The first launch that came out after the doctor’s brought a messenger from the Educational Department with orders to us teachers to remain aboard till next day, when a special launch would be sent for us. So all day we watched our friends go down over the side, and waved farewells to them, and made engagements to meet on the Luneta. The launches and lighters and cascos swarmed round us, the cargo derricks groaned and screeched, the soldiers gathered up knapsack and canteen and marched solemnly down the ladder. Vessels steamed past us or anchored near us, while we hung over the rail, gazing at Manila, so near and yet so far. After dinner we betook ourselves to the empty afterdeck and stared down the long promenade—alas! resembling the piazza of a very empty hotel!—and peopled it with the ghosts of those who late had sat there. They had gone out of our lives after a few brief days of idleness, but they would take up, as we should, the work of building a nation in a strange land and out of a reluctant people. Some were fated to die of wounds, and some were stricken with the pestilence. Most of them are still living, moving from army post to army post. Some are still toiling in the remotenesses of mountain villages; others are dashing about Manila in the midst of its feverish society. Some have gone to swell the American colonies in Asiatic coast towns. A few have shaken the dust of the Philippines forever from their feet, and are seeking fame in the home land and wooing fortune in the traffic of great cities or in peaceful rural life. Some, perhaps, may read these lines, and, reading, pause to give a tender thought to the land which most Americans revile while they are in it, but which they sentimentally regret when they have left it.
Eight long years have slipped by since that night, and in that time a passing-bell has tolled for the Philippines which we found then. Who shall say for many a year whether the change be for better or for worse? But the change has come, and for the sake of a glamour which overlay the quaint and moribund civilization of the Philippines of that day I have chronicled in this volume my singularly unadventurous experiences.
The afterdeck was empty, and the promenade was the haunt of ghosts, but across the circle of gloom we could see a long oval of arc lights with thousands of little glow-worms beneath, which we knew were not glow-worms at all, but carriage lamps dashing round the band stand; and as if he divined our sentimental musings, the second steward took heart and not only played but sang his favorite air from “Cavalleria.”
Our First Few Days in the City
The Pasig River, With Its Swarm of House-boats—Through Manila into the Walled City—Our First Meal—A Walk and a Drive in Manila—The Admirable Policemen—We Superintend the Preparation of Quarters for Additional Teachers—That Artful Radcliffe Girl.