"Yes--and there was never a bottle of the genuine in America since Columbus's time. That wine all comes from a little bit of a patch of ground which isn't big enough to raise many bottles; and all of it that is produced goes every year to one person--the Emperor of Russia. He takes the whole crop in advance, be it big or little."
January 4, 1898. Christmas in Melbourne, New Year's Day in Adelaide, and saw most of the friends again in both places . . . . Lying here at anchor all day--Albany (King George's Sound), Western Australia. It is a perfectly landlocked harbor, or roadstead--spacious to look at, but not deep water. Desolate-looking rocks and scarred hills. Plenty of ships arriving now, rushing to the new gold-fields. The papers are full of wonderful tales of the sort always to be heard in connection with new gold diggings. A sample: a youth staked out a claim and tried to sell half for L5; no takers; he stuck to it fourteen days, starving, then struck it rich and sold out for L10,000. . . About sunset, strong breeze blowing, got up the anchor. We were in a small deep puddle, with a narrow channel leading out of it, minutely buoyed, to the sea.
I stayed on deck to see how we were going to manage it with such a big ship and such a strong wind. On the bridge our giant captain, in uniform; at his side a little pilot in elaborately gold-laced uniform; on the forecastle a white mate and quartermaster or two, and a brilliant crowd of lascars standing by for business. Our stern was pointing straight at the head of the channel; so we must turn entirely around in the puddle--and the wind blowing as described. It was done, and beautifully. It was done by help of a jib. We stirred up much mud, but did not touch the bottom. We turned right around in our tracks--a seeming impossibility. We had several casts of quarter-less 5, and one cast of half 4--27 feet; we were drawing 26 astern. By the time we were entirely around and pointed, the first buoy was not more than a hundred yards in front of us. It was a fine piece of work, and I was the only passenger that saw it. However, the others got their dinner; the P. & O. Company got mine . . . . More cats developed. Smythe says it is a British law that they must be carried; and he instanced a case of a ship not allowed to sail till she sent for a couple. The bill came, too: "Debtor, to 2 cats, 20 shillings." . . . News comes that within this week Siam has acknowledged herself to be, in effect, a French province. It seems plain that all savage and semi-civilized countries are going to be grabbed . . . . A vulture on board; bald, red, queer-shaped head, featherless red places here and there on his body, intense great black eyes set in featherless rims of inflamed flesh; dissipated look; a businesslike style, a selfish, conscienceless, murderous aspect--the very look of a professional assassin, and yet a bird which does no murder. What was the use of getting him up in that tragic style for so innocent a trade as his? For this one isn't the sort that wars upon the living, his diet is offal--and the more out of date it is the better he likes it. Nature should give him a suit of rusty black; then he would be all right, for he would look like an undertaker and would harmonize with his business; whereas the way he is now he is horribly out of true.
January 5. At 9 this morning we passed Cape Leeuwin (lioness) and ceased from our long due-west course along the southern shore of Australia. Turning this extreme southwestern corner, we now take a long straight slant nearly N. W., without a break, for Ceylon. As we speed northward it will grow hotter very fast--but it isn't chilly, now. . . . The vulture is from the public menagerie at Adelaide--a great and interesting collection. It was there that we saw the baby tiger solemnly spreading its mouth and trying to roar like its majestic mother. It swaggered, scowling, back and forth on its short legs just as it had seen her do on her long ones, and now and then snarling viciously, exposing its teeth, with a threatening lift of its upper lip and bristling moustache; and when it thought it was impressing the visitors, it would spread its mouth wide and do that screechy cry which it meant for a roar, but which did not deceive. It took itself quite seriously, and was lovably comical. And there was a hyena--an ugly creature; as ugly as the tiger-kitty was pretty. It repeatedly arched its back and delivered itself of such a human cry; a startling resemblance; a cry which was just that of a grown person badly hurt. In the dark one would assuredly go to its assistance--and be disappointed . . . . Many friends of Australasian Federation on board. They feel sure that the good day is not far off, now. But there seems to be a party that would go further-- have Australasia cut loose from the British Empire and set up housekeeping on her own hook. It seems an unwise idea. They point to the United States, but it seems to me that the cases lack a good deal of being alike. Australasia governs herself wholly--there is no interference; and her commerce and manufactures are not oppressed in any way. If our case had been the same we should not have gone out when we did.
January 13. Unspeakably hot. The equator is arriving again. We are within eight degrees of it. Ceylon present. Dear me, it is beautiful! And most sumptuously tropical, as to character of foliage and opulence of it. "What though the spicy breezes blow soft o'er Ceylon's isle"--an eloquent line, an incomparable line; it says little, but conveys whole libraries of sentiment, and Oriental charm and mystery, and tropic deliciousness--a line that quivers and tingles with a thousand unexpressed and inexpressible things, things that haunt one and find no articulate voice . . . . Colombo, the capital. An Oriental town, most manifestly; and fascinating.
In this palatial ship the passengers dress for dinner. The ladies' toilettes make a fine display of color, and this is in keeping with the elegance of the vessel's furnishings and the flooding brilliancies of the electric light. On the stormy Atlantic one never sees a man in evening dress, except at the rarest intervals; and then there is only one, not two; and he shows up but once on the voyage--the night before the ship makes port--the night when they have the "concert" and do the amateur wailings and recitations. He is the tenor, as a rule . . . . There has been a deal of cricket-playing on board; it seems a queer game for a ship, but they enclose the promenade deck with nettings and keep the ball from flying overboard, and the sport goes very well, and is properly violent and exciting . . . . We must part from this vessel here.
January 14. Hotel Bristol. Servant Brompy. Alert, gentle, smiling, winning young brown creature as ever was. Beautiful shining black hair combed back like a woman's, and knotted at the back of his head-- tortoise-shell comb in it, sign that he is a Singhalese; slender, shapely form; jacket; under it is a beltless and flowing white cotton gown--from neck straight to heel; he and his outfit quite unmasculine. It was an embarassment to undress before him.
We drove to the market, using the Japanese jinriksha--our first acquaintanceship with it. It is a light cart, with a native to draw it. He makes good speed for half-an-hour, but it is hard work for him; he is too slight for it. After the half-hour there is no more pleasure for you; your attention is all on the man, just as it would be on a tired horse, and necessarily your sympathy is there too. There's a plenty of these 'rickshas, and the tariff is incredibly cheap.