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قراءة كتاب A Blind Esperantist's Trip to Finland and Sweden, to Attend the Fourteenth International Esperanto Congress

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A Blind Esperantist's Trip to Finland and Sweden, to Attend the Fourteenth International Esperanto Congress

A Blind Esperantist's Trip to Finland and Sweden, to Attend the Fourteenth International Esperanto Congress

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 1

Blind Esperantist’s
Trip to
Finland and Sweden,
to attend
The Fourteenth Esperanto Congress
and after.

By W. Percy Merrick.

On Thursday, August 3rd, my wife and I left Hull on the “Arcturus” with some fifty other Esperantists, including Mr. John Merchant (President), and Mr. Warden (ex-President), of the British Esperanto Association. Until Saturday the sea was smooth, though the weather was dull, and we all ate heartily and chatted and joked in holiday mood. The ship’s company were all Finn’s, and none of them spoke a comprehensible language except the Captain and Purser, who spoke English well. The waitresses were very demure, some of them wearing their hair strained back from the forehead in puritan fashion. The only time they were known to laugh, despite the efforts of the more frivolous members of the party to make them do so, was on the Sunday evening, when one of the tables having been vacated by the diners, a lurch of the ship shot all the crockery on to the floor in a heap of ruins; then they stood round and laughed merrily; here was a real joke!

The meals were served in the Finnish manner: a substantial breakfast at nine; lunch at twelve, and dinner at six began with hors d’œuvres, set out on a special table, from which you chose what you thought you would need before taking your place. There was usually a quantity of pickled fish, cold ham, tongue, sausage, salad, butter, cheese, and several kinds of bread, one of the nicest being the “hard-bread”—half rusk, half biscuit—of which all Scandinavians seem very proud. Then the hot meat, and at dinner, fruit or a large portion of ice was brought to you. Throughout our stay in Finland we could never quite solve the problem as to how much of the hors d’œuvres we ought to appropriate in order to leave the exact amount of accommodation for the dishes that were to follow.

Friday evening we came to the Kiel Canal, and during the night were joined by some German and other Esperantists, among whom were several who were blind; Dr. Bano, from Budapest, Miss Polandova, from Prague, and three or four from Germany. Mr. Stejskal, of Prague, and Mr. Hendricx, of Ghent, both energetic helpers of the blind, saw to their safety and comfort. We much enjoyed long talks with them on the Saturday, when the sun shone brilliantly all day.

Sunday was “a day of rest but not of gladness,” and after breakfast most of us retired to our cabins, the few who did not succumb feeling very proud of themselves. By lunch time some of us were convalescent, but the Esperanto service so elaborately arranged the day before did not take place, as both of the clergymen and most of the congregation had more pressing engagements. But on Monday morning we were all alive again and enjoyed a sunny entry into the beautiful bay of Helsingfors with its many islands, and the town with its fine buildings and churches spread out before us. A large crowd of Esperantists, with flags and cries of welcome, received us on the quay and guided us to our hotels as soon as we had made a purely formal procession through the customs. Here we scored over non-esperantist passengers, who had their baggage searched diligently! Our hotel, the “Fennia,” was most comfortable, with an English-speaking porter. Their big ices after dinner, strewn with raspberries or strawberries and drowned in cream, quite won the hearts of their lady visitors.

Most of the blind congressists were entertained for the whole time gratis, at the blind school, a large stone building with wide corridors and spacious rooms, about a mile from the centre of the town. Although it was holiday time many of the teachers had returned to look after their blind guests; they were exceedingly kind and devoted ladies, and we were heartily sorry they did not speak Esperanto, so that we could have thanked them as they deserved. I spent as much time there as I could,