CHAPTER I

DEPARTURE FROM NEW YORK - A RACE WITH THE IMPERIAL LIMITED - IMPRESSIONS OF JAPAN - SINGAPORE - ARRIVAL AT BATAVIA, JAVA - BUITENZORG - BORO BUDUR, THE WONDROUS BUDDHIST MONUMENT

Having concluded important business matters during a brief stay in New York, I decided to go to Canada to take the express train for Vancouver. It was the last train which made connection with the Canadian Pacific steamer for Hong-Kong, and if I could make it I should save three weeks. With the assurance that I should have a couple of hours latitude, I started in the morning for Montreal. There was no doubt that I should make it unless something unusual delayed the north-bound train, and that is exactly what occurred. The steam power of the brake got out of order, necessitating a stop for repairs, and considerable time was lost. Darkness came on and I began to feel anxious about the prospect of gaining my object.

The conductor and his assistant, in the knowledge that I had a through ticket to Hong-Kong, did everything in their power to aid me. Wire messages were sent to have the Imperial Limited Express wait for "a man travelling first-class"; to the custom-house, and also for a cab and four "red caps" to meet me on arrival. The assistant conductor told everybody of the plight of the passenger with the long journey before him, the engineer was prevailed upon to increase his speed; and the passengers began to exhibit interest. A tall Canadian came to me and expressed his belief that I would catch that train, and even if it should be gone there was another a little later by which it might be overtaken. "I shall assist you," he added.

As we approached Montreal there were still twelve minutes left. The lights of the city were visible near by, and one of my fellow passengers was in the act of assuring me that my chances were good, when our train suddenly stopped - on account of the bridge being open to permit a ship to pass. Ten minutes lost! I had decided, if necessary, to sacrifice two boxes of honey which I had bought at the last moment, honey and water being my usual drink when on expeditions. The total weight was ninety kilograms, but they were neatly packed in paper and had been allowed to stand at one side of the entrance to the Pullman car. They were an important adjunct of my outfit, but perhaps after all it would be necessary for us to part.

Immediately upon the opening of the doors the four porters presented themselves with the encouraging information that they understood the Imperial Limited was waiting. My luggage, including the honey, was hurried on to a large truck, my Canadian friend throwing his on too, and speeding the boys to a trot, we ran as fast as we could to the baggage-room of the custom-house, where the official in charge caused us only a short delay. As the packages were being loaded into three cabs a man stepped forward and accosted me: "We have got you now! I am a reporter for The Star, and would like to know who the man is that keeps the Imperial Limited waiting!" The moment did not seem favourable for an interview, but I invited him to enter my cab and the two or three minutes required to drive to the station afforded opportunity for an explanation:

I was on my way to New Guinea. This was a Norwegian undertaking which had the support of three geographical societies. It was hoped that a geologist and a botanist from Norway would meet me next year in Batavia to take part in this expedition to one of the least-known regions on the globe. "What do you expect to find?" he asked just as we halted.

The porters outside said the train was gone, having waited fifteen minutes. The newspaper man immediately joined forces with my Canadian friend, and they were equally determined that by some means I should overtake that train. First we went to look for the station-master, hoping through him to obtain permission to have the train stopped en route. When found after a few minutes' search, he tried in vain to get one of the officials of the Canadian Pacific Company on the telephone. My two friends stood near to keep his interest active, but he did not seem to succeed. The station was quiet and looked abandoned. It was after ten o'clock and at that time of the evening the hope of reaching an official at his residence seemed forlorn.

Meantime I had my luggage ready to throw aboard the 10.30 express, which was my one chance in case the Imperial Limited could be halted. The three men were persistent but finally, two or three minutes before the departure of the express, they came to me hurriedly and said: "You had better go by this train to North Bay, where you will arrive at 9.30 to-morrow morning. There you will catch the train, or if not you can return here." There appeared to me small prospect that the three men would succeed in obtaining the desired permission, but I had no time for reflection. The train was ready to start and my luggage was hastily thrown to the platform of the car. I bade the gentlemen a hurried good-bye, thanking them for all the trouble they had taken. "You are going to catch that train!" the reporter exclaimed in a firm and encouraging tone. "But what do you expect to find in New Guinea?" he suddenly inquired as I jumped on to the slowly moving train.

Reflecting that in the worst case I would be back in Montreal in one and a half days, I fell asleep. At 6.30 in the morning I was awakened by the voice of the porter saying, "the train is waiting for you, sir," as he rolled up the curtain. It really was the Imperial Express! The big red cars stood there quietly in the sunshine of the early morning. In a few minutes I was dressed, and never with greater satisfaction have I paid a porter his fee.