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Chapter 7 A Trip to China

  • "Come, little girl, I've got another dose for you. I fancy you won't take i_s well as you did the last, but you will like it better after a while," sai_r. Alec, about a week after the grand surprise.
  • Rose was sitting in her pretty room, where she would gladly have spent all he_ime if it had been allowed; but she looked up with a smile, for she ha_eased to fear her uncle's remedies, and was always ready to try a new one.
  • The last had been a set of light gardening tools, with which she had helpe_im put the flower-beds in order, learning all sorts of new and pleasan_hings about the plants as she worked, for, though she had studied botany a_chool, it seemed very dry stuff compared with Uncle Alec's lively lesson.
  • "What is it now?" she asked, shutting her work-box without a murmur.
  • "Salt-water."
  • "How must I take it?"
  • "Put on the new suit Miss Hemming sent home yesterday, and come down to th_each; then I'll show you."
  • "Yes, sir," answered Rose obediently, adding to herself, with a shiver, as h_ent off: "It is too early for bathing, so I know it is something to do with _readful boat."
  • Putting on the new suit of blue flannel, prettily trimmed with white, and th_ittle sailor-hat with long streamers, diverted her mind from the approachin_rial, till a shrill whistle reminded her that her uncle was waiting. Away sh_an through the garden, down the sandy path, out upon the strip of beach tha_elonged to the house, and here she found Dr. Alec busy with a slender red an_hite boat that lay rocking on the rising tide.
  • "That is a dear little boat; and 'Bonnie Belle' is a pretty name," she said, trying not to show how nervous she felt.
  • "It is for you; so sit in the stern and learn to steer, till you are ready t_earn to row."
  • "Do all boats wiggle about in that way?" she asked, lingering as if to tie he_at more firmly.
  • "Oh, yes, pitch about like nutshells when the sea is a bit rough," answere_er sailor uncle, never guessing her secret woe.
  • "Is it rough to-day?"
  • "Not very; it looks a trifle squally to the eastward, but we are all righ_ill the wind changes. Come."
  • "Can you swim, uncle?" asked Rose, clutching at his arm as he took her hand.
  • "Like a fish. Now then."
  • "Oh, please hold me very tight till I get there! Why do you have the stern s_ar away?" and, stifling several squeaks of alarm in her passage, Rose crep_o the distant seat, and sat there holding on with both hands and looking a_f she expected every wave to bring a sudden shipwreck.
  • Uncle Alec took no notice of her fear, but patiently instructed her in the ar_f steering, till she was so absorbed in remembering which was starboard an_hich larboard, that she forgot to say "OW!" every time a big wave slappe_gainst the boat.
  • "Now where shall we go?" she asked, as the wind blew freshly in her face, an_ few, long swift strokes sent them half across the little bay.
  • "Suppose we go to China?"
  • "Isn't that rather a long voyage?"
  • "Not as I go. Steer round the Point into the harbour, and I'll give you _limpse of China in twenty minutes or so."
  • "I should like that!" and Rose sat wondering what he meant, while she enjoye_he new sights all about her.
  • Behind them the green Aunt-hill sloped gently upward to the grove at the top, and all along the seaward side stood familiar houses, stately, cosy, o_icturesque. As they rounded the Point, the great bay opened before them ful_f shipping, and the city lay beyond, its spires rising above the tall mast_ith their gay streamers.
  • "Are we going there?" she asked, for she had never seen this aspect of th_ich and busy old city before.
  • "Yes. Uncle Mac has a ship just in from Hong Kong, and I thought you woul_ike to go and see it."
  • "Oh, I should. I love dearly to go poking about in the warehouses with Uncl_ac; everything is so curious and new to me; and I'm specially interested i_hina because you have been there."
  • "I'll show you two genuine Chinamen who have just arrived. You will like t_elcome Whang Lo and Fun See, I'm sure."
  • "Don't ask me to speak to them, uncle; I shall be sure to laugh at the od_ames and the pig-tails and the slanting eyes. Please let me just trot roun_fter you; I like that best."
  • "Very well; now steer toward the wharf where the big ship with the queer fla_s. That's the 'Rajah,' and we will go aboard if we can."
  • In among the ships they went, by the wharves where the water was green an_till, and queer barnacles grew on the slippery piles. Odd smells saluted he_ose, and odd sights met her eyes, but Rose liked it all, and played she wa_eally landing in Hong Kong when they glided up to the steps in the shadow o_he tall "Rajah." Boxes and bales were rising out of the hold and bein_arried into the warehouse by stout porters, who tugged and bawled an_lattered about with small trucks, or worked cranes with iron claws that cam_own and clutched heavy weights, whisking them aloft to where wide doors lik_ouths swallowed them up.
  • Dr. Alec took her aboard the ship, and she had the satisfaction of poking he_nquisitive little nose into every available corner, at the risk of bein_rushed, lost, or drowned.
  • "Well, child, how would you like to take a voyage round the world with me in _olly old craft like this?" asked her uncle, as they rested a minute in th_aptain's cabin.
  • "I should like to see the world, but not in such a small, untidy, smelly plac_s this. We would go in a yacht all clean and comfortable; Charlie says tha_s the proper way," answered Rose, surveying the close quarters with littl_avour.
  • "You are not a true Campbell if you don't like the smell of tar and salt- water, nor Charlie either, with his luxurious yacht. Now come ashore and chin- chin with the Celestials."
  • After a delightful progress through the great warehouse, peeping and pickin_s they went, they found Uncle Mac and the yellow gentlemen in his privat_oom, where samples, gifts, curiosities, and newly arrived treasures of al_orts were piled up in pleasing pro-fusion and con-fusion.
  • As soon as possible Rose retired to a corner, with a porcelain god on on_ide, a green dragon on the other, and, what was still more embarrassing, Fu_ee sat on a tea-chest in front, and stared at her with his beady black eye_ill she did not know where to look.
  • Mr. Whang Lo was an elderly gentleman in American costume, with his pig-tai_eatly wound round his head. He spoke English, and was talking busily wit_ncle Mac in the most commonplace way so Rose considered him a failure. Bu_un See was delightfully Chinese from his junk-like shoes to the button on hi_agoda hat; for he had got himself up in style, and was a mass of silk jacket_nd slouchy trousers. He was short and fat, and waddled comically; his eye_ere very "slanting," as Rose said; his queue was long, so were his nails; hi_ellow face was plump and shiny, and he was altogether a highly satisfactor_hinaman.
  • Uncle Alec told her that Fun See had come out to be educated and could onl_peak a little pigeon English; so she must be kind to the poor fellow, for h_as only a lad, though he looked nearly as old as Mr. Whang Lo. Rose said sh_ould be kind; but had not the least idea how to entertain the queer guest, who looked as if he had walked out of one of the rice-paper landscapes on th_all, and sat nodding at her so like a toy Mandarin that she could hardly kee_ober.
  • In the midst of her polite perplexity, Uncle Mac saw the two young peopl_azing wistfully at one another, and seemed to enjoy the joke of this makin_cquaintance under difficulties. Taking a box from his table, he gave it t_un See, with an order that seemed to please him very much.
  • Descending from his perch, he fell to unpacking it with great neatness an_espatch, while Rose watched him, wondering what was going to happen.
  • Presently, out from the wrappings came a teapot, which caused her to clasp he_ands with delight, for it was made in the likeness of a plump littl_hinaman. His hat was the cover, his queue the handle, and his pipe the nose.
  • It stood upon feet in shoes turned up at the toes, and the smile on the fat, sleepy face was so like that on Fun's when he displayed the teapot, that Ros_ouldn't help laughing, which pleased him much.
  • Two pretty cups with covers, and a fine scarlet tray completed the set, an_ade one long to have a "dish of tea," even in Chinese style, without cream o_ugar.
  • When he had arranged them on a little table before her, Fun signified i_antomime that they were hers, from her uncle. She returned her thanks in th_ame way, whereupon he returned to his tea-chest, and, having no other mean_f communication, they sat smiling and nodding at one another in an absur_ort of way till a new idea seemed to strike Fun. Tumbling off his seat, h_addled away as fast as his petticoats permitted, leaving Rose hoping that h_ad not gone to get a roasted rat, a stewed puppy, or any other foreign mes_hich civility would oblige her to eat.
  • While she waited for her funny new friend, she improved her mind in a way tha_ould have charmed Aunt Jane. The gentlemen were talking over all sorts o_hings, and she listened attentively, storing up much of what she heard, fo_he had an excellent memory, and longed to distinguish herself by being abl_o produce some useful information when reproached with her ignorance.
  • She was just trying to impress upon her mind that Amoy was two hundred an_ighty miles from Hong Kong, when Fun came scuffling back, bearing what sh_hought was a small sword, till he unfurled an immense fan, and presented i_ith a string of Chinese compliments, the meaning of which would have amuse_er even more than the sound, if she could have understood it.
  • She had never seen such an astonishing fan, and at once became absorbed i_xamining it. Of course, there was no perspective whatever, which only gave i_ peculiar charm to Rose, for in one place a lovely lady, with blue knitting- needles in her hair, sat directly upon the spire of a stately pagoda. I_nother charming view a brook appeared to flow in at the front door of a stou_entleman's house, and out at his chimney. In a third a zig-zag wall went u_nto the sky like a flash of lightning, and a bird with two tails wa_pparently brooding over a fisherman whose boat was just going aground upo_he moon.
  • It was altogether a fascinating thing, and she would have sat wafting it t_nd fro all the afternoon, to Fun's great satisfaction, if Dr. Alec'_ttention had not suddenly been called to her by a breeze from the big fa_hat blew his hair into his eyes, and reminded him that they must go. So th_retty china was repacked, Rose furled her fan, and with several parcels o_hoice teas for the old ladies stowed away in Dr. Alec's pockets, they too_heir leave, after Fun had saluted them with "the three bendings and the nin_nockings," as they salute the Emperor, or "Son of Heaven," at home.
  • "I feel as if I had really been to China, and I'm sure I look so," said Rose, as they glided out of the shadow of the "Rajah."
  • She certainly did, for Mr. Whang Lo had given her a Chinese umbrella; Uncl_lec had got some lanterns to light up her balcony; the great fan lay in he_ap, and the tea-set reposed at her feet.
  • "This is not a bad way to study geography, is it?" asked her uncle, who ha_bserved her attention to the talk.
  • "It is a very pleasant way, and I really think I have learned more about Chin_o-day than in all the lessons I had at school, though I used to rattle of_he answers as fast as I could go. No one explained anything to us, so all _emember is that tea and silk come from there, and the women have little bit_f feet. I saw Fun looking at mine, and he must have thought them perfectl_mmense," answered Rose, surveying her stout boots with sudden contempt.
  • "We will have out the maps and the globe, and I'll show you some of m_ourneys, telling stories as we go. That will be next best to doing i_ctually."
  • "You are so fond of travelling, I should think it would be very dull for yo_ere, uncle. Do you know, Aunt Plenty says she is sure you will be off in _ear or two."
  • "Very likely."
  • "Oh, me! what shall I do then?" sighed Rose, in a tone of despair that mad_ncle Alec's face brighten with a look of genuine pleasure as he sai_ignificantly,
  • "Next time I go I shall take my little anchor with me. How will that suit?"
  • "Really, uncle?"
  • "Really, niece."
  • Rose gave a little bounce of rapture which caused the boat to "wiggle" in _ay that speedily quieted her down. But she sat beaming joyfully and trying t_hink which of some hundred questions she would ask first, when Dr. Alec said, pointing to a boat that was coming up behind them in great style,
  • "How well those fellows row! Look at them, and take notes for your own use b_nd by."
  • The "Stormy Petrel" was manned by half a dozen jaunty looking sailors, wh_ade a fine display of blue shirts and shiny hats, with stars and anchors i_very direction.
  • "How beautifully they go, and they are only boys. Why, I do believe they ar_ur boys! Yes, I see Charlie laughing over his shoulder. Row, uncle, row! Oh, please do, and not let them catch up with us!" cried Rose, in such a state o_xcitement that the new umbrella nearly went overboard.
  • "All right, here we go!" and away they did go with a long steady sweep of th_ars that carried the "Bonnie Belle" through the water with a rush.
  • The lads pulled their prettiest, but Dr. Alec would have reached the Poin_irst, if Rose, in her flurry, had not retarded him by jerking the rudde_opes in a most unseamanlike way, and just as she got right again her hat ble_ff. That put an end to the race, and while they were still fishing for th_at the other boat came alongside, with all the oars in the air, and the joll_oung tars ready for a frolic.
  • "Did you catch a crab, uncle?"
  • "No, a blue-fish," he answered, as the dripping hat was landed on a seat t_ry.
  • "What have you been doing?"
  • "Seeing Fun."
  • "Good for you, Rose! I know what you mean. We are going to have him up to sho_s how to fly the big kite, for we can't get the hang of it. Isn't he grea_un, though?"
  • "No, little Fun."
  • "Come, stop joking, and show us what you've got."
  • "You'd better hoist that fan for a sail."
  • "Lend Dandy your umbrella; he hates to burn his pretty nose."
  • "I say, uncle, are you going to have a Feast of Lanterns?"
  • "No, I'm going to have a feast of bread and butter, for it's tea-time. If tha_lack cloud doesn't lie, we shall have a gust before long, so you had bette_et home as soon as you can, or your mother will be anxious, Archie."
  • "Ay, ay, skipper. Good-night, Rose; come out often, and we'll teach you al_here is to know about rowing," was Charlie's modest invitation.
  • Then the boats parted company, and across the water from the "Petrel's" cre_ame a verse from one of the Nonsense songs in which the boys delighted.
  • > "Oh, Timballoo! how happy we are, > We live in a sieve and a crockery jar!
  • > And all night long, in the starlight pale, > We sail away, with a pea-green sail, > And whistle and warble a moony song > To the echoing sound of a coppery gong.
  • > Far and few, far and few > Are the lands where the Jumblies live; > Their heads are green, and their hands are blue, > And they went to sea in a sieve."