Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/177

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173
SOUTHERNMOST JAPAN

We went to sleep on short mattresses on the floor, under covers of silk, and so passed one of the last of our nights in Tanegashima. Before leaving this southern end of the island the next day I climbed a high hill and saw the great blue mass of the island Yakushima that rises under a dense cover of old forests over six thousand feet out of the sea not far away. To this island I sailed a few days later, while my brother left me to go back to the north.

It was just at the time when the long expected Russian fleet was gradually crawling toward Japan, and the whole country, ignorant of the fleet's whereabouts and of the route that it might take, and not knowing at what moment it might strike, was calmly and confidently awaiting its arrival. On several different days we had heard occasional distant rumblings that did not sound at all like thunder and did not approach nearer. We thought to ourselves, could that be distant cannonading? But although the noise was probably due to distant thunder storms it added something of awe and doubt to the suspense. Finally the news came, and the intoxicating, unbelievable story of wholesale success was quietly received and at once believed by the people as if it were only what had been expected. A couple of days after the great victory, as I was sailing across the straits to Yaku Island, I saw a Japanese war vessel swooping down the coast of southern Kiushiu, probably in search of any Russian ship that might possibly have escaped. The war, now almost ended, which had been carried on with such assured skill by the Japanese, gave an added significance to the first introduction of firearms and a prophetic truth to the words of Mendez Pinto at the end of the passage quoted above, and to the follow-words with which the priest Monshi summed up his "Teppoki":

After this, throughout the eight provinces, and even in the country districts, every one obtained guns and practised. . . . In the first place Tokiaki got two guns from the foreigners and learned their use. One shot shook all Japan.