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An Epic In Yellow
by [?]

There was a culminating growth of irritation on board the Merrie Monarch. The Captain was markedly fitful and, to a layman’s eye, unreliable at the helm; the Hon. Skye Terryer was smoking violently, and the Newspaper Correspondent–representing an American syndicate–chewed his cigar in silence.

“Yes,” Gregson, the Member of Parliament, continued, “if I had my way I’d muster every mob of Chinamen in Australia, I’d have one thundering big roundup, and into the Pacific and the Indian Sea they’d go, to the crack of a stock-whip or of something more convincing.” The Hon. Skye Terryer was in agreement with the Squatting Member in the principle of his argument if not in the violence of his remedies. He was a young travelling Englishman; one of that class who are Radicals at twenty, Independents at thirty, and Conservatives at forty. He had not yet reached the intermediate stage. He saw in this madcap Radical Member one of the crude but strong expressions of advanced civilisation. He had the noble ideal of Australia as a land trodden only by the Caucasian. The Correspondent, much to our surprise, had by occasional interjections at the beginning of the discussion showed that he was not antipathetic to Mongolian immigration. The Captain?

“Yes, I’d give ’em Botany Bay, my word!” added the Member as an anti-climax.

The Captain let go the helm with a suddenness which took our breath away, apparently regardless that we were going straight as an arrow on the Island of Pentecost, the shore of which, in its topaz and emerald tints, was pretty enough to look at but not to attack, end on. He pushed both hands down deep into his pockets and squared himself for war.

“Gregson,” he said, “that kind of talk may be good enough for Parliament and for labour meetings, but it is not proper diet for the Merrie Monarch. It’s a kind of political gospel that’s no better than the creed of the Malay who runs amuck. God’s Providence–where would your Port Darwin Country have been without the Chinaman? What would have come to tropical agriculture in North Queensland if it had not been for the same? And what would all your cities do for vegetables to eat and clean shirts to their backs if it was not for the Chinkie? As for their morals, look at the police records of any well-regulated city where they are–well-regulated, mind you, not like San Francisco! I pity the morals of a man and the stupidity of him and the benightedness of him that would drive the Chinaman out at the point of the bayonet or by the crack of a rifle. I pity that man, and–and I wash my hands of him.”

And having said all this with a strong Scotch accent the Captain opportunely turned to his duty and prevented us from trying conclusions with the walls of a precipice, over which fell silver streams of water like giant ropes up which the Naiads might climb to the balmy enclosures where the Dryads dwelt. The beauty of the scene was but a mechanical impression, to be remembered afterward when thousands of miles away, for the American Correspondent now at last lit his cigar and took up the strain.

“Say, the Captain’s right,” he said. “You English are awful prigs and hypocrites, politically; as selfish a lot as you’ll find on the face of the globe. But in this matter of the Chinaman there isn’t any difference between a man from Oregon and one from Sydney, only the Oregonian isn’t a prig and a hypocrite; he’s only a brute, a bragging, hard-handed brute. He got the Chinaman to build his railways–he couldn’t get any other race to do it–same fix as the planter in North Queensland with the Polynesian; and to serve him in pioneer times and open up the country, and when that was done he turns round and says: ‘Out you go, you Chinkie–out you go and out you stay! We’re going to reap this harvest all alone; we’re going to Chicago you clean off the table!’ And Washington, the Home of Freedom and Tammany Tigers, shoves a prohibitive Bill through the Legislature, as Parkes did in Sydney; only Parkes talked a lot of Sunday-school business about the solidarity of the British race, and Australia for the Australians, and all that patter; and the Oregonian showed his dirty palm of selfishness straight out, and didn’t blush either. ‘Give ’em Botany Bay! Give’em the stock-whip and the rifle!’ That’s a nice gospel for the Anglo-Saxon dispensation.”