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go to make up a good work of fiction.

Some people may perhaps object that Pierre Loti's stories are likewise invariably sea-narratives from beginning to end, without being the less admirable on that account, and that precisely his best and most generally appreciated work, 'Pêcheur d'Islande,' treats of little else but of herring-fishery. We are even inclined to consider Monsieur Loti directly answerable for this sorry imitation, which, viewed by the side of his own artistic production, is like tinsel to gold, or clay to marble. To keep one single note reverberating without producing monotony requires a master-hand, and even Monsieur Loti's talent is not always sufficient to make us escape the feeling that we have swallowed quite as much salt-water as we are able to take.

But it is not merely the saltwater and the herrings to which we take exception in the present instance. It is the Brave Fille herself, who, to our thinking, is the chief stumbling-block of the tale. She is at once too brave in the French, and too brave in the English acceptation of the word; too impossibly and preposterously courageous and high-minded to remind us even distantly of a woman of flesh and blood. Gifted with the beauty of a Diana, the governing talent of a Napoleon, the wit of a Talleyrand, and the strength of a bullock, this surprising young woman takes service as a common sailor in a fishingsmack, in order to gain a living for herself and her little brother Firmian, aged twelve, her sole remaining relative. They are orphans, the father having been lately drowned one wild night off the coast, and neither his body nor those of his six companions have yet been recovered. His death

has ruined his children, for he was returning with a purse well filled from a successful fishing expedition, when the waters had swallowed him along with the boat that was his property. Under these circumstances Elise had obtained from her cousin, the beau Florimond, as he was called in these parts, the favour of being enrolled in the crew of his fishingboat along with her little brother. This intrusion of a woman among them is at first much resented by the other sailors, who consider this to be an unjustifiable infraction of their rights. A wench on board never fails to bring bad luck, and where will the trade come to if women are to be suffered thus to take the bread out of honest sailors' mouths? Presently, as though to confirm these evil prognostications, the vessel runs on to a sand-bank, and the sailors, in order to deliver themselves and their boat from this damsel of evil omen, solve the difficulty by throwing the Brave Fille bodily overboard. Fished out and brought back to life by one of the men, younger and less stony - hearted than the rest, Elise presently compels the respect of the crew by the muscular force and moral energy with which, still dripping like a drowned rat from her recent immersion, she seizes on the helm, and, assisted by an opportune blast of wind, succeeds in dislodging the boat from its inconvenient position. From this moment forward she has it all her own way: the men who a minute previously had been planning her destruction, now look up to her with blind adoration as a sort of patron saint, so that Florimond, the commander of the sloop, begins to be seriously jealous of the rival influence of this little upstart relation, whom he had only taken on out of charity.

By-and-by the vessel gets into dangerous waters, a violent tempest has arisen, and it requires all Florimond's experience and energy to avoid the catastrophe which he sees staring them in the face :

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Florimond was at the helm. Since four days he had scarcely left it. Less than ever at the hour of danger could he resign himself to place the fate of his vessel in other hands. He had refused himself all repose, taking his meals aloft, eating with one hand and directing with the other. In this halfweek he had scarcely slept five hours. His cheeks were hollowed by fever, and his clear eyes were darkened by the shades of his thoughtful glance. For he knew it, and feared it, that sea which never hesitates in its fury, that sea which gives life and also death."

But when Florimond is presently struck down senseless by the action of a wave, the distracted sailors, bereft of their commander, all turn instinctively to Elise as their one chance of salvation :

"The three breakers passed on with unbridled fury, which foreshadowed the violence of the coming squall. It

was necessary to act or to perish.

"To whom the helm ?

"To the Lison-the Lison !'

"And all the sailors simultaneously shouted the name of the young girl, as though to testify the salvation they expected from her. She had gained them by her heroic valour; in the hour of danger they placed in her their force and their confidence; but it was a perilous honour that they designed to her. Injured in her most vital parts, gorged with water, the sloop was about to be shattered beneath the thundering waves at the entrance of the Ecueil des Bancs. Elise

did not hesitate.

"Without losing heart, without even feeling surprised at the choice which had fallen on her, she came to the wheel, and boldly caused herself to be lashed on to the mizen-mast, in order to be able to defy the smash of the breakers, which threatened to be gigantic. She commanded the manœuvre."

Elise gives her orders with the peremptory decision of an experienced commander. To each man is assigned a task, and nothing is forgotten that can increase the chances of escape. She seems to govern the wheel as easily as other young ladies handle a fan or a parasol, and to feel as much at home in her perilous position as another would be on the ball-room floor. The breakers are so immense that the girl's figure constantly vanishes in clouds of spray, only to reappear again, always erect, energetic, and invincible. Now they have already passed the quicksands, and are nearing the lighthouse of Treport, which looks out yonder on the horizon, white and gleaming as a beacon of hope:

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but the quicksands are behind them. Courage the breakers are stiff,

In less than half an hour the Bon Pêcheur will have reached the harbour-bar.

"Alas! the squall still persists in blowing, the sky is dark, the sea is dark, the foam alone is white. The waves hurl themselves with yet greater violence against the boat. One of the breakers, implacable, irrein a yawning embrace. sistible, has almost swallowed it up It has disappeared entirely. During twenty seconds it was no longer distinguishable from the coast. regain breath, it must infallibly go


"À la grâce !"

If it cannot

Of a sudden Elise commands the sails to be hoisted. Is she Imad to think of it in such a tempest? But her orders are obeyed. The Bon Pêcheur flies like a stormbird, and in less than a quarter of an hour has rolled in beneath the lighthouse at the entrance of the harbour. The tempest has reached its climax, and yet Elise continues to order more sail, and yet more, to be hoisted. It is positive delirium !

"Courage ! The boat regains its speed-the white lighthouse is no more than twenty boat-lengths off.

But at the harbour-bar the waves are revolving in a delirious whirlpool.

Courage! Alas! the big mast has crashed down on to the deck.

"Cut down the rigging!' "The hatchets work. The mast and the sails, set free from their fastenings, fall into the abyss. The boat, relieved and lightened, rises up again. It still floats.

"Like a spar tossed from crest to crest, it sinks down only to rebound, to sink again, and once more to rebound. A terrified shout resounds from the pier.

The Bon Pê

"H-0-0-h-ō-ō-ō!' cheur has been caught round by a current of backwater.

"A wave has seized it in the flanc, and has hurled it into the harbour entrance. Courage! Alas! it will be shattered against the stone pier. No!

"Elise has caused all her blood to recoil to the heart. [It would be interesting, by the way, to know how this little manoeuvre is executed.] She has put her whole vitality into a supreme motion of the wheel. The Bon Pêcheur has turned over keel wards towards the pier-one might say keel upwards. Hoo! It has disappeared into the yawning abyss. No-it rebounds again. Is it for the last time? . . . No-the wheel has

raised it up again. Hurrah! The ropes are thrown and seized. Two hundred hands are dragging them in. "Sails down!'

"The last remaining scrap of linen is lowered. And they are in port. Hurrah, Elise! your sloop and your

men are saved !"

The foregoing description of the storm, greatly curtailed for the reader's benefit, will convey a good idea of the author's style, which, although occasionally both spirited and forcible, is invariably marred by the needless profusion

of ejaculation and interrogation, producing a jerky, spasmodic, and hysterical effect.

Elise, however, meets with but small thanks for having rescued the vessel, and Florimond, furious at an incident which has robbed him of his accustomed prestige, succeeds in exciting the sailors' wrath anew against the girl as a witch and sorceress. Abandoned and shunned by every one, and with only an old dog to protect her against the fury of an unjust and senseless rabble, the Brave Fille, however, does not lose heart, but continues to perform prodigies of valour. She goes down in a diving-bell to search for the body of her dead father, succeeds in finding her little brother, who somehow had been mislaid in the German Ocean, saves the ungrateful Florimond and his crew a second time, when once more they are in danger of perishing, and finally reaps the reward of all these heroic actions by leading to the altar (rather than being led to it) the exceedingly namby-pamby young man on whom she has fixed her affections.

Why the French Academy has thought fit to crown a book which so little fulfils the conditions of a good work of fiction, might be matter for surprise were it not for the notoriously unhealthy conliterature. Where talent and mordition of contemporary French ality so rarely go hand in hand, the predicament is apt to be a grave one; and when compelled perforce to make their choice between a vicious novel and a foolish one, it were perhaps unjust to condemn the Immortals for having decided in favour of the latter.


2 R


THE Hakkas are an extraneous tribe of Chinese who migrated into the north-east of the province of Canton about A.D. 1300. They are an agricultural people, about five millions in number, and are the most numerous emigrants from China, whence they go in great numbers to Australia, California, Honolulu, Mauritius, and especially to the Straits Settlements and the neighbouring places. They are very numerous in the mining districts of the protected Malay States of Perak and Selángor, to the former of which references occur in the following narrative.

"I EXPECT there are probably none," I said, gloomily prolonging the last word to emphasise my objection.

"Hai yaah! Extremely many, and as big as donkeys," replied Vong Ah Nyi (Brown Secundus). So I promised.

Vong was a farmer, and a Hakka Chinaman, and a good Catholic. He had come in to see my friend the French priest, as he was in trouble. "A woman's affair," he told me ambiguously. Then I showed him my six-bang guns, and then he asked me to shoot the wild pig that were devastating his young wheat, and promised in return to carry my bag and give me a hen.

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4.30 4.30 A.M., 9th April 1894. Saddling a pony by moonlight is ghastly work, not to say impious. Everything, too, goes wrong with the harness, as home-made things will go wrong; the girths are too short, and must be ingeniously supplemented with lamp-wick; a stirrup-leather gives, but the strap from a Gladstone bag makes a very good substitute; finally, the cushion of shavings that covers the wooden framework of the saddle has got itself into lumps, and wants altering. I should explain that I am up-country, 150 miles from the nearest treaty port

(Swatow), and that my harness is "made in China," principally from bits of string. Then half-an-hour of waiting while Ah Nyi fills himself with rice as you stoke an engine for a long run, measuring out the amount of fuel necessary, and methodically packing it away, actuated apparently by a sense of duty rather than by appetite. This done, he proceeds to strap my impedimenta to the ends of his kandur (carrying-stick), slips his shoulders underneath, and we are off.


Alas! not so soon, in a land of delays. After three paces he stops. It seems that the basket at one end of the kandur outweighs the guns at the other by some pounds; so, after tentatively lifting his burden once or twice, he retires, to return with a skein of fibre. of fibre. Then sitting down, he bares his thigh, and on it rolls a dozen threads together into string, with which he ties a blanket and a pair of shoes to the lighter end of the burden, and makes the balance true. He is provokingly deliberate in his movements, but he is right. has to carry 50 lb. for thirty miles before nightfall, and a very little irregularity in the spring of his burden will put him out of his stride. Having seen him fairly off (for if you would not find yourself stranded baggageless, your


indigenous Hakka is of burdenbearers the least well left to follow), I take a cup of cocoa and start after him, with a valedictory "Well, well! Softly, softly, go!" from my household ringing in my


The sun is rising crimson through a white haze as I canter along, and the thermometer is at 50°-and that alone makes half a paradise, as any Straits man will tell. For the first mile or so the road lies through the plain which feeds the district city of Ka - Yin-Chuthrough an expanse of greenest wheat, with here and there a brown patch flooded and set aside as a nursery for the coming padi. On every side white homesteads are scattered, each in its setting of giant bamboo shoots. When you have realised the fact that each of these little clusters of lime - washed cottages represents the home of fathers, sons, grandsons, and all their female belongings, you will begin to appreciate the density of the population. In front of every farm stand yellow straw-stacks raised on wooden legs, and under each a tiny red cow ruminates, or else a dull hairy water-buffalo, stupidly wondering whether a mouthful of straw snatched from above will repay the trouble of balancing on his hind-legs. The general effect is most homelike and pleasant. It must be added that a closer inspection of one of these farms does not prove so satisfactory. Round about the ground is strewed with litter and broken earthenware, while the drainage from the cattle-sheds forms puddles on the roadway. The plaster has fallen in flakes from the walls; the gay lanterns and gaudy texts in red and black that adorn the entrance only accentuate the dismal untidiness; nor is the semicircular

fish - tank, half full of stagnant water, pleasing either to eyes or nose. Clattering across the drying-floor between it and the house, I bring out a pack of curly blackhaired dogs, who bark furiously, but at a respectful distance. I am known here, and am let pass without further comment than the customary "Stit li fan m thyam ?" ("Have you eaten rice or not yet?"), which, like "How do you do?" calls for no particular answer. Riding on, I catch Ah Nyi up at the edge of the plain, and begin the ascent with him.

The road now runs steeply up the slope of the hill, with no particular regard for gradients. The engineer was guiltless at any rate of wasting money on surveys or trial traces; his one idea when crossing hilly ground appears to have been to follow water where there was water, elsewhere to go straight ahead. In Hakkaland it is not uncommon to find, after a breathless scramble straight up the face of a hill, that on reaching the top another scramble down lies ahead, to the level from which you started; all of which might have been saved by a very moderate deviation. But, after all, this is a matter of taste. If John Chinaman prefers walking one mile uphill and one mile down, to two miles and a half on the flat, who shall blame him for making his roads to suit his likings? What is more noteworthy is the unparalleled public spirit without which these roads would not be made at all. We English, who find our roads ready made, and grumble at having to pay for their upkeep, can hardly comprehend it. Talk about the London hospitals supported by voluntary contributions! Here is a people who (unblessed with local rates and a Public Works Department) have by sheer force of col

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