The general steamship agency on The Bund was a hive of bustling travelers, their faces alight with the eagerness with which they desired to be gone their many ways up and down the world. A stranger might have imagined that most of Yokohama's European or "white" population had been possessed of a sudden desire to flee beyond the seas.
It was a scene common enough, however, for that season in the gateways of the Far East. Spring, with its heart call to distant homelands, had come again to break the spell of the Orient for many and to stir an unutterable longing in the breasts of others—the men and women who dream always of the day they will "go back," but who never do.
The crowd was a conglomerate, as crowds go, and not lacking in picturesque touches—here where a Chinese of mandarin rank went with a silky retinue; there where a pair of turbaned Sikhs stood near two begoggled Korean priests, muttering in gutturals over their tickets for the South. The placidity and impenetrable calm of these few Oriental faces served but to accentuate the mobile expressiveness of the dominant Caucasian countenance.
Still there was one white man whose features betrayed no expression of interest in the scene. He stood head and shoulders over those around him in a line of applicants at a booking desk toward the rear. There was an air of detachment about him. Apparently he was untouched of the spirit of mystic restlessness and excitement which pervaded the place—that resistless, undeniable spirit which takes hold of even the most unimaginative and lackadaisical in railway depots or wherever else men in numbers set out upon journeys. There was no gleam of the homeward-bounder in his eye—that gleam which is more like the light of love than anything else; there was no expectancy; no sign of eagerness.