Bound For Japan
( Originally Published 1915 )
As they marched out of the court room, they turned their eyes to the clock. It was twenty minutes past one, and the ship sailed at two. They could scarcely restrain themselves.
"We owe you a great deal for this," said Win-field, and his voice trembled with emotion and excitement.
"Yes," said Stanwood, "and we will pay Mr. Sampson for his services; how much is it?" he asked.
Mr. Dion Iaughed, and Mr. Sampson chimed in: "Mr. Dion is my friend, and you are his friends, so there is no charge ; but you have little time to lose, therefore come along with me."
Wonderingly the boys followed the two men, and Mr. Sampson led them to a side street, to a waiting automobile. "Get in," he said.
Mr. Dion entered, and the boys followed.
"Drive to the Oriental Steamship dock as quickly as possible," he said.
On the way the boys were questioned as to their plans, and they gleefully told of the route selected and then related the most amusing incidents of the trip up to date. As they approached the dock, Winfield said:
"I don't see how we can ever repay you for the kindness you have shown."
"It is quite unnecessary for you to make any repayment. The true principle in life is to help those who try to help themselves. To do right, and do it with all your might, is a pretty good rule," observed Mr. Dion.
"I am glad to have been of service to you," said Mr. Sampson. "When I learned of your brave action, I thought it merited something on the part of our people. It entitles you to a medal for meritorious service to the public, hence we are debtors to you."
"Thank you for looking at it that way," said Stanwood, but he could say no more and his eye-lids blinked very fast.
When the automobile rushed up to the dock Mr. Collins was the first to recognize the occupants of the car. "Hello, what does all this mean?" he asked, addressing Mr. Sampson, with whom he was well acquainted.
"I got them off, all right, and we just had time to bring them down."
"We had given up all hope," replied Mr. Collins. "We are glad you succeeded. As we shall cut loose in a little over a half hour, you will excuse me, as I have still a lot to do."
"Well, good-by, boys, and may the best of luck attend you," said Mr. Dion, and after hearty hand-shakes with both men, Winfield approached Mr. Collins and said:
"Please tell us what to do, and we'll try to make up for loss of time."
"Good; see that all these packages are put aboard, and take a register of them. They are to be stored aft of the Purser's quarters."
It was a welcome change to get to work. Two men assisted in transporting the packages aft of the Purser's quarters. The things were hustled in; the slip was made up, and when it was carried to Mr. Collins he looked at it and said:
"Sign it at the bottom so we may know who did the work."
For nearly a half hour the exciting grind of stowing away and taking note of things was continued, and they were a little tired when the soul-thrilling, low-pitched whistle of the steamer sounded the final call before the gangplanks were drawn back.
They had heard the same kinds of steamship whistles on hundreds of occasions before, but this was the first time it gave them a start, a pang, and a pleasure at the same time.
There was a temporary cessation of work when the gangplanks were separated from the ship and she stood alone, after the fore and aft mooring cables were drawn in. On the dock were thousands of people witnessing the departure of friends, most of them with smiling faces, but some with tears and saddened features.
Hats were lifted and replaced, and repeated over awl over; handkerchiefs were fluttering; there was a succession of bantering between those on the ship and on the dock; there were so many last words and final looks that the boys stood there fascinated.
"I' wonder why it is that whenever people sail on ships it seems so much more important than if they travel by train?" asked Stanwood.
"Do you think so?" said Winfield.
"Well, if you go to either of the big stations in New York when people are about to start on a long journey, say, for San Francisco, by train, you'll notice a dozen or two there to see the passengers off; but if they went by steamer there would be a dozen to every one by rail."
"Come to think of it, that is so," replied Winfield.
Slowly the great steamer was drawn out into the stream by the tugs, and soon pointed its nose towards Alcatraz Island. After rounding the northern bend of the city it was steered in the direction of the Golden Gate, and they passed through the narrow waterway to the great ocean.
Point Bonita, to the right, was cleared within an hour, and the open sea was reached, when the boys called on Mr. Collins for duty.
"You must see the outfitter and get your suits before reporting for duty," he said.
An hour afterwards they emerged from the ward room trim and neat in their gray uniforms, and after reporting Stanwood was assigned to the clerical department, under immediate direction of Mr. Collins, while Winfield was put in charge of the chairs on the second deck, forward, so that both were thus near together while on duty.
On shipboard the employees have regular working hours, the same as when employed on land, excepting where the nature of the employment is such that irregular hours are necessary. Stan-wood's hours were from eight to five, while Win-field's time was from nine to six, with the under-standing that the wants of the passengers would have to be attended to later on if required.
After six that evening the boys had the first real opportunity to talk with each other since they boarded the ship. They compared notes and spoke of their new acquaintances. The immediate superior of Stanwood was a New Yorker. This made him feel at home at once, and the man reciprocated the feeling.
Shortly afterwards Mr. Munroe, the chief book-keeper, Stanwood's new friend, who had the adjoining cabin, passed on the way to his room and Winfield, after being introduced, was at once attracted to him. After some conversation, Win-field asked: "How long have you been on the line '"
"I have been on sea for about ten years, but on this particular line two years. My health required the sea, because it is the only real tonic for me, and I prefer this position, although not as remunerative as shore duty, because I can constantly get the fresh, invigorating air."
He sat down and inquired about the tour of the boys, which he had partly learned from Stanwood du ring the day, and together they planned the trip after they should reach Japan, where Mr. Munroe was well acquainted.
The boys congratulated themselves on making this acquaintance, because, while Mr. Munroe was over fifty years of age, he quickly fraternized with the boys, and entered with pleasure into their many little schemes.
And now let us get some idea of the ship itself, and of the people who inhabited it. A number of world travelers were aboard, on a trip to the Orient. There were few second class passengers, and none whatever in the steerage. The Captain and all but a few of the employees were Japanese, the Americans employed being such as were required to prepare the reports and to keep the ac-counts of supplies shipped from the American ports, as well as the freight handled.
Over 6000 tons of merchandise was aboard, the heavy freightage being generally moved toward the eastern ports, while the heavy passenger traffic is usually to our own ports. It will thus be seen that it necessitated considerable work to prepare proper reports within the limits of the trip to Hong Kong.
The ship had six decks, and over 5000 feet of promenade area, and was fitted up with every luxury that human ingenuity could suggest. This was the first time the boys had ever boarded an ocean-going vessel of this magnitude, and every-thing was new and inspiring.
One of the interesting things aboard was a native band from the Philippine Islands, and this the boys enjoyed very much. Before the trip ended they were on good terms with most of the musicians, all of whom spoke English.
"Do you know, we have forgotten something," said Winfield.
"I know what you are going to say," answered Stanwood. "We should have written to Mr. Castleton."
"No we forgot to go to the Post Office. But it's no wonder, when we had such a time before leaving. I wonder if there is any way to get a letter back to San Francisco'?" said Winfield.
"Mr. Munroe would know, but it is too late to talk to him about it now," and Stanwood dismissed the matter from his mind.
The next morning he was advised that it would have been possible to send a letter back the night before, but it was too late now, and there was nothing now to do but wait until they touched port at Honolulu.
Winfield, who had been around considerably during the day, and had come into contact with the passengers, had an opportunity to obtain some Japanese money. Its value was explained by Mr. Munroe.
"In Japan there are two things to remember,the Sen and the Yen. The Sen is equal to a half cent of our money and the Yen is the same as our fifty cent piece. If you have any money it would be well to get it changed into that currency, as you will experience less trouble in making your purchases while in that country."
But while everything appeared joyous and buoyant to the boys, it was an anxious and expectant time for most of those on board. The principal European nations were at war, Japan having entered as one of the participants, and within a few months having succeeded in capturing some of the German possessions on the eastern coast of China. It was rumored that two or three of the German war vessels were in the Pacific, and might intercept them.
Early tbe first morning two large war vessels were sighted. Mr. Munroe told Stanwood that they were less than two miles distant, and were Japanese. Others would be sighted, in all probability, during the trip to the first port, as the steamer routes were patrolled by the war fleet to prevent capture and confiscation of these valuable vessels.
"What are they doing with the flag?" asked Stanwood, as he noticed it lowered and immediately hoisted again.
"That is called `dipping the flag,' " answered Mr. Munroe.
"What is the object of that?"
"It is a signal of respect and courtesy," he answered.
"See, they are doing it again."
"Yes, at this distance it is generally repeated. You will notice the officer on the bridge is intently examining the distant vessel through his glass."
It was the duty of Winfield, among other things, to install steamer chairs in place for passengers, and in this way he became acquainted with many of them, most of them Americans journeying to the far eastern countries.
Among them was a young man by the name of Rodney Sinclair, a year or two older than Winfield, and they took a great liking to each other. Sinclair was accompanied by his mother, and it was not long before he learned of the exploits of the boys.
The adventures which Winfield related, at odd times, were enjoyed by him, and it was not long until it became apparent that he also longed for a like experiment in traveling. Raised as he was in luxury, he could not understand what the need of money meant. He was viewing it only from the standpoint of a possible new experience in life, but his mother was not at all inclined to listen to his enthusiastic talk about the pleasures of such a trip.
After the second evening he was a constant visitor at the boys' cabin, and before long he was trying to devise some scheme to try a little of the adventure on his own account.
"How I wish I could have been with you on the trip over the continent. It seems to me that your experience as detectives must have been exciting."
"Yes it kept us thinking, but we enjoyed it, and than the newspapers treated us handsomely, and kept it up when we got to San Francisco," said Stanwood.
"But Winfield told me about your fun with the camels," and he laughed in glee, while Stanwood looked at Winfield with a questioning look, as though he feared the latter had somewhat added to the tale in telling of his exploits.
"It wasn't half as funny as Winfield's speeches at the show," retorted Stanwood.
"The show? I haven't heard about that,', he replied.
"You haven't? Well, that was grand. You should have heard him talk about the giant Dinosaur, and the antediluvian remains, and the ornithological specimens, or something of that kind. I heard it so often that I have most of it, except the pronunciation, all right."
Sinclair laughed heartily at the tale, because it was really amusing, as Stanwood told it.
"Where are you going?" asked Winfield, after the laughter had subsided.
"Well, we did expect to go around the world, but mother thinks we may stop in India for four or five months. The war has upset our plans, but we were assured it wouldn't last long, and she is afraid to venture on the continent during the trouble there."
I am glad we shall be with you until we reach Japan, at any rate," said Winfield.
But the passengers were not the only ones who interested the boys. In a community so closely united as people traveling on board ships, it did not take long before the travelers learned the history of the boys, and as a result they became favorites, and the Japanese, who were fellow employees, cultivated their acquaintance.
The third evening after leaving port, Winfield said: "The little Japs are nice fellows, but they ask a great many questions and it is annoying sometimes."
"Well, why don't you ask questions, too?" asked Stanwood then adding, "It might help us."
So it would. Well, I'll try that on them."
"What's that?" queried Munroe, as he appeared at the doorway.
"I was just telling Stanwood about the inquisitiveness of the Japs, and he thought it would be a good idea to find out about the country from them, as it might be of use to us," answered Winfield.
"So it would. They are a wonderful people in many respects. It may surpise you to know that many of those employed on the vessel are the sons of noble families, who are given these berths to learn the ways of the world by practical experience."
"Such a course has advanced them to a remark-able degree within the past fifty years. Originally the people had strong imitative faculties. That is characteristic of them as a nation."
"But I have heard that they are also good at finding out things for themselves," said Winfield.
"That is also true; but it was not so years ago, except to a limited extent. I recall that about thirty years ago there was a short line running out of Cincinnati, on which the trains were drawn by what were called `dummy' engines, a small, stumpy locomotive.
"When the power was changed to the electrical system, the little engines were sold, and one of them was taken to Japan, and used as a model from which like engines were built. The locomotives thus made were exact copies, so that even the manufacturer's nameplate was made and affixed to imitate the original."
Thereafter whenever either of the boys con-versed with the little brown fellows, you may be sure they did not spare the questionings, and it may be said to their credit that the information given was furnished with as much zest and earnestness as the Japanese on their part sought to gain knowledge from the boys.