2021-04-18 11:09:30

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ENGLISH Hong-kong, being an English colony, is governed after the English form, and consequently the laws enforced in China do not necessarily prevail on the island. The population includes four or five thousand English and other European nationalities, and more than a hundred thousand Chinese. The number of the latter is steadily increasing, and a very large part of the business of the place is in their hands. The money in circulation is made in England for the special use of the colony. It has the head of the Queen on one side, and the denomination and date on the other; and, for the accommodation of the Chinese, the denomination is given in Chinese characters. The smallest of the Hong-kong coins is made to correspond with the Chinese cash, and it takes ten of them to make a cent, or one thousand for a dollar. It has a hole in the centre, like the Chinese coins generally, to facilitate stringing on a wire or cord, and is so popular with the natives that it is in free circulation in the adjacent parts of the empire.

George greeted the travellers with all the dignity of an emperor saluting an embassy from a brother emperor, and wished them welcome to his roof and all beneath it. Then he straightened up to the very highest line of erectness, and rested his gaze upon Doctor Bronson."The Japanese had been exclusive for a long time, and wished to continue so. They had had an experience of foreign relations two hundred years ago, and the result had well-nigh cost them their independence. It was unsatisfactory, and they chose to shut themselves up and live alone. If we wanted to shut up the United States, and admit no foreigners among us, we should consider it a matter of great rudeness if they forced themselves in, and threatened to bombard us when we refused them admittance. We were the first to poke our noses into Japan, when we sent Commodore Perry here with a fleet. The Japanese tried their best to induce us to go away and let them alone, but we wouldn't go. We stood there with the copy of the treaty in one hand, and had the other resting[Pg 161] on a cannon charged to the muzzle and ready to fire. We said, 'Take the one or the other; sign a treaty of peace and good-will and accept the blessings of civilization, or we will blow you so high in the air that the pieces won't come down for a week.' Japan was convinced when she saw that resistance would be useless, and quite against her wishes she entered the family of nations. We opened the way and then England followed, and then came the other nations. We have done less robbing and bullying than England has, in our intercourse with Japan, and the Japanese like us better in consequence. But if it is a correct principle that no man should be disturbed so long as he does not disturb any one else, and does no harm, the outside nations had no right to[Pg 162] interfere with Japan, and compel her to open her territory to them.""I give you my word I don't know!" called I as the distance grew between us. "And I give you my word I don't care!" he crowed back as we galloped apart. His speech was two or three words longer, but they are inappropriate at the end of a chapter, and I expurgate.

The dissertation on Japanese money came to an end with the meal they were eating, and soon after the party proceeded to take a stroll through the streets. The afternoon was spent in this way and in letter-writing, and on the following morning the trio started for Kioto, by way of Kara. The ride was a pleasant onein jin-riki-shaspartly along the banks of the river, where they saw a goodly number of[Pg 284] boats, some descending the stream with the aid of the current, and others making a laborious ascent. The difference of up-stream and down-stream travel was never better illustrated than in the present instance. The Japs who floated with the current were taking things easily and smoking their pipes, as though all the world were their debtor; while the men on the towpath were bending to their toil, evidently giving their whole minds to it, and their bodies as well. Some of the towmen had on their grass coats, while others were without them. Every head was carefully protected from the heat of the sun by the broad hats already described."In China the women pinch their feet, so that they look like doubled fists, but nothing of the kind is done in Japan. Every woman here has[Pg 257] her feet of the natural shape and size; and as to the size, I can say that there are women in Japan that have very pretty feet, almost as pretty as those of two young ladies I know of in America. They do not have shoes like those you wear, but instead they have sandals for staying in the house, and high clogs for going out of doors. The clogs are funny-looking things, as they are four or five inches high, and make you think of pieces of board with a couple of narrow pieces nailed to the upper edges. They can't walk fast in them, but they can keep their feet out of the mud, unless it is very deep, and in that case they ought not to go out at all. I wish you could see a Japanese woman walking in her clogs. I know you would laugh, at least the first time you saw one; but you would soon get used to it, as it is a very common sight.

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"We saw a good many temples, and went through some of them, but, on the whole, they were rather disappointing, as they were not so fine as those at Pekin, and far behind those of Japan. The most interesting of the pagodas is the one known as the 'Five-storied Pagoda,' so called because[Pg 412] it is five stories high. It stands on a hill that overlooks the whole city on one side, and a large cemetery on the other; and when you have climbed to the top, the view is very fine. The roofs of the houses are of all shapes and kinds, and the streets are so narrow that you can see very few of them as you look down from the top of the pagoda. On the one hand you have a densely peopled city of the living, and on the other an equally densely peopled city of the dead. Our guide said the cemetery had more inhabitants than the city; and when we asked him how many people lived there, he said 'Many millions.' You have to come to China to learn that the people in a cemetery are supposed to live there.

"Who?" I cried. "What! You don't mean to say--was that Lieutenant Ferry?""What! an American leader for Chinese?""Close by the door of this establishment there was an opium den, where a dozen or more men were intoxicating themselves with opium, or sleeping off the effects of what they had already taken. We just looked in for a moment; it was so much like the place of the same kind that we saw in Shanghai that we did not care to stay, and, besides, the smell was very bad and the heat almost stifling. The Cantonese are said to be just as inveterate smokers of the deadly drug as the people of the North; in fact, it is about the same all over China, and with all classes that can afford to indulge in the vice. Only the middle and poorer classes go to the shops to smoke opium. The rich people can enjoy the luxury at home, and some of them have rooms in their houses specially fitted up for it.

The letters were ready in season for the mail for America, and in due time they reached their destination and carried pleasure to several hearts. It was evident that the boys were enjoying themselves, and at the same time learning much about the strange country they had gone to see."We spent a day at the Great Wall. We scrambled over the ruins and climbed to the top of one of the towers, and we had more than one tumble among the remains of the great enterprise of twenty centuries ago. Then we started back to Pekin, and returned with aching limbs and a general feeling that we had had a hard journey. But we were well satisfied that we had been there, and would not have missed seeing the Great Wall for twice the fatigue and trouble. They told us in Pekin that some travellers have been imposed on by seeing only a piece of a wall about thirty miles from the city, which the guides pretend is the real one. They didn't try the trick on us, and probably thought it would not be of any use to do so."Not in the least," Doctor Bronson explained. "It is an old custom for married women to blacken their teeth, and formerly it was most rigidly observed; but of late years, since the foreigners came to Japan, it has not been adhered to. The Japanese see that a married woman can get along without having her teeth discolored, and as they are inclined to fall into the customs of Europe, the most progressive of them not only permit, but require, their wives to keep their teeth white."

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"The government has tried to stop the use of opium, but was prevented from so doing by England, which made war upon China to compel her to open her ports and markets for its sale. It is no wonder that the Chinese are confused as to the exact character of Christianity, when a Christian nation makes war upon them to compel them to admit a poison which that Christian nation produces, and which kills hundreds of thousands of Chinese every year.The plans of the Doctor included a journey up the great river, the Yang-tse. There was abundant opportunity for the proposed voyage, as there were two lines of steamers making regular trips as far as Han-kow, about six hundred miles from Shanghai. One line was the property of a Chinese company, and the other of an English one. The Chinese company's boats were of American build, and formerly belonged to an American firm that had large business relations in the East. The business of navigating the Yang-tse-kiang had been very profitable, and at one time it was said that the boats had made money enough to sink them if it were all put into silver and piled on their decks. But there was a decline when an opposition line came into the field and caused a heavy reduction of the prices for freight and passage. In the early days of steam navigation on[Pg 329] the Yang-tse-kiang a passage from Shanghai to Han-kow cost four hundred dollars, and the price of freight was in proportion. For several years the Americans had a monopoly of the business, and could do pretty much as they liked. When the opposition began, the fares went down, down, down; and at the time our friends were in China the passage to Han-kow was to be had for twenty-four dollarsquite a decline from four hundred to twenty-four.

"Well, good-bye, fellows."

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Apr-18 11:09:30