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      As they walked away from the kosatsu they saw a group engaged in the childish amusement of blowing soap-bubbles. There were three persons in the group, a man and two boys, and the youngsters were as happy as American or English boys would have been under similar circumstances. While the man blew the bubbles, the boys danced around him and endeavored to catch the shining globes. Fred and Frank were much interested in the spectacle, and had it not been for their sense of dignity, and the manifest impropriety of interfering, they would have joined in the sport. The players were poorly clad, and evidently did not belong to the wealthier class; but they were as happy as though they had been princes; in fact, it is very doubtful if princes could have had a quarter as much enjoyment from the chase of soap-bubbles.Frank had his eye on a sampan that was darting about like an active fish, first in one direction and then in another. It was propelled by a single oar in the hands of a brown-skinned boatman, who was not encumbered with a large amount of superfluous clothing. The oar was in two piecesa blade and a handlelashed together in such a way that they did not form a straight line. At first Frank thought there was something wrong about it; but he soon observed that the oars in all the boats were of the same pattern, and made in the same way. They were worked like sculls rather than like oars. The man kept the oar constantly beneath the water; and, as he moved it forwards and back, he turned it partly around. A rope near his hand regulated the distance the oar could be turned, and also kept it from rising out of the water or going too far below the surface.



      Fred cared less for the models in green than he did for some dwarf trees that seemed to strike his fancy particularly. There were pines, oaks, and other trees familiar to our eyes, only an inch or two in height, but as perfectly formed as though they were of the natural size in which we see them in their native forests. Then there were bamboo, cactus, and a great many other plants that grow in Japan, but with which we are not familiar. There was such a quantity of them as to leave no doubt that the dwarfing of plants is thoroughly understood in Japan and has received much attention. Doctor Bronson told the boys that the profession of florist, like many other professions and trades, was hereditary, and that the knowledge descended from father to son. The dwarfing of plants, and their training into unnatural shapes and forms, have been practised for thousands of years, and the present state of the florist's art is the result of centuries of development."You've hit it exactly, Fred," Doctor Bronson replied, "Pekin is called the 'City of Magnificent Distances' on account of the width of its streets,[Pg 361] the great extent of the city, and the long walks or rides that are necessary for going about in it."

      "Ah!"--he gave a Creole shrug--"that you must decide, on the honor of a good soldier. She has taken you into her confidence?"

      "Down to 1853 Japan was in a condition of exclusiveness in regard to other nations. There was a Dutch trading-post at Nagasaki, on the western coast; but it was confined to a little island, about six hundred feet square, and the people that lived there were not allowed to go out of their enclosure except at rare intervals, and under restrictions that amounted to practical imprisonment. In the year I mentioned Commodore Perry came here with a fleet of American ships, left some presents that had been sent by the President of the United States, and sailed away. Before he left he laid the foundation for the present commercial intercourse between Japan and the United States; and on his return in the following year the privileges were considerably enlarged. Then came the English, and secured similar concessions; and thus Japan has reached her present standing among the nations.


      Doctor Bronson was a tall man, and could not fold himself with as much facility as could the more supple youths. He rode a mile or so and then got out and walked; and he continued thus to alternate as long as they were travelling in this way. He was emphatic in declaring that the way to ride in a cango and enjoy it thoroughly was to walk behind it, and let somebody else take the inside of the vehicle.

      It would have been still worse if Gray had rented his farm of one whose religious principles were more defined than De Boteler's; but even he, though he would not drive them from the soil, refused to take recompense for the small portion of land that the man himself could attend to, and even this portion, small as it was, presented little of the healthy and cultivated appearance that his broad fields had formerly exhibited. Sickness often came; and there was the enervating consciousness of being a shunned and solitary man. Then, too, there were domestic bitterness and mutual upbraidings and reproaches; and often did the once industrious and light-hearted Giles, instead of saving his hay or cutting down his slender crop, lie the whole day beneath the shadow of a tree, brooding in gloomy discontent over the dark prospect before him."That for ye, coward," said Tyler, striking him with the flat side of his bared weapon. Oakley aimed another thrust which was again turned aside, and the smith, now flinging down his sword, seized upon his right hand and wrenched the dagger from its grasp. After a short struggle, Oakley fell heavily on the pavement with the blood streaming from his mouth and nostrils.

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      Mr Keeling considered this."Is not the father with Tyler?" asked Merritt. Holgrave then knew that some mishap must have befallen the monk; and the possibility of his being in the Tower occurred to all.

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