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    Chapter LXIII

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    Chapter 67
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    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
    richest dyes; in place of the dingy horrors of San Francisco's pleasure
    grove, the "Willows," I saw huge-bodied, wide-spreading forest trees,
    with strange names and stranger appearance--trees that cast a shadow like
    a thunder-cloud, and were able to stand alone without being tied to green
    poles; in place of gold fish, wiggling around in glass globes, assuming
    countless shades and degrees of distortion through the magnifying and
    diminishing qualities of their transparent prison houses, I saw cats--
    Tom-cats, 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 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, 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 bite. Then the first duty was to get up out of the grass and
    kill the scorpion; and the next to bathe the bitten place 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 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 have crawled in
    under the bar, then slip out quickly, shut them in and sleep peacefully
    on the floor till morning. Meantime 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.
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