Fabulous Philippines > Yesterdays in the Philippines > Chapter 6(a)


First Storm of the Rainy Season. Fourth of July.





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The mails have been badly snarled up lately, and although nobody has received any letters for nearly two weeks, none are expected for about ten days. The other morning began the first real storm of the rainy season, and we came very near having a bad typhoon, but someone turned the switch, and it swirled up the back coast on the Pacific side and crossed through a notch in the mountains, some distance to the north of Manila, giving the city only four days of monstrous winds and floods of rain. The streets were two feet deep with water in the business section, and down at our house by the sea the wind blew so hard that it carried the tin from the roof off to visit the next suburb. The it was those sturdy windows of small sea-shells set into hardwood lattice seemed far more secure than glass, and I doubt if anything less well constructed would have stood the blast that surged in from the broad bay.

Going down-town in the morning, my carriage was slid clean across the road by the force of the wind, and once it seemed as if I might be lifted up into the low clouds that scudded close to the tops of the bamboo-trees. Huge seas came tumbling ashore on the beach, and the vessels in the great exposed Bay had all they could do to hang to their anchors, as the surf sometimes dashed as high as their lower foreyards.

The natives never carry umbrellas in the rain, but march along and do not seem to mind getting wet to the skin. They do indeed look bedraggled in their thin clothes, that cling like sticking- plaster, and it seems as if they would get the fever. During the present blow, the single pony hitched to a tram-car often found his load moving him astern, and was only by leaving the whole car wide open, so that the air could have free passage through from end to end and side to side, that he now and then made head-way against the blast. This was not pleasant for the passengers, but the wind howls in from the Bay, as a rule, louder than the tunes bowl out of their brass instruments.

To-day seems to be the Glorious Fourth, and my colleague and I have just come back from the shipping, where the Captain of the Helen Brewer asked us to eat a celebrative dinner. All the ships in the Bay were dressed with flags, and the Brewer, which possessed more than her share, had a long line stretch from the bowsprit over the three masts down to the stern. Everybody was interested in the feast, and the captain with the false teeth, who comes from New Hampshire, sent over a goose and some mince-pies. Eight of us sat down in the cozy saloon and partook of a meal altogether too hearty for the climate. The day was cool and overcast, and we spent a lazy afternoon on deck, listening to yarns told by two old salts who seemed to have had more than their share of wrecks, typhoons and other adventures.

When we came ashore, at about sunset, there was gathered up from the remains of the feast the "seven basketsful," and we each went back in the launch, decorated with a bag of doughnuts under one arm and a bag of mince-pies under the other.


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