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1 occurrence of roughing it
[Clear Hits]


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1 occurrence of roughing it
[Clear Hits]




ON a certain bright morning the Islands hove in sight, lying
low on the lonely sea, and everybody climbed to the upper
deck to look. After two thousand miles of watery solitude
the vision was a welcome one. As we approached, the imposing
promontory of Diamond Head rose up out of the ocean
its rugged front softened by the hazy distance, and presently
the details of the land began to make themselves manifest:
first the line of beach; then the plumed coacoanut trees of the
tropics; then cabins of the natives; then the white town of
Honolulu, said to contain between twelve and fifteen thousand
inhabitants spread over a dead level; with streets from
twenty to thirty feet wide, solid and level as a floor, most of
them straight as a line and few as crooked as a corkscrew.

The further I traveled through the town the better I liked
it. Every step revealed a new contrast—disclosed something
I was unaccustomed to. In place of the grand mud-colored
brown fronts of San Francisco, I saw dwellings built of straw,
adobies, and cream-colored pebble-and-shell-conglomerated coral,
cut into oblong blocks and laid in cement; also a great number
of neat white cottages, with green window-shutters; in place of
front yards like billiard-tables with iron fences around them, I
saw these homes surrounded by ample yards, thickly clad
with green grass, and shaded by tall trees, through whose
dense foliage the sun could scarcely penetrate; in place of
the customary geranium, calla lily, etc., languishing in dust
and general debility, I saw luxurious banks and thickets of
flowers, fresh as a meadow after a rain, and glowing with the


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[Description: 504EAF. Page 455. In-line image of a garden with a gazebo and a young man and woman talking together.]
richest dyes; in place of the dingy horrors of San Francisco's
pleasure grove, the “Willows,” I saw huge-bodied, wide-spreading
trees, with
names and
—trees that
cast a shadow
like a
were able to
stand alone
without being
tied to
green poles;
in place of
gold fish,
around in
glass globes,
shades and
degrees of distortion through the magnifying and diminishing
qualities of their transparent prison houses, I saw cats—Tomcats,
Mary Ann cats, long-tailed cats, bob-tailed cats, blind
cats, one-eyed cats, wall-eyed cats, cross-eyed cats, gray cats,
black cats, white cats, yellow cats, striped cats, spotted cats,
tame cats, wild cats, singed cats, individual cats, groups of cats,
platoons of cats, companies of cats, regiments of cats, armies
of cats, multitudes of cats, millions of cats, and all of them
sleek, fat, lazy and sound asleep.

I looked on a multitude of people, some white, in white
coats, vests, pantaloons, even white cloth shoes, made snowy
with chalk duly laid on every morning; but the majority of


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[Description: 504EAF. Page 456. In-line image of a man wearing a cod piece and top hat while smoking a cigar.]
the people were almost as dark as negroes—women with
comely features, fine black eyes, rounded forms, inclining to the
voluptuous, clad in a single bright
red or white garment that fell free
and unconfined from shoulder to
heel, long black hair falling loose,
gypsy hats, encircled with wreaths
of natural flowers of a brilliant carmine
tint; plenty of dark men in
various costumes, and some with nothing
on but a battered stove-pipe hat
tilted on the nose, and a very scant
breech - clout;—certain smoke-dried
children were clothed in nothing but
sunshine—a very neat fitting and picturesque
apparel indeed.

In place of roughs and rowdies
staring and blackguarding on the corners,
I saw long-haired, saddle-colored
Sandwich Island maidens sitting
on the ground in the shade of corner houses, gazing
indolently at whatever or whoever happened along; instead
of wretched cobble-stone pavements, I walked on a firm
foundation of coral, built up from the bottom of the sea by the
absurd but persevering insect of that name, with a light layer of
lava and cinders overlying the coral, belched up out of fathomless
perdition long ago through the seared and blackened crater
that stands dead and harmless in the distance now; instead of
cramped and crowded street-cars, I met dusky native women
sweeping by, free as the wind, on fleet horses and astride, with
gaudy riding-sashes, streaming like banners behind them;
instead of the combined stenches of Chinadom and Brannan
street slaughter-houses, I breathed the balmy fragrance of jessamine,
oleander, and the Pride of India; in place of the hurry
and bustle and noisy confusion of San Francisco, I moved in
the midst of a Summer calm as tranquil as dawn in the Garden
of Eden; in place of the Golden City's skirting sand hills
and the placid bay, I saw on the one side a frame-work of tall,


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precipitous mountains close at hand, clad in refreshing green,
and cleft by deep, cool, chasm-like valleys—and in front the
grand sweep of the ocean: a brilliant, transparent green near
the shore, bound and bordered by a long white line of foamy
spray dashing against the reef, and further out the dead blue
water of the deep sea, flecked with “white caps,” and in
the far horizon a single, lonely sail—a mere accent-mark to
emphasize a slumberous calm and a solitude that were without
sound or limit. When the sun sunk down—the one intruder
from other realms and persistent in suggestions of them—it
was tranced luxury to sit in the perfumed air and forget that
there was any world but these enchanted islands.

It was such ecstacy to dream, and dream—till you got a bite.
A scorpion
Then the
first duty
was to get
up out of
the grass
and kill
the scorpion;
the next
to bathe
the bitten
with alcohol or brandy; and the next to resolve to keep out
of the grass in future. Then came an adjournment to the bed-chamber
and the pastime of writing up the day's journal with
one hand and the destruction of mosquitoes with the other—a
whole community of them at a slap. Then, observing an
enemy approaching,—a hairy tarantula on stilts—why not set
the spittoon on him? It is done, and the projecting ends of
his paws give a luminous idea of the magnitude of his reach.
Then to bed and become a promenade for a centipede with
forty-two legs on a side and every foot hot enough to burn a


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[Description: 504EAF. Page 458. In-line image of a man sleeping with a catepillar climbing up his body, and an image of a man wearing a straw hat.]
hole through a raw-hide. More soaking with alcohol, and a
resolution to examine the bed before entering it, in future.
Then wait, and suffer, till all the mosquitoes in the neighborhood
crawled in
under the
bar, then
slip out
shut them
in and
on the
floor till
it is comforting
to curse the tropics in occasional wakeful intervals.

We had an abundance of fruit in Honolulu, of course.
Oranges, pine-apples, bananas, strawberries, lemons, limes, mangoes,
guavas, melons, and a rare and curious luxury called the
chirimoya, which is deliciousness itself. Then there is the
tamarind. I thought tamarinds were made to eat, but that
was probably not the idea. I ate several, and it seemed to me
that they were rather sour that year. They pursed up my
lips, till they resembled the stem-end
of a tomato, and I had to take my
sustenance through a quill for twenty-four
hours. They sharpened my
teeth till I could have shaved with
them, and gave them a “wire edge”
that I was afraid would stay; but
a citizen said “no, it will come off
when the enamel does”—which was
comforting, at any rate. I found, afterward, that only strangers
eat tamarinds—but they only eat them once.