Arrived yesterday. On the cover of the letter which I mailed from our steamer I had but time to write: "We are coming in; it is like the picture books. Anything that I can add will only be a filling in of detail."
We were in the great bay when I came up on deck in the early morning. The sea was smooth like the brilliant blank paper of the prints; a vast surface of water reflecting the light of the sky as if it were thicker air. Far-off streaks of blue light, like finest washes of the brush, determined distances. Beyond, in a white haze, the square white sails spotted the white horizon and floated above it.
The slackened beat of the engine made a great noise in the quiet waters. Distant high hills of foggy green marked the new land; nearer us, junks of the shapes you know, in violet transparency of shadow, and five or six war-ships and steamers, red and black, or white, looking barbarous and out of place, but still as if they were part of us; and spread all around us a fleet of small boats, manned by rowers standing in robes flapping about them, or tucked in above their waists. There were so many that the crowd looked blue and white—the color of their dresses repeating the sky in prose. Still, the larger part were mostly naked, and their legs and arms and backs made a great novelty to our eyes, accustomed to nothing but our ship, and the enormous space, empty of life, which had surrounded us for days.