Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/230

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222Eva Emery Dye
 

each other "He has a great heart; he must be a prince," said the Japanese. When questioned he told of his home in Oregon, that his father was a great fur trader, pointed out Astoria and the Columbia River on the map, long before Perry ever crossed the seas to "open Japan." McDonald's description of Fort Colville, and of his father's retinue of servants, confirmed them in the opinion that he came of feudal rank, "not less than a samurai of old Japan."

So genial, docile and polite was Ranald, so ready to adopt Japanese dress and manners, that he became a general favorite, and was appointed by the governor of Nagasaki to teach the English language to a class of interpreters, the first school of English ever taught in Japan. Those are the interpreters who later met Commodore Perry and assisted in drawing up the treaties with Japan. Their pictures are given in Commodore Perry's reports. Here learned men and high officials gathered around McDonald, to learn of the outer world and to ask questions about America. "And who," they inquired, "who holds the highest rank in your country?"

Ranald thought a moment and answered, "The people." "What! greater than the President!" exclaimed the astonished Japanese. "Yes, the people are greater than the President."

This story of McDonald was frequently told by Edward Everett Hale when chaplain of the Senate.

After Ranald had been in Japan nearly a year, one day he heard a signal gun, a strange ship was approaching, the United States gunboat "Preble" in search of castaway sailors known to have been stranded on that coast. For the first time Ranald learned that several Americans were immured in the dungeons of Japan for the simple crime of having been wrecked there. All the more his own good fortune appeared remarkable. With those, he, too, was liberated, although it was his earnest desire to remain among his new friends in Japan.

To Commodore Glynn of the "Preble" McDonald gave a report of his adventures. These, published in Washington in