went and found some of the beach natives, and came
back with them to the _Good Sister_.
That night passed, and it came the morning of the next day, and I
heard nothing from them. I went ashore, but found no one about the
huts there but children and a few old women. The old women jabbered
at us excitedly.
I took six of the men and started inland through the hot woods,
where the green and red parrots screamed overhead. When we came out
to look up the valley to the open country, we saw no signs of
fighting, nor any one moving about. Through the valley, as we went up
it, there was no smoke from the huts, no women bruising nuts and
ground roots into meal, no fat man before the hut with two doors
sitting on his mats, not a soul in the village.
But coming near the palace we could see all the red flower shrubs
were trampled and smashed. Then we came on a dead body by the path;
then more bodies, bloody and spitted with spears; and one man, who
was wounded, lifted himself, and glared, and dropped again among the
red flowers. Through the palm stems we saw the roofs of the palace,
and the piazza with the bamboo pillars. The line of the bodyguard was
squatted on the piazza, with their spears upright before them.
Everything was still.
Then we heard a cry behind us, and looked, and saw Jessamine and
Breen, but no others with them, running through the village towards
us. They came up to us, and said they had been in the woods hunting
for the villagers who had run away, but found none. We sat down not
far from the wounded man. Jessamine had his arm in a sling, and he
told what had happened, so far as he made it out.
"It was the way I fancied," he says; "J. R. wasn't so solid with his
army as he thought, except the bodyguard, but I'd no idea they'd go
off like a bunch of fireworks. The old fat one sent messengers around
in the afternoon, and at night we went with him over back of that
hill, and met a crowd who had a few torches, but it was pretty dark,
and I couldn't see how many there were along the hillside. I made
them a speech: how J. R. had run away from his land, and was ruling
them here when he had no right, and they oughtn't to stand it; but I
don't know that the fat one interpreted it. I guess he made a speech
of his own. All I know is they went off like gunpowder. Whether all
of them yelled for battle and rebellion I don't know; some of them
might have been yelling against it. They all yelled, and pretty soon
they started hot-foot across the country for the palace, fighting
some with each other, so I gathered they disagreed. There are corpses
all along between here and the hill, and it was there I caught a cut
in the arm. Breen and I agreed to slide out of it. We went and sat on
the hillside and watched. Maybe J. R. had word of what was coming. He
seemed to be ready for them. I judged the bodyguard met them just
above here, and there was a grand mix-up, but we couldn't see well at
the distance. It was an awful noise. And suddenly it died out. Not a
sound for a while. By-and-by a gang of forty or more ran by us a
hundred yards away, and into the woods before we'd decided what to
do; and later, after a long time, there was a sort of chanting like a
ceremony over here at J. R.'s palace, and this came at intervals all
night. This morning we came and found the village empty, and came up
a little beyond here, till some one threw a spear past Breen's head,
and we went away to look for the villagers. I don't know what J. R.
is up to. He appears to be laying low with his wild-cats around him."
While we were speaking there came someone past the bodyguards, and
down to meet us, and it was Kamelillo. Kamelillo didn't have much to
say, except that the king wanted to see us, but he answered some
questions. He thought that in the attack on the palace the other two
candidates and the fat one fell to quarrelling, and their followers
joined, and it might be the first two had been inclined to stand by
the king, only they thought it was time to have some fighting. But
they weren't going to put up with the fat one. Instead of having it
out then, they had all gone off to different corners of the island,
the same as they used to do, and that suddenly. Kamelillo didn't know
how it came about, and doubted if the candidates knew either. He said
they were a "fool lot," and the king could settle them, give him time
to hang the fat one. But it was no use now--"Too damn quick," he
said. The women and children had all run to the woods in the
beginning. Being asked about King Julius, Kamelillo only grunted, and
not having any expression of face, you couldn't gather much from
that. But when we came to the piazza, where the bodyguard squatted,
what was left of it, with reddened spears, ghastly to make you sick,
Kamelillo grunted again and said, "He gone die," and passed in. The
guard broke out wailing and chanting, and rocked to and fro, but only
a moment, after which they held their spears up stiff, as the king
had taught them, and sat still.
Now we followed Kamelillo to a great room, where it seemed the king
held audiences and gave out laws and justice. The red plush chair was
on a raised platform at the far end, and over and on three sides were
heavy red curtains, and glass chandeliers hung from the rafters of
the roof, and a row of mattresses covered with carpet was laid in
front, maybe so that subjects could prostrate themselves comfortable.
But the room was dusky, and still. It seemed to be empty. But we
passed up it and stopped, for on the carpeted mattresses before the
throne lay Craney, all alone.
His coat and vest were put back, his shirt torn open, and his
breastbone split by a spear or hatchet, and it was clear he hadn't
long to live.
A ribby chest he had, and a dry, leathery skin. The blood soaked out
from under the cloth he held there against it, and ran down the
little gullies between the ribs. Jessamine sat down and acted
nervous. He says:
"I'm downright sorry for this, J. R.," but Craney didn't seem to
hear, but motioned with his hand and says softly:
"You'd better clear out."
Jessamine says, "Now, we can't leave you this way."
But Craney didn't hear and says, "Call in the guard." The spearmen
came filing in, barefooted, stepping like cats, and took position on
each side, so that you could see it was according to discipline, and
maybe they'd done it every day when he'd held a court or something.
We slid back, feeling shy of the spears, and J. R. looked pleased,
and he says:
"You're narrow, Jessamine. You don't permeate. You don't expand. You
don't rise to large--Oh, Jessamine! I'm dying, and I'm sick of your
face. Tommy,"--he says, speaking hoarse and low--"you'd better go."
His eyes wandered absent-minded to the plush chair with the curtains
and chandeliers and the spearmen standing around it, and down the
long room, like he was taking his leave of things he'd thought of,
and things he'd been fond of, and things he'd hoped for, and things
he'd meant to do. He muttered and talked to himself: "I sat there,"
he said, "and I did the right thing by the people. Gentlemen, these
black idjits are friends of mine. If you don't mind, I'd rather you'd
go. But you can stay, Tommy, if you want to."
So I stayed until he was gone. When I came away I left the spearmen
chanting over him.
That was Julius R. Craney. Why, I don't praise him, nor put blame on
him. Kamelillo said he was "old boy all right," but Kamelillo's
notions of what was virtuous weren't civilised notions. A man ought
to be honest. I've known thieves that were singular human. He was
mighty happy when he was a king, was Julius R.
THE KIYI PROPOSITION--SADLER CONCLUDED.
It happened in the year '84 that I took in sailing orders at Hong-Kong
to go round to Rangoon for a cargo of teak wood. It's a hard
wood that's used in shipbuilding. That was a new port to me, and it
wasn't a port-of-call at all till the English took it. You go some
thirty miles up the Rangoon River, which is one of the mouths of the
Irrawaddy, which is the main river of Burmah; and the first you see
of the town is the Shway Dagohn Pagoda, the gilded cone above the
trees. Rangoon had already a good deal that was European about it,
hotels and shops, stone blocks of buildings, the custom house,
offices of the Indian Empire, and houses of English residents. The
gilded pagoda looks over everything from a hill. The crowds in the
streets are Eastern, Chinamen, Malays, and Bengalees, and mainly the
Burman of the Irrawaddy. I was anchored over against the timber
yards. I says to myself:
"Rangoon! Pagoda! Why, Green Dragons and Kid Sadler!" I wondered if
he was there to be asked, "How's business? How's the dyspeptic soul?"
and whether he had an office maybe near the custom house, and
exported gold leaf and bronze images of Buddha. I started to find the
temple of Green Dragons, and followed a broad street, leading to the
right, for nearly a mile. Then it grew wooded on each side. Gateways
with carved stone posts and plaster griffins, took the place of
shops, and behind them you could see the slanting roofs of the
monasteries, and their towers, strung to the top with rows of little
roofs. A stream of people moved drowsy in the road, monks in yellow
robes with their right shoulders bare, women with embroidered skirts,
men with similar skirts, men with tattooed legs, and men in straw
hats with dangling brims. There were covered carts looking like
sun-bonnets on wheels and pulled by humped-necked oxen. There were
little skylarking children, and Chinamen, and black-bearded Hindoos.
Then I saw a stone stairway going up the side of the hill. I went
on, staring ahead at the cone that shone in the air, and getting
bewildered to see so near by the quantity of dancing statues on the
roofs of the temples that crowded the hill, and those acres of
tangled-up carving. So I came to the foot of the stairs.
Close to the right was a gateway in a white wall, and on each side
was a green lacquer dragon, that had enamelled goggle eyes and a size
that called for respect. The gateway led under a row of roofs held up
by shiny pillars. Over the wall you could see a gilded cone pagoda
with a bell on top.
It looked pretty inside of the gate, with flowers and trees and
little white and gold buildings. A yellow-robed man sat under a roof
near the gate with some children squatted around. He wasn't Sadler.
He didn't look as if an inquiry for Sadler would start anything going
in his mind. There was a faint tinkle of bells, and the far-off
mutter of a gong.
Anyway there were green dragons. I went in, thinking of the years
gone, of Fu Shan, who used to sit, sucking his porcelain pipe on
Sadler's porch, and looking down on the creek where the boys were
rowing with his countrymen, and looking down on Saleratus that was a
pretty unkempt community, and saying, "Vely good joss house, gleen
dlagon joss house by Langoon;" and then of Sadler saying: "Stuck-up
little cast-eyed ghost! Speak up, Asia, if you've got any medicine
Farther on another man in a blue robe sat under a tree, with his
feet stuck out in front. By the black clay pipe he was smoking, and
by his hair that was red enough to keep a man surprised as not
harmonious with his robin's-egg blue robe, the same was Irish.
He whooped joyful to see me, and said I'd find Sadler over "beyont
the boss pagody."
"Tommy boy," he says anxious, "ye won't be shtirrin' oop the Kid. He
ain't been into anything rampageous, nor the women, nor the drink,
nor clawin' to do nothin', since we coom, and me gettin' fat with the
pacefulness of it. Lave him aisy for the love of God!"
In the cone pagoda there were people praying on the floor, and it
was ringed with little bronze Buddhas and big wooden Buddhas,
standing, sitting, and lying, that all smiled, three hundred
identical smiles. Then I came out beyond to a small temple on a
mound, a sort of pointed roof on a circle of lacquer pillars. A
yellow-robed man sat on the floor, with right shoulder bare, leaning
against a pillar. A woman stood in front of him, talking fast. Three
children were playing on the grass. You could look over the wall, and
see the shuffling crowd in the streets, and those going up and down
the stairway to the Shway Dagohn. The yellow robe was smoking a pipe.
Moreover he was Sadler.
The woman stared at me and scuttled away, and I says, "How's
business? How's the dyspeptic soul?"
"Business good," he says. "Dyspeptic's took a pill. Sit down, Tommy.
Glad to see you." Those were his remarks, and it didn't look as if
the East had swallowed him, except that he was remarkable calm, and
his head was shaved, and his clothes didn't seem proper on a white man.
Then bit by bit, he unloaded his mind, which appeared full of little
things, like a junk shop. He says: "See that woman that left?" he
says. "She has four children, all girls, and she's mad over it.
Around here, when a woman's going to have a child, she generally puts
in a bid at the temple for a boy. Queer, ain't it! Well, that one has
had four girls. Every time she comes around afterwards and lays down
the law. Sometimes she brings her man, and they both lay down the
law. Well, it's lively! That one on the left," he says, pointing to
the children, "that's Nan, proper name Ananda. She's one of their
four. She's got the nerve of a horsefly! The chunky one in the
middle, his name's Sokai, but I call him Soaker for short. His folks
work in the rice fields. The littlest one's Kishatriya, which I call
him Kiyi on account of his solemnness. Seemed to me it ought to cheer
things up, to call him Kiyi. His folks died of cholera. He keeps
meditatin' all the time.
"Business," he says. "Oh! Fu Shan--Lum Shan. Why. Yes! Saleratus!"
He seemed to have trouble getting his mind to those long-past things.
I says, "Fu Shan introduced you to his brother, didn't he?"
"Why, Fu Shan gave me a letter. You remember that? Well, as I
recollect, it turned out this way. Lum Shan, he just says, 'All
light,' and lit out. All there was to it. He left me kind of
surprised. I thought, 'There must be some poison around here,' but
there wasn't. But it don't suit him. Then I looked up the title to
the temple. Old Lo Tsin had got it recorded in the English courts in
'53, when they annexed the town, and the title appeared to be good. I
investigated some more. There were twenty yellow monks teaching
school here. There's forty now. I got 'em in. But they appeared to
think Lum Shan, or me, was a sort financial manager, that managed
affairs mysterious. They said, 'Why should the holy be troubled? All
things are one.' I thought they were pretty near right there, but I
didn't see any advantage in it. I thought it was an all-round
discouragin' statement. It was the oneness of things that was
tiresome. I strolled around and thought it over. Then I says: 'Lend
me one of them robes.' 'But,' says they, 'it is the garment of the
phongyee. You are not a holy one.' 'Think not?' I says. 'Right again.
Any kind of a blanket will do.'
"They gave me a blue cotton sheet, and recommended I go and sit
three or four weeks in the pagoda, and consider that 'All things are
one.' I says, 'All right,' I squatted every day before them bronze or
wooden individuals, and remarked to each one some fifty times a day,
'All things are one,' till it seemed to me every one of 'em was
thinking that identical thing too, and every one of 'em had the same
identical and balmy smile over it. 'Take it on the whole,' I says,
'that's a singular coincidence, ain't it?' After three or four weeks
I says, 'All things are one,' and felt about it the same way as they
looked. There was no getting away from the amiableness of 'em. Then I
says: 'How's this? Is monotony a benefit? Is enterprise a mistake? Is
the Caucasian followin' up a blind trail? What's up?' I says.
"Then I went out and strolled around. A lot of yellow monks live
over the west wall, and pass the time, meditatin' on selected
subjects and teachin' school. Monks, now, are the mildest lot of old
ladies out. The institution furnishes two meals a day, and they all
go into the city mornings with begging bowls to give people a chance
to acquire merit by charity. Then they come back and give away what
they've collected to poverty that's collected at the gate. That way
they acquire merit for themselves. Economical, ain't it? Then I saw
how old Lo Tsin felt. He admired the economy of it anyway. I guess he
admired it all around. He stood pat by his own temple, and then got
himself buried there. The thing give him a soft spot on the head.
"Now, they think I'm a sort of an abbot, and folks come in from
everywhere to show me a cut finger and discuss their sinfulness, and
if Nan's mother ain't mad because the temple keeps puttin' her off
with girls, then Kiyi's got the fever and chills, or somethin' else
is goin' on. Always something to worry about. But a man can go over
to the Pagoda, and tell 'em 'All things are one,' and get three
hundred identical opinions to agree with. Cheers you up remarkable.
Look at Kiyi! Ain't he great?"
Sadler went on in this way unloading his mind of odds and ends. Down
on the slope below Nan was thumping Soaker on the back to make him
mind her. She wore a striped cloth and a string of beads for her
clothes. Laying down the law appeared to run in her family. Soaker
took his thumping in a way that I judged it was a custom between
them. Little Kiyi crept up the steps and squatted on the stone floor
in front of us. He had a big head, and arms and legs like dry reeds.
He sat, solemn and still, while Sadler was unloading his mind, and it
seemed to me that Kiyi was mysterious, same as the bronze Buddhas in
the cone pagoda.
"He's got it," says Sadler, speaking husky. "Worse'n I did."
"Got what?" I says.
Sadler's face had grown tired, sort of heavy and worn, while he was
looking down at Kiyi. "Born with it. He got injected with the extract
of misery beforehand," he says. "He was born wishing he wasn't. I
know what it is, but he don't know what it is, Kiyi don't. He don't
know what's the matter. First thing he saw was the cholera."
All about the gardens there was a tinkle of bells made by the wind
blowing them, and a gong kept muttering somewhere. Kiyi rolled over
on the edge of Sadler's yellow robe, curled up, and shut his eyes,
and went to sleep. He had no clothes but a green loin cloth. His hair
was done up in a topknot. Then I looked at Sadler, and then at Kiyi,
and then I thought he was the littlest and saddest thing in Asia.
When I was about ready to sail, I took the Shway Dagohn road again,
with Stevey Todd, thinking Sadler might have messages to send. It was
a windy afternoon. The hot dust was blowing in the road. The yellow
old man sat inside the gate alone. There were no children under the
trees. He came out of his dream, and motioned to stop us, and mumbled
something about "Tha-Thana-Peing," which was the Kid's title in that
neighbourhood. Whether it meant "His Solemn High Mightiness," or
meant "The Man That Pays the Bills," I didn't know. "No go, no go,"
mumbles the yellow old man.
"Ain't you keeping school to-day?" I says.
"Dead," mumbles the yellow old man.
"Who? Not Sadler! No. Tha-Thana!"
"Kishhatriya," he mumbles, "Kiyi," and he fell back into his
absent-mindedness. So we went past him to the little temple behind
the gilded cone. Most of the monks were sitting around it on the grass,
and Irish, with his hair remarkable wild, among them, and against a
pillar sat Sadler, bent over Kiyi's body that was on his knees. One
of the yellow robes recited a monotonous chant. Maybe it was a
funeral service, or maybe they were going over their law and gospels
for the benefit of Sadler. He looked up, and the reciter stopped, and
it was all quiet. Sadler says:
"See here, boys, what's the use? They can't make an Oriental of me.
This ain't right, Tommy. Now, is it? No, it ain't right." He looked
old and weighted down. He looked as old as a pyramid. "See here," he
says, "Tommy, what's the idea of this?"
Then we backed out of that assembly. Seemed to me it was a
proposition a man might as well dodge. Only, I recollect how little
Kiyi looked like a wisp of dry hay, and Sadler uncommon large, with
his fists on the stone floor on either side, and his head hung over
Kiyi, and how the yellow men squatted and said nothing.
Maybe Sadler is studying the "Kiyi Proposition," still, to find out
how the three hundred bronze Buddhas can give three hundred cheerful
agreements to the statement that "All things are one," when, on the
contrary, some things have Kiyi luck and some don't. I don't know.
The rights and wrongs of this world always seemed to me pretty
complicated. There was Julius R. that was slippery and ambitious;
there was Sadler that had a worm in his soul; there was Clyde that
kept one conscience for argument, and another for the trade; there
was Tommy Buckingham who was getting older and troubled about the
intentions of things. And yet again there was folks like Kreps and
Stevey Todd, say, mild and warm people, and a bit simple, each in his
way, and yet they always kept themselves entertained somehow. "All
things are one," are they? I couldn't see it either, no more than
Sadler. For this is the Kiyi Proposition. You says: "Here's a bad
job. Who did it?" I says: "I don't know." You says: "Well, who pays
for it?" I says: "Ain't any doubt about that. It's Kiyi."
It was quite a parcel of years I sailed the Pacific, ten years, or
thereabout, altogether. The time I saw Sadler behind the Green
Dragons was my last cruise there. I says to myself:
"Tommy, you ain't a 'bonny sailor boy' any more. Why don't you sail
your own ship? Haven't you got a bank in the West Indies? Why don't
you liquidate on Clyde? Why don't you quit your foolishness?" and
when Stevey Todd and I got back to San Francisco, I left Shan
Brothers and the _Good Sister_ for good, and we came east by
railroad to New Orleans.
THE VOYAGE OF THE "VOODOO".--NARRATIVE CONTINUED.
Monson was the man's name that I came to deal with in New Orleans.
He had a schooner named the _Voodoo_, a coast cruiser that never went
further to sea than the Windwards. There was another white man on the
crew, but the rest were negroes. Monson was billed already for
Martinique and Trinidad, and that was why I dealt with him, and got
him cheap for a short trip beyond Tobago.
Stevey Todd set out for the north to find some relatives he thought
he had, but found none to his mind, and concluded he was an orphan.
But he found a restaurant to his mind in South Street in New York,
and there he settled himself and waited for me to come along. It's a
place where seamen generally turn up sooner or later, and I told him
I would come there. Monson and I set sail the third of September in
the year '85.
Now, Monson was a man of great size and long yellowish hair and
beard, and shy, innocent-looking eyes. It always gave me a start to
look up six feet of legs and chest, and end in an expression of face
which seemed about to remark that the world was a strange place, and
might be wicked. The other white man and the negroes were a bad lot,
and given to viciousness, but Monson ruled them with a heavy fist. He
hadn't been three hours away from the river before he was banging a
negro with a board, the others looking on and grinning. He was
spanking him, in a way. He ran to me with tears in his eyes. "I'll
throw that nigger overboard!" he shouted, dancing about, and shortly
after he appeared to have forgotten the matter. I thought I should
get along with him, but I thought I'd have to keep cool and calm in
dealing with him. He was such a man as it seemed better to be
acquainted with in a big open space where there was room for him to
explode. He was apt to be either gay or outrageous, and that about
any little thing. He was simple and furious and very hearty, and that
all made him good company. The negroes looked murderous, and the
other white man shifty and dirty, but he was a competent seaman.
Three weeks later we passed Tobago and were looking for Clyde's
little island. We dropped anchor there one evening about eight
o'clock. The moon was high and the sea bright. It was sixteen years
since I'd seen that shore last, the night I rowed old Clyde up the
inlet, and we buried his canvas bags. It was hard won enough by the
old man, that money, with twenty years' dodging South American
customs. We'd buried it in the middle of a triangle of three trees. I
remembered how black the sea had been, and rough off shore. I
remembered the black cruiser with its pennon of smoke. The inlet had
been reedy, and the water there quiet, and the soil we dug in punky
I sat in the stern of the dingey now and let Monson row, which he
did powerfully. His forearm was like a log of wood, the muscles
coming out of it in knots. I was glad enough there was no danger to
seaward, and wished I could carry Clyde's money away in a check,
instead of the meal bags we had in the dingey.
We rowed along and came to the inlet. There was a lot of marsh grass
and deep-growing reeds, and clear water between that stretched away
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