Let us not be too particular. It is better to have old second-hand
diamonds than none at all.
--Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar.
November 27. To-day we reached Gisborne, and anchored in a big bay;
there was a heavy sea on, so we remained on board.
We were a mile from shore; a little steam-tug put out from the land; she
was an object of thrilling interest; she would climb to the summit of a
billow, reel drunkenly there a moment, dim and gray in the driving storm
of spindrift, then make a plunge like a diver and remain out of sight
until one had given her up, then up she would dart again, on a steep
slant toward the sky, shedding Niagaras of water from her forecastle--and
this she kept up, all the way out to us. She brought twenty-five
passengers in her stomach--men and women mainly a traveling dramatic
company. In sight on deck were the crew, in sou'westers, yellow
waterproof canvas suits, and boots to the thigh. The deck was never
quiet for a moment, and seldom nearer level than a ladder, and noble were
the seas which leapt aboard and went flooding aft. We rove a long line
to the yard-arm, hung a most primitive basketchair to it and swung it out
into the spacious air of heaven, and there it swayed, pendulum-fashion,
waiting for its chance--then down it shot, skillfully aimed, and was
grabbed by the two men on the forecastle. A young fellow belonging to
our crew was in the chair, to be a protection to the lady-comers. At
once a couple of ladies appeared from below, took seats in his lap, we
hoisted them into the sky, waited a moment till the roll of the ship
brought them in overhead, then we lowered suddenly away, and seized the
chair as it struck the deck. We took the twenty-five aboard, and
delivered twenty-five into the tug--among them several aged ladies, and
one blind one--and all without accident. It was a fine piece of work.
Ours is a nice ship, roomy, comfortable, well-ordered, and satisfactory.
Now and then we step on a rat in a hotel, but we have had no rats on
shipboard lately; unless, perhaps in the Flora; we had more serious
things to think of there, and did not notice. I have noticed that it is
only in ships and hotels which still employ the odious Chinese gong, that
you find rats. The reason would seem to be, that as a rat cannot tell
the time of day by a clock, he won't stay where he cannot find out when
dinner is ready.
November 29. The doctor tells me of several old drunkards, one
spiritless loafer, and several far-gone moral wrecks who have been
reclaimed by the Salvation Army and have remained staunch people and hard
workers these two years. Wherever one goes, these testimonials to the
Army's efficiency are forthcoming . . . . This morning we had one of
those whizzing green Ballarat flies in the room, with his stunning
buzz-saw noise--the swiftest creature in the world except the
lightning-flash. It is a stupendous force that is stored up in that
little body. If we had it in a ship in the same proportion, we could spin
from Liverpool to New York in the space of an hour--the time it takes to
eat luncheon. The New Zealand express train is called the Ballarat Fly
. . . . Bad teeth in the colonies. A citizen told me they don't have
teeth filled, but pull them out and put in false ones, and that now and
then one sees a young lady with a full set. She is fortunate. I wish I
had been born with false teeth and a false liver and false carbuncles.
I should get along better.
December 2. Monday. Left Napier in the Ballarat Fly the one that goes
twice a week. From Napier to Hastings, twelve miles; time, fifty-five
minutes--not so far short of thirteen miles an hour . . . . A perfect
summer day; cool breeze, brilliant sky, rich vegetation. Two or three
times during the afternoon we saw wonderfully dense and beautiful
forests, tumultuously piled skyward on the broken highlands--not the
customary roof-like slant of a hillside, where the trees are all the same
height. The noblest of these trees were of the Kauri breed, we were told
the timber that is now furnishing the wood-paving for Europe, and is the
best of all wood for that purpose. Sometimes these towering upheavals of
forestry were festooned and garlanded with vine-cables, and sometimes the
masses of undergrowth were cocooned in another sort of vine of a delicate
cobwebby texture--they call it the "supplejack," I think. Tree ferns
everywhere--a stem fifteen feet high, with a graceful chalice of
fern-fronds sprouting from its top--a lovely forest ornament. And there
was a ten-foot reed with a flowing suit of what looked like yellow hair
hanging from its upper end. I do not know its name, but if there is such
a thing as a scalp-plant, this is it. A romantic gorge, with a brook
flowing in its bottom, approaching Palmerston North.
Waitukurau. Twenty minutes for luncheon. With me sat my wife and
daughter, and my manager, Mr. Carlyle Smythe. I sat at the head of the
table, and could see the right-hand wall; the others had their backs to
it. On that wall, at a good distance away, were a couple of framed
pictures. I could not see them clearly, but from the groupings of the
figures I fancied that they represented the killing of Napoleon III's son
by the Zulus in South Africa. I broke into the conversation, which was
about poetry and cabbage and art, and said to my wife--
"Do you remember when the news came to Paris----"
"Of the killing of the Prince?"
(Those were the very words I had in my mind.) "Yes, but what Prince?"
"What made you think of that?"
"I don't know."
There was no collusion. She had not seen the pictures, and they had not
been mentioned. She ought to have thought of some recent news that came
to Paris, for we were but seven months from there and had been living
there a couple of years when we started on this trip; but instead of that
she thought of an incident of our brief sojourn in Paris of sixteen years
Here was a clear case of mental telegraphy; of mind-transference; of my
mind telegraphing a thought into hers. How do I know? Because I
telegraphed an error. For it turned out that the pictures did not
represent the killing of Lulu at all, nor anything connected with Lulu.
She had to get the error from my head--it existed nowhere else.