Travel Letters: Victoria, Vancouver’s Island, Puget Sound (1886)

MY DEAR MARY, — I hope this Puget Sound sounds as far from Boston to you as it does to me. It has taken a long time to get here, and is my farthest point from home upon this journey. From this after-noon every step is homeward. Already the boat is lying at the wharf and I am writing in the cabin, while there is a racket going on, of the men who are bringing freight on board, and in a few minutes we shall sail for Tacoma and Portland. Lunch is ready on the table, or at least the preparations for lunch, but we must not have any until the steamer gets away. And I am very hungry, for I have been on a long drive over the country for the last three hours, trying to find out what this bit of Her Majesty’s dominions may be like.

I wish you and G. had been with me, for the drive was beautiful, and led to a dry dock at a queer little village, where one of the Queen’s men-of-war was lying, looking very picturesque. The town itself is a big rambling place, with a pretty park outside, which they call Beacon Hill, just as if it were in Boston.

The streets have queer folks, Indians and Chinamen, strolling about, which makes them interesting. There was a curious little Chinese girl, with a long pigtail, who came with us in this boat in charge of an officer who was taking her back to Victoria. She had been stolen from China, brought out to British America, thence smuggled to our dominions, and there a China man had made her marry him, and he was going to sell her again in San Francisco, when the law came to her rescue, and she was going back in great glee, leaving her husband behind her. She was not far from being pretty, and was certainly a very cunning-looking little thing, only fifteen years old, with flowers in her hand and the most comical and clumsy dress you ever saw. We left her at Victoria, and there seems now to be nobody of any interest (here the boat started which accounts for the joggling) except a horrid little boy, who looks out of the window and asks silly questions, for which his mother scolds him. His questions are very silly, but she need not scold him so, for he evidently gets his silliness by direct inheritance from her. I had a beautiful luncheon, rice, salmon, lamb chops, baked beans, and cherry-pie. There is nobody on the boat that I know. Coming up, there was a man from Jamaica Plain, but he left at Seattle, and I saw him no more.

The Sound is very beautiful, with its woody shores and snowy peaks beyond. Mt. Baker at this end and Mt. Tacoma at the other are majestic creatures, quite worthy to keep company with the Alps or Himalayas. I hate to turn back and leave Alaska unseen. That must be gorgeous, and it is so easy to go there from here !

When I get back I will go to town Sundays, and the long weeks between, we will spend in the old house and have a lovely time.

I hope that you are all well and happy as I am, and as anxious to see me as I am to see you. Ever affectionately, P.