The hundredth port of Wild Cat's second voyage is described in Chapter 1 of Missee Lee It is an un-named port close to the mainland of China, visited on Wild Cat's second voyage. The harbourmaster here is an old friend of Captain Flint.
Where is it?
- it has a resident Chinese population "...the Chinese women here frighten their babies..." (ML1)
- it is "across" from the China coast, about four day's sailing away (ML1)
- it has a steamship service to Swatow (ML1)
- it has two channels used for departing ships (ML1)
- it is the territory of a naval power, with whom the Harbourmaster personally identifies as "We'd have had gunboats after her long ago..." (ML1)
The harbourmaster's nationality is not entirely clear which is a pity since it would give a good clue to the location of the Hundredth Port.
- he was "thin and brown" (ML1) (these are possibly characteristics of ethnicity, which people did not hesitate to discuss in Ransome's day; on the other hand, maybe he was just 'suntanned' as described in the Japanese version)
- he personally identifies with the world naval power that would threaten Miss Lee: We'd have had gunboats after her... (ML1)
- expresses antipathy toward the Chinese You know these Chinese. Can't get a word out of them (ML1), so he probably isn't Chinese himself.
- uses the expression "our respected ancestors" which is not British idiom, unless intended as irony, and he comes from a country historically threatened by some chap called Bony (...our great grandfathers' nannies used to keep our respected ancestors quiet by telling them Bony would come for them) ("Bony" here could refer to Napoleon Bonaparte) (ML1)
possible Hundredth Port locations
running north to south:
- Korea (Japanese administered in those days)
- Ryukyu islands (Loochoo), (Japanese territory in those days and currently part of modern Japan
- Taiwan (Formosa) (Japanese administered in those days)
- Philippines (which had a heavy US presence)
- Vietnam (French administered in those days)
All of the above had reasonably large populations of Chinese in the 1930s (Formosa being mostly Chinese). See also Wikipedia:Overseas Chinese
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You are standing into danger. This article or section contains conjecture.
- The "naval power" with gunboats is probably Britain, as Olo Lee said the men of the Three Islands were not to take English prisoners to avoid visits by gunboats (ML13). Later Miss Lee learns that the Swallow's father is the Captain of a "Blitish Navy" ship and was previously stationed at Hong Kong. She says to tell no one else especially Wu or the counsellor; if they knew ......(ML16).
- On the other hand, Japan was a growing naval power in the region and was asserting itself as such. Japanese people can be "thin" and "brown" and might use idioms such as "our respected ancestors"... These point to the hundredth harbourmaster being Japanese, and the setting being the islands of Loochoo (now known as Ryukyu or Okinawa Prefecture) or Formosa (now known as Taiwan). Both territories were administered by Japan. Formosa, naturally, had a mostly Chinese population, but a Japanese administrative class which would have included harbourmasters. Loochoo had a long history of links with both Japan and China, thus had significant populations of both Chinese and Japanese. Both Formosa and Loochoo are broadly south-east from China. The Dutch islands and Formosa are mentioned possible places where Wild Cat and her crew might be thought by Mary Walker to have gone to (ML18) while they were actually in the Three Islands with Miss Lee. This could indicate that the crew had not visited Formosa yet when they were shipwrecked; the 100th port would therefore be in Loochoo, quod elat demonstlandum, as Miss Lee would say.
- The hundredth harbourmaster could be Filipino or Spanish-Filipino (and therefore using non-Anglo-Saxon idiom our respected ancestors - being Spanish would make him historically connected with the threat of old Bony), but identifying personally with the US which was a regional naval power based in the Philippines islands.
- see also: Wikipedia:Philippines