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Home -> Mark Twain -> Following the Equator -> Chapter 32

Following the Equator - Chapter 32

1. Contents

2. Chapter 1

3. Chapter 2

4. Chapter 3

5. Chapter 4

6. Chapter 5

7. Chapter 6

8. Chapter 7

9. Chapter 8

10. Chapter 9

11. Chapter 10

12. Chapter 11

13. Chapter 12

14. Chapter 13

15. Chapter 14

16. Chapter 15

17. Chapter 16

18. Chapter 17

19. Chapter 18

20. Chapter 19

21. Chapter 20

22. Chapter 21

23. Chapter 22

24. Chapter 23

25. Chapter 24

26. Chapter 25

27. Chapter 26

28. Chapter 27

29. Chapter 28

30. Chapter 29

31. Chapter 30

32. Chapter 31

33. Chapter 32

34. Chapter 33

35. Chapter 34

36. Chapter 35

37. Chapter 36

38. Chapter 37

39. Chapter 38

40. Chapter 39

41. Chapter 40

42. Chapter 41

43. Chapter 42

44. Chapter 43

45. Chapter 44

46. Chapter 45

47. Chapter 46

48. Chapter 47

49. Chapter 48

50. Chapter 49

51. Chapter 50

52. Chapter 51

53. Chapter 52

54. Chapter 53

55. Chapter 54

56. Chapter 55

57. Chapter 56

58. Chapter 57

59. Chapter 58

60. Chapter 59

61. Chapter 60

62. Chapter 61

63. Chapter 62

64. Chapter 63

65. Chapter 64

66. Chapter 65

67. Chapter 66

68. Chapter 67

69. Chapter 68

70. Chapter 69

71. Conclusion


The man with a new idea is a Crank until the idea succeeds.
--Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar.

It was Junior England all the way to Christchurch--in fact, just a
garden. And Christchurch is an English town, with an English-park annex,
and a winding English brook just like the Avon--and named the Avon; but
from a man, not from Shakespeare's river. Its grassy banks are bordered
by the stateliest and most impressive weeping willows to be found in the
world, I suppose. They continue the line of a great ancestor; they were
grown from sprouts of the willow that sheltered Napoleon's grave in St.
Helena. It is a settled old community, with all the serenities, the
graces, the conveniences, and the comforts of the ideal home-life. If it
had an established Church and social inequality it would be England over
again with hardly a lack.

In the museum we saw many curious and interesting things; among others a
fine native house of the olden time, with all the details true to the
facts, and the showy colors right and in their proper places. All the
details: the fine mats and rugs and things; the elaborate and wonderful
wood carvings--wonderful, surely, considering who did them wonderful in
design and particularly in execution, for they were done with admirable
sharpness and exactness, and yet with no better tools than flint and jade
and shell could furnish; and the totem-posts were there, ancestor above
ancestor, with tongues protruded and hands clasped comfortably over
bellies containing other people's ancestors--grotesque and ugly devils,
every one, but lovingly carved, and ably; and the stuffed natives were
present, in their proper places, and looking as natural as life; and the
housekeeping utensils were there, too, and close at hand the carved and
finely ornamented war canoe.

And we saw little jade gods, to hang around the neck--not everybody's,
but sacred to the necks of natives of rank. Also jade weapons, and many
kinds of jade trinkets--all made out of that excessively hard stone
without the help of any tool of iron. And some of these things had small
round holes bored through them--nobody knows how it was done; a mystery,
a lost art. I think it was said that if you want such a hole bored in a
piece of jade now, you must send it to London or Amsterdam where the
lapidaries are.

Also we saw a complete skeleton of the giant Moa. It stood ten feet
high, and must have been a sight to look at when it was a living bird.
It was a kicker, like the ostrich; in fight it did not use its beak, but
its foot. It must have been a convincing kind of kick. If a person had
his back to the bird and did not see who it was that did it, he would
think he had been kicked by a wind-mill.

There must have been a sufficiency of moas in the old forgotten days when
his breed walked the earth. His bones are found in vast masses, all
crammed together in huge graves. They are not in caves, but in the
ground. Nobody knows how they happened to get concentrated there. Mind,
they are bones, not fossils. This means that the moa has not been
extinct very long. Still, this is the only New Zealand creature which
has no mention in that otherwise comprehensive literature, the native
legends. This is a significant detail, and is good circumstantial
evidence that the moa has been extinct 500 years, since the Maori has
himself--by tradition--been in New Zealand since the end of the fifteenth
century. He came from an unknown land--the first Maori did--then sailed
back in his canoe and brought his tribe, and they removed the aboriginal
peoples into the sea and into the ground and took the land. That is the
tradition. That that first Maori could come, is understandable, for
anybody can come to a place when he isn't trying to; but how that
discoverer found his way back home again without a compass is his secret,
and he died with it in him. His language indicates that he came from
Polynesia. He told where he came from, but he couldn't spell well, so
one can't find the place on the map, because people who could spell
better than he could, spelt the resemblance all out of it when they made
the map. However, it is better to have a map that is spelt right than
one that has information in it.

In New Zealand women have the right to vote for members of the
legislature, but they cannot be members themselves. The law extending
the suffrage to them event into effect in 1893. The population of
Christchurch (census of 1891) was 31,454. The first election under the
law was held in November of that year. Number of men who voted, 6,313;
number of women who voted, 5,989. These figures ought to convince us
that women are not as indifferent about politics as some people would
have us believe. In New Zealand as a whole, the estimated adult female
population was 139,915; of these 109,461 qualified and registered their
names on the rolls 78.23 per cent. of the whole. Of these, 90,290 went
to the polls and voted--85.18 per cent. Do men ever turn out better than
that--in America or elsewhere? Here is a remark to the other sex's
credit, too--I take it from the official report:

"A feature of the election was the orderliness and sobriety of the
people. Women were in no way molested."

At home, a standing argument against woman suffrage has always been that
women could not go to the polls without being insulted. The arguments
against woman suffrage have always taken the easy form of prophecy. The
prophets have been prophesying ever since the woman's rights movement
began in 1848--and in forty-seven years they have never scored a hit.

Men ought to begin to feel a sort of respect for their mothers and wives
and sisters by this time. The women deserve a change of attitude like
that, for they have wrought well. In forty-seven years they have swept
an imposingly large number of unfair laws from the statute books of
America. In that brief time these serfs have set themselves free
essentially. Men could not have done so much for themselves in that time
without bloodshed--at least they never have; and that is argument that
they didn't know how. The women have accomplished a peaceful revolution,
and a very beneficent one; and yet that has not convinced the average man
that they are intelligent, and have courage and energy and perseverance
and fortitude. It takes much to convince the average man of anything;
and perhaps nothing can ever make him realize that he is the average
woman's inferior--yet in several important details the evidences seems to
show that that is what he is. Man has ruled the human race from the
beginning--but he should remember that up to the middle of the present
century it was a dull world, and ignorant and stupid; but it is not such
a dull world now, and is growing less and less dull all the time. This
is woman's opportunity--she has had none before. I wonder where man will
be in another forty-seven years?

In the New Zealand law occurs this: "The word person wherever it occurs
throughout the Act includes woman."

That is promotion, you see. By that enlargement of the word, the matron
with the garnered wisdom and experience of fifty years becomes at one
jump the political equal of her callow kid of twenty-one. The white
population of the colony is 626,000, the Maori population is 42,000. The
whites elect seventy members of the House of Representatives, the Maoris
four. The Maori women vote for their four members.

November 16. After four pleasant days in Christchurch, we are to leave
at midnight to-night. Mr. Kinsey gave me an ornithorhynchus, and I am
taming it.

Sunday, 17th. Sailed last night in the Flora, from Lyttelton.

So we did. I remember it yet. The people who sailed in the Flora that
night may forget some other things if they live a good while, but they
will not live long, enough to forget that. The Flora is about the
equivalent of a cattle-scow; but when the Union Company find it
inconvenient to keep a contract and lucrative to break it, they smuggle
her into passenger service, and "keep the change."

They give no notice of their projected depredation; you innocently buy
tickets for the advertised passenger boat, and when you get down to
Lyttelton at midnight, you find that they have substituted the scow.
They have plenty of good boats, but no competition--and that is the
trouble. It is too late now to make other arrangements if you have
engagements ahead.

It is a powerful company, it has a monopoly, and everybody is afraid of
it--including the government's representative, who stands at the end of
the stage-plank to tally the passengers and see that no boat receives a
greater number than the law allows her to carry. This conveniently-blind
representative saw the scow receive a number which was far in excess of
its privilege, and winked a politic wink and said nothing. The
passengers bore with meekness the cheat which had been put upon them, and
made no complaint.

It was like being at home in America, where abused passengers act in just
the same way. A few days before, the Union Company had discharged a
captain for getting a boat into danger, and had advertised this act as
evidence of its vigilance in looking after the safety of the passengers
--for thugging a captain costs the company nothing, but when opportunity
offered to send this dangerously overcrowded tub to sea and save a little
trouble and a tidy penny by it, it forgot to worry about the passenger's

The first officer told me that the Flora was privileged to carry 125
passengers. She must have had all of 200 on board. All the cabins were
full, all the cattle-stalls in the main stable were full, the spaces at
the heads of companionways were full, every inch of floor and table in
the swill-room was packed with sleeping men and remained so until the
place was required for breakfast, all the chairs and benches on the
hurricane deck were occupied, and still there were people who had to walk
about all night!

If the Flora had gone down that night, half of the people on board would
have been wholly without means of escape.

The owners of that boat were not technically guilty of conspiracy to
commit murder, but they were morally guilty of it.

I had a cattle-stall in the main stable--a cavern fitted up with a long
double file of two-storied bunks, the files separated by a calico
partition--twenty men and boys on one side of it, twenty women and girls
on the other. The place was as dark as the soul of the Union Company,
and smelt like a kennel. When the vessel got out into the heavy seas and
began to pitch and wallow, the cavern prisoners became immediately
seasick, and then the peculiar results that ensued laid all my previous
experiences of the kind well away in the shade. And the wails, the
groans, the cries, the shrieks, the strange ejaculations--it was

The women and children and some of the men and boys spent the night in
that place, for they were too ill to leave it; but the rest of us got up,
by and by, and finished the night on the hurricane-deck.

That boat was the foulest I was ever in; and the smell of the breakfast
saloon when we threaded our way among the layers of steaming passengers
stretched upon its floor and its tables was incomparable for efficiency.

A good many of us got ashore at the first way-port to seek another ship.
After a wait of three hours we got good rooms in the Mahinapua, a wee
little bridal-parlor of a boat--only 205 tons burthen; clean and
comfortable; good service; good beds; good table, and no crowding. The
seas danced her about like a duck, but she was safe and capable.

Next morning early she went through the French Pass--a narrow gateway of
rock, between bold headlands--so narrow, in fact, that it seemed no wider
than a street. The current tore through there like a mill-race, and the
boat darted through like a telegram. The passage was made in half a
minute; then we were in a wide place where noble vast eddies swept
grandly round and round in shoal water, and I wondered what they would do
with the little boat. They did as they pleased with her. They picked
her up and flung her around like nothing and landed her gently on the
solid, smooth bottom of sand--so gently, indeed, that we barely felt her
touch it, barely felt her quiver when she came to a standstill. The
water was as clear as glass, the sand on the bottom was vividly distinct,
and the fishes seemed to be swimming about in nothing. Fishing lines
were brought out, but before we could bait the hooks the boat was off and
away again.

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