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

A Red-letter Day. The China-Japan War.

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July 28th.

On the 20th instant a steamer arrived from Hong Kong, and had the honor of being the first vessel to come in that port in thirty days. She was supposed to have three American mails aboard, but it turned out that they were down to arrive by the vessel coming in six days later. I came to the office the other morning, and looking toward my desk, found it almost invisible. It looked as if somebody in the neighborhood were the editor of a paper, and as if all the spring poets in the universe had sent their manuscripts for inspection. The desk groaned beneath the bulky chaos of three mails from the United States, delayed in transmission by the black plaque, and fumigated together down the bay. But no sooner had we gotten through the first course of an epistolary feast than the captain of a large four-masted ship shuffled into the room and deposited a huge pot of steaming baked beans, just fresh from his steward's galley-stove, on the table. What with beans, letters, magazines, and comic papers, it might be said our day was a red-letter one.

The other day my colleague and I took dinner off aboard the Nagato Maru, a smart steamer just in from Japan, and captained by an American who knows what it is to set a good table. It seems that the China-Japan war has actually broken out in all its glory, and as there is a vague rumor that a Chinese war-ship is waiting to capture this very same steamer, she is going to stay here for a while.

The Japanese have sunk several Chinese transport ships already, and one of the unfortunate craft used to come here to Manila. In other directions the Chinese are said to have beaten the Japs badly on land, but over in this slow old moth-eaten place the daily papers will publish cablegrams from Spain by the page, that give out nothing but official stuff and Government appointments; and when it comes to something of real interest, like a war, they will either be without any news whatever, or tell the whole story wrong side out in a single line, that may or may not be true. And so you are probably getting better news of this whole affair, twelve thousand miles away, than we are , who are almost on the field of action.

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