Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Da is Lap or Finnish; and Dana Da was neither Finn, Chin, Bhil...

When it was in thorough working order, with all the machinery down to the subscriptions complete, Dana Da came from nowhere, with nothing in his hands, and wrote a chapter in its history which has hitherto been unpublished. He said that his first name was Dana, and his second was Da. Now, setting aside Dana of the New York Sun, Dana is a Bhil name, and Da fits no native of India unless you accept the Bengali Dé as the original spelling. Da is Lap or Finnish; and Dana Da was neither Finn, Chin, Bhil, Bengali, Lap, Nair, Gond, Romaney, Magh, Bokhariot, Kurd, Armenian, Levantine, Jew, Persian, Punjabi, Madrasi, Parsee, nor anything else known to ethnologists. He was simply Dana Da, and declined to give further information. For the sake of brevity, and as roughly indicating his origin, he was called "The Native." He might have been the original Old Man of the Mountains, who is said to be the only authorized head of the Teacup Creed. Some people said that he was; but Dana Da used to smile and deny any connection with the cult; explaining that he was an "independent experimenter."

As I have said, he came from nowhere, with his hands behind his back, and studied the creed for three weeks; sitting at the feet of those best competent to explain its mysteries. Then he laughed aloud and went away, but the laugh might have been either of devotion or derision.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A third from the Finland provinces

It has been already said that Russians of all conditions had found a place on the raft. Indeed, to the poor moujiks, the women, old men, and children, were joined two or three pilgrims, surprised on their journey by the invasion; a few monks, and a priest. The pilgrims carried a staff, a gourd hung at the belt, and they chanted psalms in a plaintive voice: one came from the Ukraine, another from the Yellow sea, and a third from the Finland provinces. This last, who was an aged man, carried at his waist a little padlocked collecting-box, as if it had been hung at a church door. Of all that he collected during his long and fatiguing pilgrimage, nothing was for himself; he did not even possess the key of the box, which would only be opened on his return.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Finlander, Olaf Neilsen

When they reached the beach the wagon track led through a hedge of barberry bushes to a shed covered with pine boughs at the back of the fisherman's house.

The fisherman himself came out to help them with the horses. He was a Finlander, Olaf Neilsen, who kept boats in summer, fished, and tended two buoy lights at the river entrance for a living. His hut stood on a point, with the sandy beach of the bay in front of it, and the steeper bank where the river ran on the left. All the time the water was rushing out, out, out of the river and creeping down on the sand to make low tide.

The children did not know it then, but they were to spend many happy days on this beach, in company with their uncle and Olaf, during the next two years.

Mabel Osgood Wright and Elliott Coues: Citizen Bird