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Hey. Hey, internet.

Guess what time it is?

You can catch up on the most dreadful children’s science fiction of 1903 in previous threads here:
I suggest you fortify yourself with strong drink, though, because hoo boy, the elephant has reached Japan and things are going to be racist and awful and racist.
All right. This is Chapter Twelve: Japan And Its Queer People.

Honestly, I really wish this was the later version of queer. That would be a much better book.
Harold and Ione, having just fled an active volcano, meander toward Tokyo like a cut-rate Caucasian Godzilla. Harold realizes that because of all the fishing boats, he must submerge the elephant and come ashore by stealth.
Harold comes ashore at night by stealth, and—ok, I hesitate to call this the elephant in the room, but the author uses the word “Japs” and however socially acceptable that might have been in 1903, it is like getting jabbed with a pin here in the Century of the Anchovy.
Anyway, the elephant comes aboard by night and is seen by the locals, who are like “holy crap, monster.” They approach the elephant, trying to stay hidden, and Captain Oblivious blows the whole “stealth” thing by turning on the search light.
The locals, according to the narrator, believe this beam of light is Buddha, who is angered by their misdeeds and has come to destroy them.

...yeah, just gonna let that one sit there. Rum, you will be my friend tonight.
Everybody runs and they send runners to the emperor to inform him that there’s a god-elephant on the loose.

Harold, meanwhile, decides he cannot possibly keep the elephant hidden while touring Japan.
“He finally made up his mind, however, that if he had to scare all the people on the island to death, he would not leave his beloved elephant behind.”

Is anyone surprised? Anyone?
Ione makes a list of all the things the Japanese “do backwards from America”, which includes day and night, as if the rotation of the earth were a quaint cultural artifact. I am fixating on this because otherwise the screaming.
She gets down to details of socks and bathing precedence. How did she observe this from inside a rampaging elephant?
They approach Tokyo, to the tune of Chapter 13. Harold traumatizes some pedestrians. “I don’t see why he should be so frightened at a mild-looking elephant walking down the road,” says Harold, ignoring all the times he has deliberately panicked people with his elephant.
Two ladies in a cart have been overset and injured. Ione gets out to help them, and one is all “Oh, AMERICANS.”

Possibly this is the only realistic depiction of any other culture in the book.
Woman’s just like “Oh, yeah, ok, metal elephant roaming around freaking people out, of course it has Americans in it. Right. Don’t know why I would have thought otherwise.”
She speaks a little English and they take her inside the elephant with her injured friend, who has fainted, and patch up the injured friend’s head. The translator is Miss Cherry Blossom because of course she is.
Miss Cherry Blossom invites them to stay with her father, who would be happy to meet two none-too-bright Americans with a metal elephant. Her father, once he gets over the intrinsic weirdness of the elephant situation, is thrilled.
They stay for a week, tour the sites, go shopping, and Ione makes a few more diary entries. She does not know how they are going to fit all these sandalwood boxes and pet parrots in the elephant.
The rest of the chapter is just shopping and neat stuff they have acquired and gifts they are giving to their hosts. I mean, it’s nice they aren’t causing a stampede for once, and they want their hosts to visit them in America, so yay!
Without ever addressing where they are storing all the souvenirs—under the couch, I guess—they head off to China, which brings us to Chapter Fifteen: How Harold And Ione Saw The Emperor Of China.
They head into Peking, where for once, there are so many people and animals that nobody notices a random elephant on the road. They have a lot of rude things to say about Peking, which apparently has no sewers or street lights.
Anyway, after some snide comments—which, given that I still don’t know where they’re crapping in the elephant seem a little hypocritical!—they wander toward the Forbidden City, which has been closed off.
Nobody is allowed to look on the emperor, supposedly, and he is moving between palaces. “Great!” says Harold. “No one will notice an inoffensive elephant standing around.”
The Emperor comes by on his elephant. The two elephants make friends. Harold sneaks into the Forbidden City and is determined to see the sights, because Harold does not respect other people’s privacy.
Ione points out that the elephant won’t fit in the palace and also the immediate death thing. Harold says they’ll put on two suits of armor and go inside.

I...I just...two full suits of armor?! I mean, I make elephant of holding jokes but TWO SUITS OF FULL PLATE?!
I need tequila. Talk amongst yourselves.
Ione has grave doubts and says she will fall over herself, and also that she couldn’t use a sword on another human being, even if they were Chinese, which...uh...yeah, Ione, that’s...real enlightened of you.
Harold tells her she will look “splendid and quite manlike” in the armor, and that everyone will run away when two knight come tromping out of the elephant.
They put Harold’s amazingly stupid plan into action and charge out of the elephant. People panic and run. They go through the palace sightseeing and admiring the decor while people freak out.
This bit is SO WEIRD. I mean, it reads so strangely, they’re “admiring the beautiful things they saw” like the place is a museum while there’s screaming people fleeing from them.
It’s not even the profound lack of empathy, it’s the sheer blatant colonialism on display. Like, most books hide it better!
Anyway. After panicking the Emperor’s wives, Ione says she’s seen enough and wants to go back to the elephant. But now they’re lost and they’re hearing the guards coming. Harold is itching for a fight, but Ione is not skilled at the whole sword and plate mail combat thing.
They’re running away, but there is a very beautiful garden. High points of garden duly noted, they reach a wall with a gate that is barred. But there’s a ditch filled with water!
Harold tells Ione to throw away her sword, dive and swim for it.

Yes, in full plate.

Yes, I know.
They get back to the elephant. The guards, which the narrator keeps describing as a “howling mob” because screw you, Montgomery, are foiled. Showing more restraint than usual, Harold does not electrocute everyone, merely runs off trumpeting.
“That was close,” says Ione. Harold moralizes about how if they’d been captured, they would have been tortured, and no nation can call itself civilized that tortures people.

Yeah, same guy who murdered all those people. I know.
Another chapter. They steal a brick from the Great Wall of China and put it...I guess under the couch.
Then they decide to go into “Tartary” and see the tribes there. Harold begins enthusiastically recounting all the tortures he’s heard of, until Ione tells him to stop.

Between that and the brick, we burned another chapter, and I think I’ll call it. Tequila and patience run low.
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