Instructor Notes: 1) Published in 1880, the book author based these adventures on his real-life travel adventures. 2) Some punctuation, terminology, naming, and concepts updated in accordance with modern times.
Mr. Basset Has Decided

"Well, Frank," said Mr. Bassett, "the question is decided."

Frank looked up with an expression of anxiety on his handsome face. A twinkle in his father's eyes told him that the decision was a favorable one.

"And you'll let me go with them, won't you, father?" he answered.

"Yes, my boy," said the father, "you can go."

Frank was so full of joy that he couldn't speak for at least a couple of minutes. He threw his arms around Mr. Bassett, then he kissed his mother and his sister Mary, who had just come into the room. Next, he danced around the table on one foot, and he hugged his dog Nero, who wondered what it was all about. He ended by again embracing his father, who stood smiling at the boy's delight. By this time Frank had recovered the use of his tongue, and was able to express his gratitude in words. When the excitement was ended, Mary asked what had happened to make Frank fly around so.

"Why, he's going to Japan," said Mrs. Bassett.

"Going to Japan, and leave us all alone at home!" Mary exclaimed, and then her lips and eyes indicated an intention to cry.

Frank was eighteen years old and his sister was fifteen. They were very fond of each other, and the thought that her brother was to be separated from her for a while was painful to the girl. Frank kissed her again, and said,

"I shan't be gone long, Mary, and I'll bring you such lots of nice things when I come back." Then there was another kiss, and Mary concluded she would have her cry some other time.

"But you won't let him go all alone, father, now, will you?" she asked as they sat down to breakfast.

"I think I could go alone," replied Frank, proudly, "and take care of myself without anybody's help, but I'm going with Cousin Fred and Doctor Bronson."

"Better say Doctor Bronson and Cousin Fred," Mary answered, with a smile. "The Doctor is Fred's uncle and twenty years older."

Frank corrected the mistake he had made, and said he was too much excited to remember all about the rules of grammar and etiquette. He had even forgotten that he was hungry. At any rate, he had lost his appetite, and hardly touched the juicy steak and steaming potatoes that were before him.

During breakfast, Mr. Bassett explained to Mary the outline of the proposed journey. Doctor Bronson was going to Japan and China, and was to be accompanied by his nephew, Fred Bronson, who was very nearly Frank's age. Frank had asked his father's permission to join them, and Mr. Bassett had been considering the matter. He found that it would be very agreeable to Doctor Bronson and Fred to have Frank's company, and as the opportunity was an excellent one for the youth to see something of foreign lands under the excellent care of the Doctor, it did not take a long time for him to reach a favorable decision.

"Doctor Bronson has been there before, hasn't he, father?" said Mary, when the explanation was ended.

"Certainly, my child," was the reply. "He has been twice around the world, and has seen nearly every country in it. He speaks three or four languages fluently, and knows something of half a dozen others. Five years ago he was in Japan and China, and he is acquainted with many people living there. Don't you remember how he told us one evening about visiting a Japanese prince, and sitting cross-legged on the floor for half an hour, while they ate a dinner of boiled rice and stewed fish, and drank hot wine from little cups the size of a thimble?"

Mary remembered it all, and then declared she was glad Frank was going to Japan, and also glad that he was going with Doctor Bronson. And she added that the Doctor would know the best places for buying the presents Frank was to bring home.

"A crepe shawl for mother, and another for me. Now don't you forget some fans and some ivory combs, and some of those funny little cups and saucers such as Aunt Amelia has, and some nice tea to drink out of them."

"Anything else?" Frank asked.

"I don't know just now," Mary answered. "I'll read all I can about Japan and China before you start, so I can know all they make, and then I'll write out a list. I want something of everything, you understand."

"If that's the case," Frank retorted, "you'd better wrap your list around a bushel of money. It'll take a good deal to buy the whole of those two countries."

Mary said she would be satisfied with a shawl and a fan. The countries might stay where they were, and there were doubtless a good many things in them that nobody would want anyway.
Mary Thinking What She Would Like from Japan

For the next few days the proposed journey was the theme of conversation in the Bassett family. Mary examined all the books she could find about the countries her brother expected to visit. She made a list of the things she desired, and the day before his departure she gave him a sealed envelope containing the paper. She explained that he was not to open it until he reached Japan, and that he would find two lists of what she wanted.

"The things marked 'number one' you must get anyway," she said, "and those marked 'number two' you must get if you can."

Frank thought she had shown great self-denial in making two lists instead of one, but intimated that there was not much distinction in the conditions she proposed. He promised to see about the matter when he reached Japan, and so the conversation on that topic came to an end.

It did not take a long time to prepare Frank's wardrobe for the journey. His grandmother had an impression that he was going on a whaling voyage, as her brother had gone on one more than sixty years before. She proposed to give him two heavy jackets, a dozen pairs of woolen stockings, and a tarpaulin hat, and was sure he would need them. She was undeceived when the difference between a sea voyage of today and one of half a century ago was explained to her. The housemaid said he would not need any thick clothing if he was going to Japan, as it was close to Jerusalem, and it was very hot there. She thought Japan was a seaport of Palestine, but Mary made it clear to her that Japan and Jaffa were not one and the same place. When satisfied on this point, she expressed the hope that the white bears and elephants wouldn't eat the poor boy up, and that the natives wouldn't roast him, as they did a missionary from her town when she was a little girl. "And, sure," she added, "he won't want any clothes at all, at all, there, as the natives don't wear anything except a little coconut oil which they rub on their skins."

"What puts that into your head, Kathleen?" said Mary, with a laugh.

"And didn't ye jest tell me," Kathleen replied, "that Japan is an island in the Pacific Ocean? Sure it was an island in that same ocean where Father Mullaly was roasted alive, and the natives dressed themselves with coconut oil. It was in a place they called Fiji."

Mary kindly explained that the Pacific Ocean was very large, and contained a great many islands, and that the spot where Father Mullaly was cooked was some thousands of miles from Japan.

At breakfast the day before the time fixed for Frank's departure, Mr. Bassett told his son that he must make the most of his journey, enjoy it as much as possible, and bring back a store of useful knowledge. "To accomplish this," he added, "several things will be necessary. Let us see what they are."

"Careful observation is one requisite," said Frank, "and a good memory is another."

"Constant remembrance of home," Mrs. Bassett suggested, and Mary nodded in assent to her mother's proposition.

"Courage and perseverance," Frank added.

"A list of the things you are going to buy," Mary remarked.

"A light trunk and a cheerful disposition," said Doctor Bronson, who had entered the room just as this turn of the conversation set in.

"One thing more," Mr. Bassett added.

"I can't think of it," replied Frank. "What is it?"


"Oh yes, of course. One couldn't very well go traveling without money. I'm old enough to know that, and to know it is very bad to be away from one's friends without money."

The Doctor said it reminded him of a man who asked another for ten cents to pay his ferriage across the Mississippi River, and explained that he hadn't a single penny. The other man answered, "It's no use throwing ten cents away on you in that fashion. If you haven't any money, you are just as well off on this side of the river as on the other."

"You will need money," said Mr. Bassett, "and here is something that will get it."

He handed Frank a double sheet of paper with some printed and written matter on the first page, and some printed lists on the third and fourth pages. The second page was blank. The first page read as follows:


New York, June 18th, 1878.

To Our Correspondents:

We have the pleasure of introducing to you Mr. Frank Bassett, the bearer of this letter, whose signature you will find in the margin. We beg you to honor his drafts to the amount of two hundred pounds sterling, upon our London house, all deductions and commissions being at his expense.

We have the honor to remain, Gentlemen,

Very truly yours,

Blank and Co.

The printed matter on the third and fourth pages was a list of banking houses in all the principal cities of the world. Frank observed that every country was included, and there was not a city of any prominence that was not named in the list, and on the same line with the list was the name of a banking house.

The paper was passed around the table and examined, and finally returned to Frank's hand. Mr. Bassett then explained to his son the uses of the document.

"I obtained that paper," said he, "from the great house of Blank and Company. I paid a thousand dollars for it, but it is made in pounds sterling because the drafts are to be drawn on London, and you know that pounds, shillings, and pence are the currency of England."

"When you want money, you go to any house named on that list, no matter what part of the world it may be, and tell them how much you want. They make out a draft which you sign, and then they pay you the money, and write on the second page the amount you have drawn. You get ten pounds in one place, ten in another, twenty in another, and you continue to draw whenever you wish. Each banker puts down the amount you have received from him on the second page, and you can keep on drawing until the sum total of your drafts equals the figures named on the first page. Then your credit is said to be exhausted, and you can draw no more on that letter."

"How very convenient that is!" said Frank. "You don't have to carry money around with you, but get it when and where you want it."

"You must be very careful not to lose that letter," said Mr. Bassett.

"Would the money be lost altogether?" Frank asked in return.

"No, the money would not be lost, but your credit would be gone, and of no use. A new letter would be issued in place of the missing one, but only after some months, and when the bankers had satisfied themselves that there was no danger of the old one ever being used again."

"Can I get any kind of money with this letter, father?" Frank inquired, "or must I take it in pounds sterling? That would be very inconvenient sometimes, as I would have to go around and sell my pounds and buy the money of the country."

"They always give you," was the reply, "the money that circulates in the country where you are. Here they would give you dollars. In Japan you will get Japanese money or Mexican dollars, which are current there. In India they would give you rupees, in Russia, rubles, in Italy, lire, in France, francs, in Spain, pesetas, and so on. They give you the equivalent of the amount you draw on your letter."

This reminded the Doctor of a story, and at the general request he told it.
Change for a Dollar - Before and After

A traveler stopped one night at a tavern in the interior of Minnesota. On paying his bill in the morning, he received a beaver skin instead of a dollar in change that was due him. The landlord explained that beaver skins were legal tender in that region at a dollar each.

He hid the skin under his coat, walked over the street to a grocery store, and asked the grocer if it was true that beaver skins were legal tender for one dollar each.

"Certainly," answered the grocer, "everybody takes them at that rate."

"Then be kind enough to change me a dollar bill," said the stranger, drawing the beaver skin from under his coat and laying it on the counter.

The grocer answered that he was only too happy to oblige a stranger, and passed out four musk-rat skins, which were legal tender, as he said, at twenty-five cents each.

"Please, Doctor," said Mary, "what do you mean by legal tender?"

The Doctor explained that legal tender was the money which the law declares should be the proper tender, or offer, in paying a debt. "If I owed your father a hundred dollars," said he, "I could not compel him to accept the whole amount in ten-cent pieces, or twenty-five-cent pieces, or even in half-dollars. When the government issues a coin, it places a limit for which that coin can be a legal tender. Thus the ten-cent piece is a legal tender for all debts of one dollar or less, and the half-dollar for debts of five dollars or less."

Mary said that when she was a child, ten cherries were exchanged among her schoolmates for one apple, two apples for one pear, and two pears for one orange. One day she took some oranges to school intending to exchange them for cherries, of which she was very fond. She left them in Katie Smith's desk, but Katie was hungry and ate one of the oranges at recess.

"Not the first time the director of a bank has appropriated part of the funds," said the Doctor. "Didn't you find that an orange would buy more cherries or apples at one time than at another?"

"Why, certainly," Mary answered, "and sometimes they wouldn't buy any cherries at all."

"Bankers and merchants call that the fluctuation of exchanges," said Mr. Bassett, and with this remark he rose from the table, and the party broke up.

The next morning a carriage containing Doctor Bronson and his nephew, Fred, drove up in front of Mr. Bassett's house. There were farewell kisses, and hopes for a prosperous journey, and in a few minutes the three travelers were on their way to the railway station. There was a waving of handkerchiefs as the carriage started from the house and rolled away. Nero barked and looked wistfully after his young master, and the warm-hearted Kathleen wiped her eyes with the corner of her apron, and flung an old shoe after the departing vehicle.

"And sure," she said, "and I hope that Fiji won't be in Japan at all, at all, and the natives won't roast him."

As they approached the station, Frank appeared a little nervous about something. The cause of his anxiety was apparent when the carriage stopped. He was the first to get out and the first to mount the platform. Somebody was evidently waiting for him.

Doctor Bronson followed him a minute later, and heard something like the following:
Effie Waiting for Somebody

"There, now, don't cry. I'll bring you the nicest little pigtail, of the most Celestial pattern, from China."

"I tell you, Mr. Frank Bassett, I'm not crying. It's the dust in the road got into my eyes."

"But you are. There's another big tear. I know you're sorry, and so am I. But I'm coming back."

"I shall be glad to see you when you come back. Of course, I shall, for your sister's sake. And you'll be writing to Mary, and she'll tell me where you are. And when she's writing to you she'll—"

Her bright face turned suddenly, and its owner saw the Doctor standing near with an amused expression on his features, and, perhaps, a little moisture in his eyes. She uttered a cheery "Good morning," to which the Doctor returned,

"Good morning, Miss Effie. This is an unexpected pleasure."

"You see, Doctor" (she blushed and stammered a little as she spoke), "you know I like to take a walk in the morning, and happened to come down to the station."

"Of course, quite accidental," said the Doctor, with a merry twinkle in his eyes.

"Yes, that is, I knew Frank, I mean Mr. Bassett, that is, I knew you were all three going away, and I thought I might come down and see you start."

"Quite proper, Miss Effie," was the reply. "So goodbye: I must look after the tickets and the baggage."

"Goodbye, Doctor Bronson. Goodbye, Mr. Fred. Bon voyage!"

Frank lingered behind, and the rest of the dialogue has not been recorded.

"She's a nice girl," said Fred to the Doctor as they made their way to the ticket-office. "And she's very fond of Mary Bassett, Frank's sister. Spiteful people say, though, that she's oftener in Frank's company than in Mary's. I know Frank is ready to punch the head of any other boy that dares to look at her."

"Quite so," answered Dr. Bronson. "I don't think Frank is likely to be forgetful of home."

Soon the whistle sounded, the great train rolled into the station, the conductor shouted "All aboard!" our friends took their seats, the bell rang, and the locomotive coughed asthmatically as it moved on.

Frank looked back as long as the station was in sight. Somebody continued to wave a delicate handkerchief until the train had disappeared. Somebody's eyes were full of tears, and so were the eyes of somebody else. Somebody's good wishes followed the travelers, and the travelers, Frank especially, wafted back good wishes for that somebody.


Study the chapter for one week.

Over the week:

  • Read and/or listen to the chapter.
  • Review the vocabulary terms.
  • Complete the enrichment activities.


Nero: Roman Emperor from 54 to 68, and the last Emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty.
Japan: An island nation in the Pacific Ocean, located to the east of China, Korea and Russia.
China: A nation or civilization occupying the country around the Yellow, Yangtze, and Pearl Rivers in East Asia, taken as a whole under its various dynasties and inclusive of Taiwan.
Etiquette: The forms required by a good upbringing, or prescribed by authority, to be observed in social or official life.
Foreign: Located outside a country or place, especially one's own.
Bushel: A dry measure, containing four pecks, eight gallons, or thirty-two quarts.
Tarpaulin: A hat made of, or covered with, painted or tarred cloth, worn by sailors and others.


Activity 1: Narrate the Chapter

  • Narrate the events aloud in your own words.

Activity 2: Study the Chapter Pictures

  • Study the chapter pictures and describe how each relates to the story.

Activity 3: Observe the Modern Equivalent

  • Examine the chapter setting in modern times: New York City.

Activity 4: Map the Chapter

  • Find the countries of the United States, Japan, and China on the map of the world.
  • Find the state of New York (NY), the location of the start of the boys' journey.
  • Find the country of Japan, the initial destination.
  • Find the country of China, the second destination.
  • Which is larger - Japan or China?
  • Which is an island - Japan or China?
  • Trace a rough path simulating the boys' journey from New York, west across America, across the Pacific Ocean, to Japan, and finally to China.

Activity 5: Map the Chapter on a Globe

  • Repeat the mapwork from Activity 4 on a three-dimensional globe.