A Half Caste and Other Writings
Publication Year: 2002
Published by: University of Illinois Press
Series: The Asian American Experience
Help came from many in compiling these stories and essays. We are grateful to the University of Calgary Library and especially to the Special Collections librarian, Apollonia Steele, for invaluable assistance. We thank the staff members of the Toronto Reference Library for their help in uncovering long-forgotten stories...
The short stories and essays collected here for the first time span the novel-producing years of Onoto Watanna (1875–1954), the first novelist of Asian ancestry to be published in the United States. The earliest, an essay entitled “The Half Caste,” appeared in 1898, a year before the publication of her first novel, Miss Numè: A ,...
Part 1: Short Fiction
A Half Caste
A miscellaneous crowd of men, women and children jostled each other on the wharf, some of them going perilously near the end of it in their eagerness to watch the passengers on the Empress of India, which had just arrived. Norman Hilton stood on deck, his hands thrust deep in his trousers pockets. He seemed in no hurry to leave the boat, but leaned against the guardrail, watching the surging crowd on the wharf beneath. “Shall you go...
After a hard day, spent in going over his new parish and the mission church and school, the pretty, trim little house on the hill, with its sloping roofs and wide balconies, looked refreshing and restful to the Reverend John Redpath. Everything about it was dainty and exquisite. His predecessor was leaving the American chairs, tables, and beds behind, but apart from these it was furnished entirely in Japanese fashion. The Reverend John...
She had just administered her daily scolding to her pupil, and sat watching him with a look of extreme exasperation and hopelessness on her face. “How you egspeg aever speeg Japanese when you nod try. I tell you all the time thad you mus’ nod talk at me lig thad, bud you have so much persist I noto onderstan’ to tich you.” There was almost a sob in the last words. The young man, who...
A little snapping-eyed artist, with a huge pinafore covering her natty shirt waist and short walking skirt, dropped her palette on the ground and turned to the sleepy, lounging camp with an exclamation that startled them. “For all the world, look! Here comes Maude Muller in the flesh!” A young girl of perhaps fourteen or fifteen years climbed the fence which divided the farm lands from...
Eyes that Saw Not
Graytown had put out its lights and retired for the night, with the well-bred decorum of small-towned respectability, when John Swinnerton came home smitten with blindness. Only the station porter saw the little party that met him almost at the door of the Pullman. John’s mother was the first to greet him. “John,” she said, as he stepped off the train—“John, it will be all right. Mrs. Thomas knows a...
Masters sat at his desk. His eyes had wandered past the mass of correspondence, papers and maps before and about him. Half absently he was watching a little rift of white clouds drifting lazily across the turquoise blue of the skies, a great snowflake fallen on a blue sheet of water. Now it drifted slowly toward the west, growing ever smaller and mistier until it melted into the endless glow of the sky...
The Loves of Sakura Jiro and the Three Headed Maid
Sakura Jiro had not been in the country long, nor, indeed, had he attained to that exalted position that he afterward occupied in the regard of fad-seeking society women, fascinated by the serpent of mysticism, when he found himself walking through East Fourteenth street. Nowadays Jiro rarely goes beyond the environs of a certain pretentious hyphenated hostelry, but in those days he had no social position...
Miss Lily and Miss Chrysanthemum: the Love Story of Two Japanese Girls in Chicago
Yuri (which is “Lily” in English) and Kiku (which is “Chrysanthemum”) met in one of the noisy and crowded railway stations in Chicago. They were sisters, half Japanese and half English; but neither could understand one word the other spoke, for Yuri had been taken by her English father, who had been long since dead, from Japan when a little bit of a girl, and had lived most of her life...
The Wrench of Chance
Japan had treated Michael Lenahan well from the first. A fugitive from English justice, he had found a refuge in the sheltering arms of Nagasaki. As a matter of fact, his opponent survived the beating he had received, and so the only crime of which the Irishman was actually guilty was that of desertion from the navy, though a charge of murderous assault hung over his head for a time...
The Manoeuvres of O-yasu-san: the Little Joke on Mrs. Tom and Mr. Middleton
O-Yasu-san’s arrival at her aunt’s hotel caused a sensation. She came, as her new guardian expressed it, in bits. First, her father’s servants brought her baggage, diminutive boxes and trunks, thirty-five in all, for she was modern and very fashionable; then, two austere-looking ladies, who described themselves as chaperons; a governess, bearing the young lady’s books and school mat and stool...
A Neighbor’s Garden, my Own and a Dream One
I have always loved flowers. The wild ones tossing up their bright heads in the fields and woods I have gathered at will and filled my house with. But toward the exquisite darlings which bloom in gardens I have felt as I do to precious jewels which I see set out in a shop window or ablaze on the person of some fortunate lady: they are things I love to look at, but do not own. At least, I have only a few...
Delia dissents: her diary records the end of a great endeavor
We dressed in our best. Miss Claire was after linding me her illygunt camio broach, for ses she shmiling: “If yer’re afther rooning for pressydint you must dress betther than ye’re aponunt. Think of the broach undher ye’re chin, Delia,” ses she, “and ye’ll hold ye’re head hy and horty.” The fuchure mimbers of the yunion began to arrive in boonches. Some of thim came in carruges owned by the family they warked far and who had innersintly...
Elspeth was sixteen years old. She was pretty and temperamental, or, as an unkind friend once described her, “temperish”. Her mother was exactly eighteen years older than Elspeth, and that fact the girl seized upon to “rub in” when the other woman attempted to prohibit the early association with youthful members of the opposite sex. “You’re a nice one to...
Part 2: Nonfiction
The Half Caste
Perhaps one of the most pitiful and undesirable positions in society in Japan is that held by the half breed. I mean the half breed whose blood is a mixture of the Caucasian and Japanese. It is usually the mother who is a Japanese, the father being a foreigner. Born in Japan, and entered on the registers of that country as Japanese citizens, they live strangely isolated both from their mother’s people and...
The Japanese Drama and the Actor
Even in the primitive times singing, dancing, and playing on musical instruments were not uncommon in Japan. The old histories record that verses were sung and musical instruments played on. A variety of Chinese music found its way into Japan in the twentieth reign of the Empress Suiko (612), and continued in favor for two hundred years. It was chiefly used in the Buddhist courts and temples. Mimashi, a native of Corea, became nationalized...
The Marvelous Miniature Trees of Japan: These Curious Effects Are Only Attained after Generations of Patient Toil
Among the many delightful arts and studies of the Japanese none is more strange, unique and ancient than that of their training, cultivating and dwarfing of certain varieties of their flower-bearing trees. They seize upon certain peculiarities of the tree, and emphasize or exaggerate this trait even to the point of caricature. They aim to express delicate meanings which a Western imagination could scarcely grasp; as, for instance, laboriously training certain types of trees...
Every-day Life in Japan
“All waters and women look the same under the light of the moon,” but all nations do not appear the same in the light of civilization. The West speaks of the “heathen” East, and the East with equal contempt calls the Westerner a barbarian. Each complains that the other is uncivilized. It depends on what constitutes civilization. Progression and a certain religion does not necessarily spell it. Convention walks...
The Japanese in America
Ever since the Japanese school trouble in San Francisco became acute I have read with interest and considerable sadness the various published articles and editorials upon the subject. A curious article by a special newspaper correspondent on the Pacific coast, impels me to take up my pen, not as a champion for the Japanese, but in appeal to the fair-minded, right-thinking Americans for ordinary...
Preface to Chinese-Japanese Cook Book
Chinese cooking in recent years has become very popular in America, and certain Japanese dishes are also in high favor. The restaurants are no longer merely the resort of curious idlers, intent upon studying types peculiar to Chinatown, for the Chinese restaurants have pushed their way out of Chinatown and are now found in all parts of the large cities of America. In New York they rub elbows with...