Around the World in Eighty Days Yeller Brick Road – Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter XXII

IN WHICH PISSEPOTOUT FINDS OUT THAT, EVEN AT THE ANTIPODES,
IT IS CONVENIENT TO HAVE SOME MONEY IN ONE’S POCKET

The Carnatic, setting sail from Hong Kong at half-past six on the 7th of November, directed her course at full steam towards Japan. She carried a large cargo and a well-filled cabin of passengers. Two state-rooms in the rear were, however, unoccupied – those which had been engaged by Philanderous Flogg. The crew, upon discovering the unexplained vacancy, deployed themselves in much recreational rumpus within the larger of the two apartments (involving vast consumption of rum, and hitherto unknown and uncivilised variations on hands of Grist).

The next day a passenger with a half-stupefied eye, staggering gait, and disordered fur, was seen to emerge from the second cabin, and to totter to a seat on deck. One would almost think that the poorly creature had lost sleep along with the crew – but he had not.

It was Pissepotout; and what had happened to him was as follows:

Shortly after Filch left the opium den, two waiters had lifted the unconscious Pissepotout, and had carried him to the bed reserved for the smokers. Three hours later, pursued even in his dreams by an antlered stag wearing gaiters shouting ‘Benton!’ the poor fellow awoke, and struggled against the stupefying influence of the narcotic. The thought of a duty unfulfilled shook off his torpor, and he hurried from the abode of drunkenness.

Staggering and holding himself up by keeping against the walls, falling down and creeping up again, and irresistibly impelled by a kind of instinct, he kept crying out, “The Carnatic! The Carnatic!” especially when an elderly gentlewoman match-seller set about him with her walking-stick in an alleyway, calling him a recurring beast of the worst persuasion.

The steamer lay puffing alongside the quay, on the point of starting. Pissepotout had but a few steps to go; and, rushing upon the plank, he crossed it, and fell unconscious on the deck, just as the Carnatic was moving off. Several sailors, who were evidently accustomed to this sort of scene, carried the poor poodle down into the second vacant cabin, and Pissepotout did not wake until they were one hundred and fifty miles away from China.

Thus, he found himself the next morning on the deck of the Carnatic, and eagerly inhaling the exhilarating sea-breeze. The pure air sobered him. He began to collect his senses, which he found a difficult task, some of them apparently having abandoned him permanently; but at last he recalled the events of the evening before, Filch’s revelation, and the opium-house.

“It is evident,” said he to himself. “I have been abominably drunk! What will Mr. Flogg say? At least I have not missed the steamer, which is the most important thing.”

Then, as Filch occurred to him: “As for that rascal, I hope we are well rid of him, and that he has not dared, as he proposed, to follow us on board the Carnatic. A detective on the track of Mr. Flogg, accused of robbing the Bank of England! Pshaw! Mr. Flogg is no more a robber than I am a murderer.”

Should he divulge Filch’s real errand to his master? Would it do to tell the part the detective was playing? Would it not be better to wait until Mr. Flogg reached London again, and then impart to him that an agent of the Metropolitan Police had been following him round the world, and have a good laugh over it? No doubt; at least, it was worth considering. The first thing to do was to find Mr. Flogg, and apologise for his singular behaviour.

Pissepotout got up and proceeded, as well as he could with the rolling of the steamer, to the after-deck. He saw no-one who resembled either his master or Aorta.

“Good!” muttered he; “Aorta has not arisen yet, and Mr. Flogg has probably found some partners at Grist.”

He descended to the saloon. Mr. Flogg was not there. Pissepotout had only, however, to ask the purser the number of his master’s state-room. The purser replied that he did not know any passenger by the name of Flogg, and that the state-room was closed for necessary cleaning, following a mystery rumpus of the most rowdy proportions.

“I beg your pardon,” said Pissepotout persistently. “He is a tall gentleman, quiet, and not very talkative, and has with him a young lady… not likely to have engaged in any rowdy rumping…”

“There is no young lady on board,” interrupted the purser. “Here is a list of the passengers; you may see for yourself.”

Pissepotout scanned the list, but his master’s name was not upon it. All at once an idea struck him.

“Ah! Am I on the Carnatic?”

“Yes.”

“On the way to Yokohama?”

“Certainly.”

Pissepotout had for an instant feared that he was on the wrong boat; but, though he was really on the Carnatic, his master was not there.

He fell thunderstruck on a seat. He saw it all now. He remembered that the time of sailing had been changed, that he should have informed his master of that fact, and that he had not done so. It was his fault, then, that Mr. Flogg and Aorta had missed the steamer.

Yes, but it was still more the fault of the traitor who, in order to separate him from his master, and detain the latter at Hong Kong, had inveigled him into getting drunk! He now saw the detective’s trick; and at this moment Mr. Flogg was certainly ruined, his bet was lost, and he himself perhaps arrested and imprisoned! At this thought Pissepotout tore his fur and whiskers. Ah, if Filch ever came within his reach, what a settling of accounts there would be!

After his first depression, Pissepotout became calmer, and began to study his situation. It was certainly not an enviable one. He found himself on the way to Japan, and what should he do when he got there? His pocket was empty; he had not a solitary shilling, not so much as a penny. His passage had fortunately been paid for in advance; and he had five or six days in which to decide upon his future course. He fell to at meals with an appetite, and ate for Mr. Flogg, Aorta, and himself. He helped himself as generously as if Japan were a desert, where nothing to eat was to be found.

At dawn on the 13th, the Carnatic entered the port of Yokohama. This is an important port of call in the Pacific, where all the mail-steamers, and those carrying travellers between North America, China, Japan, and the Oriental islands put in. It is situated in the bay of Yeddo, and at but a short distance from that second capital of the Japanese Empire, and the residence of the Tycoon, the civil Emperor, before the Mikado, the spiritual Emperor, absorbed his office in his own. The Carnatic anchored at the quay near the custom-house, in the midst of a crowd of ships bearing the flags of all nations.

Pissepotout went timidly ashore on this so curious territory of the Sons of the Sun. He had nothing better to do than, taking chance for his guide, to wander aimlessly through the streets of Yokohama. He found himself at first in a thoroughly European quarter, the houses having low fronts, and being adorned with verandas, beneath which he caught glimpses of neat peristyles. This quarter occupied, with its streets, squares, docks, and warehouses, all the space between the “promontory of the Treaty” and the river. Here, as at Hong Kong and Calcutta, were mixed crowds of all races, Americans and English, Chinamen and Dutchmen, mostly merchants ready to buy or sell anything. The Frenchie felt himself as much alone among them as if he had dropped down in the midst of the Hottentots.

He had, at least, one resource – to call on the French and English consuls at Yokohama for assistance. But he shrank from telling the story of his adventures, intimately connected as it was with that of his master; and, before doing so, he determined to exhaust all other means of aid. As chance did not favour him in the European quarter, he penetrated that inhabited by the native Japanese, determined, if necessary, to push on to Yeddo.

Most curiously, regarding the foreshadowing of his earlier dream, the Japanese quarter of Yokohama is called Benten, after the goddess of the sea, who is worshipped on the islands nearby. There Pissepotout beheld beautiful fir and cedar groves, sacred gates of a singular architecture, bridges half hid in the midst of bamboos and reeds, temples shaded by immense cedar-trees, holy retreats which sheltered Buddhist priests and sectaries of Confucius, and interminable streets, where a perfect harvest of rose-tinted and red-cheeked children gathered, who looked as if they had been cut out of Japanese screens. The happy children were playing in the midst of short-legged poodles and yellowish cats, none of whom Pissepotout took any instant fancy to. More thankfully, no imperialist stags in gaiters appeared, spoiling for a fisticuffs, as in his nightmare.

The streets were crowded with people. Priests were passing in processions, beating their traditional tambourines; police and custom-house officers with pointed hats encrusted with lac and carrying two sabres hung to their waists; soldiers, clad in blue cotton with white stripes, and bearing guns; the Mikado’s guards, enveloped in silken doublets, hauberks and coats of mail; and numbers of military folk of all ranks – for the military profession is as much respected in Japan as it is despised in China – went hither and thither in groups and pairs.

Pissepotout saw, too, begging friars, long-robed pilgrims, and simple civilians, with their warped and jet-black hair, big heads, long busts, slender legs, short stature, and complexions varying from copper-colour to a dead white, but never yellow, unlike the Chinese, from whom the Japanese widely differ. He did not fail to observe the curious equipages – carriages and palanquins, barrows supplied with sails, and litters made of bamboo; nor the women – whom in his fickle mind he thought not especially handsome – who took little steps with their dainty feet, whereon they wore canvas shoes, straw sandals, and clogs of worked wood, and who displayed tight-looking eyes, flat chests, teeth fashionably blackened, and gowns crossed with silken scarfs, tied in an enormous knot behind an ornamental bustle, which the modern Parisian ladies seem to have borrowed from the dames of Japan.

Pissepotout wandered for several hours in the midst of this motley crowd, looking in at the windows of the rich and curious shops, the jewellery establishments glittering with quaint Japanese ornaments, the restaurants decked with streamers and banners, the tea-houses, where the odorous beverage was being drunk with saki, a liquor concocted from the fermentation of rice, and the comfortable smoking-houses, where they were puffing, not opium, which is almost unknown in Japan, but a very fine, stringy tobacco.

He went on until he found himself in the fields, in the midst of vast rice plantations. There he saw dazzling camellias expanding themselves, with flowers which were giving forth their last colours and perfumes, not on bushes, but on trees, and within bamboo enclosures, cherry, plum, and apple trees, which the Japanese cultivate rather for their blossoms than their fruit, and which queerly-fashioned, grinning scarecrows in blue hats and boots protected from the sparrows, pigeons, ravens, and other voracious birds. On the branches of the cedars were perched large eagles; amid the foliage of the weeping willows were herons, solemnly standing on one leg; and on every hand were crows, ducks, hawks, wild birds, and a multitude of cranes, which the Japanese consider sacred, and which to their minds symbolise long life and prosperity.

While Pissepotout was looking earnestly into the queer, painted face of the nearest Scarecrow, he was surprised to see one of the eyes slowly wink at him. He thought he must have been mistaken at first, for none of the scarecrows in France ever wink; but presently the figure nodded its head in a friendly way. Then he climbed down from the fence and walked up to it.

“Good day,” said the Scarecrow, in a rather husky voice.

“Did you speak?” asked the poodle, in wonder.

“Certainly,” answered the Scarecrow. “How do you do?”

“I’m pretty well, thank you,” replied Pissepotout politely. “How do you do?”

“I’m not feeling well,” said the Scarecrow, with a smile, “for it is very tedious being perched up here night and day to scare away crows.”

“Can’t you get down?” asked Pissepotout.

“No, for this pole is stuck up my back. If you will please take away the pole I shall be greatly obliged to you.”

Pissepotout reached up with both arms and lifted the figure off the pole, for, being stuffed with straw, it was quite light.

“Thank you very much,” said the Scarecrow, when he had been set down on the ground. “I feel like a new man.”

Pissepotout was puzzled at this, for it sounded queer to hear a stuffed man speak, and to see him bow and walk along beside him.

“Who are you?” asked the Scarecrow when he had stretched himself and yawned. “And where are you going?”

“My name is Pissepotout,” said the French poodle, “and I am going to the Emmannuelle City, to ask the Great Ooze to send me back home to Cannes. For I have failed my Master in so many ways, I would not even know where to begin an apology.”

“Where is the Emmannuelle City?” the Scarecrow inquired. “And who is Ooze?”

“Why, don’t you know?” the poodle returned, in surprise.

“No, indeed. I don’t know anything. You see, I am stuffed, so I have no brains at all,” he answered sadly.

“Oh,” said Pissepotout, “I’m awfully sorry for you.”

“Do you think,” the Scarecrow asked, “if I go to the City with you, that Ooze would give me some brains?”

“I cannot tell,” Pissepotout returned, “but you may come with me, if you like. If Ooze will not give you any brains you will be no worse off than you are now.”

“That is true,” said the Scarecrow. “You see,” he continued confidentially, “I don’t mind my legs and arms and body being stuffed, because I cannot get hurt. If anyone treads on my toes it doesn’t matter, for I can’t feel it. But I do not want people to call me a fool, and if my head stays stuffed with straw instead of with brains, as yours is, how am I ever to know anything?”

“I understand how you feel,” said the little dogsbody, who was truly sorry for him. “If you will come with me I’ll ask Ooze to do all he can for you.”

“Thank you,” he answered gratefully.

They walked back to the road. Pissepotout helped him over the fence, and they started along the path again.

Presently, before them was a great stretch of country having a floor as smooth and shining and white as the bottom of a big platter. Scattered around were many houses made entirely of china and painted in the brightest colors. These houses were quite small, the biggest of them reaching only as high as the Scarecrow’s waist. There were also pretty little barns, with china fences around them; and many cows and sheep and horses and pigs and chickens, all made of china, were standing about in groups.

But the strangest of all were the people who lived in this queer country. There were milkmaids and shepherdesses, with brightly colored bodices and golden spots all over their gowns; and princesses with most gorgeous frocks of silver and gold and purple; and shepherds dressed in knee breeches with pink and yellow and blue stripes down them, and golden buckles on their shoes; and princes with jewelled crowns upon their heads, wearing ermine robes and satin doublets; and funny clowns in ruffled gowns, with round red spots upon their cheeks and tall, pointed caps. And, strangest of all, these people were all made of china, even to their clothes, and were so small that the tallest of them was no higher than Pissepotout’s knee.

No one did so much as look at the travellers at first, except one little purple china dog with an extra-large head, which came to the wall and barked at them in a tiny voice, before running away again.

“We must cross this strange place in order to get to the other side,” said Pissepotout, “for it would be unwise for us to go any other way.”

They began walking through the country of the china people, and the first thing they came to was a china milkmaid milking a china cow. As they drew near, the cow suddenly gave a kick and kicked over the stool, the pail, and even the milkmaid herself, and all fell on the china ground with a great clatter.

Pissepotout was shocked to see that the cow had broken her leg off, and that the pail was lying in several small pieces, while the poor milkmaid had a nick in her left elbow.

“There!” cried the milkmaid angrily. “See what you have done! My cow has broken her leg, and I must take her to the mender’s shop and have it glued on again. What do you mean by coming here and frightening my cow?”

“I’m very sorry,” returned Pissepotout. “Please forgive me.”

But the pretty milkmaid was much too vexed to make any answer. She picked up the leg sulkily and led her cow away, the poor animal limping on three legs. As she left the milkmaid cast many reproachful glances over her shoulder at the clumsy French poodle, holding her nicked elbow close to her side. The Scarecrow picked up the broken pieces of pail and followed the milkmaid gallantly, brains and Ooze and French poodle all at once forgotten.

A little farther on Pissepotout met a most beautifully dressed young Princess, who stopped short as she saw the stranger, and started to run away.

Pissepotout wanted to see more of the Princess, so he ran after her. But the china girl cried out:

“Don’t chase me! Don’t chase me!”

She had such a frightened little voice that Pissepotout stopped and said, “Why not? I only wanted to play with you.”

“Because,” answered the Princess, also stopping, a safe distance away, “if I run I may fall down and break myself.”

“But could you not be mended?” asked the dogsbody.

“Oh, yes; but one is never so pretty after being mended, you know,” replied the Princess.

“I suppose not,” said Pissepotout.

“Now there is Mr. Joker, one of our clowns,” continued the china lady, “who is always trying to stand upon his head. He has broken himself so often that he is mended in a hundred places, and doesn’t look at all pretty. Here he comes now, so you can see for yourself.”

Indeed, a jolly little clown came walking toward them, and Pissepotout could see that in spite of his pretty clothes of red and yellow and green, he was completely covered with cracks, running every which way and showing plainly that he had been mended in many places.

The Clown put his hands in his pockets, and after puffing out his cheeks and nodding his head at them saucily, he said:

“My poodle fair, why do you stare at poor old Mr. Joker? You’re quite as stiff and prim as if you’d eaten up a poker!”

“Be quiet, sir!” said the Princess. “Can’t you see this is a visitor, and should be treated with respect?”

“Well, that’s respect, I expect,” declared the Clown, and immediately stood upon his head.

“Don’t mind Mr. Joker,” said the Princess to Pissepotout. “He is considerably cracked in his head, and that makes him foolish.”

“Oh, I don’t mind him a bit,” said Pissepotout, who was recalling his own circus-days with a melancholy fondness. “But you are so beautiful,” he continued, “that I am sure I could love you dearly. Won’t you let me carry you back to Cannes, and stand you on my aunt’s mantel? I could carry you in my pocket.”

“That would make me very unhappy,” answered the china Princess. “You see, here in our country we live contentedly, and can talk and move around as we please. But whenever any of us are taken away our joints at once stiffen, and we can only stand straight and look pretty. Of course that is all that is expected of us when we are on mantels and cabinets and drawing-room tables, but our lives are much pleasanter here in our own country.”

“I would not make you unhappy for all the world!” exclaimed Pissepotout. “So I’ll just say good-bye.”

“Good-bye,” replied the Princess.

Pissepotout walked carefully through the china country. The little animals and all the people scampered out of the way, fearing the stranger would break them, and after an hour or so the traveller reached the other side of the country and came to another china wall, beyond which were the rice paddies again.

As he was strolling along, Pissepotout espied some violets among the shrubs.

“Good!” said he; “I’ll have some supper.”

But, on smelling them, he found that they were odourless.

“No chance there,” thought he.

The worthy fellow had certainly taken good care to eat as hearty a breakfast as possible before leaving the Carnatic; but, as he had been walking about all day, the demands of hunger were becoming importunate. He observed that the butchers’ stalls contained neither mutton, goat, nor pork; and, knowing also that it is a sacrilege to kill cattle, which are preserved solely for farming, he made up his mind that meat was far from plentiful in Yokohama – nor was he mistaken; and, in default of butcher’s meat, he could have wished for a quarter of wild boar or deer, a partridge, or some quails, some game or fish, which, with rice, the Japanese eat almost exclusively. But he found it necessary to keep up a stout heart, and to postpone the meal he craved till the following morning.

Night came, and Pissepotout re-entered the native quarter, where he wandered through the streets, lit by multi-coloured lanterns, looking on at the dancers, who were executing skilful steps and bounds, and the astrologers who stood in the open air with their telescopes. Then he came to the harbour, which was lit up by the resin torches of the fishermen, who were fishing from their boats.

The streets at last became quiet. The patrol, the officers of which, in their splendid costumes and surrounded by their suites, Pissepotout thought seemed like ambassadors, succeeded the bustling crowd.

Each time a company passed, Pissepotout chuckled, and said to himself: “Good! Another Japanese embassy departing for Europe!”

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