+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

        Swift runs the night!
The morning breaks along the eastern sky:
I hear the heavy tread of comrades nigh,
A file of hearty fellows, punctual quite.
        Who goes?—All's right!
                Good night!


THERE is no "cool of the evening" in the
Chinese summer. Every rock, and roof, and
pavement continues to give out its absorbed
caloric long after sundown; and when, restless
with the heat and mosquitoes, I turned out in
the middle of the night to gasp upon the
balcony which overlooked Macao harbour, the tiles
struck so hot to my naked feet that I was glad
to return to my room and its muslin oven. I
do not think that the tanka girls, either, had
any very defined notion of going to bed. I saw
glimmering lights moving about their boats all
night, and occasionally they sang hymns, in a
monotonous, moaning scream, to the joss,
accompanying themselves on a gong struck with a
split cane. When day broke, they hauled their
boats up high and dry, taking everything out to
be washed; and from the different lockers they
produced clothes, cooking utensils, scraps of
food, babies, and joss pigeon generally, to an
extent which made me look upon all conjurors who
bring feather-beds, cups, flags, and bouquets
from their hats, as mean and contemptible
pretenders. And when everything, including the
babies, had been well scrubbed, and cleaned, and
dried, with Holland-like industry, each article
was packed back again into its respective place.
The conjuror could not have done that.

They were all ready for usA-tye, A-moon,
A-miu, and the restby half-past five, and we
each set off in our boat, in procession, to a pretty
little bay at the western horn of the harbour.
My innate delicacy was put to a painful trial,
and I had some thoughts of tumbling overboard
in my light attire, dressed as I was. But one of
our party had already taken his header, and upon
A-tye asking me, with a laugh that set all her
teeth flashing, "No wanchy washee so fashion?"
I nervously commenced that operation which
Box, or CoxI forget whichannounced to
Mrs. Bouncer his intention of going through,
to get her out of the room; and ended my cowering
terrors in a plunge amongst the wooing
waves that shook the laughing spray from their
heads as they coquetted about the boat to
receive me.

Downtwelve or fifteen feet deepinto the
bright cold water, till the roaring subsided in
my ears and the indistinct white gleams assumed
regular forms of shells and pebbles as my eyes
came down upon them. By Jove! it was a
grand bath that morning! The delicious
temperature threw new life into me at once, as I felt
every muscle bind and rope itself with the shock,
Up to the surface, rising and falling with the
waves, rolling like a grampus over their crests,
and flinging my limbs into all those free
movements, so wildly independent of every law of
gravity and support, only to be achieved on or
in the water. I shouted for very delight, and
certainly, for the time, enjoyed the greatest
bodily pleasure I ever experienced, until the sun
rose over the convent on the eastern spit of land,
like a burning Mentor come to disprove the
possible duration of any earthly violent pleasure
or delight. Guido would have drawn his Aurora,
here, with headache, thirst, mosquitoes, lassitude
long gasps, and prickly heat accompanying
her progress.

A-tye sat, like another Thetis, in her tanka, as
various bearded river gods floated about her; and
one might have heard worse things than the ringing
laughter of all our pretty crews at our terrible
attempts, when the bathe was over, to climb
back into the boat. As we were getting in, one
of our younger companions pinched A-moon's
cheek, accompanying the action with some joke in
Chinese. The girl gave him a box on the ears
which all but knocked him back into the sea,
and then, retiring to the stern of the boat, sulkily
took up her oar, and never spoke another word
all the rest of the way back. A-tye said, "No
good he;" and it was evident that they all felt

The Fei-maa was off again at nine, with our
passengers of yesterday, and an addition in the
shape of a Chinese conjurora ragged fellow,
with the worst set of "properties" I ever saw
in my life; bits of stick, old tea-cups, egg-shells,
and broken dolls, battered and worn like
undressed Punches. He evidently talked the old
dialect (translated) of the Gyngell and Katterfelto
school of wizards; and he did one good thing.
He put an egg in his mouth, and after many
distortions pretended to gulp it down: he then
opened his mouth, for the spectators to look
into, and no trace of the egg was seen. Anon,
with more grimaces, expressive of violent and
superhuman agony, he shot it out of his mouth
three or four yards off. I conjure a little
myself, and watched him closely, but I could not
make out how this was done.

All the armed precautions of yesterday were
taken in the same manner at tiffin, and about three
o'clock the river narrowed, and we were
amongst the Bogue Forts. They are now all
laid in ruins, but when perfect must certainly
have been built up by somebody half pastrycook
half engineer. They run down to the river like
enormous castellated stone handcuffs, the
straight part breasting the water; and in the
hands of any other nation would have made a
position as formidable as Ehrenbreitstein.

Hurrah! there's a pagoda on the hill to
the lefta real Chinese pagoda, as tall as
those which form the frontispiece of the
Hundred Wonders of the World, and looking
immensely like Kew Gardens put down on
the Essex marshes. It is neglected and
tumble-down, like everything else in China;
and birds have dropped seeds on the different
stories, from which large trees and creepers
have grown all the way up to the top, giving it
a very leafy and wreathed appearance. Soon we
arrive at Whampoa, with its fine safe harbour,