Monday, April 11, 2016

Call of the East: A Romance of Far Formosa (1914)

A lifegiving meal of fatty pork with onions and milk tea, which has genuine healing powers. 

Jonathon Benda alerted me to the existence of this book. The full text is on the net in the Internet Archive and at Project Gutenberg. The story is set in the Sino-French war of 1884-5, and one of the background characters is Dr Mackay, the famous missionary.
"Then Keelung is in the hands of the French?"

"Yes. That is if by Keelung you mean a strip of a few hundred feet wide around the harbour. But the hills all around that again are occupied by the Chinese."

"Little difference that will make," said Carteret. "The Celestials have had all they want. At the first sign of a French advance they'll run, and never stop running till they reach Taipeh."

"I'm not so sure about that," replied Gardenier, a trifle coldly. "In the first place, the French have no land forces with which to make an advance. In the second place, the Chinese are better fighters than you give them credit for, Mr. Carteret. All they need is a good leader, and I believe that they have such a man in Liu Ming-chuan."

"And in the third place," said Beauchamp, "the Keelung climate is enough to defeat the French if there were no Chinese. By the time their transports arrive the northeast monsoon will be about due. Then the Lord help them! One of the wettest spots on earth. Boville, what is the annual rainfall over there?"
Of course, it is a romance...
Miss MacAllister did not wait to be urged, but responded at once. Her voice was a rich, strong soprano. With a verve and fire worthy of her choice, she sang Lady Nairn's stirring war-song, "The Hundred Pipers." To the insistent demand for another song she replied with "The March of the Cameron Men." With her stately figure at its full height, head thrown back, and eyes which seemed to look away beyond her tropic surroundings to the hills of old Scotland, she sang as if possessed by the spirit of generations of Highland ancestors.

Sinclair, from his place over by the mantel-piece, was looking at her with undisguised admiration.

"Isn't she magnificent ? Yon's a prize for some man! ... Sinclair, man, why don't you go in and win? If you don't try, I'll be ashamed of you, whatever."

It was McLeod. He was speaking in a low tone, only for his friend's ear. But he who had been the personification of coolness during the typhoon was now fairly quivering with excitement. The songs of his people had fired his blood.

"You needn't be ashamed of me, Mac. I'm going to try."

"Good for you ! I'll back you to win."

"Don't stake too much on me, Mac. I'm new to this game. You might lose heavily. Carteret is ahead of me."

"That dirty snob ! " exclaimed McLeod in a tone of disgust. "He wants her in just the' same way as he wants every pretty woman he sees. And then her money would help to repair the Carteret fortunes."
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Jerome Besson said...

Thanks for sharing. Will share, too.

Jonathan Benda said...

My favorite part is the description, early on, of MacKay on the deck of the Hailoong braving a typhoon:

"There in the shelter of the forward cabin stood Dr. MacKay. He was bareheaded; his long, black beard was blowing in the wind; his white suit was drenched as if he had been overboard; his keen eyes were striving to pierce the murk of cloud and rain and spray which turned the day almost into night. He seemed to be expecting to get a glimpse of the land.

"He was not clinging to the hand-rail, but had his hands clasped behind his back. In spite of the distressing angle at which the ship's deck was tilted, in spite of her pitching and plunging, he seemed able to accommodate himself to her every movement....

"At that instant a tremendous billow tumbled on board with such a weight of water that for some moments it seemed as if the Hailoong could not rise from beneath it. It caught two Chinese deck-hands, tore them from the bridge supports to which they were clinging, and swept them helplessly from starboard to port. Like a flash MacKay's left hand shot out, grasped a thin brown wrist, and swung one of the natives into the shelter of the cabin."

Shauming said...

a very nice hidden treasure. thanks for passing the links to us..

Anonymous said...

Jonathan, you stopped just short of MY favorite line!

MACKAY: "Men who honour God when the days are fine do not have to howl to Him for help in the time of storm."

(And then a kilted McLeod cuts off his head and shouts, "In the end there can only be one...China!" Rimshot)