There Was A Sprinkling, Too,
Of Alaska And Siberia.
From his windows on Russian Hill one saw always
something strange and suggestive creeping through the mists of the
It would be a South Sea Island brig, bringing in copra, to take out
cottons and idols; a Chinese junk after sharks' livers; an old whaler,
which seemed to drip oil, home from a year of cruising in the Arctic.
Even the tramp windjammers were deep-chested craft, capable of rounding
the Horn or of circumnavigating the globe; and they came in streaked and
picturesque from their long voyaging.
In the orange colored dawn which always comes through the mists of that
bay, the fishing fleet would crawl in under triangular lateen sails; for
the fishermen of San Francisco Bay are all Neapolitans who have brought
their customs and sail with lateen rigs stained an orange brown and
shaped, when the wind fills them, like the ear of a horse.
Along the waterfront the people of these craft met. "The smelting pot of
the races," Stevenson called it; and this was always the city of his
soul. There were black Gilbert Islanders, almost indistinguishable from
negroes; lighter Kanakas from Hawaii or Samoa; Lascars in turbans;
thickset Russian sailors, wild Chinese with unbraided hair; Italian
fishermen in tam o' shanters, loud shirts and blue sashes; Greeks,
Alaska Indians, little bay Spanish-Americans, together with men of all
the European races. These came in and out from among the queer craft, to
lose themselves in the disreputable, tumble-down, but always mysterious
shanties and small saloons.
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