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      Ten pounds! he said. I shouldnt dream of giving more than seven for it. Even that would be a fancy price."Awfully convenient," Arthur murmured.



      "That man belongs to a class which is not at all rare in the far East," said Doctor Bronson to the boys when the subject of the conversation had left them. "A great many adventurers find their way here, some of them being men of ability which borders on genius, while the others are not far removed from rascals. Ward and Burgevine were of the better sort; and there are others whom I could name, but they are not so numerous as the other and worse variety. They are very often men of good manners, and not at all disagreeable as travelling companions, but it is not advisable to be intimate with them. Travelling, like poverty, makes us some strange acquaintances. We can learn a great deal from them if we proceed properly; and if we know where the line of familiarity should be drawn, we are not in any danger of suffering by it."

      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.

      Dimly, like the moving of an unborn child, the sense of beauty, that profitless thing, without which there is no profit in all the concerns of the world, began to trouble Keeling with a livelier indication of life than any that he had yet experienced from it. In some disconnected way it was connected with Johns education and Lord Inverbrooms manner, and the denizens of the windows of the County Club as opposed to those who more numerously gathered in the windows of the Town Club next door. Propert, his salesman in the book department, had a cousinship to these men who made gargoyles and beautiful books, whereas Emmeline was only cousin to the pilasters in the Town Hall and the No. 1 drawing-room suite. Properts sister, according to her brothers account, had the same type of relationship as himself. But the main point about her was her swiftness in shorthand writing and the accuracy of her transcription on to the typewriting machine. Keeling had never had a secretary who finished a heavy days work in so short a time. He owed her the extra half-hours leisure, which had led{86} to this appreciation of the gargoyles and buttresses of the Cathedral. For thirty years he had passed this way almost daily, but until to-day he had never seen them before in the sense that seeing means a digestion of sight."If everybody was to start 'itting like that," pronounced Samuel Bynes, a local expert, "there wouldn't be no sense in cricket. It ain't in the game." And he spat decisively as though to emphasise his opinion that such proficiency should be deplored rather than commended.


      In another place a man was engaged in ploughing. He had a primitive-looking instrument with a blade like that of a large hatchet, a beam set at right angles, and a single handle which he grasped with both hands. It was propelled by a horse which required some one to lead him, but he did not seem to regard the labor of dragging the plough as anything serious, as he walked off very much as though nothing were behind him. Just beyond the ploughman there was a man with a roller, engaged in covering some seed that had been put in for a late crop. He was using a common roller, which closely resembled the one we employ for smoothing our garden walks and beds, with the exception that it was rougher in construction, and did not appear as round as one naturally expects a roller to be.

      Pray leave that for another day. I cannot bear to think of your demeaning yourself with business after what we have been doing: I do not think it is quite respectful to the Princess."Incorrigible man," said Mrs. Masters. But the Doctor had turned his back upon her, unwilling to reveal the sudden change in his features. Even as he spoke those light words, there came to him the reflection that he did not really mean them, and his pose seemed to crumble to dust. He had lived up to these nothings for years, but now he knew that they were nothings. As though to crown the irritations of a trying day, there came to him the conviction that his whole life had been an affair of studied gestures, of meticulous gesticulations.

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      "Osaka is one of the most important cities of Japan," Dr. Bronson continued, "and has long been celebrated for its commercial greatness. If you look at its position on the map, you will see that it is admirably situated to command trade both by land and by water; and when I tell[Pg 276] you that it contains half a million of inhabitants, you will understand that it must have had prosperity to make it so great. The streets are of good width, and they are kept cleaner than those of most other cities in Japan. The people are very proud of Osaka, and are as tender of its reputation as the inhabitants of any Western city in America are tender of theirs. There are not so many temples as in Tokio, and not so many palaces, but there is a fair number of both; and, what is better in a practical way, there are many establishments where cotton, iron, copper, bronze, and other goods are manufactured. As a commercial and manufacturing centre, Osaka is at the head, and without a rival so far as Japan is concerned." "Good-night, dear mother, and look for another letter by the next mail.

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      Mr. Flack, who was seated in his arm-chair by the fire-place, looked up in amazement. His interest in cricket was immense, but chronic rheumatism prevented him from getting as far as the ground. He was dependent upon Arthur's reports and the local paper. "'Ow's that, then?" he demanded, slowly.

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      Under the old laws of Japan it was the custom for the Daimios to have a very complete right of way whenever their trains were out upon the Tokaido or any other road. If any native should ride or walk into a Daimio's procession, or even attempt anything of the kind, he would be put to death immediately by the attendants of the prince. This was the invariable rule, and had been in force for hundreds of years. When the foreigners first came to Yokohama, the Daimios' processions were frequently on the road; and, as the strangers had the right to go into the[Pg 159] country, and consequently to ride on the Tokaido, there was a constant fear that some of them would ignorantly or wilfully violate the ancient usages and thus lead the Daimios' followers to use their swords.


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