We watched the doctor’s launch go out to her, saw the flag fall and the belch of smoke as she started shoreward, while the launch came on to us. In a little while we too were creeping toward the docks. Naked Kanaka boys swam out to dive for pennies. The buildings on the shore took shape. The crowd on the dock shaped itself into a body of normal-looking beings, interspersed with ladies in kimonos who were carrying babies on their backs (the Japanese population of Honolulu is very large), and with other dark-skinned ladies in Mother Hubbards decorated with flower wreaths. There were also numerous gentlemen of a Comanche-like physiognomy, who wore ordinary dress, but were distinguished by flower wreaths in lieu of hat bands. Here and there Chinese women loafed about, wearing trousers of a kind of black oilcloth, and leading Chinese babies dressed in more colors than Joseph’s coat—grass-green, black, azure, and rose. In the background several army wagons were filled with officers in uniform and with white-clad American women.
We schoolteachers lost no time when the boat was once tied up at the dock, for it was given out that some trifling repairs were to be made to the boat’s engines and that we should sail the next day. We sailed, in point of fact, just ten days later, for the engines had to be taken down to be repaired. As the notice of departure within twenty-four hours was pasted up every day afresh, it held our enthusiasm for sight-seeing at a feverish pitch.
Our Ten Days’ Sightseeing
The Fish Market—We Are Treated to Poi—We Visit the Stores—Hawaiian Curiosities—The Southern Cross—Our Trip to the Dreadful Pali—The Rescue—The Flowers and Trees of Honolulu—The Mango Tree and Its Fruit.
My first impressions of Honolulu were disappointing. I had been, in my childhood, a fascinated peruser of Mark Twain’s “Roughing It,” and his picture of Honolulu—or rather my picture formed from his description of it—demanded something novel in foliage and architecture, and a great acreage of tropical vegetation. What we really found was a modern American city with straight streets, close-clipped lawns, and frame houses of various styles of architecture leaning chiefly to the gingerbread, and with a business centre very much like that of a Western town. Only after three or four days did the charm and individuality of Honolulu make themselves felt.
To leave the dock, we had to pass through the fish market, which looked like any other fish market, but seemed to smell worse. When we looked at the fish, however, we almost forgot the odors, for they were as many tinted as a rainbow. Coral red, silver, blue, blue shot with purple, they seemed to tell of sun-kissed haunts under wind-ruffled surfaces or of dusky caves within the underworld of branching coral. It is hard to be sentimental about fish, but for the space of two minutes and a half we quite mooned over the beauty fish of Honolulu.