In due time they entered the waters of the great river of Northern China, the Yangtze. They entered them long before they sighted land, as the vast quantities of earth brought down by the stream make a change in the color of the sea that can be readily distinguished a great distance from the coast. In this respect the Yangtze is similar to the Mississippi, and the effect of the former on the Yellow Sea is like that of the latter on the Gulf of Mexico. The coast at the mouth of the Yangtze is low and flat, and a ship is fairly in the entrance of the river before land can be seen. The bar can be passed by deep-draught vessels only at high water, and consequently it often becomes necessary for them to wait several hours for the favorable moment. This was the case with our friends, and they walked the deck with impatience during the delay. But at last all was ready, and they steamed onward in triumph, dropping their tow at Woosung, and waving a goodbye to "the Mystery," who had recognized them from the deck of the disabled bark.
The Woosung River

Shanghai is not on the Yangtze, but on the Woosung River, about twelve miles from the point where the two streams unite. The channel is quite tortuous, and it requires careful handling on the part of a pilot to take a ship through in safety to herself and all others. Two or three times they narrowly escaped accidents from collisions with junks and other craft, and at one of the turnings the prow of their steamer made a nearer acquaintance with a mudbank than her captain considered desirable, but nothing was injured, and the delay that followed the mishap was for only a few minutes. The tide was running in, and carried them along at good speed, and in less than two hours from the time of their departure from Woosung they were anchored in front of Shanghai and ready to go on shore. They had not seen anything particularly interesting on their voyage up the river, as the banks were low and not at all densely settled. Here and there a few villages were thrown together, and it occurred to Frank that the houses were huddling close up to each other in order to keep warm. The most of the ground was clear of timber, but there were some farmhouses standing in little clumps of trees that, no doubt, furnished a welcome shade in the summer season. One mile of the river was very much like another mile, and consequently the monotony of the scenery made the sight of Shanghai a welcome one.

Crowds of sampans surrounded the ship as the anchor-chain rattled through the hawsehole, and it was very evident that there was no lack of transportation for the shore. The Doctor engaged one of these boats, and gave the baggage of the party into the hands of the runner from the Astor House, the principal hotel of the American section of Shanghai. They found it a less imposing affair than the Astor House of New York, though it occupied more ground, and had an evident determination to spread itself. A large space of greensward was enclosed by a quadrangle of one-story buildings, which formed the hotel, and consequently it required a great deal of walking to get from one part of the house to the opposite side. Our friends were shown to some rooms that were entered from a veranda on the side of the courtyard. They found that on the other side there was a balcony, where they could sit and study the life of the street, and as this balcony was well provided with chairs and lounges, it was a pleasant resort on a warm afternoon. The house was kept by an American, but all his staff of servants was Chinese. Fred regretted that he could not praise the dining table as earnestly as he did the rooms, and he was vehement in declaring that a breakfast or dinner in the Astor at New York was quite another affair from the same meal in the one at Shanghai. The Doctor and Frank were of his opinion, but they found, on inquiry, that the landlord did not agree with them, and so they dropped the subject.
Chinese Trading Junk on the Woosung River

As soon as they were settled at the hotel, they went out for a stroll through the city, and to deliver letters to several gentlemen residing there. They had some trouble in finding the houses they were searching for, as the foreigners at Shanghai do not consider it aristocratic to have signs on their doors or gate-posts, and a good deal of inquiry is necessary for a stranger to make his way about. If a man puts out a sign, he is regarded as a tradesman, and unfit to associate with the great men of the place, but as long as there is no sign or placard about his premises he is a merchant, and his company is desirable, especially if he is free with his money. A tradesman cannot gain admission to the Shanghai Club, and the same is the rule at Hong Kong and other ports throughout the East. But there is no bar to the membership of his clerk, and it not infrequently happens that a man will be refused admission to a club on account of his occupation, while his clerk will be found eligible. There are many senseless rules of society in the East, and our boys were greatly amused as the Doctor narrated them.

Shanghai is very prettily situated in a bend of the river, and the waterfront is ornamented with a small park, which has a background of fine buildings. These buildings are handsome, and the most of them are large. Like the foreign residences at the treaty ports of Japan, they have a liberal allowance of ground, so that nearly every house fronting on the river has a neat yard or garden in front of it. The balconies are wide, and they are generally enclosed in lattice-work that allows a free circulation of air. Back from the waterfront there are streets and squares for a long distance, and the farther you go from the riverfront, the less do you find the foreign population, and the greater the Chinese one. The foreign quarter is divided into three sections, American, English, and French, and each has a front on the river in the order here given, but the subjects, or citizens, of each country are not confined to their own national quarter. Several Americans live in the French and English sections, and there are French and English inhabitants in the quarter where the American consul has jurisdiction. There is generally the most complete harmony among the nationalities, and they are accustomed to make common cause in any dispute with the Chinese. Sometimes they fall out, but they very soon become aware that disputes will be to their disadvantage, and proceed to fall in again. There is a great deal of social activity at Shanghai, and a vast amount of visiting and dinner-giving goes on in the course of a year.

The Chinese city is quite distinct from the foreign one. It lies just beyond the French concession, or, rather, the French section extends up to the walls of the old city. The contrast between the two is very great. While the foreigners have taken plenty of space for the construction of their buildings and laying out their streets, the Chinese have crowded together as closely as possible, and seemed desirous of putting the greatest number into the smallest area. It is so all over China from north to south. Even where land is of no particular value, as in the extreme north, the result is the same, and there are probably no people in the world that will exist in so small an area as the Chinese. Ventilation is not a necessity with them, and it seems to make little difference whether the air they breathe be pure or the reverse. In almost any other country in the world a system of such close crowding would breed all sorts of pestilence, but in China nobody appears to die from its effect.

At the first opportunity our friends paid a visit to the Chinese part of Shanghai. They found a man at the gate of the city who was ready to serve them as guide, and so they engaged him without delay. He led them through one of the principal streets, which would have been only a narrow lane or alley in America, and they had an opportunity of studying the peculiarities of the people as they had studied in the Japanese cities the people of Japan. Here is what Frank wrote down concerning his first promenade in a Chinese city:

"We found the streets narrow and dirty compared with Japan, or with any city I ever saw in America. The shops are small, and the shopkeepers are not so polite as those of Tokyo or other places in Japan. In one shop, when I told the guide to ask the man to show his goods, they had a long talk in Chinese, and the guide said that the man refused to show anything unless we should agree to buy. Of course, we would not agree to this, and we did nothing more than to ask the price of something we could see in a show-case. He wanted about ten times the value of the article, and then we saw why it was he wanted us to agree beforehand to buy what we looked at. Every time we stopped at a shop the people gathered around us, and they were not half so polite as the Japanese under the same circumstances. They made remarks about us, which of course we did not understand, but from the way they laughed when the remarks were made, we could see that they were the reverse of complimentary.
A Servant in the Streets of Shanghai

"We went along the street, stopping now and then to look at something, and in a little while we came to a teahouse which stood in the middle of a pond of water. The house was rather pretty, and the balconies around it were nice, but you should have seen the water. It was covered with a green scum, such as you may see on a stagnant pool anywhere in the world, and the odor from it was anything but sweet. Fred said it was the same water that was let into the pool when they first made it. The guide says the house is a hundred years old, and I should think the water was quite as old as the house, or perhaps it is some second-hand water that they bought cheap, and if so it may be very ancient. We went into the house and sat down to take some tea. They gave us some tea leaves, on which they poured hot water, and then covered the cup over for a minute or two. Each of us had his portion of tea separate from all the others. The tea was steeped in the cup, and when we wanted more we poured hot water on again. Then they brought little cakes and melon-seeds, with salt to eat with the seeds. Our guide took some of the seeds, and we ate one or two each to see how they tasted. I can't recommend them, and don't think there is any danger they will ever be introduced into the United States as a regular article of diet.

"When we rose to go, and asked how much we owed, we were astonished at the price. The proprietor demanded a dollar for what we had had, when, as we afterwards learned, twenty-five cents would have been more than enough. We had some words with him through our interpreter, and finally paid the bill which we had found so outrageous. We told him we should not come there again, and he said he did not expect us to, as strangers rarely came more than once into the Chinese part of Shanghai. He was a nice specimen of a Chinese rascal, and Doctor Bronson says he must have taken lessons of some of the American swindlers at Niagara Falls and other popular resorts. What a pity it is that whenever you find something outrageously bad in a strange country, you have only to think a moment to discover something equally bad in your own!
A Teahouse in the Country

"At one place we looked into a little den where some people were smoking opium. They were lying on benches, and were very close together. The room wasn't more than eight feet square, and yet there were a dozen people in it, and perhaps one or two more. The guide told us it was a mistake to suppose that they smoked opium as we smoke tobacco. We stand, sit, or walk while smoking, but when a Chinese uses opium, he always reclines on a bench or bed, and gives himself up to his enjoyment. Men go to the shops where opium is sold and lie down on the benches for a period of pleasure. Sometimes two persons go together, and then they lie on the same bench and take turns in filling each other's pipe.

"The opium must be boiled to fit it for use, and when ready it looks like very thick molasses. A man takes a long needle and dips it into the opium, and then he twists it around until he gets a ball of the drug as large as a pea. He holds this ball in the flame of a lamp until it becomes hot and partially burning, and then he thrusts it into a little orifice in the top of the bowl of the pipe. He continues to hold it in the flame, and, while it is burning, he slowly inhales the fumes that come from it. A few whiffs exhaust the pipe, and then the smoker rests for several minutes before he takes another. The amount required for intoxication is regulated and estimated in pipes. One man can be overcome by three or four pipes, while another will need ten, twenty, or even thirty of them. A beginner is satisfied with one or two pipes, and will go to sleep for several hours. He is said to have dreams of the pleasantest sort, but he generally feels weak and exhausted the next day.
Man Blinded by the Use of Opium

"Dr. Bronson says he tried to smoke opium the first time he was in China, but it made him very ill, and he did not get through with a single pipe. Some Europeans have learned to like it, and have lost their senses in consequence of giving way to the temptation. It is said to be the most seductive thing in the world, and some who have tried it once say it was so delightful that they would not risk a second time, for fear the habit would be so fixed that they could not shake it off. It is said that when a Chinese has tried it for ten or fifteen days in succession he cannot recover, or but very rarely does so. The effects are worse than those of intoxicating liquors, as they speedily render a man incapable of any kind of business, even when he is temporarily free from the influence of the drug. The habit is an expensive one, as the cost of opium is very great in consequence of the taxes and the high profits to those who deal in it. In a short time a man finds that all his earnings go for opium, and even when he is comfortably well off he will make a serious inroad on his property by his indulgence in the vice. A gentleman who has lived long in China, and studied the effects of opium on the people, says as follows:

"'With all smokers the effect of this vice on their pecuniary standing is by no means to be estimated by the actual outlay in money for the drug. Its seductive influence leads its victims to neglect their business, and consequently, sooner or later, loss or ruin ensues. As the habit grows, so does inattention to business increase. Instances are not rare where the rich have been reduced to poverty and beggary, as one of the consequences of their attachment to the opium pipe. The poor addicted to this vice are often led to dispose of everything salable in the hovels where they live. Sometimes men sell their wives and children to procure the drug, and end by becoming beggars and thieves. In the second place, the smoking of opium injures one's health and bodily constitution. Unless taken promptly at the regular time, and in the necessary quantity, the victim becomes unable to control himself and to attend to his business. He sneezes, he gapes, mucus runs from his nose and eyes, griping pains seize him in the bowels, his whole appearance indicates restlessness and misery. If not indulged in smoking and left undisturbed, he usually falls asleep, but his sleep does not refresh and invigorate him. On being aroused, he is himself again, provided he can have his opium. If not, his troubles and pains multiply, he has no appetite for ordinary food, no strength or disposition to labor. He becomes emaciated to a frightful degree, his eyes protrude from their sockets, and if he cannot procure opium, he dies in the most horrible agony.'
Chinese Gentleman in a Sedan

"The government has tried to stop the use of opium, but was prevented from so doing by England, which made war upon China to compel her to open her ports and markets for its sale. It is no wonder that the Chinese are confused as to the exact character of Christianity, when a Christian nation makes war upon them to compel them to admit a poison which that Christian nation produces, and which kills hundreds of thousands of Chinese every year.

"We made all our journey on foot, as we could not find any jinrikshas, except in the foreign part of Shanghai. They were only brought into use a few years ago, and they cannot be employed in all the cities of China, because the streets are very narrow, and the carriage could not move about. But we saw some sedan chairs, and one of these days we are going to have a ride in them. It looks as though a ride of this sort would be very comfortable, as you have a good chair to sit in, and then you are held up by men who walk along very steadily. Ordinarily you have two men, but if you are a grand personage, or are going on a long course, three or four men are needed. The chair is quite pretty, as it has a lot of ornamental work about it, and the lower part is closed in with light paneling or bamboo-work. It is surprising what loads the workers carry, and how long they will walk without apparent fatigue. They are accustomed to this kind of work all their lives, and seem to think it is all right.

"We came back pretty tired, as the streets are not agreeable for walking on account of the dust and the rough places. They don't seem to care how their streets are in China. When they have finished a street, they let it take care of itself, and if it wears out, it is none of their business. I am told that there are roads in China that were well made at the start, but have not had a particle of repair in a hundred years. They must be rough things to travel on."


Study the chapter for one week.

Over the week:

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


Sandbar: A ridge of sand caused by the action of waves along a shore.
Sampan: A flat-bottomed Chinese wooden boat propelled by two oars.
Hawsehole: The hole through which a ship's anchor rope is passed.
Tradesman: A shopkeeper or one who trades.
Promenade: A walk taken for pleasure, display, or exercise.
Swindler: A person who cheats or defrauds.
Opium: A yellow-brown, addictive narcotic drug obtained from the dried juice of unripe pods of the opium poppy.
Pecuniary: Of, or relating to, money.


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: The city of Shanghai, China.

Activity 4: Map the Chapter

  • Find the countries of Japan and China on the map of the world.
  • Trace the boys' path from Nagasaki to Shanghai (China) on both maps featuring Japan and China.

Activity 5: Map the Chapter on a Globe

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