We ate our first mangoes in Honolulu, and were highly disgusted with them, assenting without murmur to the statement that the liking of mangoes is an acquired taste. I had a doubt, to which I did not give utterance, of ever acquiring the taste, but may as well admit that I did acquire it in time. The only American fruit resembling a mango in appearance is the western pawpaw. The mango is considerably larger than the pawpaw, and not identical in shape, though very like it in smooth, golden outer covering. When the mango is ripe, its meat is yellow and pulpy and quite fibrous near the stone, to which it adheres as does a clingstone peach. It tastes like a combination of apple, peach, pear, and apricot with a final merger of turpentine. At first the turpentine flavor so far dominates all others that the consumer is moved to throw his fruit into the nearest ditch; but in time it diminishes, and one comes to agree with the tropical races in the opinion that the mango is the king of all fruits.
From Honolulu to Manila
Voyaging over the Tropical Seas—We Touch at Guam, or Guahan, One of the Ladrone Islands—Our First Sight of the Philippines—Manila, “A Mass of Towers, Domes, and White-painted Iron Roofs Peeping Out of Green”—Dispersion of the Passengers.
From Honolulu to Guam we crept straight across in the equatorial current, blistering hot by day, a white heat haze dimming the horizon, and an oily sea, not blue, but purple, running in swells so long and gentle that one could perceive them only by watching the rail change its angle. Once we saw a whale spout; several times sharks followed us, attracted by the morning’s output of garbage; and at intervals flying fish sallied out in sprays of silver. Once or twice we passed through schools of skate, which, when they came under our lee, had a curiously dazzling and phosphorescent appearance. One of the civil engineers aboard called them phosphorescent skate, but I had my doubts, for I noticed that bits of paper cast overboard would assume the same opalescent tints when three or four feet down in the water.
We had also the full moon, leaving a great shining pathway in our wake at night, and flooding us with unreal splendor. The pale stars swung up and down as the Buford slipped over each wave, and little ripples of breeze cooled the weather side of the ship. By this time we were a thoroughly assorted company. The afterdeck was yielded to flirtatious married ladies whose husbands were awaiting them in Manila, while we sobersides and the family groups gathered under the awnings. We sang no more; but the indefatigable cornetist on the troop deck still entertained his fellows, while occasionally a second steward stole out with a mandolin, and struggled with the intermezzo from “Cavalleria.” We did not run out of talk, however, and the days went by all too swiftly.