He did not fail to observe the curious equipages - carriages and palanquins, barrows supplied with sails and litters made of bamboo; nor the women - whom he thought not especially handsome - who took little steps with their little feet, upon which they wore canvas shoes, straw sandals and clogs of worked wood, and who displayed tight-looking eyes, flat chests, teeth fashionably blackened and gowns crossed with silken scarfs, tied in an enormous knot behind - an ornament which the modern Parisian ladies seem to have borrowed from the dames of Japan.

Passepartout wandered for several hours in the midst of this motley crowd, looking in at the windows of the rich and curious shops, the jewelry establishments glittering with quaint Japanese ornaments, the restaurants decked with streamers and banners, the teahouses, where the odorous beverage was being drunk with saki, a liquor concocted from the fermentation of rice, and the comfortable smoking houses, where they were puffing, not opium, which is almost unknown in Japan, but a very fine, stringy tobacco. He went on till he found himself in the fields, in the midst of vast rice plantations. There he saw dazzling camellias expanding themselves, with flowers which were giving forth their last colors and perfumes, not on bushes, but on trees, and within bambooenclosures, cherry, plum and apple trees, which the Japanese cultivate rather for their blossoms than their fruit, and which queerly-fashioned, grinning scarecrows protected from the sparrows, pigeons, ravens and other voracious birds. On the branches of the cedars were perched large eagles. Amid the foliage of the weeping willows were herons, solemnly standing on one leg. On every hand were crows, ducks, hawks, wild birds and a multitude of cranes, which the Japanese consider sacred, and which to their minds symbolize long life and prosperity.

As he was strolling along, Passepartout saw some violets among the shrubs.

"Good!" said he. "I'll have some supper."

But, on smelling them, he found that they were odorless.

"No chance there," thought he.

The worthy fellow had certainly taken good care to eat as hearty a breakfast as possible before leaving the Carnatic; but, as he had been walking about all day, the demands of hunger were growing. He observed that the butchers' stalls contained neither mutton, goat, nor pork. Knowing also that it is a sacrilege to kill cattle, which are preserved solely for farming, he made up his mind that meat was far from plentiful in Yokohama - nor was he mistaken. In default of butcher's meat, he could have wished for a quarter of wild boar or deer, a partridge, or some quails, some game or fish, which, with rice, the Japanese eat almost exclusively. But he found it necessary to keep up a stout heart, and to postpone the meal he craved till the following morning. Night came, and Passepartout re-entered the native quarter, where he wandered through the streets, lit by vari-colored lanterns. He looked on at the dancers, who were executing skillful steps and boundings, and the astrologers who stood in the open air with their telescopes. Then he came to the harbor, which was lit up by the resin torches of the fishermen, who were fishing from their boats.

The streets at last became quiet. The patrol, the officers, in splendid costumes, and surrounded by their suites, succeeded the bustling crowd. Passepartout thought they seemed like ambassadors. Each time a company passed, Passepartout chuckled, and said to himself: "Good! Another Japanese embassy departing for Europe!"

Chapter 23

In Which Passepartout's NoseBecomes Outrageously Long

The next morning poor, jaded, famished Passepartout said to himself that he must get something to eat at all hazards, and the sooner he did so the better. He might, indeed, sell his watch; but he would have starved first. Now or never he must use the strong, if not melodious voice which nature had bestowed upon him. He knew several French and English songs, and resolved to try them upon the Japanese, who must be lovers of music, since they were forever pounding on their cymbals, tam-tams and tambourines.

Jules Verne
French Authors
All Pages of This Book