Home -> A. M. Robertson -> Notes by the Way in a Sailor's Life -> Chinese Politeness

Previous Page Home Up One Level Next Page

Chinese Politeness.

Whilst running to Hankow with the steamer "Neimen" I had as sailors Malays. The firemen were seedy boys, or Nubians. The steward was a Goa Portuguese. The servants were Chinese, and the cook a Chinese who claimed to be an American, he having been trained by Captain John Parrott, of San Francisco, "a number one American man," who had taught him to swear quite neatly.

Well, on Christmas Day, 1862, we had a very hard gale and snowstorm, and early in the evening we had to anchor. Then we sat down to dinner, which we hoped to enjoy. There were several passengers on board, and when the soup was served and tasted each looked at the other, and I looked at the steward and asked him what kind of soup it was. He said it was plain soup. I asked why some meat had not been used in its making, and he replied that the cook must have eaten the meat, as he was given plenty.

The cook was sent for, and when he was confronted with the steward he began to use the refined language taught him by Captain Parrott. I ordered the steward to put all the soup back into the tureen. Then I invited the cook to take a seat at the table and consume the soup, which he did. When he had taken it he rose and, bowing most politely, tucked the tureen under his arm like an admiral with his cocked hat, and said, "Excusey, my sir; all hab finishee," and backed out of the saloon most politely.