We stepped aboard the little packet and steamed away.
The sea was perfectly smooth, and painfully
brilliant in the sunshine.
There were no curiosities
in the vessel except the passengers and a placard in French setting forth the transportation fares
various kinds of people.
The lithographer probably
considered that placard a triumph. It was printed in green, blue, red, black, and yellow;
line in one color, even the individual letters were separately colored. For instance, the first letter of a word would be blue, the next red,
the next green,
and so on. The placard looked as if it
had the small
pox or something.
I inquired the artist s name and
place of business, intending to hunt him
up and kill
him when I had time ; but no one could tell me.
the list of prices first-class passengers were set
at fifteen shillings and four pence,
and dead bodies
at one pound ten shillings and eight pence just double price! That is Belgian morals, I suppose. I never say a harsh thing unless
I am greatly stirred ;
but in my opinion the man who would
take advantage of a dead person would
do almost any odious
thing. I publish this scandalous discrimination against the most helpless class among us in order that people intending to die abroad may come
by some other line. We skimmed over to Ostend in four hours and went ashore. The first gentleman we saw
to be the flag lieutenant of the fleet, and he told me where the Lively lay, and said she would sail about six in the morning. Heavens and earth. He said he would give my letter to the proper authority,
so we thanked him and bore away for the hotel. Bore away is good sailor phraseology, and I have been at sea portions of two days now.
I easily pick
up a foreign language. Ostend is a curious, comfortable-looking,
built town, where the people speak both the
and the Flemish with exceeding fluency, and yet I could not understand them in either tongue. But I will write the rest about Ostend in tomorrow s letter. We idled about this curious Ostend the
of the afternoon and far into the long-lived
apparently to amuse ourselves, but secretly I had a deeper motive. I wanted to see if there was any thing here that might "impress the Shah." In the end I was reassured and content. If Ostend could impress him, England could amaze the head
his shoulders and have marvels left that not even the trunk could be indifferent to. These citizens of Flanders Flounders,
I think they
call them, though I feel sure I have eaten a
of that name or seen it in an aquarium or a
or in a picture or somewhere are a thrifty,
induStrious race, and are as commercially wise
and farsighted as they were in
Edward the Third s time,
and as enduring and patient under adversity as
were in Charles the Bold s.
They are prolific in the
matter of children; in some of the narrow streets every house seemed to have had a freshet of
which had burst through and overflowed into the roadway. One could hardly get along
for the pack
of juveniles, and they were all soiled and
They all wore wooden shoes, which c
on the stone pavements. All the women were
at work; there were no idlers about the houses. The men were away at labor, no doubt. In nearly every door women sat at needlework
of that marketable nature they were knitting
Many groups of women sat in the street,
in the shade of walls, making point lace.
maker holds a sort of pillow on her knees with a strip of cardboard fastened on it, on which the lace
has been punctured. She sticks bunches of pins
the punctures and about them weaves her web of threads.
The numberless threads diverge from the
bunch of pins like the spokes of a wheel, and the spools from which the threads are being
form the outer circle of the wheel. The woman throws these spools about her
with flying fingers, in
and out, over and under one another, and so fast
you can hardly follow the evolutions with your
In the chaos and
confusion of skipping spools you
wonder how she can possibly pick up
the right one
every time, and especially how she can
go on gossip
ing with her friends all the time and
yet never seem
to miss a stitch. The laces
these ingenious Flounders
were making were very
dainty and delicate in texture
and very beautiful in design. Most of the shops in Ostend seemed devoted to the sale of sea shells. All sorts of figures of men and women were made of shells;
one sort was composed
of grotesque and ingenious combinations
claws in the human form. And they had other figures made of stuffed frogs some fencing,
barbering each other, and some were not to be described at all without indecent language.
require a barbarian nature to be able
to find humor
in such nauseating horrors as these last. These things were exposed in the public windows
young girls and little children could see them,
in the shops sat the usual hairy -lipped young
waiting to sell them. There was a contrivance attached to the better crass of houses which I had heard of before, but never seen. It was an arrangement of mirrors out side the window, so contrived that the people
could see who was coming either up or down the street see all that might be going on, in fact without opening the window or twisting
into uncomfortable positions in order to look.