Dipped in the lines of sunset, wreathed in zones, 
    The clouds are resting on their mountain thrones; 
    One peak alone exalts its glacier crest, 
    A golden paradise above the rest. 
    Thither the day with lingering steps retires, 
    And in its own blue element expires.

Monday, February 12th. - Fires were lighted at 4 a.m., and by six we were steaming slowly out of the beautiful bay of Kobe. It was a cold bright morning, with a strong head wind, increasing every moment as we proceeded, until, in the straits of Akashi, it became almost impossible to make any way against it. There was not much sea, but the wind impeded our progress so much, that it was at last reduced to one mile instead of nine an hour. The straits are very fine, and the old castle presents an admirable specimen of the architecture of a Daimio's residence.

We proceeded across the Harima Nada, where we were more or less exposed to the open sea, and where we took more water on board than we had done in the gale before arriving at Yokohama. There were no big waves, but we rolled tremendously, and the spray came over us, though the mere force of the wind seemed to keep the sea down.

After struggling until twelve o'clock, and having done but little good for the last three hours, Tom determined to run back, and in a short time we found ourselves once more at anchor in the harbour of Kobe. It was a work of considerable difficulty, owing to the strong wind and tide, to steer safely among the numerous vessels, and for a few minutes we thought we were aground, as we did not make the slightest progress, though the engines were working ahead full speed. The proveedor's boat came out to us as soon as we were perceived, and we landed in her; but it was as much as the six stout oarsmen could do to make way against the wind.

We went for a walk, or rather a scramble, to the waterfall, half-way up to the Temple of the Moon. Much of the ground was covered with snow, the streams were frozen at the sides, and there were hanging icicles to be seen, six feet in length; and yet on either side were camellias and tea-trees covered with red and white blossoms, orange-trees, laden with fruit; gold-fish swimming about in ponds, overhung with maidenhair fern, besides pteris and hothouse ferns, shaded by bamboos, palms, and castor-oil plants. The order of vegetation seems to be as much reversed as everything else in this strange country. In England all those plants would require conservatories, or at least sheltered spots, and the greatest care, instead of being exposed to frost and snow.

Getting on board again was even a more difficult business than landing had been; but we arrived at last without mishap.

Tuesday, February 13th. - The wind dropped at sunset, and as it continued calm all night, Tom ordered fires to be lighted at 4 a.m. By six o'clock, however, it was blowing harder than ever, and we therefore decided to make an excursion to Arrima instead of attempting another start.

We went ashore to make the necessary arrangements, and it was settled that we should start at ten o'clock, which we did, with the Consulate constable as our guide.

We had three men to each jinrikisha, and went along at a merry pace through the long straggling towns of Kobe and Hiogo. The cold was intense, and before we started our poor jinrikisha men were shivering until they nearly shook us out of the vehicles. Soon they were streaming with perspiration, and at our first halting-place they took off almost all their garments, though it was as much as we could do to keep warm in our furs and wraps. We waited while they partook copiously of hot tea and bowls of rice, and bought new straw shoes, or rather sandals, for less than a farthing a pair.

To-day being the Japanese New Year's Day, all the little shrines in the houses and along the road were prettily decorated, and had offerings of rice, saki, and fruit deposited upon them. The spirits of the departed are supposed to come down and partake, not of the things themselves, but of the subtle invisible essence that rises from them. The road now became very pretty, winding through the valleys, climbing up and dipping down the various hills, and passing through picturesque villages, where all the people, leaving their meals or their games, came out to look at us, while some of the children scampered on to secure a good view of the foreigners, and others ran away frightened and screaming. They were all dressed in dark blue clothes, turned up with red, with bright embroidered obis and flowers in their elaborately dressed hair. I have managed to get some dolls' wigs, which give a good idea of the various styles of hair-dressing.

In rather more than three hours we reached Arrima, a village far more beautifully situated than any we had seen, in the very centre of the mountains, where a dozen valleys converge into one centre. On one side are mineral springs, on the other a river. Bamboos grow luxuriantly on all sides, and the inhabitants of the various valleys obtain their livelihood by manufacturing from them all sorts of articles: boxes for every conceivable purpose; baskets, fine and coarse, large and small, useful and ornamental, coloured and plain; brushes, pipes, battledores and shuttlecocks, sticks, spoons, knives and forks, sauce ladles, boats, lamps, cradles, &c.

The first glimpse of the village is lovely; that from the bridge that crosses the river is still more so. We clambered up narrow streets, with quaint carved houses and overhanging balconies, till we reached a tea-house, kept by a closely shaven bonze, or priest. He seemed very pleased to see us, and bowed and shook hands over and over again. He placed his whole house at our disposal, and a very clean, pretty, and well-arranged house it was, with a lovely little formal garden, ornamented with mimic temples and bridges of ice, fashioned by the hard frost, with but little assistance from the hand of man. Bits of wood and stone, a few graceful fern-leaves and sprays of bamboo, and a trickling stream of water produced the most fairy-like crystalline effects imaginable. If only some good fairy could, with a touch of her wand, preserve it all intact until a few months hence, what a delight it would be in the hot summer weather!

To-day the paper house was indeed cold; but even so slight a shelter from the bitter wind was acceptable, though we regretted the screens could not be opened to enable us to admire the prospect on all sides. The luncheon basket being quickly unpacked, the good priest warmed our food and produced a bottle of port wine, which he mulled for our benefit. Cheered and refreshed we proceeded on our way, leaving him much delighted with what seemed to us but a small recompense for his courtesy.

Every house and shop in those narrow picturesque streets was a study in itself, and so were the quaint groups of people we met, and who gazed eagerly at us. We looked into the public baths, two oblong tanks, into which the mineral springs came bubbling up, thick and yellow, and strongly impregnated with iron, at a temperature of 112 deg.. They are covered in, and there is a rough passage round them. Here, in the bathing season, people of both sexes stand in rows, packed as tight as herrings in a barrel, and there are just as many outside waiting their turn to enter. To-day there were only two bathers, immersed up to their chins in the steaming water. They had left all their clothes at home, and would shortly have to pass through the streets without any covering, notwithstanding the cold.

From the baths we went to some of the best basket shops, where the beauty and cheapness of the articles exposed for sale offered great temptations. We had to disturb our jinrikiska men, who were enjoying their frugal meal at a separate tea-house. It was beautifully served, and as clean and nicely cooked as possible, though consisting of viands which we might not have fancied, such as various kinds of fish, seaweed, sea-snails (beche de mer), and rice. Each man had his own little table and eight or ten separate dishes, a bottle of saki, tea-pipe, and hibatchi, arranged exactly as ours had been at the tea-house at Yokohama. How well they managed their chop-sticks, how quickly they shovelled the food down, and how clean they left each dish! Habit is everything.

We were anxious to make the best of our way home, and starting at four, with but a short stop at the halfway tea-house, we reached the hotel soon after seven, having taken less than an hour to come five miles over a very bad road, an inch deep in mud. So much for a 'man-power carriage,' the literal translation of the word jinrikisha.[18] Soon after an excellent dinner we returned on board, so as to be ready for an early start to-morrow morning.

[Footnote 18: Or 'pull-man-car,' as it is sometimes called.]

Wednesday, February 14th. - We were called at 4 a.m. Fires were lighted, but before steam was up the wind had risen; so our start was once more postponed to the afternoon. We steamed out to the buoy, from among the shipping, in order to be able to get away more easily at night. The wind generally goes down at sunset, and Tom hoped that, by taking our departure then, we should get through the worst part of the Inland Sea before the wind again rose with the sun.

After breakfast we went ashore, and dispersed in different directions, to meet again at the hotel for luncheon. Then we all again separated, the children going to the circus, whilst I took a drive, with a pair of black and white Hakodadi ponies, to the foot of the hills behind the town.

It was a pleasant circuit by pretty valleys, and brought us back to the town by a different road. I went to pick up the children at the circus, and found them just coming out, with delighted faces, having most thoroughly enjoyed themselves. They went on board to tea, but Mabelle and I went with the Consul in jinrikishas to a Japanese theatre at Hiogo. The streets were crowded with holiday-makers; for to-day is the first of the Chinese new year, as yesterday was the first of the Japanese new year. The floor of the theatre was crowded with people, all squatting on their heels, each with his or her chow-chow box andhibatchi or brazier of burning charcoal to keep themselves warm. The performance frequently goes on for ten or twelve hours, with short intervals and whole families come and take up their abode at the theatre for twelve hours at a time. The acting was not at all bad, and the performers were beautifully dressed.

We did not stay very long at the theatre, but were soon tearing back again through the streets to the Consulate. These quick rides in a jinrikisha, especially at night, are very amusing. You have the pleasure of going at a high speed, and yet, being on a level with the people, you can see much more of them and of their manners than would be possible in a carriage.

When we reached the Consulate we found the chief of the police of the foreign settlement waiting for the Consul, to inform him that Japanese soldiers were patrolling the town with fixed bayonets, alleging that information had been sent to the Governor that some of the rebels were in the hills at the back of the town, and might appear at any moment. The ships-of-war were to be communicated with at once for the protection of the inhabitants. They do not expect a general attack here, but seem to think the rebels' plan is to creep up by degrees to Osaka, where the Mikado is shortly expected to stay, and take possession of his person and the imperial treasure at one blow.

When I got on board the 'Sunbeam' again, I found that steam was up and all was ready for starting; but the wind was still strong against us, and it was evidently necessary again to wait until four o'clock to-morrow morning.

We were rolling a good deal, and, coming along the engine-room passage, my foot slipped, a door banged to, and my thumb was caught in the hinge and terribly crushed. Dressing it was a very painful affair, as the doctor had to ascertain whether the bone was broken, and I fainted during the operation. At last I was carried to my cabin and put to bed, after taking a strong dose of chloral to soothe the agonising pain.

Thursday, February 15th. - I wonder if anybody who has not experienced it can realise the stupefying, helpless sensation of being roused up from a sound sleep, in the middle of the night, on board ship, by the cry of 'Fire!' and finding oneself enveloped in a smoke so dense as to render everything invisible.

At 2.30 a.m. I was awakened by a great noise and a loud cry of 'The ship is on fire!' followed by Mr. Bingham rushing into our cabin to arouse us. At first I could hardly realise where we were, or what was happening, as I was half stupid with chloral, pain, and smoke, which was issuing from each side of the staircase in dense volumes. My first thought was for the children, but I found they had not been forgotten. Rolled up in blankets, they were already in transit to the deck-house. In the meantime Mr. Bingham had drenched the flames with every available jug of water, and Tom had roused the crew, and made them screw the hose on to the pump. They were afraid to open the hatches, to discover where the fire was, until the hose and extincteurs were ready to work, as they did not know whether or not the hold was on fire, and the whole ship might burst into a blaze the moment the air was admitted. Allen soon appeared with an extincteur on his back, and the mate with the hose. Then the cupboard in Mr. Bingham's room was opened, and burning cloaks, dresses, boxes of curios, portmanteaus, &c., were hauled out, and, by a chain of men, sent on deck, where they were drenched with sea-water or thrown overboard. Moving these things caused the flames to increase in vigour, and the extincteur was used freely, and with the greatest success. It is an invaluable invention, especially for a yacht, where there are so many holes and corners which it would be impossible to reach by ordinary means. All this time the smoke was pouring in volumes from the cupboard on the other side, and from under the nursery fireplace. The floors were pulled up, and the partitions were pulled down, until at last the flames were got under. The holds were next examined. No damage had been done there; but the cabin floor was completely burnt through, and the lead from the nursery fireplace was running about, melted by the heat.

The explanation of the cause of the fire is very simple. Being a bitterly cold night, a roaring fire had been made up in the nursery, but about half-past ten the servants thought it looked rather dangerous and raked it out. The ashpan was not large enough, however, to hold the hot embers, which soon made the tiles red-hot. The woodwork caught fire, and had been smouldering for hours, when the nurse fortunately woke and discovered the state of affairs. She tried to rouse the other maids, but they were stupefied with the smoke, and so she rushed off at once to the doctor and Mr. Bingham. The former seized a child under each arm, wrapped them in blankets, and carried them off to the deck-house, Mabelle and the maids following, with more blankets and rugs, hastily snatched up. The children were as good as possible. They never cried nor made the least fuss, but composed themselves in the deck-house to sleep for the remainder of the night, as if it were all a matter of course. When I went to see them, little Muriel remarked: 'If the yacht is on fire, mamma, had not baby and I better get our ulsters, and go with Emma in the boat to the hotel, to be out of the way?' It is the third time in their short lives that they have been picked out of bed in the middle of the night and carried off in blankets away from a fire, so I suppose they are getting quite used to it.

There can be no doubt that the preservation of the yacht from very serious damage, if not from complete destruction, was due to the prompt and efficient manner in which the extincteurs were used. It was not our first experience of the value of this invention; for, not very long before we undertook our present expedition, a fire broke out in our house in London, on which occasion the extincteurs we fortunately had at hand rendered most excellent service in subduing the flames.

By half-past three all danger was past, and we began to settle down again, though it took a long time to get rid of the smoke.

At four o'clock we weighed anchor, and once more made a start from Kobe, and passed through the Straits of Akashi. The wind was dead ahead, but not so strong as when we made our previous attempts. It was bitterly cold, the thermometer, in a sheltered place, being only one degree above freezing, and the breeze from the snowy mountains cutting like a knife.

We were all disappointed with our sail to-day; perhaps because we had heard so much of the extreme beauty of the scenery, and this is not the best time of year for seeing it. The hills are all brown, instead of being covered with luxuriant vegetation, and all looked bleak and barren, though the outlines of the mountain ranges were very fine. We were reminded of the west coast of Scotland, the Lofoden Islands in the Arctic Circle, and the tamer portions of the scenery of the Straits of Magellan.

After passing through the Straits, we crossed the Harima Nada - rather a wider portion of the sea - and then entered the intricate channels among the islands once more. There are three thousand of them altogether, so one may take it for granted that the navigation is by no means easy. The currents and tides are strong, sunken rocks are frequent, and the greatest care is requisite. Indeed, many people at Yokohama urged Tom to take a pilot.

We had one lovely view in the afternoon of the island of Yoken San, with its snowy mountain at the back, and a pretty little village, with a few picturesque junks in the foreground. The yacht passed between Oki Sama and Le Sama, steering straight for the cone-shaped little island of Odutsi. Towards dusk we made the light of Nabae Sinaon Yo Sina, and, steering past it, had to take several sharp and awkward turns, to avoid two reefs off Siyako and Usi Suria. Thus we threaded the St. Vincent's Channel, and, avoiding the Conqueror bank by another sharp turn, dropped anchor at Imo Ura, in Hurusima, precisely at 8.30 p.m. Tom had been on the look-out since 5 a.m., and we were all more or less worn out with the fatigue and excitement of last night.

Friday, February 16th. - Off again at 4 a.m. The scenery was much finer than yesterday, and the wind not quite so bitterly cold.

About 11 a.m. I heard a hurrying to and fro, and once more the cry of 'Fire!' This time it was in the store-room that it broke out. The iron plates on which the saloon and galley grates are fixed had become red-hot, and the wooden deck below had consequently caught fire. The boxes on both sides, containing the stores, were in flames; but they were quickly removed, water was poured down, and the second and third fires were thus soon extinguished.

Saturday, February 17th. - At 3.15 a.m. we began to slow; at 3.45 the anchor was dropped near the lighthouse of Isaki, and we waited until daylight before proceeding through the Straits of Simono-seki. About nine o'clock a fresh start was made, under steam, but before long the wind freshened, and as soon as the anchorage near the town was reached we let go once more, near two men-of-war, who had preceded us from Kobe, but who were now wind-bound, like ourselves.

To our astonishment, we also saw a large ship from Nova Scotia at anchor, the 'Mary Fraser,' although this is not a free port, nor within treaty limits. The gig was lowered at once, and we rowed alongside to gain what intelligence could be learned, as well as to ascertain what likelihood there might be of our obtaining fresh supplies here. The captain was very civil and kind, and volunteered to go on shore with us and act as our interpreter. We landed opposite a large teahouse, where we were immediately surrounded by a crowd of Japanese, who stared at us eagerly and even touched us, only through curiosity. They pursued us wherever we went, and when we entered a tea-house or shop the whole crowd immediately stopped, and if we retired to the back they surged all over the front premises, and penetrated into the interior as far as they could. A most amusing scene took place at one of the tea-houses, where we went to order some provisions for the yacht. It was rather a tedious process, and when we came out of the back room we found the whole of the front of the place filled by a gaping, curious crowd. The proprietor suggested that they should retire at once, and an abrupt retreat immediately took place, the difficulties of which were greatly augmented by the fact that every one had left his high wooden shoes outside, along the front of the house. The street was ankle deep in mud and half-melted snow, into which they did not like to venture in their stockings; but how the owners of two or three hundred pairs of clogs, almost exactly alike, ever found their own property again I do not understand, though they managed to clear out very quickly. I believe Muriel and I were the chief objects of attraction. They told us that no European lady or child had ever been at Simono-seki before. It is not a treaty port, so no one is allowed to land, except from a man-of-war, without special permission, which is not often given; it is, besides, the key to the Inland Sea, and the authorities are very jealous about any one seeing the forts. There is only one European resident here, connected with the telegraph; and a dull time he must have of it. The wire crosses the Straits a few miles higher up.

The streets appeared to be full of soldiers, patrolling singly and in pairs, with fixed bayonets. The temples were being used as barracks, and the principal buildings seemed to be strongly guarded; but otherwise everything appeared to go on as usual.

We waded through the mud and snow to the proverbial end of all things, always followed by the same crowd, and stared at by all the inhabitants of the houses we passed. They seemed very timid, and inclined to run away directly we turned round. Still, their curiosity, especially respecting my sealskin jacket and serge dress, was insatiable, and I constantly felt myself being gently stroked and touched.

We returned to the yacht, and whilst we were at lunch some officers came on board to say that, this not being a treaty port, we could not purchase any provisions, except through them, and with special permission. This was soon arranged, and our visitors were rewarded for their trouble by being shown over the yacht.

Sunday, February 18th. - We were awakened in the night by a heavy gale, with snow and sleet beating furiously on the deck. In the morning the land was covered with snow, the water froze as it was pumped on deck, and the bitter wind howled and whistled through the rigging. In the afternoon the wind even increased in violence, the snowstorms became more frequent, and the sky was dark and overcast.

We had service at eleven and again at four. The sun set cold and stormy, promising a wild night. At times the shore was quite hidden by the snowstorms, though only a few cables' lengths off.

Monday, February 19th. - The wind and weather became worse than ever, and, as time was precious, Tom decided to retrace our steps for a short distance and go through the Bungo Channel, between the islands of Sikok and Kiusiu, instead of going out to sea through the Simono-seki Straits, as, in the latter case, the gale would be right in our teeth, and we should make but little progress. Now we shall be under the shelter of Kiusiu and the Linschoten and Luchu islands for at least two days, and so make a fair wind of it. Steering due south, too, we may hope to be soon out of this horrid weather. The only drawback to this plan is that we shall miss seeing Nagasaki, which I much regret. There are no great sights there, but the scenery is pretty, and the place is interesting owing to the fact that it was the first and for many years the only, port open to foreigners, and also the scene of the cruel murders of Christians and the site of the beautiful island of Pappenberg. Shanghai I do not think I regret so much, though Tom would have been interested to talk with the merchants about their commerce, and to see their houses, many of which are, I am told, perfect palaces. It would be very cold there, too, at this time of year; and I do so long to lose my cough and feel warm once more.

At 8.30 p.m. we weighed and proceeded under steam. The views of the mountains, between the snowstorms, were lovely, with the fresh-fallen snow shining in an occasional gleam of sunshine. We soon passed the Isaki light, with wind and tide in our favour, and at sunset found ourselves in the open waters of the North Pacific.

Tuesday, February 20th. - A lovely day; the thermometer already twenty degrees higher than it was yesterday. The wind had dropped, and at 10 a.m. it had become so calm that fires were lighted.

It was delightful to see everybody and everything on board - people, children, animals, and birds, all and each sunning themselves, and trying to get thawed after the freezing they have had. We have unfortunately lost one of the Hawaiian geese, which I much regret, as it is irreplaceable. None have, I believe, ever been exported before. The pig from Harpe Island is very well. We have not seen him all the cold weather, as he has been buried in straw in a box, but they say that the cold has stopped his growth.

We were continually passing islands throughout the day, sometimes six or seven being in sight at one time, some with active and more with extinct volcanoes. We saw smoke issuing from three of the cones, but by night we were too far off to notice the flames.

Wednesday, February 21st. - The calm still continues. The sun is bright, the sky blue, and the atmosphere warm. During the night we passed Suwa Sima, Akuisi Sima, and Yoko Sima.

In the afternoon a light breeze sprang up; we stopped steaming, and before nightfall were bowling along smoothly at the rate of ten knots.

Thursday, February 22nd. - The same delightful breeze continued throughout the night and most of the day. By noon we had done 220 miles. Everybody had on summer clothes, and we all felt ourselves gradually expanding after being shrivelled up by the cold of the last month.

I should never recommend anybody to come to Japan in the winter. You do not see it at its best, I am sure, and the scanty protection afforded by houses and carriages makes travelling a penance rather than a pleasure. Travellers, however, who wish to see Japan should do so at once; for the country is changing every day, and in three years more will be so Europeanised that little will be left worth seeing; or a violent anti-foreign revulsion of feeling may have taken place, and then the ports will be closed more strictly than they were even before the execution of the first treaty. Nothing that we can give them do they really want; their exports are not large; and they have learned nearly all they care to know from the foreigner. We have seen many of the European engineers of Japanese vessels, and they all agree in declaring that the natives learn to imitate anything they see done with wonderful quickness. These men also averred that in a few years there will not be a single foreigner employed in Japan, as the Japanese will be quite in a position to dispense with such aid; and although the Government pay foreigners in a high position exceedingly well, their service offers no career to a young man. His engagement is for so many years, and when his subordinates have learned to do the work he may go where he likes. I am bound to add that I have heard the contrary opinion equally strongly expressed; but the facts I have mentioned make me lean rather to the former than to the latter side of the story.

Friday, February 23rd. - Another pleasant day. The wind dropped, fires were lighted, and at 4.30 p.m. we proceeded under steam. Soon after seven, whilst we were at dinner, the table gave a sudden lurch, which was followed by the sound of rain on the deck above. We found that a breeze had sprung up all at once, and had carried away some of our head-sails before they could possibly be taken in. Even under close-reefed canvas we had a most uneasy night, racing along at from ten to twelve knots an hour.

Saturday, February 24th. - We were rushing along, literally through the water all day, for there was plenty of it on deck - not really any great quantity, but sufficient to make everything wet and uncomfortable.

At 1.35 we made the island of Ockseu, a capital land-fall, and very satisfactory in every way; for the sky was too much overcast to get an observation, and the currents hereabouts are strong and variable. During the night the wind fell light, but we maintained a speed of from nine to ten knots.

Sunday, February 25th. - A much finer day. At 8 a.m. we had run 299 knots since the same time yesterday. We met a large steamer and passed a brigantine; also several Chinese junks. About twelve o'clock we saw a flag being waved frantically from a junk not far from us. At first we thought something was wrong with them; but soon a small boat put off with three men, and we found, on its arrival alongside, that it contained a pilot anxious for a job. He was very disappointed that we would not let him come on board; but Tom always likes doing the pilotage himself. The boat was a rough wash-tub kind of affair, not much better than those used by the inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia.

About two o'clock we entered the tropics; but the weather is now colder again, and not nearly so pleasant as it was two days ago. I suppose it is owing to the north-east monsoon.

In the course of the afternoon we received several more offers of pilotage, all of which were declined; and at 7.45 we got up steam and lay to all night, ready to go into Hongkong harbour at daylight.

Monday, February 26th. - At 4 a.m. we found ourselves close under the light on the eastern end of the island of Hongkong. We were surrounded by islands, and the morning was dark and thick; so we waited till 5.30, and then steamed on through the Kowloon passage up to the city of Victoria, as it is really named, though it is generally called Hongkong. The channel is long, and in some places so narrow that it is like going through a mountain pass, with barren hills and rocks on either hand; but the combined effect of the blue waters, and red, brown, and yellow hills, is very fine.

Off the town of Victoria the crowd of shipping is immense, and it became a difficult task to thread our way between the fleets of sampans and junks. The latter are the most extraordinary-looking craft I ever saw, with high, overhanging sterns and roll, or rather draw, up sails, sometimes actually made of silk, and puffed like a lady's net ball-dress. Then their decks are so crowded with lumber, live and dead, that you wonder how the boats can be navigated at all. But still they are much more picturesque than the Japanese junks, and better sea boats. The sampans are long boats, pointed at both ends, and provided with a small awning. They have deep keels; and underneath the floor there is one place for a cooking fire, another for an altar, and a third where the children are stowed to be out of the way. In these sampans whole families, sometimes five generations, live and move and have their being. I never shall forget my astonishment when, going ashore very early one morning in one of these strange craft, the proprietor lifted up what I had thought was the bottom of the boat, and disclosed three or four children, packed away as tight as herrings, while under the seats were half-a-dozen people of larger growth. The young mother of the small family generally rows with the smallest baby strapped on to her back, and the next-sized one in her arms, whom she is also teaching to row. The children begin to row by themselves when they are about two years old. The boys have a gourd, intended for a life-preserver, tied round their necks as soon as they are born. The girls are left to their fate, a Chinaman thinking it rather an advantage to lose a daughter or two occasionally.

Many of these sampan people have never set foot on shore in their lives, and this water-life of China is one of the most extraordinary features of the country. It is what strikes all travellers, and so has tempted me to a digression.

A lieutenant from the flag-ship came on board and piloted us into a snug berth, among the men-of-war, and close to the shore, where we were immediately surrounded by sampans, and pestered by pertinacious Chinese clambering on board. The donkey-engine, with well-rigged hose, soon, however, cleared the decks, bulwarks, and gangways, and we were not bothered any more.

After breakfast we landed on the Praya, a fine quay, extending the whole length of the town. On it are situated many of the large stores, offices, and markets of the city. The streets are wide and handsome, and the buildings in European style, with deep verandahs and arcades, all built of stone. The town is built on the side of a hill, with ferny, moss-covered banks, overhung by tropical trees, close to some of the principal offices. At the back are the mountains, the peak overhead, with the signal station on the top, always busily at work, making and answering signals with flags as ships and junks enter or leave the harbour. Soldiers and sailors abound in the streets; and if it were not for the sedan-chairs and palanquins, in which everybody is carried about by Chinese coolies with enormous hats, one might easily fancy oneself at dear old Gib., so much do these dependencies of the Crown in foreign countries resemble one another, even in such opposite quarters of the globe.

We were very anxious to leave the yacht here and to go up to Canton; but we find there is no possible hotel at the latter place. This is rather unfortunate, as, after our long residence on board, and all the knocking about at sea, the yacht requires repairing and refitting. She looks very well painted white, and the change is a great comfort in hot weather; but white paint does not wear well, and in order to maintain her good looks she ought to receive a fresh coat at every port. We can only go up the Pearl River at the very top of the tide, for in several places there are not fourteen feet of water over the shoals. It will, therefore, take us two or three days to accomplish what the steamers do in six hours, and a great waste of time will be involved.

To-day, for the first time, we have heard 'pidgin English' seriously spoken. It is very trying to one's composure to hear grave merchants, in their counting-houses, giving important orders to clerks and compradors in what sounds, until one gets accustomed to it, like the silliest of baby-talk. The term really means 'business English;' and certain it is that most Chinamen you meet understand it perfectly, though you might just as well talk Greek as ordinary English to them. 'Take piecey missisy one piecey bag topside,' seems quite as difficult to understand as 'Take the lady's bag upstairs' would be; but it is easier to a Chinaman's intellect.

From the Praya we went up the hill to write our names in the Governor's book. It was a beautiful road all the way, running between lovely gardens and beneath shady trees. Government House is a fine building, situated on a high point of land, commanding extensive views in every direction. After a pleasant chat we descended the hill again, and proceeded to the Hongkong hotel for tiffin. It does not seem a very desirable abode, being large, dirty, and ill-kept. At one o'clock a bell rang, and the visitors all rushed in and took their places at various little tables, and were served with a 'scrambly' sort of meal by Chinese boys.

After this, a carriage was sent for us, and we drove to the race-course. This is the fourth and last day of the races, and there is to be a ball to-night to wind up with, to which everybody seems to be going. The drive was a very pleasant one, the road presenting a most animated appearance, with crowds of soldiers, sailors, Chinamen, Parsees, Jews, all hurrying along by the side of the numerous sedan-chairs and carriages. We were puzzled to imagine where, on this rocky, hilly island, there could possibly be found a piece of ground flat enough for a race-course. But the mystery was solved when we reached a lovely little valley, about two miles from the town, where we found a very fair course, about the size of that at Chester, but not so dangerous. The grand stand is a picturesque object, with its thatched roof, verandahs, and sun-blinds. The interior, too, looks comfortably arranged, and certainly contains the most luxurious basket-chairs one could possibly desire. There are a lawn and a paddock attached, and very good temporary stables, over many of which are private stands and tiffin-rooms.

Hongkong races are a great event, and people come down from Canton, Shanghai, Macao, and all sorts of places for them. Everybody knows everybody, and it seems to be altogether a most pleasant social meeting. Many ladies were present. Some of the races were capital, the little Chinese ponies scuttling along at a great pace under their big riders, whose feet seemed almost to touch the ground. There was also a race for Australian horses. But the most amusing event of all was the last scramble for Chinese ponies ridden by Chinese boys, in which horses and riders seemed to be exactly suited to one another.

The sun went down, and it grew cold and dark before all was over. The gentlemen walked back to the town, and I went down to the landing-place in solitary state, in a carriage driven by an Indian coachman, attended by a Chinese footman. I was immediately surrounded by a vociferating crowd, each individual member of which was anxious to extol the merits of his own sampan. The carriage having driven off, I was quite alone, and had some difficulty in dispersing them, and being allowed to enter the sampan I had selected. However, I did succeed at last, and making my boatmen understand that they were to take me to 'the white ship,' as the yacht is generally called, returned on board to rest.