Albert Ross.

A sugar princess online

. (page 5 of 19)
Online LibraryAlbert RossA sugar princess → online text (page 5 of 19)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


the only passenger able to manipulate the instrument.
Rev. Mr. Love joy proved to be the only clergyman on
board and was impressed by the Captain into reading
the lesson.

It seemed as if the simple act which Carl had per-
formed for Miss Van Steuben would never cease to be
a topic of conversation. When everything else failed
this always served to interest a group. Not only was
it referred to in the smoking room and at the table,
but it interested many parties gathered on the deck.
Once, when Carl was buried in a book, out of sight
of the Van Steubens around the corner, he heard the
members of that family urged to relate tihe particulars
of the incident.

"Do td'l us how it was !" said a young miss, one of
the Bentley gushers. "I've heard so many stories."

"Why, there wasn't much to it," responded Miss
? Amy. "A tug-boat ran us down and we were thrown



A SUGAR PRINCESS. 75

overboard. When I came to the surface I felt a strong
arm around my waist "

"Don't dwell on the point !" interposed the distressed,,
voice of her mother. "It is quite dreadful. I don't see
why Billy or Mr. Loring couldn't have seen to you and
let that boatman attend to Miss Stevens."

"Billy was rather busy attending to himself," laugh-
ed her daughter. "I think he was more scared than
any of the others. Mr. Loring naturally attended to
the lady nearest him, and can be excused because she
threw her arms around his neck the minute she came
to the surface."

"Amy ! I must protest !"

"Well, I can't see what difference it made," replied
the girl. "My life was saved and even if my rescuer
had been a negro I should have been grateful. When,
as a matter of fact, (for which information I am in-
debted to the captain of the tug) he was white and
young and rather handsome "

"Amy! Please!" cried the mother again, shutting
her eyes.

Both the Miss Bentleys drew long breaths, as if tjheir
thoughts were too deep for utterance. Miss Van
Steuben laughed merrily.

"That's the whole story, girls. Except that I made
Billy put a notice in the papers that the lady wfao was
nearly drowned in the Bay would be glad to recom-
pense her rescuer handsomely and nobody ever an-
swered it."

Mrs. Van Steuben looked relieved, now that her
"barque had got into safer waters at last.



76 A SUGAR PRINCESS.

"I am very sorry he did not respond tb the offer,"

she remarked, loftily. "I should feel much better to
have paid him for the service."

"Did you affix your name to the advertisement?"
asked Mrs. Latham.

"Gracious, no! You can't tell what the man might
have done. Mr. Van Steuben is known by reputation,
I may say everywhere! I should have feared black-
mail or something equally dreadful."

"But the accident was related in all the papers,
mamma," protested Amy. "The man probably knew
the next day who we were. I don't see Why you need
be unfair to him. Possibly he was not a commtin fel-
low, but a gentleman out for amusement."

"Quite unlikely, my love. In that case he would cer-
tainly have handed you his card."

"His card case must have been soaked with the rest
of him; I don't think people, as a rule, present their
cards under such conditions."

"It is a very painful subject," replied the mother,
shaking her head. "I hope we shall hear no more about
it. People in our position are obliged tio be so care-
ful."

The elder Miss Bentley inquired if it were true that
Miss Van Steuben was a good swimmer and oould
have saved herself unaided.

"Oh, I don't think I should have drowned," was
Amy's coy response. "But when a girl finds a strong
manly arm around her mamma, let me finish it is
much easier, as well as more graceful to rely on it
than to splash and paddle ; and besides the white caps



A SUGAR PRINCESS. J>7

and that nasty tug 1 complicated thing's. I rather wish'
the young man had made his appearance in answer to
the advertisement; though. If he wanted caslh I Would
have been glad to accommodate him ; and if not, a few
words of gratitude would have been easy to say."

Long before the conversation reached this point Carl
had found it unbearable and had moved his dhadr to a
point out of hearing. His book had suddenly grown
dull to him and he sought the smoking room, where
among the other occupants he found Brother Billy.
The boy, as everybody considered him, though he was
quite twenty years of age, was an object of interest to
everybody on 'his father's account. He was full of
life and spirits, dressed with much style, good-looking
and agreeable. There was a strong family resemblance
between him and his sister. When any of the passen-
gers tried to draw him out about his father's affairs
he sheered to one side like a colt with. "Oh, I don't
know anything about that!" in a way that biockdd the
path entirely. Even when the fertility of Hawaiian
lands or the system of contract labor was on the tapis,
he declined to interest himself. "Haven't the least
ide-a," he would answer, with jusrt the suspicion of a
drawl.

"I tell you it's the same thing as slavery!" said a
passenger named Hicks, hailing from KalamazoOo
"Those Japs and Chinamen are brought out under
what is called a three years' contract, and during that
time they are driven into the field witfh black-'snake
whips, sick or well, and treated like dog's Although
legally they can be made to work but ten hours a day,



JT8 A SUGAR PRINCESS,

the clocks are kept to please their masters, and the*
often put in more than twelve,, As soon as the country
is fully annexed to the United States there'll be an end
to this business/ 9

"I should have thoughl the people would have fore-
seen that and fought annexation," suggested a young
man from Connecticut.

"If we hadn't taken them pretty soon, the Japanese
Government would," said Hicks "They would have
attacked the place to secure justice for the Japs abused
there and held on, just as England anJ Germany have
done in similar cases "

"The Japanese pooh!" interrupted a gentleman
from New York City "What do they amount to?"

"Amount to?" repeated Hicks, indignantly. "Do
you ask what a nation of forty 'million people amounts
to* with one of the biggest navies in the world ? They'd
have taken the island so quick it would make your
head swim, if Uncle Sam hadn't forestalled them. The
Hawaiian Government didn't own a ship, a fort or a
full regiment of soldiers."

The New Yorker disdained to reply, It is often as
effective to assume that air, in the eyes of those who
listen, as to bring forwafd the most conclusive argu-
ments, The passengers were led to believe that the
New Yorker could have annihilated Mr, Hicks if he
had been willing to enter into a wrangle with that hot-
headed person.

Rev. Mr. Love joy did not disdain to spend a part of
his time in the smoking room or to indulge in an occa-
sional cigar there. He smoked solemnly and slowly,



A SUGAR PRINCESS 79

as befitted his cloth, and his presence certainly had a
restraining influence on the things said around him.

"If you will permit me a word," he ventured, tc Mr.
Hicks, "I think you do an unintentional injustice to
the sugar-planters. I have spent some time there and
have found no such condition as you describe/'

"In what respect?" demanded Hicks, fiercely.

"About the men being driven to work with whips,
for one thing," was the mild reply. "I do not say it
is never done, but I saw no evidence of it. And as to
the hours the laborers work, most of them carry nickel
watches and are very quick to notice when their day has
expired."

To this Mr. Hicks responded warmly thait he had
his information from good sources and believed it to
be true,

"I think if you will look thoroughly into the matter,"
said Mr. Love joy, gently, "you will find that these be-
nighted heathen are brought to a Christian land by
gentlemen of character, who defray their passage out
of their own pockets; that they receive several times
as much pay as they would earn at home at the same
work i that nothing is required of them except to keep
an agreement which they fully understood before leav
ing fliei'r own country ; and that most of them manage,
during the time they remain, to lay up a goodly amount
of money with which many go into business and amass
small fortunes."

The conversation was interesting all who sat about
the room and every eye was turned toward Mr. Hicks
when tois turn came to speak.



80 A SUGAR PRINCESS.

"What is done with a laborer who refuses to woric?"
he demanded, "Tell me that I"

"He is taken before a judge and given his choice of
carrying out the agreement he made when his fare was
paid from Japan or of going to jail."

"Exactly. Ex-actly I" said, Mr, Hicks. "Now if that
don't make a slave of him I'd like to know wliat would.
It is contrary to the laws of the United States to en-
force labor by contract and 'the moment we get full
possession of the country every workingmari will be
free to quit his employment, if he pleases."

Mr, Lovejoy asked quietly if Mr. Hicks thought ifc
would be honest for a man who had accepted money
to cross the Pacific to refuse to carry out his agree
ment and for a Christian nation to abet him in the
act,

"Christian nation!" repeated Hicks, with scorn.
"Who says America is a Christian nation? What is
a Christian nation ; anyway? One that helps a lot of
money-grabbers to swindle coolies out of the value oi
their labor ? The missionaries came to Hawaii and stole
the land from the Kanakas; and now tiheir sons are
making themselves millionaires by bringing poor Japs
and Chinese over to work for half the wages a white
man would, require. I've no patience to talk with you !"

The indignant speaker flounced out of the room with
his concluding words, as if he required the entire
width of the deck to contain himself, The clergyman
puffed his cigar peacefully in silence, not appearing in
the least disturbed. Mr. Latham, who had remained
silent till now, leaned over to ask if the reverend chain*



A SUGAR PRINCESS. 8l

pion of the sugar-growers had any knowledge of the
various plantations and of the best place to invest
capital.

"I couldn't say, really," was the answer he received,
"what is the best purchase just now. But I think the
'Never' is paying about five per cent."

" Only five per cent!" Mr. Latham's jaw dropped.

"That's sixty per cent, a year. They reckon these
plantation stocks by their monthly dividends. You will
have to pay about four hundred dollars or so a share,
which will reduce your net returns to fifteen per cent,
per annum. It's not quite what they ought to pay, but
we shouldn't think of this matter from the pecuniary
side altogether. What gratifies me is the glorious op-
portunity these poor heathen have to learn true religion
and see it exemplified in the lives of their employers.
Who can doubt that the time they spend among such
refining influences will ultimately have a great effect in
destroying the superstitions and idolatries of Japan
and China ?"

A young man named Selover, who Was secretary of
the Y. M. C. A. in his town in Iowa, inquired if much
attention was given to instructing the laborers in reli-
gious matters.

"Why," was the somewhat hesitating reply, "there
are churches which they can attend and some missions.
They can learn the true path if they wish to."

"I trust there are no saloons or anything of that
sort?"

"There are, I am sorry to say, a very few in 'some
of the larger places. High license prevails in Honolulu,



82 A SUGAR PRINCESS.

for instance. It is a serious question, where so many
sailors come ashore, men from the warships and that
sort of thing. There's not much drunkenness though,
as a rule, and the places have to close early."

Mr. Lovejoy resumed a book he had been reading
and another passenger essayed to furnish Mr. Latham
with a little more information.

"I would advise subscribing to the new ventures that
are being put on the market," he said. "The average
assessment is two dollars a month on each share. Even
house servants and cabmen have become rich by sub-
scribing for these shares and selling out again. You
see the Hawaiians have several advantages over other
countries. Not only is their soil exceptionally fertile,
but their product is admitted to the United States free
of duty, thus putting two cents a pound into the pockets
of the producers. I've heard of plantations that are
good for eight hundred dollars' worth of sugar per
acre in a single crop. With annexation that's pretty
sure to hold. Old Van Steuben" (the speaker looked
cautiously around to note that Billy had left the room
again) "came to Honolulu a beggar boy and now he's
worth the Lord only knows how much ! And there's
Millenham and Waterman and the Snookses and the
Castletons, all made millionaires witihin the last five
years."

The Y. M. C. A. secretary from Iowa walked out on
the deck, somewhat troubled in his mind. A text of
Scripture kept vibrating in his brain, "Seek ye first the
kingdom of God and His righteousness." He hoped
these planters had done that before they realized so



A SUGAR PRINCESS. 83

fully the succeeding words, "and all these things shall
be added unto you."

It comforted him, however, to know that Rev. Mr.
Lovejoy, the benevolent looking clergyman, had looke'd
into the matter, and was quite satisfied with the treat-
ment accorded to the laborers in these remarkably pro-
ductive vineyards.



84 A SUGAR PRINCESS.



CHAPTER VHI.
CARL MEETS MR. VAN STEUBEN.

EACH arrival of the steamship Australia at Hono-
lulu is celebrated by the inhabitants as an occasion of
great rejoicing. Her departure is also the signal for
special ceremonies, the like of which are observed for
no other vessel. Though many liners of a much super-
ior class are now constantly coming and going from
that port, the Hawaiian's are faithful to their old love.
They greet the Australia precisely as they did when
she was their only mail packet and everyone was
obliged to rely on her for passage to or from the
United States.

Carl, who had grown nervously anxious, was disap-
pointed to find that the first land in sight was not that
of Oahu. At his previous visit he had approached from
the west and paid little attention to the geography of
the coast. As hour after hour passed before he could
discern the familiar face of Diamond Head, he paced
the deck, hope and fear alternating in his bosom

It was nearly night when the strains of the Goverm
ment Band met his ear that excellent organization of
'forty pieces which is invariably sent to welcome the
'coming and speed the parting Australia. A throng of
people covered the wharf, embracing every hue from
nearly black to pure white, the native race predomina'v-



A SUGAR PRINCESS. 85

ing; for, like children, the latter invariably flocked to
see the landing and hear the music, just as if the same
event did not occur many times each year of their
lives.

Half the crowd were women, dressed in the loose
flowing robe which the natives call a "h'oloku," and
which is known in the States by the more prosaic title
of "Mother-Hubbard." All of them were bareheaded,
but their luxuriant tresses afforded a sufficiently ample
covering. Around many necks were hung wreaths of
bright flowers, called leis, while other bits of color set
off their swarthy faces. The men, who were inudh less
interesting, lounged about in a listless way, -clad in a
mixture of half-civilized, half-barbaric garments. The
few Caucasians looked whiter by contrast and those
who happened to have light hair appeared the blondest
of their class. A few daintily dressed children showed
conspicuously in the throng and the members of the
Band, in their uniforms of white, added to the pictur-
esqueness of the scene.

Without troubling himself about fais baggage, further
than to leave it addressed with his name so that it could
be sent for, Carl hastened down the plank and made
his way as rapidly as possible to the Royal Hawaiian
Hotel. As he entered the grounds, beautifully tropical
with palms and brilliant flowers, he took in with one
(quick glance everybody on the veranda, hoping to
discover among them the one for whom he was search-
ing. All the faces were, however, unfamiliar, and
Springing up the high steps he sought the manager it*
his office.



86 A SUGAR PRINCESS.

"Is Mr. Peter Meyer one of your guests ?" he asked,
breathlessly.

The manager shook his head. "You are young Mr.
Meyer, I believe," he said.

It was clear that the manager remembered him. He
must also then remember his "uncle" and would
know if he had seen him.

"But Peter Meyer and Marcus Lindes they surely
have been here within a short time ?"

"Sit down," said the manager. "Yes, Peter Meyer
was here a few weeks ago and another gentleman with
him. That is to say, I have no doubt whatever about
the matter, though when I called him by name he denied
it positively and said he had never been in Honolulu
before."

"Where are they now ?" Carl inquired, distressed. It
was all he could do to contain himself.

"They went to Maui" (one of the other islands in the
group) "and have not returned. What is the matter
with Mr. Meyer ? His actions here were certainly very
peculiar."

The hotel man talked of the matter at length. He
said Meyer had registered under the name of Hans
Fischer, while his companion had called 'himself Jacob
Swartz. They had tried to avoid publicity, dining in
their room and holding little converse with anyone.
Fischer had been addressed as "Meyer" by several peo-
ple who recognized him, but invariably replied, "I do
not know you, sir," and refused to be drawn into con-
versation. To add to the strangeness of the affair, let-
ters addressed to "Hans Fischer" were opened and



A SUGAR PRINCESS. 8^

read by him and he even carried a letter of credit in
the same name.

"He almost convinced me that I was mistaken," said
the manager, "but although he created a doubt among
many of us, there was one man who had been very in-
timate with him on his previous visit who never had
the slightest question of his identity. That was Abel
Van Steuben."

Carl caught his breath and closed his tired eyes for a
moment.

"Van Steuben told me that, as Mr. Meyer 'had evi-
dently some reason for wislhing to remain incognito, I
had best humor him, and I took his advice. I always
called him 'Fischer' when we had any business. But
people kept coming in and claiming a recognition, and
after a week or so he and his friend moved up to
Wright's Villa, at Waikiki, where they stayed until
they went off to Maui."

The young man asked if it were possible his two
friends had left the group. Could passage be taken
from any other port except Honolulu ?

It was possible, but very improbable. None of the
ocean steamers touched anywhere else. Sometimes
people embarked from Hilo (in Hawaii) on sailing
vessels.

The hotel man, having communicated so muoh in-
formation, now set about acquiring some for himself.
He plied Carl with questions, to which only evasive
answers were returned.

" Who was with him?" asked the manager.

"An old friend. But I must go at onte to the Villa
and see what I can learn there about tfoera."



88 A SUGAR PRINCESS.

Wright's Villa is situated four miles from the Royal
Hotel, and the slowest street-car line in the world
"runs," or did at that time, up King Street, and past
that hostelrie. Not only was the line exceedingly slow,
but the cars ran at doubtful and infrequent intervals.
Each was propelled by a pair of diminutive animals,
ordinarily a mule and horse harnessed abreast, though
why this strange mixture was preferred to coupling
two beasts of a kind together is a mystery. There be-
ing but a single track, turn-outs were numerous, and
tfie waits at each of them prolonged enough to discour-
age tihe traveler who had need of haste. The cars were
antiquated specimens, wholly anachronistic in a push-
ing and in many respects modern town like Honolulu,
and seldom patronized by residents above the grade of
a native or white laborer.

>Car*l did not fed, however, like paying the two dol-
lars which a cabdriver would charge when ten cents
would answer the purpose, and as he reached King
Street he looked anxiously for the cheaper conveyance.
None being in sight he started to walk, hoping that a
car would overtake him eventually, thougli this was by
no means sure.

After going something like half a mile, the young
man came opposite to a handsome residence, embow-
ered in tropical foliage, at which some special event
was evidently taking place. Carriages bearing the
marks of private ownership stood along the curb to
the number of forty or fifty, the residence was ablaze
with light, amd many voices blended with the music of
an orchestra. As he reached 4ihe massive gateway a



X SUGAR PRINCESS. 8q

carriage passed in, containing a gentleman who bowed
to him affably.

For a moment, so preoccupied was Carl with his
thoughts, he did not recognize the occupant as Rev.
Mr. Love joy, whom he had met on the steamer. In-
stead of entering the house, the clergyman hastened to
the sidewalk and extended his hand.

"Aren't you coming in ?" he asked.

"I do not understand you."

"Why, the Van Steubens are having a reception on
account of their daughter's return from America.
Were you not invited ?"

"I do not know the family," was the rather cold
response. "I was not presented to them during the
voyage."

"What a pity!" exclaimed Mr. Loveiov. "Thev are
such delightful people. I met Mr. Van Steuben when
I was here before. Miss Amy is a dear girl, whom you
would find it a pleasure to know. Ah," he continued,
as a gentleman approached bareheaded from the house,
"here is Mr. Van Steuben now. You must let ms
present you. There is still time to go to the hotel and
get into your evening clothes. Almosit everybody who
came on i:he Australia will be here."

Though not having any idea of executing this sum-
mary arrangement, Carl reflected that a presentation to
Mr. Van Steuben was something he could not afford
to refuse just then. He had no idea, of course, of ac-
cepting an invitation to the party, if it was obtained in
this manner. Undoubtedly Mr. Lovejoy meant well
in his simplicity. When he called out, "Mr. Van



9O A SUGAR PRINCESS.

Steuben, I want to introduce a fellow passenger," tfie
young man murmured the usual commonplaces.

"Come right in," said the sugar planter, in his unaf-
fected way. "I'll show you where to put your things."

"Excuse me it is quite impossible. I am going to
Waikiki. But," added Carl, in a lower tone, relieved
that the minister had been taken in charge by a ser-
vant, "I would like to speak to you just a moment on
another matter."

Mr. Van Steuben bowed.

"I am looking for Mr. Peter Meyer, an adopted uncle
of mine, whom I understand you have seen
recently in Honolulu."

The planter lifted his eyes and took a careful survey
of his companion's features. "So you are that young
man?" he said, thoughtfully. "Let us walk into the
garden. There is less confusion there."

Too anxious to decline, Carl followed immediately.

"What have you done to forfeit M>r. Meyer's good
opinion?" was Van Steuben's sober query, when they
found themselves alone.

"Nothing, that I am aware of," said Carl, looking at
his questioner unflinchingly.

"It is very strange. Pardon my directness. Mr.
Meyer came here under an assumed name, with his
chief object, as I gather, that of evading you. While
here, I learned from the attorney who did the work,
he executed a will disinheriting you (who had pre-
viously been his principal legatee) and devising his es-
tate to dharity. And you say you can assign no reason
for these proceedings ?"



A SUGAR PRINCESS. 91

'''Not only do I say that," was the impatient answer,
"but I care nothing about the matter, in itself. Mr.
Meyer has already done more for me than I had any
right to expect; though he had formerly executed a
will in my favor, he did it without consulting me at all.
It was not to talk of his property but of himself tlhat I
accepted Mr. Love joy's offer to present me to you. I
want to find my friend. The mystery is a painful one.
He left St. Louis several months ago, promising to
write often, and I have received but two letter's. If in
either of them he had intimated .that hie wished our
friendship to end, and had given the slightest reason
for such a wish, I would have resigned myself to his
desire. I am sorry to annoy you with this matter,
when you have duties so important tonight, but the
sudden close of years of fatherly kindness puzzles me
beyond expression. I only ask one minute in Mr.


1 2 3 5 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Online LibraryAlbert RossA sugar princess → online text (page 5 of 19)