Music Of The Waters - online book

Sailors' Chanties, Songs Of The Sea, Boatmen's, Fishermen's,
Rowing Songs, & Water Legends with lyrics & sheet music

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186              Music of the Waters.
To my utter amazement one of the Mexicans here burst in with,—
"Ya, ya! Missie have white hair!" (my hair being a light brown).
They all three laughed at this speech ; the suddenness of the man's breaking into English when I had supposed him utterly ignorant of it prevented me answering, and the next minute they surrounded me with more cries for money; this time the Mexicans joining in this " Back­sheesh " chorus. They became so uproarious in their demands, that I was obliged to ring for some one to help me to silence and be rid of them.
But this, as I before said, was quite an exception ; as a rule, I had nothing whatever to complain of in the manners of any of my sailor-visitors. Sometimes the quaintest remarks and most droll compliments would slip out, and I have often had to refrain from smiling at the strangeness of attire some of them—such, for instance, as the Japanese— adopted ; doubtless out of compliment to the English lady they came to see. I. had often heard of the custom of oiling the face amongst semi-barbarous people, but I never expected to have this extra addition to the toilette made for my benefit, but I have even had that honour, and must admit I prefer good wholesome soap and water to the greasy compound employed in the ablutions of some of my visitors.
In a volume of the Cornhill Magazine (xlv. 1882) there is a charming description of the Venetian boatmen given in an article by Mr. J. A. Symonds, entitled "A Gondo­lier's Wedding." Mr. Symonds writes as one who is inti­mately acquainted with them, and refers several times during his account of the wedding festivities to the gondoliers' singing—" The great business of the evening began when the eating was over, and the decanters filled with new wine of Mirano circulated freely. . ." Antonio, who is a powerful young fellow, with bronzed cheeks and a perfect tempest of coal-black hair in flakes upon his

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