Though so long acquainted with the compass, the Chinese have always been as unenterprising in sailoring as in everything else, and seldom lose sight of the land, if they can help it. Their fondness for hugging the coast was very noticeable to me, and, unused to the constant vigilance and care which a long sea voyage demands, their system of duty was very lax and careless. There were no proper watches; at nightfall the Ty Kong used quietly to lower about three reefs of the main-sail and the whole of the mizzen. All the crew would then go to their cabin, leaving the helmsmen alone on deck. At midnight a supper was prepared, and the sleepers awakened. The meal ended, the helm would be relieved and the men retired to their berths again.
At this rate it may be supposed that we made slow progress, and more than one incipient mutiny had to be dealt with, some of the crew refusing to work, and the soldiers complaining on the far from unreasonable ground that they had not enough to eat. We spoke several northward-bound vessels, both native and foreign, to whom we wished to entrust the discontented warriors, but these ships one and all gratefully but firmly declined the compliment. By dint of necessity, aided by the mandarin’s promises, we struggled along, and as everything must come to an end some time or other, we reached our port at the beginning of January.
I have little more to add. Ki-Chang showed himself grateful, and not only entertained me royally, but gave me substantial pecuniary aid, a thing I was in very pressing need of. Of course I have long since repaid his loan.