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James Alexander Allan
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 82 pages of information about Under the Dragon Flag.
The secretary knew English very indifferently—­so indifferently that I am doubtful if he understood my story rightly.  He asked me if I was acquainted with German, and gave me to understand that he knew more of that language than of English; however, I did not know ten words of it.  The examination was long, and, from the difficulty of understanding one another, confused enough.  I gathered that I was, or had been, under suspicion of being a Japanese spy in the minds of those before whom I had been brought, and they rigorously questioned the men whom I had first seen as to the circumstances attending my landing.  These, I consoled myself by reflecting, could not be deemed consistent with the supposition that I was an agent of the enemy.  I was asked if there was any one in the town who could witness to my having been there previously under the circumstances I alleged.  I replied that probably the people at the inn would remember me.

Finally the Chinamen held a lengthened consultation amongst themselves, at the end of which I was told that I would be taken forthwith before the higher authorities on the other side of the port.  I hinted to the secretary that I had had nothing to eat that day and felt decidedly hungry.  I was accordingly served before my departure with a meal of fish and boiled bread, with a cup of rice wine, a decoction which tasted like thin, sour claret.  This done, I was placed in charge of my former escort, who struck across country from the rear of the Man-tse-ying, passed two or three other forts and numerous entrenchments and redoubts, and finally reached the water on the inner side of the long arm of land enclosing the West Port.  Here, close by a torpedo store, I was put on board a sampan, a long, narrow boat, sharp at both extremities, with an awning.  In this I was conveyed to the East Port and taken through the dockyards to the military head-quarters near the great drill and parade ground at the entrance to the town.  It was late in the evening when we arrived there, and I was not brought up for examination until the next day.  Here, to my great satisfaction, I found I had to deal with somebody who knew English well—­a military aide-de-camp, who spoke the language with both fluency and correctness.  To him I told my story plainly and straightforwardly, and by the testimony of my former landlord, Sen, and an official at the bank where I had changed my money, established my identity as the person who had passed two days in the town with Wong, and accompanied him on board the despatch-boat.  This was sufficient to procure my release.  Everything I said was very carefully noted down.  My interrogation was conducted before a couple of mandarins.  The Taotai I believe to have been absent from the place at this time.  He is alleged to have deserted his position and to have been ordered back again.  This may or may not be so, but it is undoubtedly the fact that he fled from Port Arthur the night before the Japanese attacked it.  He does not appear to have been open to the accusation of heroism.

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