bridge, bay, canals,
sailor, sailing, schooner, ship, boatman, shipmates, wharves, shipping, anchor,
passengers, shore, sampan, pier, harbor
Caribbean Cruise Discounts!
In Yeddo Bay
Somewhere along Theater Street he had lost it. He remembered being hustled
somewhat roughly on the bridge over one of the canals that cross that busy
thoroughfare. Possibly some slant-eyed, light-fingered pickpocket was even then
enjoying the fifty-odd yen his purse had contained. And then again, he thought,
he might have lost it himself, just lost it carelessly.
Hopelessly, and for the twentieth time, he searched in all his pockets for the
missing purse. It was not there. His hand lingered in his empty hip-pocket, and
he woefully regarded the voluble and vociferous restaurant-keeper, who insanely
clamored: "Twenty-five sen! You pay now! Twenty-five sen!"
"But my purse!" the boy said. "I tell you I've lost it somewhere."
Whereupon the restaurant-keeper lifted his arms indignantly and shrieked:
"Twenty-five sen! Twenty-five sen! You pay now!"
Quite a crowd had collected, and it was growing embarrassing for Alf Davis.
It was so ridiculous and petty, Alf thought. Such a disturbance about nothing!
And, decidedly, he must be doing something. Thoughts of diving wildly through
that forest of legs, and of striking out at whomsoever opposed him, flashed
through his mind; but, as though divining his purpose, one of the waiters, a
short and chunky chap with an evil-looking cast in one eye, seized him by the
"You pay now! You pay now! Twenty-five sen!" yelled the proprietor, hoarse with
Alf was red in the face, too, from mortification; but he resolutely set out on
another exploration. He had given up the purse, pinning his last hope on stray
coins. In the little change-pocket of his coat he found a ten-sen piece and
five-copper sen; and remembering having recently missed a ten-sen piece, he cut
the seam of the pocket and resurrected the coin from the depths of the lining.
Twenty-five sen he held in his hand, the sum required to pay for the supper he
had eaten. He turned them over to the proprietor, who counted them, grew
suddenly calm, and bowed obsequiously—in fact, the whole crowd bowed
obsequiously and melted away.
Alf Davis was a young sailor, just turned sixteen, on board the Annie Mine, an
American sailing-schooner, which had run into Yokohama to ship its season's
catch of skins to London. And in this, his second trip ashore, he was beginning
to snatch his first puzzling glimpses of the Oriental mind. He laughed when the
bowing and kotowing was over, and turned on his heel to confront another
problem. How was he to get aboard ship? It was eleven o'clock at night, and
there would be no ship's boats ashore, while the outlook for hiring a native
boatman, with nothing but empty pockets to draw upon, was not particularly
Keeping a sharp lookout for shipmates, he went down to the pier. At Yokohama
there are no long lines of wharves. The shipping lies out at anchor, enabling a
few hundred of the short-legged people to make a livelihood by carrying
passengers to and from the shore.
A dozen sampan men and boys hailed Alf and offered their services. He selected
the most favorable-looking one, an old and beneficent-appearing man with a
withered leg. Alf stepped into his sampan and sat down. It was quite dark and he
could not see what the old fellow was doing, though he evidently was doing
nothing about shoving off and getting under way. At last he limped over and
peered into Alf's face.
"Ten sen," he said.
"Yes, I know, ten sen," Alf answered carelessly. "But hurry up. American
"Ten sen. You pay now," the old fellow insisted.
Alf felt himself grow hot all over at the hateful words "pay now." "You take me
to American schooner; then I pay," he said.
But the man stood up patiently before him, held out his hand, and said, "Ten sen.
You pay now."
Alf tried to explain. He had no money. He had lost his purse. But he would pay.
As soon as he got aboard the American schooner, then he would pay. No; he would
not even go aboard the American schooner. He would call to his shipmates, and
they would give the sampan man the ten sen first. After that he would go aboard.
So it was all right, of course.
To all of which the beneficent-appearing old man replied: "You pay now. Ten sen."
And, to make matters worse, the other sampan men squatted on the pier steps,
Alf, chagrined and angry, stood up to step ashore. But the old fellow laid a
detaining hand on his sleeve. "You give shirt now. I take you 'Merican
schooner," he proposed.
Then it was that all of Alf's American independence flamed up in his breast. The
Anglo-Saxon has a born dislike of being imposed upon, and to Alf this was sheer
robbery! Ten sen was equivalent to six American cents, while his shirt, which
was of good quality and was new, had cost him two dollars.
He turned his back on the man without a word, and went out to the end of the
pier, the crowd, laughing with great gusto, following at his heels. The majority
of them were heavy-set, muscular fellows, and the July night being one of
sweltering heat, they were clad in the least possible raiment. The water-people
of any race are rough and turbulent, and it struck Alf that to be out at
midnight on a pier-end with such a crowd of wharfmen, in a big Japanese city,
was not as safe as it might be.
One burly fellow, with a shock of black hair and ferocious eyes, came up. The
rest shoved in after him to take part in the discussion.
"Give me shoes," the man said. "Give me shoes now. I take you 'Merican
Alf shook his head, whereat the crowd clamored that he accept the proposal. Now
the Anglo-Saxon is so constituted that to browbeat or bully him is the last way
under the sun of getting him to do any certain thing. He will dare willingly,
but he will not permit himself to be driven.
So this attempt of the boatmen to
force Alf only aroused all the dogged stubbornness of his race. The same
qualities were in him that are in men who lead forlorn hopes; and there, under
the stars, on the lonely pier, encircled by the jostling and shouldering gang,
he resolved that he would die rather than submit to the indignity of being
robbed of a single stitch of clothing. Not value, but principle, was at stake.
Then somebody thrust roughly against him from behind. He whirled about with
flashing eyes, and the circle involuntarily gave ground. But the crowd was
growing more boisterous. Each and every article of clothing he had on was
demanded by one or another, and these demands were shouted simultaneously at the
tops of very healthy lungs.
Alf had long since ceased to say anything, but he knew that the situation was
getting dangerous, and that the only thing left to him was to get away. His face
was set doggedly, his eyes glinted like points of steel, and his body was firmly
and confidently poised. This air of determination sufficiently impressed the
boatmen to make them give way before him When he started to walk toward the
shore-end of the pier. But they trooped along beside more noisily than ever. One
of the youngsters about Alf's size and build, impudently snatched his cap from
his head; and before he could put it on his own head, Alf struck out from the
shoulder, and sent the fellow rolling on the stones.
The cap flew out of his hand and disappeared among the many legs. Alf did some
quick thinking, his sailor pride would not permit him to leave the cap in their
hands. He followed in the direction it had sped, and soon found it under the
bare foot of a stalwart fellow, who kept his weight stolidly upon it. Alf tried
to get the cap by a sudden jerk, but failed. He shoved against the man's leg,
but the man only grunted. It was challenge direct, and Alf accepted it. Like a
flash one leg was behind the man and Alf had thrust strongly with his shoulder
against the fellow's chest. Nothing could save the man from the fierce
vigorousness of the trick, and he was hurled over and backward.
Next, the cap was on Alf's head and his fists were up before him. Then he
whirled about to prevent attack from behind, and all those in that quarter fled
precipitately. This was what he wanted. None remained between him and the shore
end. The pier was narrow.
Facing them and threatening with his fist those who
attempted to pass him on either side, he continued his retreat. It was exciting
work, walking backward and at the same time checking that surging mass of men.
But the dark-skinned peoples, the world over, have learned to respect the white
man's fist; and it was the battles fought by many sailors, more than his own
warlike front, that gave Alf the victory.
Where the pier adjoins the shore was the station of the harbor police, and Alf
backed into the electric-lighted office, very much to the amusement of the
dapper lieutenant in charge. The sampan men, grown quiet and orderly, clustered
like flies by the open door, through which they could see and hear what passed.
Alf explained his difficulty in few words, and demanded, as the privilege of a
stranger in a strange land, that the lieutenant put him aboard in the
police-boat. The lieutenant, in turn, who knew all the "rules and regulations"
by heart, explained that the harbor police were not ferrymen, and that the
police-boats had other functions to perform than that of transporting belated
and penniless sailormen to their ships. He also said he knew the sampan men to
be natural-born robbers, but that so long as they robbed within the law he was
powerless. It was their right to collect fares in advance, and who was he to
command them to take a passenger and collect fare at the journey's end?
acknowledged the justice of his remarks, but suggested that while he could not
command he might persuade. The lieutenant was willing to oblige, and went to the
door, from where he delivered a speech to the crowd. But they, too, knew their
rights, and, when the officer had finished, shouted in chorus their abominable
"Ten sen! You pay now! You pay now!"
"You see, I can do nothing," said the lieutenant, who, by the way, spoke perfect
English. "But I have warned them not to harm or molest you, so you will be safe,
at least. The night is warm and half over. Lie down somewhere and go to sleep. I
would permit you to sleep here in the office, were it not against the rules and
Alf thanked him for his kindness and courtesy; but the sampan men had aroused
all his pride of race and doggedness, and the problem could not be solved that
way. To sleep out the night on the stones was an acknowledgment of defeat.
"The sampan men refuse to take me out?"
The lieutenant nodded.
"And you refuse to take me out?"
Again the lieutenant nodded.
"Well, then, it's not in the rules and regulations that you can prevent my
taking myself out?"
The lieutenant was perplexed. "There is no boat," he said.
"That's not the question," Alf proclaimed hotly. "If I take myself out,
everybody's satisfied and no harm done?"
"Yes; what you say is true," persisted the puzzled lieutenant. "But you cannot
take yourself out."
"You just watch me," was the retort.
Down went Alf's cap on the office floor. Right and left he kicked off his
low-cut shoes. Trousers and shirt followed.
"Remember," he said in ringing tones, "I, as a citizen of the United States,
shall hold you, the city of Yokohama, and the government of Japan responsible
for those clothes. Good night."
He plunged through the doorway, scattering the astounded boatmen to either side,
and ran out on the pier. But they quickly recovered and ran after him, shouting
with glee at the new phase the situation had taken on. It was a night long
remembered among the water-folk of Yokohama town. Straight to the end Alf ran,
and, without pause, dived off cleanly and neatly into the water. He struck out
with a lusty, single-overhand stroke till curiosity prompted him to halt for a
moment. Out of the darkness, from where the pier should be, voices were calling
He turned on his back, floated, and listened.
"All right! All right!" he could distinguish from the babel. "No pay now; pay
bime by! Come back! Come back now; pay bime by!"
"No, thank you," he called back. "No pay at all. Good night."
Then he faced about in order to locate the Annie Mine. She was fully a mile
away, and in the darkness it was no easy task to get her bearings. First, he
settled upon a blaze of lights which he knew nothing but a man-of-war could
make. That must be the United States war-ship Lancaster. Somewhere to the left
and beyond should be the Annie Mine. But to the left he made out three lights
close together. That could not be the schooner.
For the moment he was confused.
He rolled over on his back and shut his eyes, striving to construct a mental
picture of the harbor as he had seen it in daytime. With a snort of satisfaction
he rolled back again. The three lights evidently belonged to the big English
tramp steamer. Therefore the schooner must lie somewhere between the three
lights and the Lancaster. He gazed long and steadily, and there, very dim and
low, but at the point he expected, burned a single light—the anchor-light of the
And it was a fine swim under the starshine. The air was warm as the water, and
the water as warm as tepid milk. The good salt taste of it was in his mouth, the
tingling of it along his limbs; and the steady beat of his heart, heavy and
strong, made him glad for living.
But beyond being glorious the swim was uneventful. On the right hand he passed
the many-lighted Lancaster, on the left hand the English tramp, and ere long the
Annie Mine loomed large above him. He grasped the hanging rope-ladder and drew
himself noiselessly on deck. There was no one in sight. He saw a light in the
galley, and knew that the captain's son, who kept the lonely anchor-watch, was
Alf went forward to the forecastle. The men were snoring in their
bunks, and in that confined space the heat seemed to him insufferable. So he put
on a thin cotton shirt and a pair of dungaree trousers, tucked blanket and
pillow under his arm, and went up on deck and out on the forecastle-head.
Hardly had he begun to doze when he was roused by a boat coming alongside and
hailing the anchor-watch. It was the police-boat, and to Alf it was given to
enjoy the excited conversation that ensued. Yes, the captain's son recognized
the clothes. They belonged to Alf Davis, one of the seamen. What had happened?
No; Alf Davis had not come aboard. He was ashore. He was not ashore? Then he
must be drowned. Here both the lieutenant and the captain's son talked at the
same time, and Alf could make out nothing.
Then he heard them come forward and
rouse out the crew. The crew grumbled sleepily and said that Alf Davis was not
in the forecastle; whereupon the captain's son waxed indignant at the Yokohama
police and their ways, and the lieutenant quoted rules and regulations in
Alf rose up from the forecastle-head and extended his hand, saying:
"I guess I'll take those clothes. Thank you for bringing them aboard so
"I don't see why he couldn't have brought you aboard inside of them," said the
And the police lieutenant said nothing, though he turned the clothes over
somewhat sheepishly to their rightful owner.
The next day, when Alf started to go ashore, he found himself surrounded by
shouting and gesticulating, though very respectful, sampan men, all
extraordinarily anxious to have him for a passenger. Nor did the one he selected
say, "You pay now," when he entered his boat. When Alf prepared to step out on
to the pier, he offered the man the customary ten sen. But the man drew himself
up and shook his head.
"You all right," he said. "You no pay. You never no pay. You bully boy and all
And for the rest of the Annie Mine's stay in port, the sampan men refused money
at Alf Davis's hand. Out of admiration for his pluck and independence, they had
given him the freedom of the harbor.
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