Infomotions, Inc.Across China on Foot / Dingle, Edwin John, 1881-1972



Author: Dingle, Edwin John, 1881-1972
Title: Across China on Foot
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): yuen; chinese; china
Contributor(s): Marriage, Ellen [Translator]
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Title: Across China on Foot

Author: Edwin Dingle

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ACROSS CHINA ON FOOT

_By_

EDWIN JOHN DINGLE

1911


IN GRATEFUL ESTEEM

DURING MY TRAVELS IN INTERIOR CHINA I ONCE
LAY AT THE POINT OF DEATH. FOR THEIR UNREMITTING
KINDNESS DURING A LONG ILLNESS, I
NOW AFFECTIONATELY INSCRIBE THIS VOLUME TO
MY FRIENDS, MR. AND MRS. A. EVANS, OF TONG-CH'UAN-FU,
YUeN-NAN, SOUTH-WEST CHINA, TO
WHOSE DEVOTED NURSING AND UNTIRING CARE
I OWE MY LIFE.



CONTENTS

BOOK I.

FROM THE STRAITS TO SHANGHAI--INTRODUCTORY

FIRST JOURNEY.

    CHAPTER I.   FROM SHANGHAI UP THE LOWER YANGTZE TO ICHANG

SECOND JOURNEY--ICHANG TO CHUNG-KING THROUGH THE YANGTZE GORGES.

    CHAPTER II.   THE ICHANG GORGE
    CHAPTER III.  THE YANGTZE RAPIDS
    CHAPTER IV.   THE YEH T'AN RAPID. ARRIVAL AT KWEIEU

THIRD JOURNEY--CHUNG-KING TO SUI-FU (VIA LUCHOW).

    CHAPTER  V.   BEGINNING OF THE OVERLAND JOURNEY
    CHAPTER  VI.  THE PEOPLE OF SZECH'WAN

FOURTH JOURNEY--SUI-FU TO CHAO-T'ONG-FU (VIA LAO-WA-T'AN).

    CHAPTER  VII.  DESCRIPTION OF JOURNEY FROM SUI-FU
    CHAPTER  VIII. SZECH'WAN AND YUeN-NAN

THE CHAO-T'ONG REBELLION OF 1910.

    CHAPTER  IX.

THE TRIBES OF NORTH-EAST YUeN-NAN, AND MISSION WORK AMONG THEM.

    CHAPTER  X.

FIFTH JOURNEY--CHAO-T'ONG-FU TO TONG-CH'UAN-FU.

    CHAPTER  XI.   AUTHOR MEETS WITH ACCIDENT
    CHAPTER  XII.  YUeN-NAN'S CHECKERED CAREER. ILLNESS OF AUTHOR

BOOK II.

FIRST JOURNEY--TONG-CH'UAN-FU TO THE CAPITAL.

    CHAPTER  XIII. DEPARTURE FOR BURMA.  DISCOMFORTS OF TRAVEL
    CHAPTER  XIV.  YUeN-NAN-FU, THE CAPITAL

SECOND JOURNEY--YUeN-NAN-FU TO TALI-FU (VIA CH'U-HSIONG-FU).

    CHAPTER  XV.  DOES CHINA WANT THE FOREIGNER?
    CHAPTER  XVI. LU-FENG-HSIEN. MOUNTAINOUS COUNTRY. CHINESE
                    UNTRUTHFULNESS
    CHAPTER  XVII. KWANG-TUNG-HSIEN TO SHACHIAO-KA
    CHAPTER  XVIII. STORM IN THE MOUNTAINS. AT HUNGAY
    CHAPTER  XIX. THE REFORM MOVEMENT IN YUeN-NAN. ARRIVAL AT
                    TALI-FU

THIRD JOURNEY--TALI-FU TO THE MEKONG VALLEY.

    CHAPTER  XX. HARDEST PART OF THE JOURNEY.HWAN-LIEN-P'U
    CHAPTER  XXI. THE MOUNTAINS OF YUeN-NAN. SHAYUNG. OPIUM
                    SMOKING

FOURTH JOURNEY--THE MEKONG VALLEY TO TENGYUEH.

    CHAPTER  XXII. THE RIVER MEKONG
    CHAPTER  XXIII. THROUGH THE SALWEN VALLEY TO TENGYUEH
    CHAPTER  XXIV. THE LI-SU TRIBE OF THE SALWEN VALLEY

FIFTH JOURNEY--TENGYUEH (MOMIEN) TO BHAMO IN UPPER BURMA.

    CHAPTER  XXV. SHANS AND KACHINS
    CHAPTER  XXVI. END OF LONG JOURNEY. ARRIVAL IN BURMA



_To travel in China is easy. To walk across China, over roads
acknowledgedly worse than are met with in any civilized country in the
two hemispheres, and having accommodation unequalled for crudeness and
insanitation, is not easy. In deciding to travel in China, I determined
to cross overland from the head of the Yangtze Gorges to British Burma
on foot; and, although the strain nearly cost me my life, no conveyance
was used in any part of my journey other than at two points described in
the course of the narrative. For several days during my travels I lay at
the point of death. The arduousness of constant mountaineering_--_for
such is ordinary travel in most parts of Western China_--_laid the
foundation of a long illness, rendering it impossible for me to continue
my walking, and as a consequence I resided in the interior of China
during a period of convalescence of several months duration, at the end
of which I continued my cross-country tramp. Subsequently I returned
into Yuen-nan from Burma, lived again in Tong-ch'uan-fu and
Chao-t'ong-fu, and traveled in the wilds of the surrounding country.
Whilst traveling I lived on Chinese food, and in the Miao country, where
rice could not be got, subsisted for many days on maize only.

My sole object in going to China was a personal desire to see China from
the inside. My trip was undertaken for no other purpose. I carried no
instruments (with the exception of an aneroid), and did not even make a
single survey of the untrodden country through which I occasionally
passed. So far as I know, I am the only traveler, apart from members of
the missionary community, who has ever resided far away in the interior
of the Celestial Empire for so long a time.

Most of the manuscript for this book was written as I went along>--a
good deal of it actually by the roadside in rural China. When my journey
was completed, the following news paragraph in the North China Daily
News (of Shanghai) was brought to my notice:--

     "All the Legations (at Peking) have received anonymous letters from
     alleged revolutionaries in Shanghai, containing the warning that an
     extensive anti-dynastic uprising is imminent. If they do not assist
     the Manchus, foreigners will not be harmed; otherwise, they will be
     destroyed in a general massacre.

     "The missives were delivered mysteriously, bearing obliterated
     postmarks.

     "In view of the recent similar warnings received by the Consuls,
     uneasiness has been created."

The above appeared in the journal quoted on June 3rd, 1910. The reader,
in perusing my previously written remarks on the spirit of reform and
how far it has penetrated into the innermost corners of the empire,
should bear this paragraph in mind, for there is more Boxerism and
unrest in China than we know of. My account of the Hankow riots of
January, 1911, through which I myself went, will, with my experience of
rebellions in Yuen-nan, justify my assertion.

I should like to thank all those missionaries who entertained me as I
proceeded through China, especially Mr. John Graham and Mr. C.A.
Fleischmann, of the China Inland Mission, who transacted a good deal of
business for me and took all trouble uncomplainingly. I am also indebted
to Dr. Clark, of Tali-fu, and to the Revs. H. Parsons and S. Pollard,
for several photographs illustrating that section of this book dealing
with the tribes of Yuen-nan.

I wish to express my acknowledgments to several well-known writers on
far Eastern topics, notably to Dr. G.E. Morrison, of Peking, the Rev.
Sidney L. Hulick, M.A., D.D., and Mr. H.B. Morse, whose works are
quoted. Much information was also gleaned from other sources.

My thanks are due also to Mr. W. Brayton Slater and to my brother, Mr.
W.R. Dingle, for their kindness in having negotiated with my publishers
in my absence in Inland China; and to the latter, for unfailing courtesy
and patience, I am under considerable obligation. "Across China on Foot"
would have appeared in the autumn of 1910 had the printers' proofs,
which were several times sent to me to different addresses in China, but
which dodged me repeatedly, come sooner to hand_.

[Signature: Edwin Dingle]

HANKOW, HUPEH, CHINA.




Across China on Foot

_From the Straits to Shanghai_




INTRODUCTORY

_The scheme_. _Why I am walking across Interior China_. _Leaving
Singapore_. _Ignorance of life and travel in China_. _The "China for the
Chinese" cry_. _The New China and the determination of the Government_.
_The voice of the people_. _The province of Yuen-nan and the forward
movement_. _A prophecy_. _Impressions of Saigon_. _Comparison of French
and English methods_. _At Hong-Kong_. _Cold sail up the Whang-poo_.
_Disembarkation_. _Foreign population of Shanghai_. _Congestion in the
city_. _Wonderful Shanghai._


Through China from end to end. From Shanghai, 1,500 miles by river and
1,600 miles walking overland, from the greatest port of the Chinese
Empire to the frontier of British Burma.

That is my scheme.

       *       *       *       *       *

I am a journalist, one of the army of the hard-worked who go down early
to the Valley. I state this because I would that the truth be told; for
whilst engaged in the project with which this book has mainly to deal I
was subjected to peculiar designations, such as "explorer" and other
newspaper extravagances, and it were well, perhaps, for my reader to
know once for all that the writer is merely a newspaper man, at the time
on holiday.

The rather extreme idea of walking across this Flowery Land came to me
early in the year 1909, although for many years I had cherished the hope
of seeing Interior China ere modernity had robbed her and her wonderful
people of their isolation and antediluvianism, and ever since childhood
my interest in China has always been considerable. A little prior to the
Chinese New Year, a friend of mine dined with me at my rooms in
Singapore, in the Straits Settlements, and the conversation about China
resulted in our decision then and there to travel through the Empire on
holiday. He, because at the time he had little else to do; the author,
because he thought that a few months' travel in mid-China would, from a
journalistic standpoint, be passed profitably, the intention being to
arrive home in dear old England late in the summer of the same year.

We agreed to cross China on foot, and accordingly on February 22, 1909,
just as the sun was sinking over the beautiful harbor of Singapore--that
most valuable strategic Gate of the Far East, where Crown Colonial
administration, however, is allowed by a lethargic British Government to
become more and more bungled every year--we settled down on board the
French mail steamer _Nera_, bound for Shanghai. My friends, good
fellows, in reluctantly speeding me on my way, prophesied that this
would prove to be my last long voyage to a last long rest, that the
Chinese would never allow me to come out of China alive. Such is the
ignorance of the average man concerning the conditions of life and
travel in the interior of this Land of Night.

Here, then, was I on my way to that land towards which all the world was
straining its eyes, whose nation, above all nations of the earth, was
altering for better things, and coming out of its historic shell.
"Reform, reform, reform," was the echo, and I myself was on the way to
hear it.

At the time I started for China the cry of "China for the Chinese" was
heard in all countries, among all peoples. Statesmen were startled by
it, editors wrote the phrase to death, magazines were filled with
copy--good, bad and indifferent--mostly written, be it said, by men
whose knowledge of the question was by no means complete: editorial
opinion, and contradiction of that opinion, were printed side by side in
journals having a good name. To one who endeavored actually to
understand what was being done, and whither these broad tendencies and
strange cravings of the Chinese were leading a people who formerly were
so indifferent to progress, it seemed essential that he should go to the
country, and there on the spot make a study of the problem.

Was the reform, if genuine at all, universal in China? Did it reach to
the ends of the Empire?

That a New China had come into being, and was working astounding results
in the enlightened provinces above the Yangtze and those connected with
the capital by railway, was common knowledge; but one found it hard to
believe that the west and the south-west of the empire were moved by the
same spirit of Europeanism, and it will be seen that China in the west
moves, if at all, but at a snail's pace: the second part of this volume
deals with that portion of the subject.

And it may be that the New China, as we know it in the more forward
spheres of activity, will only take her proper place in the family of
nations after fresh upheavals. Rivers of blood may yet have to flow as a
sickening libation to the gods who have guided the nation for forty
centuries before she will be able to attain her ambition of standing
line to line with the other powers of the eastern and western worlds.
But it seems that no matter what the cost, no matter what she may have
to suffer financially and nationally, no matter how great the obstinacy
of the people towards the reform movement, the change is coming, has
already come with alarming rapidity, and has come to stay. China is
changing--let so much be granted; and although the movement may be
hampered by a thousand general difficulties, presented by the ancient
civilization of a people whose customs and manners and ideas have stood
the test of time since the days contemporary with those of Solomon, and
at one time bade fair to test eternity, the Government cry of "China for
the Chinese" is going to win. Chinese civilization has for ages been
allowed to get into a very bad state of repair, and official corruption
and deceit have prevented the Government from making an effectual move
towards present-day aims; but that she is now making an honest endeavor
to rectify her faults in the face of tremendous odds must, so it appears
to the writer, be apparent to all beholders. That is the Government
view-point. It is important to note this.

In China, however, the Government is not the people. It never has been.
It is not to be expected that great political and social reforms can be
introduced into such an enormous country as China, and among her four
hundred and thirty millions of people, merely by the issue of a few
imperial edicts. The masses have to be convinced that any given thing is
for the public good before they accept, despite the proclamations, and
in thus convincing her own people China has yet to go through the fire
of a terrible ordeal. Especially will this be seen in the second part of
this volume, where in Yuen-nan there are huge areas absolutely untouched
by the forward movement, and where the people are living the same life
of disease, distress and dirt, of official, social, and moral
degradation as they lived when the Westerner remained still in the
primeval forest stage. But despite the scepticism and the cynicism of
certain writers, whose pessimism is due to a lack of foresight, and
despite the fact that she is being constantly accused of having in the
past ignominiously failed at the crucial moment in endeavors towards
minor reforms, I am one of those who believe that in China we shall see
arising a Government whose power will be paramount in the East, and upon
the integrity of whose people will depend the peace of Europe. It is
much to say. We shall not see it, but our children will. The Government
is going to conquer the people. She has done so already in certain
provinces, and in a few years the reform--deep and real, not the
make-believe we see in many parts of the Empire to-day--will be
universal.

       *       *       *       *       *

Between Singapore and Shanghai the opportunity occurred of calling at
Saigon and Hong-Kong, two cities offering instructive contrasts of
French and British administration in the Far East.

Saigon is not troubled much by the Britisher. The nationally-exacting
Frenchman has brought it to represent fairly his loved Paris in the
East. The approach to the city, through the dirty brown mud of the
treacherous Mekong, which is swept down vigorously to the China sea
between stretches of monotonous mangrove, with no habitation of man
anywhere visible, is distinctly unpicturesque; but Saigon itself, apart
from the exorbitance of the charges (especially so to the spendthrift
Englishman), is worth the dreary journey of numberless twists and quick
turns up-river, annoying to the most patient pilot.

In the daytime, Saigon is as hot as that last bourne whither all
evil-doers wander--Englishmen and dogs alone are seen abroad between
nine and one. But in the soothing cool of the soft tropical evening,
gay-lit boulevards, a magnificent State-subsidized opera-house, alfresco
cafes where dawdle the domino-playing absinthe drinkers, the
fierce-moustached gendarmes, and innumerable features typically and
picturesquely French, induced me easily to believe myself back in the
bewildering whirl of the Boulevard des Capucines or des Italiennes.
Whether the narrow streets of the native city are clean or dirty,
whether garbage heaps lie festering in the broiling sun, sending their
disgusting effluvia out to annoy the sense of smell at every turn, the
municipality cares not a little bit. Indifference to the well-being of
the native pervades it; there is present no progressive prosperity.
Every second person I met was, or seemed to be, a Government official.
He was dressed in immaculate white clothes of the typical ugly French
cut, trimmed elaborately with an _ad libitum_ decoration of gold braid
and brass buttons. All was so different from Singapore and Hong-Kong,
and one did not feel, in surroundings which made strongly for the
_laissez-faire_ of the Frenchman in the East, ashamed of the fact that
he was an Englishman.

Three days north lies Hong-Kong, an all-important link in the armed
chain of Britain's empire east of Suez, bone of the bone and flesh of
the flesh of Great Britain beyond the seas. The history of this island,
ceded to us in 1842 by the Treaty of Nanking, is known to everyone in
Europe, or should be.

Four and a half days more, and we anchored at Woo-sung; and a few hours
later, after a terribly cold run up the river in the teeth of a terrific
wind, we arrived at Shanghai.

The average man in Europe and America does not know that this great
metropolis of the Far East is far removed from salt water, and that it
is the first point on entering the Yangtze-kiang at which a port could
be established. It is twelve miles up the Whang-poo. Junks whirled past
with curious tattered brown sails, resembling dilapidated verandah
blinds, merchantmen were there flying the flags of the nations of the
world, all churning up the yellow stream as they hurried to catch the
flood-tide at the bar. Then came the din of disembarkation. Enthusiastic
hotel-runners, hard-worked coolies, rickshaw men, professional Chinese
beggars, and the inevitable hangers-on of a large eastern city crowded
around me to turn an honest or dishonest penny. Some rude, rough-hewn
lout, covered with grease and coal-dust, pushed bang against me and
hurled me without ceremony from his path. My baggage, meantime, was
thrown onto a two-wheeled van, drawn by four of those poor human beasts
of burden--how horrible to have been born a Chinese coolie!--and I was
whirled away to my hotel for tucker. The French mail had given us coffee
and rolls at six, but the excitement of landing at a foreign port does
not usually produce the net amount of satisfaction to or make for the
sustenance of the inner man of the phlegmatic Englishman, as with the
wilder-natured Frenchman. Therefore were our spirits ruffled.

However, my companion and I fed later.

Subsequently to this we agreed not to be drawn to the clubs or mix in
the social life of Shanghai, but to consider ourselves as two beings
entirely apart from the sixteen thousand and twenty-three Britishers,
Americans, Frenchmen, Germans, Russians, Danes, Portuguese, and other
sundry internationals at that moment at Shanghai. They lived there: we
were soon to leave.

The city was suffering from the abnormal congestion common to the
Orient, with a big dash of the West. Trams, motors, rickshaws, the
peculiar Chinese wheelbarrow, horrid public shaky landaus in miniature,
conveyances of all kinds, and the swarming masses of coolie humanity
carrying or hauling merchandise amid incessant jabbering, yelling, and
vociferating, made intense bewilderment before breakfast.

Wonderful Shanghai!




FIRST JOURNEY

FROM SHANGHAI UP THE LOWER YANGTZE TO ICHANG




CHAPTER I.

_To Ichang, an everyday trip_. _Start from Shanghai, and the city's
appearance_. _At Hankow_. _Meaning of the name_. _Trio of strategic and
military points of the empire_. _Han-yang and Wu-ch'ang_. _Commercial and
industrial future of Hankow_. _Getting our passports_. _Britishers in the
city_. _The commercial Chinaman_. _The native city: some impressions_.
_Clothing of the people_. _Cotton and wool_. _Indifference to comfort_.
_Surprise at our daring project_. _At Ichang_. _British gunboat and early
morning routine_. _Our vain quest for aid_. _Laying in stores and
commissioning our boat_. _Ceremonies at starting gorges trip_. _Raising
anchor, and our departure_.


Let no one who has been so far as Ichang, a thousand miles from the sea,
imagine that he has been into the interior of China.

It is quite an everyday trip. Modern steamers, with every modern
convenience and luxury, probably as comfortable as any river steamers in
the world, ply regularly in their two services between Shanghai and this
port, at the foot of the Gorges.

The Whang-poo looked like the Thames, and the Shanghai Bund like the
Embankment, when I embarked on board a Jap boat _en route_ for Hankow,
and thence to Ichang by a smaller steamer, on a dark, bitterly cold
Saturday night, March 6th, 1909. I was to travel fifteen hundred miles
up that greatest artery of China. The Yangtze surpasses in importance to
the Celestial Empire what the Mississippi is to America, and yet even
in China there are thousands of resident foreigners who know no more
about this great river than the average Smithfield butcher. Ask ten men
in Fleet Street or in Wall Street where Ichang is, and nine will be
unable to tell you. Yet it is a port of great importance, when one
considers that the handling of China's vast river-borne trade has been
opened to foreign trade and residence since the Chefoo Convention was
signed in 1876, that Ichang is a city of forty thousand souls, and has a
gross total of imports of nearly forty millions of taels.

Of Hankow, however, more is known. Here we landed after a four days'
run, and, owing to the low water, had to wait five days before the
shallower-bottomed steamer for the higher journey had come in. The city
is made up of foreign concessions, as in other treaty ports, but away in
the native quarter there is the real China, with her selfish rush, her
squalidness and filth among the teeming thousands. There dwell together,
literally side by side, but yet eternally apart, all the conflicting
elements of the East and West which go to make up a city in the Far
East, and particularly the China coast.

Hankow means literally Han Mouth, being situated at the juncture of the
Han River and the Yangtze. Across the way, as I write, I can see
Han-yang, with its iron works belching out black curls of smoke, where
the arsenal turns out one hundred Mauser rifles daily. (This is but a
fraction of the total work done.) It is, I believe, the only
steel-rolling mill in China. Long before the foreigner set foot so far
up the Yangtze, Hankow was a city of great importance--the Chinese used
to call it the centre of the world. Ten years ago I should have been
thirty days' hard travel from Peking; at the present moment I might
pack my bag and be in Peking within thirty-six hours. Hankow, with
Tientsin and Nanking, makes up the trio of principal strategic points of
the Empire, the trio of centers also of greatest military activity. On
the opposite bank of the river I can see Wu-ch'ang, the provincial
capital, the seat of the Viceroyalty of two of the most turbulent and
important provinces of the whole eighteen.

Hankow, Han-yang, and Wu-ch'ang have a population of something like two
million people, and it is safe to prophesy that no other centre in the
whole world has a greater commercial and industrial future than Hankow.

Here we registered as British subjects, and secured our Chinese
passports, resembling naval ensigns more than anything else, for the
four provinces of Hu-peh, Kwei-chow, Szech'wan, and Yuen-nan. The
Consul-General and his assistants helped us in many ways, disillusioning
us of the many distorted reports which have got into print regarding the
indifference shown to British travelers by their own consuls at these
ports. We found the brethren at the Hankow Club a happy band, with every
luxury around them for which hand and heart could wish; so that it were
perhaps ludicrous to look upon them as exiles, men out in the outposts
of Britain beyond the seas, building up the trade of the Empire. Yet
such they undoubtedly were, most of them having a much better time than
they would at home. There is not the roughing required in Hankow which
is necessary in other parts of the empire, as in British East Africa and
in the jungles of the Federated Malay States, for instance. Building the
Empire where there is an abundance of the straw wherewith to make the
bricks, is a matter of no difficulty.

And then the Chinese is a good man to manage in trade, and in business
dealings his word is his bond, generally speaking, although we do not
forget that not long ago a branch in North China of the Hong-kong and
Shanghai Bank was swindled seriously by a shroff who had done honest
duty for a great number of years. It cannot, however, be said that such
behavior is a common thing among the commercial class. My personal
experience has been that John does what he says he will do, and for
years he will go on doing that one thing; but it should not surprise you
if one fine morning, with the infinite sagacity of his race, he ceases
to do this when you are least expecting it--and he "does" you. Keep an
eye on him, and the Chinese to be found in Hankow having dealings with
Europeans in business is as good as the best of men.

We wended our way one morning into the native city, and agreed that few
inconveniences of the Celestial Empire make upon the western mind a more
speedy impression than the entire absence of sanitation. In Hankow we
were in mental suspense as to which was the filthier native city--Hankow
or Shanghai. But we are probably like other travelers, who find each
city visited worse than the last. Should there arise in their midst a
man anxious to confer an everlasting blessing upon his fellow Chinese,
no better work could he do than to institute a system approaching what
to our Western mind is sanitation. We arrived, of course, in the winter,
and, having seen it at a time when the sun could do but little in
increasing the stenches, we leave to the imagination what it would be in
the summer, in a city which for heat is not excelled by Aden.[A] During
the summer of 1908 no less than twenty-eight foreigners succumbed to
cholera, and the native deaths were numberless.

The people were suffering very much from the cold, and it struck me as
one of the unaccountable phenomena of their civilization that in their
ingenuity in using the gifts of Nature they have never learned to weave
wool, and to employ it in clothing--that is, in a general sense. There
are a few exceptions in the empire. The nation is almost entirely
dependent upon cotton for clothing, which in winter is padded with a
cheap wadding to an abnormal thickness. The common people wear no
underclothing whatever. When they sleep they strip to the skin, and wrap
themselves in a single wadded blanket, sleeping the sleep of the tired
people their excessive labor makes them. And, although their clothes
might be the height of discomfort, they show their famous indifference
to comfort by never complaining. These burdensome clothes hang around
them like so many bags, with the wide gaps here and there where the wind
whistles to the flesh. It is a national characteristic that they are
immune to personal inconveniences, a philosophy which I found to be
universal, from the highest to the lowest.

Everybody we met, from the British Consul-General downward, was
surprised to know that my companion and I had no knowledge of the
Chinese language, and seemed to look lightly upon our chances of ever
getting through.

It was true. Neither my companion nor myself knew three words of the
language, but went forward simply believing in the good faith of the
Chinese people, with our passports alone to protect us. That we should
encounter difficulties innumerable, that we should be called upon to put
up with the greatest hardships of life, when viewed from the standard to
which one had been accustomed, and that we should be put to great
physical endurance, we could not doubt. But we believed in the Chinese,
and believed that should any evil befall us it would be the outcome of
our own lack of forbearance, or of our own direct seeking. We knew that
to the Chinese we should at once be "foreign devils" and "barbarians,"
that if not holding us actually in contempt, they would feel some
condescension in dealing and mixing with us; but I was personally of the
opinion that it was easier for us to walk through China than it would be
for two Chinese, dressed as Chinese, to walk through Great Britain or
America. What would the canny Highlander or the rural English rustic
think of two pig-tailed men tramping through his countryside?

We anchored at Ichang at 7:30 a.m. on March 19th. I fell up against a
boatman who offered to take us ashore. An uglier fellow I had never seen
in the East. The morning sunshine soon dried the decks of the gunboat
_Kinsha_ (then stationed in the river for the defense of the port) which
English jack-tars were swabbing in a half-hearted sort of way, and all
looked rosy enough.[B] But for the author, who with his companion was a
literal "babe in the wood," the day was most eventful and trying to
one's personal serenity. We had asked questions of all and sundry
respecting our proposed tramp and the way we should get to work in
making preparations. Each individual person seemed vigorously to do his
best to induce us to turn back and follow callings of respectable
members of society. From Shanghai upwards we might have believed
ourselves watched by a secret society, which had for its motto, "Return,
oh, wanderer, return!" Hardly a person knew aught of the actual
conditions of the interior of the country in which he lived and labored,
and everyone tried to dissuade us from our project.

Coming ashore in good spirits, we called at the Consulate, at the back
of the city graveyard, and were smoking his cigars and giving his boy an
examination in elementary English, when the Consul came down. It was not
possible, however, for us to get much more information than we had read
up, and the Consul suggested that the most likely person to be of use to
us would be the missionary at the China Inland Mission. Thither we
repaired, following a sturdy employe of Britain, but we found that the
C.I.M. representative was not to be found--despite our repairing. So off
we trotted to the chief business house of the town, at the entrance to
which we were met by a Chinese, who bowed gravely, asked whether we had
eaten our rice, and told us, quietly but pointedly, that our passing up
the rough stone steps would be of no use, as the manager was out. A few
minutes later I stood reading the inscription on the gravestone near the
church, whilst my brave companion, The Other Man, endeavored fruitlessly
to pacify a fierce dog in the doorway of the Scottish Society's
missionary premises--but that missionary, too, was out!

What, then, was the little game? Were all the foreigners resident in
this town dodging us, afraid of us--or what?

"The latter, the blithering idiots!" yelled The Other Man. He was
infuriated. "Two Englishmen with English tongues in their heads, and
unable to direct their own movements. Preposterous!" And then, making an
observation which I will not print, he suggested mildly that we might
fix up all matters ourselves.

Within an hour an English-speaking "one piece cook" had secured the
berth, which carried a salary of twenty-five dollars per month, we were
well on the way with the engaging of our boat for the Gorges trip, and
one by one our troubles vanished.

Laying in stores, however, was not the lightest of sundry perplexities.
Curry and rice had been suggested as the staple diet for the river
journey; and we ordered, with no thought to the contrary, a picul of
best rice, various brands of curries, which were raked from behind the
shelves of a dingy little store in a back street, and presented to us
at alarming prices--enough to last a regiment of soldiers for pretty
well the number of days we two were to travel; and, for luxuries, we
laid in a few tinned meats. All was practically settled, when The Other
Man, settling his eyes dead upon me, yelled--

"Dingle, you've forgotten the milk!" And then, after a moment, "Oh,
well, we can surely do without milk; it's no use coming on a journey
like this unless one can rough it a bit." And he ended up with a rude
reference to the disgusting sticky condensed milk tins, and we wandered
on.

Suddenly he stopped, did The Other Man. He looked at a small stone on
the pavement for a long time, eventually cruelly blurting out, directly
at me, as if it were all my misdoing: "The sugar, the sugar! We _must_
have sugar, man." I said nothing, with the exception of a slight remark
that we might do without sugar, as we were to do without milk. There was
a pause. Then, raising his stick in the air, The Other Man perorated:
"Now, I have no wish to quarrel" (and he put his nose nearer to mine),
"you know that, of course. But to _think_ we can do without sugar is
quite unreasonable, and I had no idea you were such a cantankerous man.
We have sugar, or--I go back."

       *       *       *       *       *

We had sugar. It was brought on board in upwards of twenty small packets
of that detestable thin Chinese paper, and The Other Man, with
commendable meekness, withdrew several pleasantries he had unwittingly
dropped anent deficiencies in my upbringing. Fifty pounds of this sugar
were ordered, and sugar--that dirty, brown sticky stuff--got into
everything on board--my fingers are sticky even as I write--and no less
than exactly one-half went down to the bottom of the Yangtze. Travelers
by houseboat on the Upper Yangtze should have some knowledge of
commissariat.

Getting away was a tedious business.

Later, the fellows pressed us to spend a good deal of time in the small,
dingy, ill-lighted apartment they are pleased to call their club; and
the skipper had to recommission his boat, get in provisions for the
voyage, engage his crew, pay off debts, and attend to a thousand and one
minute details--all to be done after the contract to carry the madcap
passengers had been signed and sealed, added to the more practical
triviality of three-fourths of the charge being paid down. And then our
captain, to add to the dilemma, vociferously yelled to us, in some
unknown jargon which got on our nerves terribly, that he was waiting for
a "lucky" day to raise anchor.

However, we did, as the reader will be able to imagine, eventually get
away, amid the firing of countless deafening crackers, after having
watched the sacrifice of a cock to the God of the River, with the
invocation that we might be kept in safety. Poling and rowing through a
maze of junks, our little floating caravan, with the two magnates on
board, and their picul of rice, their curry and their sugar, and
slenderest outfits, bowled along under plain sail, the fore-deck packed
with a motley team of somewhat dirty and ill-fed trackers, who whistled
and halloed the peculiar hallo of the Upper Yangtze for more wind.

The little township of Ichang was soon left astern, and we entered
speedily to all intents and purposes into a new world, a world
untrammelled by conventionalism and the spirit of the West.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote A: This was written at the time I was in Hankow. When I
revised my copy, after I had spent a year and a half rubbing along with
the natives in the interior, I could not suppress a smile at my
impressions of a great city like Hankow. Since then I have seen more
native life, and--more native dirt!--E.J.D.]

[Footnote B: The _Kinsha_ was the first British gunboat on the Upper
Yangtze.]




SECOND JOURNEY

ICHANG TO CHUNG-KING, THROUGH THE YANGTZE GORGES



CHAPTER II.

_Gloom in Ichang Gorge_. _Lightning's effect_. _Travellers' fear_.
_Impressive introduction to the Gorges_. _Boat gets into Yangtze
fashion_. _Storm and its weird effects_. _Wu-pan: what it is_. _Heavenly
electricity and its vagaries_. _Beautiful evening scene, despite heavy
rain_. _Bedding soaked_. _Sleep in a Burberry_. _Gorges and Niagara
Falls compared_. _Bad descriptions of Yangtze_. _World of eternity_.
_Man's significant insignificance_. _Life on board briefly described_.
_Philosophy of travel_. _Houseboat life not luxurious_. _Lose our only
wash-basin_. _Remarks on the "boy." A change in the kitchen:
questionable soup_. _Fairly low temperature_. _Troubles in the larder_.
_General arrangements on board_. _Crew's sleeping-place_. _Sacking makes
a curtain_. _Journalistic labors not easy_. _Rats preponderate_. _Gorges
described statistically_.


Deeper and deeper drooped the dull grey gloom, like a curtain falling
slowly and impenetrably over all things.

A vivid but broken flash of lightning, blazing in a flare of blue and
amber, poured livid reflections, and illuminated with dreadful
distinctness, if only for one ghastly moment, the stupendous cliffs of
the Ichang Gorge, whose wall-like steepness suddenly became darkened as
black as ink.

Thus, with a grand impressiveness, this great gully in the mountains
assumed hugely gigantic proportions, stretching interminably from east
to west, up to heaven and down to earth, silhouetted to the north
against a small remaining patch of golden purple, whose weird glamour
seemed awesomely to herald the coming of a new world into being, lasting
but for a moment longer, until again the blue blaze quickly cut up the
sky into a thousand shreds and tiny silver bars. And then, suddenly,
with a vast down swoop, as if some colossal bird were taking the earth
under her far-outstretching wings, dense darkness fell--impenetrable,
sooty darkness, that in a moment shut out all light, all power of sight.
Then from out the sombre heavens deep thunder boomed ominously as the
reverberating roar of a pack of hunger-ridden lions, and the two men,
aliens in an alien land, stood beneath the tattered matting awning with
a peculiar fear and some foreboding. We were tied in fast to the
darkened sides of the great Ichang Gorge--a magnificent sixteen-mile
stretch, opening up the famous gorges on the fourth of the great rivers
of the world, which had cleaved its course through a chain of hills,
whose perpendicular cliffs form wonderful rock-bound banks, dispelling
all thought of the monotony of the Lower Yangtze.

Upstream we had glided merrily upon a fresh breeze, which bore the
warning of a storm. All on board was settling down into Yangtze fashion,
and the barbaric human clamor of our trackers, which now mutteringly
died away, was suddenly taken up, as above recorded, and all
unexpectedly answered by a grander uproar--a deep threatening boom of
far-off thunder. In circling tones and semitones of wrath it volleyed
gradually through the dark ravines, and, startled by the sound, the two
travelers, roused for the first time from their natural engrossment in
the common doings of the _wu-pan_,[C] saw the reflection of the sun on
the waters, now turned to a livid murkiness, deepening with a
threatening ink-like aspect as the river rushed voluminously past our
tiny floating haven. Strangely silenced were we by this weird terror,
and watched and listened, chained to the deck by a thousand mingled
fears and fascinations, which breathed upon our nerves like a chill
wind. As we became accustomed then to the yellow darkness, we beheld
about the landscape a spectral look, and the sepulchral sound of the
moving thunder seemed the half-muffled clang of some great iron-tongued
funeral bell. Then came the rain, introduced swiftly by the deafening
clatter of another thunder crash that made one stagger like a ship in a
wild sea, and we strained our eyes to gaze into a visionary chasm
cleaved in twain by the furious lightning. Playing upon the face of the
unruffled river, with a brilliancy at once awful and enchanting, this
singular flitting and wavering of the heavenly electricity, as it
flashed haphazardly around all things, threw about one an illumination
quite indescribable.

For hours we sat upon a beam athwart the afterdeck, in silence drinking
in the strange phenomenon. We watched, after a small feed of curry and
rice, long into the dark hours, when the thunder had passed us by, and
in the distant booming one could now imagine the lower notes streaming
forth from some great solemn organ symphony. The fierce lightning
twitched, as it danced in and out the crevices--inwards, outwards,
upwards, then finally lost in one downward swoop towards the river,
tearing open the liquid blackness with its crystal blade of fire. The
rain ceased not. But soon the moon, peeping out from the tops of a
jagged wall above us, looking like a soiled, half-melted snowball, shone
full down the far-stretching gorge, and now its broad lustre shed
itself, like powdered silver, over the whole scene, so that one could
have imagined oneself in the living splendor of some eternal sphere of
ethereal sweetness. And so it might have been had the rain abated--a
curious accompaniment to a moonlight night. Down it came, straight and
determined and businesslike, in the windless silence, dancing like a
shower of diamonds of purest brilliance on the background of the placid
waters.

Very beautiful, reader, for a time. But would that the rain had been all
moonshine!

Glorious was it to revel in for a time. But, during the weary night
watches, in a bed long since soaked through, and one's safest
nightclothes now the stolid Burberry, with face protected by a
twelve-cent umbrella, even one's curry and rice saturated to sap with
the constant drip, and everything around one rendered cold and
uncomfortable enough through a perforation in its slenderest part of the
worn-out bamboo matting--ah, it was then, _then_ that one would have
foregone with alacrity the dreams of the nomadic life of the _wu-pan_.

Our introduction, therefore, to the great Gorges of the Upper
Yangtze--to China what the Niagara Falls are to America--was not
remarkable for its placidity, albeit taken with as much complacency as
the occasion allowed.

I do not, however, intend to weary or to entertain the reader, as may
be, by a long description of the Yangtze gorges. Time and time again
have they fallen to the imaginative pens of travelers--mostly bad or
indifferent descriptions, few good; none better, perhaps, than Mrs.
Bishop's. But at best they are imaginative--they lack reality. It has
been said that the world of imagination is the world of eternity, and as
of eternity, so of the Gorges--they cannot be adequately described. As I
write now in the Ichang Gorge, I seem veritably to have reached
eternity. I seem to have arrived at the bosom of an after-life, where
one's body has ceased to vegetate, and where, in an infinite and eternal
world of imagination, one's soul expands with fullest freedom. There
seems to exist in this eternal world of unending rock and invulnerable
precipice permanent realities which stand from eternity to eternity. As
the oak dies and leaves its eternal image in the seed which never dies,
so these grand river-forced ravines, abused and disabused as may be, go
on for ever, despite the scribblers, and one finds the best in his
imagination returning by some back-lane to contemplative thought. But as
a casual traveler, may I say that the first experience I had of the
gorges made me modest, patient, single-minded, conscious of man's
significant insignificance, conscious of the unspeakable, wondrous
grandeur of this unvisited corner of the world--a spot in which
blustering, selfish, self-conceited persons will not fare well? Humility
and patience are the first requisites in traveling on the Upper Yangtze.

Reader, for your sake I refrain from a description. But may I, for
perhaps your sake too, if you would wander hither ere the charm of
things as they were in the beginning is still unrobbed and unmolested,
give you some few impressions of a little of the life--grave, gay, but
never unhappy--which I spent with my excellent co-voyager, The Other
Man.

It is a part of wisdom, when starting any journey, not to look forward
to the end with too much eagerness: hear my gentle whisper that you may
never get there, and if you do, congratulate yourself; interest yourself
in the progress of the journey, for the present only is yours. Each day
has its tasks, its rapids, its perils, its glories, its fascinations,
its surprises, and--if you will live as we did, its _curry and rice_.
Then, if you are traveling with a companion, remember that it is better
to yield a little than to quarrel a great deal. Most disagreeable and
undignified is it anywhere to get into the habit of standing up for what
people are pleased to call their little rights, but nowhere more so than
on the Upper Yangtze houseboat, under the gaze of a Yangtze crew. Life
is really too short for continual bickering, and to my way of thinking
it is far quieter, happier, more prudent and productive of more peace,
if one could yield a little of those precious little rights than to
incessantly squabble to maintain them. Therefore, from the beginning to
the end of the trip, make the best of everything in every way, and I can
assure you, if you are not ill-tempered and suffer not from your liver,
Nature will open her bosom and lead you by these strange by-ways into
her hidden charms and unadorned recesses of sublime beauty, uneclipsed
for their kind anywhere in the world.

Think not that the life will be luxurious--houseboat life on the Upper
Yangtze is decidedly not luxurious. Were it not for the magnificence of
the scenery and ever-changing outdoor surroundings, as a matter of fact,
the long river journey would probably become unbearably dull.

       *       *       *       *       *

Our _wu-pan_ was to get through the Gorges in as short a time as was
possible, and for that reason we traveled in the discomfort of the
smallest boat used to face the rapids.

People entertaining the smallest idea of doing things travel in nothing
short of a _kwadze_, the orthodox houseboat, with several rooms and
ordinary conveniences. Ours was a _wu-pan_--literally five boards. We
had no conveniences whatever, and the second morning out we were left
without even a wash-basin. As I was standing in the stern, I saw it
swirling away from us, and inquiring through a peep-hole, heard the
perplexing explanation of my boy. Gesticulating violently, he told us
how, with the wash-basin in his hand, he had been pushed by one of the
crew, and how, loosened from his grasp, my toilet ware had been gripped
by the river--and now appeared far down the stream like a large bead.
The Other Man was alarmed at the boy's discomfiture, ejaculated
something about the loss being quite irreparable, and with a loud laugh
and quite natural hilarity proceeded quietly to use a saucepan as a
combined shaving-pot and wash-basin. It did quite well for this in the
morning, and during the day resumed its duty as seat for me at the
typewriter.

Our boy, apart from this small misfortune, comported himself pretty
well. His English was understandable, and he could cook anything. He
dished us up excellent soup in enamelled cups and, as we had no
ingredients on board so far as we knew to make soup, and as The Other
Man had that day lost an old Spanish tam-o'-shanter, we naturally
concluded that he had used the old hat for the making of the soup, and
at once christened it as "consomme a la maotsi"--and we can recommend
it. After we had grown somewhat tired of the eternal curry and rice, we
asked him quietly if he could not make us something else, fearing a
rebuff. He stood hesitatingly before us, gazing into nothingness. His
face was pallid, his lips hard set, and his stooping figure looking
curiously stiff and lifeless on that frozen morning--the temperature
below freezing point, and our noses were red, too!

"God bless the man, you no savee! I wantchee good chow. Why in the name
of goodness can't you give us something decent! What on earth did you
come for?"

"Alas!" he shouted, for we were at a rapid, "my savee makee good chow.
No have got nothing!"

"No have got nothing! No have got nothing!" Mysterious words, what could
they mean? Where, then, was our picul of rice, and our curry, and our
sugar?

"The fellow's a swindler!" cried The Other Man in an angry semitone. But
that's all very well. "No have got nothing!" Ah, there lay the secret.
Presently The Other Man, head of the general commissariat, spoke again
with touching eloquence. He gave the boy to understand that we were
powerless to alter or soften the conditions of the larder, that we were
victims of a horrible destiny, that we entertained no stinging malice
towards him personally--but ... _could he do it?_ Either a great wrath
or a great sorrow overcame the boy; he skulked past, asked us to lie
down on our shelves, where we had our beds, to give him room, and then
set to work.

In twenty-five minutes we had a three-course meal (all out of the same
pot, but no matter), and onwards to our destination we fed royally. In
parting with the men after our safe arrival at Chung-king, we left with
them about seven-eighths of the picul--and were not at all regretful.

I should not like to assert--because I am telling the truth here--that
our boat was bewilderingly roomy. As a matter of fact, its length was
some forty feet, its width seven feet, its depth much less, and it drew
eight inches of water. Yet in it we had our bed-rooms, our
dressing-rooms, our dining-rooms, our library, our occasional
medicine-room, our cooking-room--and all else. If we stood bolt upright
in the saloon amidships we bumped our heads on the bamboo matting which
formed an arched roof. On the nose of the boat slept seven men--you may
question it, reader, but they did; in the stern, on either side of a
great rudder, slept our boy and a friend of his; and between them and
us, laid out flat on the top of a cellar (used by the ship's cook for
the storing of rice, cabbage, and other uneatables, and the
breeding-cage of hundreds of rats, which swarm all around one) were the
captain and commodore--a fat, fresh-complexioned, jocose creature,
strenuous at opium smoking. Through the holes in the curtain--a piece of
sacking, but one would not wish this to be known--dividing them from us,
we could see him preparing his globules to smoke before turning in for
the night, and despite our frequent raving objections, our words ringing
with vibrating abuse, it continued all the way to Chung-king: he
certainly gazed in disguised wonderment, but we could not get him to say
anything bearing upon the matter. Temperature during the day stood at
about 50 degrees, and at night went down to about 30 degrees above
freezing point. Rains were frequent. Journalistic labors, seated upon
the upturned saucepan aforesaid, without a cushion, went hard. At night
the Chinese candle, much wick and little wax, stuck in the center of an
empty "Three Castles" tin, which the boy had used for some days as a
pudding dish, gave us light. We generally slept in our overcoats, and as
many others as we happened to have. Rats crawled over our uncurtained
bodies, and woke us a dozen times each night by either nibbling our ears
or falling bodily from the roof on to our faces. Our joys came not to
us--they were made on board.

The following are the Gorges, with a remark or two about each, to be
passed through before one reaches Kweifu:--

    NAME OF GORGE          LENGTH             REMARKS

    Ichang Gorge           16 miles      First and probably one
                                         of the finest of the
                                         Gorges.

    Niu Kan Ma Fee         4 miles       An hour's journey after
      (or Ox Liver                       coming out of the
      Gorge)                             Ichang Gorge, if the
                                         breeze be favorable;
                                         an arduous day's
                                         journey during high
                                         river, with no wind.

    Mi Tsang (or Rice      2 miles       Finest view is obtained
      Granary Gorge)                     from western extremity;
                                         exceedingly
                                         precipitous.

    Niu Kou (or Buffalo      ---         Very quiet in low-water
      Mouth Reach)                       season; wild stretch
                                         during high river.
                                         At the head of this
                                         reach H.M.S.
                                         _Woodlark_ came to
                                         grief on her maiden
                                         trip.

    Urishan Hsia (or         ---         Over thirty miles in
    Gloomy Mountain                      length. Grandest
    Gorge)                               and highest gorge
                                         _en route to_ Chung-king.
                                         Half-way
                                         through is the
                                         boundary between
                                         Hu-peh and Szech'wan.

    Fang Hsian Hsia          ---         Last of the gorges;
    (or Windbox Gorge)                   just beyond is the
                                         city of Kweifu.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote C: A _wu-pan_ (literally _wu_ of five and _pan_ of boards) is
a small boat, the smallest used by travelers on the Upper Yangtze. They
are of various shapes, made according to the nature of the part of the
river on which they ply.--E.J.D.]




CHAPTER III.

THE YANGTZE RAPIDS


The following is a rough list of the principal rapids to be negotiated
on the river upward from Ichang. One of the chief discomforts the
traveler first experiences is due to a total ignorance of the vicinity
of the main rapids, and often, therefore, when he is least expecting it
perhaps, he is called upon by the _laoban_ to go ashore. He has then to
pack up the things he values, is dragged ashore himself, his gear
follows, and one who has no knowledge of the language and does not know
the ropes is, therefore, never quite happy for fear of some rapid
turning up. By comparing the rapids with the Gorges the traveler would,
however, from the lists given, be able easily to trace the whereabouts
of the more dangerous rushes; which are distributed with alarming
frequency on the river between Ichang and Kweifu.


TA TONG T'AN (OTTER CAVE RAPID)

Low water rapid. Swirling volume of coffee and milk color; round about a
maze of rapids and races, in the Yao-cha Ho reach.


TONG LING RAPID

At the foot of the Ox Liver Gorge. An enormous black rock lies amid
stream some forty feet below, or perhaps as much above the surface, but
unless experienced at low water will not appeal to the traveler as a
rapid; passage dangerous, dreaded during low-water season. On Dec. 28th,
1900, the German steamer, _Sui-Hsiang_ was lost here. She foundered in
twenty-five fathoms of water, with an immense hole ripped in her bottom
by the black rock; all on board saved by the red boats, with the
exception of the captain.


HSIN T'AN RAPIDS (OR CHIN T'AN RAPIDS)

During winter quite formidable; the head, second and third rapids
situated in close proximity, the head rapid being far the worst to
negotiate. On a bright winter's day one of the finest spectacles on the
Upper Yangtze. Wrecks frequent. Just at head of Ox Liver Gorge.


YEH T'AN (OR WILD RAPID)

River reduced suddenly to half its width by an enormous detritus of
boulders, taking the form of a huge jagged tongue, with curling on
edges; commonly said to be high when the Hsin T'an is low. At its worst
during early summer and autumn. Wrecks frequent, after Mi Tsang Gorge is
passed, eight miles from Kwei-chow.


NIU K'EO T'AN (BUFFALO MOUTH RAPID)

Situated at the head of Buffalo Mouth Reach, said to be more difficult
to approach than even the Yeh T'an, because of the great swirls in the
bay below. H.M.S. _Woodlark_ came to grief here on her maiden trip up
river.


HSIN MA T'AN (OR DISMOUNT HORSE RAPID)

Encountered through the Urishan Hsia or Gloomy Mountain Gorge,
particularly nasty during mid-river season. Just about here, in 1906,
the French gunboat _Olry_ came within an ace of destruction by losing
her rudder. Immediately, like a riderless horse, she dashed off headlong
for the rocky shore; but at the same instant her engines were working
astern for all they were worth, and fortunately succeeded in taking the
way off her just as her nose grazed the rocks, and she slid back
undamaged into the swirly bay, only to be waltzed round and tossed to
and fro by the violent whirlpools. However, by good luck and management
she was kept from dashing her brains out on the reefs, and eventually
brought in to a friendly sand patch and safely moored, whilst a wooden
jury rudder was rigged, with which she eventually reached her
destination.


HEH SHIH T'AN (OR BLACK ROCK RAPID)

Almost at the end of the Wind Box Gorge.


HSIN LONG T'AN (OR NEW DRAGON RAPID)

Twenty-five miles below Wan Hsien. Sometimes styled Glorious Dragon
Rapid, it constitutes the last formidable stepping-stone during low
river onward to Chung-king; was formed by a landslip as recently as
1896, when the whole side of a hill falling into the stream reduced its
breadth to less than a fourth of what it was previously, and produced
this roaring rapid.

This pent-up volume of water, always endeavoring to break away the rocky
bonds which have harnessed it, rushes roaring as a huge, tongue-shaped,
tumbling mass between its confines of rock and reef. Breaking into swift
back-wash and swirls in the bay below, it lashes back in a white fury at
its obstacles. Fortunately for the junk traffic, it improves rapidly
with the advent of the early spring freshets, and at mid-level entirely
disappears. The rapid is at its worst during the months of February and
March, when it certainly merits the appellation of "Glorious Dragon
Rapid," presenting a fine spectacle, though perhaps a somewhat fearsome
one to the traveler, who is about to tackle it with his frail barque. A
hundred or more wretched-looking trackers, mostly women and children,
are tailed on to the three stout bamboo hawsers, and amid a mighty din
of rushing water, beating drums, cries of pilots and boatmen, the boat
is hauled slowly and painfully over. According to Chinese myths, the
landslip which produced the rapid was caused by the following
circumstance. The ova of a dragon being deposited in the bowels of the
earth at this particular spot, in due course became hatched out in some
mysterious manner. The baby dragon grew and grew, but remained in a
dormant state until quite full grown, when, as is the habit of the
dragon, it became active, and at the first awakening shook down the
hill-side by a mighty effort, freed himself from the bowels of the
earth, and made his way down river to the sea; hence the landslip, the
rapid, and its name.


FUH T'AN RAPID (OR TIGER RAPID)

Eight miles beyond Wan Hsien. Very savage during summer months, but does
not exist during low-water season. Beyond this point river widens
considerably. Twenty-five miles further on travelers should look out for
Shih Pao Chai, or Precious Stone Castle, a remarkable cliff some 250 or
300 feet high. A curious eleven-storied pavilion, built up the face of
the cliff, contains the stairway to the summit, on which stands a
Buddhist temple. There is a legend attached to this remarkable rock that
savors very much of the goose with the golden eggs.

Once upon a time, from a small natural aperture near the summit, a
supply of rice sufficient for the needs of the priests flowed daily into
a basin-shaped hole, just large enough to hold the day's supply.

The priests, however, thinking to get a larger daily supply, chiselled
out the basin-shaped hole to twice its original size, since when the
flow of rice ceased.


KWAN IN T'AN (OR GODDESS OF MERCY RAPID)

Two miles beyond the town of Feng T'ou. Like the Fuh T'an, is an
obstacle to navigation only during the summer months, when junks are
often obliged to wait for several days for a favorable opportunity to
cross the rapid.




CHAPTER IV.

_Scene at the Rapid_. _Dangers of the Yeh T'an_. _Gear taken ashore_.
_Intense cold_. _Further preparation_. _Engaging the trackers_. _Fever
of excitement_. _Her nose is put to it_. _Struggles for mastery_.
_Author saves boatman_. _Fifteen-knot current_. _Terrific labor on
shore_. _Man nearly falls overboard_. _Straining hawsers carry us over
safely_. _The merriment among the men_. _The thundering cataract_.
_Trackers' chanting_. _Their life_. _"Pioneer" at the Yeh T'an_. _The
Buffalo Mouth Reach_. _Story of the "Woodlark."_ _How she was saved_.
_Arrival at Kweifu_. _Difficulty in landing_. _Laying in provisions_.
_Author laid up with malaria_. _Survey of trade in Shanghai and
Hong-Kong_. _Where and why the Britisher fails_. _Comparison with
Germans_. _Three western provinces and pack-horse traffic_. _Advantages
of new railway_. _Yangtze likely to be abandoned_. _East India Company.
French and British interests_. _Hint to Hong-Kong Chamber of Commerce._


Wild shrieking, frantic yelling, exhausted groaning, confusion and
clamor,--one long, deafening din. A bewildering, maddening mob of
reckless, terrified human beings rush hither and thither, unseeingly and
distractedly. Will she go? Yes! No! Yes! Then comes the screeching, the
scrunching, the straining, and then--a final snap! Back we go, sheering
helplessly, swayed to and fro most dangerously by the foaming waters,
and almost, but not quite, turn turtle. The red boat follows us
anxiously, and watches our timid little craft bump against the
rock-strewn coast. But we are safe, and raise unconsciously a cry of
gratitude to the deity of the river.

We were at the Yeh T'an, or the Wild Rapid, some distance on from the
Ichang Gorge, were almost over the growling monster, when the tow-line,
straining to its utmost limit, snapped suddenly with little warning, and
we drifted in a moment or two away down to last night's anchorage, far
below, where we were obliged to bring up the last of the long tier of
boats of which we were this morning the first.

And now we are ready again to take our turn.

Our gear is all taken ashore. Seated on a stone on shore, watching
operations, is The Other Man. The sun vainly tries to get through, and
the intense cold is almost unendurable. No hitch is to occur this time.
The toughest and stoutest bamboo hawsers are dexterously brought out,
their inboard ends bound in a flash firmly round the mast close down to
the deck, washed by the great waves of the rapid, just in front of the
'midships pole through which I breathlessly watch proceedings. I want to
feel again the sensation. The captain, in essentially the Chinese way,
is engaging a crew of demon-faced trackers to haul her over. Pouring
towards the boat, in a fever of excitement that rises higher every
moment, the natural elements of hunger and constant struggle against the
great river swell their fury; they bellow like wild beasts, _they are
like beasts_, for they have known nothing but struggle all their lives;
they have always, since they were tiny children, been fighting this
roaring water monster--they know none else. And now, as I say, they
bellow like beasts, each man ravenously eager to be among the number
chosen to earn a few cash.[D] The arrangement at last is made, and the
discordant hubbub, instead of lessening, grows more and more deafening.
It is a miserable, desperate, wholly panic-stricken crowd that then
harnesses up with their great hooks joined to a rough waist-belt, with
which they connect themselves to the straining tow-lines.

And now her nose is put into the teeth of this trough of treachery--a
veritable boiling cauldron, stirring up all past mysteries. Waves rush
furiously towards us, with the growl of a thousand demons, whose anger
is only swelled by the thousands of miles of her course from far-away
Tibet. It seems as if they must instantly devour her, and that we must
now go under to swell the number of their victims. But they only beat
her back, for she rides gracefully, faltering timidly with frightened
creaks and groans, whilst the waters shiver her frail bulwarks with
their cruel message of destruction, which might mean her very
death-rattle. I get landed in the stomach with the end of a gigantic
bamboo boat-hook, used by one of the men standing in the bows whose duty
is to fend her off the rocks. He falls towards the river. I grab his
single garment, give one swift pull, and he comes up again with a jerky
little laugh and asks if he has hurt me--yelling through his hands in my
ears, for the noise is terrible. To look out over the side makes me
giddy, for the fifteen-knot current, blustering and bubbling and foaming
and leaping, gives one the feeling that he is in an express train
tearing through the sea. On shore, far ahead, I can see the
trackers--struggling forms of men and women, touching each other,
grasping each other, wrestling furiously and mightily, straining on all
fours, now gripping a boulder to aid them forward, now to the right, now
to the left, always fighting for one more inch, and engaged in a task
which to one seeing it for the first time looks as if it were quite
beyond human effort. Fagged and famished beings are these trackers,
whose life day after day, week in week out, is harder than that of the
average costermonger's donkey. They throw up their hands in a dumb
frenzy of protest and futile appeal to the presiding deity; and here on
the river, depending entirely upon those men on the shore, slowly, inch
by inch, the little craft, feeling her own weakness, forges ahead
against the leaping current in the gapway in the reef.

None come to offer assistance to our crowd, who are now turned facing
us, and strain almost flat on their backs, giving the strength of every
drop of blood and fibre of their being; and the scene, now lit up by a
momentary glimmer of feeble sunlight, assumes a wonderful and terrible
picturesqueness. I am chained to the spot by a horrible fascination, and
I find myself unconsciously saying, "I fear she will not go. I fear--"
But a man has fallen exhausted, he almost fell overboard, and now leans
against the mast in utter weariness and fatigue, brought on by the
morning's exertions. He is instantly relieved by a bull-dog fellow of
enormous strength. Now comes the culminating point, a truly terrifying
moment, the very anguish of which frightened me, as I looked around for
the lifeboat, and I saw that even the commodore's cold and
self-satisfied dignity was disturbed. The hawsers strain again. Creak,
crack! creak, crack! The lifeboat watches and comes nearer to us. There
is a mighty yell. We cannot go! Yes, we can! There is a mighty pull, and
you feel the boat almost torn asunder. Another mighty pull, a tremendous
quiver of the timbers, and you turn to see the angry water, which sounds
as if a hundred hounds are beating under us for entry at the barred
door. There is another deafening yell, the men tear away like frightened
horses. Another mighty pull, and another, and another, and we slide over
into smooth water.

Then I breathe freely, and yell myself.

The little boat seems to gasp for breath as a drowning man, saved in the
nick of time, shudders in every limb with pain and fear.

As we tied up in smooth water, all the men, from the _laoban_ to the
meanest tracker, laughed and yelled and told each other how it was done.
We baled the water out of the boat, and one was glad to pull away from
the deafening hum of the thundering cataract. A faulty tow-line, a
slippery hitch, one false step, one false maneuver, and the shore might
have been by that time strewn with our corpses. As it was, we were safe
and happy.

But the trackers are strange creatures. At times they are a quarter of a
mile ahead. Soft echoes of their coarse chanting came down the confines
of the gully, after the rapid had been passed, and in rounding a rocky
promontory mid-stream, one would catch sight of them bending their
bodies in pulling steadily against the current of the river.
Occasionally one of these poor fellows slips; there is a shriek, his
body is dashed unmercifully against the jagged cliffs in its last
journey to the river, which carries the multilated corpse away. And yet
these men, engaged in this terrific toil, with utmost danger to their
lives, live almost exclusively on boiled rice and dirty cabbage, and
receive the merest pittance in money at the journey's end.

Some idea of the force of this enormous volume of water may be given by
mentioning the exploits of the steamer _Pioneer_, which on three
consecutive occasions attacked the Yeh T'an when at its worst, and,
though steaming a good fourteen knots, failed to ascend. She was obliged
to lay out a long steel-wire hawser, and heave herself over by means of
her windlass, the engines working at full speed at the same time. Hard
and heavy was the heave, gaining foot by foot, with a tension on the
hawser almost to breaking strain in a veritable battle against the
dragon of the river. Yet so complete are the changes which are wrought
by the great variation in the level of the river, that this formidable
mid-level rapid completely disappears at high level.

After we had left this rapid--and right glad were we to get away--we
came, after a couple of hours' run, to the Niu K'eo, or Buffalo Mouth
Reach, quiet enough during the low-water season, but a wild stretch
during high river, where many a junk is caught by the violently gyrating
swirls, rendered unmanageable, and dashed to atoms on some rocky
promontory or boulder pile in as short a space of time as it takes to
write it. It was here that the _Woodlark_, one of the magnificent
gunboats which patrol the river to safeguard the interests of the Union
Jack in this region, came to grief on her maiden trip to Chung-king. One
of these strong swirls caught the ship's stern, rendering her rudders
useless for the moment, and causing her to sheer broadside into the
foaming rapid. The engines were immediately reversed to full speed
astern; but the swift current, combined with the momentum of the ship,
carried her willy-nilly to the rock-bound shore, on which she crumpled
her bows as if they were made of tin. Fortunately she was built in
water-tight sections; her engineers removed the forward section,
straightened out the crumpled plates, riveted them together, and bolted
the section back into its place again so well, that on arrival at
Chung-king not a trace of the accident was visible.

       *       *       *       *       *

Upon arrival at Kweifu one bids farewell to the Gorges. This town,
formerly a considerable coaling center, overlooks most beautiful
hillocks, with cottage gardens cultivated in every accessible corner,
and a wide sweep of the river.

We landed with difficulty. "Chor, chor!" yelled the trackers, who marked
time to their cry, swinging their arms to and fro at each short step;
but they almost gave up the ghost. However, we did land, and so did our
boy, who bought excellent provisions and meat, which, alas! too soon
disappeared. The mutton and beef gradually grew less and daily
blackened, wrapped up in opposite corners of the cabin, under the
protection from the wet of a couple of sheets of the "Pink 'Un."

From Kweifu to Wan Hsien there was the same kind of scenery--the clear
river winding among sand-flats and gravel-banks, with occasional stiff
rapids. But after having been in a _wu-pan_ for several days, suffering
that which has been detailed, and much besides, the journey got a bit
dreary. These, however, are ordinary circumstances; but when one has
been laid up on a bench of a bed for three days with a high temperature,
a legacy of several years in the humid tropics, the physical discomfort
baffles description. Malaria, as all sufferers know, has a tendency to
cause trouble as soon as one gets into cold weather, and in my case, as
will be seen in subsequent parts of this book, it held faithfully to its
best traditions. Fever on the Yangtze in a _wu-pan_ would require a
chapter to itself, not to mention the kindly eccentricities of a
companion whose knowledge of malaria was most elementary and whose
knowledge of nursing absolutely _nil_. But I refrain. As also do I of
further talk about the Yangtze gorges and the rapids.

From Kweifu to Wan Hsien is a tedious journey. The country opens out,
and is more or less monotonously flat. The majority of the dangers and
difficulties, however, are over, and one is able to settle down in
comparative peace. Fortunately for the author, nothing untoward
happened, but travelers are warned not to be too sanguine. Wrecks have
happened within a few miles of the destination, generally to be
accounted for by the unhappy knack the Chinese boatman has of taking all
precautions where the dangerous rapids exist, and leaving all to chance
elsewhere. Some two years later, as I was coming down the river from
Chung-king in December, I counted no less than nine wrecks, one boat
having on board a cargo for the China Inland Mission authorities of no
less than 480 boxes. The contents were spread out on the banks to dry,
while the boat was turned upside down and repaired on the spot.

       *       *       *       *       *

A hopeless cry is continually ascending in Hong-Kong and Shanghai that
trade is bad, that the palmy days are gone, and that one might as well
leave business to take care of itself.

And it is not to be denied that increased trade in the Far East does not
of necessity mean increased profits. Competition has rendered buying and
selling, if they are to show increased dividends, a much harder task
than some of the older merchants had when they built up their businesses
twenty or thirty years ago. There is no comparison. But Hong-Kong, by
virtue of her remarkably favorable position geographically, should
always be able to hold her own; and now that the railway has pierced the
great province of Yuen-nan, and brought the provinces beyond the
navigable Yangtze nearer to the outside world, she should be able to
reap a big harvest in Western China, if merchants will move at the right
time. More often than not the Britisher loses his trade, not on account
of the alleged reason that business is not to be done, but because,
content with his club life, and with playing games when he should be
doing business, he allows the German to rush past him, and this man, an
alien in the colony, by persistent plodding and other more or less
commendable traits of business which I should like to detail, but for
which I have no space, takes away the trade while the Britisher looks
on.

The whole of the trade of the three western provinces--Yuen-nan,
Kwei-chow and Szech'wan--has for all time been handled by Shanghai,
going into the interior by the extremely hazardous route of these
Yangtze rapids, and then over the mountains by coolie or pack-horse.
This has gone on for centuries. But now the time has come for the
Hong-Kong trader to step in and carry away the lion share of the greatly
increasing foreign trade for those three provinces by means of the
advantage the new Tonkin-Yuen-nan Railway has given him.

The railway runs from Haiphong in Indo-China to Yuen-nan-fu, the capital
of Yuen-nan province. And it appears certain to the writer that, with
such an important town three or four days from the coast, shippers will
not be content to continue to ship via the Yangtze, with all its risk.
British and American merchants, who carry the greater part of the
imports to Western China, will send their goods direct to Hong-Kong,
where transhipment will be made to Haiphong, and thence shipped by rail
to Yuen-nan-fu, the distributing center for inland trade. To my mind,
Hong-Kong merchants might control the whole of the British trade of
Western China if they will only push, for although the tariff of Tonkin
may be heavy, it would be compensated by the fact that transit would be
so much quicker and safer. But it needs push.

The history of our intercourse with China, from the days of the East
India Company till now, is nothing but a record of a continuous struggle
to open up and develop trade. Opening up trade, too, with a people who
have something pathetic in the honest persistency with which their
officials have vainly struggled to keep themselves uncontaminated from
the outside world. Trade in China cannot be left to take care of itself,
as is done in Western countries. However invidious it may seem, we must
admit the fact that past progress has been due to pressure. Therefore,
if the opportunities were placed near at hand to the Hong-Kong shipper,
he would be an unenterprising person indeed were he not to avail himself
of the opportunity. Shanghai has held the trump card formerly. This
cannot be denied. But I think the railway is destined to turn the trade
route to the other side of the empire. It is merely a question as to who
is to get the trade--the French or the British. The French are on the
alert. They cannot get territory; now they are after the trade.

It is my opinion that it would be to the advantage of the colony of
Hong-Kong were the Chamber of Commerce there to investigate the matter
thoroughly. Now is the time.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote D: _Cash_, a small brass coin with a hole through the middle.
Nominally 1,000 cash to the dollar.]




THIRD JOURNEY

CHUNG-KING TO SUI-FU (VIA LUCHOW)



CHAPTER V.

_Beginning of the overland journey_. _The official halo around the
caravan_. _The people's goodbyes_. _Stages to Sui-fu_. _A persistent
coolie_. _My boy's indignation, and the sequel_. _Kindness of the people
of Chung-king_. _The Chung-king Consulate_. _Need of keeping fit in
travelling in China_. _Walking tabooed_. _The question of "face" and
what it means_. _Author runs the gauntlet_. _Carrying coolie's rate of
pay_. _The so-called great paved highways of China, and a few remarks
thereon_. _The garden of China_. _Magnificence of the scenery of Western
China_. _The tea-shops_. _The Chinese coolie's thirst and how the author
drank_. _Population of Szech-wan_. _Minerals found_. _Salt and other
things_. _The Chinese inn: how it holds the palm for unmitigated filth_.
_Description of the rooms_. _Szech-wan and Yuen-nan caravanserais_. _Need
of a camp bed_. _Toileting in unsecluded publicity_. _How the author was
met at market towns_. _How the days do not get dull_.


In a manner admirably befitting my rank as an English traveler, apart
from the fact that I was the man who was endeavoring to cross China on
foot, I was led out of Chung-king _en route_ for Bhamo alone, my
companion having had to leave me here.

It was Easter Sunday, a crisp spring morning.

First came a public sedan-chair, bravely borne by three of the finest
fellows in all China, at the head of which on either side were two
uniformed persons called soldiers--incomprehensible to one who has no
knowledge of the interior, for they bore no marks whatever of the
military--whilst uniformed men also solemnly guarded the back. Then
came the grinning coolies, carrying that meager portion of my worldly
goods which I had anticipated would have been engulfed in the Yangtze.
And at the head of all, leading them on as captains do the Salvation
Army, was I myself, walking along triumphantly, undoubtedly looking a
person of weight, but somehow peculiarly unable to get out of my head
that little adage apropos the fact that when the blind shall lead the
blind both shall fall into a ditch! But Chinese decorum forbade my
falling behind. I had determined to walk across China, every inch of the
way or not at all; and the chair coolies, unaware of my intentions
presumably, thought it a great joke when at the western gate, through
which I departed, I gave instructions that one hundred cash be doled out
to each man for his graciousness in escorting me through the town.

All the people were in the middle of the streets--those slippery streets
of interminable steps--to give me at parting their blessings or their
curses, and only with difficulty and considerable shouting and pushing
could I sufficiently take their attention from the array of official and
civil servants who made up my caravan as to effect an exit.

The following were to be stages:--

    1st day--Ts'eo-ma-k'ang            80 li.
    2nd day--Uein-ch'uan hsien         120  "
    3rd day--Li-shih-ch'ang           105  "
    4th day--Luchow                    75  "
    5th day--Lan-ching-ch'ang          80  "
    6th day--Lan-chi-hsien             75  "
    7th day--Sui-fu                   120  "

In my plainest English and with many cruel gestures, four miles from the
town, I told a man that he narrowly escaped being knocked down, owing to
his extremely rude persistence in accosting me and obstructing my way.
He acquiesced, opened his large mouth to the widest proportions, seemed
thoroughly to understand, but continued more noisily to prevent me from
going onwards, yelling something at the top of his husky voice--a voice
more like a fog-horn than a human voice--which made me fear that I had
done something very wrong, but which later I interpreted ignorantly as
impudent humor.

I owed nothing; so far as I knew, I had done nothing wrong.

"Hi, fellow! come out of the way! Reverse your carcass a bit, old chap!
Get----! What the---- who the----?"

"Oh, master, he wantchee makee much bobbery. He no b'long my pidgin,
d---- rogue! He wantchee catch one more hundred cash! He b'long one
piecee chairman!"

This to me from my boy in apologetic explanation.

Then, turning wildly upon the man, after the manner of his kind raising
his little fat body to the tips of his toes and effectively assuming the
attitude of the stage actor, he cursed loudly to the uttermost of
eternity the impudent fellow's ten thousand relatives and ancestry;
which, although it called forth more mutual confidences of a like
nature, and made T'ong (my boy) foam at the mouth with rage at such an
inopportune proceeding happening so early in his career, rendering it
necessary for him to push the man in the right jaw, incidentally allowed
him to show his master just a little that he could do. The man had been
dumped against the wall, but he was still undaunted. With thin mud
dropping from one leg of his flimsy pantaloons, he came forward again,
did this chair coolie, whom I had just paid off--for it was assuredly
one of the trio--leading out again one of those little wiry, shaggy
ponies, and wished to do another deal. He had, however, struck a snag.
We did not come to terms. I merely lifted the quadruped bodily from my
path and walked on.

Chung-king people treated us well, and had it not been for their
kindness the terrible three days spent still in our _wu-pan_ on the
crowded beach would have been more terrible still.

At the Consulate we found Mr. Phillips, the Acting-Consul, ready packed
up to go down to Shanghai, and Mr. H.E. Sly, whom we had met in
Shanghai, was due to relieve him. Mr. J.L. Smith, of the Consular
Service, was here also, just reaching a state of convalescence after an
attack of measles, and was to go to Chen-tu to take up duty as soon as
he was fit. But despite the topsy-turvydom, we were made welcome, and
both Phillips and Smith did their best to entertain. Chung-king
Consulate is probably the finest--certainly one of the finest--in China,
built on a commanding site overlooking the river and the city, with the
bungalow part over in the hills. It possesses remarkably fine grounds,
has every modern convenience, not the least attractive features being
the cement tennis-court and a small polo ground adjoining. I had hoped
to see polo on those little rats of ponies, but it could not be
arranged. I should have liked to take a stick as a farewell.

People were shocked indeed that I was going to walk across China.

Let me say here that travel in the Middle Kingdom is quite possible
anywhere provided that you are fit. You have merely to learn and to
maintain untold patience, and you are able to get where you like, if you
have got the money to pay your way;[E] but walking is a very different
thing. It is probable that never previously has a traveler actually
walked across China, if we except the Rev. J. McCarthy, of the China
Inland Mission, who some thirty years or so ago did walk across to
Burma, although he went through Kwei-chow province over a considerably
easier country. Not because it is by any means physically impossible,
but because the custom of the country--and a cursed custom too--is that
one has to keep what is called his "face." And to walk tends to make a
man lose "face."

A quiet jaunt through China on foot was, I was told, quite out of the
question; the uneclipsed audacity of a man mentioning it, and especially
a man such as I was, was marvelled at. Did I not know that the foreigner
_must_ have a chair? (This was corroborated by my boy, on his oath,
because he would have to pay the men.) Did I not know that no traveler
in Western China, who at any rate had any sense of self-respect, would
travel without a chair, not necessarily as a conveyance, but for the
honor and glory of the thing? And did I not know that, unfurnished with
this undeniable token of respect, I should be liable to be thrust aside
on the highway, to be kept waiting at ferries, to be relegated to the
worst inn's worst room, and to be generally treated with indignity? This
idea of mine of crossing China on foot was preposterous!

Even Mr. Hudson Broomhall, of the China Inland Mission, who with Mrs.
Broomhall was extremely kind, and did all he could to fit me up for the
journey (it is such remembrances that make the trip one which I would
not mind doing again), was surprised to know that I was walking, and
tried to persuade me to take a chair. But I flew in the face of it all.
These good people certainly impressed me, but I decided to run the
gauntlet and take the risk.

The question of "face" is always merely one of theory, never of fact,
and the principles that govern "face" and its attainment were wholly
beyond my apprehension. "I shall probably be more concerned in saving my
life than in saving my face," I thought.

Therefore it was that when I reached a place called Fu-to-gwan I
discarded all superfluities of dress, and strode forward, just at that
time in the early morning when the sun was gilding the dewdrops on the
hedgerows with a grandeur which breathed encouragement to the traveler,
in a flannel shirt and flannel pants--a terrible breach of foreign
etiquette, no doubt, but very comfortable to one who was facing the
first eighty li he had ever walked on China's soil. My three
coolies--the typical Chinese coolie of Szech'wan, but very good fellows
with all their faults--were to land me at Sui-fu, 230 miles distant
(some 650 li), in seven days' time. They were to receive four hundred
cash per man per day, were to find themselves, and if I reached Sui-fu
within the specified time I agreed to _kumshaw_ them to the extent of an
extra thousand.[F] They carried, according to the arrangement, ninety
catties apiece, and their rate of pay I did not consider excessive until
I found that each man sublet his contract for a fourth of his pay, and
trotted along light-heartedly and merry at my side; then I regretted
that I had not thought twice before closing with them.

It is probable that the solidity of the great paved highways of China
have been exaggerated. I have not been on the North China highways, but
have had considerable experience of them in Western China, Szech'wan and
Yuen-nan particularly, and have very little praise to lavish upon them.
Certain it is that the road to Sui-fu does not deserve the nice things
said about it by various travelers. The whole route from Chung-king to
Sui-fu, paved with flagstones varying in width from three to six or
seven feet--the only main road, of course--is creditably regular in some
places, whilst other portions, especially over the mountains, are
extremely bad and uneven. In some places, I could hardly get along at
all, and my boy would call out as he came along in his chair behind me--

"Master, I thinkee you makee catch two piecee men makee carry. This
b'long no proper road. P'raps you makee bad feet come."

And truly my feet were shamefully blistered.

One had to step from stone to stone with considerable agility. In places
bridges had fallen in, nobody had attempted to put them into a decent
state of repair--though this is never done in China--and one of the
features of every day was the wonderful fashion in which the mountain
ponies picked their way over the broken route; they are as sure-footed
as goats.

As I gazed admiringly along the miles and miles of ripening wheat and
golden rape, pink-flowering beans, interspersed everywhere with the
inevitable poppy, swaying gently as in a sea of all the dainty colors of
the rainbow, I did not wonder that Szech'wan had been called the Garden
of China. Greater or denser cultivation I had never seen. The
amphitheater-like hills smiled joyously in the first gentle touches of
spring and enriching green, each terrace being irrigated from the one
below by a small stream of water regulated in the most primitive manner
(the windlass driven by man power), and not a square inch lost. Even the
mud banks dividing these fertile areas are made to yield on the sides
cabbages and lettuces and on the tops wheat and poppy. There are no
fences. You see before you a forest of mountains, made a dark leaden
color by thick mists, from out of which gradually come the never-ending
pictures of green and purple and brown and yellow and gold, which roll
hither and thither under a cloudy sky in indescribable confusion. The
chain may commence in the south or the north in two or three soft,
slow-rising undulations, which trend away from you and form a vapory
background to the landscape. From these (I see such a picture even as I
write, seated on the stone steps in the middle of a mountain path), at
once united and peculiarly distinct, rise five masses with rugged
crests, rough, and cut into shady hollows on the sides, a faint pale
aureola from the sun on the mists rising over the summits and sharp
outlines. Looking to the north, an immense curved line shows itself,
growing ever greater, opening like the arch of a gigantic bridge, and
binding this first group to a second, more complicated, each peak of
which has a form of its own, and does in some sort as it pleases without
troubling itself about its neighbor. The most remarkable point about
these mountains is the life they seem to possess. It is an incredible
confusion. Angles are thrown fantastically by some mad geometer, it
would seem. Splendid banyan trees shelter one after toiling up the
unending steps, and dotted over the landscape, indiscriminately in
magnificent picturesqueness, are pretty farmhouses nestling almost out
of sight in groves of sacred trees. Oftentimes perpendicular mountains
stand sheer up for three thousand feet or more, their sides to the very
summits ablaze with color coming from the smiling face of sunny Nature,
in spots at times where only a twelve-inch cultivation is possible.

A dome raises its head curiously over the leaning shoulder of a round
hill, and a pyramid reverses itself, as if to the music of some wild
orchestra, whose symphonies are heard in the mountain winds. Seen nearer
and in detail, these mountains are all in delicious keeping with all of
what the imagination in love with the fantastic, attracted by their more
distant forms, could dream. Valleys, gorges, somber gaps, walls cut
perpendicularly, rough or polished by water, cavities festooned with
hanging stalactites and notched like Gothic sculptures--all make up a
strange sight which cannot but excite admiration.

Every mile or so there are tea-houses, and for a couple of cash a coolie
can get a cup of tea, with leaves sufficient to make a dozen cups, and
as much boiling water as he wants. Szech'wan, the country, its people,
their ways and methods, and much information thereto appertaining, is
already in print. It were useless to give more of it here--and, reader,
you will thank me! But the thirst of Szech'wan--that thirst which is
unique in the whole of the Empire, and eclipsed nowhere on the face of
the earth, except perhaps on the Sahara--one does not hear about.

Many an Englishman would give much for the Chinese coolie's thirst--so
very, very much.

I wonder whether you, reader, were ever thirsty? Probably not. You get a
thirst which is not insatiable. Yours is born of nothing extraordinary;
yours can be satisfied by a gulp or two of water, or perhaps by a
drink--or perhaps two, or perhaps three--of something stronger. The
Chinese coolie's thirst arises from the grilling sun, from a dancing
glare, from hard hauling, struggling with 120 pounds slung over his
shoulders, dangling at the end of a bamboo pole. I have had this thirst
of the Chinese coolie--I know it well. It is born of sheer heat and
sheer perspiration. Every drop of liquid has been wrung out of my body;
I have seemed to have swum in my clothes, and inside my muscles have
seemed to shrink to dry sponge and my bones to dry pith. My substance,
my strength, my self has drained out of me. I have been conscious of
perpetual evaporation and liquefaction. And I have felt that I must stop
and wet myself again. I really _must_ wet myself and swell to life
again. And here we sit at the tea-shop. People come and stare at me, and
wonder what it is. They, too, are thirsty, for they are all coolies and
have the coolie thirst.

I wet myself. I pour in cup after cup, and my body, my self sucks it in,
draws it in as if it were the water of life. Instantly it gushes out
again at every pore. I swill in more, and out it rushes again, madly
rushes out as quickly as it can. I swill in more and more, and out it
comes defiantly. I can keep none inside me. Useless--I _cannot_ quench
my thirst. At last the thirst thinks its conquest assured, taking the
hot tea for a signal of surrender; but I pour in more, and gradually
feel the tea settling within me. I am a degree less torrid, a shade more
substantial.

And then here comes my boy.

"Master, you wantchee makee one drink brandy-and-soda. No can catchee
soda this side--have got water. Can do?"

Ah! shall I? Shall I? No! I throw it away from me, fling a bottle of
cheap brandy which he had bought for me at Chung-king away from me, and
the boy looks forlorn.

Tea is the best of all drinks in China; for the traveler unquestionably
the best. Good in the morning, good at midday, good in the evening, good
at night, even after the day's toil has been forgotten. To-morrow I
shall have more walking, more thirsting, more tea. China tea, thou art a
godsend to the wayfarer in that great land!

I endeavored to get the details of the population of the province of
Szech'wan, the variability of the reports providing an excellent
illustration of the uncertainty impending over everything statistical in
China--estimates ranged from thirty-five to eighty millions.

The surface of this province is made up of masses of rugged mountains,
through which the Yangtze has cut its deep and narrow channel. The area
is everywhere intersected by steep-sided valleys and ravines. The
world-famed plain of Chen-tu, the capital, is the only plain of any
size in the province, the system of irrigation employed on it being one
of the wonders of the world. Every food crop flourishes in Szech'wan, an
inexhaustible supply of products of the Chinese pharmacopoeia enrich the
stores and destroy the stomachs of the well-to-do; and with the
exception of cotton, all that grows in Eastern China grows better in
this great Garden of the Empire. Its area is about that of France, its
climate is even superior--a land delightfully _accidentee_. Among the
minerals found are gold, silver, cinnabar, copper, iron, coal and
petroleum; the chief products being opium, white wax, hemp, yellow silk.
Szech'wan is a province rich in salt, obtained from artesian borings,
some of which extend 2,500 feet below the surface, and from which for
centuries the brine has been laboriously raised by antiquated windlass
and water buffalo.

The best conditions of Chinese inns are far and away worse than anything
the traveler would be called upon to encounter anywhere in the British
Isles, even in the most isolated places in rural Ireland. There can be
no comparison. And my reader will understand that there is much which
the European misses in the way of general physical comfort and
cleanliness. Sanitation is absent _in toto_. Ordinary decency forbids
one putting into print what the uninitiated traveler most desires to
know--if he would be saved a severe shock at the outset; but everyone
has to go through it, because one cannot write what one sees. All
travelers who have had to put up at the caravanseries in Central and
Western China will bear me out in my assertion that all of them reek
with filth and are overrun by vermin of every description. The traveler
whom misfortune has led to travel off the main roads of Russia may
probably hesitate in expressing an opinion as to which country carries
off the palm for unmitigated filth; but, with this exception, travelers
in the Eastern Archipelago, in Central Asia, in Africa among the wildest
tribes, are pretty well unanimous that compared with all these for dirt,
disease, discomfort, an utter lack of decency and annoyance, the Chinese
inn holds its own. And in no part of China more than in Szech'wan and
Yuen-nan is greater discomfort experienced.

The usual wooden bedstead stands in the corner of the room with the
straw bedding (this, by the way, should on no account be removed if one
wishes to sleep in peace), sometimes there is a table, sometimes a
couple of chairs. If these are steady it is lucky, if unbroken it is the
exception; there are never more. Over the bedstead (more often than not,
by the way, it is composed of four planks of varying lengths and
thickness, placed across two trestles) I used first to place my oilskin,
then my _p'u-k'ai_, and that little creeper which rhymes with hug did
not disturb me much. Rats ran round and over me in profusion, and, of
course, the best room being invariably nearest to the pigsties, there
were the usual stenches. The floor was Mother Earth, which in wet
weather became mud, and quite a common thing it was for my joys to be
enhanced during a heavy shower of rain by my having to sleep, almost
suffocated, mackintosh over my head, owing to a slight break in the
continuity of the roof--my umbrella being unavailable, as one of my men
dropped it over a precipice two days out. For many reasons a camp-bed is
to Europeans an indispensable part of even the most modest traveling
equipment. I was many times sorry that I had none with me.

The inns of Szech'wan, however, are by many degrees better than those of
Yuen-nan, which are sometimes indescribable. Earthen floors are saturated
with damp filth and smelling decay; there are rarely the paper windows,
but merely a sort of opening of woodwork, through which the offensive
smells of decaying garbage and human filth waft in almost to choke one;
tables collapse under the weight of one's dinner; walls are always in
decay and hang inwards threateningly; wicked insects, which crawl and
jump and bite, creep over the side of one's rice bowl--and much else.
Who can describe it? It makes one ill to think of it.

Throughout my journeyings it was necessary for my toileting, in fact,
everything, to be performed in absolute unalloyed publicity. Three days
out my boy fixed up a cold bath for me, and barricaded a room which had
a certain amount of privacy about it, owing to its secluded position;
but even grown men and women, anxious to see what _it_ was like when it
had no clothes on, came forward, poked their fingers through the paper
in the windows (of course, glass is hardly known in the interior), and
greedily peeped in. This and the profound curiosity the people evince in
one's every action and movement I found most trying.

It was my misfortune each day at this stage to come into a town or
village where market was in progress. Catching a sight of the foreign
visage, people opened their eyes widely, turned from me, faced me again
with a little less of fear, and then came to me, not in dozens, but in
hundreds, with open arms. They shouted and made signs, and walking
excitedly by my side, they examined at will the texture of my clothes,
and touched my boots with sticks to see whether the feet were encased or
not. For the time I was their hero. When I walked into an inn business
brightened immediately. Tea was at a premium, and only the richer class
could afford nine cash instead of three to drink tea with the bewildered
foreigner. The most inquisitive came behind me, rubbing their unshaven
pates against the side of my head in enterprising endeavor to see
through the sides of my spectacles. They would speak to me, yelling in
their coarsest tones thinking my hearing was defective. I would motion
then to go away, always politely, cleverly suppressing my sense of
indignation at their conduct; and they would do so, only to make room
for a worse crowd. The town's business stopped; people left their stalls
and shops to glare aimlessly at or to ask inane and unintelligible
questions about the barbarian who seemed to have dropped suddenly from
the heavens. When I addressed a few words to them in strongest
Anglo-Saxon, telling them in the name of all they held sacred to go away
and leave me in peace, something like a cheer would go up, and my boy
would swear them all down in his choicest. When I slowly rose to move
the crowd looked disappointed, but allowed me to go forward on my
journey in peace.

       *       *       *       *       *

Thus the days passed, and things were never dull.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote E: This refers to the main roads There are many places in
isolated and unsurveyed districts where it is extremely difficult and
often impossible to get along at all--E.J.D.]

[Footnote F: This rate of four hundred cash per day per man was
maintained right up to Tong-ch'uan-fu, although after Chao-t'ong the
usual rate paid is a little higher, and the bad cash in that district
made it difficult for my men to arrange four hundred "big" cash current
in Szech'wan in the Yuen-nan equivalent. After Tong-ch'uan-fu, right on
to Burma, the rate of coolie pay varies considerably. Three tsien two
fen (thirty-two tael cents) was the highest I paid until I got to
Tengyueh, where rupee money came into circulation, and where expense of
living was considerably higher.--E.J.D.]




CHAPTER VI.

_Szech-wan people a mercenary lot_. _Adaptability to trading_. _None but
nature lovers should come to Western China_. _The life of the Nomad_.
_The opening of China, and some impressions_. _China's position in the
eyes of her own people_. _Industrialism, railways, and the attitude of
the populace_. _Introduction of foreign machinery_. _Different opinions
formed in different provinces_. _Climate, and what it is responsible
for_. _Recent Governor of Szech-wan's tribute to Christianity_. _New
China and the new student_. _Revolutionary element in Yuen-nan_. _Need of
a new life, and how China is to get it_. _Luchow, and a little about
it_. _Fusong from the military_. _Necessity of the sedan-chair_. _Cost
of lodging_. _An impudent woman_. _Choice pidgin-English_. _Some of the
annoyances of travel_. _Canadian and China Inland missionaries_.
_Exchange of yarns_. _Exasperating Chinese life, and its effects on
Europeans_. _Men refuse to walk to Sui-fu. Experiences in arranging
up-river trip_. _Unmeaning etiquette of Chinese officials toward
foreigners_. _Rude awakening in the morning_. _A trying early-morning
ordeal_. _Reckonings do not tally_. _An eventful day_. _At the China
Inland Mission_. _Impressions of Sui-fu. Fictitious partnerships_.


The people of Szech'wan, compared with other Yangtze provinces, must be
called a mercenary, if a go-ahead, one.

Balancing myself on a three-inch form in a tea-shop at a small town
midway between Li-shih-ch'ang and Luchow, I am endeavoring to take in
the scene around me. The people are so numerous in this province that
they must struggle in order to live. Vain is it for the most energetic
among them to escape from the shadow of necessity and hunger; all are
similarly begirt, so they settle down to devote all their energies to
trade. And trade they do, in very earnest.

Everything is labeled, from the earth to the inhabitants; these
primitives, these blissfully "heathen" people, have become the most
consummate of sharpers. I walk up to buy something of the value of only
a few cash, and on all sides are nets and traps, like spider-webs, and
the fly that these gentry would catch, as they see me stalk around
inspecting their wares, is myself. They seem to lie in wait for one, and
for an article for which a coolie would pay a few cash as many dollars
are demanded of the foreigner. My boy stands by, however, magnificently
proud of his lucrative and important post, yelling precautions to the
curious populace to stand away. He hints, he does not declare outright,
but by ungentle innuendo allows them to understand that, whatever their
private characters may be, to him they are all liars and rogues and
thieves. It is all so funny, that one's fatigue is minimized to the last
degree by the humor one gets and the novel changes one meets everywhere.

Onward again, my men singing, perhaps quarreling, always swearing. Their
language is low and coarse and vulgar, but happily ignorant am I.

The country, too, is fascinating in the extreme. A man must not come to
China for pleasure unless he love his mistress Nature when she is most
rudely clad. Some of her lovers are fascinated most in by-places, in the
cool of forests, on the summit of lofty mountains, high up from the
mundane, in the cleft of canons, everywhere that the careless lover is
not admitted to her contemplation. It is for such that China holds out
an inviting hand, but she offers little else to the Westerner--the
student of Nature and of man can alone be happy in the interior.
Forgetting time and the life of my own world, I sometimes come to
inviolate stillnesses, where Nature opens her arms and bewitchingly
promises embraces in soft, unending, undulating vastnesses, where even
the watching of a bird building its nest or brooding over its young, or
some little groundling at its gracious play, seems to hold one charmed
beyond description. It is, some may say, a nomadic life. Yes, it is a
nomadic life. But how beautiful to those of us, and there are many, who
love less the man-made comforts of our own small life than the
entrancing wonders of the God-made world in spots where nothing has
changed. Gladly did I quit the dust and din of Western life, the
artificialities of dress, and the unnumbered futile affectations of our
own maybe not misnamed civilization, to go and breathe freely and
peacefully in those far-off nooks of the silent mountain-tops where
solitude was broken only by the lulling or the roaring of the winds of
heaven. Thank God there are these uninvaded corners. The realm of
silence is, after all, vaster than the realm of noise, and the fact
brought a consolation, as one watched Nature effecting a sort of
coquetry in masking her operations.

And as I look upon it all I wonder--wonder whether with the "Opening of
China" this must all change?

The Chinese--I refer to the Chinese of interior provinces such as
Szech-wan--are realizing that they hold an obscure position. I have
heard educated Chinese remark that they look upon themselves as lost,
like shipwrecked sailors, whom a night of tempest has cast on some
lonely rock; and now they are having recourse to cries, volleys, all the
signals imaginable, to let it be known that they are still there. They
have been on this lonely isolated rock as far as history can trace. Now
they are launching out towards progress, towards the making of things,
towards the buying and selling of things--launching out in trade and in
commerce, in politics, in literature, in science, in all that has spelt
advance in the West. The modern spirit is spreading speedily into the
domains of life everywhere--in places swiftly, in places slowly, but
spreading inevitably, _si sit prudentia_.

Nothing will tend, in this particular part of the country, to turn it
upside down and inside out more than the cult of industrialism. In a
number of centers in Eastern China, such as Han-yang and Shanghai,
foreign mills, iron works, and so on, furnish new employments, but in
the interior the machine of the West to the uneducated Celestial seems
to be the foe of his own tools; and when railways and steam craft
appear--steam has appeared, of course, on the Upper Yangtze, although it
has not yet taken much of the junk trade, and Szech'wan has her railways
now under construction (the sod was cut at Ichang in 1909)[G]--and a
single train and steamer does the work of hundreds of thousands of
carters, coolies, and boatmen, it is wholly natural that their imperfect
and short-sighted views should lead them to rise against a seeming new
peril.

Whilst in the end the Empire will profit greatly by the inventions of
the Occident, the period of transition in Szech'wan, especially if
machines are introduced too rapidly and unwisely, is one that will
disturb the peace. It will be interesting to watch the attitude of the
people towards the railway, for Szech'wan is essentially the province of
the farmer. Szech'wan was one of the provinces where concessions were
demanded, and railways had been planned by European syndicates, and
where the gentry and students held mass meetings, feverishly declaring
that none shall build Chinese lines but the people themselves. I have no
space in a work of this nature to go fully into the question of
industrialism, railways, and other matters immediately vital to the
interests of China, but if the peace of China is to be maintained, it
is incumbent upon every foreigner to "go slowly." Machines of foreign
make have before now been scrapped, railways have been pulled up and
thrown into the sea, telegraph lines have been torn down and sold, and
on every hand among this wonderful people there has always been apparent
a distinct hatred to things and ideas foreign. But industrially
particularly the benefits of the West are being recognized in Eastern
China, and gradually, if foreigners who have to do the pioneering are
tactful, trust in the foreign-manufactured machine will spread to
Western China, and enlarged industrialism will bring all-round
advantages to Western trade.

Thus far there has been little shifting of the population from hamlets
and villages to centers of new industries--even in the more forward
areas quoted--but when this process begins new elements will enter into
the Chinese industrial problem.

As we hear of the New China, so is there a "new people," a people
emboldened by the examples of officials in certain areas to show a
friendliness towards progress and innovation. They were not friendly a
decade ago. It may, perhaps, be said that this "new people" were born
after the Boxer troubles, and in Szech'wan they have a large influence.

Cotton mills, silk filatures, flour and rice mills employing western
machinery, modern mining plants and other evidences of how China is
coming out of her shell, cause one to rejoice in improved conditions.
The animosity occasioned by these inventions that are being so gradually
and so surely introduced into every nook and cranny of East and North
China is very marked; but on close inspection, and after one has made a
study of the subject, one is inclined to feel that it is more or less
theoretical. So it is to be hoped it will be in Szech'wan and Far
Western China.

Readers may wonder at the differences of opinions expressed in the
course of these pages--a hundred pages on one may get a totally
different impression. But the absolute differences of conditions
existing are quite as remarkable. From Chung-king to Sui-fu one breathed
an air of progress--after one had made allowance for the antagonistic
circumstances under which China lives--a manifest desire on every hand
for things foreign, and a most lively and intelligent interest in what
the foreigner could bring. In many parts of Yuen-nan, again, conditions
were completely reversed; and one finding himself in Yuen-nan, after
having lived for some time at a port in the east of the Empire, would
assuredly find himself surrounded by everything antagonistic to that to
which he has become accustomed, and the people would seem of a different
race. This may be due to the differences of climate--climate, indeed, is
ultimately the first and the last word in the East; it is the arbiter,
the builder, the disintegrator of everything. A leading writer on
Eastern affairs says that the "climate is the explanation of all this
history of Asia, and the peoples of the East can only be understood and
accounted for by the measuring of the heat of the sun's rays. In China,
with climate and weather charts in your hands, you may travel from the
Red River on the Yuen-nan frontier to the great Sungari in lusty
Manchuria, and be able to understand and account for everything."

However that may be, traveling in China, through a wonderful province
like Szech'wan, whose chief entrepot is fifteen hundred miles from the
coast, convinces one that she has come to the parting of the ways. You
can, in any city or village in Szech'wan--or in Yuen-nan, for that
matter, in a lesser degree--always find the new nationalism in the form
of the "New China" student. Despite the opposition he gets from the old
school, and although the old order of things, by being so strong as
almost to overwhelm him, allows him to make less progress than he
would, this new student, the hope of the Empire, is there. I do not wish
to enter into a controversy on this subject, but I should like to quote
the following from a speech delivered by Tseh Ch'un Hsuean, when he was
leaving his post as Governor of Szech'wan:--

"The officials of China are gradually acquiring a knowledge of the great
principles of the religions of Europe and America. And the churches are
also laboring night and day to readjust their methods, and to make known
their aims in their propagation of religion. Consequently, Chinese and
foreigners are coming more and more into cordial relations. This fills
me with joy and hopefulness.... My hope is that the teachers of both
countries [Great Britain and America] will spread the Gospel more wisely
than ever, that hatred may be banished, and disputes dispelled, and that
the influence of the Gospel may create boundless happiness for my people
of China. And I shall not be the only one to thank you for coming to the
front in this good work.... May the Gospel prosper!"

There are various grades of people in China, among which the scholar has
always come first, because mind is superior to wealth, and it is the
intellect that distinguishes man above the lower order of beings, and
enables him to provide food and raiment and shelter for himself and for
others. At the time when Europe was thrilled and cut to the quick with
news of the massacres of her compatriots in the Boxer revolts, the
scholar was a dull, stupid fellow--day in day out, week in week out,
month in month out, and year after year he ground at his classics. His
classics were the _Alpha_ and _Omega_; he worshipped them. This era has
now passed away.

At the present moment there are upwards of twenty thousand Chinese
students in Tokyo[H]--whither they went because Japan is the most
convenient country wherein to acquire Western knowledge. The new
learning, the new learning--they _must_ have the new learning! No high
office is ever again likely to be given but to him who has more of
Western knowledge than Chinese knowledge. And mere striplings, nursed in
the lap of the mission schools, and there given a good grounding in
Western education, these are the men far more likely to pass the new
examinations. In Yuen-nan, where little chance exists for the scholars to
advance, the new learning has brought with it a revolutionary element,
which would soon become dangerous were it by any means common. I have
seen an English-speaking fellow, anxious to get on and under the
impression that the laws of his country were responsible for keeping him
back, write in the back of his exercise book a phrase against the
imperial ruler that would have cost him his head had it come to the
notice of the high authorities.

One will learn much if he travels across the Empire--facts and figures
quite irreconcilable will arise, but even the man of dullest perception
will be convinced that much of the reforming spirit in the people is
only skin-deep, going no farther than the externals of life. It is at
present, perhaps, merely a mad fermentation in the western provinces,
wherefrom the fiercer it is the clearer the product will one day evolve
itself. Such transitions are full of bewilderment to the
European--bewildering to any writer who endeavors to tackle the Empire
as a whole. Each province or couple of provinces should be dealt with
separately, so diverse are the conditions.

But if China, from the highest to the lowest, will only embrace truth
and love her for her own sake, so that she will not abate one jot of
allegiance to her; if China will let truth run down through the
arteries of everyday commercial, social, and political life as do the
waterways through her marvelous country; if China will kill her
retardative conservatism, and in its place erect honesty and conscience;
if China will let her moral life be quickened--then her transition
period, from end to end of the Empire, will soon end. Mineral,
agricultural, industrial wealth are hers to a degree which is not true
of any other land. Her people have an enduring and expansive power that
has stood the test of more than four thousand years of honorable
history, and their activity and efficiency outside China make them more
to be dreaded, as competitors, than any race or any dozen races of
to-day.

But New China must have this new life.

Commerce, science, diplomacy, culture, civilization she will have in
ever-increasing measure just in so much as she draws nearer to western
peoples. But the new life can come from whence? From within or from
without?

Luchow, into which I was led just before noon on the fourth day out of
Chung-king, is the most populous and richest city on the Upper Yangtze.

Exceedingly clean for a Chinese city, possessing well-kept streets lined
with well-stocked emporiums, bearing every evidence of commercial
prosperity, it however lacks one thing. It has no hotel runners! I
arrived at midday, crossing the river in a leaky ferry boat, under a
blazing sun, my intention being to stop in the town at a tea-house to
take a refresher, and then complete a long day's march, farther than the
ordinary stage. But owing to some misunderstanding between the
_fu-song_, sent to shadow the foreigner on part of his journey, and my
boy, I was led through the busy city out into the open country before I
had had a drink. And when I remonstrated they led me back again to the
best inn, where I was told I should have to spend the night--there being
nothing else, then, to be said.

May I give a word of advice here to any reader contemplating a visit to
China under similar conditions? It is the custom of the mandarins to
send what is called a _fu-song_ (escort) for you; the escort comes from
the military, although their peculiar appearance may lead you to doubt
it. I have two of these soldier people with me to-day, and two bigger
ragamuffins it has not been my lot to cast eyes on. They are the only
two men in the crowd I am afraid of. They are of absolutely no use, more
than to eat and to drink, and always come up smiling at the end of their
stage for their _kumshaw_. During the whole of this day I have not seen
one of them--they have been behind the caravan all the time; it would be
hard to believe that they had sense enough to find the way, and as for
escorting me, they have not accompanied me a single li of the way.[I]

Another nuisance, of which I have already spoken, is the necessity of
taking a chair to maintain respectability. These things make travel in
China not so cheap as one would be led to imagine. Traveling of itself
is cheap enough, as cheap as in any country in the world. For
accommodation for myself, for a room, rice and as much hot water as I
want, the charge is a couple of hundred cash--certainly not expensive.
In addition, there is generally a little "cha tsien" (tea money) for the
cook. But it is the "face" which makes away with money, much more than
it takes to keep you in the luxury that the country can offer--which is
not much!

After I had had a bit of a discussion with my boy as to the room they
wanted to house me in, a woman, brandishing a huge cabbage stump above
her head, and looking menacingly at me, yelled that the room was good
enough.

"What does she say, T'ong?"

"Oh, she b'long all same fool. She wantchee makee talkee talk. She have
got velly long tongue, makee bad woman. She say one piecee Japan man
makee stay here t'ree night. See? She say what makee good one piecee
Japan man makee good one piecee English man. See? No have got topside,
all same bottomside have got. Master, this no b'long my pidgin--this
b'long woman pidgin, and woman b'long all same fool." T'ong ended up
with an amusing allusion to the lady's mother, and looked cross because
I rebuked him.

Gathering, then, that the lady thought her room good enough for me, I
saw no other course open, and as the crowd was gathering, I got inside.
Before setting out to call upon the Canadian missionaries stationed at
the place, I held a long conversation with a hump-backed old man, an
unsightly mass of disease, who seemed to be a traditional link of
Luchow. I might say that this scholastic old wag spoke nothing but
Chinese, and I, as the reader knows, spoke no Chinese, so that the
amount of general knowledge derived one from the other was therefore
limited. But he would not go, despite the frequent deprecations of T'ong
and my coolies, and my vehement rhetoric in explanation that his
presence was distasteful to me, and at the end of the episode I found it
imperative for my own safety, and perhaps his, to clear out.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Canadians I found in their Chinese-built premises, comfortable
albeit. Five of them were resident at the time, and they were quite
pleased with the work they had done during the last year or so--most of
them were new to China. At the China Inland Mission later I found two
young Scotsmen getting some exercise by throwing a cricket ball at a
stone wall, in a compound about twenty feet square. They were glad to
see me, one of them kindly gave me a hair-cut, and at their invitation I
stayed the night with them.

What is it in the nature of the Chinese which makes them appear to be so
totally oblivious to the best they see in their own country?

It is surely not because they are not as sensitive as other races to the
magic of beauty in either nature or art. But I found traveling and
living with such apparently unsympathetic creatures exasperating to a
degree, and I did not wonder that the European whose lot had been cast
in the interior, sometimes, on emerging into Western civilization,
appears eccentric to his own countrymen. But this in passing.

I duly arrived at Lan-chi-hsien, and was told that Sui-fu, 120 li away,
would be reached the next day, although I had my doubts. A deputation
from the local "gwan" waited upon me to learn my wishes and to receive
my commands. I was assured that no European ever walked to Sui-fu from
Lan-chi-hsien, and that if I attempted to do such a thing I should have
to go alone, and that I should never reach there. I remonstrated, but my
boy was firm. He took me to him and fathered me. He almost cried over
me, to think that I, that I, his master, of all people in the world,
should doubt his allegiance to me. "I no 'fraid," he declared. "P'laps
master no savee. Sui-fu b'long velly big place, have got plenty
European. You wantchee makee go fast, catchee plenty good 'chow.' I
think you catchee one piecee boat, makee go up the river. P'laps I think
you have got velly tired--no wantchee makee more walkee--that no b'long
ploper. That b'long all same fool pidgin."

And at last I melted. There was nothing else to do.

That no one ever walked to Sui-fu from this place the district potentate
assured me in a private chit, which I could not read, when he laid his
gunboat at my disposal.

This, he said, would take me up very quickly. In his second note,
wherein he apologized that indisposition kept him from calling
personally upon me--this, of course, was a lie--he said he would feel it
an honor if I would be pleased to accept the use of his contemptible
boat. But T'ong whispered that the law uses these terms in China, and
that nobody would be more disappointed than the Chinese magistrate if I
_did_ take advantage of his unmeaning offer. So I took a _wu-pan_, and
the following night, when pulling into the shadows of the Sui-fu pagoda,
cold and hungry, I cursed my luck that I had not broken down the useless
etiquette which these Chinese officials extend towards foreigners, and
taken the fellow's gunboat.

The _wu-pan_, they swore to me, would be ready to leave at 3:30 a.m. the
day following. My boy did not venture to sleep at all. He stayed up
outside my bedroom door--I say bedroom, but actually it was an apartment
which in Europe I would not put a horse into, and the door was merely a
wide, worm-eaten board placed on end. In the middle of the night I heard
a noise--yea, a rattle. The said board fell down, inwards, almost upon
me. A light was flashed swiftly into my eyes, and desultory remarks
which suddenly escaped me were rudely interrupted by shrill screams. My
boy was singing.

"Master," he cried, pulling hard-heartedly at my left big toe to wake
me, "come on, come on; you wantchee makee get up. Have got two o'clock.
Get up; p'laps me no wakee you, no makee sleep--no b'long ploper. One
man makee go bottomside--have catchee boat. This morning no have got
tea--no can catch hot water makee boil."

And soon we were ready to start. Punctually to the appointed hour we
were at the bottom of the steep, dark incline leading down to the river
bank.

But my reckonings were bad.

The _laoban_ and the other two youthful members of the half-witted crew
had not yet taken their "chow," and this, added to many little
discrepancies in their reckoning and in mine, kept me in a boiling rage
until half-past six, when at last they pushed off, and nearly capsized
the boat at the outset. The details of that early morning, and the
happenings throughout the long, sad day, I think I can never
forget--from the breaking of tow-lines to frequent stranding on the
rocks and sticking on sandbanks, the orders wrongly given, the narrow
escape of fire on board, the bland thick-headedness of the ass of a
captain, the collisions, and all the most profound examples of savage
ignorance displayed when one has foolish Chinese to deal with. We
reached half-way at 4:30 p.m., with sixty li to do against a wind. Hour
after hour they toiled, making little headway with their misdirected
labor, wasting their energies in doing the right things at the wrong
time, and wrong things always, and long after sundown Sui-fu's pagoda
loomed in the distance. At 11:00 p.m., stiff and hungry, and mad with
rage, I was groping my way on all fours up the slippery steps through
unspeakable slime and filth at the quayhead, only to be led to a
disgusting inn as dirty as anything I had yet encountered. It was hard
lines, for I could get no food.

An invitation, however, was given me by the Rev. R. McIntyre, who with
his charming wife conducts the China Inland Mission in this city, to
come and stay with them. The next morning, after a sleepless night of
twisting and turning on a bug-infested bed, I was glad to take advantage
of the missionary's kindness. I could not have been given a kindlier
welcome.

Sui-fu has a population of roughly 150,000, and the overcrowding
question is not the least important. It is situated to advantage on the
right bank of the Yangtze, and does an immense trade in medicines,
opium, silk, furs, silverwork, and white wax, which are the chief
exports. Gunboats regularly come to Sui-fu during the heavy rains.

Just outside the city, a large area is taken up with grave
mounds--common with nearly every Chinese city. Mr. McIntyre and Mr.
Herbert, who was passing through Sui-fu _en route_ for Ta-chien-lu,
where he is now working, showed me around the city one afternoon, and
one could see everything typical of the social life of two thousand
years ago. The same narrow lanes succeed each other, and the conviction
is gradually impressed upon the mind that such is the general trend of
the character of the city and its people. There were the same busy
mechanics, barbers, traders, wayside cooks, traveling fortune-tellers,
and lusty coolies; the wag doctor, the bane of the gullible, was there
to drive his iniquitous living; now and then the scene's monotony was
disturbed by the presence of the chair and the retinue of a city
mandarin. Yet with all the hurry and din, the hurrying and the scurrying
in doing and driving for making money, seldom was there an accident or
interruption of good nature. There was the same romance in the streets
that one reads of at school--so much alike and yet so different from
what one meets in the Chinese places at the coast or in Hong-Kong or
Singapore. In Sui-fu, more than in any other town in Western China which
I visited, had the native artist seemed to have lavished his ingenuity
on the street signboards. Their caligraphy gave the most humorous
intimation of the superiority of the wares on sale; many of them
contained some fictitious emblem, adopted as the name of the shop,
similar to the practice adopted in London two centuries ago, and so
common now in the Straits Settlements, where bankrupts are allowed
considerable more freedom than would be possible if fictitious
registration were not allowed. I refer to the Registration of
Partnerships.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote G: I inspected the railway at Ichang in December, 1910, and
found that a remarkable scheme was making very creditable progress.
Around the main station centre there was an air of bustle and
excitement, some 20,000 coolies were in employment there, all the
buildings and equipment bore evidences of thoroughness, and the scheme
seemed to be going on well. But in January of this year (1911) a meeting
was held at Chen-tu, the proposed destination of the line, and the
gentry then decided that as nothing was being done at that end the
company should be requested to stop work at Ichang, and start laying the
line from Chen-tu, at the other end. "All the money will be spent," they
cried, "and we shall get nothing up this end!" If the money ran out and
left the central portion of the line incomplete, it did not matter so
long as each city had something for its money!--E.J.D.]

[Footnote H: This is not true to-day. There has been a great falling off
in numbers.--E.J.D., February, 1911.]

[Footnote I: This should not be taken to apply to the _fu-song_
everywhere. I have found them to be the most useful on other occasions,
but the above was written at Luchow as my experience of that particular
day.--E.J.D.]




FOURTH JOURNEY.

SUI-FU TO CHAO-T'ONG-FU (VIA LAO-WA-T'AN).



CHAPTER VII.

_Chinese and simplicity of speech_. _Author and his caravan stopped_.
_Advice to travelers_. _Farewell to Sui-fu_. _The postal service and
tribute to I.P.O._ _Rushing the stages_. _Details of journey_.
_Description of road to Chao-t'ong-fu_. _Coolie's pay_. _My boy steals
vegetables_. _Remarks on roads and railways_. _The real Opening of
China_. _How the foreigner will win the confidence of the Chinese_.
_Distances and their variability_. _Calculations uprooted_. _Author in a
dilemma_. _The scenery_. _Hard going_. _A wayside toilet, and some
embarrassment_. _Filth inseparable from Chinese humanity_. _About
Chinese inns_. _Typewriter causes some fun_. _Soldiers guard my
doorway_. _Man's own "inner room."_ _One hundred and forty li in a day_.
_Grandeur and solitude_. _Wisdom of traveling alone_. _Coolie nearly
cuts his toe off_. _Street scene at Puerh-tu_. _The "dying" coolie_. _A
manacled prisoner_. _Entertained by mandarins_. _How plans do not work
out_.


He who would make most abundant excuses for the Chinese could not say
that he is simple in his speech.

That speech is the chief revelation of the mind, the first visible form
that it takes, is undoubtedly true: as the thought, so the speech.
All social relations with us have their roots in mutual trust, and this
trust is maintained by each man's sincerity of thought and speech.
Apparently not so in China. There is so much craft, so much diplomacy,
so much subtle legerdemain that, if he chooses, the Chinese may give you
no end of trouble to inform yourself on the simplest subject. The
Chinese, like so many cavillers and calumniators, all glib of tongue,
who know better than any nation on earth how to turn voice and pen to
account, have taken the utmost advantage of extended means of
circulating thought, with the result that an Englishman such as myself,
even were I a deep scholar of their language, would have the greatest
difficulty in getting at the truth about their own affairs.

As I was going out of Sui-fu my caravan and myself were delayed by some
fellow, who held the attention of my men for a full quarter of an hour.
I listened, understanding nothing. After another five minutes, by which
time the conversation had assumed what I considered dangerous
proportions, having the safety of my boy at heart, I asked--

"T'ong, what is it?"

"Half a sec.," he replied (having learnt this phrase from the gunboat
men down the river). He did not, however, take his eyes from the man
with whom he was holding the conversation. He then dived into my
food-basket, wrenched off the top of a tin, and pulled therefrom two
beautifully-marked live pigeons, which flapped their wings helplessly to
get away, and resumed the conversation. Talk waxed furious, the birds
were placed by the side of the road, and T'ong, now white with seeming
rage, threatened to hit the man. It turned out that the plaintiff was
the seller of the birds, and that T'ong had got them too cheap.

"That man no savee. He thinkee you, master, have got plenty money. He
b'long all same rogue. I no b'long fool. I know, I know."

As the cover of the food-basket was closed down I noticed a cooked fowl,
two live pheasants with their legs tied together, a pair of my own muddy
boots, a pair of dancing pumps, and a dirty collar, all in addition to
my little luxuries and the two pigeons aforesaid. Reader, if thou
would'st travel in China, peep not into thy _hoh shih lan tsi_ if thou
would'st feed well.

T'ong, laughing derisively, waved fond and fantastic salutations to the
disappointed vendor of pigeons, and moved backwards on tiptoe till he
could see him no more; then we went noiselessly down a steep incline out
into an open space of distracted and dishevelled beauty on our way to
Chao-t'ong-fu.

From Chung-king I had stuck to the regular stages. I had done no
hustling, but I decided to rush it to Chao-t'ong if I could, as the
reports I heard about being overtaken by the rains in Yuen-nan were
rather disquieting. I had taken to Sui-fu three times as long as the
regular mail time, the service of which is excellent. Chung-king has no
less than six local deliveries daily, thus eliminating delays after the
delivery of the mails, and a daily service to the coast has also been
established. A fast overland service to Wan Hsien now exists, by which
the coast mails are transmitted between that port and Chung-king in the
hitherto unheard-of time of two days--a traveler considers himself
fortunate if he covers the same distance in eight days. There are fast
daily services to Luchow (380 li distant) in one day, Sui-fu (655 li) in
two days, Hochow (180 li) in one night, and Chen-tu (1,020 li) in three
days. It is creditable to the Chinese Imperial Post Office that a letter
posted at Sui-fu will be delivered in Great Britain in a month's time.

It was a dull, chilly morning that I left Sui-fu, leading my little
procession through the city on my way to Anpien, which was to be reached
before sundown. My coolies--probably owing to having derived more
pecuniary advantage than they expected during the journey from
Chung-king--decided to re-engage, and promised to complete the
fourteen-day tramp to Chao-t'ong-fu, two hundred and ninety miles
distant, if weather permitted, in eleven days. We were to travel by the
following stages:--

                          Length of        Height above
                            stage              sea

    1st day--Anpien          90 li            ----
    2nd day--Huan-chiang     55 li            ----
    3rd day--Fan-ih-ts'uen   70 li            ----
    4th day--T'an-t'eo       70 li            ----
    5th day--Lao-wa-t'an    140 li           1,140 ft.
    6th day--Teo-sha-kwan    60 li           4,000 ft.
    7th day--Ch'i-li-p'u     60 li           1,900 ft.
    8th day--Ta-wan-tsi      70 li            ----
    9th day--Ta-kwan-ting    70 li           3,700 ft.
    10th day--Wuchai         60 li           7,000 ft.
    11th day--Chao-t'ong-fu 100 li           6,400 ft.

I knew that I was in for a very hard journey. The nature of the country
as far as T'an-t'eo, ten li this side of which the Szech'wan border is
reached, is not exhausting, although the traveler is offered some rough
and wild climbing. The next day's stage, to Lao-wa-t'an, is miserably
bad. At certain places it is cut out of the rock, at others it runs in
the bed of the river, which is dotted everywhere with roaring rapids (as
we are ascending very quickly), and when the water is high these roads
are submerged and often impassable. In some places it was a six-inch
path along the mountain slope, with a gradient of from sixty to seventy
degrees, and landslips and rains are ever changing the path.

Lao-wa-t'an is the most important point on the route. One of the largest
Customs stations in the province of Yuen-nan is here situated at the east
end of a one-span suspension bridge, about one hundred and fifty feet in
length. No ponies carrying loads are allowed to cross the bridge, the
roads east of this being unfit for beasts of burden. There is then a
fearful climb to a place called Teo-sha-kwan, a stage of only sixty li.
The reader should not mentally reduce this to English miles, for the
march was more like fifty miles than thirty, if we consider the
physical exertion required to scale the treacherous roads. Over a broad,
zigzagging, roughly-paved road, said to have no less than ninety-eight
curves from bottom to top, we ascend for thirty li, and then descend for
the remainder of the journey through a narrow defile along the northern
bank of the river, the opposite side being a vertical sheet of rock
rising to at least a thousand feet sheer up, very similar to the gorges
of the Mekong at the western end of the province, which I crossed in due
course.

To Ch'i-li-p'u, high up on the mountain banks, the first twenty-five li
is by the river. At the half-way place a fearful ascent is experienced,
the most notable precipice on the route between Sui-fu and Yuen-nan-fu,
up a broad zigzag path, and as I sat at dinner I could see neither top
nor bottom owing to the overhanging masses of rock: this is after having
negotiated an ascent quite as steep, but smaller. To Ta-kwan-hsien a few
natural obstacles occur, although the road is always high up on the
hill-sides. I crossed a miserable suspension bridge of two spans. The
southern span is about thirty feet, the northern span eighty feet; the
center is supported by a buttress of splendid blocks of squared stone,
resting on the rock in the bed of the river, one side being considerably
worn away by the action of the water. The longer span was hung very
slack, the woodwork forming the pathway was not too safe, and the
general shaky appearance was particularly uninviting.

From Ta-kwan-hsien to Wuchai is steady pulling. Once in an opening in
the hill we passed along and then ascended an exceedingly steep spur on
one side of a narrow and very deep natural amphitheatre, formed by
surrounding mountains. We then came to a lagoon, and eventually the brow
of the hill was reached. Thus the Wuchai Valley is arrived at, where,
owing to a collection of water, the road is often impassable to man and
beast. Often during the rainy season there is a lagoon of mud or water
formed by the drainage from the mountains, which finds no escape but by
percolating through the earth and rock to a valley on the east of, and
below, the mountains forming the eastern boundary of the Wuchai Valley.
To Chao-t'ong is fairly level going.

Considering the road, it was not unnatural that my men gibbed a little
at the eleven-day accomplishment. I had a long parley with them,
however, and agreed to reward them to the extent of one thousand cash
among the three if they did it. Their pay for the journey, over
admittedly some of the worst roads in the Empire, was to be four hundred
cash per man as before, with three hundred and thirty-three cash extra
if the rain did not prevent them from getting in in eleven days. They
were in good spirits, and so was I, as we walked along the river-bank,
where the poppy was to be seen in full flower, and the unending beds of
rape alternated with peas and beans and tobacco. T'ong would persist in
stealing the peas and beans to feed me on, and for the life of me I
could not get him to see that he should not do this sort of thing. But
how continually one was impressed with the great need of roads in
Western China! It is natural that, walking the whole distance, I should
notice this more than other travelers have done, and, to my mind, roads
in this part of the country rank in importance before the railways.

To the foreign mind it is more to the interests of China that railways
should be well and serviceably built than that the money should be
squandered to no purpose. If the railway has rails, then in China it can
be called a railway, and China is satisfied. So with the roads. If there
is any passage at all, then the Chinese call it a road, and China is
satisfied.

As one meanders through the country, watching a people who are equalled
nowhere in the world for their industry, plodding away over the worst
roads any civilized country possesses, he cannot but think, even looking
at the question from the Chinese standpoint so far as he is able, that,
were free scope once given for the infusion of Western energy and
methods into an active, trade-loving people like the Chinese, China
would rival the United States in wealth and natural resources. The
Chinese knows that his country, the natural resources of the country and
the people, will allow him to do things on a scale which will by and by
completely overbalance the doings of countries less favored by Nature
than his own. He knows that when properly developed his country will be
one of the richest in the world, yet even when he is filled with such
ideas he is just as cunctative as he has ever been. He has the idea that
he should not commence to exhaust the wealth of his country before it is
absolutely necessary.

Above all, he has now made up his mind that he himself, unaided by the
foreigner, is going to develop it just as he likes and just when he
likes.

The day of the foreign concession is gone. The Chinese now is paddling
his own canoe, and it is only by cultivating his friendship, by proving
to him by acts, and not by words, that the intrusion of privileged
enterprises--such as great mining concessions and railway concessions,
in which the foreigner demands that he be the only principal--is no
longer contemplated, that the day will be won. But it is equally true
that only by combining European and Chinese interests on the modern
company system, the real Opening of China can be effected.

       *       *       *       *       *

Distances are as variable as the wind in the Middle Kingdom.

The first forty li on this journey were much shorter than the last
thirty, which took about twice as long to cover. I dragged along over
the narrow path through the wheat fields, and, making for an old man,
who looked as if he should know, I asked him the distance to my
destination. His reply of twenty li I accepted as accurate, and I
reckoned that I could cover this easily in a couple of hours. But at the
end of this time we had, according to a casual wayfarer, five more li,
and when we had covered at least four another rustic said it was "two
and a bit." This answer we got from four different people on the way,
and I was glad when I had completed the journey. One does not mind the
two li so much--it is the "bit" which upsets one's calculations.

The following day, on the road to Huan-chiang, I lost myself--that is, I
lost my men, and did not know the road. I got away into some quaint,
secluded garden and sat down, tired and hot, under a tree in the shade,
where a faint wind swung the heavy foliage with a solemn sound, and the
subdued and soothing music of a brook running between two banks of moss
and turf must have sent me to sleep. It was with a dreary sense of
ominous foreboding that I woke, as if in expectation of some disaster.
Not a living creature was visible, and I doubted the possibility of
finding anyone in such a spot. Never, surely, was there a silence
anywhere as here! Seized with a solemn fear, my presence there seemed to
me a strange intrusion. I looked around, moved forward a little,
hastened my steps to get away, but whence or how I knew not. I knew this
was a country of erratic distances--it was now getting on for
sunset--and the continuous toiling up and down the sides of the
difficult mountains had tired me. All of a sudden I heard a noise, heard
someone fall, looked round and beheld T'ong, perspiration pouring down
his back and front.

"Oh, master, this b'long velly much bobbery. I makee velly frightened. I
think p'laps master wantchee makee run away." And then, after a time:
"You no wantchee catch 'chow'?"

"Chow?"

No, I could easily have gone without food for that night. I was lost,
and now was found. I had no money, could not speak the language, was
fatigued beyond words. What would have become of me?

Miniature turret-like hills hemmed us in as in a huge park, with a
narrow winding pathway, steep as the side of a house, leading to the top
of the mountain beyond, and then descending quite as rapidly to
Fan-ih-ts'uen. The coolies told me the next day the road would be worse,
and so it turned out to be.

At 5:00 a.m. a thick drizzly rain was falling, just sufficient to make
the flagstones slippery as ice, and the European contrivances which
covered my feet stood no chance at all compared with the straw sandals
of the native. I could not get any big enough around here to put over my
boots. My carriers had gone ahead, and as I was passing a paddy field
one leg went from under me, and I was up to my middle in thin wet mud.
In this I had to trudge seven miles before I could get other garments
from the coolie, changing my trousers behind a piece of matting held up
in front of me by my boy! All enjoyed the fun--except myself. Little
boys tried to peer around the side of the matting, and, as T'ong tried
to kick them away, the matting would drop and expose me to public view.
But I had to change, and that was most important to me.

Later on, my ugly coolie--the ugliest man in or out of China, I should
think, ugly beyond description--dropped my bedding as he was crossing
the river, and I had the pleasure of sleeping on a wet bed at T'an-teo.

I must ask the reader's pardon for again referring to Chinese inns. I
should not have made any remark upon this awful hovel had not the man
laid a scheme to charge me three times as much as he should--a scheme,
be it said, in which my boy took no part. It was truly a fearful den,
where man and beast lived in promiscuous and insupportable filth. The
dung-heap charms the sight of this agricultural people, without in the
slightest wounding their olfactory nerves, and these utilitarians think
there is no use seeking privacy to do what they regard as beneficial and
productive work. The bed here was the worst I had had offered me. The
mattress, upon which every previous traveler for many years had left his
tribute of vermin, was not fit for use, there were myriads of filthy
insects, and I found myself obliged to stop and have some clothes
boiled, and for comfort's sake rubbed my body with Chinese wine. Filth
there was everywhere. It seemed inseparable from the people, and a total
apathy as regards matter in the wrong place pervaded all classes, from
the highest to the lowest. The spring is opening, and my hard-worked
coolies doff their heavy padded winter clothing, parade their naked
skin, and are quite unconscious of any disgrace attending the exhibition
of the itch sores which disfigure them.

I remember, however, that I am in China, and must not be disgusted.

And should any reader be disgusted at the disjointed character of this
particular portion of my common chronicle, I would only say in apology
that I am writing under the gaze of a mystified crowd, each of whom has
a word to say about my typewriter--the first, undoubtedly, that he has
ever seen. This machine has caused the greatest surprise all along the
route, and it is on occasions when the Chinese sees for the first time
things of this intimate mechanical nature that he gives one the
impression that he is a little boy. The people crowd into my room; they
cannot be kept out, although at the present moment I have stationed my
two soldiers in the doorway where I am writing, so as to get a little
light, to keep them from crowding actually upon me.

It has been said that all of us have an innermost room, wherein we
conceal our own secret affairs. In China everything is so open, and so
much must be done in public, that it would surprise one to know that the
Chinese have an inner room. The European traveler in this region must
have no inner room, either, for the people seem to see down deep into
one's very soul. But it is when one wanders on alone, as I have done
to-day, doing two days in one, no less than one hundred and forty li of
terrible road through the most isolated country, that one can enjoy the
comfort of one's own loneliness and own inner room. The scenery was
picturesque, much like Scotland, but the solitude was the best of all. I
had left office and books and manuscripts, and was on a lonely walk,
enjoying a solitude from which I could not escape, a reverie which was
passed not nearly so much in thinking as in feeling, a feeling to
nature-lovers which can never be completely expressed in words. It was
indeed a refuge from the storms of life, and a veritable chamber of
peace. And this, to my mind, is the way to spend a holiday. Robert Louis
Stevenson tells us in one of his early books what a complete world two
congenial friends make for themselves in the midst of a foreign
population; all the hum and the stir goes on, and these two strangers
exchange glances, and are filled with an infinite content Some of us
would rather be alone, perhaps; for on a trip such as I am making now,
in order to be happy with a companion you must have one who is
thoroughly congenial and sympathetic, one who understands your unspoken
thought, who is willing to let you have your way on the concession of
the same privilege. Selfishness in the slightest degree should not enter
in. But such a man is difficult to find, so I wander on alone, happy in
my own solitude. Here I have liberty, perfect liberty.

I was stopped on my way to Lao-wa-t'an at a small town called Puerh-tu,
the first place of importance after having come into Yuen-nan. A few li
before reaching this town, one of my men cut the large toe of his left
foot on a sharp rock, lacerating the flesh to the bone. I attended to
him as best I could on the road, paid him four days' extra pay, and then
had a bit of a row with him because he would not go back. He avowed that
carrying for the foreigner was such a good thing that he feared leaving
it! Upon entering Puerh-tu, however, he fell in the roadway. A crowd
gathered, a loud cry went up from the multitude, and in the
consternation and confusion which ensued the people divided themselves
into various sections.

Some rushed to proffer assistance to the fallen man (this was done
because I was about; he would have been left had a foreigner not been
there), others gathered around me with outrageous adulation and seeming
words of welcome. Meanwhile, I thought the coolie was dying, and,
fearful and unnatural as it seems, it is nevertheless true that at all
ages the Chinese find a peculiar and awful satisfaction in watching the
agonies of the dying. By far the larger part of the mob was watching him
dying, as they thought. But no, he was still worth many dead men! He
slowly opened his eyes, smiled, rose up, and immediately recognized a
poor manacled wretch, then passing under escort of several soldiers, who
stopped a little farther down, followed by a mandarin in a chair.

On this particular day, more than a customary morbid diversion was thus
apparent among the motley-garbed mass of men and women, and the
ignominious way in which that prisoner was treated was horrible to look
upon. The perpetual hum of voices sounded like the noise made by a
thousand swarming bees. The band of soldiers guarding the prisoner
suddenly halted, whilst the mandarin conferred with the chief, after
which he advanced slowly towards me.

I was on the point of telling him in English that I had done nothing
against the law, so far as I knew.

He bowed solemnly, during which time I, attempting the same, had much
trouble from bursting out laughing in his face. He beckoned to me, and
then rushed me bodily into a house, where, in the best room, I found
another official and his two sons. T'ong followed as interpreter. The
mandarin explained that I was wanted to stay the night, that a
theatrical entertainment had been arranged particularly for my benefit,
that he wished I would take their photographs, that one of them would
like a cigarette tin with some cigarettes in it, and that one of them
would like to sell me a thoroughbred, hard-working,
magnificently-shaped, without-a-single-vice black pony, which they would
part with for my benefit for the consideration of one hundred taels down
(four times its value), which awaited my inspection without. I stood up
and fronted them, and replied, through T'ong, that I could not stay the
night, that I would be pleased to tolerate the howling of the theatre
for one half of an hour, that it would have given me the greatest
pleasure to take their photographs, but, alas! my films were not many. I
handed them a cigarette tin, but quite forgot that they asked for
cigarettes as well (I had none), and I explained that horse-riding was
not one of my accomplishments, so that their quadruped would be of no
use to me.

They looked glum, I smiled serenely. This is Chinesey.




CHAPTER VIII

_Szech-wan and Yuen-nan_. _Coolies and their loads_. _Exports and
imports_. _Hints to English exporters_. _Food at famine rates_. _A
wretched inn at Wuchai_. _Author prevents murder_. _Sleeping in the
rain_. _The foreign cigarette trade_. _Poverty of Chao-t'ong_.
_Simplicity of life_. _Possible advantages of Chinese in struggle of
yellow and white races_. _Foreign goods in Yuen-nan and Szech'wan_.
_Thousands of beggars die_. _Supposed lime poisoning_. _Content of the
people_. _Opium not grown_. _Prices of prepared drug in Tong-ch'uan-fu
compared_. _Smuggling from Kwei-chow_. _Opium and tin of Yuen-nan_.
_Remarkable bonfire at Yuen-nan-fu_. _Infanticide at Chao-t'ong_.
_Selling of female children into slavery_. _Author's horse steps on
human skull_.


Were one uninformed, small observance would be necessary to detect the
borderline of Szech'wan and Yuen-nan. The latter is supposed to be one of
the most ill-nurtured and desolate provinces of the Empire, mountainous,
void of cultivation when compared with Szech'wan, one mass of high hills
conditioned now as Nature made them; and the people, too, ashamed of
their own wretchedness, are ill-fed and ill-clad.

The greater part of the roads to be traversed now were constructed on
projecting slopes above rivers and torrents, affluents of the Yangtze,
and cross a region upon which the troubled appearance of the mountains
that bristle over it stamps the impress of a severe kind of beauty. Such
roads would not be tolerated in any country but China--I doubt if any
but the ancient Chinese could have had the patience to build them. One
could not walk with comfort; it was an impossible task. Far away over
the earth, winding into all the natural trends of the mountain base, ran
the highway, merrily tripping over huge boulders, into hollows and out
of them, almost underground, but always, with its long white extended
finger, beckoning me on by the narrow ribbon in the distance. True,
although I was absolutely destitute of company, I had always the road
with me, yet ever far from me. I could not catch it up, and sometimes,
dreaming triumphantly that I had now come even with it where it seemed
to end in some disordered stony mass, it would trip mischievously out
again into view, bounding away into some tricky bend far down to the
edge of the river, and rounding out of sight once more until the point
of vantage was attained. Its twisting and turning, up and down, inwards,
outwards, made humor for the full long day. With it I could not quarrel,
for it did its best to help me with my weary men onwards over the now
darkened landscape, and ever took the lead to urge us forward. If it
came to a great upstanding mountain, with marked politeness it ran round
by a circuitous route, more easily if of greater length; at other times
it scaled clear up, nimbly and straight, turning not once to us in its
self-appointed task, and at the top, standing like some fairy on a
steeple-point, beckoned us on encouragingly. At times it became
exhausted and stretched itself wearisomely out, measuring in width to
only a few small inches, and overlooked the river at great height,
telling us to ponder well our footsteps ere we go forward. To part
company with the road would mean to die, for elsewhere was no foothold
possible. So in this narrow faithful ledge, torn up by the heavy tread
of countless horses' feet beyond Lao-wa-t'an (where horse traffic
starts), we carefully ordered every step. Looking down, sheer down as
from some lofty palace window, I saw the green snake waiting, waiting
for me. Slipping, there would be no hope--death and the river alone lay
down that treacherous mountain-side. And then, at times, pursuing that
white-faced wriggling demon which stretched out far over the mist-swept
landscape in incessant writhing and annoying contortions, we quite gave
up the chase. It seemed leading me on to some unknown destiny. I knew
not whither; only this I knew--that I must follow.

And so each hour and every hour was fraught with peril which seemed
imminent. But He who guards the fatherless and helpless, feeds the poor
and friendless, guarded the traveler in those days. Mishaps I had none,
and when at night I reached those tiny mountain seats, perched
majestically high for the most part and swept by all the winds of
heaven, I seemed to be the lonely spectator and companionless watcher
over mighty mountain-tops, which appeared every moment to be hesitating
to take a gigantic dive into the roaring river several hundred feet
below our lofty resting-place.

Some of the larger villages had the arrogant look of old feudal
fortresses, and up the paths leading to them, cut out in a defile in the
vertical cliffs, we passed with difficulty coolies carrying on their
backs the enormous loads, which are the wonder of all who have seen
them, their backs straining under the boomerang-shaped frames to which
the merchandise was lashed. Hundreds passed us on their toilsome journey
with tea, lamp-oil, skins, hides, copper, lead, coal and white wax from
Yuen-nan, and with salt, English cotton, Chinese porcelain, fans and so
on from Szech'wan. One false step, one slight slip, and they would have
been hurled down the ravine, where far below, in the roaring cataract,
dwarfed to the size of a toy boat, was a junk being cleverly taken
down-stream. And down there also, one false move and the huge junk would
have been dashed against the rocks, and banks strewn with the corpses of
the crew. As it was, they were mere specks of blue in a background of
white foam, their vociferating and yelling being drowned by the roar of
the waters. On the road, passing and re-passing, I saw coolies on the
way to Yuen-nan-fu with German cartridges and Japanese guns, the packing,
so different generally to British goods which come into China, being
particularly good. This is one of the cries of the importer in China
against the British manufacturer; and if the latter knew more of Chinese
transport and the manner in which the goods are handled in changing from
place to place, one would meet fewer broken packages on the road in this
land of long distances.

A friend of mine, needing a typewriter, wrote home explicit instructions
as to the packing. "Pack it ready to ship," he wrote, "then take it to
the top of your office stairs, throw it down the stairs, take machine
out and inspect, and if it is undamaged re-pack and send to me. If
damaged, pack another machine, subject to the same treatment until you
are convinced that it can stand being thus handled and escape injury."
This is how goods coming to Western China should be sent away.

Gradually the days brought harder toil. The mountains grew higher, some
covered with forests of pine trees, which natural ornament completely
changed the aspect of the country. Torrents foamed noisily down the
gorges, veiled by the curtain of great trees; sometimes, on a ridge, a
field of buckwheat, shining in the sun, looked like the beginning of the
eternal snows.

Food was at famine rates. Eggs there were in abundance, pork also; but
it was not to be wondered at that the traveler, having seen the
conditions under which the pigs are reared, refrained from the luxury of
Yuen-nan roast pig. My men fed on maize. The faces of the people were
pinched and wan, unpleasant to look upon, bearing unmistakable signs of
poverty and misery, and they seemed too concerned in keeping the wolf
from the door to attend to me. At Ta-kwan they treated themselves to a
_sheng_ of rice apiece--here the _sheng_ is 1.8 catties, as against 11
catties in the capital of the province.

At Wuchai, the last stage before reaching Chao-t'ong-fu, the room of the
inn had three walls only, and two of these were composed of kerosene
tins, laced together with bamboo stripping. (Probably the oil tins had
been stolen from the mission premises at Chao-t'ong.) Through the whole
night it rained as it had never rained before, but, instead of feeling
miserable, I tried to see the humor of the situation. One can get humor
from the most embarrassing circumstances, and my chief amusement arose
from a small business deal between one of my coolies, who had sublet his
contract to a poor fellow returning in the rain, who had arranged to
carry the ninety catties ninety li for a fourth of the original price
arranged between my coolie and myself. For one full hour they argued at
a terrible speed as to the rate of exchange in the Szech'wan large and
the Yuen-nan small cash, and this was only interrupted when a poor man,
deaf and dumb, and of hideous appearance, seeing the foreigner in his
contemptible town, rushed in with a carrying pole and felled his
grumbling townsman at my feet.

My intervention probably averted murder--at any rate, it seemed as
though murder would have taken place very soon but for my interference.
The whole populace gathered, of course, and the fight waged fiercely
until well on into the night. But wrapping myself in my mackintosh, and
putting my paper umbrella at the right angle, I went to sleep with the
rain dripping on me as they were indulging in final pleasantries
regarding each other's ancestry.

The first thing I saw at Chao-t'ong the next day was the foreign
cigarette, sold at a wayside stall by a vendor of monkey nuts and marrow
seeds. No trade has prospered in Yuen-nan during the past two years more
than the foreign cigarette trade, and the growing evil among the
children of the common people, both male and female, is viewed with
alarm. From Tachien-lu to Mengtsz, from Chung-king to Bhamo, one is
rarely out of sight of the well-known flaring posters in the Chinese
characters advertising the British cigarette. Some months ago a couple
of Europeans were sent out to advertise, and they stuck their poster
decorations on the walls of temples, on private houses and official
residences, with the result that the people were piqued so much as to
tear down the bills immediately. In Yuen-nan, especially since the exit
of opium, this common cigarette is smoked by high and low, rich and
poor. I have been offered them at small feasts, and when calling upon
high officials at the capital have been offered a packet of cigarettes
instead of a whiff of opium, as would have been done formerly. One is
not, of course, prepared to say whether such a trade is desirable or
not, but it merely needs to be made known that towards the middle of the
present year (1910) a proclamation was issued from the Viceroy's _yamen_
at Yuen-nan-fu speaking in strongest terms against the increasing habit
of smoking foreign cigarettes, to show the trend of official opinion on
the subject. After having referred to the enormous advances made in the
imports of cigarettes, the proclamation deplored the general tendency of
the people to support such an undesirable trade, and exhorted the
citizens to turn from their evil ways. We cannot stop the importation of
cigarettes, it read, but there is no need for our people to buy.

       *       *       *       *       *

At Chao-t'ong I stayed with the Rev. Dr. Savin, and spent a very
pleasant two days' rest here in his hospitable hands. It was in this
district I first came across goitre, the first time I had seen it in my
life. It is a terrible disfigurement.

Poor indeed is the whole of this neighborhood. Poverty, thin and wanting
food to eat, stalks abroad dressed in a rag or two, armed with a staff
to keep away the snarling dogs, and a broken bowl to gather garbage.

Even the better class, who manage to afford their maize and bean curds,
are to be praised for the extreme simplicity which everywhere vividly
marks their monotonous lives. Indeed, this is true of the whole area
through which I have traveled. No furniture brings confusion to their
rooms, no machinery distresses the ear with its groaning or the eye with
its unsightliness, no factories belch out smoke and blacken the beauty
of the sky, no trains screech to disturb sleepers and frighten babies.
The simplest of simple beds--in most cases merely a few boards with a
straw mattress placed thereon--the straw sandal on the foot, wooden
chopsticks in place of knives and forks, the small variety of foods and
of cooking utensils, the simple homespun cotton clothing--much of this
finds favor in the eye of the English traveler. The Chinese, of all
Orientals, teach us how to live without furniture, without impedimenta,
with the least possible amount of clothing in the case of the poorer
classes, and I could not fail to be impressed by the advantage thus held
by this great nation in the struggle of life. It may serve them in good
stead in the struggle of the Yellow Man against the White Man, to which
I refer at a later period in this book; also does it incidentally show
up the real character of some of the weaknesses of our own civilization,
and when one is in China, living near the people, one is forced to
reflect upon the useless multiplicity of our daily wants. We must have
our daily stock of bread and butter and meats, glass windows and fires,
hats, white shirts and woolen underwear, boots and shoes, trunks, bags
and boxes, bedsteads, mattresses, sheets and blankets--most of which a
Chinese can do without, and indeed is actually better off without.[J]

This is not true in every class, however; for whilst there is no denying
the charm of the simpler civilization, many of the Chinese of Szech'wan
and Yuen-nan glory in goods of foreign manufacture, no matter if to them
is not disclosed the proper purpose of any particular article adopted.

Rice will not grow here in great quantities, owing to the scarcity of
water; therefore the people feed on maize, and are thankful to get it.

Chao-t'ong is the centre of a large district devastated by recurring
seasons of plague, rebellion and famine, when thousands die annually
from starvation in the town and on the level uplands surrounding it. The
beggars on one occasion, becoming so numerous, were driven from the
streets, confined within the walls of the temple and grounds beyond the
South Gate, and there fed by common charity. Huddled together in disease
and rags and unspeakable misery, they died in thousands, and the Chinese
say that of five thousand who crossed the temple threshold two thousand
never came out alive.

This happened some twenty years ago. The unfortunate victims had for
their food a rice porridge, mixed with which was a subtance alleged to
have been lime, the common belief being that the majority of those who
perished died from the effect of poisoning. Outside the city boundary
hundreds of the dead were flung into huge pits, and even now the
inhabitants refer to the time when children were exchanged _ad libitum_
for a handful of rice or even less.

During my stay in this city, I heard on all hands some of the most
blood-curdling stories of the dire distress which, like a dark cloud,
still menaces the people, some of which are too dreadful for public
print.

But I suppose these poor people are content. If they are, they possess a
virtue which produces, in some measure at all events, all those effects
which the alchemist usually ascribes to what he calls the philosopher's
stone; and if their content does not bring riches, it banishes the
desire for them. Years ago the people could entertain some small hope
of prosperity now and again. If the opium crop were good, money was
plentiful. But now no opium is grown, and the misery-stricken people
have lost all hope of better times, and seem to have sunk in many
instances to the lowest pangs of distressful poverty.[K]

Reader, alarm not yourself! I am not here to lead you into a long
harangue on opium--it presents too thorny a subject for me to handle. I
am not a partisan in the opium traffic; my mission is not essentially to
denounce it; I am not impelled by an irresistible desire to investigate
facts and put them before you. There is practically no opium in Yuen-nan
to talk about.

This is absolute fact--not a Chinese fact, but good old British truth
(although British truth when it touches upon opium has been very, very
perverted since we first commenced to transact opium trade with this
great country). With the exception of one small patch, some ten miles
away from the main road between Yuen-nan-fu and Tali-fu, I saw no poppy
whatever in the province. This does not mean, however, that no opium is
to be had.

During the past three weeks[L] no less than five cases of attempted
suicide by opium poisoning have come under my personal notice in the
town in which I am residing, and there have doubtless been fifty more
which have not. If there is no opium, where do the people so easily
secure it in endeavors to take their lives upon the slightest
provocation? Last year the price of opium here on the streets, although
its sale was "illegal," was over three tsien (about nine-pence) the
Chinese ounce of prepared opium. At the present time, in the same city,
many men would be willing to do a deal for any quantity you like for
less than two tsien. Cases of smuggling are frequent. One gets
accustomed to hear of large quantities being smuggled through in most
cunning ways, and it all goes to show that the _people_ of Yuen-nan are
not, as some of China's enlightened statesmen and some of the ranting
faddists of England and America would have us believe, falling over one
another in their zeal to free the province from the drug.

The other day some men passed through several towns, on the way to the
capital, carrying three coffins. In the first was a corpse, the other
two were packed with opium. Being suspected at Yuen-nan-fu, the first
coffin was opened, and the carriers, making as much row as they could
because their coffin had been burst open, secured a fair "squeeze" to
hold their tongues, and the second and third coffins were passed
unexamined. Quite common is it for men to travel in armed bands from the
province of Kwei-chow, traveling by night over the mountains by
lantern-light, and hiding by day from any possible official searchers.

Opium, which is and always has been so heavily taxed, does not in
general follow the ordinary trade routes on which _likin_ stations are
numerous, but is carried by these armed bands over roads where the
native Customs stations are few, and so poorly equipped as to yield
readily to superior force, where the men are compelled to accept a
composition much below the official rate.

Opium smoking is still common in Western China among people who can
afford it. At the time of the crusade against it, wealthy people laid
in stocks enough to last them for years; and, so long as there is
smuggling from other provinces, which do grow it, into those which do
not, there will be no danger of the absolute extermination being carried
successfully into effect. Kwei-chow, in common with the western
provinces, has undeservedly secured the credit for having practically
abolished the poppy; but at the present moment (December, 1909) she is
at a loss to know what to do with her supply, and that is the reason why
people of Yuen-nan are making bargains in opium smuggled over the border.
Much has yet to be done. To prevent the growth of a plant which has been
in China for at least twelve centuries, which has had medicinal uses for
nine, and whose medicinal properties have been put in the capsule for
six, is not an easy matter, far more difficult, in fact, than the
average Englishman and even those who rant so much about the whole
business upon little knowledge can imagine. Opium has been made in China
for four centuries, and although used then with tobacco, has been smoked
since the middle of the seventeenth century.[M]

A few years ago Yuen-nan had only two articles of importance with which
to pay for extra provincial products consumed, namely, opium and tin.
The latter came from a spot twenty miles from Mengtsz, and the value of
the output now runs to approximately three million taels. Opium came
from all parts of the province and went in all directions, that portion
sent to the Opium Regie at Tonkin sometimes being close to three
thousand piculs, and the quantity going by land into China being very
much greater. Yuen-nan opium was known at Canton and Chin-kiang in 1863.
In 1879, the production was variously estimated at from twelve thousand
to twenty-two thousand piculs; in 1887 it had risen to approximately
twenty-seven thousand piculs, and since then to the time of the reform
no less certainly than thirty thousand piculs.

One afternoon, in November of 1909, the execution ground of Yuen-nan-fu
was the scene of a remarkably daring proceeding by the officials in the
campaign for the total suppression of opium in the province. No less
than 20,040 ounces of prepared opium were publicly destroyed by fire in
the presence of an enormous crowd of people. The officials of the city
were present in person, and everywhere the event was looked upon as the
greatest public demonstration that the people had ever seen.

The missionary of whom I inquired denied that the infanticide at
Chao-t'ong was very great--things must be improving!

Previous to my arrival at the city I had instructed my English-speaking
boy to make inquiries in the city, and to let me know afterwards,
whether girls were still sold publicly.

"Have got plenty," he exclaimed, in describing this wholesale selling of
female children into slavery. "I know, I know; you wantchee makee buy.
Can do! You wantchee catch one piecee small baby, can catchee two, three
tael. Wantchee one piecee very much tall, big piecee, can catch fifty
dollar."

Continuing, he told me that prices were fairly high, a girl who could
boast good looks and who had reached an age when her charms were
naturally the strongest fetching the alarming amount of three hundred
taels. This was the highest figure reached, whilst small children could
be had for anything up to twenty. This wholesale disposal of young
girls, although the traffic was in some quarters emphatically denied to
exist--a denial, however, which was all moonshine--is one of the chief
sorrows of the district. And well it might be; for thousands of children
are disposed of in the course of a year for a few taels by heartless
parents, who watch them being carried away, like so much merchandise, to
be converted into silver, in many cases in this poverty-stricken
district merely to satisfy the craving for opium of some sodden wretch
of a man who calls himself a father. Time and time again, long after I
myself passed through Chao-t'ong, did I see little girls from three to
ten years of age being conveyed by pack-horse to the capital, balanced
in baskets on either side of the animal. This and the terrible
infanticide which exists in all poor districts of China menaces the
lives of all well-wishers of the entire province of Yuen-nan.

In the particular district of which I speak it is not an uncommon sight
to see little children being torn to pieces by dogs, the scavengers of
the Empire, perhaps by the very dogs that had been their playmates from
birth. I have been riding many times and found that my horse had stepped
on a human skull, and near by were the bones the dogs had left as the
remains of the corpse.

       *       *       *       *       *

NOTE.--I should mention that, since the above was written, I have lived
and travelled a good deal around Chao-t'ong-fu, being the only European
traveller who has ever penetrated the country to the east of the main
road, by which I had now come down.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote J: Anyone who contemplates a tramp across China must not get
the idea that he can still continue the uses of civilization. For the
most part he will have to live pretty well as a Chinese the whole time,
and he will find, as I found, that it is easy to give up a thing when
you know the impossibility of getting it.--E.J.D.]

[Footnote K: This was written later. I have altered my views since I
have traveled from end to end of Yuen-nan. The disappearance of opium, on
the contrary, apart from the moral advantage to the people, has done
much to place them in a better position financially. In Tali-fu I found
not a single shop on the main street "to let," and the trade of the
place had gone ahead considerably, and this was a city which people
generally supposed would suffer most on account of the non-growth of
opium.--E.J.D.]

[Footnote L: May, 1910. As a matter of fact the date makes no
difference, because unfortunately the number of suicides from opium does
not seem to have decreased materially in Western China since the opium
crusade was started. Upon the slightest provocation a Chinese woman in
Yuen-nan will take her life, and it is probable that for the five cases
which came to my notice through the mission house there were treble that
number which did not--E.J.D.]

[Footnote M: This was written at the end of 1909 Now, in July, 1910,
things are changed wonderfully. The rapidity with which China is driving
out the poppy from province after province is truly remarkable. In
Szech'wan, in April, 1909, I passed through miles and miles of poppy
along the main road--to-day there is none to be seen It is to be hoped
that Great Britain will do her part as faithfully as China is doing
hers.]




CHAPTER IX.

THE CHAO-T'ONG REBELLION OF 1910

_Digression from travel_. _How rebellions start in China_. _Famous Boxer
motto_. _Way of escape shut off_. _Riots expected before West can be won
into the confidence of China_. _Boxerism and students of the Government
Reform Movement_. _Author's impressions formed within the danger zone_.
_More Boxerism in China than we know of_. _Causes of the Chao-t'ong
Rebellion_. _Halley's Comet brings things to a climax_. _Start of the
rioting_. _Arrival of the military_. _Number of the rebels_. _They hold
three impregnable positions, and block the main roads_. _European ladies
travel to the city in the dead of night_. _A new ch'en-tai takes the
matter in hand_. _Rumors and suspense_. _Stations of the rebels_. _A
night attack_. _Sixteen rebels decapitated_. _Officials alter their
tactics_. _Fighting on main road_. _Superstition regarding soldiers_.
_One of the leaders captured by a headman_. _Chapel burnt down and
caretaker rescued by military_. _Li the Invincible under arms_. _Huang
taken prisoner_. _Two leaders killed_. _Rising among the Miao_. _Mission
work at a standstill_. _Child-stealing, and the Yuen-nan Railway rumor_.
_Barbaric punishment_. _Tribute to Chinese officials_. _British
Consul-General_. _Resume of the position_. _An unfortunate incident_.


Despite the fact that this chapter was the last written, it has been
thought wise to place it here. It deals with the Chao-t'ong Rebellion,
of which the outside world, even when it was at its height, knew little,
but which, so recently as a couple of months prior to the date of
writing, threatened to spell extermination to the foreigners in
North-East Yuen-nan. And the reader, too, may welcome a digression from
travel.

In spite of all that has been written in previous and subsequent
chapters, and in face of the universal cry of the progress China is
speedily realizing, of the stoutest optimism characteristic of the
statesman and of the student of Chinese affairs, a feeling of deep gloom
at intervals overcomes one in the interior--a fear of some impending
trouble. There is a rumor, but one smiles at it--there are always
rumors! Then there are more rumors, and a feeling of uneasiness pervades
the atmosphere; a local bubble is formed, it bursts, the whole of one's
trust in the sincerity of the reform of China and her people is brushed
away to absolute unbelief in a few days, and it means either a sudden
onrush and brutal massacre of the foreigners, or the thing blows over
after a short or long time of great strain, and ultimately things assume
a normality in which the detection of the slightest ruffle in the
surface of social life is hardly traceable.

Such was the Chao-t'ong Rebellion, luckily unattended by loss of life
among the foreigners. It is not yet over,[N] but it is believed that the
worst is past.

At the end of 1909 probably no part of the Empire seemed more peaceful.
Two months afterwards the heads of the Europeans were demanded;
missionaries were guarded by armed soldiers in their homes inside the
city walls, and forbidden to go outside; native Christians were brutally
maltreated and threatened with death if they refused to turn traitor to
their beliefs; thousands of generally law-abiding men, formed into armed
bands, were defiantly setting at naught the law of the land, and the
whole of the main road over which I had passed from Sui-fu to
Tong-ch'uan-fu (a distance of over four hundred miles) was blocked by
infuriated mobs, who were out to kill,--their motto the famous
ill-omened Boxer motto of 1900: "Exalt the dynasty; destroy the
foreigner."

"Kill, kill, kill!" ran the cry for miles around the countryside, and a
fearful repetition of the bloody history of ten years ago was daily
feared. Providential, however, was it that no foreigner was traveling at
the time in these districts, and that those who, ignorant of the
troubles, desired to do so were stopped at Yuen-nan-fu by the Consuls and
at Sui-fu by the missionaries. It is a matter for gratitude also that
throughout the riots, specially safeguarded by the great Providence of
God, no lives of Europeans were lost; and owing to the praiseworthy and
obvious attitude of the missionaries in this area in endeavoring to keep
the thing as quiet as possible, and the notoriously conservative manner
in which consular reports upon such matters are preserved in
Governmental lockers, practically nothing has been heard of the
uprising.

At times during the four slow-moving months, however, the situation
became, as I shall endeavor to show, complicated in every way. The
escape of the foreigners was made absolutely impossible by the fact that
the whole of the roads, even those over the rough mountains leading
south, were blocked successfully by the rebelling forces, and, when the
deep gloom settled finally over the city, the fate of the Westerners
seemed sealed and their future hopeless. All round the foreigners'
houses the people, infected with that strange, unaccountable, national
hysteria, so terrible in the Chinese temperament, rose up to burn and
kill. Mayhap it means little to the man who reads. Massacres have always
been common enough in China, he will say; and there are thousands of
people in Europe to-day who know no more about China than what the
telegrams of massacres of European missionaries have told them. Years
ago one almost expected this sort of thing; but at the present day, when
China is popularly supposed to be working honestly to gain for herself
an honorable place among the nations, it is surely not to be expected in
the ordinary run of things in days of peace.

But we know that such visions are common to every European in Inland
China, and even at the coast men talk continually of and believe that
riots are going to happen in the near future. Merchant, missionary,
traveler and official all agree that there is yet more trouble ahead
before the West will be won into the confidence of China and _vice
versa_. The people who are studying the Reform Movement of the Young
China, however, and who stolidly refuse to study with it the general
attitude of the common people, laugh and dismiss with contempt the
subject of the possibility of further outbreaks of Boxerism in the
outlying parts of the Empire. But they should not laugh. The European
cannot afford to laugh, and, if he be a sensible fellow, knows that he
cannot afford to treat with contempt the opinions of the people who
know. The more we understand the vast interior of China and the
conservatism and peculiarities of character of the people of that
interior, the less disposed shall we be to jest, the less disposed to
ridicule, what I would characterize as the strongest and most deadly of
the hidden menaces of the Celestial Empire.

One does not wish to be pessimistic, but it is foolish to close one's
eyes to bare fact.

At the moment I am writing, in the middle of China, I know that I am
safe enough here, but I do not disguise from myself that the wildest
reports are still current within a quarter of a mile from me about me
and my own kind in this peaceful city of Tong-ch'uan-fu. And it takes
very little to light the fuse and to cause a terrible explosion here, in
common with other places in this province. A man might be quite safe one
day and lose his head the next if he did not, at times when the
rebellious element is apparent, conform strictly to the general wishes
and accepted customs of the people among whom he is living.

No, we cannot afford to laugh. We must seek the opinion of those people
who were confined within the walls of Chao-t'ong city--the silence of
their own homes broken up by the distant uproar of a frantic chorus of
yells and angry disputations, sounding, as it were, their very
death-knell, as if they were to form a manacled procession dragging
their chains of martyrdom to their own slow doom--before we show
contempt for the opinion of those who would tell the truth. There is
more of Boxerism in the far-away interior parts of China than we know
of.

Even as late as the middle of January of the year 1910 there was no
rumor of any uprising. About this time, however, to supply a serious
deficiency in the revenue caused by the dropping of the opium tax, since
that drug had ceased to be grown, a general poll-tax was levied, which
the people refused to pay, and at the same time they demanded that they
be allowed again to grow the poppy. Among the population of
Chao-t'ong-fu, or more particularly among the people around the city,
especially the tribespeople, this additional tax was supposed to have
been caused by the Europeans, and other wild rumors concerning the
Tonkin-Yuen-nan Railway (to be opened in the following April), which
gained currency with remarkable rapidity, added to the unrest. It
required only that brilliant phenomenon of the heavens, with its
wonderful tail--none other than Halley's Comet--to bring the whole to a
climax. This was altogether too much for the superstitious Chinese, and
he looked upon the comet as some evil omen organized and controlled by
the foreigner especially for the working of his own selfish ends in the
Celestial Empire; and a number believed it to be a heavenly sign for the
Chinese to strike.

That the riot was being started was plain, but the first definite news
the foreigners received was on February 5th, when an I-pien (one of the
tribes), whose little girl attended the mission school, was captured
and compelled to join the rebelling forces between T'o-ch-i (on the
River of Golden Sand[O]) and Sa'i-ho, in a westerly direction from the
town. A march would take place on the fifteenth of that month, the
Europeans would be assassinated, their houses would be burned and
looted--so ran the rumor. By this date, for two days' march in all
directions from Chao-t'ong, the rebels had camped, and a motley crowd
they were--Mohammendans, Chinese, I-pien, Hua Miao, and other hooligans.
Mobilization was effected by spies taking round secret cases (the
_ch'uandan_) containing two pieces of coal and a feather--a simile
meaning that the rebels were to burn like fire and fly like birds.
Meanwhile, military forces had been dispatched from Yuen-nan-fu, the
capital (twelve days away), and from Ch'u-tsing-fu (seven or eight days
away), and these, to the strength of a thousand, now came to the city,
and it was thought that the brigadier-general would be able to cope with
the trouble now that he had so many armed troops. Soldiers patrolled the
city walls (which, by the way, had to be built up so that the soldiers
might be able to get decent patrol), more were stationed on the premises
of the Europeans, and every defensive precaution was taken. The
officials were in daily communication by telegraph with the Viceroy, and
at first the riot was kept well in hand by Government authorities.

But the rebels had by this time got together no less than three thousand
men, and were holding three impregnable positions on the adjacent hills,
and had effectually cut off communication by the main road. Despite
their numbers, they were afraid to strike, however, and lucky it was for
the city that the leaders were not sufficiently trusted by their
followers, many of them pressed men--men who had joined the rebelling
ranks merely to save their own necks and their houses. At this time the
_pen-fu_ (a sort of mayor of the city) demanded that the missionaries
working among the Hua Miao, and two lady workers paying a visit to that
place, should return from Shih-men-K'an (70 li away), as he could not
protect them in the country. A special messenger was dispatched,
demanding instant departure, and in the dead of night--a bitter wintry
night, icy, dark, slippery, and cold--these ladies came under cover to
the city.

They reached the mission premises without molestation.

By this time a new _ch'en-tai_ (brigadier-general) had arrived from the
capital, having been sent as a man who could handle the situation
successfully. He was a Liu Ta Ren, who had previously held office in the
city, and whose cunning a Scotland Yard detective might envy.[P]

Rumors grew more and more serious; the mandarins went all round the
countryside endeavoring to pacify the people, and the foreigners could
do nothing but "sit tight" through these most trying days. The suspense
of being shut up in one's house during a time of trouble of this nature,
hearing every rumor which lying tongues create, and unable to get at the
facts, is far worse than being in the thick of things, although this
would have at once been fatal. But one needs to have lived in China
during such a time to understand the awful tension which riots
occasion.

The rioters were stationed as follows:--

     1. Weining, in Kwei-chow, to the southeast 1,000 men

     2. Kiang-ti Hill, in Yuen-nan, to the south 1,000 men

     3. Several places around the city, to the west as far as the River
     of Golden Sand 1,000 men

On March 13th a night attack was expected. Breathless, the foreigners
waited in their suspense, but it passed off without serious damage being
done. On the Sunday, the missionaries, almost at their wits' end with
mingled fear and excitement, occasioned by the strain which weeks of
anxiety must bring to the strongest, feared whether their services would
be got through in peace.

Meetings were being held all around the city, and gradually the
mandarins gained small successes. Prisoners--miserable specimens of men
fighting for they hardly knew what--were captured and brought to the
city, and, on March 16th, sixteen human heads, thrown in one gruesome
mass into a common basket, with upturned eyes gaping into the great
unknown, hideous-looking and bearing still the brutish stare of
hysterical craving and morbid rage, were carried by an armed squad of
military to the _yamen_.

They made a ghastly picture when hung over the gate of the city to put
the fear of death into the hearts of their brutal compatriots. The
officials, hard-worked and themselves feeling the strain of the whole
business, and incidentally fearful for the safety of their own heads,
were perturbed all this time by rumors coming from Weining, the
mutineers of which were alleged to be the fiercest of the three bands.
Up to now the officials had been playing a conciliating game. They had
been trying vainly to pacify, but now they found that they had to prove
their energies and their benevolence by acting the part of tyrants
rather than of administrators of mercy, by warring rather than by
peace-making, by fighting and forcing rather than by conciliating and
persuading.

On Easter Tuesday, fighting took place on the main road to the north,
when the _pen-fu_ and his men achieved a creditable success. The rebels
almost to a man were taken, and among the prisoners was a girl who had
been distributing the beans, a lovely damsel of eighteen, said to have
been the fiancee of the leader of that band. Both her legs were shot
through and she was considerably mutilated; but although the _pen-fu_
thought this sufficient punishment, instructions came from the capital
that she must die. She was accordingly taken outside the city and
beheaded. This caused some consternation among the rebels, as the death
of the girl was looked upon as an omen of direct misfortune.

For a very long time she had been going around the country dropping
beans into the ground outside any houses she came across, the
superstition being that wherever a bean was dropped there in the very
spot, perhaps at the very moment, for aught that we know, an invincible
warrior would spring up. She had dropped some millions of beans, but the
ranks were not swelled as a consequence.

The _ch'en-tai_ had also been out all night, and as men were captured so
they were beheaded on the spot without mercy and their heads
subsequently hung outside the city gates. The headman of a small
village--some forty li from the city--succeeded in capturing one of the
leaders, and great credit was due to him; but soon the leader was
rescued again by his followers, who then brutally killed and mutilated
the body of the headman, causing him to undergo the ignominy of having
his tongue and his heart cut out. Fighting was going on everywhere, and
by the end of March things were at their height. The fact that rain was
badly needed tended only to aggravate the situation, and that lustrous
comet made things worse. Day by day miserable processions brought the
wounded into the city, and the last day of the month, taken by sudden
fright and almost getting out of hand, the panic-stricken people raised
the cry that the rebels were marching direct for the city gates. Through
the capital tactics adopted by the mandarins, however, this was
prevented; but, on the following day, the chapel belonging to the United
Methodist Mission at an out-station was burnt to the ground and the
houses of the people razed and looted. The caretaker, a faithful Hua
Miao convert, was taken, stripped of his clothing, and threatened with
an awful death if he did not betray the foreigners. He refused manfully
to divulge any information whatsoever, and was on the point of being
sacrificed, when the _ch'en-tai_ came unexpectedly upon the scene with
his military. He released the Miao, captured thirty-six rebels, killed
sixteen more where they stood, and carried away many of their horses and
the dreaded Boxer flag around which the men rallied.

And now comes the smartest thing I heard of throughout the rebellion.

A man named Li was the most dreaded of the trio of rebel chiefs, a man
of marvelous strength, and who seemed to be able to fascinate his men
and get them to do anything he wished--and Liu, the _ch'en-tai_, set
himself the task of capturing him. Disguising himself in the garb of a
pedlar, Liu went out towards Li's camp, and met three spies on the
look-out for a possible clue to the foreigners; they asked him where the
_ch'en-tai_ was and all about him, declaring that if he did not tell
them all he knew they would take him to Li, and that he would then lose
his head. Just behind were a few of Liu's best soldiers. Strolling up
quite casually as if they knew least in the world of what was going on,
they made their arrest, and clapped the handcuffs on them before their
captives knew it. Liu ordered that two be beheaded immediately, which
was done, and the other man was kept to show where Li's camp was and
where Li himself was hiding.

And in this way Li the Invincible was captured also. This was the
master-stroke of the situation. Li was brought back to the city with
many other prisoners and a few heads, guarded by a strong body of the
military.

Almost simultaneously, Huang, one of the other rebel chiefs, was
captured; and at dusk one evening Li was put to death by the slow
process. Afraid that if he were taken outside the city his followers
might possibly re-capture him, he was murdered outside the chief
_yamen_, about ten hacks being necessary by process adopted to sever the
head from the body. Only two men have been put to death inside the walls
since the city of Chao-t'ong was built, over two hundred years ago.
After death had taken place, Li was served in the same way as he had
served the village headman, and his heart and his tongue were taken from
his body. Huang was killed in the usual way, and his head placed in a
frame on the city gate.

And so there died two of the bravest men who have headed rebellions in
this part of country of late years. Both were handsome fellows, of
magnificent physique and undaunted courage, worthy of fighting for a
better cause. It seemed so strange that two such men should have had to
die in the very bloom of life, when every strong sinew and drop of blood
must have rebelled at such premature dissolution, and by a death more
hideous than imagination can depict or speech describe, just at a time
in China's awakening when such fellows might have made for the uplifting
of their country. And they died because they hated the foreigner.

After further desultory fighting, the remaining leader, losing heart,
fled into Kwei-chow province, and for a time was allowed to wander away;
but later, a sum of a thousand taels was offered for him, dead or alive,
and I have no doubt of the reward proving too great a bait for his
followers. He has probably been given up.[Q] In the month of May the
Miao people rose to prolong the rioting, but their efforts did not come
to much, although guerilla warfare was prolonged for several weeks, and
British subjects were not allowed to travel over the main road beyond
Tong-ch'uan-fu for some time after; indeed, as I write (July 1st, 1910),
permission for the missionaries to move about is still withheld.

Then, following the rebellion, rumors spread all over the province to
the effect that the foreigners were on the look-out for children, and
were buying up as many as they could get at enormous prices to _ch'i_
the railway to Yuen-nan-fu, which by this time had been opened to the
public. Daily were little children brought to the missionaries and
offered for sale. Child-stealing became common; the greatest unrest
prevailed again. Members of the Christian churches suffered persecution,
and adherents kept at a safe distance. Scholars forsook the mission
schools. Foreigners cautiously kept within their own premises as much as
they could. Mission work was at a standstill, and all looked once more
grave enough. Two women, caught in the act of stealing children at
Chao-t'ong, were taken to the _yamen_, hung in cages for a time as a
warning to others, and then made to walk through the streets shouting,
"Don't steal children as I have; don't steal children as I have." If
they stopped yelling, soldiers scourged them.

A man was lynched in the public streets in that city for stealing a
child, and only by the adoption of the most stringent measures, which in
England would be considered barbaric, were the mandarins able
successfully to deal with the rumors and the trouble thereby caused.
Even far away down on the Capital road, children ran from me, and
mothers, catching sight of me, would cover up their little ones and run
away from me behind barred doors, so that the foreigner should not get
them.

This latter trouble was felt pretty well throughout the length and
breadth of Yuen-nan, and it must have been very disappointing to
Christian missionaries who had been working around the districts of
Tong-ch'uan-fu and Chao-t'ong-fu for over twenty years, and had got into
close contact with scores of men and women, to see these very people
taking away their children so that they should not be bought up by the
very missionaries whose ministrations they had listened to for years.

In course of time, things settled down again, but at the time my
manuscript leaves me for the publisher the danger zone has not been
greatly reduced.

In concluding my few remarks on this serious outbreak, the like of which
it is to be hoped will not be seen again in this province, it is only
fair to chronicle the excellent behavior of the Chinese officials and of
the Viceroy of Yuen-nan in dealing with the situation. Although he is
not, I believe, generally liked by the people as their ruler, Li Chin
Hsi did all he could to quell the riots speedily, and saw to it that all
the officials in whose districts the rebellion was raging, and who made
blunders during its progress, were degraded in rank. It is difficult for
Europeans thoroughly to grasp the situation. From Chao-t'ong to
Yuen-nan-fu, the viceregal seat, is twelve days' hard going, and all
communication was done by telegraph--seemingly easy enough; but one must
not discount the slow Chinese methods of doing things. Most of the
troops were twelve days away, and in China--in backward Yuen-nan
especially--to mobilize a thousand men and march them over mountains a
fortnight from your base is not a thing to be done at a moment's
notice. By the time they would arrive, it might have been possible for
all the foreigners to have been massacred and their premises demolished,
especially as the exits were blocked on all sides. But no time was lost
and no pains were saved; and although the Chao-t'ong foreign residents,
who suffered in suspense more than most missionaries are called upon to
suffer, may differ with me in this opinion, I believe that not one of
the officials who took part in endeavors to keep the riots from assuming
more actually dangerous proportions could have done more than was done.
If a man neglected his duty he lost his button, and he deserved nothing
else.

In Mr. P. O'Brien Butler, the able British Consul-General, the British
subjects had the greatest confidence. He might have erred in having
declined from harassing the Chinese Foreign Office to grant permission
and protection to Britishers who wished to travel after the leaders of
the rebellion had been captured, but he undoubtedly erred on the right
side.

An unfortunate incident for the United Methodist missionaries was the
fact that the Rev. Charles Stedeford, who was sent out by the Connexion
to visit the whole of the mission fields, was able to come only so far
as Tong-ch'uan-fu, and was forced to return to Europe without having
seen any of the magnificent work among the Hua Miao.

After my manuscript went forward to my publishers, permission to travel
and protection were granted to British subjects again on the main road
leading up to the Yangtze Valley. The author was the first Britisher to
go from Tong-ch'uan-fu to Chao-t'ong-fu, and as I write, as late as the
middle of July, 1910, I am of the opinion that it is unwise to travel
over this road for a long time to come, unless it is absolutely
imperative to do so. At Kiang-ti I had considerable trouble in getting
a place to sleep, and I was glad when I had passed Tao-ueen.

At the invitation of missionaries working among them, I then spent some
months in residence and travel in Miaoland, and only regret that an
extended account of my experiences is not possible.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote N: July, 1910.]

[Footnote O: The local name for the Yangtze.]

[Footnote P: This Liu was a remarkable man, quite unlike the average
mandarin. He got the name of Liu Ma Pang, a disrespectful term, meaning
that he was fond of using the stick. On a journey towards Chao-t'ong,
some years ago, he went on ahead of his retinue of men and horses, and
arriving at an inn at Tong-ch'uan-fu, asked the _ta si fu_--the general
factotum--for the best room, and proceeded to walk into it. "No you
don't," yelled the _ta si fu_, "that's reserved for Liu Ma Pang, and
you're not to go in there." After some time Liu's men arrived, and
calling one or two, he said, "Take this man" (pointing to the surprised
_ta si fu_) "and give him a sound thrashing." He stood by and saw the
whacking administered, after which he said, "That's for speaking
disrespectfully of a mandarin." Then, "Give him a thousand cash,"
adding, "That's for knowing your business."

Some years ago Liu was the means of saving the life of the late Mr.
Litton (mentioned later in this book), at the time he was British Consul
at Tengyueh, when there was fighting down in the south of Yuen-nan with
the Wa's.--E.J.D.]

[Footnote Q: He was captured some months afterwards, I believe, at
Mengtsz.--E.J.D.]




CHAPTER X.

THE TRIBES OF NORTH-EAST YUeN-NAN, AND MISSION WORK AMONG THEM


Men who came through Yuen-nan twenty years ago wrote of its doctors and
its medicines, its poverty and its infanticide. There seemed little else
to speak of.

Although the tribes were here then--and in a rawer state even then than
they are at the present time--little was known about them, and men had
not yet developed the cult of putting their opinions upon this most
absorbing topic into print. To-day, however, scores of men in Europe are
eagerly devouring every line of copy they can get hold of bearing upon
this fascinating ethnological study. Missionaries are plagued by
inquiries for information respecting the tribes of Western China, and it
is a curious feature of the situation that, with each article or book
coming before the public contradiction follows contradiction, and very
few people--not even those resident in the areas and working among the
tribes--can agree absolutely upon any given points in their data. The
numerous non-Chinese tribes I met in China formed one of the most
interesting, and at the same time most bewildering, features of my
travel; and I can quite agree with Major H.R. Davies,[R] who tackles the
tribe question with considerable ability in his book on Yuen-nan, when he
says that it is safe to assert that in hardly any part of the world is
there such a large variety of languages and dialects as are to be found
in the country which lies between Assam and the eastern border of
Yuen-nan, and in the Indo-Chinese countries to the north of that region.
The reason for it is generally ascribed to the physical characteristics
of the country, the high mountain ranges and deep, swift-flowing rivers,
which have brought about the differences in customs and language and the
innumerable tribal distinctions so perplexing to him who would put
himself in the position of an inquirer into Indo-Chinese ethnology. I
know more than one gentleman in Yuen-nan at the present moment having
under preparation manuscript upon this subject intended for subsequent
publication, and I feel sure that their efforts will add valuable
information to the all too limited supply now obtainable. In the
meantime, I print my own impressions.

I should like it to be known here, however, that I do not in any way
whatsoever put myself forward as an authority on the question. I had
not, at the time this was written, laid myself out to make any study of
the subject. But the fact that I have lived in North-East Yuen-nan for a
year and a half, and have traveled from one end of the province to the
other, in addition to having come across tribes of people in Szech'wan,
may justify me in the eyes of the reader for placing on record my own
impressions as a general contribution to this most exciting discussion.
I also lived at Shih-men-K'an (mentioned in the last chapter), among the
Hua Miao for several months, traveled fairly considerably in the
unsurveyed hill country where they live, and am the only man, apart from
two missionaries, who has ever been over that wonderful country lying to
the extreme north-east of Yuen-nan. One trip I made, extending over three
weeks, will ever remain with me as a memorable time, but I regret that I
have no space in this volume for even the merest reference to my
journey.

Some of my friends in China might say sarcastically that mankind is
destined to arrive at years of discretion, and that I should have known
better than to include in my book anything, however well founded, of a
nature tending to continue the wordy strife touching this vexed question
of Mission Work, and that no matter how strikingly set forth, this is an
old and obsolete story, fit only to be finally done with. It is for such
to bear with me in what I shall say. There are thousands of men in the
West who are entirely ignorant of men in China other than the ordinary
_Han Ren_, and if I enlighten them ever so little, then this chapter
will have served an admirable end.

In North-East Yuen-nan the tribes I came most in contact with were:--

(i) The Miao or Miao-tze, as the Chinese call them; or the Mhong or
Hmao, as they call themselves.

(ii) The I-pien (or E-pien), as the Chinese call them; or the Nou Su (or
Ngo Su), as they call themselves.

Probably the Nou Su tribes are what Major Davies calls the Lolo Group in
his third division of the great Tibeto-Burman Family; but I merely
suggest it, as it strikes me that the other branches of that group,
including the Li-su, the La-hu, and the Wo-ni, seem to be descendants of
a larger group, of which the Nou Su predominate in numbers, language,
and customs. However, this by the way.

It may not be common knowledge that in most parts of the Chinese Empire,
even to-day, there are tribes of people, essentially non-Chinese, who
still rigidly maintain their independence, governed by their own native
rulers as they were probably forty centuries ago, long before their
kingdoms were annexed to China Proper. There are white bones and black
bones, noses long and flattened, eyes straight and oblique, swarthy
faces, faces yellow and white, coal-black and brown hair, and many
other physical peculiarities differentiating one tribe from another.

In many instances, these tribes, conquered slowly by the encroaching
Chinese during the long and tedious term of centuries marking the growth
of the Chinese Empire to its present immensity, are allowed to maintain
their social independence under their own chiefs, who are subject to the
control of the Government of China--which means that excessive taxation
is paid to the _yamen_ functionary, who extorts money from anybody and
everybody he can get into his clutches, and then gives a free hand.
Others, in a further state of civilization, have been gradually absorbed
by the Chinese and are now barely distinguishable from the _Han Ren_
(the Chinese). And others, again, adopting Chinese dress, customs and
language, would give the traveler a rough time of it were he to suggest
that they are any but pure Chinese. To the ethnological student, it is
obvious that so soon as the Chinese have tyrannized sufficiently and in
their own inimitable way preyed upon these feudal landlords enough to
warrant their lands being confiscated, reducing a tribe to a condition
in which, far removed from districts where co-tribesmen live, they have
no _status_, the aboriginals throw in their lot gradually with the
Chinese, and to all intents and purposes become Chinese in language,
customs, trade and life. This absorption by the Chinese of many tribes,
stretching from the Burmese border to the eastern parts of Szech'wan,
whilst an interesting study, shows that the onward march of civilization
in China will sweep all racial relicts from the face of this great
awakening Empire.

But at the same time there are many branches of a tribal family, some
found as far west as British Burma and all more or less scattered and
disorganized as the result of this silent oppression going on through
the years, who still are ambitious of preserving their independent
isolation, particularly in sparsely-populated spheres far removed from
political activity. So remote are the districts in which these
principalities are found, that the Chinese themselves are entirely
ignorant of the characteristics of these tribes. They say of one tribe
which is scattered all over China Far West that they all have tails; and
of another tribe that the men and women have two faces! And into the
official records published by the Imperial Government the grossest
inaccuracies creep concerning the origin of these peoples.

Yuen-nan and Szech'wan--and a great part of Kwei-chow in the main still
untouched by the increased taxation necessary to provide revenue to
uphold the reforms brought about by the forward movement in various
parts of the Empire--are where the aboriginal population is most
evident. This part of the Empire might be called the ethnological garden
of tribes and various races in various stages of uncivilization. These
secluded mountain areas, their unaltered conditions still telling forth
the story of the world's youth, have been the cradle and the death-bed
of nations, of vigorous and ambitious tribes bent on conquest and a
career of glory.


THE MIAO

Of the Miao, with its various sections, we know a good deal. Their real
home has been pretty finally decided to be in Kwei-chow province, and
they probably in former times extended far into Hu-nan, the Chinese of
these provinces at the present time having undoubtedly a good deal of
Miao blood in their veins. They are comparatively recent arrivals in
Yuen-nan, but are gradually extending farther and farther to the west,
maintaining their language and their dress and customs. I personally
found them as far west as thirty miles beyond Tali-fu, a little off the
main road, but Major Davies found them far up on the Tibetan border. He
says: "The most westerly point that I have come across them is the
neighborhood of Tawnio (lat. 23 deg. 40', long. 98 deg. 45'). Through Central
and Northern Yuen-nan they do not seem to exist, but they reappear again
to the north of this in Western Szech'wan, where there are a few
villages in the basin of the Yalung River (lat. 28 deg. 15', long. 101 deg.
40')."

The Major was evidently ignorant of this Miao district of Chao-t'ong, to
the north-east of the province. Stretching three days from
Tong-ch'uan-fu right away on to Chao-t'ong, in a north line, Miao
villages are met with fairly well the whole way; then, three days from
Tong-ch'uan-fu, in a north-westerly direction, we come to the Miao
village of Loh-In-shan; and then, striking south-west, through country
absolutely unsurveyed part of the way, Sa-pu-shan is met. This last
place is the headquarters of the China Inland Mission, where, at the
present rate of progress, one might modestly estimate that in twenty
years there will be no less than a million people receiving Christian
teaching. These are not all Miao, however; there are besides La-ka,
Li-su, and many other tribes with which we have no concern at the
present moment.

So that it may be seen that from Yuen-nan-fu, the capital, in areas on
either side of the main road leading up to the bifurcation of the
Yangtze below Sui-fu, in a long, narrow neck running between the River
of Golden Sand and the Kwei-chow border, Miao are met with constantly.
And then, of course, over the river, in Szech'wan, they are met with
again, and in Kwei-chow, farther west, we have their real home.

It is a far cry from Miao-land to Malaysia, but as I get into closer
contact with the Miao people, the more do I find them in many common
ways of everyday customs and points of character akin to the Malays and
the Sakai (the jungle hill people of the Malay Peninsula), among whom I
have traveled. Their modes of living contain many points in common.
Ethnologists probably may smile at this assertion, the same as I, who
have lived among the Miao, have smiled at a good deal which has come
from the pens of men who have not.

In this area there are two great branches of the Miao race:--

(i) The Hua Miao--The Flowery (or White) Miao.

(ii) The Heh Miao--The Black Miao.

(Many photographs of the Hua Miao are reproduced in this volume.)

The latter are considered as the superior of the two sections, speak a
different tongue, and differ more or less widely in their methods, dress
and customs, a study of which would lead one into a lifetime of
interminable disquisitions, at the end of which one would be little more
enlightened. Those who wish to study the question of inter-racial
differences of the Miao are referred to Mr. Clarke's _Kwei-chow and
Yuen-nan Provinces_, Prince Henri d'Orleans' _Du Tonkin aux Indes_, and
Mr. Baber's works. Major Davies also gives some new information
concerning this hill people, and is generally correct in what he says;
but in his, as in all the books which touch upon the subject, the
language tests vary considerably. In Chao-t'ong and the surrounding
districts, for instance, the traveler would be unable to make any
progress with the vocabulary which the Major has compiled. I was unable
to make it tally with the spoken language of the people, and append a
table showing the differences in the phonetic--and I do it with all
respect to Major Davies. I ought to add that this is the language of the
north-east corner of Yuen-nan; that of Major Davies is taken from page
339 of his book. He says that the words given by him will not be found
to correspond in every case with those in the Miao vocabulary in the
pocket of the cover of his book, and some have been taken from other
Miao dialects!. However, the comparison will be interesting:--

                                               N-E. Yuen-nan
    English Word          Major Davies's Miao      Miao

    Man (human being)     Tan-neng, Tam-ming   Teh-neh.

    Son                   To, T'am-t'ong       Tu.

    Eye                   K'a-mwa, Mai         A-ma.

    Hand                  Api                  Tee.

    Cow                   Nyaw, Nga            Niu.

    Pig                   Teng                 Npa.

    Dog                   Klie, Ko             Klee.

    Chicken               Ka, Kei              Ki.

    Silver                Nya                  Nieh.

    River                 Tiang                Glee.

    Paddy                 Mblei                Nglee.

    Cooked Rice           Mao                  Va.

    Tree                  Ndong                Ntao.

    Fire                  To                   Teh.

    Wind                  Chwa, Chiang         Chta.

    Earth                 Ta                   Ti.

    Sun                   Hno, Nai             Hnu.

    Moon                  Hla                  Hlee.

    Big                   Hlo                  Hlo.

    Come                  Ta                   Ta.

    Go                    Mong                 Mao.

    Drink                 Ho                   Hao.

    One                   A, Yi                Ih.

    Two                   Ao                   Ah.

    Three                 Pie, Po              Tsz.

    Four                  Pei, Plou            Glao.

    Five                  Pa                   Peh.

    Six                   Chou                 Glao.

    Seven                 Shiang, I            Shiang.

    Eight                 Yi, Yik              Yih.

    Nine                  Chio                 Chia.

    Ten                   Ch'it                Kao.

The Miao language was until a year or two ago only spoken; it was never
written, and no one ever dreamed that it could be written. At the time
of the great Miao revival, when thousands of Miao made a raid on the
mission premises at Chao-t'ong, and implored the missionaries to come
and teach them, it was found absolutely necessary that the language
should be reduced to writing, and the whole of this extremely creditable
work fell to the Rev. Samuel Pollard, who may be characterized as the
pioneer of this Christianizing movement in North-East Yuen-nan.

In reducing the language to writing, however, considerable difficulty
was complicated by the presence of "tones," so well known to all
students of Chinese, itself said to be an invention of the Devil. Tones
introduce another element or dimension into speech. The number of
sounds, not being sufficient for the reproduction of all the spoken
ideas, has been multiplied by giving these various sounds in different
tones. It is as if the element of music were introduced according to
rule into speech, and as if one had not only to remember the words in
everything he wished to say, but the tune also.

The Miao people being so low down in the intellectual scale, and having
never been accustomed to study, it was felt by the promoters of the
written language that they should be as simple as possible, and hence
they looked about for some system which could be readily grasped by
these ignorant people. It was necessary that the system be absolutely
phonetic and understood easily. By adapting the system used in
shorthand, of putting the vowel marks in different positions by the side
of the consonant signs, Mr. Pollard and his assistant found that they
could solve their problem. The signs for the consonants are larger than
the vowel signs, and the position of the latter by the side of the
former gives the tone or musical note required.

At the present time there are thousands of Miao now able to read and
write, and the work of this enterprising missionary has conferred an
inestimable boon upon this people. When I went among the Miao I was
able, after ten minutes' instruction, to stand up and sing their hymns
and read their gospels with them. Miao women, who heretofore had never
hoped to read, are now put in possession of the Word of God, and the
simplicity of the written language enables them almost at once to read
the Story of the Cross. Surely this is one of the outstanding features
of mission work in the whole of China. I hope at some future date to
publish a work devoted exclusively to my travels among the Hua Miao, for
I feel that their story, no matter how simply written, is one of the
great untold romances of the world. As a people, they are extremely
fascinating in life and customs, emotional, large-hearted, and
absolutely distinct from, with hardly a manner of daily life in common
with, the Chinese.


MISSION WORK AMONG THE MIAO

Whilst referring to mission work, it is a great privilege for the writer
to add a word of most deserved eulogy of the United Methodist Mission at
Chao-t'ong and Tongi-ch'uan-fu, and to the kindness shown by the
missionaries towards me when I came, an absolute stranger, among them in
May, 1909. It is to two members of this Mission that I owe a life-long
debt of gratitude, for it was Mr. and Mrs. Evans, of Tong-ch'uan-fu, who
saved my life, a week or two after I left Chao-t'ong, as is recorded in
a subsequent chapter.

It was in the old days of the Bible Christian Mission--than which the
individual members of no mission in the whole of China worked with more
zeal and lower stipends--that a most interesting development in the
mission took place.

The mass of the Miao are the serfs of the descendants of their ancient
kings, who are large landowners, and the Miao are tenants. In 1905 the
Miao heard of the Gospel, and came to listen to the preaching, and
thousands came in batches at one time and another to the mission house.
Their movements thus aroused suspicion among the Chinese, there was a
good deal of persecution and personal violence, and at one time it
looked as if there might be serious trouble. But the danger quieted
down. The chieftain gave land, the Miao contributed one hundred pounds
sterling, and themselves put up a chapel large enough to accommodate six
hundred people. A year later, a thousand at a time crowded their simple
sanctuary, and in 1907 nearly six thousand were members or probationers,
and the work has steadily progressed ever since.

I am indebted to the Rev. H. Parsons, who had charge of the work at the
time I passed through this district, and whose guest I was for several
months, for the following interesting details regarding the methods
adopted in the running of this enormous mission field. Mr. Parsons is
assisted in his work by his genial wife, who is a most ardent worker,
and a capable Miao linguist. Mrs. Parsons regularly addresses
congregations of several hundreds of Miao, and has traveled on journeys
often with her husband; and such work as hers, with several others in
this mission, is a testimony to the wisdom of a system advocating the
increase of the number of lady workers on the mission field in China.


THE NOU-SU (OR I-PIEN)

There is a class of people around Chao-t'ong who are called Nou-su, a
people who, although occupying the Chao-t'ong Plain at the time the
Chinese arrived, are believed not to be the aboriginals of the district.
What I actually know about this people is not much. I have heard a good
deal, but it must not be understood that I publish this as absolutely
the final word. People who have lived in the district for many years do
not agree, so that for a mere traveler the task of getting infallible
data would be quite formidable.

No tribe is more widely known than the Nou-su, with their innumerable
tribal distinctions and hereditary peculiarities so perplexing to the
inquirer into Far Western China ethnology.

The Nou-su are a very fine, tall race, with comparatively fair
complexions, suggesting a mixture of Mongolian with some other
straight-featured people. Of their origin, however, little can be
vouched for, and with it we will have nothing to do here. But at the
present time the Nou-su provide a good deal of interest from the fact
that their power as tyrannic landlords and feudal chiefs is fast dying,
and it may be that in a couple of decades, or a still shorter time, a
people who, by obstinate self-reliance and great dislike to the Chinese,
have remained unaffected by the absorbing spirit of the arbitrary
Chinese, will have passed beyond the vale of personality. Even now,
however, they own and rule enormous tracts of country (notably that part
lying on the right bank of the River of Golden Sand) in north-east
Yuen-nan. Some are very wealthy. One man may own vast tracts bigger than
Yorkshire. In this tract there may be one hundred villages, all paying
tribute to him and subject to the vagaries of his vilest despotism. From
his tyranny his struggling tenantry have no redress. So long as the
I-pien (the local name of the Nou-su) greases the palm of the squeezing
Chinese mandarin in whose nominal control the district extends, he may
run riot as he pleases. Social law and order are unknown, justice is a
complete contradiction in terms, and whilst one is in the midst of it,
it is difficult to realize that in China to-day--the China which all the
world believes to be awakening--there exists a condition of things which
will allow a man to torture, to plunder, to murder, and to indulge to
the utmost degree the whims of a Neronic and devilish temperament.

Slave trading is common. If a tenant cannot pay his tribute, he sells
himself for a few taels and becomes the slave of his former landlord,
and if he would save his head treads carefully.

In the early days, when different clans were driven farther into the
hills, they each clinched as much land as they could. In course of time,
by petty quarrels, civil wars, and common feuds, the Nou-su were
gradually thinned out. The Miao-tsi--the men of the hills and the serfs
of the landlords, who four thousand years ago were a powerful race in
their own kingdom--became the tenants of the Nou-su, whose rule is still
marked by the grossest infamy possible to be practiced on the human
race. All the methods of torture which in the old days were associated
with the Chinese are still in vogue, in many cases in an aggravated
form. I have personally seen the tortures, and have listened to the
stories of the victims, but it would not bear description in print.

It must not, however, be understood that to be a Nou-su is to be a
landlord. By no means. For in the gradual process of the survival of the
fittest, when the weaker landlords were murdered by their stronger
compatriots and their lands seized, only a small percentage of the tribe
in this area have been able to hold sway. However, wherever there are
landlords in this part of the country, they are always Nou-su or
Chinese. The Miao--or, at least, the Hua Miao, own no lands, and are
body and soul in the tyrannic clutch of the tyrannic I-pien. Then,
again, in the Nou-su tribe there are various hereditary distinctions
enabling a man to claim caste advantage. There are the Black Bones, as
they style themselves, the aristocrats of the race, and the White Bones,
the lower breeds, who obey to the letter their wealthier brethren--or
anybody who has authority over them.

The Nou-su, who are a totally different race and a much better class
than the Miao, are believed to have been driven from the Chao-t'ong
Plain, preferring migration to fighting, and many trekked across the
Yangtze (locally called the Kin-sha) river into country now marked on
good maps as the Man-tze country. It appears that the following are the
two important branches:--

     (i) The Black (Na-su)--Farmers and landowners.

     (ii) The White (Tu-su) Generally slaves.

Other minor classes are:--

     (i) The Lakes (or Red Nou-su)--Mostly blacksmiths.

     (ii) The A-u-tsi Mostly felt-makers, who rightly or wrongly claim
     relationship with the Chinese.

     (iii) Another class, who are mostly basket-makers.

The two great divisions, however, are the White and the Black. The
latter class, themselves the owners of land, claim that all the White
were originally slaves, and that those who are now free have escaped at
some previous period from servitude. Men, as usual among such tribes,
are scarcely distinguishable from the ordinary _Han Ren_. It is the
women, with their peculiar head-dress and picturesque skirts, who
maintain the distinguishing features of the race. For the most part, the
Nou-su are not idolaters; no idols are in their houses. That portion of
the tribe which migrated across the Yangtze, secure among the mountains,
has never ceased to harass the Chinese, who now dwell on land which the
Nou-su themselves once tilled, or at least inhabited; but they have been
driven into remoter districts, and are only found away from the highways
of Chinese travel. The race, too, is dying out--in this area at all
events--and the Nou-su themselves reckon that their numbers have
decreased by one-half during the last thirty years. This is one of the
saddest facts. The insanitation of their dwellings, their rough diet,
and frequent riotings in wine, opium and other evils, are quickly
playing havoc in their ranks, giving the strong the opportunity of
enriching themselves at the expense of the weak, with frequent fighting
about the division of land.

Europeans who can speak the language of the Nou-su are numbered on the
fingers of one hand.

To one who has traveled in this neighborhood for any length of time, it
must be apparent that the unique method generally adopted by the Nou-su,
that is, the landlord class, to get rich quickly is to kill off their
next-door neighbor. The lives these men live with nothing but scandal
and licentiousness to pass their time, are grossly and horribly wicked
when viewed by the broadest-minded Westerner. They all live in fear of
their lives, and are each afraid of the others, all entertaining a
secret hatred, and all ever on the alert to devise some safe scheme to
murder the owner of some land they are anxious of annexing to their
own--and in the doing of the deed to save their own necks. If they
succeed, they are accounted clever men. As I write, I hear of a man,
quite a youngster, himself an exceedingly wealthy man, who killed his
brother and confiscated his property with no compunction whatever. When
tackled on the subject, he said he could do nothing else, for if he had
not killed his brother his brother would have killed him

Yet there is no sense of crime as we of the West understand it, and
nothing is feared from the Chinese law. A man kills a slave, tortures
him to death, and when the Chinese mandarin is appealed to, if he is at
all, he looks wise and says, "I quite see your point, but I can do
nothing. The murdered man was the landlord's slave," and, with a gentle
wave of his three-inch finger-nail, he explains how a man may kill his
slave, his wife, or his son--and the law can do nothing. That is, if he
compensates the mandarin.

A Nou-su looked upon a girl one day, when he was out collecting tribute.
She was handsome, and he instructed his men to take her. She refused. A
sum of one hundred ounces of silver was offered to anyone who would
kidnap her and carry her off to his harem. Eventually he got the girl,
and had her father tortured and then put to death because he would not
deliver his daughter over to him. Yet there is no redress.

Nou-su women, their feet unbound, with high foreheads and well-cut
features, with fiery eyes set in not unkindly faces, tall and healthy,
would be considered handsome women in any country in Europe. They rarely
intermarry with other tribes. A good deal of affection certainly exists
sometimes between husband and wife and between parents and children, but
the looseness of the marriage relation leads to unending strife.

Many Europeans, travelers and missionaries, have been murdered in the
country inhabited by the independent Lolo people. Although I have not
personally been through any of that country, I have been on the very
outskirts and have lived for a long time among the people there. I found
them a pleasant hospitable race, fairly easy to get on with. And it must
not be averred that, because they consider their natural enemy, the
Chinese, the man to be robbed and murdered, and because they kill off
their fellow-landlords in order the more quickly to get rich, that they
treat all strangers alike. Among the Europeans who have suffered death
at their hands, it is probable that in some way the cause was traceable
to their own bearing towards the people--either a total lack of
knowledge of their language or an attitude which caused suspicion.

Among the Nou-su, strong as this feudal life still is, the Chinese are
fast gaining permanent influence. Their dissolute and drunken and
inhuman daily practices are tending to work out among this people their
own destruction, and in years to come in this neighborhood the traveler
will be perplexed at finding here and there a fine specimen of an
upstanding Chinese, with clean-cut face, straight of feature and
straight of limb, with a peculiar Mongol look about him. He will be one
of the surviving specimens of a race of people, the Nou-su, whose
forgotten historical records would do much to clear up the doubt
attaching to Indo-China and Tibet-Burma ethnology.

The first Nou-su chieftain to come to Chao-t'ong, a man who was renowned
as a tryannical brute, was one Ien Tsang-fu, who frequently gouged out
the eyes of those who disobeyed his commands; and his descendants are
said to have inherited a good many of this tyrant's vices. The landlords
prey upon their weaker brethren, and at last, with infinite sagacity,
the Chinese Government steps in to stop the quarrels, confiscates the
whole of the property, and thus reduces the Nou-su land to immediate
control of Chinese authorities.

"The Nou-su are, of course, entirely dependent upon the land for their
living. They till the soil and rear cattle, and the greatest calamity
that can come upon any family is that their land shall be taken from
them. To be landless involves degradation as well as poverty, and very
severe hardship is the lot of men who have been deprived of this means
of subsistence. For those who own no land, but who are merely tenants of
the Tu-muh,[S] there seems to be no security of tenure; but still, if
the wishes and demands of the landlords are complied with, one family
may till the same farm for many successive generations. The terms on
which land is held are peculiar. The rental agreed upon is nominal.
Large tracts of country are rented for a pig or a sheep or a fowl, with
a little corn per year. Beside this nominal rent, the landlord has the
right to make levies on his tenants on all special occasions, such as
funerals, weddings, or for any other extraordinary expenses. He can also
require his tenants with their cattle to render services. This system
necessarily leads to much oppression and injustice. It is also said that
if a family is hard pressed by a Tu-muh and reduced to extreme poverty,
they will make themselves over to him on condition that a portion of his
land be given them to cultivate. Such people are called caught slaves,
as distinguished from hereditary, and the eldest children become the
absolute property of the landlord and are generally given as attendants
upon his wife and daughters.

"Every farmer owns a large number of slaves, who live in the same
compound as himself. These people do all the work of the farm, while the
master employs himself as his fancy leads him. Over these unfortunate
people the owner has absolute control. All their affairs are managed by
him. His girl slaves he marries off to other men's slave boys, and
similarly obtains wives for his male slaves. The lot of these
unfortunate people is hard beyond description. Being considered but
little more valuable than the cattle they tend, the food given to them
is often inferior to the corn upon which the master's horse is fed. The
cruel beatings and torturings they have been subject to have completely
broken their spirit, and now they seem unable to exist apart from their
masters. Very seldom do any of them try to escape, for no one will give
them shelter, and the punishment awarded a recaptured slave is so severe
as to intimidate the most daring. These poor folk are born in slavery,
married in slavery, and they die in slavery. It is not uncommon to meet
with Chinese slaves, both boys and girls, in Nou-su families. These have
either been kidnapped and sold, or their parents, unable to nourish
them, have bartered them in exchange for food. Their purchasers marry
them to Tu-su, and their lot is thrown in with the slave class. One's
heart is wrung with anguish sometimes as he thinks of what cruelty and
wretchedness exist among the hills of this benighted district. Even
here, however, light is beginning to shine, for some adherents of the
Christian religion have changed their slaves into tenants, thus showing
the way to the ultimate solution of this difficult problem.

"The life in a Nou-su household is not very complex. The cattle are
driven out early in the morning, as soon as the sun has risen. They
remain out until the breakfast hour, and then return to the stables and
rest during the heat of the day, going out again in the cool hours. The
food of the household is prepared by the slaves, under the direction of
the lady of the house. There is no refined cooking, for the Nou-su
despises well-cooked food, and complains that it never satisfies him. He
has a couplet which runs: 'If you eat raw food, you become a warrior; if
you eat it cooked, you suffer hunger.' No chairs or tables are found in
a genuine Nou-su house. The food is served up in a large bowl placed on
the floor. The family sit around, and each one helps himself with a
large wooden spoon. At the present time the refinements of Chinese
civilization have been adopted by a large number of Nou-su, and the
homes of the wealthier people are as well furnished as those of the
middle-class Chinese of the district. The women of the households also
spend much time making their own and their children's clothes. The men
have adopted Chinese dress, but the women, in most cases, retain their
tribal costume with its large turban-like head-dress, its plaited skirt
and intricately embroidered coat. All this is made by hand, and the
choicest years of maidenhood are occupied in preparing the clothes for
the wedding-day.

"The Nou-su, it would seem, used not to beg a wife, but rather obtained
her by main force. At the present day, while the milder method generally
prevails, there are still survivals of the ancient custom. The betrothal
truly takes place very early, even in infancy, and at the ceremony a
fowl is killed, and each contracting party takes a rib; but as the young
folk grow to marriageable age, the final negotiations have to be made.
These are purposely prolonged until the bridegroom, growing angry,
gathers his friends and makes an attack on the maiden's home. Arming
themselves with cudgels, they approach secretly, and protecting their
heads and shoulders with their felt cloaks, they rush towards the house.
Strenuous efforts are made by the occupants to prevent their entering,
and severe blows are exchanged. When the attacking party has succeeded
in gaining an entrance, peace is proclaimed, and wine and huge chunks of
flesh are provided for their entertainment.

"Occasionally during these fights the maiden's home is quite dismantled.
The negotiations being ended, preparations are made to escort the bride
to her future home. Heavily veiled, she is supported on horseback by her
brothers, while her near relatives, all fully armed, attend her. On
arriving at the house, a scuffle ensues. The veil is snatched from the
bride's face by her relatives, who do their utmost to throw it on to the
roof, thus signifying that she will rule over the occupants when she
enters. The bridegroom's people on the contrary try to trample it upon
the doorstep, as an indication of the rigor with which the newcomer will
be subjected to the ruling of the head of the house. Much blood is shed,
and people are often seriously injured in these skirmishes. The new
bride remains for three days in a temporary shelter before she is
admitted to the home. A girl having once left her parent's home to
become a wife, waits many years before she pays a return visit.
Anciently the minimum time was three years, but some allow ten or more
years to elapse before the first visit home is paid. Two or three years
are then often spent with the parents. Many friends and relatives attend
any visitor, for with the Nou-su a large following is considered a sign
of dignity and importance. When a child is born a tree is planted, with
the hope that as the tree grows so also will the child develop.

"The fear of disease lies heavily upon the Nou-su people, and their
disregard of the most elementary sanitary laws makes them very liable to
attacks of sickness. They understand almost nothing about medicine, and
consequently resort to superstitious practices in order to ward off the
evil influences. When it is known that disease has visited a neighbor's
house, a pole, seven feet long, is erected in a conspicuous place in a
thicket some distance from the house to be guarded. On the pole an old
ploughshare is fixed, and it is supposed that when the spirit who
controls the disease sees the ploughshare he will retire to a distance
of three homesteads.

"A fever called No-ma-dzi works great havoc among the Nou-su every year,
and the people are very much afraid of it. No person will stay by the
sick-bed to nurse the unfortunate victim. Instead, food and water are
placed by his bedside and, covered with his quilt, he is left at the
mercy of the disease. Since as the fever progresses the patient will
perspire, heavy stones are placed on the quilt, that it may not be
thrown off, and the sick person take cold. Many an unfortunate sufferer
has through this strange practice died from suffocation. After a time
the relatives will return to see what course the disease has taken. This
fever seems to yield to quinine, for Mr. John Li has seen several
persons recover to whom he had administered this drug. When a man dies,
his relatives, as soon as they receive the news, hold in their several
homes a feast of mourning called by them the Za. A pig or sheep is
sacrificed at the doorway, and it is supposed that intercourse is thus
maintained between the living persons and the late departed spirit. The
near kindred, on hearing of the death of a relative, take a fowl and
strangle it; the shedding of its blood is not permissible. This fowl is
cleaned and skewered, and the mourner then proceeds to the house where
the deceased person is lying, and sticks this fowl at the head of the
corpse as an offering. The more distant relatives do not perform this
rite, but each leads a sheep to the house of mourning, and the son of
the deceased man strikes each animal three times with a white wand,
while the Peh-mo (priest or magician) stands by, and announcing the
sacrifice by calling 'so and so,' giving of course the name, presents
the soft woolly offering.

"Formerly the Nou-su burned their dead. Said a Nou-su youth to me years
ago, 'The thought of our friends' bodies either turning to corruption or
being eaten by wild beasts is distasteful to us, and therefore we burn
our dead.' The corpse is burnt with wood, and during the cremation the
mourners arrange themselves around the fire and chant and dance. The
ashes are buried, and the ground leveled. This custom is still adhered
to among the Nou-su of the independent Lolo territory or more correctly
Papu country of Western Szech'wan. The tribesmen who dwell in the
neighborhood of Weining and Chao-t'ong have adopted burial as the means
of disposing of their dead, adding some customs peculiar to themselves.

"On the day of the funeral the horse which the deceased man was in the
habit of riding is brought to the door and saddled by the Pehmo. The
command is then given to lead the horse to the grave. All the mourners
follow, and marching or dancing in intertwining circles, cross and
recross the path of the led horse until the poor creature, grown frantic
with fear, rushes and kicks in wild endeavor to escape from the
confusion. The whole company then raise a great shout and call, 'The
soul has come to ride the horse, the soul has come to ride the horse.' A
contest then follows among the women of the deceased man's household for
the possession of this horse, which is henceforth regarded as of extreme
value. It is difficult to discover much about the religion of the
Nou-su, because so many of their ancient customs have fallen into disuse
during the intercourse of the people with the Chinese. At the
ingathering of the buckwheat, when the crop is stacked on the threshing
floor, and the work of threshing is about to begin, the simple formula,
'Thank you, Ilsomo,' is used. Ilsomo seems to be a spirit who has
control over the crops; whether good or evil, it is not easy to
determine. Ilsomo is not God, for at present, when the Nou-su wish to
speak of God, they use the word Soe, which means Master.

"In the independent territory of the Nou-su, to the west of Szech'wan,
the term used for God is Eh-nia, and a Nou-su who has much intercourse
with the independent people contends that there are three names
indicative of God, each representing different functions if not persons
of the Godhead. These names are: Eh-nia, Keh-neh, Um-p'a-ma. The Nou-su
believe in ancestor worship, and perhaps the most interesting feature of
their religion is the peculiar form this worship takes. Instead of an
ancestral tablet such as the Chinese use, the Nou-su worship a small
basket (lolo) about as large as a duck's egg and made of split bamboo.
This 'lolo' contains small bamboo tubes an inch or two long, and as
thick as an ordinary Chinese pen handle. In these tubes are fastened a
piece of grass and a piece of sheep's wool. A man and his wife would be
represented by two tubes, and if he had two wives, an extra tube would
be placed in the 'lolo.' At the ceremony of consecration the Pehmo
attends, and a slave is set apart for the purpose of attending to all
the rites connected with the worship of the deceased person. The 'lolo'
is sometimes placed in the house, but more often on a tree in the
neighborhood or it may be hidden in a rock. For persons who are
short-lived, the ancestral 'lolo' is placed in a crevice in the wall of
some forsaken and ruined building. Every three years the 'lolo' is
changed, and the old one burnt. The term 'lolo,' by which the Nou-su are
generally known, is a contemptuous nickname given them by the Chinese in
reference to this peculiar method of venerating their ancestors.

"Hill worship is another important feature of Nou-su religious life.
Most important houses are built at the foot of a hill and sacrifice is
regularly offered on the hill-side in the fourth month of each year. The
Pehmo determines which is the most propitious day, and the Tumuh and his
people proceed to the appointed spot. A limestone rock with an old tree
trunk near is chosen as an altar, and a sheep and pig are brought
forward by the Tumuh. The Pehmo, having adjusted his clothes, sits
cross-legged before the altar, and begins intoning his incantations in a
low muttering voice. The sacrifice is then slain, and the blood poured
beneath the altar, and a handful of rice and a lump of salt are placed
beneath the stone. Some person then gathers a bundle of green grass, and
the Pehmo, having finished intoning, the altar is covered, and all
return to the house. The Pehmo then twists the grass into a length of
rope, which he hangs over the doorway of the house. Out of a piece of
willow a small arrow is made, and a bow similar in size is cut out of a
peach tree. These are placed on the doorposts. On a piece of soft white
wood a figure of a man is roughly carved, and this, with two sticks of
any soft wood placed cross-wise, is fastened to the rope hanging over
the doorway, on each side of which two small sticks are placed. The
Pehmo then proceeds with his incantation, muttering: 'From now,
henceforth and for ever will the evil spirits keep away from this
house.'

"Most Nou-su at the present time observe the New Year festival on the
same date and with the same customs as the Chinese. Formerly this was
not so, and even now in the remoter districts New Year's day is observed
on the first day of the tenth month of the Chinese year. A pig and sheep
are killed and cleaned, and hung in the house for three days. They are
then taken down, cut up and cooked. The family sit on buckwheat straw in
the middle of the chief room of the house. The head of the house invites
the others to drink wine, and the feasting begins. Presently one will
start singing, and all join in this song: 'How firm is this house of
mine. Throughout the year its hearth fire has not ceased to burn, My
food corn is abundant, I have silver and also cash, My cattle have
increased to herds, My horses and mules have all white foreheads K'o K'o
Ha Ha Ha Ha K'o K'o, My sons are filial, My wife is virtuous, In the
midst of flesh and wine we sleep, Our happiness reaches unto heaven,
Truly glorious is this glad New Year.' A scene of wild indulgence then
frequently follows.

"The Nou-su possess a written language. Their books were originally made
of sheepskin, but paper is now used. The art of printing was unknown,
and many books are said to have been lost. The books are illustrated,
but the drawings are extremely crude."[T]

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote R: _Yuen-nan, The Link between India, and the Yangtze_, by
Major H.R. Davies, Cambridge University Press.]

[Footnote S: Literally "Eyes of the Earth"--the landlords.]

[Footnote T: A good deal of information in this chapter was obtained
from an article by the Rev. C E Hicks, published in the _Chinese
Recorder_ for March, 1910. The portion quoted is taken bodily from this
excellent article.]




FIFTH JOURNEY.

CHAO-T'ONG-FU TO TONG-CH'UAN-FU.




CHAPTER XI.

_Revolting sights compensated for by scenery_. _Most eventful day in the
trip_. _Buying a pony, and the reason for its purchase_. _Author's pony
kicks him and breaks his arm_. _Chastising the animal, and narrow escape
from death_. _Rider and pony a sorry sight_. _An uneasy night_.
_Reappearance of malaria_. _Author nearly forced to give in_. _Heavy
rain on a difficult road_. _At Ta-shui-tsing_. _Chasing frightened pony
in the dead of night_. _Bad accommodation_. _Lepers and leprosy_.
_Mining_. _At Kiang-ti_. _Two mandarins, and an amusing episode_.
_Laying foundation of a long illness_. _The Kiang-ti Suspension Bridge_.
_Hard climbing_. _Tiffin in the mountains_. _Sudden ascents and
descents_. _Description of the country_. _Tame birds and what they do_.
_A non-enterprising community_. _Pleasant travelling without perils_.
_Majesty of the mountains of Yuen-nan_.


Whilst in this district, as will have been seen, one has to steel
himself to face some of the most revolting sights it is possible to
imagine, he is rewarded by the grandeur of the scenic pictures which
mark the downward journey to Tong-ch'uan-fu.

The stages to Tong-ch'uan-fu were as follows:--

                            Length of   Height above
                              stage      sea level

    1st day   T'ao-ueen         70 li.      ---- ft.
    2nd day   Ta-shui-tsing    30 "       9,300 ft.
    3rd day   Kiang-ti         40 "       4,400 "
    4th day   Yi-che-shin      70 "       6,300 "
    5th day   Hong-shih-ai     90 "       6,800 "
    6th day   Tong-ch'uan-fu   60 "       7,250 "

The Chao-t'ong plateau, magnificently level, runs out past the
picturesquely-situated tower of Wang-hai-leo, from which one overlooks a
stretch of water. A memorial arch, erected by the Li family of
Chao-t'ong-fu, graces the main road farther on, and is probably one of
the best of its kind in Yuen-nan, comparing favorably with the best to be
found in Szech'wan, where monumental architecture abounds. Perhaps the
only building of interest in Chao-t'ong is the ancestral hall of the
wealthy family mentioned above, the carving of which is magnificent.

At the end of the first day we camped at the Mohammedan village of
T'ao-ueen, literally "Peach Garden," but the peach trees might once have
been, though now certainly they are not.

It was cold when we left, 38 deg. F., hard frost. All the world seemed
buttoned up and great-coated; the trees seemed wiry and cheerless; the
legs of the pack-horses seemed brittle, and I felt so. Breath issued
visibly from the mouth as I trudged along. My boy and I nearly came to
blows in the early morning. I wanted to lie on; he did not. If he could
not entertain himself for half an hour with his own thoughts, I, who
could, thought it no fault of mine. I was a reasoning being, a rational
creature, and thought it a fine way of spending a sensible, impartial
half-hour. But I had to get up, and then came the benumbed fingers, a
quivering body, a frozen towel, and a floor upon which the mud was
frozen stiff. Little did he know that he was pulling me out to the most
eventful and unfortunate day of my trip.

At Chao-t'ong I had bought a pony in case of emergency--one of those
sturdy little brutes that never grow tired, cost little to keep, and are
unexcelled for the amount of work they can get through every day in the
week. Its color was black, a smooth, glossy black--the proverbial dark
horse--and when dressed in its English saddle and bridle looked even
smart enough for the use of the distinguished traveler, who smiled the
smile of pleasant ownership as it was led on in front all day long,
seeming to return a satanic grin for my foolishness at not riding it.[U]

The first I saw of it was when it was standing full on its hind legs
pinning a man between the railings and a wall in a corner of the mission
premises. It looked well. Truly, it was a blood beast!

On the second day out, whilst walking merrily along in the early
morning, the little brute lifted its heels, lodged them most precisely
on to my right forearm with considerable force--more forceful than
affectionate--sending the stick which I carried thirty feet from me up
the cliffs. The limb ached, and I felt sick. My boy--he had been a
doctor's boy on one of the gunboats at Chung-king--thought it was
bruised. I acquiesced, and sank fainting to a stone. On the strength of
my boy's diagnosis we rubbed it, and found that it hurt still more. Then
diving into a cottage, I brought out a piece of wood, three inches wide
and twenty inches long, placed my arm on it, bade my boy take off one of
my puttees from one of my legs, used it as a bandage, and trudged on
again.

Not realizing that my arm was broken, in the evening I determined to
chastise the animal in a manner becoming to my disgust. Mounting at the
foot of a long hill, I laid on the stick as hard as I could, and found
that my pony had a remarkable turn of speed. At the brow of the hill was
a twenty-yard dip, at the base of which was a pond.

Down, down, down we went, and, despite my full strength (with the left
arm) at its mouth, the pony plunged in with a dull splash, only to find
that his feet gave way under him in a clay bottom. He could not free
himself to swim. Farther and farther we sank together, every second
deeper into the mire, when just at the moment I felt the mud clinging
about my waist, and I had visions of a horrible death away from all who
knew me, I plunged madly to reach the side.

With one arm useless, it is still to me the one great wonder of my life
how I escaped. Nothing short of miraculous; one of the times when one
feels a special protection of Providence surrounding him.

Pulling the beast's head, after I had given myself a momentary shake, I
succeeded in making him give a mighty lurch--then another--then another,
and in a few seconds, after terrible struggling, he reached the bank. We
made a sorry spectacle as we walked shamefacedly back to the inn, under
the gaze of half a dozen grinning rustics, where my man was preparing
the evening meal.

In the evening, on the advice of my general confidential companion, I
submitted to a poultice being applied to my arm. It was bruised, so we
put on the old-fashioned, hard-to-be-beaten poultice of bread. Whilst it
was hot it was comfortable; when it was cold, I unrolled the bandage,
threw the poultice to the floor, and in two minutes saw glistening in
the moonlight the eyes of the rats which ate it.

Then I bade sweet Morpheus take me; but, although the pain prevented me
from sleeping, I remember fainting. How long I lay I know not.
Shuddering in every limb with pain and chilly fear, I at length awoke
from a long swoon. Something had happened, but what? There was still the
paper window, the same greasy saucer of thick oil and light being given
by the same rush, the same rickety table, the same chair on which we had
made the poultice--but what had happened? I rubbed my aching eyes and
lifted myself in a half-sitting posture--a dream had dazzled me and
scared my senses. And then I knew that it was malaria coming on again,
and that I was once more her luckless victim.

Malignant malaria, mistress of men who court thee under tropic skies,
and who, like me, are turned from thee bodily shattered and whimpering
like a child, how much, how very much hast thou laid up for thyself in
Hades!

Thank Heaven, I had superabundant energy and vitality, and despite
contorted and distorted things dancing haphazard through my fevered
brain, I determined not to go under, not to give in. My mind was a
terrible tangle of combinations nevertheless--intricate, incongruous,
inconsequent, monstrous; but still I plodded on. For the next four days,
with my arm lying limp and lifeless at my side, and with recurring
attacks of malaria, I walked on against the greatest odds, and it was
not till I had reached Tong-ch'uan-fu that I learnt that the limb was
fractured. Men may have seen more in four days and done more and risked
more, but I think few travelers have been called upon to suffer more
agony than befell the lot of the man who was crossing China on foot.

From T'ao-ueen there is a stiff ascent, followed by a climb up steep
stone steps and muddy mountain banks through black and barren country.
The morning had been cold and frosty, but rain came on later, a thick,
heavy deluge, which swished and swashed everything from its path as one
toiled painfully up those slippery paths, made almost unnegotiable. But
my imagination and my hope helped me to make my own sunshine. There is
something, I think, not disagreeable in issuing forth during a good
honest summer rain at home with a Burberry well buttoned and an umbrella
over one's head; here in Yuen-nan a coat made it too uncomfortable to
walk, and the terrific wind would have blown an umbrella from one's
grasp in a twinkling. If we are in the home humor, in the summer, we do
not mind how drenching the rain is, and we may even take delight in
getting our own legs splashed as we glance at the "very touching
stockings" and the "very gentle and sensitive legs" of other weaker ones
in the same plight. But here was I in a gale on the bleakest tableland
one can find in this part of Yuen-nan, and a sorry sight truly did I make
as I trudged "two steps forward, one step back" in my bare feet, covered
only with rough straw sandals, with trousers upturned above the knee,
with teeth chattering in malarial shivers, endeavoring between-times to
think of the pouring deluge as a benignant enemy fertilizing fields,
purifying the streets of the horrid little villages in which we spent
our nights, refreshing the air!

Shall I ever forget the day?

Just before sundown, drenched to the skin and suffering horribly from
the blues, we reached one single hut, which I could justly look upon as
a sort of evening companion; for here was a fire--albeit, a green wood
fire--which looked gladly in my face, talked to me, and put life and
comfort and warmth into me for the ten li yet remaining of the day's
hard journey.

And at night, about 8:30 p.m., we at last reached the top of the hill,
actually the summit of a mountain pass, at the dirty little village of
Ta-shui-tsing. Not for long, however, could I rest; for I heard yells
and screams and laughs. That pony again! Every one of my men were afraid
of it, for at the slightest invitation it pawed with its front feet and
landed man after man into the gutter, and if that failed it stood
upright and cuddled them around the neck. Now I found it had
run--saddle, bridle and all--and none volunteered to chase. So at 9:30,
weary and bearing the burden of a terrible day, which laid the
foundation of a long illness to be recorded later, I found it my
unpleasant duty to patrol the hill from top to bottom, lighting my
slippery way with a Chinese lantern, chasing the pony silhouetted on
the sky-line. Ta-shui-tsing is a dreary spot with no inn accommodation
at all,[V] a place depopulated and laid waste, gloomy and melancholy. I
managed, however, after promising a big fee, to get into a small
mud-house, where the people were not unkindly disposed. I ate my food,
slept as much as I could in the few hours before the appearing of the
earliest dawn on the bench allotted to me, feeling thankful that to me
had been allowed even this scanty lodging. But I could not
conscientiously recommend the place to future travelers--a dirty little
village with its dirty people and its dirty atmosphere. At the top of
the pass the wind nearly removed my ears as I took a final glance at the
mountain refuge. Mountains here run south-west and north-east, and are
grand to look upon.

The poorest people were lepers, the beggars were all dead long ago. In
Yuen-nan province leprosy afflicts thousands, a disease which the
Chinese, not without reason, dread terribly, for no known remedy exists.
Burning the patient alive, which used often to be resorted to, is even
now looked upon as the only true remedy. Cases have been known where the
patient, having been stupefied with opium, has been locked in a house,
which has then been set on fire, and its inmate cremated on the spot.

Mining used to be carried on here, so they told me; but I was not long
in concluding that, whatever was the product, it has not materially
affected the world's output, nor had it greatly enriched the laborers in
the field. When I got into civilization I found that coal of a
sulphurous nature was the booty of ancient days. There may be coal yet,
as is most probable, but the natives seemed far too apathetic and weary
of life to care whether it is there or not.

Passing Ta-shui-tsing, the descent narrows to a splendid view of dark
mountain and green and beautiful valley. We were now traveling away from
several ranges of lofty mountains, whose peaks appeared vividly above
the drooping rain-filled clouds, onwards to a range immediately
opposite, up whose slopes we toiled all day, passing _en route_ only one
uninhabited hamlet, to which the people flee in time of trouble. After a
weary tramp of another twenty-five li--the Yuen-nan li, mind you, the
most unreliable quantity in all matters geographical in the country--I
asked irritatedly, as all travelers must have asked before me, "Then, in
the name of Heaven, where is Kiang-ti?"[W] It should come into view
behind the terrible steep decline when one is within only about a
hundred yards. It is roughly four thousand feet below Ta-shui-tsing.

Kiang-ti is an important stopping place, with but one forlorn street,
with two or three forlorn inns, the best of which has its best room
immediately over the filthiest stables, emitting a stench which was
almost unbearable, that I have seen in China. It literally suffocates
one as it comes up in wafts through the wide gaps in the wood floor of
the room. There are no mosquitoes here, but of a certain winged insect
of various species, whose distinguishing characteristics are that the
wings are transparent and have no cases or covers, there was a
formidable army. I refer to the common little fly. There was the house
fly, the horse fly, the dangerous blue-bottle, the impecunious blow fly,
the indefatigable buzzer, and others. One's delicate skin got beset with
flies: they got in one's ears, in one's eyes, up one's nose, down one's
throat, in one's coffee, in one's bed; they bade fair to devour one
within an hour or two, and brought forth inward curses and many swishes
of the 'kerchief.

The village seemed a death-trap.

Glancing comprehensively at one another as I entered the higher end of
the town, a party of reveling tea-drinkers hastily pulled some cash from
their satchels to settle accounts, and made a general rush into the
street, where they awaited noisily the approach of a strangely wondrous
and imposing spectacle, one that had not been seen in those parts for
many days. The tramper, tired as he could be, at length approached, but
the crowd had increased so enormously that the road was completely
blocked. Tradesmen with their portable workshops, pedlars with their
cumbersome gear and pack-horses could not pass, but had to wait for
their turn; there were not even any tortuous by-streets in this place
whereby they might reach their destination. Children lost themselves in
the crush, and went about crying for their mothers. A party of
travelers, newly arrived from the south by caravan route, got wedged
with their worn-out horses and mules in the thick of the mob, and could
not move an inch. As far as the eye could reach the blue-clad throng
heaved restlessly to and fro under the blaze of the brilliant sun which
harassed everyone in the valley, and, moving slowly and majestically in
the midst of them all, came the foreigner. As they caught sight of me,
my sandalled feet, and the retinue following on wearily in the wake, the
populace set up an ecstatic yell of ferocious applause and turned their
faces towards the inn, in the doorway of which one of my soldier-men was
holding forth on points of more or less delicacy respecting my good or
bad nature and my British connection. At that moment, the huge human
mass began to move in one predetermined direction, and then a couple of
mandarins in their chairs joined the swarming rabble. I had to sit down
on the step for five minutes whilst my boy, with commendable energy,
cleared these two mandarins, who had come from Chen-tu and were on their
way to the capital, out of the best room, because his master wanted it.

As he finished speaking, there came a loud crashing noise and a
shout--my pony had landed out just once again, and banged in one side of
a chair belonging to these traveling officials. They met me with noisy
and derisive greetings, which were returned with a straight and
penetrating look.

No less than fifty degrees was the thermometrical difference in
Ta-shui-tsing and Kiang-ti. Here it was stifling. Cattle stood in
stagnant water, ducks were envied, my room with the sun on it became
intolerable, and I sought refuge by the river; my butter was too liquid
to spread; coolies were tired as they rested outside the tea-houses,
having not a cash to spend; my pony stood wincing, giving sharp shivers
to his skin, and moving his tail to clear off the flies and his hind
legs to clear off men. As for myself, I could have done with an iced
soda or a claret cup.

Very early in the morning, despite malaria shivers, I made my way over
the beautiful suspension bridge which here graces the Niu Lan,[X] a
tributary of the Yangtze, up to the high hills beyond.

This bridge at Kiang-ti is one hundred and fifty feet by twelve,
protected at one end by a couple of monkeys carved in stone, whilst the
opposite end is guarded by what are supposed to be, I believe, a couple
of lions--and not a bad representation of them either, seeing that the
workmen had no original near at hand to go by.

From here the ascent over a second range of mountains is made by
tortuous paths that wind along the sides of the hills high above the
stream below, and at other times along the river-bed. The river is
followed in a steep ascent, a sort of climbing terrace, from which the
water leaps in delightful cascades and waterfalls. A four-hour climb
brings one, after terrific labor, to the mouth of the picturesque pass
of Ya-ko-t'ang at 7,500 feet. In the quiet of the mountains I took my
midday meal; there was about the place an awe-inspiring stillness. It
was grand but lonely, weird rather than peaceful, so that one was glad
to descend again suddenly to the river, tracing it through long
stretches of plain and barren valley, after which narrow paths lead up
again to the small village of Yi-che-shin, considerably below
Ya-ko-t'ang. It is the sudden descents and ascents which astonish one in
traveling in this region, and whether climbing or dropping, one always
reaches a plain or upland which would delude one into believing that he
is almost at sea-level, were it not for the towering mountains that all
around keep one hemmed in in a silent stillness, and the rarefied air.
Yi-che-shin, for instance, standing at this altitude of considerably
over 6,000 feet, is in the center of a tableland, on which are numerous
villages, around which the fragrance of the broad bean in flower and the
splendid fertility now and again met with makes it extremely pleasant to
walk--it is almost a series of English cottage gardens. Here the weather
was like July in England--or what one likes to imagine July should be in
England--dumb, dreaming, hot, lazy, luxurious weather, in which one
should do as he pleases, and be pleased with what he does. As I toiled
along, my useless limb causing me each day more trouble, I felt I should
like to lie down on the grass, with stones 'twixt head and shoulders for
my pillow, and repose, as Nature was reposing, in sovereign strength.
But I was getting weaker! I saw, as I passed, gardens of purple and gold
and white splendor; the sky was at its bluest, the clouds were full,
snowy, mountainous.

Then on again to varying scenes.

Inns were not frequent, and were poor and wretched. The country was all
red sandstone, and devoid of all timber, till, descending into a lovely
valley, the path crossed an obstructing ridge, and then led out into a
beautiful park all green and sweet. The country was full of color. It
put a good taste in one's mouth, it impressed one as a heaven-sent means
of keeping one cheerful in sad dilemma. The gardens, the fields, the
skies, the mountains, the sunset, the light itself--all were full of
color, and earth and heaven seemed of one opinion in the harmony of the
reds, the purples, the drabs, the blacks, the browns, the bright blues,
and the yellows. Birds were as tame as they were in the Great Beginning;
they came under the table as I ate, and picked up the crumbs without
fear. Peasant people sat under great cedars, planted to give shade to
the travelers, and bade one feel at home in his lonely pilgrimage. Then
one felt a peculiar feeling--this feeling will arise in any
traveler--when, surmounting some hill range in the desert road, one
descries, lying far below, embosomed in its natural bulwarks, the fair
village, the resting-place, the little dwelling-place of men, where one
is to sleep. But when towards nightfall, as the good red sun went down,
I was led, weary and done-up, into one of the worst inns it had been my
misfortune to encounter, a thousand other thoughts and feelings united
in common anathema to the unenterprising community.

Tea was bad, rice we could not get, and all night long the detestable
smells from the wood fires choked our throats and blinded our eyes;
glad, therefore, was I, despite the heavy rain, to take a hurried and
early departure the next morning, descending a thousand feet to a river,
rising quite as suddenly to a height of 8,500 feet.

Now the road went over a mountain broad and flat, where traveling in the
sun was extremely pleasant--or, rather, would have been had I been fit.
Pack-horses, laden clumsily with their heavy loads of Puerh tea,
Manchester goods, oil and native exports from Yuen-nan province, passed
us on the mountain-side, and sometimes numbers of these willing but
ill-treated animals were seen grazing in the hollows, by the wayside,
their backs in almost every instance cruelly lacerated by the continuous
rubbing of the wooden frames on which their loads were strapped. For
cruelty to animals China stands an easy first; love of animals does not
enter into their sympathies at all. I found this not to be the case
among the Miao and the I-pien, however; and the tribes across the
Yangtze below Chao-t'ong, locally called the Pa-pu, are, as a matter of
fact, fond of horses, and some of them capable horsemen.

The journey across these mountains has no perils. One may step aside a
few feet with no fear of falling a few thousand, a danger so common in
most of the country from Sui-fu downwards. The scenery is
magnificent--range after range of mountains in whatever direction you
look, nothing but mountains of varying altitudes. And the patches of
wooded slopes, alternating with the red earth and more fertile green
plots through which streams flow, with rolling waterfalls, picturesque
nooks and winding pathways, make pictures to which only the gifted
artist's brush could do justice. Often, gazing over the sunlit
landscape, in this land "South of the Clouds," one is held spellbound by
the intense beauty of this little-known province, and one wonders what
all this grand scenery, untouched and unmarred by the hand of man, would
become were it in the center of a continent covered by the ubiquitous
globe-trotter.

No country in the world more than West China possesses mountains of
combined majesty and grace. Rocks, everywhere arranged in masses of a
rude and gigantic character, have a ruggedness tempered by a singular
airiness of form and softness of environment, in a climate favorable in
some parts to the densest vegetation, and in others wild and barren. One
is always in sight of mountains rising to fourteen thousand feet or
more, and constantly scaling difficult pathways seven or eight or nine
thousand feet above the sea. And in the loneliness of a country where
nothing has altered very much the handiwork of God, an awe-inspiring
silence pervades everything. Bold, grey cliffs shoot up here through a
mass of verdure and of foliage, and there white cottages, perched in
seemingly inaccessible positions, glisten in the sun on the colored
mountain-sides. You saunter through stony hollows, along straight
passes, traversed by torrents, overhung by high walls of rocks, now
winding through broken, shaggy chasms and huge, wandering fragments, now
suddenly emerging into some emerald valley, where Peace, long
established, seems to repose sweetly in the bosom of Strength.
Everywhere beauty alternates wonderfully with grandeur. Valleys close in
abruptly, intersected by huge mountain masses, the stony water-worn
ascent of which is hardly passable.

Yes, Yuen-nan is imperatively a country first of mountains, then of
lakes. The scenery, embodying truly Alpine magnificence with the minute
sylvan beauty of Killarney or of Devonshire, is nowhere excelled in the
length and breadth of the Empire.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote U: The incredulous of my readers may question, and rightly so,
"Then where did he get his saddle?" So I must explain that I met just
out of Sui-fu a Danish gentleman (also a traveler) who wished to sell a
pony and its trappings. As I had the arrangement with my boy that I
would provide him with a conveyance, and did not like the idea of seeing
him continually in a chair and his wealthy master trotting along on
foot, I bought it for my boy's use. He used the saddle until we reached
Chao-t'ong.]

[Footnote V: A new inn has been built since.--E.J.D.]

[Footnote W: Pronounced Djang-di. Famous throughout Western China for
its terrible hill, one of the most difficult pieces of country in the
whole of the west.]

[Footnote X: This river, the Niu Lan, comes from near Yang-lin, one
day's march from Yuen-nan-fu. It is being followed down by two American
engineers as the probable route for a new railway, which it is proposed
should come out to the Yangtze some days north of Kiang-ti.]




CHAPTER XII.

_Yuen-nan's chequered career_. _Switzerland of China_. _At
Hong-sh[=i]h-ai_. _China's Golden Age in the past_. _The conservative
instinct of the Chinese_. _How to quiet coolies_. _Roads_. _Dangers of
ordinary travel in wet season_. _K'ung-shan and its mines_.
_Tong-ch'uan-fu, an important mining centre_. _English and German
machinery_. _Methods of smelting_. _Protestants and Romanists in
Yuen-nan_. _Arrival at Tong-ch'uan-fu_. _Missionaries set author's broken
arm_. _Trio of Europeans_. _Author starts for the provincial capital_.
_Abandoning purpose of crossing China on foot_. _Arm in splints_. _Curious
incident_. _At Lai-t'eo-po_. _Malaria returns_. _Serious illness of
author_. _Delirium_. _Devotion of the missionaries_. _Death expected.
Innkeeper's curious attitude_. _Recovery_. _After-effects of malaria.
Patient stays in Tong-ch'uan-fu for several months_. _Then completes his
walking tour_.


Yuen-nan has had a checkered career ever since it became a part of the
empire. In the thirteenth century Kublai Khan, the invincible warrior,
annexed this Switzerland to China; and how great his exploits must have
been at the time of this addition to the land of the Manchus might be
gathered from the fact that all the tribes of the Siberian ice-fields,
the deserts of Asia, together with the country between China and the
Caspian Sea, acknowledged his potent sway--or at least so tradition
says. She is sometimes right.

My journey continuing across more undulating country brought me at
length to Hong-shih-ai (Red Stone Cliff), a tiny hamlet hidden away
completely in a deep recess in the mountain-side, settled in a narrow
gorge, the first house of which cannot be seen until within a few yards
of entry. Inn accommodation, as was usual, was by no means good. It is
characteristic of these small places that the greater the traffic the
worse, invariably, is the accommodation offered. Travelers are
continually staying here, but not one Chinese in the population is
enterprising enough to open a decent inn. They have no money to start it,
I suppose.

But it is true of the Chinese, to a greater degree than of any other
nation, that their Golden Age is in the past. Sages of antiquity spoke
with deep reverence of the more ancient ancients of the ages, and
revered all that they said and did. And the rural Chinese to-day says
that what did for the sages of olden times must do for him to-day. The
conservative instinct leads the Chinese to attach undue importance to
precedent, and therefore the people at Hong-shih-ai, knowing that the
village has been in the same pitiable condition for generations, live by
conservatism, and make no effort whatever to improve matters.

Fire in the inn was kindled in the hollow of the ground. There was no
ventilation; the wood they burned was, as usual, green; smoke was
suffocating. My men talked well on into the night, and kept me from
sleeping, even if pain would have allowed me to. I spoke strongly, and
they, thinking I was swearing at them, desisted for fear that I should
heap upon their ancestors a few of the reviling thoughts I entertained
for them.

I should like to say a word here about the roads in this province, or
perhaps the absence of roads. They had been execrable, the worst I had
met, aggravated by heavy rains. With all the reforms to which the
province of Yuen-nan is endeavoring to direct its energies, it has not
yet learned that one of the first assets of any district or country is
good roads. But this is true of the whole of the Middle Kingdom. The
contracted quarters in which the Chinese live compel them to do most of
their work in the street, and, even in a city provided with but the
narrowest passages, these slender avenues are perpetually choked by the
presence of peripatetic vendors of every kind of article of common sale
in China, and by itinerant craftsmen who have no other shop than the
street. In the capital city of the province, even, it is a matter of
some difficulty to the European to walk down the rough-paved street
after a shower of rain, so slippery do the slabs of stone become; and he
has to be alive always to the lumbering carts, whose wheels are more
solid than circular, pulled by bullocks as in the days long before the
dawn of the Christian Era. The wider the Chinese street the more abuses
can it be put to, so that travel in the broad streets of the towns is
quite as difficult as in the narrow alleys; and as these streets are
never repaired, or very rarely, they become worse than no roads at
all--that is, in dry weather.

This refers to the paved road, which, no matter what its faults, is
certainly passable, and in wet weather is a boon. There is, however,
another kind of road--a mud road, and with a vengeance muddy.

An ordinary mud or earth road is usually only wide enough for a couple
of coolies to pass, and in this province, as it is often necessary
(especially in the Yuen-nan-fu district) for one cart to pass another,
the farmer, to prevent trespass on his crops, digs around them deep
ditches, resembling those which are dug for the reception of gas mains.
In the rainy season the fields are drained into the roads, which at
times are constantly under water, and beyond Yuen-nan-fu, on my way to
Tali-fu, I often found it easier and more speedy to tramp bang across a
rice field, taking no notice of where the road ought to be. By the time
the road has sunk a few feet below the level of the adjacent land, it is
liable to be absolutely useless as a thoroughfare; it is actually a
canal, but can be neither navigated nor crossed. There are some roads
removed a little from the main roads which are quite dangerous, and it
is not by any means an uncommon thing to hear of men with their loads
being washed away by rivers where in the dry season there had been the
roads.

The great lines of Chinese travel, so often impassable, might be made
permanently passable if the governor of a province chose to compel the
several district magistrates along the line to see that these important
arteries are kept free from standing water, with ditches in good order
at all seasons. But for the village roads--during my travels over which
I have come across very few that could from a Western standpoint be
called roads--there is absolutely no hope until such time as the Chinese
village may come dimly to the apprehension that what is for the
advantage of the one is for the advantage of all, and that wise
expenditure is the truest economy--an idea of which it has at the
present moment as little conception as of the average thought of the
Englishman.

A hundred li to the east of Hong-shiih-ai, over two impassable mountain
ranges, are some considerable mines, with antiquated brass and copper
smelting works, and this place, K'ung-shan by name, with Tong-ch'uan-fu,
forms an important center. As is well known, all copper of Yuen-nan goes
to Peking as the Government monopoly, excepting the enormous amount
stolen and smuggled into every town in the province.[Y]

The smelting is of the roughest, though they are at the present moment
laying in English machinery, and the Chinese in charge is under the
impression that he can speak English; he, however, makes a hopeless
jargon of it. This mining locality is sunk in the deepest degradation.
Men and women live more as wild beasts than as human beings, and should
any be unfortunate enough to die, their corpses are allowed to lie in
the mines. Who is there that could give his time and energy to the
removal of a dead man? Tong-ch'uan-fu should become an important town if
the rich mineral country of which it is the pivot were properly opened
up. Several times I have visited the works in this city, which, under
the charge of a small mandarin from Szech'wan, can boast only the most
primitive and inadequate machinery, of German make. A huge engine was
running as a kind of pump for the accumulation of air, which was passed
through a long thin pipe to the three furnaces in the outer courtyard.
The furnaces were mud-built, and were fed with charcoal (the most
expensive fuel in the district), the maximum of pure metal being only
1,300 catties per day. The ore, which has been roughly smelted once, is
brought from K'ung-shan, is finely smelted here, then conveyed most of
the way to Peking by pack-mule, the expense in thus handling, from the
time it leaves the mine to its destination at Peking, being several
times its market value. Nothing but copper is sought from the ore, and a
good deal of the gold and silver known to be contained is lost.

I passed an old French priest as I was going to Tong-ch'uan-fu the next
day. He was very pleased to see me, and at a small place we had a few
minutes' chat whilst we sipped our tea. In Yuen-nan, I found that the
Protestants and the Romanists, although seeing very little of each
other, went their own way, maintaining an attitude of more or less
friendly indifference one towards the other.

The last day's march to Tong-ch'uan-fu is perhaps the most interesting
of this stage of my journey. Climbing over boulders and stony steps, I
reached an altitude of 8,500 feet, whence thirty li of pleasant going
awaited us all the way to Lang-wang-miao (Temple of the Dragon King).
Here I sat down and strained my eyes to catch the glimpse of the compact
little walled city, where I hoped my broken arm would be set by the
European missionaries. The traveler invariably hastens his pace here,
expecting to run down the hill and across the plain in a very short
space; but as the time passed, and I slowly wended my way along the
difficult paths through the rice fields, I began to realize that I had
been duped, and that it was farther than it seemed. Two blushing
damsels, maids goodly to look upon, gave me the sweetest of smiles as I
strode across the bodies of some fat pigs which roamed at large in the
outskirts of the city, the only remembrance I have to mar the
cleanliness of the place.

At Tong-ch'uan-fu the Rev. A. Evans and his extremely hospitable wife
set my arm and did everything they could--as much as a brother and
sister could have done--to help me, and to make my short stay with them
a most happy remembrance. It was, however, destined that I should be
their guest for many months, as shall hereinafter be explained.

       *       *       *       *       *

A trio of Europeans might have been seen on the morning of Monday, May
10, 1909, leaving Tong-ch'uan-fu on the road to Yuen-nan-fu, whither the
author was bound. Mr. and Mrs. Evans, who, as chance would have it, were
going to Ch'u-tsing-fu, were to accompany me for two days before turning
off in a southerly direction when leaving the prefecture.

It was a fine spring morning, balmy and bonny. It was decided that I
should ride a pony, and this I did, abandoning my purpose of crossing
China on foot with some regret. I was not yet fit, had my broken arm in
splints, but rejoiced that at Yuen-nan-fu I should be able to consult a
European medical man. Comparatively an unproductive task--and perhaps a
false and impossible one--would it be for me to detail the happenings of
the few days next ensuing. I should be able not to look at things
themselves, but merely at the shadow of things--and it would serve no
profitable end.

Suffice it to say that two days out, about midday, a special messenger
from the capital stopped Mr. Evans and handed him a letter. It was to
tell him that his going to Ch'u-tsing-fu would be of no use, as the
gentleman he was on his way to meet would not arrive, owing to altered
plans. After consulting his wife, he hesitated whether they should go
back to Tong-ch'uan-fu, or come on to the capital with me. The latter
course was decided upon, as I was so far from well--I learned this some
time afterwards. And now the story need not be lengthened.

At Lai-t'eo-po (see first section of the second book of this volume),
malaria came back, and an abnormal temperature made me delirious. The
following day I could not move, and it was not until I had been there
six days that I was again able to be moved. During this time, Mr. and
Mrs. Evans nursed me day and night, relieving each other for rest, in a
terrible Chinese inn--not a single moment did they leave me. The third
day they feared I was dying, and a message to that effect was sent to
the capital, informing the consul. Meanwhile malaria played fast and
loose, and promised a pitiable early dissolution. My kind, devoted
friends were fearful lest the innkeeper would have turned me out into
the roadway to die--the foreigner's spirit would haunt the place for
ever and a day were I allowed to die inside.

But I recovered.

It was a graver, older, less exuberant walker across China that
presently arose from his flea-ridden bed of sickness, and began to make
a languid personal introspection. I had developed a new sensitiveness,
the sensitiveness of an alien in an alien land, in the hands of
new-made, faithful friends. Without them I should have been a waif of
all the world, helpless in the midst of unconquerable surroundings,
leading to an inevitable destiny of death. I seemed declimatized,
denationalized, a luckless victim of fate and morbid fancy.

It was malaria and her workings, from which there was no escape.

Malaria is supposed by the natives of the tropic belt to be sent to
Europeans by Providence as a chastening for the otherwise insupportable
energy of the white man. Malignant malaria is one of Nature's
watch-dogs, set to guard her shrine of peace and ease and to punish
woeful intruders. And she had brought me to China to punish me. As is
her wont, Nature milked the manhood out of me, racked me with aches and
pains, shattered me with chills, scorched me with fever fires, pursued
me with despairing visions, and hag-rode me without mercy. Accursed
newspapers, with their accursed routine, came back to me; all the
stories and legends that I had ever heard, all the facts that I had ever
learnt, came to me in a fashion wonderfully contorted and distorted;
sensations welded together in ghastly, brain-stretching conglomerates,
instinct with individuality and personality, human but torturingly
inhuman, crowded in upon me. The barriers dividing the world of ideas,
sensations, and realities seemed to have been thrown down, and all
rushed into my brain like a set of hungry foxhounds. The horror of
effort and the futility of endeavor permeated my very soul. My weary,
helpless brain was filled with hordes of unruly imaginings; I was
masterless, panic-driven, maddened, and had to abide for weeks--yea,
months--with a fever-haunted soul occupying a fever-rent and weakened
body.

At Yuen-nan-fu, whither I arrived in due course after considerable
struggling, dysentery laid me up again, and threatened to pull me nearer
to the last great brink. For weeks, as the guest of my friend, Mr. C.A.
Fleischmann, I stayed here recuperating, and subsequently, on the advice
of my medical attendant, Dr. A. Feray, I went back to Tong-ch'uan-fu,
among the mountains, and spent several happy months with Mr. and Mrs.
Evans.

Had it not been for their brotherly and sisterly zeal in nursing me,
which never flagged throughout my illness, future travelers might have
been able to point to a little grave-mound on the hill-tops, and have
given a chance thought to an adventurer whom the fates had handled
roughly. But there was more in this than I could see; my destiny was
then slowly shaping.

Throughout the rains, and well on into the winter, I stayed with Mr. and
Mrs. Evans, and then continued my walking tour, as is hereafter
recorded.

During this period of convalescence I studied the Chinese language and
traveled considerably in the surrounding country. Tong-ch'uan-fu is a
city of many scholars, and it was not at all difficult for me to find a
satisfactory teacher. He was an old man, with a straggly beard, about 70
years of age, and from him I learned much about life in general, in
addition to his tutoring in Chinese. I had the advantage also of close
contact with the missionaries with whom I was living, and on many
occasions was traveling companion of Samuel Pollard, one of the finest
Chinese linguists in China at that time. So that with a greatly
increased knowledge of Chinese, I was henceforth able to hold my own
anywhere. During this period, too, many days were profitably passed at
the Confucian Temple, a picture of which is given in this volume.

END OF BOOK I.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote Y: In the capital there is a street called "Copper Kettle
Lane," where one is able to buy almost anything one wants in copper and
brass. Hundreds of men are engaged in the trade, and yet it is
"prohibited." These "Copper Kettle Lanes" are found in many large
cities.--E.J.D.]




BOOK II.


The second part of my trip was from almost the extreme east to the
extreme west of Yuen-nan--from Tong-ch'uan-fu to Bhamo, in British Burma.
The following was the route chosen, over the main road in some
instances, and over untrodden roads in others, just as circumstances
happened:

    Tong-ch'uan-fu to Yuen-nan-fu (the capital city)   520 li.
    Yuen-nan-fu to Tali-fu                             905 li.
    Tali-fu to Tengyueh (Momien)                      855 li.
    Tengyueh to Bhamo (Singai)                        280 English
                                                      miles approx.

I also made a rather extended tour among the Miao tribes, in country
untrodden by Europeans, except by missionaries working among the people.




FIRST JOURNEY

TONG-CH'UAN-FU TO THE CAPITAL




CHAPTER XIII.

_Stages to the capital_. _Universality of reform in China_. _Political,
moral, social and spiritual contrast of Yuen-nan with other parts of the
Empire_. _Inconsistencies of celestial life_. _Author's start for
Burma_. _The caravan_. _To Che-chi_. _Dogs fighting over human bones_.
_Lai-t'eo-p'o: highest point traversed on overland journey_. _Snow and
hail storms at ten thousand feet_. _Desolation and poverty_. _Brutal
husband_. _Horse saves author from destruction_. _The one hundred li to
Kongshan_. _Wild, rugged moorland and mournful mountains_. _Wretchedness
of the people_. _Night travel in Western China_. _Author knocks a man
down_. _Late arrival and its vexations_. _Horrible inn accommodation_.
_End of the Yuen-nan Plateau_. _Appreciable rise in temperature_.
_Entertaining a band of inelegant infidels_. _European contention for
superiority, and the Chinese point of view_. _Insoluble conundrums of
"John's" national character_. _The Yuen-nan railway_. _Current ideas in
Yuen-nan regarding foreigners_. _Discourteous fu-song and his escapades_.
_Fright of ill-clad urchin_. _Scene at Yang-lin_. _Arrival at the
capital_.


No exaggeration is it to say that the eyes of the world are upon China.
It is equally safe to say that, whilst all is open and may be seen, but
little is understood.

In the Far Eastern and European press so much is heard of the awakening
of China that one is apt really to believe that the whole Empire, from
its Dan to Beersheba, is boiling for reform. But it may be that the husk
is taken from the kernel. The husk comprises the treaty ports and some
of the capital cities of the provinces; the kernel is that vast sleepy
interior of China. Few people, even in Shanghai, know what it means; so
that to the stay-at-home European pardon for ignorance of existing
conditions so much out of his focus should readily be granted.

From Shanghai, up past Hankow, on to Ichang, through the Gorges to
Chung-king, is a trip likely to strike optimism in the breast of the
most skeptical foreigner. But after he has lived for a couple of years
in an interior city as I have done, with its antiquated legislation, its
superstition and idolatry, its infanticide, its girl suicides, its
public corruption and moral degradation, rubbing shoulders continually
at close quarters with the inhabitants, and himself living in the main a
Chinese life, our optimist may alter his opinions, and stand in wonder
at the extraordinary differences in the most ordinary details of life at
the ports on the China coast and the Interior, and of the gross
inconsistencies in the Chinese mind and character. If in addition he has
stayed a few days away from a city in which the foreigners were shut up
inside the city walls because the roaring mob of rebels outside were
asking for their heads, and he has had to abandon part of his overland
trip because of the fear that his own head might have been chopped off
_en route_, he may increase his wonder to doubt. The aspect here in
Yuen-nan--politically, morally, socially, spiritually--is that of another
kingdom, another world. Conditions seem, for the most part, the same
yesterday, to-day, and for ever. And in his new environment, which may
be a replica of twenty centuries ago, the dream he dreamed is now
dispelled. "China," he says, "is _not_ awaking; she barely moves, she is
still under the torpor of the ages." And yet again, in the capital and a
few of the larger cities, under your very eyes there goes on a reform
which seems to be the most sweeping reform Asia has yet known.

Such are the inconsistencies, seemingly unchangeable, irreconcilable in
conception or in fact; a truthful portrayal of them tends to render the
writer a most inconsistent being in the eyes of his reader.

       *       *       *       *       *

No one was ever sped on his way through China with more goodwill than
was the writer when he left Tong-ch'uan-fu; but the above thoughts were
then in his mind.

Long before January 3rd, 1910, the whole town knew that I was going to
Mien Dien (Burma). Confessedly with a sad heart--for I carried with me
memories of kindnesses such as I had never known before--I led my
nervous pony, Rusty, out through the Dung Men (the East Gate), with
twenty enthusiastic scholars and a few grown-ups forming a turbulent
rear. As I strode onwards the little group of excited younkers watched
me disappear out of sight on my way to the capital by the following
route--the second time of trying:--

                            Length of    Height
                              stage     above sea
    1st day--Che-chi          90 li.    7,800 ft.
    2nd day--Lai-t'eo-p'o     90 li.    8,500 ft.
    3rd day--Kongshan        100 li.    6,700 ft.
    4th day--Yang-kai         85 li.    7,200 ft.
    5th day--Ch'anff-o'o      95 li     6,000 ft.
    6th day--The Capital      70 li     6,400 ft.

My caravan consisted of two coolies: one carried my bedding and a small
basket of luxuries in case of emergency, the other a couple of boxes
with absolute necessities (including the journal of the trip). In
addition, there accompanied me a man who carried my camera, and whose
primary business it was to guard my interests and my money--my general
factotum and confidential agent--and by an inverse operation enrich
himself as he could, and thereby maintain relations of warm mutual
esteem. They received thirty-two tael cents per man per diem, and for
the stopping days on the road one hundred cash. None of them, of course,
could speak a word of English.

The ninety li to Che-chi was mostly along narrow paths by the sides of
river-beds, the intermediate plains having upturned acres waiting for
the spring. At Ta-chiao (7,500 feet), where I stayed for my first
alfresco meal at midday, the man--a tall, gaunt, ugly fellow, pockmarked
and vile of face--told us he was a traveler, and that he had been to
Shanghai. This I knew to be a barefaced lie. He voluntarily explained to
the visitors, gathered to see the barbarian feed, what condensed milk
was for, but he went wide of the mark when he announced that my pony,[Z]
hog-maned and dock-tailed (but Chinese still), was an American, as he
said I was. A young mother near by, suffering from acute eye
inflammation, was lying in a smellful gutter on a felt mat, two pigs on
one side and a naked boy of eight or so on the other, whilst she heaped
upon the head of the innocent babe she was suckling curses most horribly
blood-curdling. Dogs--the universal scavengers of the awakening
interior, to which merest allusion is barred by one's Western sense of
decency--just outside Che-chi, where I stayed the night, had recently
devoured the corpse of a little child. Its clothing was strewn in my
path, together with the piece of fibre matting in which it had been
wrapped, and the dogs were then fighting over the bones.

To Lai-t'eo-p'o was a day that men might call a "killer."

It is a dirty little place with a dirty little street, lying at the foot
of a mountain known throughout Western China as one of the wildest of
Nature's corners, nearly ten thousand feet high, a terrific climb under
best conditions. A clear half-moon, and stars of a silvery twinkle,
looked pityingly upon me as I started at 3 a.m., ignorant of the
dangerously narrow defile leading along cliffs high up from the Yili Ho.
In the dark, cautiously I groped along. Not without a painful emotion of
impending danger, as I watched the stellular reflections dancing in the
rushing river, did I wander on in the wake of a group of pack-ponies,
and took my turn in being assisted over the broken chasms by the
muleteers. Two fellows got down below and practically lifted the tiny
animals over the passes where they could not keep their footing.
Gradually I saw the nightlike shadows flee away, and with the dawn came
signs of heavy weather.

Snow came cold and sudden. As we slowly and toilsomely ascended, the
velocity of the wind fiercely increased; down the mountain-side, at a
hundred miles an hour, came clouds of blinding, flinty dust, making the
blood run from one's lips and cheeks as he plodded on against great
odds. With the biting wind, howling and hissing in the winding ravines
and snow-swept hollows, headway was difficult. Often was I raised from
my feet: helplessly I clung to the earth for safety, and pulled at
withered grass to keep my footing. The ponies, patient little brutes,
with one hundred and fifty pounds strapped to their backs, came near to
giving up the ghost, being swayed hopelessly to and fro in the fury. For
hours we thus toiled up pathways seemingly fitter for goats than men,
where leafless trees were bending destitute of life and helpless towards
the valley, as the keen wind went sighing, moaning, wailing through
their bare boughs and budless twigs.

Such a gale, wilder than the devil's passion, I have not known even on
the North Atlantic in February.

At times during the day progression in the deepening snow seemed quite
impossible, and my two men, worn and weary, bearing the burden of an
excessively fatiguing day, well-nigh threw up the sponge, vowing that
they wished they had not taken on the job.

But the scenery later in the day, though monotonously so, was grand. The
earth was literally the color of deep-red blood, the crimson paths
intertwining the darker landscape bore to one's imagination a vision of
some bloody battle--veritable rivers of human blood. To cheer the
traveler in his desolation, the sun struggled vainly to pierce with its
genial rays through the heavy, angry clouds rolling lazily upwards from
the black valleys, and enveloping the earth in a deep infinity of
severest gloom. The cold was damp. In the small hemmed-in hollows,
whereto our pathway led, the icy dew clung to one's hair and beard. From
little brown cottages, with poor thatched roofs letting in the light,
and with walls and woodwork long since uniformly rotten, men and women
emerged, rubbing their eyes and buttoning up their garments, looking
wistfully for the hidden sun.

At Shao-p'ai (8,100 feet) a brute of a fellow was administering
cruellest chastisement to his disobedient yoke-fellow, who took her
scourging in good part. I passed along as fast as I could to the ascent
over which a road led in and around the mountain with alarming
steepness, a road which at home would never be negotiated on foot or on
horseback, but which here forms part of the main trade route. From the
extreme summit one dropped abruptly into a protecting gorge, where
falling cascades, sparkling like crystal showers in the feeble sunlight
occasionally breaking through, danced playfully over the smooth-worn,
slippery rocks; a stream foamed noisily over the loose stones, and leapt
in rushing rapids where the earth had given way; there was no grass, no
scenery, no life, and in the sudden turnings the hurricane roared with
heavenly anger through the long deep chasms, over the
twelve-inch river-beds at the foot.

At Lai-t'eo-p'o accommodation at night was fairly good. Men laughed
hilariously at me when I raved at some carpenters to desist their clumsy
hammering three feet above my head. Hundreds of dogs yelped unceasingly
at the moon, and with the usual rows of the men in mutual invitation to
"Come and wash your feet," or "Ching fan, ching fan," the draughts, the
creaks and cracks, the unintermitting din, and so much else, one was not
sorry to rise again with the lark and push onwards in the cold.

Down below this horrid town there is a plain; in this plain there is a
hole fifty feet deep, and had my pony, which I was leading, not pulled
me away from falling thereinto, my story would not now be telling.

To Kongshan (6,700 feet), past Yei-chu-t'ang (8,100 feet) and
Hsiao-lang-t'ang (7,275 feet), one hundred li away, was a journey
through country considerably more interesting, especially towards the
end of the day, a peculiar combination of wooded slope and rough,
rock-worn pathways.

Hsiao-lang-t'ang, twenty-five li from the end of the stage, overlooks a
wide expanse of barren, uninviting moorland. Deep, jagged gullies break
the uneven rolling of the mountains; dark, weird caverns of terrible
immensity yawn hungrily from the surface of weariest desolation, ever
widening with each turn. Mist hid the ugliest spots high up among the
peaks, whose white summits, peeping sullenly from out this blue sea of
damp haze, told a wondrous story of winter's withering all life to
death, a spot than which in summer few places on earth would be more
entrancing. But these mountains are breathing out a solitude which is
eternal. Man here has never been. Far away beyond lies the country of
the aborigines; but even the Lolo, wild and rugged as the country,
fearless of man and beast, have never dared to ascend these heights.
They are mournful, cheerless, devoid of a single smile from the common
mother of us all, lacking every feature by which the earth draws man
into a spirit of unity with his God. Horrid, frowning waste and aimless
discontinuity of land, harbinger of loneliness and of evil! People, poor
struggling beings of our kind, here seemed mocked of destiny, and a hot
raging of misery waged within them, for all that the heart might desire
and wish for had to them been denied. If, indeed, the earth be the home
of hope, and man's greatest possession be hope, then would it seem that
these poor creatures were entirely cut off, shut out from life,
wandering wearisomely through the world in one long battle with Nature
whereby to gain the wherewithal to live in that grim desert. There were
no exceptions, it was the common lot. Each day and every day did these
men and women, with a stolidity of long-continued destitution, and
temporal and spiritual tribulation, gaze upon that bare, unyielding
country, pregnant only with aggravation to their own dire wretchedness.

In such spots, unhappily in Yuen-nan not few, does the mystery of life
grow ever more mysterious to one whom distress has never harassed. A
great pity seized my heart, but these poor people would probably have
laughed had they known my thoughts.

As I passed they came uninterestedly to look upon me. They watched in
expressive silence; they were silent because of poverty. And I, too,
kept a seal upon my lips as I ate the good things here provided under
the eyes of those to whom hunger had given none but a jealous outlook.
Pitiful enough were it, thought I, merely to watch without allowing
speech to escape further to taunt them. So I ate, and they looked at me.
I came and went, but never a word was uttered by these men and women, or
even by the children, whose most painful feeling seemed that of their
own feebleness. They were indeed feeble units standing in a threatening
infinitude of life, and their thoughts probably dwelt upon my luxury
and wealth as mine could not help dwelling upon their hungry town of
hungry men and famished children. Words cannot paint their poverty--men
void of hope, of life, of purpose, of idea. Happy for them that they had
known no other.

We ascended over a road of unspeakable torture to one's feet. Gazing
down, far away into a seemingly bottomless abyss, we could faintly hear
in the lulling of the wind the rush of a torrent, fed by a hundred
mountain streams, which washed our path and in horrible disfigurement
tore open the surface of the hill-sides.

The long day was drawing wearily to a close. As the sun was sinking
beyond the uneven hills over which I was to climb before the descent to
the town begins, the effect of the green and gold and red and brown
produced a striking picture of sweet poetic beauty. I stood in
contemplative admiration meditating, as I waited for my coolies, who sat
moodily under a dilapidated roadside awning, nonchalantly picking out
mouldy monkey-nuts from some coarse sweetmeat sold by a frowsy female.
Then upwards we toiled in the dark, the weird groans of my exhausted men
and the falling of the gravel beneath their sandalled feet alone
breaking the hollow's gloom. Uncanny is night travel in China.

"Who knows but that ghosts, those fierce-faced denizens of the hills,
may run against thee and bewitch thee," murmured one man to the others.
They stopped, and I stopped with them. And in the darkness, pegging on
alone at the mercy of these coolies, my own thoughts were not
unsynchronistic.

At last, with no slight misgiving, we came down into the city's smoke.
Dogs barked at me, and ran away like the curs they are. Midway down the
stone footway my yamen runner too cautiously crept up to me in the dark,
muttering something, and I floored him with my fist. Afterwards I
learnt that he came to relieve me of the pony I was leading.

Every room in every wretched inn was occupied; opium fumes already
issued from the doorways, and it was now pitch dark, so that I could
scarce see the sallow faces of the hungry, uncouth crowd, to whom with
no little irritation I tried to speak as I peered carefully into the
caravanserai. Evident it certainly was that the duty lying nearest to me
at that particular moment, to myself and all concerned therein, was to
accept what I was offered, and not wear out my temper in grumbling. My
boy, Lao Chang (an I-pien), the brick, expressed to me his regrets, and
something like real sympathy shone out from his eyes in the dimness.

"Puh p'a teh, puh p'a teh" ("Have no fear, have no fear"), said he; and
as I stood the while piling up cruellest torture upon my uncourtly host,
he made off to prepare a downstair room (to lapse into modern
boarding-house phraseology).

First through an outer apartment, dark as darkest night; on past the
caterwauling cook and a few disreputable culinary hangers-on; asked to
look out for a pony, which I could not see, but which I was told might
kick me; then onward to my boy, who stood on a stool and dropped the
grease of a huge red Chinese candle among his plaited hair, as he
wobbled it above his head to light the way. He gripped me tenderly, took
me to his bosom as it were, gave me one push, and I was there. He
tarried not. What right had he to listen to what I in secret would say
of the horrid keeper and his twice horrid shakedown inn? He passed out
swiftly into outer darkness, uttering a groan I rudely interpreted as,
"That or nothing, that or nothing."

It _was_ a room, that is in so far as four sides, a floor and a ceiling
comprise one. Of that I had no doubt. A sort of uncomely offshoot from
the main inn building, built on piles in the earth after the fashion of
the seashore houses of the Malay--but much dirtier and incomparably more
shaky. For many a long year, longer than mine horrid host would care to
recollect, this now unoccupied space had served admirably as the common
cooking-room--the ruined fireplace was still there; later, it had been
the stable--the ruined horse trough was still there. At one extreme
corner only could I stand upright; long sooty cobwebs graced the black
wood beams overhead, hanging as thick as icicles in a mountain valley;
each step I took in fear and trembling (the slightest move threatened to
collapse the whole dilapidation). Four planks, four inches wide at the
widest part and of varying lengths and thicknesses, placed on a pile of
loose firewood at the head and foot, comprised the bedstead on which I
tremulously sat down. Upon this improvised apology for a bed, under my
mosquito curtains (no traveler should be without them in Western China),
I washed my blistered feet on an ancient _Daily Telegraph_, whilst my
cook saw to my evening meal. His bringing in the rice tallied with my
laying the tablecloth in the same place where I had washed my feet--the
one available spot.

As I ate, rats came brazenly and picked up the grains of rice I dropped
in my inefficient handling of chopsticks, and in scaring off these
hardened, hungry vermin I accidentally upset tea over my bed, whilst at
the same moment a clod-hopping coolie came in with an elephant tread,
with the result that my European reading-lamp lost its balance from the
top of a tin of native sugar and started a conflagration, threatening to
make short work of me and my belongings--not to mention that horrid
fellow and his inn.

During the night the moments throbbed away as I lay on my flea-ridden
couch--moments which seemed long as hours, and no gleaming rift broke
the settled and deepening blackness of my hateful environs. Every thing
and every place was full of the wearisome, depressing, beauty-blasting
commonplace of Interior China. Stenches rose up on the damp, dank air,
and throughout the night, through the opening of a window, I seemed to
gaze out to a disconsolate eternity--gaping, empty, unsightly. Waking
from my dozing at the hour when judgment sits upon the hearts of men, I
sat in ponderous judgment upon all to whom the bungling of the previous
day was due. There were the rats and mice, and cats and owls, and creaks
and cracks--no quiet about the place from night to morning. Then came
the barking of dogs, the noises of the cocks and kine, of horses and
foals, of pigs and geese--the general wail of the zoological
kingdom--cows bellowing, duck diplomacy, and much else. So that it were
not surprising to learn that this distinguished traveler in these
contemptible regions was sitting on a broken-down bridge, looking
wearily on to the broken-down tower on the summit of a pretty little
knoll outside Kungshan, thinking that it were well a score of such were
added did their design embrace a warning to evade the place.

Having done some twenty li by moonlight, I managed with little
difficulty to reach Yang-kai (6,350 feet) by 3.0 p.m. This road, which
is not the main road to the capital, was purposely chosen; most
travelers go through Yang-lin. The journey is comprised of pleasant
ascents and descents over the latter portion of the great Yuen-nan
Plateau, and a very appreciable difference in the temperature was here
noticed. While the people at the north-east of the province, from which
I had come, were shivering in their rags and complaining about the price
of charcoal, the population here basked under Italian skies in a warm
sun. From Lui-shu-ho (7,200 feet) the country was beautifully wooded
with groves of firs and chestnuts.

At the inn to which I was led the phlegmatic proprietor, after wishing
me peace, assumed unostentatiously the becoming attitude of a Customs
official, and scrutinized with vigor the whole of my gear, from an empty
Calvert's tooth-powder tin to my Kodak camera, showering particularly
condescending felicitations upon my English Barnsby saddle and
field-glasses thereto attached.

His excitement rose at once.

He called loudly for his confederates--a band of inelegant infidels--and
bidding them stand one by one at given distances, he gaped at them
through the glasses with the hilarity of a schoolboy and the stupidity
of an owl. He jumped, he shouted, he waved his arms about me, and
handing them back to me with both hands, shouted deafeningly in my ear
that they were quite beyond his ken; and then he sucked his teeth
disgustingly and spat at my feet. His associates were speechless, asses
that they were, and could only stare, in horror or impudence I know not.

Meantime Lao Chang brought tea, and sallied forth immediately to
fraternize among old friends. As I drank my tea, after having invited
them one by one to join me, slowly and with a fitting dignity, the empty
stare, destitute of sense or sincerity, of these six upstanding Chinese
gentry, sucking at tobacco-pipes as long as their own overfed bodies,
forced upon me a sense of my unfitness for the unknown conditions of the
life of the place, a sense of loneliness and social unshelteredness in
the sterile waste of their fashionable life. They spoke to me
subsequently, and I bravely threw at them a Chinese phrase or two; but
when the conversation got above my head, I told them, quietly but
determinedly, that I could not understand, my English speech seemed
vaguely to indicate a sudden collapse of the acquaintance, the opening
of a gulf between us, destined to widen to the whole length and breadth
of Yang-kai, swallowing up their erstwhile confidences. One of them
facetiously remarked that the gentleman wished to eat his rice; and as
they cleared out, falling over each other and the high step at the
entrance to the room, I thought that no matter how old they are, Chinese
are but little children. But had I treated them as little children I
should have found that they were old men.

There was in me withal a sense of better rank in the eyes of this
super-excellent few who worshipped, in "heathen" China, the Satan of
Fashion. As a matter of fact, their rank had emerged from such long
centuries ago that it seemed to me to be so identified with them that
they were hardly capable of analysis of people such as myself. As I
looked pityingly upon them and the involved simplicity of their
immutable natures, I realized an unconquerable feeling of inborn rank
and natural elevation in respect to nationality. This is, however,
against my personal general conception of Eastern peoples, but I must
admit I felt it this afternoon. And so perhaps it is with the majority
of Europeans in the Far East, who, because they have no knowledge of the
language or a familiarity with national customs and ideas, remain always
aliens with the Easterner. They cannot sympathize with him in his joys
and sorrows, his likes and dislikes, his prejudice and bias, or
understand anything of his point of view. This is one of the hardest
lessons for the European traveler in China who has little of the
language. Because we do not understand him, we call the Chinese a
heathen--it is easier.

Now, to the Chinese his country is the best in the world, his province
better than any other of the eighteen, and the village in which he lives
the most enviable spot in the province--the center of his universe.
Speak disparagingly about that little circle, critically or
sympathetically, and he is at once up against you. It may develop
narrowness of mind and smallness of soul. We Westerners think we know
that it does; and the fact that he allows his mental horizon to be
bounded by such narrow confines appears to us to render him anything but
a desirable citizen and a full-sized man. But no matter. The Chinese, on
the other hand, regards as barbarians all those men who have never
tasted the bliss of a true home in the Empire which is celestial--part
of this feeling is patriotism and love of country, part is rank conceit.
But Englishmen are saying that England is the most Christian country in
the world for the very same reason!

Rationally speaking, John is the "old brother" of the world, oldest of
any nation by very many centuries. In common with all other travelers
and those who have lived with this man, and who have made his nature a
serious study, apart from racial bias, I am perplexed with conundrums
which cannot be solved. Some of the conundrums are perhaps superficial,
and disappear with a deeper insight into his life; others are wrought
into his being. Yet he has a fixedness of character, reaching in some
directions to absolute crystallization; he possesses the virility of
young manhood and many of the mutually inconsistent traits of late
manhood and early youth. I wonder at his ignorance of merest rudimentary
political economy--but why? This man explored centuries ago the cardinal
theories of some of our present-day Western classics. However, I have to
teach him the form of the earth and the natural causes of eclipses. He
is frightened by ghosts, burns mock money to maintain his ancestors in
the future state, worships a bit of rusty old iron as an infallible
remedy for droughts; I have seen him shoot at clouds from the city walls
to frighten away the rain--and I despise him for it all. As I revise
this copy, a rumor is current in the town in which I am resting to the
effect that foreigners are buying children and using their heads to oil
the wheels of the new Yuen-nan railway, and I despise him for believing
it. The Chinese will not fight, and I sneer at him; he abhors me
because I do. I ridicule his manner of dress; he thinks mine grossly
indecent. I consider his flat nose and the plaited hair and shaven skull
as heathenish; but the Chinese, eating away with his to me ridiculous
chopsticks, looks out from his quick, almond-shaped eyes and considers
me still a foreign devil, although he is too cunning to tell me. His
opinions of me are founded upon the narrow grounds of vanity and
egotism; mine, although I do not admit it even to myself, from something
very much akin thereto.[AA]

I have been looked upon in far-away outposts of the Chinese Empire where
foreigners are still unknown, as an example of those human monstrosities
which come from the West, a creature of a very low order of the human
species, with a form and face uncouth, with language a hopeless jargon,
and with manners unbearably rude and obnoxious. Not that _I_ personally
answer accurately to this description, reader, any more than you would,
but because I happen to be among a people who, as far back as Chinese
opinion of foreigners can be traced, have considered themselves of a
morality and intellectuality superior to yours and mine.

I write the foregoing because it sums up what may be termed the current
ideas regarding Europeans, ideas the reverse of complimentary, which are
the more unfortunate on account of the fact that they are held by the
vast majority of a people forming a quarter of the whole human race.
This is true, despite all the reform.

These ideas may be, and I trust they are, erroneous, but I know that I
must keep in mind the extremely important desideratum in dealing with
the Chinese that they look at me--my person, my manners, my customs, my
theories, my things--through Chinese eyes, and although mistaken,
misled, reach their own conclusions from their own point of view. This
is what they have been doing for centuries, but we know that it all now
is being subjected to slow change. The original stock, however, takes on
no change whatever, and several generations must pass before this
transfer of mental vision can be effected, when the Chinese will view
all things and all peoples in their true light.

Next morning my three men were heavy. The lean fellow--I have christened
him Shanks, a long, shambling human bag of bones--moved about painfully
in a listless sort of way, betokening severe rheumatics; his joints
needed oil. Four or five huge basins of steaming rice and the customary
amount of reboiled cabbage, however, bucked him up a bit, and holding up
a crooked, bony finger, he indicated intelligently that we had one
hundred li to cover. Whilst engaged in conversation thus, sounds of
early morning revelry reached me from below. My boy, his accustomed
serenity now quite disturbed, held threateningly above the head of the
yamen runner (who had given me a profound kotow the evening previous
prior to taking on his duties) a length of three-inch sugar cane; he
evidently meant to flatten him out. This I learned was because this
shadower of the august presence wished to take Yang-lin (about 60 li
away) instead of going to Ch'ang-p'o (100 li) as I intended. I got him
in, looked him as squarely in the face as it is possible when a Chinese
wants to evade your scrutiny, told him I wished to go to Ch'ang-p'o, and
that I hoped I should have the pleasure of his company thus far. He
replied with a grinning smile, which one could easily have taken for a
smiling grin--

"Oh, yes, foreign mandarin, Ch'ang-p'o--100 li--foreign mandarin,
foreign mandarin."

And I thought the incident closed. Such is the appalling gullibility of
the Englishman in China.

We stopped for tea at a small hamlet ten li out. The place was deserted
save for a small starving boy, whose chief attention was given to
laborious endeavors to make his clothing meet in certain necessary
areas. He evidently had never seen a foreigner. As he directed his
optics towards me he winced visibly. He walked round me several times,
fell over a grimy pail of soap-suds, stopped, gazed in enraptured
enchantment with parted lips and outstretched arms as if he had begun to
suspect what it was before him. To the eye of the beholder, however, he
gazed as yet only on vacancy, but just as I was about to attempt
self-explanation he was gone, tearing away down the hill as fast as his
legs could carry him, the ragged remains of his father's trousers
flapping gently in the breeze. As I rose to leave crackers frightened my
pony, followed, in a few moments by a howling, hooting, unreasonable
rabble from a temple near by. I found it was the result of a village
squabble. I could scarce keep the order of my march as I left the
tea-shop, so roughly was I handled by the irritated and impatient crowd,
and had much ado to refrain from responding wrathfully to the repeated
jeers of impudent, half-grown beggars of both sexes who helped to swell
the riotous cortege. But through it all none of the insults were meant
for me, so Lao Chang told me, and they did not mean to treat me with
discourtesy.

Trees hollowed out and spanned from field to field served as gutters for
irrigation; shepherds clad in white felt blankets sat huddled upon the
ground behind huge boulders, oblivious of time and of the boisterous
wind, while their sheep and goats grubbed away on the scanty grass the
moorland provided; high up we saw forest fires, making the earth black
and desolate; ruins almost everywhere recalled to one's mind the image
of a past prosperity, which now were replaced by traces of misery,
exterior influences which seemed to breed upon the traveler a deep
discouragement. I came across some women mock-weeping for the dead: at
their elbow two girls were washing clothes, and when little children,
catching sight of me, ran to their mothers, the women stopped their
hulla-baloo, had a good stare at me, exchanged a few words of mutual
inquiry, and then resumed their bellowing.

Soon it became quite warm, and walking was pleasant. I was startled by
the _fu-song_,[AB] who invited me to go to a neighboring town for tea. My
men were far behind. I was at his mercy, so I went. Soon I found myself
passing through the city gates of Yang-lin, the very town I was trying
to keep away from. The yamen fellow turned back at me and chuckled
rudely to himself. I insisted that I did not wish to take tea; he
insisted that I should--I must. He led me to an inn in the main street,
arrangements were made to house me, old men and young lads gathered to
welcome me as a lost brother, and the _fu-song_ told me graciously that
he was going to the magistrate. In cruel English, with many wildly
threatening gestures, did I protest, and the people laughed
acquiescingly.

"Puh tong, puh tong, you gaping idiots!" I repeated, and it caused more
glee.

Swinging myself past them all, I dragged my stubborn pony through the
mob to the gate by which I had entered. My men were not to be found. I
did not know the road nor much of the language. I sat down on a granite
pillar to undergo an embarrassing half-hour. Presently my men hailed me,
and approaching, swore with imposing loftiness at the discomfited guide.
My bull-dog coolie dropped his loads, the _fu-song_ somehow lost his
footing, I yelled "Ts'eo" ("Go"), and with a cheer the caravan
proceeded.

The following day we were at the capital.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote Z: I took a pony because I had made up my mind to return into
China after I had reached Burma. In Tong-ch'uan-fu a good pony can be
bought for, say, _L3_--in Burma, the same pony would sell for L10.

--E.J.D.]

[Footnote AA: For further excellent descriptions of the Chinese nature I
refer the reader to Chester Holcombe's _China: Past and
Present_.--E.J.D.]

[Footnote AB: _i.e._ Yamen escort.]




CHAPTER XIV.

YUeN-NAN-FU, THE CAPITAL.

_Access to Yuen-nan-fu_. _Concentrated reform_. _Tribute to Hsi Liang_.
_Conservatism and progress_. _The Tonkin-Yuen-nan Railway_. _The Yuen-nan
army_. _Author's views in 1909 and 1910 contrasted_. _Phenomenal forward
march, and what it means_. _Danger of too much drill_. _International
aspect on the frontier_. _The police_. _Street improvements_. _Visit to
the gaol, and a description_. _The Young Pretender to the Chinese
throne_. _How the prison is conducted_. _The schools_. _Visit to the
university, and a description_. _Riot among the students_. _Visit to the
Agricultural School, and a description_. _Silk industry of Yuen-nan._


Yuen-nan-fu to-day is as accessible as Peking. After many weary years the
Tonkin-Yuen-nan railway is now an accomplished fact, and links this
capital city with Haiphong in three days.

Reform concentrates at the capital. The man who visited Yuen-nan-fu
twenty, or even ten years ago, would be astounded, were he to go there
now, at the improvements visible, on every hand. A building on foreign
lines was then a thing unknown, and the conservative Viceroy, Tseng Kong
Pao, the decapitator in his time of thousands upon thousands of human
beings, would turn in his grave if he could behold the utter
annihilation of his pet "feng shui," which has followed in the wake of
the good works done by the late loved Viceroy, Hsi Liang.

The name of Hsi Liang is revered in the province of Yuen-nan as the most
able man who has ever ruled the two provinces of Yuen-nan and Kwei-chow,
a man of keen intellectuality and courtly manner, and notorious as being
the only Mongolian in the service of China's Government. I lived in
Yuen-nan-fu for several weeks at a stretch, and since then have made
frequent visits, and knowing the enormous strides being made towards
acquiring Occidental methods, I now find it difficult to write with
absolute accuracy upon things in general. But I have found this to be
the case in all my travels. What is, or seems to be, accurate to-day of
any given thing in a given place is wrong tomorrow under seemingly the
same conditions; and although no theme could be more tempting, and no
subject offer wider scope for ingenious hypothesis and profound
generalization, one has to forego much temptation to "color" if he would
be accurate of anything he writes of the Chinese. Eminent sinologues
agree as to the impossibility of the conception of the Chinese mind and
character as a whole, so glaring are the inconsistencies of the Chinese
nature. And as one sees for himself in this great city, particularly in
official life, the businesslike practicability on the one hand and the
utter absurdity of administration on the other, in all modes and
methods, one is almost inclined to drop his pen in disgust at being
unable to come to any concrete conclusions.

Of no province in China more than of Yuen-nan is this true.

Reform and immovable conservatism go hand in hand. Men of the most
dissimilar ambitions compose the _corps diplomatique_, and are willing
to join hands to propagate their main beliefs; and when one writes of
progress--in railways, in the army, in gaols, in schools, in public
works, in no matter what--one is ever confronted by that dogged
immutability which characterizes the older school.

So that in writing of things Yuen-nanese in this great city it is
imperative for me to state bare facts as they stand now, and make little
comment.


THE RAILWAY


The Tonkin-Yuen-nan Railway, linking the interior with the coast, is one
of the world's most interesting engineering romances. This artery of
steel is probably the most expensive railway of its kind, from the
constructional standpoint. In some districts seven thousand pounds per
mile was the cost, and it is probable that six thousand pounds sterling
per mile would not be a bad estimate of the total amount appropriated
for the construction of the line from a loan of 200,000,000 francs asked
for in 1898 by the Colonial Council in connection with the program for a
network of railways in and about French Indo-China.

To Lao-kay there are no less than one hundred and seventy-five bridges.

The completion of this line realizes in part the ambition of a
celebrated Frenchman, who--once a printer, 'tis said, in Paris--dropped
into the political flower-bed, and blossomed forth in due course as
Governor-General of Indo-China. When Paul Doumer, for it was he, went
east in 1897, he felt it his mission to put France, politically and
commercially, on as good a footing as any of her rivals, notably Great
Britain. It did not take him long to see that the best missionaries in
his cause would be the railways. At the time of writing (June, 1910) I
cannot but think that profit on this railway will be a long time coming,
and there are some in the capital who doubt whether the commercial
possibilities of Yuen-nan justified this huge expenditure on railway
construction. Whilst authorities differ, I personally believe that the
ultimate financial success of the venture is assured. There are markets
crying out to be quickly fed with foreign goods, and it is my opinion
that the French will be the suppliers of those goods. British enterprise
is so weak that we cannot capture the greater portion of the growing
foreign trade, and must feel thankful if we can but retain what trade we
have, and supply those exports with which the French have no possibility
of competing.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE MILITARY

The foreigner in Yuen-nan-fu can never rest unless he is used to the
sounds of the bugle and the hustling spirit of the men of war.

In standard works on Chinese armaments no mention is ever made of the
Yuen-nan army, and statistics are hard to get. But it is evident that the
cult of the military stands paramount, and it has to be conceded, even
by the most pessimistic critics of this backward province, that the new
troops are sufficiently numerous and sufficiently well-organized to
crush any rebellion. This must be counted a very fair result, since it
has been attained in about two years. A couple of years ago Yuen-nan had
practically no army--none more than the military ragtags of the old
school, whose chief weapon of war was the opium pipe. But now there are
ten thousand troops--not units on paper, but men in
uniform--well-drilled for the most part and of excellent physique, who
could take the field at once. The question of the Yuen-nan army is one of
international interest: the French are on the south, Great Britain on
the west.

On June 2nd, 1909, I rode out to the magnificent training ground, then
being completed, and on that date wrote the following in my diary:--

"I watched for an hour or two some thousand or so men undergoing their
daily drill--typical tin soldiery and a military sham.

"Only with the merest notion of matters military were most of the men
conversant, and alike in ordinary marching--when it was most difficult
for them even to maintain regularity of step--or in more complicated
drilling, there was a lack of the right spirit, no go, no gusto--scores
and scores of them running round doing something, going through a
routine, with the knowledge that when it was finished they would get
their rice and be happy. Everyone who possesses but a rudimentary
knowledge of the Chinese knows that he troubles most about the two
meals every day should bring him, and this seems to be the pervading
line of thought of seven-eighths of the men I saw on the padang at
drill. Officers strutting about in peacock fashion, with a sword
dangling at their side, showed no inclination to enforce order, and the
rank and file knew their methods, so that the disorder and haphazardness
of the whole thing was absolutely mutual.

"Whilst I was on the field gazing in anything but admiration on the
scene, I was ordered out by one of the khaki-clad officers in a most
unceremonious manner. Seeing me, he shouted at the top of his thick
voice, 'Ch'u-k'ue, ch'u-k'ue' (an expression meaning 'Go out!'--commonly
used to drive away dogs), and simultaneously waved his sword in the air
as if to say, 'Another step, and I'll have your head.' And, of course,
there being nothing else to do, I 'ch'u-k'ued,' but in a fashion
befitting the dignity of an English traveler.

"The reorganization of the army, with the acceleration of warlike
preparedness, has the advantage that it appeals to the embryonic feeling
of national patriotism, and affords a tangible expression of the desire
to be on terms of equality with the foreigner. That officer never had a
prouder moment in his life than when he ordered a distinguished
foreigner from the drilling ground, of which he was for the time the
lordly comptroller. And it may be added that the foreigner can remember
no occasion when he felt 'smaller,' or more completely shrivelled.

"Whilst it is safe to infer that the motives that underlie the
significant access of activity in military matters in Yuen-nan differ in
no way from those which have led to the feverish increase in armaments
in other parts of the world, such ideas that have yet been formed on
actual preparations for possible war are most crude. On paper the
appointments in the army and the accuracy of the figures of the
complement of rank and file admit of no question, but the practical
utility of their labors is quite another matter, and a matter which does
not appear to produce among the army officials any great mental
disturbance in their delusion that they are progressing. Yuen-nan is in
need of military reform, reform which will embrace a start from the very
beginning, and one of the first steps that should be taken is that those
who are to be in the position of administering training should find out
something about western military affairs, and so be in a position of
knowing what they are doing."

The above was my conscientious opinion in the middle of last year.
Now--in June of 1910--I have to write of enormous improvements and
revolutions in the drilling, in the armaments, in the equipment, in the
general organization of the troops and the conduct of them. Yuen-nan is
still peculiarly in her transition stage, which, while it has many
elements of strength and many menacing possibilities, contains, more or
less, many of the old weaknesses. All matters, such as her financial
question, her tariff question, her railway question, her mining
question, are still "in the air"--the unknown _x_ in the equation, as it
were--but her army question is settled. There is a definite line to be
followed here, and it is being followed most rigidly. Come what will,
her army must be safe and sound. China is determined to work out the
destiny of Yuen-nan herself, and she is working hard--the West has no
conception how hard--so as to be able to be in a position of
safeguarding--vigorously, if necessary--her own borders.

One question arises in my mind, however. Should there be a rebellion,
would the soldiers remain true? This is vital to Yuen-nan. Skirmishings
on the French border more or less recently have shown us that soldiers
are wobblers in that area. The rank and file are chosen from the common
people, and one would not be surprised to find, should trouble take
place fairly soon, while they are still raw to their business, the
soldiers turn to those who could give them most. It has been humorously
remarked that in case of disturbances the first thing the Chinese Tommy
would do would be to shoot the officers for treating him so badly and
for drilling him so hard and long.

What is true of the capital in respect to military progress I found to
be true also of Tali-fu.

A couple of years ago a company of drilled soldiers arrived there as a
nucleus for recruiting units for the new army. Soon 1,500 men were
enlisted. They were to serve a three years' term, were to receive four
dollars per month, and were promised good treatment. The officers
drilled them from dawn to dusk; deserters were therefore many,
necessitating the detail of a few heads coming off to avert the trouble
of losing all the men. It cost the men about a dollar or so for their
rice, so that it will be readily seen that, with a clear profit of three
dollars as a monthly allowance, they were better off than they would
have been working on their land. Officers received from forty to sixty
taels a month. Temples here were converted into barracks--a sign in
itself of the altered conditions of the times--and I visited some
extensive buildings which were being erected at a cost of eighty
thousand gold dollars.

Military progress in this "backward province" is as great as it has been
anywhere at any time in any part of the Chinese Empire.


THE POLICE

Until a few years ago, as China was kept in law and order without the
necessary evil of a standing army, so did Yuen-nan-fu slumber on in the
Chinese equivalent for peace and plenty. As they now are, and taking
into consideration that they were all picked from the rawest material,
the police force of this capital is as able a body of men as are to be
found in all Western China. Probably the Metropolitan police of dear old
London could not be re-forced from their ranks, but disciplined and
well-ordered they certainly are withal. Swords seem to take the place of
the English bludgeon, and a peaked cap, beribboned with gold, is
substituted for the old-fashioned helmet of blue; and if the time should
ever come, with international rights, when Englishmen will be "run in"
in the Empire, the sallow physiognomy and the dangling pigtail alone
will be unmistakable proofs to the victim, even in heaviest
intoxication, that he is not being handled by policemen of his awn
kind--that is, if the Yuen-nan police shall ever have made strides
towards the attainment of home police principles. However, in their
place these men have done good work. Thieving in the city is now much
less common, and gambling, although still rife under cover--when will
the Chinese eradicate that inherent spirit?--is certainly being put
down. One of the features of their work also has been the improvement
they have effected in the appearance of the streets. Old customs are
dying, and at the present time if a man in his untutored little ways
throws his domestic refuse into the place where the gutter should have
been, as in olden days, he is immediately pounced upon, reprimanded by
the policeman on duty, and fined somewhat stiffly.


THE GAOL

A great fuss was made about me when I went to visit the governor of the
prison one wet morning. He met me with great ostentation at the
entrance, escorting me through a clean courtyard, on either side of
which were pretty flower-beds and plots of green turf, to a
reception-room. There was nothing "quadlike" about the place. This
reception-room, furnished on a semi-Occidental plan, overlooked the main
prison buildings, contained foreign glass windows draped with white
curtains, was scrupulously clean for China, and had magnificent hanging
scrolls on the whitewashed walls. Tea was soon brewed, and the governor,
wishing to be polite and sociable, told me that he had been in
Yuen-nan-fu for a few months only, and that he considered himself an
extremely fortunate fellow to be in charge of such an excellent
prison--one of the finest in the kingdom, he assured me.

After we had drunk each other's health--I sincerely trust that the cute,
courteous old chap will live a long and happy life, although to my way
of thinking the knowledge of the evil deeds of all the criminals around
me would considerably minimize the measure of bliss among such intensely
mundane things--I was led away to the prison proper.

This gaol, which had been opened only a few months, is a remarkably fine
building, and with the various workshops and outhouses and offices
covers from seven to eight acres of ground inside the city. The outside,
and indeed the whole place, bears every mark of Western architecture,
with a trace here and there of the Chinese artistry, and for carved
stone and grey-washed brick might easily be mistaken for a foreign
building. It cost some ninety thousand taels to build, and has
accommodation for more than the two hundred and fifty prisoners at
present confined within its walls.

After an hour's inspection, I came to the conclusion that the lot of the
prisoners was cast in pleasant places. The food was being prepared at
the time--three kinds of vegetables, with a liberal quantity of rice,
much better than nine-tenths of the poor brutes lived on before they
came to gaol. Besworded warders guarded the entrances to the various
outbuildings. From twenty to thirty poor human beings were manacled in
their cells, condemned to die, knowing not how soon the pleasure of the
emperor may permit of them shuffling off this mortal coil: one
grey-haired old man was among the number, and to see him stolidly
waiting for his doom brought sad thoughts.

The long-termed prisoners work, of course, as they do in all prisons.
Weaving cloth, mostly for the use of the military, seemed to be the most
important industry, there being over a score of Chinese-made weaving
machines busily at work. The task set each man is twelve English yards
per day; if he does not complete this quantity he is thrashed, if he
does more he is remunerated in money. One was amused to see the
English-made machine lying covered with dust in a corner, now discarded,
but from its pattern all the others had been made in the prison. Tailors
rose as one man when we entered their shop, where Singer machines were
rattling away in the hands of competent men; and opposite were a body of
pewter workers, some of their products--turned out with most primitive
tools--being extremely clever. The authorities had bought a foreign
chair, made of iron--a sort of miniature garden seat--and from this
pattern a squad of blacksmiths were turning out facsimiles, which were
selling at two dollars apiece. They were well made, but a skilled
mechanic, not himself a prisoner, was teaching the men. Bamboo blinds
were being made in the same room, whilst at the extreme end of another
shed were paper dyers and finishers, carrying on a primitive work in the
same primitive way that the Chinese did thousands of years ago. It was,
however, exceedingly interesting to watch.

As we passed along I smelt a strong smell of opium. Yes, it was opium. I
sniffed significantly, and looked suspiciously around. The governor saw
and heard and smelt, but he said nothing. Opium, then, is not, as is
claimed, abolished in Yuen-nan. Worse than this: whilst I was the other
day calling upon the French doctor at the hospital, the vilest fumes
exuded from the room of one of the dressers. It appeared that the doctor
could not break his men of the habit. But we remember that the
physician of older days was exhorted to heal himself.

Just as I was beginning to think I had seen all there was to be seen, I
heard a scuffle, and saw a half-score of men surrounding a poor
frightened little fellow, to whom I was introduced. He was the little
bogus Emperor of China, the Young Pretender, to whom thousands of
Yuen-nan people, at the time of the dual decease in recent Chinese
history, did homage, and kotowed, recognizing him as the new emperor.
The story, not generally known outside the province, makes good reading.
At the time of the death of the emperor and empress-dowager, an
aboriginal family at the village of Kuang-hsi-chou, in the southeast of
Yuen-nan province, knowing that a successor to the throne must be found,
and having a son of about eight years of age, put this boy up as a
pretender to the Chinese throne, and not without considerable success.
The news spread that the new emperor was at the above-named village, and
the people for miles around flocked in great numbers to do him homage,
congratulating themselves that the emperor should have risen from the
immediate neighborhood in which they themselves had passed a monotonous
existence. For weeks this pretense to the throne was maintained, until a
miniature rebellion broke out, to quell which the Viceroy of Yuen-nan
dispatched with all speed a strong body of soldiers.

Everybody thought that the loss of a few heads and other Chinese
trivialities was to end this little flutter of the people. But not so.
The whole of the family who had promoted this fictitious claim to the
throne--father, mother, brothers, sisters--were all put to death, most
of them in front of the eyes of the poor little fellow who was the
victim of their idle pretext. The military returned, reporting that
everything was now quiet, and a few days later, guarded by twenty
soldiers, came this young pretender, encaged in one of the prison boxes,
breaking his heart with grief. And it was he who was now conducted to
meet the foreigner. He has been confined within the prison since he
arrived at the capital, and the object seems to be to keep him there,
training and teaching him until he shall have arrived at an age when he
can be taught a trade. The tiny fellow is small for his eight years, and
his little wizened face, sallow and delicate, has a plausible tale to
tell. He is always fretting and grieving for those whose heads were
shown to him after decapitation. However, he is being cared for, and it
is doubtful whether the authorities--or even the emperor himself--will
mete out punishment to him when he grows older. He did nothing; he knew
nothing. At the present time he is going through a class-book which
teaches him the language to be used in audience with the Son of
Heaven--he will probably be taken before the emperor when he is old
enough. But now he is not living the life of a boy--no playmates, no
toys, no romps and frolics. He, like Topsy, merely grows--in
surroundings which only a dark prison life can give him.

This was the first time I had even been in prison in China. This remark
rather tickled the governor, and on taking my departure he assured me
that it was an honor to him, which the Chinese language was too poor to
express, that I should have allowed my honorable and dignified person to
visit his mean and contemptible abode. He commenced this compliment to
me as he was showing me the well-equipped hospital in connection with
the prison--containing eight separate wards in charge of a Chinese
doctor.

I smiled in return a smile of deepest gratitude, and waving a fond
farewell, left him in a happy mood.


THE SCHOOLS

One would scarce dream of a university for the province of Yuen-nan. Yet
such is the case.

In former days--and it is true, too, to a great extent to-day--the
prominent place given to education in China rendered the village schools
an object of more than common interest, where the educated men of the
Empire received their first intellectual training. Probably in no other
country was there such uniformity in the standards of instruction. Every
educated man was then a potential school master--this was certainly true
of Yuen-nan. But all is now changing, as the infusion of the spirit of
the phrase "China for the Chinese" gains forceful meaning among the
people.

The highest hill within the city precincts has been chosen as the site
for a university, which is truly a remarkable building for Western
China. One of the students of the late. Dr. Mateer (Shantung) was the
architect--a man who came originally to the school as a teacher of
mathematics--and it cannot be said that the huge oblong building, with a
long narrow wing on either side of a central dome, is the acme of beauty
from a purely architectural standpoint.

Of red-faced brick, this university, which cost over two hundred
thousand taels to build, is most imposing, and possesses conveniences
and improvements quite comparable to the ordinary college of the West.
For instance, as I passed through the many admirably-equipped
schoolrooms, well ventilated and airy, I saw an Italian who was laying
in the electric light,[AC] the power for which was generated by an
immense dynamo at the basement, upon which alone twenty thousand taels
were spent. Thirty professors have the control of thirty-two classrooms,
teaching among other subjects mathematics, music, languages (chiefly
English and Japanese), geography, chemistry, astronomy, geology, botany,
and so on. The museum, situated in the center of the building, does not
contain as many specimens as one would imagine quite easily obtainable,
but there are certainly some capital selections of things natural to
this part of the Empire.

The authorities probably thought I was rather a queer foreigner, wanting
to see everything there was to see inside the official barriers in the
city. Day after day I was making visits to places where foreigners
seldom have entered, and I do not doubt that the officials, whilst
treating me with the utmost deference and extreme punctiliousness,
thought I was a sort of British spy.

When I went to the Agricultural School, probably the most interesting
visit I made, I was met by the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, a keen
fellow, who spoke English well, and who, having been trained at
Shanghai, and therefore understanding the idiosyncrasies of the
foreigner's character, was invited to entertain. And this he did, but he
was careful that he did not give away much information regarding the
progress that the Yuen-nanese, essentially sons of the soil, are making
in agriculture. For this School of Agriculture is an important adjunct.

Scholars are taken on an agreement for three years, during which time
they are fed and housed at the expense of the school; if they leave
during the specified period they are fined heavily. No less than 180
boys, ranging from sixteen to twenty-three, are being trained here, with
about 120 paid apprentices. Three Japanese professors are employed--one
at a salary of two hundred dollars a month, and two others at three
hundred, the latter having charge of the fruit and forest trees and the
former of vegetables.

In years to come the silk industry of Yuen-nan will rank among the chief,
and the productions will rank among the best of all the eighteen
provinces. There are no less than ten thousand mulberry trees in the
school grounds for feeding the worms; four thousand catties of leaves
are used every day for their food; five hundred immense trays of
silkworms are constantly at work here. The worms are in the charge of
scholars, whose names appear on the various racks under their charge,
and the fact that feeding takes place every two hours, day and night, is
sufficient testimony that the boys go into their work with commendable
energy. As I was being escorted around the building, through shed after
shed filled with these trays of silkworms, several of the scholars made
up a sort of procession, and waited for the eulogy that I freely
bestowed. In another building small boys were spinning the silk, and
farther down the weavers were busy with their primitive machinery, with
which, however, they were turning out silk that could be sold in London
at a very big price. The colorings were specially beautiful, and the
figuring quite good, although the head-master of the school told me that
he hoped for improvements in that direction. And I, looking wise,
although knowing little about silk and its manufacture, heartily agreed
with the little fat man.

There is a department for women also, and contrary to custom, I had a
look around here, too. The girls were particularly smart at spinning.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote AC: Soon afterwards a disturbance occurred among the students,
and had it not been for the promptitude of the inspector, some of them
might have lost their heads.

The electric light had just been laid in, and was working so well that
the authorities found it imperative to charge each of the 400 resident
students one dollar per month for the upkeep. This simple edict was the
cause of the riot In a body the boys rolled up their pukais, and marched
down to the main entrance, declaring that they were determined to resign
if the order was not rescinded. The inspector, however, had had all the
doors locked. The frenzied students broke these open, and incidentally
thrashed some of the caretakers for interfering in matters which were
not considered to be strictly their business.

Subsequently the Chancellor of Education visited the college in person,
but no heed was paid to his exhortations, and it was only when the
dollar charge for lighting was reduced that peace was restored.

The Chancellor, as a last word, told them that if they vacated their
schoolrooms a fine of about a hundred taels would be imposed upon each
man.

The occasion was marked by all the foolish ardor one finds among college
boys at home, and it seems that, despite the enormous amount of money
the college is costing to run, the students are somewhat out of
hand.--E.J.D.]




SECOND JOURNEY

YUeN-NAN-FU TO TALI-FU (VIA CH'U-HSIONG-FU)




CHAPTER XV.

_Stages to Tali-fu_. _Worst roads yet experienced_. _Stampede among
ponies_. _Hybrid crowd at Anning-cheo_. _Simplicity of life of common
people_. _Does China want the foreigner? Straits Settlements and China
Proper compared_. _China's aspect of her own position_. _Renaissance of
Chinese military power_. _Europeans_ NOT _wanted in the Empire_.
_Emptiness of the lives of the common people_. _Author erects a printing
machine in Inland China_. _National conceit_. _Differences in make-up of
the Hua Miao and the Han Ren_. _The Hua Miao and what they are doing_.
_Emancipation of their women_. _Tribute to Protestant missionaries_.
_Betrothal and marriage in China_. _Miao women lead a life of shame and
misery_. _Crude ideas among Chinese regarding age of foreigners_. _Musty
man and dusty traveller at Lao-ya-kwan_. _Intense cold_. _Salt trade_.
_Parklike scenery, pleasant travel, solitude._


From the figures of heights appearing below, one would imagine that
between the capital and Tali-fu hard climbing is absent. But during each
stage, with the exception of the journey from Sei-tze to Sha-chiao-kai,
there is considerable fatiguing uphill and downhill work, each evening
bringing one to approximately the same level as that from which he
started his morning tramp. I went by the following route:--

                                   Length of         Height
                                     stage          above sea
    1st day--Anning-cheo             70 li          6,300 ft.
    2nd day--Lao-ya-kwan             70 li          6,800 ft.
    3rd day--Lu-feng-hsien           75 li          5,500 ft.
    4th day--Sei-tze                 80 li          6,100 ft.
    5th day--Kwang-tung-hsien        60 li          6,300 ft.
    6th day--Rest day.
    7th day--Ch'u-hsiong-fu          70 li          6,150 ft.
    8th day--Luho-kai                60 li          6,000 ft.
    9th day--Sha-chiao-kai           65 li          6,400 ft.
    10th day--Pu-peng                90 li          7,200 ft.
    11th day--Yuen-nan-i              65 li          6,800 ft.
    12th day--Hungay                 80 li          6,000 ft.
    14th day--Chao-chow              60 li          6,750 ft.
    15th day--Tali-fu                60 li          6,700 ft.

A long, winding and physically-exhausting road took me from
Sha-chiao-kai to Yin-wa-kwan, the most elevated pass between Yuen-nan-fu
and Tali-fu, and continued over barren mountains, bereft of shelter, and
void of vegetation and people, to Pupeng. A rough climb of an hour and a
half then took me to the top of the next mountain, where roads and ruts
followed a high plateau for about thirty li, and with a precipitous
descent I entered the plain of Yuen-nan-i. Then over and between barren
hills, passing a small lake and plain with the considerable town of
Yuen-nan-hsien ten li to the right, I continued in a narrow valley and
over mountains in the same uncultivated condition to Hungay, situated in
a swampy valley. Having crossed this valley, another rough climb brings
the traveler to the top of the next pass, Ting-chi-ling, whence the road
descends, and leads by a well-cultivated valley to Chao-chow. After an
easy thirty li we reached Hsiakwan,[AD] one of the largest commercial
cities in the province, lying at the foot of the most magnificent
mountain range in Yuen-nan, and by the side of the most famous lake. A
paved road takes one in to his destination at Tali-fu, where I was
welcomed by Dr. and Mrs. Clark, of the China Inland Mission, and
hospitably entertained for a couple of days.

The roads in general from Yuen-nan-fu to Tali-fu were worse than any I
have met from Chung-king onwards, partly owing to the mountainous
condition of the country, and partly to neglect of maintenance.

Where the road is paved, it is in most places worse than if it had not
been paved at all, as neither skill nor common sense seems to have been
exercised in the work. It is probably safe to say that there are no
ancient roads in Yuen-nan, in the sense of the constructed highways which
have lasted through the centuries, for the civilization of the early
Yuen-nanese was not equal to such works. As a matter of fact, the
condition of the roads is all but intolerable. Many were never made, and
are seldom mended--one may say that with very few exceptions they are
never repaired, except when utterly impassable, and then in the most
make-shift manner.

My highly-strung Rusty received a shock to his nervous system as I led
him leisurely from the incline leading into Anning-cheo (6,300 feet),
through the arched gateway in a pagoda-like entrance, which when new
would have been a credit to any city. The stones of the main street were
so slippery that I could hardly keep on my legs. Frightened by one of
their number dragging its empty wooden carrying frame along the ground
behind it, a drove of unruly-pack-ponies lashed and bucked and tossed
themselves out of order, and an instant afterwards came helter-skelter
towards my ten-inch pathway by the side of the road. All of my men
caught the panic, and in their mad rush several were knocked down and
trampled upon by the torrent of frightened creatures. I thought I was
being charged by cavalry, but beyond a good deal of bruising I escaped
unhurt. Closer and closer came the hubbub and the din of the town--the
market was not yet over. As I approached the big street, throngs of
blue-cottoned yokels, quite out of hand, created a nerve-racking uproar,
as they thriftily drove their bargains. I shrugged my shoulders, gazed
long and earnestly at the motley mob, and putting on a bold front,
pushed through in a careless manner. Ponies with salt came in from the
other end of the town, and in their waddling the little brutes gave me
more knocks.

It was an awful crowd--Chinese, Minchia, Lolo, and other specimens of
hybridism unknown to me. Yet I suppose the majority of them may be
called happy. Certainly the simplicity of the life of the common people,
their freedom from fastidious tastes, which are only a fetter in our own
Western social life, their absolute independence of furniture in their
homes, their few wants and perhaps fewer necessities, when contrasted
with the demands of the Englishman, is to them a state of high
civilization. Here were farmers, mechanics, shopkeepers, and retired
people living a simple, unsophisticated life. All the strength of the
world and all its beauties, all true joy, everything that consoles, that
feeds hope, or throws a ray of light along our dark paths, everything
that enables us to discern across our poor lives a splendid goal and a
boundless future, comes to us from true simplicity. I do not say that we
get all this from the Chinese, but in many ways they can teach us how to
live in the _spirit of simplicity_. They were living from hand to mouth,
with seemingly no anxieties at all--and yet, too, they were living
without God, and with very little hope.

And here the foreigner re-appeared to disturb them. Even in Anning-cheo,
only a day from the capital, I was regarded as a being of another
species, and was treated with little respect. I was not wanted.

No international question has become more hackneyed than "Does China
want the foreigner?" Columns of utter nonsense have from time to time
been printed in the English press, purporting to have come from men
supposed to know, to the effect that this Empire is crying out, waiting
with open arms to welcome the European and the American with all his
advanced methods of Christendom and civilization. It has by general
assent come to be understood that China _does_ want the foreigner. But
those who know the Chinese, and who have lived with them, and know their
inherent insincerity in all that they do, still wonder on, and still
ask, "Does she?"

To the European in Hong-Kong, or any of the China ports, having
trustworthy Chinese on his commercial staff--without whom few
businesses in the Far East can make progress--my argument may seem to
have no _raison d'etre_. He will be inclined to blurt out vehemently the
absurdity of the idea that the Chinese do not want the foreigner. First,
they cannot do without him if China is to come into line as a great
nation among Eastern and Western powers. And then, again, could anyone
doubt the sincerity of the desire on the part of the Celestial for
closer and downright friendly intercourse if he has had nothing more
than mere superficial dealings with them?

Thus thought the writer at one time in his life. He has had in a large
commercial firm some of the best Chinese assistants living, in China or
out of it, and has nothing but praise for their assiduous perseverance
and remarkable business acumen and integrity.

As a business man, I admire them far and away above any other race of
people in the East and Far East. Is there any business man in the
Straits Settlements who has not the same opinion of the Straits-born
Chinese? But as one who has traveled in China, living among the Chinese
and with them, seeing them under all natural conditions, at home in
their own country, I say unhesitatingly that at the present time only an
infinitesimal percentage of the population of the vast Interior
entertain genuine respect for the white man, and, in centers where
Western influence has done so much to break down the old-time hatred
towards us, the real, unveneered attitude of the ordinary Chinese is one
not calculated to foster between the Occident and the Orient the
brotherhood of man. Difficult is it for the foreigner in civilized parts
of China--and impossible for the great preponderance of the European
peoples at home--to grasp the fact that in huge tracts of Interior China
the populace have never seen a foreigner, save for the ubiquitous
missionary, who takes on more often than not the dress of the native.

Although the Chinese Government recognizes the dangerous situation of
the nation _vis-a-vis_ with nations of Europe, and has ratified one
treaty after another with us, the nation itself does not, so far as the
traveler can see, appreciate the fact that she cannot possibly resist
the white man, and hold herself in seclusion as formerly from the
Western world. China is discovering--has discovered officially, although
that does not necessarily mean nationally--as Japan did so admirably
when her progress was most marked, that steam and machinery have made
the world too small for any part thereof to separate itself entirely
from the broadening current of the world's life.

Whilst not for a moment failing to admire the aggressive character of
Occidentals, and the resultant necessity of thwarting them--we see[1]
this especially in official circles in Yuen-nan--Chinese leaders of
thought and activity are recognizing that in international relations the
final appeal can be only to a superior power, and that power, to be
superior, must be thorough, and thorough throughout. So different to
what has held good in China for countless ages. That is why China is
making sure of her army, and why she will have ready in 1912--ten years
before the period originally intended--no less than thirty-six
divisions, each division formed of ten thousand units.[A] China is now
endeavoring to walk the ground which led Japan to greatness among the
nations--she takes Japan as her pattern, and thinks that what Japan has
done she can do--and, officially abandoning her long course of
self-sufficient isolation, is plunging into the flood of international
progress, determined to acquire all the knowledge she can, and thus win
for herself a place among the Powers.

But I am in Yuen-nan, and things move slowly here.

All this does not mean that my presence is desired, or that fear of me,
the foreigner, has ceased. On the contrary, it signifies that I am more
greatly to be feared. The European is _not_ wanted in China, no matter
how absurd it may seem to the student of international politics, who
sits and devours all the newspaper copy--good, bad and
indifferent--which filters through regarding China becoming the El
Dorado of the Westerner. He is wanted for no other reason than that of
teaching the Chinese to foreignize as much as he can, teaching the
leaders of the people to strive to modify national life, and to raise
public conduct and administration to the best standards of the West.

When China is capable of looking after herself, and able to maintain the
position she is securing by the aid of the foreigner in her provinces,
following her present mode of thought and action, the foreigner may go
back again. But it is to be hoped that the evolution of the country will
be different.

Another feature impressed upon me was the emptiness of the lives of the
people. Education was rare, and any education they had was confined to
the Chinese classics.

Neither of the three men I had with me could read or write. The thoughts
of these people are circumscribed by the narrow world in which they
live, and only a chance traveler such as myself allows them a glimpse of
other places. Each man, with rare exception, lives and labors and dies
where he is born--that is his ambition; and in the midst of a people
whose whole outlook of life is so contracted, I find difficulty in
believing that progress such as Japan made in her memorable fifty-year
forward movement will be made by the Chinese of Yuen-nan in two hundred
years. Everything one can see around him here, at this town of
Anning-cheo, seems to make against it. In my dealings with Chinese in
their own country--I speak broadly--I have found that they "know
everything." I erected a printing-press in Tong-ch'uan-fu some months
ago--a type of the old flat handpress not unlike that first used by
Caxton. It was a part of the equipment of the Ai Kueh Hsieh Tang (Love
of Country School), and I was invited by the gentry to erect it. Now the
thing had not been up an hour before all the old fossils in the place
knew all about it. Printing to them was easy--a child could do it. It is
always, "O ren teh, o ren teh" ("I know, I know"). These men, dressed in
their best, stood with arms behind them, and smiled stupidly as I
labored with my coat off fixing their primitive machinery. Yet they did
_not_ know, and now, within a few months, not a sheet has been printed,
and the whole plant is going to rack and ruin.

This is the difference between the Chinese and the tribespeople of
Yuen-nan. Here we see the god of the missionary again, quite apart from
any religious basis. The tribesman comes and lays himself at the feet of
the missionary, and says at once, "I do not know. Tell me, and I will
follow you. I want to learn." That is why it is that the Chinese stand
open-eyed and open-mouthed when they see the Miao making strides
altogether impossible to themselves, in proportion to their standard of
civilization, and this position of things will not be altered, unless
they cease to deceive themselves. I have seen a Miao boy of nine who
never in his life had seen a Chinese character, who did not know that
school existed and, whose only tutoring depended on the week's visit of
the missionary twice a year. I have seen this youngster read off a sheet
of Chinese characters no Chinese boy of his age in the whole city would
succeed in. I have not been brought into contact with any other tribe as
I have with the Hua Miao.[1]

But if the progress this once-despised people are making is maintained,
the Yuen-nanese will very soon be left behind in the matter of practical
scholarship. These Miao live the simplest of simple lives, but they wish
to become better--to live purer lives, to become civilized, to be
uplifted; and therefore they are most humble, most approachable, and are
slowly evolving into a happy position of proud independence. Education
among the Hua Miao is not lost: among the Chinese much of the labor put
forward in endeavors to educate them is lost, or seems to bear no
immediate fruit. The Miao are living by confidence and hope that turns
towards the future; the Yuen-nanese are content with their confidence in
the past. The Miao, however, were not like this always--but a few years
ago they were not heard of outside China.

The coming emancipation of their women, demands some attention. The few
Europeans who have lived among the multitudes in Central China would not
associate beds of roses with the lives of the women anywhere.

The daughter is seldom happy, and unless the wife present her husband
with sons, who will perpetuate the father's name and burn incense at his
tablet after his death, her life is more often than not made absolutely
unbearable--a fact more than any other one thing responsible for the
numerous suicides. She is the drudge, the slave of the man. And the
popular belief is that all the women of the Middle Kingdom are
essentially Chinese; but little is heard of the tribespeople--more
numerous probably than in any other given area in all the world--whose
womankind are as far removed from the Chinese in language, habits and
customs as English ladies of to-day are removed from Grecians. A decade
or so ago no one heard of the Miao women: they were the lowest of the
low, having no _status_. They were far worse off than their Chinese
sisters, who, no matter what they had to endure after marriage, were
certainly safeguarded by law and etiquette allowing them to enter the
married state with respectability; but no social laws, no social ties
protect the Miao women.

Until a few years ago their "club" was a common brothel, too horrible to
describe in the English language. As soon as a girl gave birth to her
first child she came down on the father to keep her. In many cases, it
is only fair to say, they lived together faithfully as man and wife,
although such cases were not by any means in the majority. The poor
creatures herded together in their unspeakable vice and infamy, with no
shame or common modesty, fighting for the wherewithal to live, and only
by chance living regularly with one man, and then only just so long as
he wished. Little girls of ten and over regularly attended these awful
hovels, and children grew out of their childhood with no other vision
than that of entering into the disgraceful life as early as Nature would
allow them. It meant little less than that practically the whole of the
population was illegitimate, viewed from a Western standpoint. No such
thing as marriage existed. Men and women cohabited in this horrible orgy
of existence, with the result that murder, disease and pestilence were
rife among them. It was only a battle of the survival of the fittest to
pursue so terrible a life. Nearly all the people were diseased by the
transgression of Nature's laws.

After a time, however, through the instrumentality of Protestant
missionaries, these wretched people began to see the light of
civilization. Gradually, and of their own free will, the girls gave up
their accursed dens of misery and shame, and the men lived more in
accord with social law and order.

The Miao, too, had hitherto been dependent for their literature upon the
Chinese character, which only a few could understand. Soon they had
literature in their own language,[AE] and a great social reform set in.
They showed a desire for Western learning such as has seldom been seen
among any people in China--these were people lowest down in the social
scale; and now the latest phase is the establishment of bethrothal and
marriage laws, calculated to revolutionize the community and to
introduce what in China is the equivalent for home life.

Betrothal among the Chinese is a matter with which the parties most
deeply concerned have little to do. Their parents engage a go-between or
match-maker, and another point is that there is no age limit. Not so now
with the Christian Miao. No paid go-between is engaged, and brides are
to be at a minimum age of eighteen years, and bridegrooms twenty. The
establishment of these laws will, it is hoped, make for the emancipation
from a life of the most dreadful misery of thousands of women in one of
the darkest countries of the earth.[AF]

But now the Miao is pressing forward under his burdens, to guide himself
in the struggle, to retrieve his falls and his failures; and in the
future lies his hope--the indomitable hope upon which the interest of
humanity is based--and he has in addition the grand expectation of
escaping despair even in death. It is all the praiseworthy work of our
fellow-countrymen, living isolated lives among the people, building up a
worthy Christian structure upon Miao simplicity and humble fidelity to
the foreigner.

But I digress from my travel.

Little out of the ordinary marked my travels to Lao-ya-kwan (6,800
feet), an easy stage. My meager tiffin at an insignificant mountain
village was, as usual, an educational lesson to the natives. Each tin
that came from my food basket--one's servant delighted to lay out the
whole business--underwent the severest criticism tempered with unmeaning
eulogy, picked up and put down by perhaps a score of people, who did not
mean to be rude. When I used their chopsticks--dirty little pieces of
bamboo--in a manner very far removed from their natural method, they
were proud of me. Outrageously panegyric references were made when an
old man, scratching at his disagreeable itch-sores under my nose,
clipped a youngster's ear for hazarding my age to be less than that of
any of the bystanders, the length of my moustache and a three-day growth
on my chin giving them the opinion that I was certainly over sixty.[AG]

I entered Lao-ya-kwan under an inauspicious star. No accommodation was
to be had, all the inns were literally overrun with sedan chairs and
filled with well-dressed officials, already busy with the "hsi-lien"
(wash basin). In my dirty khaki clothes, out at knee and elbow, looking
musty and mean and dusty, with my topee botched and battered, I
presented a most unhappy contrast as I led my pony down the street under
the sarcastic stare of bystanding scrutineers. The nights were cold, and
in the private house where I stayed, mercifully overlooked by a trio of
protesting effigies with visages grotesque and gruesome, rats ran
fearlessly over the room's mud floor, and at night I buried my head in
my rugs to prevent total disappearance of my ears by nibbling. Not so my
men. They slept a few feet from me, three on one bench, two on another.
Bedding was not to be had, and so among the dirty straw they huddled
together as closely as possible to preserve what bodily heat they had.
Snow fell heavily. In the early morning sunlight on January 13th the
undulating valley, with its grand untrodden carpet of white, looked
magnificently beautiful as I picked out the road shown me by a poor
fellow whose ears had got frost-nipped.

No easy work was it climbing tediously up the narrow footway in a sharp
spur rising some 1,000 feet in a ribbed ascent, overlooking a fearful
drop. Over to the left I saw an unhappy little urchin, hardly a rag
covering his shivering, bleeding body, grovelling piteously in the
snow, while his blind and goitrous mother did her best at gathering
firewood with a hatchet. The pass leading over this range, through which
the white crystalline flakes were driven wildly in one's face, was a
half-moon of smooth rock actually worn away by the endless tramping of
myriads of pack-ponies, who then were plodding through ruts of steps
almost as high as their haunches.

A man with a diseased hip joined me thirty li farther on, dismounting
from his pile of earthly belongings which these men fix on the backs of
their ponies. It is a creditable trapeze act to effect a mount after
the pony is ready for the journey. He had, he said, met me before. He
knew that I was a missionary, and had heard me preach. He remembered my
wife and myself and children passing the night in the same inn in which
he stayed on one of his pilgrimages from his native town somewhere to
the east of the province. I had never seen him before! I had no wife; I
have never preached a sermon in my life. I should be pained ever again
to have to suffer his unmannerly presence anywhere.

Ponies were being loaded near my table. The rapscallion in question
explained that the black blocks were salt, taking a pinch from my
salt-cellar with his grimy fingers to add point to his remarks. I kicked
at a couple of mongrels under the rude form on which I sat--they fought
for the skins of those potato-like pears which grow here so
prolifically. The person announced that they were dogs, and that an
idiosyncrasy of Chinese dogs was to fight. Several wags joined in, and
all appeared, through the traveling nincompoop, to know all about my
past and present, lapsing into a desultory harangue upon all men and
things foreign. The street reminded me of Clovelly--rugged and
ragged--and the people were wrinkled and wretched; and, indeed, being a
Devonian myself by birth, I should be excused of wantonly intending to
hurt the delicate feelings of the lusty sons of Devon were I to declare
that I thought the life not of a very terrible dissimilarity from that
port of antiquity in the West.

Salt was everywhere, much more like coal than salt, certainly as black.
The blocks were stacked up by the sides of inns ready for transport,
carried on the backs of a multitude of poor wretches who work like oxen
from dawn to dusk for the merest pittance, on the backs of droves and
droves of ponies, scrambling and spluttering along over the slippery
once-paved streets.

All day long, with the exception of two or three easy ascents, we were
travelling in pleasantly undulating country of park-like magnificence.
My men dallied. I tramped on alone; and sitting down to rest on the
rocks, I realized that I was in one of the strangest, loneliest, wildest
corners of the world. Great mountain-peaks towered around me, white and
sparkling diadems of wondrous beauty, and at my feet, black and
stirless, lay a silent pool, reflecting the weird shadows of my coolies
flitting like specters among the jagged rocks of these most solitary
hills.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote AD: Hsiakwan would be supplied by a branch line of the main
railway in the Kunlong scheme advocated by Major H.R. Davies, leaving at
Mi-tu, to the south of Hungay.--E.J.D.]

[Footnote AE: The written language was framed and instituted by the Rev.
Sam. Pollard, of the Bible Christian Mission (now merged into the United
Methodist Mission).--E.J.D.]

[Footnote AF: The marriage laws were instituted by the China Inland
Mission at Sa-pu-shan, where a great work is being done among the Hua
Miao. A good many more stipulations are embodied in the excellent rules,
but I have no room here to detail.--E.J.D.]

[Footnote AG: The Chinese have the crudest ideas of the age of
foreigners. Among themselves the general custom is for a man to shave
his upper lip so long as his father is alive, so that in the ordinary
course a man wearing a moustache is looked upon as an old man. In
Tong-ch'uan-fu the rumor got abroad that three "uei kueh ren" ("foreign
men") went riding horses--(two young ones and one old one. The "old one"
was myself, because I had hair on my top lip, despite the fact that I
was considerably the junior. And the fact that one was a lady was not
deemed worthy of the slightest consideration.--E.J.D.]




CHAPTER XVI.

_Lu-feng-hsien and its bridge_. _Magnificence of mountains towards the
capital_. _Opportunity for Dublin Fusiliers_. _Characteristic climbing.
Crockery crash and its sequel_. _Mountain forest_. _Changeableness of
climate_. _Wayside scene and some reflections_. _Is your master drunk?
Babies of the poor_. _Loess roads_. _Travelers, and how they should
travel_. _Wrangling about payment at the tea-shop_. _The lying art among
the Chinese_. _Difference of the West and East_. _Strange Chinese
characteristic_. _Eastern and Western civilization, and how it is
working_. _Remarks on the written character and Romanisation_. _Will
China lose her national characteristics? "Ih dien mien, ih dien mien."_
_A nasty experience of the impotently dumb_. _Rescued in the nick of
time._


When the day shall come for its history to be told, the historian will
have little to say of Lu-feng-hsien, that is--if he is a decent sort of
fellow.

He may refer to its wonderful bridge, to its beggars and its ruins. The
stone bridge, one of the best of its kind in the whole empire, and I
should think better than any other in Yuen-nan, stands to-day
conspicuously emblematic of ill-departed prosperity. So far as I
remember, it was the only public ornament in a condition of passable
repair in any way creditable to the ratepayers of the hsien. The wall is
decayed, the people are decayed, and in every nook and cranny are
painful evidences of preventable decay, marked by a conservatism among
the inhabitants and unpardonable indolence.

The bridge, however, has stood the test of time, and bids fair to last
through eternity. Other travelers have passed over it since the days of
Marco Polo, but I should like to say a word about it. Twelve yards or so
wide, and no less than 150 yards long, it is built entirely of grey
stone; with its massive piers, its excellent masonry, its good
(although crude) carving, its old-time sculpturing of dreadful-looking
animals at either end, its decorative triumphal arches, its masses of
memorial tablets (which I could not read), its seven arches of beautiful
simplicity and symmetry and perfect proportion, it would have been a
credit to any civilized country in the world. I noticed that, in
addition to cementing, the stones and pillars forming the sides of the
roadway were also dovetailed. Among the works of public interest with
which successive emperors have covered China, the bridges are not the
least remarkable; and in them one is able to realize the perseverance of
the Chinese in the enormous difficulties of construction they have had
to overcome.

Passing over the stream--the Hsiang-shui Ho, I believe--I stepped out
across the plain with one foot soaked, a pony having pulled me into the
water as he drank. Peas and beans covered with snow adjoined a
heart-breaking road which led up to a long, winding ascent through a
glade overhung by frost-covered hedgerows, where the sun came gently
through and breathed the sweet coming of the spring. From midway up the
mountain the view of the plain below and the fine range of hills
separating me from the capital was one of exceeding loveliness, the
undisturbed white of the snow and frost sparkling in the sunshine
contrasting most strikingly with the darkened waves of billowy green
opposite, with a background of sharp-edged mountains, whose summits were
only now and again discernible in the waning morning mist. Snow lay deep
in the crevices. My frozen path was treacherous for walking, but the
dry, crisp air gave me a gusto and energy known only in high latitudes.
In a pass cleared out from the rock we halted and gained breath for the
second ascent, surmounted by a dismantled watch-tower. It has long since
fallen into disuse, the sound tiles from the roof having been
appropriated for covering other habitable dwellings near by, where one
may rest for tea. The road, paved in some places, worn from the side of
the mountain in others, was suspended above narrow gorges, an entrance
to a part of the country which had the aspect of northern regions. The
sun, tearing open the curtain of blue mist, inundated with brightness
one of the most beautiful landscapes it is possible to conceive. A
handful of Dublin Fusiliers with quick-firing rifles concealed in the
hollows of the heights might have stopped a whole army struggling up the
hill-sides. But no one appeared to stop me, so I went on.

Climbing was characteristic of the day. Lu-feng-hsien is about 5,500
feet; Sei-tze (where we were to sleep) 6,100 feet. Not much of a
difference in height; but during the whole distance one is either
dropping much lower than Lu-feng or much higher than Sei-tze. For thirty
li up to Ta-tsue-si (6,900 feet) there is little to revel in, but after
that, right on to the terrific drop to our destination for the night, we
were going through mountain forests than which there are none better in
the whole of the province, unless it be on the extreme edge of the
Tibetan border, where accompanying scenery is altogether different.

From a height of 7,850 feet we dropped abruptly, through clouds of thick
red dust which blinded my eyes and filled my throat, down to the city of
Sei-tze. I went down behind some ponies. Upwards came a fellow
struggling with two loads of crockery, and in the narrow pathway he
stood in an elevated position to let the animals pass. Irony of fate!
One of the horses--it seemed most intentional--gave his load a tilt: man
and crockery all went together in one heap to a crevice thirty yards
down the incline, and as I proceeded I heard the choice rhetoric of the
victim and the muleteer arguing as to who should pay.

Just before that, I dipped into the very bosom of the earth, with
rugged hills rising to bewildering heights all around, base to summit
clad luxuriously in thick greenery of mountain firs, a few cedars, and
the Chinese ash. Black patches of rock to the right were the death-bed
of many a swaying giant, and in contrast, running away sunwards, a
silver shimmer on the unmoving ocean of delicious green was caused by
the slantwise sun reflections, while in the ravines on the other side a
dark blue haze gave no invitation. Smoothly-curving fringes stood out
softly against the eternal blue of the heavens. Farther on, eloquent of
their own strength and imperturbability, were deep rocks, black and
defiant; but even here firs grew on the projecting ledges which now and
again hung menacingly above the red path, shading away the sunlight and
giving to the dark crevices an atmosphere of damp and cold, where men's
voices echoed and re-echoed like weird greetings from the grave. Onwards
again, and from the cool ravines, adorned with overhang branches,
forming cosy retreats from the now blazing sun, one emerged to a road
leading up once more to undiscovered vastnesses. Yonder narrowed a
gorge, fine and delicately covered, pleasing to one's aesthetic sense.
The center was a dome, all full of life and waving leafage, ethereal and
sweet; and running down, like children to their mother, were numerous
little hills densely clothed in a green lighter and more dainty than
that of the parent hill, throwing graceful curtsies to the murmuring
river at the foot. As I write here, bathed in the beauty of spring
sunlight, it is difficult to believe that a few hours since the
thermometer was at zero. Little spots of habitation, with foodstuffs
growing alongside, looking most lonely in their patches of green in the
forest, added a human and sentimental picturesqueness to a scene so
strongly impressive.

A thatched, barn-like place gave us rest, the woman producing for me a
huge chunk of palatable rice sponge-cake sprinkled with brown sugar.
Little naked children, offspring of parents themselves covered with
merest hanging rags, groped round me and treated me with courteous
curiosity; goats smelt round the coolie-loads of men who rested on low
forms and smoked their rank tobacco; smoke from the green wood fires
issued from the mud grates, where receptacles were filled with boiling
water ready for the traveler, constantly re-filled by a woman whose
child, hung over her back, moaned piteously for the milk its mother was
too busy to give to it. Near by a young girl gave suck to a deformed
infant, lucky to have survived its birth; her neck was as big as her
breasts--merely a case of goitre. Coolies passed, panting and puffing,
all casting a curious glance at him to whose beneficence all were
willing to pander.

At tiffin I counted thirty-three wretched people, who turned out to see
the barbarian. They desired, and desired importunately, to touch me and
the clothes which covered me. And I submitted.

This half-way place was interesting owing to the fact that the lady in
charge of the buffet could speak two words of French--she had, I
believe, acted as washerwoman to a man who at one time had been in the
Customs at Mengtsz. Great excitement ensued among the perspiring
laborers of the road and the dumb-struck yokels of the district. The
lady was so goitrous that it would have been extremely risky to hazard a
guess as to the exact spot where her face began or ended; and here, in a
place where with all her neighbors she had lived through a period noted
for famine, for rebellion, for wholesale death and murder of an entire
village, she endured such terrible poverty that one would have thought
her spirit would have waned and the light of her youth burned out. But
no! The lusty dame was still sprightly. She had been three times
divorced. The person at present connected with her in the bonds of
wedded life--also goitrous and morally repulsive--stood by and gazed
down upon her like a proud bridegroom. He resented the levity of Shanks
and his companion, but, owing to the detail of a sightless eye, he could
not see all that transpired. However, we were all happy enough. Charges
were not excessive. My men had a good feed of rice and cabbage, with the
usual cabbage stump, two raw rice biscuits (which they threw into the
ashes to cook, and when cooked picked the dirt off with their long
finger-nails), and as much tea as they could drink--all for less than a
penny.

There is something in traveling in Yuen-nan, where the people away from
the cities exhibit such painful apathy as to whether dissolution of this
life comes to them soon or late, which breeds drowsiness. After a tramp
over mountains for five or six hours on end, one naturally needed rest.
To-day, as I sat after lunch and wrote up my journal, I nearly fell
asleep. As I watched the reflections of all these ill-clad figures on
the stony roadway, and dozed meanwhile, one rude fellow asked my man
whether I was drunk!

I was not left long to my reverie.

Entering into a conversation intended for the whole village to hear, my
bulky coolie sublet his contract for two tsien for the eighty li--we had
already done fifty. The man hired was a weak, thin, half-baked fellow,
whose body and soul seemed hardly to hang together. He was the first to
arrive. As soon as he got in; this same man took a needle from the
inside of his great straw hat and commenced ridding his pants of
somewhat outrageous perforations. Such is the Chinese coolie, although
in Yuen-nan he would be an exception. Late at night he offered to put a
shoe on my pony. I consented. He did the job, providing a new shoe and
tools and nails, for 110 cash--just about twopence.

I could not help, thinking of the children I had seen to-day, "Sad for
the dirt-begrimed babies that they were born." These children were all a
family of eternal Topsies--they merely grew, and few knew how. They are
rather dragged up than brought up, to live or die, as time might
appoint. Babies in Yuen-nan, for the great majority, are not coaxed, not
tossed up and down and petted, not soothed, not humored. There are none
to kiss away their tears, they never have toys, and dream no young
dreams, but are brought straight into the iron realities of life. They
are reared in smoke and physical and moral filth, and become men and
women when they should be children: they haggle and envy, and swear and
murmur. When in Yuen-nan--or even in the whole of China--will there be
the innocence and beauty of childhood as we of the West are blessed
with?

Roads here were in many cases of a light loess, and some of red
limestone rock, with a few li of paved roads. Many of the main roads
over the loess are altered by the rains. Two days of heavy rain will
produce in some places seas of mud, often knee-deep, and this will again
dry up quite as rapidly with the next sunshine. They become undermined,
and crumble away from the action of even a trickling stream, so as to
become always unsafe and sometimes quite impassable.

Delays are very dear to the heart of every Chinese. The traveler, if he
is desirous of getting his caravan to move on speedily, has little
chance of success unless he assumes an attitude of profoundest
indifference to all men and things around him--never _appear_ to be in a
hurry.

We are accompanied to-day to Kwang-tung-hsien by the coolie who carried
the load yesterday. He sits by staring enviously at his compatriots in
the employ of the foreign magnate, who rests on a stone behind and
listens to the conversation. They invite him to carry again; he refuses.
Now the argument--natural and right and proper--is ensuing with warmth.
Lao Chang, with the air of a hsien "gwan," sits in judgment upon them,
bringing to bear his long experience of coolies and the amount of
"heart-money" they receive, and has decided that the fellow should
receive a tenth of a dollar and twenty cash in addition for carrying the
heavier of the loads the remaining thirty li, as against ten cents
offered by the men. He is now extending philosophic advice to them all,
based on a knowledge of the coolie's life; the little meeting breaks up,
good feeling prevails, and the loads carried on merrily. I still linger,
sipping my tea. Lao Chang has grumbled because he has had to shell out
seven cash, and I have already drunk ten cups (he generally uses the tea
leaves afterwards for his personal use).

But wrangling about payment prevails always where Chinese congregate. In
China, by high and low, lies are told without the slightest apparent
compunction. One of the men in the above-mentioned dispute had an
irrepressible volubility of assertion. He at once flew into a temper,
adopting the style of the stage actor, proclaiming his virtue so that it
might have been heard at Yuen-nan-fu. He was preserving his "face." For
in this country temper is often, what it is not in the West, a test of
truth. Among Westerners nothing is more insulting sometimes than a
philosophic temper; but in China you must, as a first law unto yourself,
protect yourself at all costs and against all comers, and it generally
requires a good deal of noise. Here the bully is not the coward. In
respect of prevarication, it seems to be absolutely universal; the poor
copy the vice from the rich. It seems to be in the very nature of the
people, and although it is hard to write, my experience convinces me
that my statement is not exaggeration. I have found the Chinese--I speak
of the common people, for in my travels I have not mixed much with the
rich--the greatest romancer on earth. I question whether the great
preponderance of the Chinese people speak six consecutive sentences
without misrepresentation or exaggeration, tantamount to prevarication.
Regretting that I have to write it, I give it as my opinion that the
Chinese is a liar by nature. And when he is confronted with the charge
of lying, the culprit seems seldom to feel any sense of guilt.

And yet in business--above the petty bargaining business--we have as the
antithesis that the spoken word is his bond. I would rather trust the
Chinese merely on his word than the Jap with a signed contract.

The Chinese knows that the Englishman is not a liar, and he respects him
for it; and it is to be hoped that in Yuen-nan there will soon be seen
the two streams of civilization which now flow in comparative harmony in
other more enlightened provinces flowing here also in a single channel.
These two streams--of the East and the West--represent ideas in social
structure, in Government, in standards of morality, in religion and in
almost every human conception as diverse as the peoples are racially
apart. They cannot, it is evident, live together. The one is bound to
drive out the other, or there must be such a modification of both as
will allow them to live together, and be linked in sympathies which go
farther than exploiting the country for initial greed. The Chinese will
never lose all the traces of their inherited customs of daily life, of
habits of thought and language, products which have been borne down the
ages since a time contemporary with that of Solomon. No fair-minded man
would wish it. And it is at once impossible.

The language, for instance. Who is there, who knows anything about it,
who would wish to see the Chinese character drop out of the national
life? Yet it is bound to come to some extent, and in future ages the
written language will develop into pretty well the same as Latin among
ourselves. Romanization, although as yet far from being accomplished,
must sooner or later come into vogue, as is patent at the first glance
at business. If commerce in the Interior is to grow to any great extent
in succeeding generations, warranting direct correspondence with the
ports at the coast and with the outside world, the Chinese hieroglyph
will not continue to suffice as a satisfactory means of communication.
No correspondence in Chinese will ever be written on a machine such as I
am now using to type this manuscript, and this valuable adjunct of the
office must surely force its way into Chinese commercial life. But only
when Romanization becomes more or less universal.

This, however, by the way.

My point is, that no matter how Occidentalized he may become, the
Chinese will never lose his national characteristics--not so much
probably as the Japanese has done. What the youth has been at home, in
his habits of thought, in his purpose and spirit, in his manifestation
of action, will largely determine his after life. Chinese mental and
moral history has so stamped certain ineffaceable marks on the language,
and the thought and character of her people, that China will never--even
were she so inclined--obliterate her Oriental features, and must always
and inevitably remain Chinese. The conflict, however, is not racial, it
is a question of civilization. Were it racial only, to my way of
thinking we should be beaten hopelessly.

And as I write this in a Chinese inn, in the heart of Yuen-nan--the
"backward province"--surrounded by the common people in their common,
dirty, daily doings, a far stretch of vivid imagining is needed to see
these people in any way approaching the Westernization already current
in eastern provinces of this dark Empire.

This is what I wrote sitting on the top of a mountain during my tour
across China. But it will be seen in other parts of this book that
Western ideas and methods of progress in accord more with European
standards are being adopted--and in some places with considerable
energy--even in the "backward province." In travel anywhere in the
world, one becomes absorbed more or less with one's own immediate
surroundings, and there is a tendency to form opinions on the
limitations of those surroundings. In many countries this would not lead
one far astray, but in China it is different. Most of my opinion of the
real Chinese is formed in Yuen-nan, and it is not to be denied that in
all the other seventeen provinces, although a good many of them may be
more forward in the trend of national evolution and progress, the same
squalidness among the people, and every condition antagonistic to the
Westerner's education so often referred to, are to be found. But China
has four hundred and thirty millions of people, so that what one writes
of one particular province--in the main right, perhaps--may not
necessarily hold good in another province, separated by thousands of
miles, where climatic conditions have been responsible for differences
in general life. With its great area and its great population, it does
not need the mind of a Spencer to see that it will take generations
before every acre and every man will be gathered into the stream of
national progress.

The European traveler in China cannot perhaps deny himself the pleasure
of dwelling upon the absurdities and oddities of the life as they strike
him, but there is also another side to the question. Our own
civilization, presenting so many features so extremely removed from his
own ancient ideas and preconceived notion of things in general, probably
looks quite as ridiculous from the standpoint of the Chinese. The East
and the West each have lessons to offer the other. The West is offering
them to the East, and they are being absorbed. And perhaps were we to
learn the lessons to which we now close our eyes and ears, but which are
being put before us in the characteristics of Oriental civilization, we
may in years to come, sooner than we expect, rejoice to think that we
have something in return for what we have given; it may save us a rude
awakening. It does not strike the average European, who has never been
to China, and who knows no more about the country than the telegrams
which filter through when massacres of our own compatriots occur, that
Europe and America are not the only territories on this little round
ball where the inhabitants have been left with a glorious heritage.

But I was speaking of my men delaying on the road to Kwang-tung-hsien,
when they laughed at my impatience.

"Ih dien mien, ih dien mien," shouted one, as he held out a huge blue
bowl of white wormlike strings and a couple of chopsticks. "Mien," it
should be said, is something like vermicelli. A tremendous amount of it
is eaten; and in Singapore, without exception, it is dried over the
city's drains, hung from pole to pole after the rope-maker's fashion.
Its slipperiness renders the long boneless strings most difficult of
efficient adjustment, and the recollection of the entertainment my
comrades received as I struggled to get a decent mouthful sticks to me
still.

After that I hurried on, got off the "ta lu," and suffered a nasty
experience for my foolishness. When nearing the city, inquiring whether
my men had gone on inside the walls, a manure coolie, liar that he was,
told me that they had. I strode on again, encountering the crowds who
blocked the roadway as market progressed, who stared in a suspicious
manner at the generally disreputable, tired, and dirty foreigner. Each
moment I expected the escort to arrive. I could not sit down and drink
tea, for I had not a single cash on my person. I could speak none of the
language, and could merely push on, with ragtags at my heels, becoming
more and more embarrassed by the pointing and staring public. I turned,
but could see none of my men. I managed to get to the outer gate, and
there sat down on the grass, with five score of gaping idiots in front
of me. Seeing this vulgar-looking intruder among them, who would not
answer their simplest queries, or give any reason for being there,
suspicion grew worse; they naturally wanted to know what it was, and
what it wanted. Some thought I might be deaf, and raved questions in my
ear at the top of their voices. Even then I remained impotently dumb.
Two policemen came and said something. At their invitation I followed
them, and found myself later in a small police box, the street lined
with people, facing an officer.

The man hailed me in speech uncivil. He was huge as the hyperborean
bear, and cruel looking, and with a sort of apologetic petitionary growl
I sidled off; but it was anything but comfortable, and I should not have
been surprised had I found myself being led off to the yamen. After a
nerve-trying half-hour, I was thankful to see the form of my men
appearing at the moment when I was vehemently expressing indignation at
not being understood.




CHAPTER XVII.

_A bumptious official_. _Ignominious contrasts of two travelers.
Diminishing respect for foreigners in the Far East_. _Where the European
fails_. _His maltreatment of Orientals_. _Convicts on the way to death_.
_At Ch'u-hsiony-fu_. _Buffaloes and children_. _Exasperating repetition
met in Chinese home life_. _Unaesthetic womanhood_. _Quarrymen and
careless tactics_. _Scope for the physiologist_. _Interesting unit of
the city's humanity_. _Signs of decay in the countryside_. _Carrying the
dead to eternal rest_. _At Chennan-chou_. _Public kotowing ceremony and
its aftermath_. _Chinese ignorance of distance._


All-round idyllic peace did not reign at Kwang-tung-hsien, where I
rested over Sunday. Contacts in social conditions gave rise inevitably
to causes for conflicts.

Arriving early, my men were able to secure the best room and soon after,
with much imposing pomp and show, a "gwan"[AH] arrived, disgusted that he
had to take a lower room. I bowed politely to him as he came in. He did
not return it, however, but stood with a contemptuous grin upon his face
as he took in the situation. I do not know who the person was, neither
have a wish to trace his ancestry, but his bumptiousness and general
misbehavior, utterly in antagonism to national etiquette, made me hate
the sight of the fellow. Pride has been said to make a man a hedgehog. I
do not say that this man was a hedgehog altogether, but he certainly
seemed to wound everyone he touched. He had with him a great retinue, an
extravagant equipage, fine clothes, and presumably a great fortune; but
none of this offended me--it was his contempt which hurt. He seemed to
splash me with mud as he passed, and was altogether badly disposed. In
his every act he heaped humiliation upon me, and insulted me silently
and gratuitously with unbearable disdain. Luckily, be it said to the
credit of the Chinese Government, one does not often meet officials of
this kind; such an atmosphere would nurture the worst feeling. It is, of
course, possible that had I been traveling with many men and in a style
necessary for representatives of foreign Governments, this hog might
have been more polite; but the fact that I had little with me, and made
a poor sort of a show, allowed him to come out in his true colors and
display his unveneered feeling towards the foreigner. That he had no
knowledge of the man crossing China on foot was evident. He was great
and rich--that was the sentiment he breathed out to everyone--and the
foreigner was humble. There is no wrong in enjoying a large superfluity,
but it was not indispensable to have displayed it, to have wounded the
eyes of him who lacked it, to have flaunted his magnificence at the door
of my commonplace.

Had I been able to speak, I should have pointed out to this fellow that
to know how to be rich is an art difficult to master, and that he had
not mastered it; that as an official his first duty in exercising power
was to learn that of humility; and that it is the irritating authority
of such very lofty and imperious beings as himself, who say, "I am the
law," that provokes insurrection. However, I was dumb, and could only
return his contemptuous glance now and again.

To him I could have said, as I would here say also to every foreigner in
the employ of the Chinese Government, "The only true distinction is
superior worth." If foreigners in China are to have social and official
rank respected, they must begin to be worthy of their rank, otherwise
they help to bring it into hatred and contempt. It is a pity some native
officials have to learn the same lesson.

In several years of residence in the Far East I have noticed respect
for the foreigner unhappily diminishing. The root of the evil is in the
mistaken idea that high station exempts him who holds it from observing
the common obligations of life. It comes about--so often have I seen it
in the Straits Settlements and in various parts of India--that those who
demand the most homage make the least effort to merit that homage they
demand. That is chiefly why respect for the foreigner in the Orient is
diminishing, and I have no hesitancy in asserting that the average
European in the East and Far East does not treat the Oriental with
respect. He considers that the Chinese, the Malay, the Burman, the
Indian is there to do the donkey work only. The newcomer generally
discovers in himself an astounding personal omnipotence, and even before
he can talk the language is so obsessed with it that as he grows older,
his sense of it broadens and deepens. And in China--of the Chinese this
is true to-day as in other spheres of the Far East--the native is there
to do the donkey work, and does it contentedly and for the most part
cheerfully. But he will not always be so content and so cheerful. He
will not always suffer a leathering from a man whom he knows he dare not
now hit back.[AI] Some day he may hit back. We have seen it before, how
at some moment, by some interior force making a way to the light, an
explosion takes place: there is an upheaval, all sorts of grave
disorders, and because some Europeans are killed the Celestial
Government is called upon to pay, and to pay heavily. Indemnities are
given, but the Chinese pride still feels the smart.

[1
Pulling away up the sides of barren, sandy hills in my lonely
pilgrimage, I could see wide, fertile plains sheltered in the undulating
hollows of mountains, over which in arduous toil I vanished and
re-appeared, how or where I could hardly calculate. Suddenly, rounding
an awkward corner, a magnificent panorama broke upon the view in a
rolling valley watered by many streams below, all green with growing
wheat. A high spur about midway up the rolling mountain forms a capital
spot for wayfarers to stop and exchange travelers' notes. A couple of
convicts were here, their feet manacled and their white cotton clothing
branded with the seal of death; by the side were the crude wooden cages
in which they were carried by four men, with whom they mixed freely and
manufactured coarse jokes. In six days bang would fall the knife, and
their heads would roll at the feet of the executioners at Yuen-nan-fu.

Coming into Ch'u-hsiong-fu[AJ]--the stage is what the men call 90 li, but
it is not more than 70--I was brought to an insignificant wayside place
where the innkeeper upbraided my boy for endeavoring to allow me to pass
without wetting a cup at his bonny hostelry. Had I done so, I should
have avouched myself utterly indifferent to reputation as a traveler.

But I did not stay the night here. I passed on through the town to a new
building, an inn, into which I peered inquiringly. A well-dressed lad
came courteously forward, in his bowing and scraping seeming to say,
"Good sir, we most willingly embrace the opportunity of being honored
with your noble self and your retinue under our poor roof. Long since
have we known your excellent qualities; long have we wished to have you
with us. We can have no reserve towards a person of your open and noble
nature. The frankness of your humor delights us. Disburden yourself, O
great brother, here and at once of your paraphernalia."

I stayed, and was charged more for lodging than at any other place in
all my wanderings in China. My experience was different from that of
Major Davies when he visited this city in 1899. He writes:--


"The people of this town are particularly conservative and exclusive.
They have such an objection to strangers that no inn is allowed within
the city walls, and no one from any other town is allowed to establish a
shop.... When the telegraph line was first taken through here there was
much commotion, and so determined was the opposition of the townspeople
to this new-fangled means of communication that the telegraph office had
to be put inside the colonel's yamen, the only place where it would be
safe from destruction."


The proprietor of the inn in which I stayed was a man of about fifty, of
goodly person and somewhat corpulent, comely presence, good humor, and
privileged freedom. He had a pretty daughter. He was an exception to the
ordinary father in China, in the fact that he was proud of her, as he
was of his house and his faring. But in all conscience he should have
been abundantly ashamed of his charges, for my boy said I was charged
three times too much, and I have no cause for doubting his word either,
for he was fairly honest. I once had a boy in Singapore who acted for
three weeks as a "ganti"[AK] whilst my own boy underwent a surgical
operation, and between misreckonings, miscarriages, misdealings,
mistakes and misdemeanors, had he remained with me another month I
should have had to pack up lock, stock and barrel and clear.

I stayed here a day in the hope of getting my mail, but had the
pleasure of seeing only the bag containing it. It was sealed, and the
postmaster had no authority to break that seal.

There were no telegraph poles in the district through which I was
passing; the connections were affixed to the trunks of trees. The
telegraph runs right across the Ch'u-hsiong-fu plain, on entering which
one crosses a rustic bridge just below a rather fine pagoda, from which
an excellent view is obtained of the old city. The wall up towards the
north gate, where there is another pagoda, is built over a high knoll.
Inside the wall half the town is uncultivated ground. Four youngsters
here were having a great time on the back of a lazy buffalo, who,
turning his head swiftly to get rid of some irritating bee, dislodged
the quartet to the ground, where they fought and cursed each other over
the business.

Everything that one sees around here is particularly "Chinesey." It may
be supposed that I am not the first person who has gone through town
after town and found in all that he looks at, particularly the houses,
certain forms identical, inevitable, exasperating by common repetition.
It has been said that poetry is not in things, it is in us; but in China
very little poetry comes into the homes and lives of the common
millions: they are all dead dwelling-houses, even the best, bare homes
without life or brightness. Among the working-classes of the West there
is to be found a kind of ministering beauty which makes its way
everywhere, springing from the hands of woman. When the dwelling is
cramped, the purse limited, the table modest, a woman who has the gift
finds a way to make order and puts care and art into everything in her
house, puts a soul into the inanimate, and gives those subtle and
winsome touches to which the most brutish of human beings is sensible.
But in China woman does nothing of this. Her life is unaesthetic to the
last degree. No happy improvisations or touches of the stamp of
personality enter her home; one cannot trace the touches of witchery in
the tying of a ribbon. Everywhere you find the same class of furniture
and garniture, the same shape of table, of stool, of form, of bed, of
cooking utensils, of picture, of everything; and all the details of her
housekeeping are so apathetically uninteresting. The Chinese woman has
no charming art, rather is it a common, horrid, daily grind. She is not,
as the woman should be, the interpreter in her home of her own grace,
and she differs from her Western sister in that it is impossible for her
to express in her dress also the little personalities of character--all
is eternally the same. But I know so very little of ladies' clothing,
and therefore cease.

Quarrying was going on high up among the hills as I left the city. Men
were out of sight, but their hammering was heard distinctly. As each
boulder was freed these wielders of the hammer yelled to passers-by to
look out for their heads, gave the stone a push to start it rolling, and
if it rolled upon you it was your own fault and not theirs--you should
have seen to it that you were somewhere else at the time. If it blocked
the pathway, another had to be made by those who made the traffic.
Directly under the quarry I was accosted by a beggar. "Old foreign man!
Old foreign man!" he yelled. Stones were falling fast; it is possible
that he does not sit there now.

Physiognomists do not swarm in China. There is grand scope for someone.
There would be ample material for research for the student in the
soldiers alone who would be sent to guard him from place to place. He
would not need to go farther afield; for he would be given fat men and
lean men, brave men and cowards, some blessed with brains and some not
one whit brainy, civil and surly, stubby and lanky, but rogues and liars
all. Travelers are always interested in their chairmen; oftentimes my
interest in them was greater than theirs in me, until the time came for
us to part. Then the "Ch'a ts'ien,"[AL] always in view from the outset of
their duty, brought us in a manner nearer to each other.

As I came out of the inn at Ch'u-hsiong-fu somewhat hurriedly, for my
men lingered long over the rice, I stumbled over the yamen fellow who
crouched by the doorside. He laughed heartily. Had I fallen on him his
tune might have been changed; but no matter. This unit of the city
humanity was not bewilderingly beautiful. He was profoundly
ill-proportioned, very goitrous, and ravages of small-pox had bequeathed
to him a wonderful facial ugliness. He had, however, be it written to
his honor, learnt that life was no theory. One could see that at a
glance as he walked along at the head of the procession, with a stride
like an ox, manfully shouldering his absurd weapon of office, which in
the place of a gun was an immense carved wooden mace, not unlike a leg
of the old-time wooden bedstead of antiquity. His ugliness was
embittered somewhat by sunken, toothless jaws and an enigmatical stare
from a cross-eye; he was also knock-kneed, and as an erstwhile gunpowder
worker, had lost two fingers and a large part of one ear. But he had
learnt the secret of simple duty: he had no dreams, no ambition
embracing vast limits, did not appear to wish to achieve great things,
unless it were that in his fidelity to small things he laid the base of
great achievements. He waited upon me hand and foot; he burned with
ardor for my personal comfort and well-being; he did not complicate life
by being engrossed in anything which to him was of no concern--his only
concern was the foreigner, and towards me he carried out his duty
faithfully and to the letter. I would wager that that man, ugly of face
and form, but most kindly disposed to one who could communicate little
but dumb approval, was an excellent citizen, an excellent father, an
excellent son.

So very different was another traveler who unceremoniously forced
himself upon me with the inevitable "Ching fan, ching fan," although he
had no food to offer. He commenced with a far-fetched eulogium of my
ambling palfrey Rusty, who limped along leisurely behind me. So far as
he could remember, poor ignorant ass, he had never seen a pony like it
in his extensive travels--probably from Yuen-nan-fu to Tali-fu, if so
far; but as a matter of fact, Rusty had wrenched his right fore fetlock
between a gully in the rocks the day before and was now going lame.
Dressed fairly respectably in the universal blue, my unsought companion
was of middle stature, strongly built, but so clumsily as to border
almost on deformity, and to give all his movements the ungainly
awkwardness of a left-handed, left-legged man. He walked with a limp,
was suffering (like myself) with sore feet; if not that, it was
something incomparably worse. Not for a moment throughout the day did he
leave my side, the only good point about him being that when we
drank--tea, of course--he vainly begged to be allowed to pay. In that he
was the shadow of some of my friends of younger days.

But of men enough.

From Ch'u-hsiong-fu on to Tali-fu the whole country bears lamentable
signs of gradual ruin and decay, a falling off from better times. The
former city is probably the most important point on the route, and is
mentioned as a likely point for the proposed Yuen-nan Railway.

The country has never recovered from the terrible effects of the great
Mohammendan Rebellion of 1857. Foundations of once imposing buildings
still stand out in fearful significance, and ruins everywhere over the
barren country tell plain tales all too sad of the good days gone.
Temples, originally fit for the largest city in the Empire, with
elaborate wood and stone carving and costly, weird images sculptured in
stone, with particularly fine specimens of those blood-curdling
Buddhistic hells and their presiding monsters, with miniature ornamental
pagodas and intricate archways, are all now unused; and when the people
need material for any new building (seldom erected now in this
district), the temple grounds are robbed still more. In the days of its
prosperity Yuen-nan must have been a fair land indeed, bright, smiling,
seductive; now it is the exact antithesis, and the people live sad,
flat, colorless existences.

For three days my caravan was preceded by twelve men, headed by a sort
of gaffer with a gong, carrying a corpse in a massive black coffin,
elaborate in red and blue silk drapings and with the inevitable white
cock presiding, one leg tied with a couple of strands of straw to the
cover, on which it crowed lustily. Their mission was an honorable one,
carrying the honored dead to its last bed of rest eternal; for this dead
man had secured the fulfillment of the highest in human destiny--to have
his bones buried near the scene of his youth, near his home. This is a
simple custom the Chinese cherish and reverence, of highest honor to the
dead and of no mean value to the living. To the dead, because buried
near the home of his fathers he would not be subject to those delusive
temptations in the future state of that confused and complex life; to
the living, because it gave work to a dozen men for several days, and
enabled them to have a good time at the expense of the departed. A
perpetual and excruciatingly unmusical chant, in keeping with the
occasion's sadness, rent the mountain air, interrupted only when the
bearers lowered the coffin and left the remains of the great dead on a
pair of trestles in the roadway, whilst they drank to his happiness
above and smoked tobacco which the relatives had given them. Once this
heaper-up of Chinese merit[AM] was dumped unceremoniously on the turf
while the headman entered into a blackguarding contest with one of the
fellows who was alleged to be constantly out of step with his brethren,
because he was a much smaller man. The gaffer gave him a bit of a
drubbing for his insolence.

Rain came on at Chennan-chou, a small town of about three hundred
houses, where I sought shelter in the last house of the street. The
householder, a shrivelled, goitrous humpback, received me kindly,
removed his pot of cabbage from the fire to brew tea for his uninvited
guest, and showed great gratitude (to such an extent that he nearly fell
into the fire as he moved to push the children forward towards me) when
I gave a few cash to three kiddies, who gaped open-mouthed at the
apparition thus found unexpectedly before their parent's hearth. More
came in, my beneficent attention being modestly directed towards them;
others followed, and still more, and more, whilst the man, removing from
his mouth his four-foot pipe, and wiping the mouthpiece with his soiled
coat-sleeve before offering it to me to smoke, smiled as I distributed
more cash.

"They are all mine," he said cutely.

Poor fellow! There must have been a dozen nippers there, and I sighed at
the thought of what some men come to as the last of half a string of
cash slipped through my fingers.[AN]

Outside the town, on the lee side of a triumphal arch--erected, maybe,
to the memory of one of the virtuous widows of the district--I untied my
pukai and donned my mackintosh and wind-cap. A gale blew, my fingers
ached with the cold, breathing was rendered difficult by the rarefied
air. As we were thus engaged and discussing the prospects of the storm,
yelling from under a gigantic straw hat, a fellow said--

"Suan liao" ("not worth reckoning") "only five more li to
Sha-chiao-kai."

We had thirty li to do. Such is the idea of distance in Yuen-nan.[AO]

The storm did not come, however, and my men ever after reminded me to
keep out my wind-cap and my mackintosh, partly to lighten their loads,
of course, and partly on account of the good omen it seemed to them to
be.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote AH: "Gwan" is the Chinese for "official."]

[Footnote AI: I have seen a European, with an imperfect hold of an
eastern language, knock an Asiatic down because he thought the man was a
fool, whereas he himself was ignorant of what was going on. The message
the coolie was bringing was misunderstood by the conceited assistant,
and as a result of having just this smattering of the vernacular, he ran
his firm in for a loss of fifty thousand dollars.--E.J.D.]

[Footnote AJ: Ts'u-hsiong-fu, as it is pronounced locally, with a strong
"ts" initial sound.]

[Footnote AK: Meaning a relief hand (Malay).]

[Footnote AL: Literally, "tea money."]

[Footnote AM: "Heaping up merit" is one of the elementary practices of
Chinese religious life.]

[Footnote AN: Chennan-chou, which stands at a height of 6,500 feet, has
been visited again since by myself. My caravan consisted on this
occasion of two ponies (one I was riding), two coolies, a servant, and
myself. As we got to the archway in the middle of the street leading to
the busy part of the town, my animal nearly landed me into the gutter,
and the other horse ran into a neighboring house, both frightened by
crackers which were being fired around a man who was bumping his head on
the ground in front of an ancestral tablet, brought into the street for
the purpose. A horrid din made the air turbulent. I sought refuge in the
nearest house, tying my ponies up to the windows, and was most
hospitably received as a returned prodigal by a well-disposed old man
and his courtly helpmate. The genuineness of the hospitality of the
Chinese is as strong as their unfriendliness can be when they are
disposed to show a hostile spirit to foreigners. Just as I had laid up
for dinner the din stopped, we breathed gunpowder smoke instead of air,
everyone from the head-bumping ceremony came around me, and there
lingered in silent admiration. My boy came and whispered, quite aloud
enough for all to hear, that in that part of the town cooked rice could
not be bought, and that I was going to be left to look after the horses
and the loads whilst the men went away to feed. He advised the assembled
crowd that if they valued sound physique they had better keep their
hands off my gear and depart. My friendly host shut the doors and
windows, with the exception of that through which I watched our
impedimenta, and at once commenced good-natured inquiry into my past,
and concerning vicissitudes of life in general. Luckily, I was able to
give the old man good reason for congratulating me upon my ancestral
line, my own great age, the number of my wives and offshoots--mostly
"little puppies"--and as each curious caller dropped in to sip tea, so
did one after another of the patriarchal dignitaries who were
responsible for the human product then entertaining the crowd come
vividly before the imagination of the company, and they were graced with
every token of age and honor. (Chinese speak of sons as "little
puppies.")]

[Footnote AO: In crossing a river here I slipped, and from ray pocket
there rolled a box of photographic films, and in reaching over to
re-capture it, I let my loaded camera fall into the water. I was
disappointed, as most of my best pictures were thus (as I imagined)
spoilt. But when I developed at Bhamo, I found not a single film damaged
by water, and every picture was a success from both the roll in the tin
and the roll in the camera. It is a tribute to the Eastman-Kodak Company
Ltd. that their non-curling films will stand being dipped into rivers
and remain unaffected. The films in question should have been developed
six months prior to the date of my exposure.--E.J.D.]




CHAPTER XVIII.

_Stampede of frightened women_. _To the Eagle Nest_. _An acrobatic
performance, and some retaliation at the author's expense_. _Over the
mountains to Pu-peng A magnificent storm, and a description_. _In a
"rock of ages." Hardiness of my comrades_. _Early morning routine and
some impressions_. _Unspeakable filth of the Chinese_. _Lolo people of
the district_. _Physique of the women_. _Aspirations towards Chinese
customs_. _Skilless building_. _Mythological, anthropological,
craniological and antediluvian disquisitions_. _At Yuen-nan-i_. _Flat
country_. _Thriftless humanity_. _To Hungay_. _A day of days_. _Traveler
in bitter cold unable to procure food_. _Fright in middle night_. _A
timely rescue_. _Murder of a bullock on my doorstep_. _Callous
disposition of fellow-travelers_. _Leaving the capital of an old-time
kingdom_. _Bad roads and good men_. _National virtue of unfailing
patience_. _Human consumption of diseased animals. Minchia at Hungay_.
_Major Davies and the Minchia_. _Author's differences of opinion.
Increasing popularity of the small foot._


But the storm came the next day, as we were on our way to Pu-peng,
during the ninety li when we passed the highest point on this journey.
By name The Eagle Nest Barrier (Ting-wu-kwan), this elevated pass, 8,600
feet above the level, reached after a gradual ascent between two
mountain ranges, was surmounted after a couple of hours' steep climbing,
where rain and snow had made the paths irritatingly slippery and the
task most laborious. Although the condition of the road was enough to
take all the wind out of one's sails, the sublimity of the scenery of
the dense woods which clothed the mountains, exquisitely pretty ravines,
tumbling waterfalls, running rivulets and sparkling brooks, with little
patches of snow hidden away in the maze of greens of every hue, all
rendered it a climb less tiring than the narrow pathways over which we
were then to travel. Half-way up we met a string of ponies, and I
underwent a few nervous moments until they had passed in the twenty-inch
road--a slight tilt, a slip, a splutter, probably a yell, and I should
have dropped 500 feet without a bump.

As we went along together, just before reaching this hill, we saw women
carrying bags of rice. They saw us, too. One passed me safely, but with
fear. The others carelessly dropping their burdens, scampered off,
afraid of their lives; and when one of my soldiers (whose sense of humor
was on a par with my own when as a boy I used to stick butterscotch
drops on the bald head of my Sunday School teacher, and bend pins for
small boys to sit on and rise from) shouted to them, they dived straight
as a die over the hedge into a submerged rice-field, and made a sorry
spectacle with their "lily" feet and pale blue trousers, covered with
the thin mud. In struggling to get away, one of them, the silly
creature, went sprawling on all fours in the slime, and with only the
imperfect footing possible to her with her little stumps, she would have
been submerged, had not the man who had frightened her, at my bidding,
gone to drag her out. As it was, they looked anything but beautiful with
their wet and muddy garments clinging tightly to their bodies, and
betraying every curve of their not unbeautiful figures. One of the
women, a comely damsel of some twenty summers, did not jump into the
field, but lay flat on the ground behind some bushes, thereby hoping to
get out of sight, and now came forward with amorous glances. We,
however, sent them on their way, and I will lay my life that they will
not "scoot" at the sight of the next foreigner.

And now we are at the "Nest." Many travelers have made remarks upon this
place, where I was waited upon by a shrivelled, shambling specimen of
manhood, whose wife--in contrast to her kind in China--seemed to rule
house and home, bed and board. Whilst we were there, a Chinese, bound
on the downward journey, endeavored to mount his mule at the very moment
the animal was reaching out for a blade of straw. As he swung his leg
across the mule took another step forward, and the rider fell bodily
with an enormous bump into the lap of one of my coolies, upsetting him
and his bowl of tea over his trousers and my own. I could not suppress
hearty approval of this acrobatic incident.

But the end was not yet.

I sat on one end of one of those narrow forms, and this same coolie sat
on the other. He rose up suddenly, reached over for the common salt-pot,
and I came off--with the multitude of alfresco diners laughing at this
smart retaliation until their chock-full mouths emitted the grains of
rice they chewed.

After that I cleared off. Descending through a fertile valley, from the
bottom there loomed upwards higher mountains, looking black and dismal,
with clouds black and dismal keeping them company. We had now to cross
the undulating ground still separating us from Pu-peng. The early
portion of the ground was something like Clifton Downs, something like
Dartmoor. The country was poor, and the people barely put themselves out
to boil water for chance travelers.

The storm broke suddenly. From the shelter of a hollowed rock I watched
it all.

Over the submerged plain and the bare hills the blackness was as of
night. Red earth without the sun looked brown, brown looked black, and
the trees, swaying helplessly before the raging fury of the gale, seemed
struck by death. Lightning continued its electrical vividity of
fork-like greenish white among the heavy clouds, drooping threateningly
from the hill-tops to the darkened valleys below, laden still with their
waiting, unshed deluge. Through a narrow incision in the cruel clouds
the sun peeped out with a nervous timidity, and a tiny patch over
yonder, in a flash illuminated with gold and purple, across which the
lightning danced in heavenly rivalry, displayed the magic touch of the
Artist of the skies. Then came a rainbow of sweetest multi-color, of a
splendor glorious and exquisite, delicate as the breath from paradise,
stretching its majestic archbow athwart the waning gloom from range to
range. As one drank in the glimpses of that dark corner in this peculiar
fairyland, a mighty peal of magnificent, stentorian clashing broke
finally upon me, and heaven's electricity again flitted fearfully over
the earth, aslant, upwards, downwards again, upwards again, disappearing
over the unmoved hills like a thousand tortured souls fleeing from
Dante's Hades. And here I sit on, in that veritable "rock of ages" cleft
for me, glad that no human touch save that of my own mean clay, that no
human voice came between me and the voice of that Infinite beyond. I
seemed to have been standing on the verge of another world, another
great unknown. The heavens raged and the thunders thereof roared, and
the wild wind hissed and moaned and wailed the hopeless wail of a
lonely, tormented soul. The cold was intense, and through it all I sat
drenched to the skin.

On the bleak mountain thus I was the pitifulest atom of loneliest
humanity, yet felt no loneliness. The face of the earth frowned in angry
fury, the awfulness of the raging elements dwarfed all else to utter
annihilation. But even at such a time, coming all too seldom in the
lives of most of us, when standing in some remote spot which still tells
forth the story of the world's youth, one's inmost nature thrills with a
sense of unison with it all beyond human expression. All was so grand,
inspiring one with an awe beyond one's comprehension, a peculiar, dread
of one's own earthly insignificance. These pictures, graven in one's
memory with the strong pencil of our common mother, are indelible, yet
quite beyond expression. As in our own souls we cannot frame in words
our deepest life emotions, so as we penetrate into the depths of that
kindly common mother of us all we find human words the same utterly
futile channel of expression. To have our souls tuned to this silent
eloquence of Nature, to catch the sweetness of those wind-swept,
heaven-directed mountains, to understand the unspoken messages of those
rushing rivers and those gigantic gorges, to feel the heart-beat of
Nature and her beauty in perfect harmony with all that is best within
us, we must be silent, undisturbed, preferably alone. This is not
flowery sentiment--it is what every true lover of old and lovely Nature
would feel in Western China, yet still unspoiled by the taint of man's
absorbing stream of civilization. And in the stress of modern life, and
the progress of man's monopolization of the earth on which he lives, it
is beautiful to some of us, of whom it may be said the highest state of
inward happiness comes from solitary meditation in unperturbed
loneliness under the broad expanse of heaven, to know that there are
still some spots of isolation where human foot has never turned the
clay, and where, out of sight and sound of fellow mortals, we may even
for a time shake off the violating, unnatural fetters of a harassing
Western life.

Soon it seemed as if a silken cord had suddenly been severed, and I had
been dragged from a world of sweet infinitude down to a sphere mundane
and everyday, to something I had known before.... "....Or what is
Nature? Ha! why do I not name thee God? Art thou not the 'Living Garment
of God'? O Heaven, is it in very deed, He, then, that ever speaks
through thee; that lives and loves in thee, that lives and loves in
me?"[AP]

I heard the crack of the bamboo and the patter of feet in the sodden,
slippery pathway, and I knew my men were come. Crawling out from my
rock, I descended again to common things, having to listen to the
disgusting talk of my Chinese followers, though a very slender
vocabulary saved me from losing entirely the memory of that great
picture then passing away. The sun shone through the clouds, which had
given place again to blue, the pervading blackness of a few moments
before had disappeared, and with the sinking sun we descended
thoughtfully to the town. The hill is solid sandstone, and the uneven
ruts made by the daily procession of ponies were transformed into a
network of tiny streams.

That my comrades were drenched to the skin gave them no thought; they
turned to immediately, while I dived hurriedly to the bottom of my box
and gulped down quinine. They sat around and drank hot water, holding
forth with eloquence beyond their wont on the general advantages,
naturally and supernaturally, of their native city of Tong-ch'uan-fu.
And well they might, for I know no prettier spot in the whole of Western
China.

Fifty men--coolies who were carrying general merchandise in all
directions, and who had taken shelter in the large inn I stayed at--rose
with me the next morning. As I ate my morning meal, spluttering the rice
over the floor as I tried vainly to control my chopsticks with
frost-nipped fingers, they went through the filthy round of early
morning routine. Squatting about with their dirty face-rags, and a
half-pint of greasy water in their brass receptacle shaped like the
soup-plate of civilization, and leaving upon their necks the traces of
their swills, they wiped the dirt into their hair, and considered they
had washed themselves. Men would emerge from their rooms, fully dressed,
with the dishclout in one hand and the hand-basin in the other--on the
way to their morning tub. Oh, the filth, the unspeakable filth of these
people! Would that the Chinese would emulate the cleanliness of the
Japs, though even that I would question. In several years in the Orient
I have not yet come across the cleanliness in any race of people to be
compared with that cleanliness which in England is next to godliness.

The people of Pu-peng were pleased to see me. They hurried about
obligingly to get food for man and beast, and the womankind, poor but
light-hearted, cracked suggestive jokes with my men with the utmost
freedom.

In this town there are many Lolo--it might be said that the entire
population is of Lolo origin, although had I suggested to any particular
inhabitant that this was a fact he would probably have taken keen
offense, and things might have gone badly with me. With the men it is
most difficult to tell--there is little difference between the _Han ren_
and the tribesman. But the difference is often most marked in respect to
the women. The Chinese woman has a considerably fairer skin than the
female of Lolo descent, and her customs and manners, apart from the
distinct colloquial accent, are quite evident as pretty sure proof of
distinction of race. After the Lolo have mingled with the Chinese for a
few years, however, it is quite difficult to differentiate between them,
as most of the Lolo women now speak Chinese (in this town I did not hear
any language foreign to the Chinese language), and a good many of the
men are sufficiently educated to read the Chinese character even if they
do not write it. The forward racial condition of the Lolo people in this
district is far greater than that of the people of the same tribe to the
west of Tali-fu, and in latitudes where their language and customs of
life and dress are more or less maintained. The women are generally of
better physique than the Chinese, principally on account of the fact
that their work is almost exclusively outdoor; but as they begin to copy
the Chinese, and live a more sedentary life, this fine physique will
probably gradually disappear. A good many already bind their feet.

When I came out in the early morning the thermometer was twenty degrees
below zero, and my nose was red and without feeling. _Feng-mao_[AQ] and
great coat were required, but I was totally oblivious of the hour's
stiff climbing awaiting me immediately outside the town, to reach the
highest point in which bathed me in perspiration as if I had played
three sets of tennis in the tropics.

Mountains were wild and barren, with nothing in them to enable one to
forget in natural beauty the fatigues of a toilsome ascent. Villages
came now and again in sight, stretched out at the extremity of the plain
before my eyes, with their white gables, red walls, and black tiled
roofs, but during the day we passed through two only. The first was a
little place where decay would have been absolute had it not been for
the likin[AR] flag, which enables "squeezes" to be extorted ruthlessly
from the muleteer and conveyed to the pockets of the prospering customs
agent. It boasted only ten or twelve tumbling lean-to tenements, where
my sympathy went out to the half-dozen physical wrecks of men who came
slowly and stared long, and wondered at the commonest article of my
meager impedimenta. They seemed poorer and lower down the human scale
than any I had yet seen. On one of the ragged garments worn by a man of
about twenty-five I counted no less than thirty-four patches of
different shapes, sizes and materials, hieroglyphically and skillessly
thrown together to hide his sore-strewn back; but still his brown
unwashed flesh was visible in many places.

Looking upon them, one did not like to think that these beings were men,
men with passions like to one's own, for all the interests, real and
imaginary, all the topics which should expand the mind of man, and
connect him in sympathy with general existence, were crushed in the
absorbing considerations of how rice was to be procured for their
families of diseaseful brats. They had no brains, these men; or if
Heaven had thus o'erblessed them, they did not exercise them in their
industry--their coarse, rough hands alone gained food for the day's
feeding. And these mud-roofed, mud-sided dwellings--these were their
homes, to me worse homes than none at all. In their architecture not
even a single idea could be traced--the Chinese here had proceeded as if
by merest accident. All I could think as I returned their wondering
glances was that their world must be very, very old. But I have no time
or space to talk of them here. To throw more than a cursory glance at
them Would lead me into interminable disquisitions of a mythological,
anthropological, craniological, and antediluvian nature for which one
would not find universal approval among his readers. To those who would
study such questions I say, "Fall to!" There is enough scope for a
lifetime to bring into light the primeval element so strangely woven
into the lives of these people.

At Yuen-nan-i bunting and weird street decoration made the place hideous
in my eyes. The crowded town was making considerable ado about some
expected official. I saw none, more than a courteous youth--to whom, of
course, I was quite unknown and deaf and dumb--who graciously shifted
goods and chattels from the inn's best room to hand it over to me for my
occupation. With due tact and some excitability, I protested vigorously
against his coming out. He insisted. Smiling upon him with grave
benignity, I said that I would take a smaller room, and gave orders to
that effect to my man, adding that my whole sense of right and justice
towards fellow-travelers revolted against such self-sacrifice on his
part. He still insisted. Smiling again, this time the timid smile of the
commoner looking up into the face of the great, I allowed myself
reluctantly to be pushed bodily into the best apartment.

This was my intention from the first. Although not too familiar with
it, I allowed the Chinese to imagine that I was well grounded in the
absurdities of his national etiquette; whilst he, observing, too, the
outrageous routine of common politeness, probably went away swearing
that he had been turned out. He had cut off his nose to spite his face.

I cannot truthfully deny, however, that the fellow was very kind, but he
would persist in the belief that it was an impossibility for me to tell
the truth. Later, pointing at me and eyeing me up and down as I shaved
in the twilight, he sneered, "Engleeshman! Engleeshman!" and scooting
with an armful of clothing, small pots of eatables, official documents
and other sundries, told me point-blank that he did not believe that
such a noble person could not speak such a contemptible language as
Chinese.

Seeing no official, then, I presumed I was their man. Whilst I fed
slowly on my rice and cabbage in a small earth-floor room, with my nose
as near as convenient to my oil lamp to get a little warmth, the
discomfort of Chinese life was forced upon me, and I imagined I was
having a good time. I was the best off in the inn by far; the others
must have been colder, certainly had worse food to eat, and yet to me it
was all the height of utmost cheerlessness.

From a hamlet opposite the town, where I sat down by the fire
exhausted in an old woman's shaky dwelling, and fed on aged
sardines and hot rice (atrocious mixture), there is a plain extending
for twenty li to Yuen-nan-i--flat as country in the Fen district. The
road was good (in wet weather, however, it must be terrible), and I
would drive a motor-car across, were it not for the 15-in. ruts which
disfigure the surface. And I know a man who would do this even, despite
the ruts: he takes a delight in running over dogs and small boys,
damaging rickshaws, bumping into bullock-carts, and so on--he would
have done it with liveliest freedom.

But what poverty there was! What women! What Children! With barely an
exception, the women had faces ground by want and bare necessity, in
which every cheerful and sympathetic lineament had been effaced by
life-long slavery and misery. In the bitter cold they, women and
children, crouched round a scanty fir-wood firing, not enough even to
keep alive their natural heat. One long pitiful sight of thriftless
poverty.

To Hungay was a fearful day. Little to eat could I procure, and the cold
gave me a lusty ox's appetite. To me a bellyful came as a windfall.

At last we sat down by the roadside at one small table, hearing the test
of age, rickety and worm-eaten. We gathered like hogs at their troughs,
with the household hog scratching at our feet. I grew impatient and
querulous over constant culinary disappointment. I longed not for the
heaped-up board of the pampered and luxurious, I wanted food. Indigent
man was I, whose dietetical elegancies had been forgotten, a man with
ravenous desires seeking sustenance, not relishes; the means of life,
not the means of pampering the carcass; I wanted food.

And here I had it. The hungry were to be fed.

It was a foul orgy, a gruesome spectacle, a horrible picture of the
gluttony of famished men. This meal conjured up visions of the "most
unlovely of the functions." We fed on _mien_, that long, greasy, grimy,
slippery, slimy string of boneless white--I see it now! And the
half-done tin of sardines set before me, too, the broken stools in the
thatch-worn shed, the dismantled hearth, the muddy earthen floor, the
haggard, hungry villains--I see them all again.[AS]

It should, however, be said that I went away from the main road over a
range of hills where nobody lives. Had I kept to the "ta lu" food would
have been quite easy to get.

To Hungay was given the honor of entertaining me over the Sunday, a
pleasant rest after a week of arduous and exhausting walking. I arrived
late at night, and the old town's rough streets were bathed in a silver
shower of moonbeams, the air was cold and frosty, little groups of the
curious came to the doors of their dwellings, laughing sarcastically,
despite their own poverty, at the distinguished traveler thus coming
upon them.

In marked contrast to this outside animation were the happenings at the
inn which gave me shelter. Business was bad. Three undistinguished
travelers--coolies with loads--and myself and men made up the meager
total of paying guests. This was the reason why it was chosen for me,
for peace and quiet. Quiet had been forced upon the household, so I was
told, by the death by fits of a haughty and resolute lady; and now that
the night had fallen and we had all had our rice, the deep hush--or its
equivalent in Cathay, at all events--seemed likely to be unbroken until
a new day should dawn. My room here had a verandah overlooking a back
court, and here I sat at midnight, unseen by anyone, looking up to the
changeless stars in an unpitying sky; and as I stood thus there blew
from the gates of night and across the mountains a wind that made me
shiver less with physical cold than with a sense of loneliness and
captivity. For on to my verandah came four soldiers, and it seemed as if
the hour of death drew nigh; and as I looked again, first upon the
cloudswept sky and upon the cold and steely glitter of the stars, and
then again at the soldiers with their guns, I turned giddy, shuddering
at the darkness and the loneliness, and with a nameless fear lying at
the center of life like a lurking shadow of an unknown, unseen foe.

They addressed me, but I cared not what they said. I pretended I could
not speak Chinese, watched the quartet form a circle, and talk slowly
and low, and it did not need the mind of a prophet to see that they were
discussing how best they could capture me. Were they going to kill me?
My boy and the other friends I had in the place were sleeping
blissfully, ignorant that their master was in such trying straits. I was
asked my name, and the inquirers, not over civil, were told. They again
asked me for something, I knew not what, probably for my passport. I
had none, and cursed my luck that I had forgotten to pack it when I had
left Tong-ch'uan-fu.

To me it was quite evident that they were deciding my destiny, or so it
seemed in the stillness of the night. Looking upwards, I wondered
whether I was soon to learn the secret of the stars and sky, and those
men seemed to watch the secret workings of my soul. Outside the wind
made moan continuously.

Suddenly my door opened noisily, a light was flashed upon us, and I saw
the bulky form of the landlord. Then all was well. Soon one of my men
appeared, and explained that the soldiers were on their way to meet an
official who was coming from Tali-fu, that their instructions were that
they would meet him at Hungay. They took me for the "gwan."

So my end was not yet. But now, months afterwards, when I stand and
listen to the wind at midnight, there seems borne to me in every sob and
wail a memory of that hateful night and the four soldiers with their
guns.

It seemed not long afterwards that I was awakened by noises on the
doorstep. Looking out, I found a bullock, its four feet tied together
with a straw rope, writhing in its last agonies; the butcher, in his
hand a cruel 24-inch bladed knife still red with blood, smiling the
smile of ironic torture as he looked down upon his struggling victim. He
straightway skinned the animal and cut up the carcass immediately in
front of my door, where Lao Chang waited to get the best cut for my
dinner. My three fellow-lodgers squatted alongside, going through their
apologetic ablutions as if naught were happening. Their dirty face-rags
were wrung and rewrung; they got to work with that universal tooth-brush
(the forefinger!), and that the dead body of a bullock was being
dissected two feet from the table at which they ate their steaming rice
was a detail of not the slightest consequence in the world.

Hungay is an old-time capital of one of the original kingdoms,
destroyed in the year A.D. 749. The road leading out towards Chao-chow
was built some considerable time before that year, and has never been
subject to any repairs whatever (for this fact I have drawn upon my
imagination, but should be very much surprised to know that I am far out
in my reckoning). Villagers have appropriated the public slabs and small
boulders which comprised the wretched thoroughfare; reminiscent puddles
tell you the tale, and the badness of the road renders it necessary for
the traveler to be out of bed a little earlier than usual to face the
ordeal. The road to-day has been practically as bad as walking along the
sides of the Yangtze. But as I studied the patience and physical
vitality of my three men, laughing and joking with the light-heartedness
of children, with nearly seventy catties dangling from their
shoulder-pole, without a word of murmuring, I felt a little ashamed of
myself that I, whose duty it was merely to _walk_, should have made such
a fuss. These men were prepared to work a very long time for very little
reward, as no matter how small the rewards for the terribly exhausting
labor, it were better than none at all,--so they philosophized.

That quiet persistence and unfailing patience form a national virtue
among the Chinese--the capacity to wait without complaint and to bear
all with silent endurance. This virtue is seen more clearly in great
national disasters which occasionally befall the country. The terrible
famine of 1877-8 was the cause of the death of millions of people, and
left scores of millions without house, food or clothing; they were
driven forth as wanderers on the face of the earth without home, without
hope. The Government does nothing whatever in these cases. The people
who wish to live must find the means to live, and what impressed me all
through my wanderings was the absolute science to which poverty is
reduced. In such calamities the Chinese, of all men on the earth's
surface, will battle along if there is any chance at all. If he is
blessed, he once more becomes a farmer; but if not, he accepts the
position as inevitable and irremediable. The Chinese race has the finest
power in the world to withstand with fortitude the ills of life and the
miseries which follow inability to procure the wherewithal to live.
Their nerves are somehow different from our Western nerves.

In China nothing is wasted, not only in food, but in everything
affecting the common life.

That a beast dies of disease is of no concern. It is eaten all the same
from head to hoof, from skin to entrail, and the remarkable fact is that
they do not seem to suffer from it, either. At Kiang-ti (mentioned in a
previous chapter) I saw a horse being pushed down the hillside to the
river. It was not yet dead, but was dying, so far as I could see, of
inflammation of the bowels. Its body was cut up, and there were several
people waiting to buy it at forty cash the catty.

From Hungay onwards I met a class of people I had not seen before. They
were the Minchia (Pe-tso).

Major H.R. Davies, whose treatise on the tribes of Yuen-nan at the end of
his excellent work on travel in the province, is probably the best yet
written, writes that he met Minchia people only on the plains of Tali-fu
and Chao-chow, and never east of the latter place. This was in travel
some ten or twelve years ago, and the fact that there are now many
Minchia families living in Hungay is a testimony to their enterprise as
a tribe in going farther afield in search of the means to live. There is
little doubt that the Minchia originally came from country lying between
the border of the province and round Li-chiang-fu and the Tali-fu plain
and lake. Most of them wear Chinese dress; many of the women bind their
feet (and the practice is growing in popularity), although those who
have not small feet are still in the majority. In a small city lying
some few li from the city of Tali all the inhabitants are Minchia, and I
found no difficulty in spotting a Chinese man or woman--there is a
distinct facial difference. Minchia have bigger noses, generally the
eyes are set farther apart, and the skin is darker. Pink trousers are in
fashion among the ladies--trace of base feminine weakness!--but are not
by any means the distinguishing features of race.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote AP: Carlyle, _Sartor Resartus_.]

[Footnote AQ: Wind-cap, a long Chinese wadded hat which reaches over
one's head and down over the shoulders, tied under the chin with
ribbons.--E.J.D.]

[Footnote AR: Likin, as everyone knows, is custom duty. All along the
main roads of China one meets likin stations, distinguished by the flag
at the entrance.--E.J.D.]

[Footnote AS: I passed this spot a month or so afterwards, and am
convinced that at the time I wrote the above there must have been
something radically wrong with my liver. Had it been in Killarney in
summer, nothing could have been more entrancing than the two lakes
midway between Yuen-nan-i and Hungay. Patches of light green vegetation,
interspersed with brown-red houses, skirting the lake-shore in pleasant
contrast to the green of the water, which, bathed in soft sunshine,
lapped their walls in endless restlessness. Of that delicate blue which
is indescribably beautiful, the morning sky looked down tranquilly upon
the undulating hills of grey and brown, which seemed to hem in and guard
a very fairyland. Geomancers of the place did not go wrong when they
suggested the overlooking hill-sides as suitable resting-places for the
departed. All was ancient and primitive, yet simple and glorious, and as
one of my followers called my attention to the telegraph wires, I was
struck by the fact that this alone stood as the solitary element of what
we in the West call civilization. Yet nothing bore traces of gross
uncivilization; the people, hard workers albeit, were happy and quite
content, with their slow-moving caravan, which we would, if we could,
soon displace for the railway engine. Ploughmen with their buffaloes and
their biblical ploughshare, raked over the red ground; women, with
babies on their backs, picked produce already ripe; children played
roundabout, and those old enough helped their fathers in the fields;
coolies bustled along with exchanges of merchandise with neighboring
villages, quite content if but a couple of meals each day were earned
and eaten; the official, the ruler of these peaceful people, passed with
old-time pomp--not in a modern carriage, not in a modern saloon, but in
the same way as did his ancestors back in the dim ages, in a sedan-chair
carried by men. There was plenty of everything--enough for all--but all
had to contribute to its getting. There was no greed, their few wants
were easily satisfied, and here, as everywhere in my journeyings, I have
noticed it to be the case among the common people, there was no desire
to get rich and absorb wealth. They wanted to live, to learn to labor as
little as the growth of food supplies demanded, to become fathers and
mothers, and, to their minds, to get the most out of life. And who will
contradict it? They do not see with the eyes of the West; we do not, we
cannot, see with their eyes. But surely the living of this simple life,
the same as it was in the beginning, has a good deal in it; it is not
uncivilization, not barbarism, and the fair-minded traveler in China can
come to but one opinion, even in the midst of all the conflicting
emotions which result from his own upbringing, that we could, if we
would, learn many a good lesson from the old-time life of the Celestial
in his own country.

Yet these are the very people who may jostle us harshly later on in the
racial struggle.

I am not suggesting that when the Chinese adopts the cult of the West,
and comes into general contact with it--and I believe that I am right in
saying that this is the desire, generally speaking, of the whole of the
enlightened classes--he continues with his few wants. As a matter of
fact, he does not. He is as extravagant, and perhaps more so, than the
most of us. I have seen Straits Chinese waste at the gaming tables in
their gorgeous clubs as much in one night as some European residents
handle in one year, and he is quick to get his motor-car, his horses and
carriages, and endless other ornaments of wealth. So that if progress in
the course of the evolution of nations means that the Chinese too will
demand all that the European now demands, and will cease to find
satisfaction in the existing conditions of his life in the new goal
towards which he is moving, and if he, in course of time, should
increase the cost of living per head to equal that of the Westerner,
then he will lose a good deal of the advantage he now undoubtedly has in
the struggle for racial supremacy. But if, gradually taking advantage of
all in religion, in science, in literature, in art, in modern naval and
military equipment and skill, and all that has made nations great and
made for real progress in the West, he were also to continue his present
hardy frugality in living--which is not a tenth as costly in proportion
to that of the Occident--then his advantage in entering upon the
conflict among the nations for ultimate supremacy would be undoubted,
immeasurable.

The question is, will he?

If he will, then the Occident has much to fear. China, going ahead
throughout the Empire as she is at the present moment in certain parts,
will in course of time (as is only fair and natural to expect) have an
army greater in numbers than is possible to any European power, and her
food-bill will be two-thirds lower per head per fighting man.
Subsequently, granting that China fulfils our fears, and becomes as
great a fighting power as military experts declare she will, even in our
generation, by virtue of her numbers alone, apart from phenomenal powers
of endurance, which as every writer on China and her people is agreed,
is excelled by no other race on earth, she would be able to dictate
terms to the West. But, again, will she? Will the people continue to
live as they are living?

I personally believe that the Chinese will not. I believe that as the
nation progresses, more in accordance with lines of progress laid down
by the West, so will her wants increase, and consequent expenses of life
become greater. The Yuen-nanese even are beginning to acknowledge that
they have no ordinary comforts. In other parts of the empire the people
are already beginning to learn what comfort, sanitation, lighting, and
general organization means--in the home, in the city, in the country, in
the nation.

And they are learning too that it all costs money, and means, perhaps, a
higher state of social life. For this they do not mind the money. They
are not going half-way--they are going to be whole-hoggers. And when in
the future, near or far, we shall find them, as is almost inevitable,
able to compete in everything with other nations, we shall find that
they have not been successful in learning the source of strength without
having absorbed also some of the weaknesses; they will not escape the
vices, even if they learn some of the virtues of the West.--E.J.D.]




CHAPTER XIX.

_Peculiar forebodings of early morning_. _A would-be speaker of
English_. _The young men of Yuen-nan and the Reform Movement_. _Teachers
of English_. _Remarks on methods adopted_. _Disregard of the customs of
centuries_. _A rushing Szech-wanese_. _Missionaries and the Educational
Movement_. _Christianity and the position of the foreigner_. _Is the
Chinese racially inferior to the European? Interesting opinion_. _Peace
of Europe and integrity of China_. _Chao-chow cook gets a bad time_.
_The author's levee. Natural "culture" of the people_. _Story of the
birth of boys_. _Notes on Hsiakwan_. _Experiences of the
non-Chinese-speaking author at the inn_. _How he got the better of an
official_. _A magnificent temple_. _Kwan-in and the priests._


This morning, from the foot of a high spur, I saw a couple of gawky
fellows shambling along in an imitation European dress, and I pricked up
my ears--it seemed as if Europeans were about. One of the fellows had on
a pair of long-legged khaki trousers ludicrously patched with Chinese
blue, a tweed coat of London cut also patched with Chinese blue, and a
battered Elswood topee. I saw this through my field-glasses. Soon after,
coming out from a cup in the winding pathway, emerged a four-man chair,
and I had no doubt then that it was a European on the road, and I began
to get as curious as anyone naturally would in a country where in
interior travel his own foreign kind are met with but seldom. Hurrying
on, I managed to pass the chair in a place where overhanging foliage
shut out the light, so that I could not see through the windows, and as
the front curtain was down I concluded that it must be a lady, probably
a missionary lady. I pushed on to the nearest tavern--a tea tavern, of
course--buttoned up my coat so that she should not see my dirty shirt,
and waited for the presence to approach. From an inner apartment,
through a window, I could see all that went on outside, but could not be
seen. What is it that makes a man's heart go pit-a-pat when he is about
to meet a European lady in mid-China?

Presently the chair approached. From it came a person covered in a huge
fur-lined, fur-collared coat many sizes too large for his small body--it
was a Chinese. Several men were pushed out of his way as he strode
towards me, extending his hand in a cordial "shake, old fellow" style,
and yelling in purest accent, "Good morning, sir; _good_ morning, sir!"

"Oh, good morning. You speak English well. I congratulate you. Have you
had a good journey? How far are you going? Very warm?" I waited. "It is
so interesting when one meets a gentleman who can speak English; it is a
pleasant change." I waited again. "Will you--"

"Good morning, morning, morn--he, he, he."

"But pardon me, will--"

"Morning, morning--he, h-e-e."

"Yes, you silly ass, I know it is morning, but--"

"Yes, yes; morning, morning--he-e-e-e-e."

He then made for the door, not the least abashed. Later he came back,
and invited me to speak Chinese, probably thinking that I was wondering
why he had made such an absolute fool of himself. I learned that this
august gentleman possessed a name in happy correspondence with a fowl
("Chi"). He pointed contemptuously to a member of that feather tribe as
he told me. Whether he could speak Chinese when he was or was not at
Chen-tu, or whether he had a son whose knowledge of my language was
vast, and who was at that moment at Chen-tu, I could not quite fathom,
and he could not explain. He had a look at my caravan generally, and
then turned his scrutiny upon my common tweeds, informing me that the
quality bore no comparison with his own. He could travel in a four-man
chair; I had to _walk_. It was all very "pub hao."

After some time he cleared out with much empty swagger, and I followed
leisurely on behind, feeling--yes, why not publish it?--pleased that this
bolt from the blue had not been a lady.

This young fellow--a mere slip of a boy--wore every indication of
perfect self-confidence, borne out in a multitude of ways common to his
class. He, I presumed, was one of the fledglings who undertake
responsibilities far beyond them, or I should not be surprised if he had
been one of the army of young men who, having the merest smattering of
English, wholly unable to converse, set up as teachers of English. I
have found this quite common among the rising classes in Yuen-nan. The
cool assumption of unblushing superiority evinced in discussing
intellectual and philosophic problems is remarkable. The Chinese, in the
area I speak of, are little people with little brain: this was a
specimen. Yet, to be fair, in China to-day the work of reform is mainly
the work of young men, who although but only partly equipped for their
work, approach it with perfect confidence and considerable energy, not
knowing sufficient to realize the difficulties they are undertaking. In
Japan the same thing was done. The young men there undertook to dispute
and doubt everything which came in the way of national reorganization,
setting aside--as China must do if she is to take her place alongside
the ideal she has set up for herself, Japan--parental teaching,
ancestral authority, the customs of centuries. A large proportion of the
population of China has a passion for reform and progress. This young
fellow was a typical example. In the west of China, however, to conform
with the spirit of reform and real progress--not the make-believe, which
is satisfying them at the present moment--they must needs change their
ways.

Seventeen memorial plates were passed at the entrance to Chao-chow, a
particularly modern-looking place, as one approaches it from the hill.

A remarkably ungainly individual, with a hole in the top of his skull
and his body one mass of sores, came to me here, addressed me as "Sien
seng," and then commenced an oration to the effect that he was a
Szech'wanese, that he had known the missionaries down by the Yangtze,
and that he knew he would be welcome to accompany me to Hsiakwan.[AT] He
switched himself on the main line of my caravan. Here was a man who had
been brought in contact with the missionary away down in another
province, and he knew he was welcome. I liked that. In all my
journeyings in Yuen-nan I was increasingly impressed with the value of
the missionary, that man who of all men in the Far East is the most
subject to malicious criticism, and generally, be it said, from those
persons who know little or nothing about his work. You cannot measure
the missionary's work by conversions, by mere statistics. I venture to
assert that it is through the missionary that the West applied pressure
and supplied China with political ideas, and put within her reach the
material and instruments which would enable her to carry such ideas into
practice--this apart from religious teaching. More particularly is this
the case in respect to popular education, perhaps, by means of which the
transformation of Old China into New China will be a less long and
difficult process. The people may not want the missionary--I do not for
a moment say that they do--but they need to know the secret of his power
and the power of his kind, and they must study his language, his
science, his machinery, his steamboats, his army, his _Dreadnaughts_.
They realize that the foreigner is useful not for what he can do, but
for what he can teach--therefore they tolerate the missionary. This is
virtually the national policy of China towards foreigners, a policy
gaining the acceptance of the people with remarkable quickness.

After having set aside all considerations of national prejudice and
patriotism, it is interesting to ask whether it is actually a fact that
the Chinese, as a race, are inferior to the peoples of the West? Much
has been said on the subject. I give my opinion flatly that the Chinese
is _not_ inferior, and the longer I live with him the more numerous
become the lessons which he teaches me.

"The question, when we examine it closely, has really very little to do
with political strength or military efficiency, or (_pace_ Mr. Benjamin
Kidd) relative standards of living, or even the usual material
accompaniments of what we call an advanced civilization; it is a
question for the trained anthropologist and the craniologist rather than
for the casual observer of men and manners. The Japanese people are now
much more highly civilized--according to western notions--than they were
half a century ago, but it would be ludicrously erroneous to say that
they are now a higher race, from the evolutionary point of view, than
they were then. Evolution does not work quite so rapidly as that even in
these days of 'hustle.' The Japanese have advanced, not because their
brains have suddenly become larger, or their moral and intellectual
capabilities have all at once made a leap forward, but because their
intercourse with Western nations, after centuries of isolated seclusion,
showed them that certain characteristic features of European
civilization would be of great use in strengthening and enriching their
own country, developing its resources, and giving it the power to resist
aggression. If the Japanese were as members of the _homo sapiens_
inferior to us fifty years ago, they are inferior to us now. If they are
our equals to-day--and the burden of proof certainly now rests on him
who wishes to show that they are not--our knowledge of the origin and
history of Eastern peoples, scanty though it is, should certainly tend
to assure us that the Chinese are our equals, too. There is no valid
reason for supposing that the Chinese people are ethnically inferior to
the Japanese. They have preserved their isolated seclusion longer than
the Japanese, because until very recently it was less urgently necessary
for them to come out of it. They have taken a longer time to appreciate
the value of Western science and certain features of Western
civilization, because new ideas take longer to permeate a very large
country than a small one, and because China was rich within her own
borders of all the necessaries of life."[AU]

And the West, too, must learn that the peace of Europe depends upon the
integrity of China. For the time is coming--not in the lives of any who
read these lines, but coming inevitably--when China will, by her might,
by her immense numbers of trained men, by her developed naval and
military strength, be able to say to the nations of the earth, "There
must be no more war." And she will be strong enough to be able to
enforce it.

As with individuals, so with nations, and a people who are marked by
such rare physical vitality, such remarkable powers of endurance against
great odds, are surely designed for some nobler purpose than merely to
bear with fortitude the ills of life and the misery of starvation. It is
the easiest thing in the world to criticise--the West criticises the
Chinese because he is a heathen, because they do not understand him.
Hundreds of millions of the Chinese race hate and fear the man of the
West for exactly the same reason as would cause us to hate the Chinese
were the situation reversed.

I do not need to go into history from the days when the Chinese first
began to show their suspicion, contempt, and fear of foreigners, and
their interpretation of the motives and purposes which took them to the
Celestial Empire; it would take too much space. But if we of the West
did our part to-day, as we rub up against the Chinese everywhere, in
charitably taking him at his best, things would alter much more speedily
that they are doing. Because the Chinese bristles with contradictions
and seemingly unanswerable conundrums, we immediately dub him a
barbarian, do not endeavor to understand him, do not understand enough
of his language to listen to him and learn his point of view. However,
it is all slowly passing--so very slowly, too. But still China is
progressing, and now this oldest man in the world is becoming again the
youngest, but has all the accumulations and advantages of age in all
countries to lean upon and learn from.

Chao-chow gave me a very decent inn, the top room in front of which was
provided with a well-paved courtyard, with every convenience for the
traveler--that is, for China.

The inn cook and water-carrier was out playing on the street when we put
in an early appearance. My men lost their temper, ground their teeth,
foamed at the mouth, and got desperate. The only man on the premises was
a poor old fellow, who foolishly bumped his uncovered head on the ground
on which I stood, as an act of great servility and a secret sign that I
should throw him a few cash, and then resumed his occupation in the sun
of wiping his already inflamed eyes with the one unwashed garment which
covered him. I pitied him; he knew it, and traded upon my pity until I
invoked a few choice words from Lao Chang to fall upon him. When the
cook did put in an appearance, he and everybody dead and living placed
anywhere near his genealogical tree underwent a rough quarter of an
hour from the anathematical tongues of my companions. The Old Man--by
virtue of the growth on my chin, this epithet of respect was commonly
used towards me--wanted to wash his face and drink his tea. He was tired
with walking. He was a foreign mandarin. Did the blank, blank, blank
cook, the worm and no man, not know that a foreigner was among them? And
then they fell to piling up the ignominy again and placing to the cook's
dishonor various degrees of lowliest origin common among the Chinese
proletariat, which, thank Heaven, I did not quite understand.

That evening all Chao-chow came to honor me in my room, and to admire
and ask to be given all I had in my boxes. That it was all a huge
revelation to many who came and inquired who I might be, and whence I
might have come, was quite evident. One fellow, dressed gaudily in
expensive silks and satins--probably borrowed--came with pomp and
pride; and disappointment was writ large upon his ugly face when he
learned that I could not, or would not, speak with him. He mentioned
that he was one of the cultured of the city. But the Chinese are all
more or less cultured. My own coolies, although not knowing a character,
are really "cultured"--they are the most polite men I have ever
traveled with. The culture, at any rate, although more apparent than
real, has a universality in China which the foreigner must observe in
moving among the people, and which as a sort of lubrication, makes the
wheels of society run smoother. This man was not cultured in the matter
of taste in the choice of colors. He was altogether frightfully lacking
in sense of harmony, and when one saw the little boy who trotted along
with him, one might have thought that Joseph's coat had been revived for
my especial edification. He was a peculiar being, this highly-colored
man. He would persist in sitting down on his haunches, despite frequent
invitations to use a chair--how is it all Orientals can do this, and not
one European out of fifty?

Lao Chang afterwards informed me that this man's wife had just presented
him with a second son, and great jubilation was taking place. The birth
of a child, especially of a boy, is a great event in any Chinese
household, and considerable anxiety is felt lest demons should be
lurking about the house and cause trouble. A sorcerer is called in just
before the birth, to exorcise all evil influences from the house and
secure peace. This is the "Exorcism of Great Peace." Simultaneously
comes the midwife. Should the birth be attended with great pain and
difficulty, recourse is had to crackers, the firing of guns, or whatever
similar device can be thought of to scare off the demons. Solicitude is
often felt that the first visit to the house after the birth of the
child should be made by a "lucky" person, for the child's whole future
career may be blighted by meeting with an "ill-starred" person. No
outsider will enter the room where the birth took place for forty days.
On the anniversary of a boy's birth the relatives and friends bring
presents of clothes, hats, ornaments, playthings, and red eggs. The baby
is placed on the floor--the earth, which is the first place he touches;
he is born into a hole in the ground--and around him are placed various
articles, such as a book, pencil, chopsticks, money, and so on. He will
follow the profession which has to do with the articles he first
touches.[AV]

This was the fortieth day, and so my visitant honored me by thrusting
his contemptible presence upon me, and he would not go until late at
night, when a man with a diseased hip and one eye--and a ghastly thing
at that--called to see whether I could treat him with medicine.

Hsiakwan in days to come will probably have a big industry in brick and
tile making. Fifteen li from the town, on the Chao-chow side, many
people now get their living at the business, and one could easily dream
of a "Hsiakwan Brick and Tile Company Limited," with the children's
children of the present pioneers running for the morning papers to have
a look at the share market reports, with light railways connected up
with the main line, which has not yet been built, and so on, and so on.

Hsiakwan is perhaps the busiest town on the main trade route from
Yuen-nan-fu to Burma. Tali-fu, although growing, is only the official
town, of which Hsiakwan is the commercial entrepot. It was here that I
stayed one Sunday some time after this, at one of the biggest inns I
have ever been into in China. It had no less than four buildings, each
with a paved rectangular courtyard which all the rooms overlooked. A
military official, who was on his way to Chao-t'ong to deal with the
rebellion, of which the reader has already learnt a good deal, was
expected soon after I arrived. My room was already arranged, however,
when the landlord came to me and said--

"Yang gwan, you must please go out!"

Now the yang gwan, as was expected, stayed where he was, smiled in
magnanimous acquiescence, invited the proprietor--a stout, jolly person
with one eye--to be seated, and remained quiet. Again and again was I
told that I should be required to clear out, and give up the best room
to the official and his aide-de-camp, but unfortunately the inquirer did
not improve the situation by persisting in the foolish belief that the
foreigner was hard of hearing. He shouted his request into my ear in a
stentorian basso, he waved his hands, he pointed, he made signs. The
Chinese langage and manner, however, are difficult to an addle-pated
foreigner. I, poor foolish fellow, endeavoring to treat the Chinese in
a manner identical to that which he would have employed had conditions
been reversed, stared vacantly and woodenly into a seemingly bewildering
infinite, and timidly remarked, "O t'ing puh lai." Knowing then that my
"hearing had not come," he requisitioned my boy, for the aide-de-camp by
this time was glumly peering into my doorway; but to his disgust Lao
Chang also was equally unsuccessful in making me tumble to their
meaning. The best room, therefore, continued to be mine.

Soon after the official came, and my dog began by mauling his canine
guardian, tearing away half his ear; and in the middle of the night one
of my horses got loose and had a stand-up fight with a mule attached to
the official party, laming him seriously; and as the foreigner emerged
in his night attire to prevent further damage, he encountered the
mandarin himself, and pinned him dead against the wall in the dark,
after having stepped on his corn. My pony had pulled several morsels of
flesh from the mule's carcase. The yang gwan certainly came off best,
and the following morning, as the Chinese gwan with his retinue of six
chairs and about one hundred and fifty men departed, the yang gwan
smiled a happy farewell which was not effusively reciprocated.

As I came out of the inn I met a Buddhist priest, worn with general
dilapidation and old age, with a huge festering wound in the calf of his
leg, so that he could hardly hobble along with a stick--he was probably
on his way to the medical missionary at Tali-fu for treatment. This
spiritual guide was certainly on his last legs, and has probably by this
time handed over the priestly robes and official perquisites to more
vigorous young blood.

Hsiakwan's High Street reminded me of the main street of Totnes, with
its arch over the roadway, and the scenery might have deluded one into
the belief that he was in Switzerland in spring, as he gazed upon the
glorious spectacle of snow-covered mountains with the world-famed lake
at the foot. Tali-fu deserves its name of the Geneva of West China.

In the chapter devoted to Yuen-nan-fu I have referred to the military of
Tali-fu, but here I saw the men actually at drill, and a finer set of
men I have rarely seen in Europe. The military Tao-tai lives here.
Progress is phenomenal. At Yung-chang, the westernmost prefecture of the
Empire, the commanding officer could even speak English.

In the famous temple ten li from Tali-fu is an effigy to the Yang Daren
who figured conspicuously during the Mohammedan Rebellion. My men
somehow got the false information that he was a native of
Tong-ch'uan-fu, so they all went down on their knees and bumped their
heads on the ground before the image. This Yang, however, was such a
brute of a man that no young girl was safe where he was; however, as a
soldier he was indomitable. The temple in which he is deified is called
the Kwan-in-tang,[AW] and there is no place in all China where Kwan-in
is worshipped with such relentless vigor. Some years ago, so the wags
say, when Tali-fu was threatened by rebels, Kwan-in saved the city by
transforming herself into a Herculean creature, and carrying upon her
back a stone of several tons weight, presumably to block the path. The
amazement of the rebels at the sight of a woman performing such a feat
made them wonder what the men could be like, so they turned tail and
fled. The story is believed implicitly by the residents of the city, and
the priests, with an open eye to the main chance, work upon the public
imagination with capital tact. I saw the stone in the center of a lotus
pond, over which is the structure in which the Kwan-in sits, not as a
weight-lifting woman, but as a tender mother, with a tiny babe in her
arms, and none in the whole of the Empire enjoys such favor for being
able to direct the birth of male children into those families which give
most money to the priests. Women desiring sons come and implore her by
throwing cash, one by one, at the effigy, the one who hits being
successful, going away with the belief that a son will be born to her.
When the deluded females are cleared out, the priest, divesting himself
of his shoes, and rolling up his trousers, goes into the water, scoops
up the money and uses it for his personal convenience--sometimes as much
as thirty thousand cash.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote AT: The commercial center of Tali-fu, the official city is 30
li further on--E.J.D]

[Footnote AU: _From Peking to Mandalay_, by R.F. Johnston, London, John
Murray. I am indebted to this racily-written work for other ideas in
this chapter.--E.J.D.]

[Footnote AV: From inquiries I find this custom is not general in some
parts of Western China--E.J.D.]

[Footnote AW: Temple to the Goddess of Mercy.

     "Kwan-in was the third daughter of a king, beautiful and talented,
     and when young loved to meditate as a priest. Her father, mother
     and sisters beseech her not to pass the 'green spring,' but to
     marry, and the king offers the man of her choice the throne. But
     no, she must take the veil. She enters the 'White Sparrow Nunnery,'
     and the nuns put her to the most menial offices; the dragons open a
     well for the young maidservant, and the wild beasts bring her wood.
     The king sends his troops to burn the nunnery, Kwan-in prays, rain
     falls, and extinguishes the conflagration. She is brought to the
     palace in chains, and the alternative of marriage or death is
     placed before her. In the room above where the court of the
     inquisition is held there is music, dancing, and feasting, sounds
     and sights to allure a young girl; the queen also urges her to
     leave the convent, and accede to the royal father's wish. Kwan-in
     declares that she would rather die than marry, so the fairy
     princess is strangled, and a tiger takes her body into the forest.
     She descends into hell, and hell becomes a paradise, with gardens
     of lilies. King Yama is terrified when he sees the prison of the
     lost becoming an enchanted garden, and begs her to leave, in order
     that the good and the evil may have their distinctive rewards. One
     of the genii gives her the 'peach of immortality.' On her return to
     the terrestrial regions she hears that her father is sick, and
     sends him word that if he will dispatch a messenger to the
     'Fragrant Mountain,' an eye and a hand will be given him for
     medicine; this hand and eye are Kwan-in's own, and produce instant
     recovery.

     "She is the patron goddess of mothers, and when we remember the
     value of sons, we can understand the heartiness of worship."--_The
     Three Religions of China,_ by H.G. Du Bose.

]




THIRD JOURNEY

TALI-FU TO THE MEKONG VALLEY




CHAPTER XX.

_Stages to the Mekong Valley_. _Hardest part of the walking tour_.
_Author as a medical man_. _Sunday soliloquy_. _How adversity is met_.
_Chinese life compared with early European ages_. _Womens enthusiasm
over the European_. _A good send-off_. _My coolie Shanks, the songster_.
_Laughter for tears_. _Pony commits suicide_. _Houses in the forest
district_. _Little encampments among the hills, and the way the people
pass their time_. _Treacherous travel_. _To Hwan-lien-p'u_. _Rest by the
river, and a description of my companions_. _How my men treated the
telegraph_. _Universal lack of privacy_. _Complaints of the carrying
coolies._


From whichever standpoint you regard the cities and villages of Western
China, the views are full of interest. Each forms a new picture of rock,
river, wood and temple, crenellated wall, and uplifted roof, crowded
with bewildering detail.

I am not the first traveler who has remarked this. Several of Mr.
Archibald Little's books speak of it. He says: "In Europe, except where
the scenery is purely wild, and more especially in America, the delight
of gazing on many of the most beautiful scenes is often alloyed by the
crude newness of man's work. This is true now of Japan, since the rage
for copying western architecture and dress has fallen upon the Islands
of the Rising Sun. But here in Western China little has intervened to
mar the accord between nature and man." In the country on which we are
now entering the natural grandeur is finer than anything I had seen
since I left the Gorges, and incidentally I do not mind confessing to
the indulgent reader that when I came again through Hsiakwan, again
westward bound, I was tired, my feet were blistered and broken, each day
and every day had brought me a hard journey, and here I was now facing
the most difficult journey yet met with--literally not a li of level
road.

My journey was by the following route:--

                                Length     Height
                               of Stage   Above Sea

    1st day   Ho-chiang-p'u      90 li    5,050 ft.
    2nd day   Yang-pi            60 li    5,150 ft.
    3rd day   T'ai-p'ing-p'u     70 li    7,400 ft.
    5th day   Hwan-lien-p'u      50 li    5,200 ft.
    6th day   Ch'u-tung          95 li    5,250 ft.
    7th day   Shayung            75 li    4,800 ft.

T'ai-p'ing-p'u (two days from Tali-fu), bleak and perched away up among
the clouds, could never be called a town; it is merely a ramshackle
place which gives one sleep and food in the difficult stage between
Hwan-lien-p'u and Yang-pi.

Like most of the small places which suffered from the ravishings of the
Mohammedan destructions of the fifties, it has seen better days.
Cottages hang clumsily together on ledges in the mountains, 7,400 feet
above the sea, standing in their own vast uncultivated grounds. People
are of the Lolo origin, but all speak Chinese; their ways of life,
however, are aboriginal, and still far from the ideal to which they
aspire. They are poor, poor as church mice, dirty and diseased and
decrepit, and their existence as a consequence is dreary and dull and
void of all enlightenment. The women--sad, lowly females--bind their
feet after a fashion, but as they work in the fields, climb hills, and
battle in negotiations against Nature where she is overcome only with
extreme effort, the real "lily" is a thing possible with them only in
their dreams. By binding, however, be it never so bad an imitation, they
give themselves the greater chance of getting a Chinese husband.

I stayed here the Sunday, and as I went through my evening ablutions,
among my admirers in the doorway was an old woman, who in gentlest
confidences with my boy, explained awkwardly that her little daughter
lay sick of a fever, and could he prevail upon his foreign master, in
whom she placed implicit faith, to come with her and minister? Lao Chang
advised that I should go, and I went. My shins got mutilated as I fell
down the slippery stone steps in the dark into a pail of hog's wash at
the bottom. Having wiped the worst of the grease and slime onto the mud
wall, by the aid of a flickering rushlight I saw the "child," who lay on
a mattress on the floor in the darkest corner of the room. I reckoned
her age to be thirty-five, her black hair hung in tangled masses, the
very bed on which she lay stank with vermin, two feet away was the fire
where all the cooking was gone through, and everywhere around was filth.
When she saw me the "child" raised her solitary garment, whispered that
pains in her stomach were well-nigh unendurable, that her head ached,
that her joints were stiff, that she was generally wrong, and--"Did I
think she would recover?" I thought she might not.

Rushing back to my medicine chest, I brought along and administered a
maximum dose of the oil called castor, and later dosed her with quinine.
In the morning she was out and about her work, while the old mother was
great in her praises for the passing European who had cured her child.
After that came the deluge! They wanted more medicine--fever elixir,
toothache cure, and so on, and so on--but I stood firm.

The tedium of the Sunday in that draughty inn gave me an insight into
their common lives which I had not before, causing me to meditate upon
their simple lives and their simple needs. They did not raise the
forests in order to get gold; they did not squander their patrimony in
youth, destroying in a day the fruit of long years. They held to simple
needs; they had a simplicity of taste, which was also a peculiar source
of independence and safety. The more simple they lived the more secure
their future, because they were less at the mercy of surprises and
reverses. In adversity these people would not act like nurslings
deprived of their bottles and their rattles, but would, by virtue of
their common simplicity, probably be better armed for any struggles. I
do not desire the life for myself, but the ethics of their simple living
cannot but be recommended. Multitudes possess in China what multitudes
in the West pursue amid characteristic hampering futilities of European
life. We would aspire to simple living, and the simplicity of olden
times in manners, art and ideas is still cherished and reverenced; but
we cannot be simple or return to the simplicity of our forefathers
unless we return to the spirit which animated them. They possessed the
spirit of real simplicity. And this same spirit the Chinese possess
to-day; but they are minus the incomparable features of healthful
civilization, inward and outward, of which our forebears were masters.
Our ways to-day are not their ways, and their ways not our ways; but one
cannot but realize as he moves among them that with a happy infusion of
the spirit of their simplicity into the restlessness of our modern life
our wearied minds would dream less and realize more of the true
simplicity of simple living.

       *       *       *       *       *

To a man the village of T'ai-p'ing-p'u turned out early on the Monday
morning to express regrets that my departure was at hand. When, in
parting with this people who had done all in their power to make my
comfort complete, I threw a handful of cash to some little children
standing wonderingly near by, general approval was expressed, and
elaborate felicities anent my beneficence exchanged by the ear-ringed
Lolo women. A short apron hung down over their blue trousers, and as I
passed out of their sight, they admired me and gossiped about me, with
their hands under their aprons, in much the same manner as their more
enlightened sisters of the wash-tub gossip sometimes in the West.

It was a beautiful spring morning; the sweet song of the birds pierced
through the noise of the rolling river below, the air was fragrant and
bracing, and as I left and commenced the rocky ascent leading again to
the mountains, the barks of some fierce-disposed canines, who alone
objected to my presence among the hill-folk, died away with the rustle
of the leafage in a keen north wind.

One of my men was poorly, the solitary element to disturb the equanimity
of our camp.

It was Shanks. He had been suffering from toothache, and unfortunately I
had no gum-balm with me; without my knowledge Lao Chang had rubbed in
some strong embrocation to the fellow's cheek, so that now, in addition
to toothache, he had also a badly blistered face, swollen up like a
pudding. Upon learning that I had no means of curing him or of
alleviating the pain, Shanks bellowed into my ear, loud enough to bring
the dead out of the grave-mounds on the surrounding hill-sides, "Puh p'a
teh, pub p'a teh"; then, raising his carrying-pole to the correct angle
on the hump on his back, went merrily forward, warbling some squealing
Chinese ditty. But Shanks was the songster of the party. He often madly
disturbed the silence of middle night by a sudden outburst inte song,
and when shouted down by others who lay around, or kicked by the man who
shared his bed, and whose choral propensities were less in proportion,
he would laugh wildly at them all. Poor Shanks; he was a peculiar
mortal. He would laugh at men in pain, and think it sympathy. If we
could get no food or drink on the march, after having wearily toiled
away for hours, he would not be disposed to grumble--he would laugh.
Such tragic incidents as the pony jumping over the precipice provoked
him to extreme laughter.[AX]

And when I caught him sewing up an open wound in the sole of his foot
with common colored Chinese thread and a rusty needle, and told him that
he might thereby get blood poisoning, and lose his life or leg, he cared
not a little. As a matter of fact, he laughed in my face. Not at me, not
at all, but because he thought his laughter might probably delude the
devil who was president over the ills of that particular portion of
human anatomy. He came to me just outside Pu-peng, where we saw a coffin
containing a corpse resting in the roadway whilst the bearers refreshed
near by and, pointing thereto, told me that the man was "muh tsai" (not
here)--the Chinese never on any account mention the word death--and his
sides shook with laughter, so much so that he dropped his loads
alongside the corpse, and startled the cock on top of the coffin
guarding the spirit of the dead into a vigorous fit of crowing for fear
of disaster.

We enjoyed fairly level road, although rough, for ten li after leaving
T'ai-p'ing-p'u. It rose gradually from 7,400 feet to 8,500 feet, and
then dipped suddenly, and continued at a fearful down gradient. I might
describe it as a member of a British infantry regiment once described to
me a slope on the Himalayas. It was about eight years ago, and a few
fellows were at a smoker given to some Tommies returning from India,
when a bottle-nosed individual, talking about a long march his battalion
had made up the Himalayas, in excellent descriptive exclaimed, "'Twasn't
a 'ill, 'twasn't a graydyent, 'twas a blooming precipice, guvnor." The
Himalayas and the country I am now describing have therefore something
in common.

Just before this the beautiful mountains, behind which was the Tali-fu
Lake, made a sight worth coming a long way to see.

Midway down the steep hill we happened on some lonely log cottages,
twenty-five li from T'ai-p'ing-p'u (it is reckoned as thirty-five li
traveling in the opposite direction). In the forest district I found the
houses all built of timber--wood piles placed horizontally and
dovetailed at the ends, the roofs being thatched. You have merely to
step aside from the road, and you are in dense mountain forest; it is
manifestly easier and less costly than the mud-built habitation,
although for their part the people are worse off because of the lack of
available ground for growing their crops. Here the people were still
essentially Lolo, and the big-footed women who boiled water under a shed
had difficulty in getting to understand what my men were talking about.

The second descent is begun after a pleasant walk along level ground
resembling a well-laid-out estate, and a treacherously rough mile
brought us down to an iron chain bridge swung over the Shui-pi Ho, at
the far end of which, hidden behind bamboo matting, are a few idols in
an old hut; they act in the dual capacity of gods of the river and the
mountain. Tea and some palatable baked persimmon--very like figs when
baked--were brought me by an awful-looking biped who was still in
mourning, his unshaven skull sadly betokening the fact. As I sipped my
tea and cracked jokes with some Szech'wan men who declared they had met
me in Chung-king (I must resemble in appearance a European resident in
that city; it was the fourth time I had been accused of living there), I
admired the grand scenery farther along. Especially did I notice one
peak, towering perpendicularly away up past woods of closely-planted
pine and fir trees, the crystal summit glistening with sunlit snow; as
soon as I started again on my journey, I was pulling up towards it. Soon
I was gazing down upon the tiny patches of light green and a few
solitary cottages, resembling a little beehive, and one could imagine
the metaphorical wax-laying and honey-making of the inhabitants. These
people were away from all mankind, living in life-long loneliness, and
all unconscious of the distinguished foreigner away up yonder, who
wondered at their patient toiling, but who, like them, had his
Yesterday, To-day and To-morrow. There they were, perched high up on the
bleak mountain sides, with their joys and sorrows, their pains and
penalties, struggling along in domestic squalor, and rearing young
rusticity and raw produce.

On these mountains in Yuen-nan one sees hundreds of such little
encampments of a few families, passing their existence far from the road
of the traveler, who often wished he could descend to them and quench
his thirst, and eat with them their rice and maize. Most of them here
were isolated families of tribespeople, who, out of contact with their
kind, have little left of racial resemblance, and yet are not fully
Chinese, so that it is difficult to tell what they really are. Most were
Lolo.

Walking here was treacherous. A foot pathway was the main road, winding
in and out high along the surface of the hills, in many places washed
away, and in others overgrown with grass and shrubbery. "Across China on
Foot" would have met an untimely end had I made a false step or slipped
on the loose stones in a momentary overbalance. I should have rolled
down seven hundred feet into the Shui-pi Ho. Once during the morning I
saw my coolies high up on a ledge opposite to me, and on practically
the same level, a three-li gully dividing us. They were very small men,
under very big hats, bustling along like busy Lilliputians, and my loads
looked like match-boxes. I probably looked to them not less grotesque.
But we had to watch our footsteps, and not each other.

We were rounding a corner, when I was surprised to see Hwan-lien-p'u a
couple of li away. The _fu-song_ were making considerable hue and cry
because Rusty had rolled thirty feet down the incline, and as I looked I
saw the animal get up and commence neighing because he had lost sight of
us. He was in the habit of wandering on, nibbling a little here and a
little there, and rarely gave trouble unless in chasing an occasional
horse caravan, when he gave my men some fun in getting him again into
line.

It was not yet midday, and we had four hours' good going. So I
calculated. Not so my men. They could not be prevailed upon to budge,
and knowing the Chinese just a little, I reluctantly kept quiet. It was
entirely unreasonable to expect them to go on to Ch'u-tung, ninety li
away--it was impossible. And I learnt that the reason they would not go
on was that no house this side of that place was good enough to put a
horse into, even a Chinese horse, and they would not dream of taking me
on under those conditions. There was not even a hut available for the
traveler, so they said. I had come over difficult country, plodding
upwards on tiptoe and then downwards with a lazy swing from stone to
stone for miles. Throughout the day we had been going through fine
mountain forest, everywhere peaceful and beautiful, but it had been hard
going. In the morning a heavy frost lay thick and white about us, and by
10:30 a.m. the sun was playing down upon us with a merciless heat as we
tramped over that little red line through the green of the hill-sides.
Often in this march was I tempted to stay and sit down on the sward,
but I had proved this to be fatal to walking. In traveling in Yuen-nan
one's practice should be: start early, have as few stops as possible,
when a stop _is_ made let it be long enough for a real rest. In
Szech'wan, where the tea houses are much more frequent, men will pull up
every ten li, and generally make ten minutes of it. In Yuen-nan these
welcome refreshment houses are not met with so often, and little
inducement is held out for the coolies to stop, but upon the slightest
provocation they will stop for a smoke. On this walking trip I made it a
rule to be off by seven o'clock, stop twice for a quarter of an hour up
to tiffin (my men stopped oftener), when our rest was often for an hour,
so that we were all refreshed and ready to push on for the fag-end of
the stage. We generally were done by four or five o'clock. And I should
be the last in the world to deny that by this time I had had enough for
one day.

Upon arrival I immediately washed my feet, an excellent practice of the
Chinese, changed my footgear, drank many cups of tea, and often went
straight to my p'ukai. The roads of China take it out of the strongest
man. There are no Marathon runners here; progress is a tedious toil,
often on all fours.

My room at Hwan-lien-p'u was near a telegraph pole; there was a
telegraph station there, where my men showed their admiration for the
Governmental organization by at once hammering nails into the pole. It
was close to their laundry, and served admirably for the clothes-line, a
bamboo tied at one end with a string to a nail in the pole and the other
end stuck through the paper in the window of the telegraph operator's
apartment. But this is nothing. Years ago, when the telegraph was first
laid down, the people took turns to displace the wires and sell them for
their trouble, and to chop the poles up for firewood. It continued for a
considerable period, until an offender--or one whom it was surmised had
done this or would have done it if he could--had his ears cut off, and
was led over the main road to the capital, to be admired by any
compatriot contemplating a deal in wiring or timber used for telegraphic
communication purposes.

Just below the town the river ran peacefully down a gradual incline. I
decided that a comfortable seat under a tree, spending an hour in
preparing this copy, would be more pleasant than moping about a noisome
and stench-ridden inn, providing precious little in the way of
entertainment for the foreigner. Next door a wedding party was making
the afternoon hideous with their gongs and drums and crackers, and
everywhere the usual hue and cry went abroad because a European was
spending the day there.

I imparted to my man my intentions for the afternoon. Immediately
preparations were set on foot to get me down by the river, and it was
publicly announced to the townspeople. The news ran throughout the town,
that is Hwan-lien-p'u's one little narrow street, a sad mixture of a
military trench and a West of England cobbled court. And instead of
going alone to my shady nook by that silvery stream, 1 was accompanied
by nine adult members of the unemployed band, three boys, and sundry
stark-naked urchins who seemed to be without home or habitation. One of
these specimens of fleeting friendship was one-eyed, and a diseased hip
rendered it difficult for him to keep pace with us; one was club-footed,
one hair-lipped fellow had only half a nose, and they were nearly all
goitrous. As I write now these people, curious but not uncouth, are
crouched around me on their haunches, after the fashion of the ape,
their more Darwinian-evolved companion and his shorthand notes being
admired by an open-mouthed crowd. Down below my horse is entertaining
the more hilarious of the party in his tantrums with the man who is
trying to wash him--

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote AX: The day before, whilst we were passing along the edge of a
cliff, we saw a deliberate suicide on the part of a pony. Getting away
from its companions, it first jumped against a tree, then turned its
head sharply on the side of a cliff, finally taking a leap into mid-air
over the precipice. It touched ground at about two hundred and fifty
feet below this point, and then rolled out of sight. My men exhibited no
concern, and laughed me down because I did. It was, as they said, merely
diseased, and the muleteers went on their way, leaving horse and loads
to Providence. This sort of thing is not uncommon.--E.J.D.]




CHAPTER XXI.

_The mountains of Yuen-nan_. _Wonderful scenery_. _Among the
Mohammedans_. _Sorry scene at Ch'u-tung_. _A hero of a horrid past_.
_Infinite depth of Chinese character_. _Mule falls one hundred and fifty
yards, and escapes unhurt_. _Advice to future travelers_. _To Shayung_.
_We meet Tibetans on the mountains_. _Chinese cruelty_. _Opium smoker as
a companion_. _Opium refugees_. _One opinion only on the subject_.
_Mission work among smokers and eaters._


Mere words are a feeble means to employ to describe the mountains of
Yuen-nan.

As I start from Hwan-lien-p'u this morning, to the left high hills are
picturesquely darkened in the soft and unruffled solemnity of their own
still unbroken shade. Opposite, rising in pretty wavy undulation, with
occasional abruptions of jagged rock and sunken hollow, the steep
hill-sides are brought out in the brightest coloring of delicate light
and shade by the golden orb of early morn; towering majestically
sunwards, sheer up in front of me, high above all else, still more
sombre heights stand out powerfully in solemn contrast against the pale
blue of the spring sky, the effect in the distance being antithetical
and weird, with the magnificent Ts'ang Shan[AY] standing up as a
beautiful background of perpendicular white, from whence range upon
range of dark lines loom out in the hazy atmosphere. From the extreme
summit of one snow-laden peak, whose white steeple seems truly a
heavenward-directed finger, I gaze abstractedly all around upon nothing
but dark masses of gently-waving hills, steep, weary ascents and
descents, green and gold, and yellow and brown, and one's eyes rest upon
a maze of thin white lines intertwining them all. These are the main
roads. I am alone. My men are far behind. I am awed with an unnatural
sense of bewildered wonderment in the midst of all this glory of the
earth.

Everything is so vast, so grand, so overpowering. Murmurings of the
birds alone break the sense of sadness and loneliness. Away yonder
full-grown pine trees, if discernible at all, are dwarfed so as to
appear like long coarse grass. For some thirty li the road runs through
beautiful woods, high above the valleys and the noise of the river; and
now we are running down swiftly to a point where two ranges meet, only
to toil on again, slowly and wearily, up an awful gradient for two hours
or more. But the labor and all its fatiguing arduousness are nothing
when one gets to the top, for one beholds here one of the most
magnificent mountain panoramas in all West China. Far away, just peeping
prettily from the silvered edges of the bursting clouds, are the giant
peaks which separate Tali-fu from Yang-pi--white giants with rugged,
cruel edges pointing upwards, piercing the clouds asunder as a ship's
bow pierces the billows of the deep; and then, gradually coming from out
the mist, are no less than eight distinct ranges of mountains from
14,000 feet to 16,000 feet high, besides innumerable minor heights,
which we have traversed with much labor during the past four days, all
rich with coloring and natural grandeur seen but seldom in all the
world. Switzerland could offer nothing finer, nothing more sweeping,
nothing more beautiful, nothing more awe-inspiring. With the glorious
grandeur of these wondrous hills, rising and falling playfully around
the main ranges, the marvellous tree growth, the delicate contrasts of
the formidable peaks and the dainty, cultivated valleys, and the face of
Nature everywhere absolutely unmarred, Switzerland could in no way
compare.

Is it then surprising that I look upon these stupendous masses with
wonder, which seem to breathe only eternity and immensity?

The air is pure as the breath of heaven, all is still and peaceful, and
the fact that in the very nature of things one cannot rush through this
pervading beauty of the earth, but has to plod onwards step by step
along a toilsome roadway, enables the scenery to be so impressed upon
one's mind as to be focussed for life in one's memory. One is held
spellbound; these are the pictures never forgotten. Here I sit in a
corner of the earth as old as the world itself. These mountains are as
they were in the great beginning, when the Creator and Sustainer of all
things pure and beautiful looked upon His handiwork and saw that it was
good.

The country here seems so vast as to render Nature unconquerable by man:
man is insignificant, Nature is triumphant. Railways are defied; and
these mountains, running mostly at right angles, will probably
never--not in our time, at least--be made unsightly by the puffing and
the reeking of the modern railway engine. They present so many natural
obstacles to the opening-up of the country, according to the standard we
Westerners lay down, that one would hesitate to prophesy any mode of
traffic here other than that of the horse caravan and human beast of
burden. Nature seems to look down upon man and his earth-scouring
contrivances, and assert, "Man, begone! I will have none of thee." And
the mountains turn upwards to the sky in_ silent reverence to their
Maker, whose work must in the main remain unchanged until eternity.

It is now 12:30, and we have fifty li to cover before reaching
Ch'u-tung. We sit here to feed at a place called Siao-shui-tsing, a
sorry antediluvian make-shift of a building, where in subsequent travel
I was hung up in bitter weather and had to pass the night. The people,
courteous and civil as always, show a simple trustfulness with which is
associated some little suspicion. I gave a cake to a little child, but
its mother would not allow it to be eaten until she was again and again
assured and reassured that it was quite fit to eat. This home life of
the very poor Chinese, if indeed it may be called home life, has a
listlessness about it in marked contrast to that of the West. There is
little housework, no furniture more than a table and chair or two, and
the simplicity of the cooking arrangements does not tend to increase the
work of the housewife.

People here to-day are going about their work with a restful
deliberation very trying to one in a hurry. The women, with infants tied
to their backs, do not work hard but very long. A mud-house is being
built near by, and between the cooking and attending to passing
travelers, two women are digging the earth and filling up the baskets,
while the men are mixing the mud, filling in the oblong wooden trough,
and thus building the wall. At my elbow a man--old and grizzled and
dirty--is turning back roll upon roll of his wadded garments, and
ridding it of as many as he can find of the insects with which it is
infested. A slobbering, boss-eyed cretin chops wood at my side, and when
I rise to try a snap on the women and the children they hide behind the
walls. Thus my time passes away, as I wait for the coolies who sit on a
log in the open road feeding on common basins of dry rice.

After that we had to cross the face of a steep hill. We could, however,
find no road, no pathway even, but could merely see the scratchings of
coolies and ponies already crossed. It was an achievement not unrisky,
but we managed to reach the other side without mishap. My horse, owing
to the stupidity of the man who hung on to his mouth to steady himself,
put his foot in a hole and dragged the fool of a fellow some twenty
yards downwards in the mud. My coolies, themselves in a spot most
dangerous to their own necks, stuck the outside leg deep in the mud to
rest themselves, and set to assiduously in blackguarding the man in
their richest vein, then, extricating themselves, again continued their
journey, satisfied that they had shown the proper front, and saved the
face of the foreigner who could not save it for himself. Then we all
went down through a narrow ravine into a lovely shady glade, all green
and refreshing, with a brook gurgling sweetly at the foot and birds
singing in the foliage. There was something very quaint in this cosy
corner, with the hideous echoes and weird re-echoes of my men's
squealing. Then we went on again from hill to hill, in a ten-inch
footway, broken and washed away, so that in places it was necessary to
hang on to the evergrowing grass to keep one's footing in the slopes.
One needs to have no nerves in China.

Down in the valley were a number of muleteers from Burma, cooking their
rice in copper pans, whilst their ponies, most of them in horrid
condition, and backs rubbed in some places to the extent of twelve
inches square, grazed on the hill-sides. In most places the foot of this
ravine would have been a river; here it was like a park, with pretty
green sward intersected by a narrow path leading down into a lane so
thick with virgin growth as to exclude the sunlight. As we entered a man
came out with his p'ukai and himself on the back of a ten-hand pony; the
animal shied, and his manservant got behind and laid on mighty blows
with the butt-end of a gun he was carrying. The pony ceased shying.

To Ch'u-tung was a tedious journey, rising and falling across the wooded
hills, and when we arrived at some cottages by the riverside, the
_fu-song_ had a rough time of it from my men for having brought us by a
long road instead of by the "new" road (so called, although I do not
doubt that it has been in use for many generations). Some Szech'wan
coolies and myself had rice together on a low form away from the smoke,
and the while listened to some tales of old, told by some half-witted,
goitrous monster who seemed sadly out at elbow. The soldier meantime
smelt round for a smoke. As he and my men had decided a few moments ago
that each party was of a very low order of humanity, their pipes for him
were not available. So he took pipe and dried leaf tobacco from this
half-witted skunk, who, having wiped the stem in his eight-inch-long
pants, handed it over in a manner befitting a monarch. It measured some
sixty or seventy inches from stem to bowl.

From Hwan-lien-p'u to Ch'u-tung is reckoned as eighty li; it is quite
one hundred and ten, and the last part of the journey, over barren,
wind-swept hills, most fatiguing.

In contrast to the beauty of the morning's scenery, the country was
black and bare, and a gale blew in our faces. My spirits were raised,
however, by a coolie who joined us and who had a remarkable knowledge of
the whole of the West of China, from Chung-king to Singai, from Mengtsz
to Tachien-lu. Plied with questions, he willingly gave his answers, but
he would persist in leading the way. As soon as a man endeavored to pass
him, he would trot off at a wonderful speed, making no ado of the 120
pounds of China pots on his back, yelling his explanations all the time
to the man behind. Yung-p'ing-hsien lay over to the right, fifteen li
from Ch'u-tung, which is protected from the elements by a bell-shaped
hill at the foot of a mountain lit up with gold from the sinking sun,
which dipped as I trudged along the uneven zigzag road leading across
the plain of peas and beans and winter crops. Four eight-inch planks,
placed at various dangerous angles on three wood trestles, form the
bridge across the fifty-foot stream dividing Ch'u-tung from the world on
the opposite side. Across this I saw men wander with their loads, and
then I led Rusty in. Whilst the stream washed his legs, I sat dangling
mine until called upon to make way for another party of travelers.
Remarkable is the agility of these men. They swing along over eight
inches of wood as if they were in the middle of a well-paved road.

Ch'u-tung is a Mohammedan town. There are a few Chinese only--Buddhists,
Taoists and other ragtags; although when the follower of the Prophet has
his pigtail attached to the inside of his hat, as it not unusual when he
goes out fully dressed, there is little difference between him and the
Chinese.

Pigs here are conspicuously absent. People feed on poultry and beef. I
rested in this city some month or so after my first overland trip whilst
my man went to convert silver into cash, a trying ordeal always. Whilst
I sipped my tea and ate a couple of rice cakes, I was impressed, as I
seldom have been in my wanderings, with the remarkable number of people,
from the six hundred odd houses the town possesses, who during that
half-hour found nothing whatever to do to benefit themselves or the
community, as members of which they passed monotonous lives, but to
stare aimlessly at the resting foreigner. The report spread like
wildfire, and they ran to the scene with haste, pulling on their coats,
wiping food from their mouths, scratching their heads _en route_, one
trouser-leg up and the other down, all anxious to get a seat near the
stage. A river flows down the center of the street, and into this a
sleepy fellow got tipped bodily in the crush, sat down in the water,
seemingly in no hurry to move until he had finished his vigorous
bullying of the man who pushed him in. Those who could not get standing
room near my table went out into the street and shaded the sun from
their eyes, in order that they might catch even a glimpse of the
traveler who sat on in uncompromising indifference.

Several old wags were there who had witnessed the Rebellion--at the
moment, had I not become callous, another might have seemed
imminent--and were looked up to by the crowd as heroes of a horrid past,
being listened to with rapt attention as they described what it was the
crowd looked at and whence it came. Had I been a wild animal let loose
from its cage, mingled curiosity and a peculiar foreboding among the
people of something terrible about to happen could not have been more
intense.

But I had by this time got used to their crowding, so that I could
write, sleep, eat, drink, and be merry, and go through personal and
private routine with no embarrassment. If I turned for the purpose, I
could easily stare out of face a member of the crowd whose inquisitive
propensities had become annoying, but as soon as he left another filled
the gap. Quite pitiful was it to see how trivial articles of foreign
manufacture--such, for instance, as the cover of an ordinary tin or the
fabric of one's clothing--brought a regular deluge of childish interest
and inane questioning; and if I happened to make a few shorthand notes
upon anything making a particular impression, a look half surprised,
half amused, went from one to another like an electric current. Had I
been scheming out celestial hieroglyphics their mouths could not have
opened wider. As I write now I am asked by a respectable person how many
ounces of silver a Johann Faber's B.B. costs. I have told him, and he
has retired smiling, evidently thinking that I am romancing.

That I impress the crowd everywhere is evident. But with all their
questioning, they are rarely rude; their stare is simply the stare of
little children seeing a thing for the first time in their lives. It is
all so hard to understand. My silver and my gold they solicit not; they
merely desire to see me and to feel me. A certain faction of the crowd,
however, do solicit my silver.

Lao Chang has been buying vegetables, and has brought all the vegetable
gardeners and greengrocers around me. The poultry rearers are here too,
and the forage dealers and the grass cutters and the basket makers, and
other thrifty members of the commercial order of Ch'u-tung humankind.
When I came away the people dropped into line and strained their necks
to get a parting smile. I was sped on my way with a public curiosity as
if I were a penal servitor released from prison, a general home from a
war, or something of that kind. And so this wonderful wonder of wonders
was glad when he emerged from the labyrinthic, brain-confusing
bewilderment of Chinese interior life of this town into somewhat clearer
regions. I could not understand. And to the wisest man, wide as may be
his vision, the Chinese mind and character remain of a depth as infinite
as is its possibility of expansion. The volume of Chinese nature is one
of which as yet but the alphabet is known to us.

My own men had got quite used to me, and their minds were directed more
to working than to wondering. In China, as in other Asiatic countries,
one's companions soon accustom themselves to one's little peculiarities
of character, and what was miraculous to the crowd had by simple
repetition ceased to be miraculous to them.

As I put away my notebook after writing the last sentence, I saw a mule
slip, fall, roll for one hundred and fifty yards, losing its load on the
down journey, and then walk up to the stream for a drink.[AZ]

We started for Shayung on February 2nd, 1910, going over a road
literally uncared for, full of loose-jointed stones and sinking sand,
down which ponies scrambled, while the Tibetans in charge covered
themselves close in the uncured skins they wore. This was the first time
I had ever seen Tibetans. They had huge ear-rings in their ears, and
their antiquated topboots--much better, however, than the Yuen-nan
topboot--gave them a peculiar appearance as they tramped downward in the
frost.

Going up with us was a Chinese, on the back of a pony not more than
eleven hands high, sitting as usual with his paraphernalia lashed to the
back of the animal. He laughed at me because I was not riding, whilst I
tried to solve the problem of that indefinable trait of Chinese nature
which leads able-bodied men with sound feet to sit on these little
brutes up those terrible mountain sides. Some parts of this spur were
much steeper than the roof of a house--as perpendicular as can be
imagined--but still this man held on all the way. And the Chinese do it
continuously, whether the pony is lame or not, at least the majority.
But the cruelty of the Chinese is probably not regarded as cruelty,
certainly not in the sense of cruelty in the West. Being Chinese, with
customs and laws of life such as they are, their instinct of cruelty is
excusable to some degree. Not only is it with animals, however, but
among themselves the Chinese have no mercy, no sympathy. In Christian
England within the last century men where hanged for petty theft; but in
Yuen-nan--I do not know whether it is still current in other
provinces--men have been known to be burnt to death for stealing maize.
A case was reported from Ch'u-tsing-fu quite recently, but it is a
custom which used to be quite common. A document is signed by the man's
relatives, a stick is brought by every villager, the man lashed to a
stake, and his own people are compelled to light the fire. It seems
incredible, but this horrible practice has not been entirely extirpated
by the authorities, although since the Yuen-nan Rebellion it has not been
by any means so frequent. I have no space nor inclination to deal with
the ghastly tortures inflicted upon prisoners in the name of that great
equivalent to justice, but the more one knows of them the more can he
appreciate the common adage urging _dead men to keep out of hell and the
living out of the yamens_!

Hua-chow is thirty li from here at the head of an abominable hill, and
here women, overlooking one of the worst paved roads in the Empire, were
beating out corn. Then we climbed for another twenty-five li, rising
from 5,900 feet to 8,200 feet, till we came to a little place called
Tien-chieng-p'u. It took us three hours. Looking backwards,towards
Tali-fu, I saw my 14,000 feet friends, and as we went down the other
side over a splendid stone road we could see, far down below, a valley
which seemed a veritable oasis, smiling and sweet. A temple here
contained a battered image of the Goddess of Mercy, who controls the
births of children. A poor woman was depositing a few cash in front of
the besmeared idol, imploring that she might be delivered of a son. How
pitiable it is to see these poor creatures doing this sort of thing all
over the West of China!

For two days we had been accompanied by a man who was an opium smoker
and eater. Now I am not going to draw a horrible description of a
shrivelled, wasted bogey in man's form, with creaking bones and
shivering limbs and all the rest of it; but I must say that this man,
towards the time when his craving came upon him, was a wreck in every
worst sense--he crept away to the wayside and smoked, and arrived always
late at night at the end of the stage. This was the effect of the drug
which has been described "as harmless as milk." I do not exaggerate. In
the course of Eastern journalistic experience I have written much in
defence of opium, have paralleled it to the alcohol of my own country.
This was in the Straits Settlements, where the deadly effects of opium
are less prominent. But no language of mine can exaggerate the evil, and
if I would be honest, I cannot describe it as anything but China's most
awful curse. It cannot be compared to alcohol, because its grip is more
speedy and more deadly. It is more deadly than arsenic, because by
arsenic the suicide dies at once, while the opium victim suffers untold
agonies and horrors and dies by inches. It is all very well for the men
who know nothing about the effect of opium to do all the talking about
the harmlessness of this pernicious drug; but they should come through
this once fair land of Yuen-nan and see everywhere--not in isolated
districts, but everywhere--the ravaging effects in the poverty and
dwarfed constitutions of the people before they advocate the continuance
of the opium trade. I have seen men transformed to beasts through its
use; I have seen more suicides from the effect of opium since I have
been in China than from any other cause in the course of my life. As I
write I have around me painfullest evidence of the crudest ravishings of
opium among a people who have fallen victims to the craving. There is
only one opinion to be formed if to himself one would be true. I give
the following quotation from a work from the pen of one of the most
fair-minded diplomatists who have ever held office in China:--

"The writer has seen an able-bodied and apparently rugged laboring
Chinese tumble all in a heap upon the ground, utterly nerveless and
unable to stand, because the time for his dose of opium had come, and
until the craving was supplied he was no longer a man, but the merest
heap of bones and flesh. In the majority of cases death is the sure
result of any determined reform. The poison has rotted the whole system,
and no power to resist the simplest disease remains. In many years'
residence in China the writer knew of but four men who finally abandoned
the habit. (Where opium refuges have been conducted by missionaries,
reports more favorable have been given concerning those who have become
Christians.) Three of them lived but a few months thereafter; the fourth
survived his reformation, but was a life-long invalid."[BA]

Much good work is now being done by the missionaries, and the number of
those who have given up the habit has probably increased since Mr.
Holcombe wrote the above. In point of fact, helping opium victims is one
of the most important branches of mission work.
_China's Past and Future_ (p. 165) by Chester Holcombe.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote AY: The range of mountains which I had skirted since leaving
Tali-fu.--E.J.D.]

[Footnote AZ: On my return journey into Yuen-nan, I again called at
Ch'u-tung, traveling not by the main road, but by a steep path
intertwisting through almost impossible places, and requiring four times
the amount of physical exertion. I was led over what was called a new
road. It was quite impossible to horses carrying loads, and only by
tremendous effort could I climb up. How my coolies managed it remains a
mystery. And then, as is almost inevitable with these "new" roads and
the "short" cuts, they invariably lose their way. Mine did. Hopeless was
our obscurity, unspeakable our confusion. Men kept vanishing and
re-appearing among the rocks, and it was very difficult to fix our
position geographically. Up and up we went, in and out, twisting and
turning in an endless climb. A gale blew, but at times we pulled
ourselves up by the dried grass in semi-tropical heat. After several
hours, standing on the very summit of this bleak and lofty mountain, I
could just discern Ch'u-tung and Yung-p'ing-hsien far away down in the
mists. There lay the "ta lu" also, like a piece of white ribbon
stretched across black velvet--the white road on the burnt hill-sides.
We were opposite the highest peaks in the mountains beyond the plain,
far towards Tengyueh--they are 12,000 feet, we were at least 10,500
feet, and as Ch'u-tung is only 5,500 feet, our hours of toil may be
imagined. When we reached the top we found nothing to eat, nothing to
drink (not even a mountain stream at which we could moisten our parched
lips), simply two memorial stones on the graves of two dead men, who had
merited such an outrageous resting-place. I donned a sweater and lay
flat on the ground, exhausted. It must have been a stiff job to bring up
both stones and men.

I strongly advise future travelers to keep to the main road in this
district.--E.J.D.]

[Footnote BA:]




FOURTH JOURNEY

THE MEKONG VALLEY TO TENGYUEH




CHAPTER XXII.

_The Valley of the Shadow of Death_. _Stages to Tengyueh_. _The River
Mekong, Bridge described_. _An awful ascent_. _On-the-spot conclusions_.
_Roads needed more than railways_. _At Shui-chai_. _A noisy domestic
scene at the place where I fed_. _Disregard of the value of female
life_. _Remarkable hospitality of the gentry of the city_. _Hard going_.
_Lodging at a private house on the mountains_. _Waif of the world
entertains the stranger_. _From Ban-chiao to Yung-ch'ang_. _Buffaloes
and journalistic ignorance_. _Excited scene at Pu-piao_. _Chinese
barbers_. _A refractory coolie_. _Military interest._


The journey which I was about to undertake was the most memorable of my
travels in China, with the exception of those in the unexplored Miao
Lands; for I was to pass through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, the
dreaded Salwen Valley. I had made up my mind that I would stay here for
a night to see the effects of the climate, but postponed my sojourn
intead to a later period, when I stayed two days, and went up the
low-lying country towards the source of the river; I am, so far as I
know, the only European who has ever traveled here. Not that my
journeyings will convey any great benefit upon anyone but myself, as I
had no instruments for surveying or taking accurate levels, and might
not have been able to use them had I had them with me. However, I came
in contact with Li-su, and saw in my two marches a good deal of new
life, which only acts as an incentive to see more. My plan on the
present occasion was to travel onwards by the following stages:--

                                           Length    Height
                                          of Stage  Above Sea

    1st day--Tali-shao                     65 li.   7,200 ft.
    2nd day--Yung-ch'ang-fu                75 li.   5,500 ft.
    5th day--Fang-ma-ch'ang                90 li.   7,300 ft.
    6th day--Ta-hao-ti                    120 li.   8,200 ft.
    7th day--Tengyueh (Momien)             85 li.   5,370 ft.

On Friday, February 26th, 1909, I steamed up the muddy mouth of the
Mekong to Saigon in Indo-China in a French mail steamer. To-day,
February 3rd, 1910, I cross the same river many hundreds of miles from
where it empties into the China Sea. I cross by a magnificent suspension
bridge.

A cruel road, almost vertical and negotiated by a twining zigzag path,
has brought me down, after infinite labor, from the mountains over 4,000
feet below my highest point reached yesterday, and I now stand in the
middle of the bridge gazing at the silent green stream flowing between
cliffs of wall-like steepness. I am resting, for I have to climb again
immediately to over 8,000 feet. This bridge has a wooden base swinging
on iron chains, and is connected with the cliffs by bulwarks of solid
masonry. It is hard to believe that I am 4,000 feet above the mouth of
the river. To my left, as I look down the torrent, there are tea-shops
and a temple alongside a most decorative buttress on which the carving
is elaborate. At the far end, just before entering the miniature tunnel
branching out to a paved roadway leading upwards, my coolies are sitting
in truly Asiatic style admiring huge Chinese characters hacked into the
side of the natural rock, descriptive of the whole business, and under a
sheltering roof are also two age-worn memorial tablets in gilt. My men's
patriotic thermometer has risen almost to bursting-point, and in
admiring the work of the ancients they feel that they have a legitimate
excuse for a long delay.

At a temple called P'ing-p'o-t'ang we drank tea, and prepared ourselves
for the worst climb experienced in our long overland tramp.

The Mekong is at this point just 4,000 feet above sea level, as has been
said; the point in front of us, running up perpendicularly to a narrow
pass in the mountains, leads on to Shui-chai (6,700 feet), and on again
to Tali-shao, itself 7,800 feet high, the mountains on which it occupies
a ledge being much higher. For slipperiness and general hazards this
road baffles description. It leads up step by step, but not regular
steps, not even as regularity goes in China.

"There are two small arched bridges in the journey. On the first I sit
down and gaze far away down to the shining river below, and must ascend
again in the wake of my panting men.... Where the road is not natural
rock, it is composed of huge fragments of stone in the rough state,
smooth as the face of a mirror, haphazardly placed at such dangerous
spots as to show that no idea of building was employed when the road was
made. Sometimes one steps twenty inches from one stone to another, and
were it not that the pathway is winding, although the turning and
twisting makes unending toil, progress in the ascent would be
impossible.... Mules are passing me--puffing, panting, perspiring. Poor
brutes! One has fallen, and in rolling has dragged another with him, and
there the twain lie motionless on those horrid stones while the
exhausted muleteers raise their loads to allow them slowly to regain
their feet. There are some hundreds of them now on the hill."

This description was made in shorthand notes in my notebook as I
ascended. And I find again:--

"I have seen one or two places in Szech'wan like this, but the danger is
incomparably less and the road infinitely superior. We pull and pant
and puff up, up, up, around each bend, and my men can scarce go forward.
Huge pieces of rock have fallen from the cliff, and well-nigh block the
way, and just ahead a landslip has carried off part of our course. The
road is indescribably difficult because it is so slippery and one can
get no foothold. My pony, carrying nothing but the little flesh which
bad food has enabled him to keep, has been down on his knees four times,
and once he rolled so much that I thought that he must surely go over
the ravine.... Rocks overhang me as I pass. If one should drop!... But
one does not mind the toil when he looks upon his men. In the midst of
their intense labor my men's squeals of songs echo through the mountains
as the perspiration runs down their uncovered backs; they chaff each
other and utmost good feeling prevails. Poor Shanks is nearly done, but
still laughs loudly.... A natural pathway more difficult of progress I
cannot conceive anywhere in the world; and yet this is a so-called paved
road, the road over which all the trade of the western part of this
great province, all the imports from Burma, are regularly carried.
Should the road ever be discarded, that is if the railway ever comes
over this route, only a long tunnel through the mountain would serve its
purpose.... We have just sat down and fraternized with the man carrying
the mails to Tali-fu, and now we are working steadily for the top,
around corners where the breeze comes with delicious freshness. Here we
are on a road now leading through a widening gorge to Shui-chai, and as
I cross the narrow pass I see the river down below looking like a snake
waiting for its prey."

Roads are needed far more than railways.

Being hungry, we sat down at Shui-chai to feed on rice at a place where
a man minded the baby while the woman attended to the food. Over my head
hung sausages--my men swore that they were sausages, although for my
life I could see no resemblance to that article of food--things of 1 1/2
inches in circumference and from 12 to 60 inches long, doubled up and
hung up for sale over a bamboo to dry and harden in the sun. Hams there
were, and dried bacon, and dirty brown biscuits, and uninviting pickled
cabbage. By the side of the table where I sat was a wooden pun of
unwashed rice bowls, against which lay the filthy domestic dog.

Outside, the narrow street was lined to the farthest point of vantage by
kindly people, curious to see their own feeding implements in the
incapable hands of the barbarian from the Western lands, and the
conversation waxed loud and excited in general hazards regarding my
presence in their city.

Stenches were rife; they nearly choked one.

A little boy yelled out to his mother in complaint of the food he had
been given by a feminine twelve-year-old, his sister. The mother
immediately became furious beyond all control. She snatched a bamboo to
belabor the girl, and in chasing her knocked over the pun of pots
aforesaid. The place became a Bedlam. Men rose from their seats, and
with their mouths full of rice expostulated in vainest mediation, waving
their chopsticks in the air, and whilst the mother turned upon them in
grossest abuse the daughter cleared out at the back of the premises. I
left the irate parent brandishing the bamboo; her voice was heard beyond
the town.

But I was not allowed to leave the town. All the intellect of the place
had assembled in one of the shops, into which I was gently drawn by the
coat sleeve by a good-natured, well-dressed humpback, and all of the men
assembled began an examination as to who the dignitary was, his
honorable age, the number of the wives, sons and daughters he possessed,
with inevitable questioning into the concerns of his patriarchal
forbears. Accordingly I once again searched the archives of my elastic
memory, and there found all information readily accessible, so that in
a few moments, by the aid of Bailer's _Primer_, I had explained that I
was a stranger within their gates, wafted thither by circumstances
extraordinarily auspicious, and had satisfied them concerning my
parentage, birthplace, prospects and pursuits, with introspective
anecdotal references to various deceased members of my family tree. I
did not tell them the truth--that I was a pilgrim from a far country,
footsore and travel-soiled, that I had been well-nigh poisoned by their
bad cooking and blistered with their bug-bites!

I rose to go. Like automotons, everyone in the company rose with me. The
humpback again caught me, this time by both hands, and warmly pressed me
to stay and "uan" ("play") a little. "Great Brother," he ejaculated,
"why journeyest thou wearisomely towards Yung-ch'ang? Tarry here." And
he had pushed me back again into my chair, he had re-filled my teacup,
and invited me to tell more tales of antiquarian relationship. And
finally I was allowed to go. Greater hospitality could not have been
shown me anywhere in the world.

The day had been hard going. We pursued our way unheedingly, as men
knowing not whither we went; and at 4:00 p.m., fearing that we should
not be able to make Ban-chiao, where we intended stopping, I decided to
go no farther than Tali-shao. The evening was one of the happiest I
spent in my journeys, although personal comfort was entirely lacking.
The place is made up of just a few hovels; people were hostile, and
turned a deaf ear to my men's entreaties for shelter. For very
helplessness I laughed aloud. I screamed with laughter, and the folk
gathered to see me almost in hysterics. They soon began to smile, then
to laugh, and seeing the effect, I laughed still louder, and soon had
the whole village with tears of laughter making furrows down their
unwashed faces, laughing as a pack of hyenas. At last a kind old woman
gave way to my boy's persuasions, beckoning us to follow her into a
house. Here we found a young girl of about nine summers in charge. It
was all rare fun. There was nothing to eat, and so the men went one here
and another there buying supplies for the night. Another cleared out
the room, and made it a little habitable. The bull-dog coolie cooked the
rice, Shanks boiled eggs and cut up the pork into small slices, another
fed the pony, and then we fed ourselves.

In the evening a wood fire was kindled in the corner near my bed, and we
all sat round on the mud floor--stools there were none--to tell yarns.
My confederates were out for a spree. We smoked and drank tea and
yarned. Suddenly a stick would be thrust over my shoulder to the fire:
it was merely a man's pipe going to the fire for a light. Chinese never
use matches; it is a waste when there are so many fires about. If on the
road a man wants to light his pipe, he walks into a home and gets it
from the fire. No one minds. No notice is taken of the intrusion.
Everybody is polite, and the man may not utter a word. At a wayside
food-shop a man may go behind to where the cooking is being conducted,
poke his pipe into the embers, and walk out pulling at it, all as
naturally as if that man were in his own house. An Englishman would have
a rough time of it if he had to go down on his hands and knees and pull
away at a pipe from a fire on the floor.

No father, no mother, no elder brother had the little girl in charge.
She was left without friends entirely, and a man must have been a hard
man indeed were he to steel his heart against such a helpless little
one. I called her to me, gave her a little present, and comforted her as
she cried for the very knowledge that an Englishman would do a kind act
to a little waif such as herself. She was in the act of giving back the
money to me, when Lao Chang, with pleasant aptitude, interposed,
explained that foreigners occasionally develop generous moods, and that
she had better stop crying and lock the money away. She did this, but
the poor little mite nearly broke her heart.

Ban-chiao, which we reached early the next morning, is a considerable
town, where most of the people earn their livelihood at dyeing. Those
who do not dye drink tea and pass rude remarks about itinerant magnates,
such as the author. I passed over the once fine, rough-planked bridge at
the end of the town.

In the evening we are at Yung-ch'ang. Here I saw for the first time in
my life a man carrying a _cangue,_ and a horrible, sickening feeling
seized me as I tramped through the densely-packed street and watched the
poor fellow. The mob were evidently clamoring for his death, and were
prepared to make sport of his torments. There is nothing more glorious
to a brutal populace than the physical agony of a helpless
fellow-creature, nothing which produces more mirth than the despair, the
pain, the writhing of a miserable, condemned wretch.

Great drops of sweat bathed his brow, and as one, looked on one felt
that he might pray that his hot and throbbing blood might rush in
merciful full force to a vital center of his brain, so that he might
fall into oblivion. The jeers and the mockery of a pitiless multitude
seemed too awful, no matter what the man's crime had been.

Yung-ch'ang (5,500 feet) is as well known as any city in Far Western
China. I stayed here for two days' rest, the only disturbing element
being a wretch of a mother-in-law who made unbearable the life of her
son's wife, a girl of about eighteen, who has probably by this time
taken opium, if she has been able to get hold of it, and so ended a
miserable existence.

On a return visit this mother-in-law, as soon as she caught sight of me,
ran to fetch an empty tooth-powder tin, a small black safety pin, and
two inches of lead pencil I had left behind me on the previous visit. I
have made more than one visit to Yung-ch'ang, and the people have always
treated me well.

Along the ten li of level plain from the city, on the road which led up
again to the mountains, I counted-no less than 409 bullocks laden with
nothing but firewood, and 744 mules and ponies carrying cotton yarn and
other general imports coming from Burma. There was a stampede at the
foot of the town, and quite against my own will, I assure the reader, I
got mixed up in the affair as I stood watching the light and shade
effects of the morning sun on the hill-sides. Buffaloes, with a crude
hoop collar of wood around their coarse necks, dragged rough-hewn planks
along the stone-paved roadway, the timber swerving dangerously from side
to side as the heavy animals pursued their painful plodding. To the
Chinese the buffalo is the safest of all quadrupeds, if we perhaps
except the mule, which, if three legs give way, will save himself on the
remaining one. But it is certainly the slowest. I am here reminded that
when I was starting on this trip a journalistic friend of mine, who had
spent some years in one of the coast ports, tried to dissuade me from
coming, and cited the buffalo as the most treacherous animal to be met
on the main road in China. He put it in this way:

"Well, old man, you have evidently made up your mind, but I would not
take it on at any price. The buffaloes are terrors. They smell you even
if they do not see you; they smell you miles off. It may end up by your
being chased, and you will probably be gored to death."

The buffalo is the most peaceful animal I know in China. Miniature
belfries were attached to the wooden frames on the backs of carrying
oxen, and were it not for the huge tenor bell and its gong-like sound
keeping the animal in motion, the slow pace would be slower still.

Turning suddenly and abruptly to the left, we commenced a cold journey
over the mountains, although the sun was shining brightly. A goitrous
man came to me and waxed eloquent about some uncontrollable pig which
was dragging him all over the roadway as he vainly tried to get it to
market. Some dozen small boys, with hatchets and scythes over their
shoulders for the cutting of firewood they were looking for, laughed at
me as I ploughed through the mud in my sandals. We had been going for
three hours, and when, cold and damp, we got inside a cottage for tea, I
found that we had covered only twenty li--so we were told by an old
fogey who brushed up the floor with a piece of bamboo. He was dressed in
what might have been termed undress, and was most vigorous in his
condemnation of foreigners.

Leng-shui-ch'ang we passed at thirty-five li out, and just beyond the
aneroid registered 7,000 feet; Yung-ch'ang Plain is 5,500 feet; Pu-piao
Plain-is 4,500 feet. The range of hills dividing the two plains was
bare, the clouds hung low, and the keen wind whistled in our faces and
nipped our ears. Ten li from Pu-piao, on a barren upland overlooking the
valley, a mere boy had established himself as tea provider for the
traveler. A foreign kerosene tin placed on three stones was the general
cistern for boiling water, which was dipped out and handed round in a
slip of bamboo shaped like a mug with a stick to hold it by. Farther on,
sugar-cane grew in a field to the left, and near by a man sat on his
haunches on the ground feeding a sugar-grinding machine propelled by a
buffalo, who patiently tramped round that small circle all day and every
day.

Turning from this, I beheld one of the worst sights I have ever seen in
China. Seven dogs were dragging a corpse from a coffin, barely covered
with earth, which formed one of the grave mounds which skirt the road.
No one was disturbed by the scene; it was not uncommon. But the
foreigner suffered an agonizing sickness, for which his companions would
have been at a loss to find any possible reason, and was relieved to
reach Pu-piao.

Market was at its height. It was warm down here in the valley. The
streets were packed with people, many of whom were pushed bodily into
the piles of common foreign and native merchandise on sale on either
side of the road. A clodhopper of a fellow, jostled by my escort, fell
into a stall and broke the huge umbrella which formed a shelter for the
vendor and his goods, and my boy was called upon to pay. Fifty cash
fixed the matter. I walked into a crowded inn and made majestically for
the extreme left-hand corner. Everybody wondered, and softly asked his
neighbor what in the sacred name of Confucius had come upon them.

"See his boots! Look at his old hat! What a face! It _is_ a monstrosity,
and--"

But as I sat down the general of the establishment cruelly forced back
the people, and screamingly yelled at the top of his voice that those
who wanted to drink tea in the room must pay double rates. His unusual
announcement was received with a low grunt of dissatisfaction, but no
one left. Every table in the square apartment was soon filled with six
or eight men, and the noise was terrific. Curiosity increased. The fun
was, as the comic papers say, fast and furious; and despite the
ill-favored pleasantries passed by my own men and the inquisitive
tea-shop keeper-as to peculiarities of heredity in certain noisy
members of the crowd, a riot seemed inevitable. I stationed my two
soldiers in the narrow doorway to defend the only entrance and entertain
the uninitiated with stories of their prowess with the rifle and of the
weapon's deadliness. Boys climbed like monkeys to the overhead beams to
get a glimpse of me as I fed, and incidentally shook dust into my food.

Everyone pushed to where there was standing room. Outside a rolling sea
of yellow faces surmounted a mass of lively blue cotton, all eager for a
look. The din was terrible. All very visibly annoyed were my men at the
rudeness of their low-bred fellow countrymen, and especially surprised
at the equanimity of Ding Daren in tolerating quietly their pointed and
personal remarks. I became more and more the hero of the hour.

Turning to the crowd as I came out, I smiled serenely, and with a quiet
wave of the hand pointed out in faultless English that the gulf between
my own country and theirs was already wide enough, and that Great
Britain might--did not say that she _would_, but might--widen it still
more if they persisted in treating her subjects in China as monstrous
specimens of the human race. This was rigorously corroborated by my two
soldier-men, to whom I appealed, and a parting word on the ordinary
politeness of Western nations to a greasy fellow (he was a worker in
brass), who felt my clothes with his dirty fingers, ended an interesting
break in the day's monotony. In the street the crowd again was at my
heels, and evinced more than comfortable curiosity in my straw sandals.
They cost me thirty cash, equal to about a halfpenny in our coinage.

Since then I have paid other visits to Pu-piao. On one occasion in
subsequent travel I had a public shave there. My arrival at the inn in
the nick of time enabled me to buttonhole the barber who was picking up
his traps to clear, and I had one of the best shaves I have ever had in
my life, in one of the most uncomfortable positions I ever remember. My
seat was a low, narrow form with no back or anything for my neck to rest
upon, and afterwards I went through the primitive and painful massage
process of being bumped all over the back. Between every four or five
whacks the barber snapped his fingers and clapped his hands, and right
glad was I when he had finished. The yard was full, even to the stable
and cook-house alongside each other, the anger of a grizzly old dame,
who smoked a reeking pipe and who had charge of the rice-and-cabbage
depot, being eclipsed only by my infuriated barber as he gave cruel vent
to his anger upon my aching back.

This reminds me of an uncomfortable shave I had some ten years ago in
Trinidad, where a black man sat me on the trunk of a tree whilst he got
behind and rested my head on one knee and got to work with an implement
which might have made a decent putty knife, but was never meant to cut
whiskers. However, in the case of the Chinese his knife was in fair
condition, but he grunted a good deal over my four-days' growth.

This little story should not convey the impression that I am an advocate
of the public shave in China, or anywhere else; but there are times when
one is glad of it. I have been shaved by Chinese in many places; and
whilst resident at Yuen-nan-fu with a broken arm a man came regularly to
me, his shave sometimes being delightful, and--sometimes not.

I had another rather amusing experience at Pu-piao about a month after
this. A supplementary coolie had been engaged for me at Tengyueh at a
somewhat bigger wage than my other men were getting, and this, known, of
course, to them, added to the fact that he was not carrying the heaviest
load, did not tend to produce unmarred brotherhood among them. The man
had been told that he would go on to Tali-fu with me on my return trip,
so that when I took the part of my men (who had come many hundreds of
miles with me, and who had engaged another man on the route to fill the
gap), in desiring to get rid of him, he certainly had some right on his
side. The day before we reached Yung-ch'ang he was told that at that
place he would not be required any longer; but he decided then and there
to go no farther, and refused point-blank to carry when we were ready
to start. I should have recompensed him fully, however, for his
disappointment had he not made some detestable reference to my mother,
in what Lao Chang assured me was not strictly parliamentary language. As
soon as I learnt this--I was standing near the fellow--he somehow fell
over, sprawling to the floor over my walnut folding chair, which snapped
at the arm. It was my doing. The man said no more, picked up his loads,
and was the first to arrive at Yung-ch'ang, so that a little force was
not ineffective.

Indiscriminate use of force I do not advocate, however; I believe in the
reverse, as a matter of fact. I rarely hit a man; but there have been
occasions when, a man having refused to do what he has engaged to do, or
in cases of downright insolence, a little push or a slight cut with my
stick has brought about a capital feeling and gained for me immediate
respect.

Fang-ma-ch'ang, off the main road, was our sleeping-place. Travelers
rarely take this road. Gill took it, I believe, but Baber, Davies and
other took the main road. This short road was more fatiguing than the
main road would have been.

We again turned a dwelling-house upside down. People did not at first
wish to take me in, so I pushed past the quarrelsome man in the doorway,
took possession, and set to work to get what I wanted. Soon the people
calmed down and gave all they could. My bed I spread near the door, and
to catch a glimpse of me as I lay resting, the inhabitants, in much the
same manner as people at home visit and revisit the cage of jungle-bred
tigers at a menagerie, assembled and reassembled with considerable
confusion. But I was beneath my curtains. So they came again, and when I
ate my food by candlelight many human and tangible products of the past
glared in at the doorway. After dark we all foregathered in the middle
of the room and round the camp fire, the conversation taking a pleasant
turn from ordinary things, such as the varying distances from place to
place, how many basins of rice each man could eat, and other Chinese
commonplaces, to things military. Everybody warmed to the subject. My
military bodyguard were the chief speakers, and cleverly brought round
the smoky fire, for the benefit of the thick-headed rustics who made up
the fascinated audience, a modern battlefield, and made their
description horrible enough.

One carefully brought out his gun, waving it overhead to add to the
tragedy, as he weaved a powerful story of shell splinters, blood-filled
trenches, common shot, men and horses out of which all life and virtue
had been blown by gunpowder. The picture was drawn around the Chinese
village, and in the dim glimmer each man's thought ran swiftly to his
own homestead and the green fields and the hedgerows and dwellings all
blown to atoms--left merely as a place of skulls. They spoke of great
and horrible implements of modern warfare, invented, to their minds, by
the devilry of the West. Each man chipped in with a little color, and
the company broke up in fear of dreaming of the things of which they had
heard, afraid to go to their straw to sleep.

As I lay in my draughty corner, my own mind turned to what the next day
would bring, for I was to go down to the Valley of the Shadow of
Death--the dreaded Salwen. I had read of it as a veritable death-trap.




CHAPTER XXIII.

_To Lu-chiang-pa_. _Drop from 8,000 feet to 2,000 feet_. _Shans meet for
the first time_. _Dangers of the Salwen Valley exaggerated_. _How
reports get into print_. _Start of the climb from 2,000 feet to over
8,000 feet_. _Scenery in the valley_. _Queer quintet of soldiers_.
_Semi-tropical temperature_. _My men fall to the ground exhausted_. _A
fatiguing day_. _Benighted in the forest_. _Spend the night in a hut_.
_Strong drink as it affects the Chinese_. _Embarrassing attentions of a
kindly couple_. _New Year festivities at Kan-lan-chai_. _The Shweli
River and watershed_. _Magnificent range of mountains_. _Arrival at
Tengyueh._


No Chinese, I knew, lived in the Valley; but I had yet to learn that so
soon as the country drops to say less than 4,000 feet the Chinese
consider it too unhealthy a spot for him to pass his days in. The reason
why Shans control the Valley is, therefore, not hard to find.

And owing to the probability that what European travelers have written
about the unhealthiness of this Salwen Valley has been based on
information obtained from Chinese, its bad name may be easily accounted
for. The next morning, as I descended, I saw much malarial mist rising;
but, after having on a subsequent visit spent two days and two nights at
the lowest point, I am in a position to say that conditions have been
very much exaggerated, and that places quite as unhealthy are to be
found between Lu-chiang-pa (the town at the foot, by the bridge) and the
low-lying Shan States leading on to Burma.

A good deal of the country to the north of the Yuen-nan province, towards
the Tibetan border, is so high-lying and so cold that the Yuen-nanese
Chinese is afraid to live there; and the fact that in the Shan States,
so low-lying and sultry, he is so readily liable to fever, prevents him
from living there. These places, through reports coming from the
Chinese, are, as a matter of course, dubbed as unhealthy. The average
inhabitant--that is, Chinese--strikes a medium between 4,000 feet and
10,000 feet to live in, and avoids going into lower country between
March and November if he can.

To pass the valley and go to Kan-lan-chi (4,800 feet), passing the
highest point at nearly 9,000 feet--140 li distant from
Fang-ma-ch'ang--was our ambition for the day.

Starting in the early morning, I had a pleasant walk over an even road
leading to a narrowing gorge, through which a heart-breaking road led to
the valley beyond. Two and a half hours it took me, in my foreign boots,
to cover the twenty li. I fell five times over the smooth stones. The
country was bare, desolate, lonely--four people only were met over the
entire distance. But in the dreaded Valley several trees were ablaze
with blossom, and oranges shone like small balls of gold in the rising
sun. Children playing in between the trees ran away and hid as they saw
me, although I was fifty yards from them--they did not know what it was,
and they had never seen one!

Farther down I caught up my men, Lao Chang and Shanks, and pleasant
speculations were entered into as to what Singai (Bhamo) was like. They
were particularly interested in Singapore because I had lived there, and
after I had given them a general description of the place, and explained
how the Chinese had gone ahead there, I pointed out as well as I could
with my limited vocabulary that if the people of Yuen-nan only had a
conscience, and would only get out of the rut of the ages, they, too,
might go ahead, explaining incidentally to them that as lights of the
church at Tong-ch'uan-fu, it was their sacred duty to raise the standard
of moral living among their countrymen wherever they might wander. Their
general acquiescence was astounding, and in the next town,
Lu-chiang-pa, these two men put their theory into practice and almost
caused a riot by offering 250 cash for a fowl for which the vendor
blandly asked 1,000. But they got the chicken--and at their own price,
too.

As I was thus gently in soliloquy, I first heard and then caught sight
of the river below--the unnavigable Salwen, 2,000 feet lower than either
the Mekong or the Shweli (which we were to cross two days later). It is
a pity the Salwen was not preserved as the boundary between Burma and
China.

Gradually, as we approached the steep stone steps leading down thereto,
I saw one of the cleverest pieces of native engineering in Asia--the
double suspension bridge which here spans the Salwen, the only one I had
seen in my trip across the Empire. The first span, some 240 feet by 36
feet, reaches from the natural rock, down which a vertical path zigzags
to the foot, and the second span then runs over to the busy little town
of Lu-chiang-pa.

Here, then, were we in the most dreaded spot in Western China! If you
stay a night in this Valley, rumor says, you go to bed for the last
time; Chinese are afraid of it, Europeans dare not linger in it. Malaria
stalks abroad for her victims, and snatches everyone who dallies in his
journey to the topside mountain village of Feng-shui-ling. The river is
2,000 feet above the sea; Feng-shui-ling is nearly 9,000 feet.

It was ten o'clock as I pulled over my stool and took tea in the crowded
shop at Lu-chiang-pa. I saw Shans here for the first time.

The village now, however, is anything but a Shan village. Of the people
in the immediate vicinity I counted only ten typical Shans, and of the
company around me in this popular tea-house twenty-one out of
twenty-eight were Chinese, including ten Mohammedans. It was, however,
easy to see that several of these were of Shan extraction, who,
although they had features distinctly un-Chinese, had adopted the
Chinese language and custom. A party of Tibetans were here in the charge
of a Lama, in an inner court, and scampered off as I rose to snap their
photographs. This was a very low altitude for Tibetans to reach.

Whilst I sipped my tea the local horse dealer wanted so very much to
sell me a pony cheap. He offered it for forty taels, I offered him five.
It was gone in the back, was blind in the left eye, and was at least
seventeen years old. The man smiled as I refused to buy, and told me
that my knowledge of horse-flesh was wonderful.

The road then led up to a plain, where paths branched in many directions
to the hills. Men either going to the market or coming from it leaned on
their loads to rest under enormous banyans and to watch me as I passed.
Horses browsed on the hill-sides. One of my soldiers had laid in
provisions for the day, and ran along with his gun (muzzle forward) over
one shoulder and four lengths of sugar-cane over the other. Ploughmen
with their buffaloes halted in the muddy fields to gaze admiringly upon
me; women ran scared from the path when my pony let out at a casual
passer-by who tickled him with a thin bamboo. Maidenhair ferns grew in
great profusion, showing that we were getting into warmer climate;
streams rushed swiftly under the stone roadway from dyked-up dams to
facilitate the irrigation, at which the Chinese are such past-masters.
All was smiling and warm and bright, dispelling in one's mind all sense
of gloom, and breeding an optimistic outlook.

We were now a party of nine--my own three men, an extra coolie I had
engaged to rush Tengyueh in three days from Yung-ch'ang, four soldiers,
and the paymaster of the crowd. We still had ninety li to cover, so that
when we left the shade of two immense trees which sheltered me and my
perspiring men, one of the soldiers agreed that everyone had to clear
from our path. We brooked no interception until we reached the entrance
to the climb, where I met two Europeans, of the Customs staff at
Tengyueh, who had come down here to camp out for the Chinese New Year
Holiday. I knew that these men were not Englishmen. I was so thirsty,
and the best they could do was to keep a man talking in the sun outside
their well-equipped tent. How I _could_ have done with a drink!

A tributary of the Salwen flows down the ravine. Too terrible a climb to
the top was it for me to take notes. I got too tired. Everything was
magnificently green, and Nature's reproduction seemed to be going on
whilst one gazed upon her. But the natural glories of this beautiful
gorge, with a dainty touch of the tropical mingling with the mighty
aspect of jungle forest, with glistening cascades and rippling streams,
where all was bountiful and exquisitely beautiful, failed to hold one
spellbound. For since I had left Tali-fu I had rarely been out of sight
of some of the best scenery on earth. Yet vegetation was very different
to that which we had been passing. There were now banyans, palms,
plantains, and many ferns, trees and shrubs and other products of warmer
climates, which one found in Burma. What impressed me farther up was the
marvelous growth of bamboos, some rising 120 feet and 130 feet at the
bend, in their various tints of green looking like delicate feathers
against the haze of the sky-line, upon which houses built of bamboo from
floor to roof seemed temporarily perched whilst others seemed to be
tumbling down into the valley. This spot was the nearest approach to
real jungle I had seen in China; but Whilst we were climbing laboriously
through this densely-covered country, over opposite--it seemed no more
than a stone's throw--the hills were almost bare, save for the isolated
cultivation of the peasantry at the base. But then came a division,
appearing suddenly to view farther along around a bend, and I saw a
continuation of the range, rising even higher, and with a tree growth
even more magnificent, denser and darker still.

Here I came upon a party of soldiers with foreign military peak caps on
their heads, which they wore outside over their Chinese caps. In fact,
the only two other garments besides these Chinese caps were the
distinguishing marks of the military. Coats they had, but they had been
discarded at the foot of the climb, rolled into one bundle, and tied
together with a piece of ribbon generally worn by the carrier to keep
his trousers tight. We were now in summer heat, and this military
quintet made a peculiar sight in dusty trousers, peak caps and straw
sandals, with the perspiration streaming freely down their naked backs
as they plodded upwards under a pitiless sun. Thus were they clad when I
met them; but catching sight of my distinguished person, mistaking me
for a "gwan," they immediately made a rush for the man carrying the
tunics, to clothe themselves for my presence with seemly respectability.
But a word from my boy put their minds at rest (my own military were far
in the rear). A couple of them then came forward to me sniggeringly,
satisfied that they were not to be reported to Peking or wherever their
commander-in-chief may have his residence--they probably had no more
idea than I had.

By the side of a roaring waterfall, in a spot which looked a very
fairyland in surroundings of reproductive green, we all sat down to
rest. The air was cool and the path was damp, and water tumbling
everywhere down from the rocks formed pretty cascades and rivulets. We
heard the clang of the hatchets, and soon came upon men felling timber
and sawing up trees into coffin boards. We were in the Valley of the
Shadow, and it was the finest coffin center of the district. I took my
boots off to wade through water which overran the pathway, and just
beyond my men, exhausted with their awful toil, lay flat on their backs
to rest; they were dead beat. One pointed up to the perpendicular cliff,
momentarily closed his eyes and looked at me in disgust. I gently
remonstrated. It was not my country, I told him; it was the "Emperor's."
And after a time we reached the top.

Shadows were lengthening. In the distance we saw the mountains upon
which we had spent the previous night, whose tops were gilded by the
setting sun. Down below all was already dark. A cold wind blew the trees
bending wearily towards the Valley.

And still we plodded on.

       *       *       *       *       *

We had come to Siao-p'ing-ho, 115 li instead of the 140 I had been led
to believe my men would cover. Every room in the hut was full, we were
told, but the next place (with some unpronounceable name), fifteen li
farther down, would give us good housing for the night. Lao Chang and I
resolved to go on, tired though we were. Before I resolved on this plan
I stopped to take a careful survey of the exact situation of the
sheltering hollow in which we meant to pass the night. The sun was fast
sinking; the dust of the road lay grey and thick about my feet; above me
the heavens were reddening in sunset glory; the landscape had no touch
of human life about it save our own two solitary figures; and the place,
fifteen li away, lay before me as a dream of a good night rather than a
reality.

Then on again we plodded, and yelled our intentions to the men behind.

From the brow of the hill we descended with extreme rapidity--down, down
into a valley which sent up a damp, oppressive atmosphere. Through the
trees I could see one lovely ball of deep, rich red, painting the earth
as it sank in a beauty exquisite beyond all else. Four men met us,
stared suspiciously, thought we were deaf, and yelled that the place was
twenty li away, and that we had better return to the brow of the hill.
But we left them, and went still farther down. In the hush that
prevailed I was unaccountably startled to see the form of a woman
gliding towards me in the twilight. She came out of the valley carrying
firewood. She spoke kindly to my man, and invited me to spend the night
in her house near by.

I was for the moment vaguely awed by her very quiescence, and gazed
wondering, doubting, bewildered. What was the little trick? Could I not
from such things get free, even in Inland China? The red light of the
sunken sun playing round her comely figure dazzled me, it is admitted,
and I followed her with a sigh of mingled dread and desire for rest.
Shall I say the shadow of the smile upon her lips deepened and softened
with an infinite compassion?

Dogs rounded upon me as I entered the bamboo hut stuck on the side of
the hill--they knew I had no right there. Inside a man was nursing a
squalling baby; our escort was its mother, the man her husband. So I was
safe. The place was swept up, unnecessary gear was taken away, fire was
kindled, tea was brewed, rice was prepared; and whilst in shaving (for
we were to reach Tengyueh on the morrow) I dodged here and there to
escape the smoke and get the most light, giving my hospitable host a
good deal of fun in so doing; every possible preparation was made for my
comfort and convenience by the untiring woman at whose invitation I was
there. Their attentions embarrassed me; every movement, every look,
every gesture, every wish was anticipated, so that I had no more
discomfort than a roaring wind and a low temperature about the region
which no one could help. It was bitterly cold. In front of the fire I
sat in an overcoat among the crowd drinking tea, whilst the soldiers
drank wine--they bought five cash worth. Had my lamp oil run out, I
should have bought liquor and tried to burn it instead. Soon the spirit
began to talk, and these braves of the Chinese army got on terms of
freest familiarity, telling me what an all-round excellent fellow I was,
and how pleased they were that I had to suffer as well as they. But they
never forgot themselves, and I allowed them to wander on uncontradicted
and unrestrained. After a weary night of tossing in my p'ukai, with a
roaring gale blowing through the latticed bamboo, behind which I lay so
poorly sheltered, we started in good spirits.

Twenty-five li farther we reached Kan-lan-chai (4,800 feet), February
9th, 1910, New Year's morning. Nothing could be bought. Everywhere the
people said, "Puh mai, puh mai," and although we had traveled the
twenty-five li over a terrible road, with a fearful gradient at the end,
we could not get anyone to make tea for us. It is distinctly against the
Chinese custom to sell anything at New Year time, of course. We had to
boil our own water and make our own tea. A larger crowd than usual
gathered around me because of the general holiday; and as I write now I
am seated in my folding-chair with all the reprobates near to me--men
gazing emptily, women who have rushed from their houses combing their
hair and nursing their babies, the beggars with their poles and bowls,
numberless urchins, all open-mouthed and curious. These are kept from
crowding over me by the two soldiers, who the day before had come on
ahead to book rooms in the place. I stayed at Kan-lan-chai on another
occasion. Then I found a good room, but later learned that it was a
horse inn, the yard of which was taken up by fifty-nine pack animals
with their loads. Pegs were as usual driven into the ground in parallel
rows, a pair of ponies being tied to each--not by the head, but by the
feet, a nine-inch length of rope being attached to the off foreleg of
one and the near foreleg of the other, the animals facing each other in
rows, and eating from a common supply in the center. Everyone in the
small town was busy doing and driving, very anxious that I should be
made comfortable, which might have been the case but for some untiring
musician who was traveling with the caravan, and seemed to be one of
that species of humankind who never sleeps. His notes, however, were
fairly in harmony, but when it runs on to 3:00 a.m., and one knows that
he has to be again on the move by five, even first-rate Chinese music is
apt to be somewhat disturbing.

From the Salwen-Shweli watershed I got a fine view of the mountains I
had crossed yesterday. Some ten miles or so to the north was the highest
peak in the range--Kao-li-kung I think it is called--conical-shaped and
clear against the sky, and some 13,000 feet high, so far as I could
judge.

An easy stage brought me to Tengyueh. I stayed here a day only, Mr.
Embery, of the China Inland Mission, a countryman of my own, kindly
putting me up. But Tengyueh, as one of the quartet of open ports in the
province, is well known. It is only a small town, however, and one was
surprised to find it as conservative a town as could be found anywhere
in the province, despite the fact that foreigners have been here for
many years, and at the present time there are no less than seven
Europeans here.

I was glad of a rest here. From Tali-fu had been most fatiguing.




CHAPTER XXIV.

THE LI-SU TRIBE OF THE SALWEN VALLEY

_Travel up the Salwen Valley_. _My motive for travelling and how I
travel_. _Valley not a death-trap_. _Meet the Li-su_. _Buddhistic
beliefs_. _Late Mr. G. Litton as a traveler_. _Resemblance in religion
to Kachins_. _Ghost of ancestral spirits_. _Li-su graves_. _Description
of the people_. _Racial differences_. _John the Baptist's hardship_.
_The cross-bow and author's previous experience_. _Plans for subsequent
travel fall through_. _Mission work among the Li-su_.


On my return journey into Yuen-nan, I stopped at Lu-chiang-pa,[BB] and
left my men at the inn there while I traveled for two days along the
Salwen Valley. My journey was taken with no other motive than that of
seeing the country, and also to test the accuracy of the reports
respecting the general unhealthy nature of this valley of the Shadow of
Death. The people here were friendly, despite the fact that my route was
always far away from the main road; and although my entire kit was a
single traveling-rug for the nights, I was able to get all I wanted. Lao
Chang accompanied me, and together we had an excellent time.

I might as well say first of all that the idea of this part of the
Salwen Valley being what people say it is in the matter of a death-trap
is absolutely false. With the exception of the early morning mist common
in every low-lying region in hot countries, there was, so far as I could
see, nothing to fear.

During the second day, through beautiful country in beautiful weather, I
came across some people who I presumed were Li-su, and I regretted that
my films had all been exposed. The Li-su tribe is undoubtedly an
offshoot from the people who inhabit south-eastern Tibet, although none
of them anywhere in Yuen-nan--and they are found in many places in
central and eastern Yuen-nan--bear any traces of Buddhistic belief, which
is universal, of course, in Tibet. The late Mr. G. Litton, who at the
time he was acting as British Consul at Tengyueh traveled somewhat
extensively among them, says that their religious practices closely
resemble those of the Kachins, who believe in numerous "nats" or spirits
which cause various calamities, such as failure of crops and physical
ailments, unless propitiated in a suitable manner. According to him, the
most important spirit is the ancestral ghost. Li-su graves are generally
in the fields near the villages, and over them is put the cross-bow,
rice-bags and other articles used by the deceased. "It is probably from
foundations such as these," writes Mr. George Forrest, who accompanied
Mr. Litton on an excursion to the Upper Salwen, and who wrote up the
journey after the death of his companion, "that the fabric of Chinese
ancestor worship was constructed," a view which I doubt very much
indeed.

I am of the opinion that the Li-su may be closely allied to the Lolo or
the Nou Su, of whom I have spoken in the chapters in Book I dealing with
the tribes around Chao-t'ong. And even the Miao bear a distinct racial
resemblance. They are of bony physique, high cheek bones, and their skin
is nearly of the same almost sepia color. The Li-su form practically the
whole of the population of the Upper Salwen Valley from about lat. 25 deg.
30' to 27 deg. 30', and they have spread in considerable numbers along the
mountains between the Shweli and the Irawadi, and are found also in the
Shan States. Those on the Upper Salwen in the extreme north are utter
savages, but where they have become more or less civilized have shown
themselves to be an enterprising race in the way of emigration. Of the
savages, the villages are almost always at war with one another, and
many have never been farther from their huts than a day's march will
take them, the chief object of their lives being apparently to keep
their neighbors at a distance. They are exceedingly lazy. They spend
their lives doing as little in the way of work as they must, eating,
drinking, squatting about round the hearth telling stories of their
valor with the cross-bow, and their excitement is provided by an
occasional expedition to get wood for their cross-bows and poison for
their arrows, or a stock of salt and wild honey.

Mr. Forrest, in his paper which was read before the Royal Geographical
Society in June, 1908, speaks of this wild honey as an agreeable
sweetmeat as a change, but that after a few days' constant partaking of
it the European palate rejects it as nauseous and almost disgusting, and
adds that it has escaped the Biblical commentators that one of the
principal hardships which John the Baptist must have undergone was his
diet of wild honey. In another part of his paper the writer says,
speaking of the cross-bow to which I have referred: "Every Li-su with
any pretensions to _chic_ possesses at least one of these weapons--one
for everyday use in hunting, the other for war. The children play with
miniature cross-bows. The men never leave their huts for any purpose
without their cross-bows, when they go to sleep the 'na-kung' is hung
over their heads, and when they die it is hung over their graves. The
largest cross-bows have a span of fully five feet, and require a pull of
thirty-five pounds to string them. The bow is made of a species of wild
mulberry, of great toughness and flexibility. The stock, some four feet
long in the war-bows, is usually of wild plum wood, the string is of
plaited hemp, and the trigger of bone. The arrow, of sixteen to eighteen
inches, is of split bamboo, about four times the thickness of an
ordinary knitting needle, hardened and pointed. The actual point is bare
for a quarter to one-third of an inch, then for fully an inch the arrow
is stripped to half its thickness, and on this portion the poison is
placed. The poison used is invariably a decoction expressed from the
tubers of a species of _aconitum_, which grows on those ranges at an
altitude of 8,000 to 10,000 feet ... The reduction in thickness of the
arrow where the poison is placed causes the point to break off in the
body of anyone whom it strikes, and as each carries enough poison to
kill a cart horse a wound is invariably fatal. Free and immediate
incision is the usual remedy when wounded on a limb or fleshy part of
the body."[BC]

Some time after I was traveling in these regions I made arrangements to
visit the mission station of the China Inland Mission, some days from
Yuen-nan-fu, where a special work has recently been formed among the
Li-su tribe. Owing to a later arrival at the capital than I had
expected, however, I could not keep my appointment, and as there were
reports of trouble in that area the British Consul-General did not wish
me to travel off the main road. It is highly encouraging to learn that a
magnificent missionary work is being done among the Li-su, all the more
gratifying because of the enormous difficulties which have already been
overcome by the pioneering workers. At least one European, if not more,
has mastered the language, and the China Inland Mission are expecting
great things to eventuate. It is only by long and continued residence
among these peoples, throwing in one's lot with them and living their
life, that any absolutely reliable data regarding them will be
forthcoming. And this so few, of course, are able to do.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote BB: The town by the double suspension bridge over the Salwen.]

[Footnote BC: The poisoned arrows and the cross-bow are used also by the
Miao, and the author has seen very much the same thing among the Sakai
of the Malay Peninsula.]




FIFTH JOURNEY

TENGYUEH (MOMIEN) TO BHAMO IN UPPER BURMA




CHAPTER XXV.

_Last stages of long journey_. _Characteristics of the country_. _Sham
and Kachins_. _Author's dream of civilization_. _British pride_. _End of
paved roads_. _Mountains cease_. _A confession of foiled plans_.
_Nantien as a questionable fort_. _About the Shans_. _Village squabble,
and how it ended_. _Absence of disagreement in Shan language_. _Charming
people, but lazy_. _Experience with Shan servant_. _At Chiu-Ch'eng_.
_New Year festivities_. _After-dinner diversions_. _Author as a medico_.
_Ingratitude of the Chinese: some instances_.


The Shan, the Kachin and the abominable betel quid! That quid which
makes the mouth look bloody, broadens the lips, lays bare and blackens
the teeth, and makes the women hideous. Such are the unfailing
characteristics of the country upon which we are now entering.

By the following stages I worked my way wearily to the end of my long
walking journey:--

                                Length      Height
                               of Stage    Above Sea

    1st day--Nantien             90 li.     5,300 ft.
    2nd day--Chiu-Ch'eng
         (Kang-gnai)             80 li.       ---
    4th day--Hsiao Singai        60 li.       ---
    5th day--Manyueen             60 li.     2,750 ft.
    6th day--Pa-chiao-chai     |  Approx.   1,200 ft.
    7th day--Mao-tsao-ti       |  55 English  650 ft.
    8th day--Bhamo (Singai)    |  miles.      350 ft.

Shans here monopolize all things. Chinese, although of late years drawn
to this low-lying area, do not abound in these parts, and the Shan is
therefore left pretty much to himself. And the pleasant eight-day march
from Tengyueh to Bhamo, the metropolis of Upper Burma, probably offers
to the traveler objects and scenes of more varying interest than any
other stage of the tramp from far-away Chung-king. To the Englishman,
daily getting nearer to the end of his long, wearying walk, and going
for the first time into Upper Burma, incidentally to realize again the
dream of civilization and comfort and contact with his own kind, leaving
Old China in the rear, there instinctively came that inexpressible
patriotic pride every Britisher must feel when he emerges from the
Middle Kingdom and sets his foot again on British territory. The
benefits are too numerous to cite; you must have come through China, and
have had for companionship only your own unsympathetic coolies, and
accommodation only such as the Chinese wayside hostelry has offered, to
be able fully to realize what the luxurious dak-bungalows, with their
excellent appointments, mean to the returning exile.

Paved roads, the bane of man and beast, end a little out of Tengyueh.
Mountains are left behind. There is no need now for struggle and
constant physical exertion in climbing to get over the country. With no
hills to climb, no stones to cut my feet or slip upon, with wide sweeps
of magnificent country leading three days later into dense, tropical
jungle, entrancing to the merest tyro of a nature student, and with the
knowledge that my walking was almost at an end, all would have gone well
had I been able to tear from my mind the fact that at this juncture I
should have to make to the reader a great confession of foiled plans.
For two days I was accompanied by the Rev. W.J. Embery, of the China
Inland Mission, who was making an itinerary among the tribes on the
opposite side of the Taping, which we followed most of the time. He rode
a mule; and am I not justified in believing that you, too, reader, with
such an excellent companion, one who had such a perfect command of the
language, and who could make the journey so much more interesting, you
would have ridden your pony? I rode mine! I abandoned pedestrianism and
rode to Chiu-Ch'eng--two full days, and when, after a pleasant rest
under a sheltering banyan, we went our different ways, I was sorry
indeed to have to fall back upon my men for companionship.

But it was not to be for long.

Nantien is, or was, to be a fort, but the little place bears no outward
military evidences whatever which would lead one to believe it. It is
populated chiefly by Shans. The bulk of these interesting people now
live split up into a great number of semi-independent states, some
tributary to Burma, some to China, and some to Siam; and yet the
man-in-the-street knows little about them. One cannot mistake them,
especially the women, with their peculiar Mongolian features and sallow
complexions and characteristic head-dress. The men are less
distinguishable, probably, generally speaking, but the rough cotton
turban instead of the round cap with the knob on the top alone enables
one more readily to pick them out from the Chinese. Short, well-built
and strongly made, the women strike one particularly as being a hardy,
healthy set of people.

Shans are recognized to be a peaceful people, but a village squabble
outside Chin-ch'eng, in which I took part, is one of the exceptions to
prove the rule.

It did not take the eye of a hawk or the ear of a pointer to recognize
that a big row was in full progress. Shan women roundly abused the men,
and Shan men, standing afar off, abused their women. A few Chinese who
looked on had a few words to say to these "Pai Yi"[BD] on the futility of
these everyday squabbles, whilst a few Shans, mistaking me again for a
foreign official, came vigorously to me pouring out their souls over the
whole affair. We were all visibly at cross purposes. I chimed in with my
infallible "Puh tong, you stupid ass, puh tong" (I don't understand, I
don't understand); and what with the noise of the disputants, the
Chinese bystanders, my own men (they were all acutely disgusted with
every Shan in the district, and plainly showed it, because they could
not be understood in speech) and myself all talking at once, and the
dogs who mistook me for a beggar, and tried to get at close grips with
me for being one of that fraternity, it was a veritable Bedlam and Tower
of Babel in awfullest combination. At length I raised my hand, mounted a
boulder in the middle of the road, and endeavored to pacify the
infuriated mob. I shouted harshly, I brandished by bamboo in the air, I
gesticulated, I whacked two men who came near me. At last they stopped,
expecting me to speak. Only a look of stupidest unintelligibility could
I return, however, and had to roar with laughter at the very foolishness
of my position up on that stone. Soon the multitude calmed down and
laughed, too. I yelled "Ts'eo," and we proceeded, leaving the Shans
again at peace with all the world.

Shans have been found in many other parts, even as far north as the
borders of Tibet. But a Shan, owing to the similarity of his language in
all parts of Asia, differs from the Chinese or the Yuen-nan tribesman in
that he can get on anywhere. It is said that from the sources of the
Irawadi down to the borders of Siamese territory, and from Assam to
Tonkin, a region measuring six hundred miles each way, and including the
whole of the former Nan-chao Empire, the language is practically the
same. Dialects exist as they do in every country in the world, but a
Shan born anywhere within these bounds will find himself able to carry
on a conversation in parts of the country he has never heard of,
hundreds of miles from his own home. And this is more than six hundred
years after the fall of the Nan-chao dynasty, and among Shans who have
had no real political or commercial relation with each other.[BE]

I found them a charming people, peaceful and obliging, treating
strangers with kindness and frank cordiality. For the most part, they
are Buddhists. The dress of the Chinese Shans, which, however, I found
varied in different localities, leads one to believe that they are an
exceptionally clean race, but I can testify that this is not the case.
In many ways they are dirtier than the Chinese--notably in the
preparation of their food. And I feel compelled to say a word here for
the general benefit of future travelers. _Never expect a Shan to work
hard!_ He _can_ work hard, and he will--when he likes, but I do not
believe that even the Malay, that Nature's gentleman of the farther
south, is lazier.

As servants they are failures. A European in this district, whose
Chinese servant had left him, thought he would try a Shan, and invited a
man to come. "Be your servant? Of course I will. I am honored." And the
European thought at last he was in clover. He explained that he should
want his breakfast at 6:00 a.m., and that the servant's duties would be
to cut grass for the horse, go to the market to buy provisions, feed on
the premises, and leave for home to sleep at 7:00 p.m. The Shan opened a
large mouth; then he spoke. He would be pleased, he said, to come to
work about nine o'clock; that he had several marriageable daughters
still on his hands and could not therefore, and would not, cut grass; he
objected going to the market in the extreme heat of the day; he could
not think of eating the foreigner's food; and would go home to feed at
1:00 p.m. and leave again finally at 5:00 p.m. for the same purpose. He
left before five p.m. Another man was called in. He was quite cheery,
and came in and out and did what he pleased. On being asked what he
would require as salary, he replied, "Oh, give me a rupee every market
day, and that'll do me." The person was not in service when market day
rolled round, and I hear that this European, who loves experiments of
this kind, has gone back to the Chinese.

Chiu-Ch'eng (Kang-gnai) was going through a sort of New Year carousal as
I entered the town, and everybody was garmented for the festival.

I had great difficulty in getting a place to stay. People allowed me to
career about in search of a room, treating me with courteous
indifference, but none offered to house me. At last the headman of the
village appeared, and with many kindly expressions of unintelligibility
led me to his house. A crowd had gathered in the street, and several
women were taking from the front room the general stock-in-trade of the
village ironmonger. Scores of huge iron cooking pans were being passed
through the window, tables were pushed noisily through the doorway,
primitive cooking appliances were being hurled about in the air, bamboo
baskets came out by the dozen, and there was much else. Bags of paddy,
old chairs (the low stool of the Shan, with a thirty-inch back), drawers
of copper cash, brooms, a few old spears, pots of pork fat, barrels of
wine (the same as I had blistered the foot of a pony with), two or three
old p'u-kai, worn-out clothes, disused ladies' shoes, babies' gear, and
last of all the man himself appeared. Men and women set to to clean up,
an old woman clasped me to her bosom, and I was bidden to enter. New
Year festivities were for the nonce neglected for the novel delight of
gazing upon the inner domesticity of this traveling wonder, into his
very holy of holies. I received nine invitations to dinner. I dined with
mine host and his six sons.

Through the heavy evening murk a dull clangor stirred the air--the
tolling of shrill bells and the beating of dull gongs, and all the
hideous paraphernalia of Eastern celebrations. The populace--Shan almost
to a man--were bent on seeing me, a task rendered difficult by the
gathering darkness of night. Soldiers guarded the way, and there were
several broken heads. They came, stared and wondered, and then passed
away for others to come in shoals, laughingly, and seeming no longer to
harbor the hostile feelings apparent as I entered the town.

My shaving magnifier amused them wonderfully.

There was an outcry as I entered the room after we had dined, followed
by a scream of women in almost hysterical laughter. When they caught
sight of me, however, a brief pause ensued, and the solemn hush, that
even in a callous crowd invariably attends the actual presence of a
long-awaited personage, reigned unbroken for a while; then one spoke,
then another ventured to address me, and the spell of silence gave way
to noise and general excitability, and the people began speedily to
close upon me, anxious to get a glimpse of such a peculiar white man.
Later on, when the shutters were up and the public thus kept off, the
family foregathered unasked into my room, bringing with them their own
tea and nuts, and laying themselves out to be entertained. My whole
gear, now reduced to most meager proportions, was scrutinized by all.
There were four men and five women, the usual offshoots, and the aged
couple who held proprietary rights over the place. They sat on my bed,
on my boxes; one of the children sat on my knee, and the ladies,
seemingly of the easiest virtue, overhauled my bedclothes unblushingly.
The murmuring noise of the vast expectant New Year multitude died off
gradually, like the retreating surge of a distant sea, and the hot
motionless atmosphere in my room, with eleven people stepping on one
another's toes in the cramped area, became more and more weightily
intensified. The husband of one of the women--a miserable, emaciated
specimen for a Shan--came forward, asking whether I could cure his
disease. I fear he will never be cured. His arm and one side of his body
was one mass of sores. Before it could be seen four layers of Chinese
paper had to be removed, one huge plantain leaf, and a thick layer of
black stuff resembling tar. I was busy for some thirty minutes dressing
it with new bandages. I then gave him ointment for subsequent dressings,
whereupon he put on his coat and walked out of the room (leaving the
door open as he went) without even a word of gratitude.

The Chinese pride themselves upon their gratitude. It is vigorous
towards the dead and perhaps towards the emperor (although this may be
doubted), but as a grace of daily life it is almost absent. I have known
cases where missionaries have got up in the middle of the night to
attend to poisoning cases and accidents requiring urgent treatment, have
known them to attend to people at great distances from their own homes
and make them better; but never a word of thanks--not even the mere
pittance charged for the actual cost of medicine.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote BD: The Chinese name for the Shan.]

[Footnote BE: Vide _Yuen-nan, the Link between India and the Yangtze,_ by
Major H.R. Davies.--Cambridge University Press.]




CHAPTER XXVI.

_Two days from Burma_. _Tropical wildness induces ennui_. _The River
Taping_. _At Hsiao Singai_. _Possibility of West China as a holiday
resort from Burma_. _Fascination of the country_. _Manyueen reached with
difficulty_. _The Kachins_. _Good work of the American Baptist Mission_.
_Mr. Roberts_. _Arrival at borderland of Burma_. _Last dealings with
Chinese officials_. _British territory_. _Thoughts on the trend of
progress in China_. _Beautiful Burma_. _End of long journey._


I was now two days' march from the British Burma border. The landscape
in this district was solemn and imposing as I trudged on again, very
tired indeed, after a day's rest at Chiu-ch'eng. In the morning heavy
tropical vapors of milky whiteness stretched over the sky and the earth.
Nature seemed sleeping, as if wrapped in a light veil. It attracted me
and absorbed me, dreaming, in spite of myself; ennui invaded me at
first, and under the all-powerful constraint of influences so fatal to
human personality thought died away by degrees like a flame in a vacuum;
for I was again in the East, the real, luxurious, indolent East, the
true land of Pantheism, and one must go there to realize the indefinable
sensations which almost make the Nirvana of the Buddhist comprehensible.

The river Taping farther down, so different from its aspect a couple of
days ago, where it rushed at a tremendous speed over its rocky bed, was
now broad and calm and placid, and extremely picturesque. The banks were
covered with trees beyond Manyueen. Near the water the undergrowth was of
a fine green, but on a higher level the yellow and red leaves, hardly
holding on to the withered trees, were carried away with the slightest
breath of wind.

At Hsiao Singai, on February 15th, I again had difficulty in getting a
room; so I waited, and whilst my men searched about for a place where I
could sleep, an extremely tall fellow came up to me, and having felt
with his finger and thumb the texture of my tweeds and expressed
satisfaction thereof, said--

"Come, elder brother, I have my dwelling in this hostelry, and my upper
chamber is at your disposal." And then he added with a twinkle in his
eye, "Ko nien, ko nien,"[BF] whereat I became wary.

Lao Chang, however, was more cute. Whilst I was assuring this
well-dressed holiday-maker that he must not think the stranger churlish
in not accepting at once the proffered services, but that I would go to
look at the room, he sprang past us and went on ahead. In a few moments
I was slowly going hence with the multitude. Lao Chang nodded carelessly
to the strange company there assembled, and passing through the room
with a soft, cat-like tread, began to ascend a dark flight of narrow
stairs leading to the second floor of the inn. And I, down below
startled and bewildered by mysterious words from everyone, watched his
blue garments vanishing upwards, and like a man driven by irresistible
necessity, muttered incoherent excuses to my amazed companions, and in a
blind, unreasoning, unconquerable impulse rushed after him. But I wish I
had not. There were several ladies, who, all more or less _en
deshabille_, scampered around with their bundles of gear--sewing,
babies' clothes, tin pots, hair ornaments, boxes of powder and scented
soap of that finest quality imported from Burma, selling for less than
you can buy the genuine article for in London!--and then we took
possession.

If once there is a railway to Tengyueh from Burma, a visit to West
China, even on to Tali-fu, for those who are prepared to rough it a
little, will become quite a common trip. A few days up the Irawadi to
Bhamo, through scenery of a peculiar kind of beauty eclipsed on none
other of the world's great rivers, would be succeeded by a day or two
over some of the best country which Upper Burma anywhere affords, and
then, when once past Tengyueh, the grandeur of the mountains is amply
compensating to those who love Nature in her beautiful isolation and
peace. From a recuperating standpoint, perhaps, it would not quite
answer--the rains would be a drawback to road travel, and it would at
best mean roughing it; but for the many in Burma who wish to take a
holiday and have not the time to go to Europe, I see no reason why
Tengyueh should not develop into what Darjeeling is to Calcutta and what
Japan is to the British ports farther East. Expense would not be heavy.
To Bhamo would be easy. As things now stand, with no railway, one would
need to take a few provisions and cooking utensils, and a camp bed and
tent, unless one would be prepared to do as the author did, and
patronize Chinese inns, such as they are. The rest would be easy to get
on the road. For three days from Bhamo dak bungalows are available, and
to a man knowing the country it would be an easy matter to arrange his
comforts. To one who knows the conditions, there is in the trip a good
deal to fascinate; for in the lives and customs of the people, in the
nature of the country, in the free-and-easy life the traveler would
himself develop--having a peep at things as they were back in the
ancient days of the Bible--to the brain-fagged professional or
commercial there is nothing better in the whole of the East.

He would get some excellent shooting, especially in the Salwen Valley,
not exactly a health resort, however; and had he inclinations towards
botanical, ethnological, craniological, or philological studies, he
would be at a loss to find anywhere in the world a more interesting
area.

But a man should never leave the "ta lu" (the main road) in China if he
would experience the minimum of discomfort and annoyance, which under
best conditions is considerable to an irritable man. As I sit down now,
on the very spot where Margary, of the British Consulate Service was
murdered in 1875, I regret that I have sacrificed a great deal to secure
most of the photographs which decorate this section of my book. No one,
not even my military escort, knows the way, and is being sworn at by my
men therefor. How I am to reach Man Hsien, across the river at Taping, I
do not quite know. Manyueen, so interesting in history, is a native
Shan-Kachino-Chinese town untouched by the years--slovenly, dirty,
undisciplined, immoral, where law and order and civilization have gained
at best but a precarious foothold, the most characteristic feature of
the people being the gambler's instinct. But I remember that I am coming
into Burma, into the real East, where the tangle and the topsy-turvydom,
the crooked vision and the distorted travesty of the truth, which result
from judging the Oriental from the standpoint of the Europeans and
looking at the East through the eyes of the West, impress themselves
upon one's mind in bewildering fashion as a hopeless problem. Everything
is all at cross purposes.

However, although I lost my way from Manyueen to Man Hsien, I got my
photographs of Kachins, those people whose appearance is that they have
no one to care for them body or soul. Their thick, uncombed locks, so
long and lank as to resemble deck swabs, overlapped roofwise the ugliest
aboriginal faces I ever saw in Asia or America, and their eyes under
shaggy brows looked out with diabolical fire.

So much information is to be obtained from the <i<Upper Burma Gazetteer_
about the Kachins that it is needless for me to write much here,
especially as I can add nothing. But I feel I should like to say just a
word of praise of the remarkable work of the American Baptist Mission,
which has its headquarters at Bhamo, among this tribe in Burma. At the
time I arrived in the city the annual festival was being conducted at
the Baptist Church, and hundreds of Kachins were assembled in the
splendid premises of this mission. They had come from many miles around;
and to one who at previous times in his residence in the Far East had
written disparagingly about missionaries and their work, there came some
little personal shame as he looked upon the extremely creditable work of
the American missionaries in this district. Kachins are a somewhat
uncivilized and quarrelsome race, unspeakably immoral, and steeped in
every vice against which the Christian missionary has to set his face--a
most difficult people to work among. But there I saw scores and scores
of baptized Christians living a life clean and ennobling, endeavoring
honestly to break away from their degrading customs of centuries, some
of them exceedingly intelligent people.

I speak of this because I feel that in the face of untruthful and
malicious descriptions which in former years have got into print
respecting this very mission and the very missionaries on this field, it
is only fair that people in the homeland interested in the work should
know what their American brethren are doing here. I cannot praise too
highly this mission and the enthusiastic band of workers whom it was my
pleasure to meet. In Mr. Roberts, the superintendent of the field, the
American Baptist Board have a man of wonderful resource, who is not only
an ardent Christian evangelist and capable administrator, but a
gentleman of considerable business ability and a remarkable organizer. A
writer who, passing through in 1894, was indebted to Mr. Roberts for
many kindnesses, found that the only adverse criticism he could make of
the missionary was in respect to his knowledge of horses. My experience
is that in the whole of the Far East there can be found no more capable
pioneer missionary, and his friends in America should pray that Mr.
Roberts may be spared many years still to control the work on the
successful mission field in which he has spent so much of his labor of
love for the Kachins.

Kachins form the bulk of the population in the extreme north of Burma.
To the west they extend to Assam, and to the south into the Shan States,
as far even as latitude 20 deg. 30'. By far the largest proportion of them
live in Burmese territory, but they also extend into Western Yuen-nan,
though nowhere are they found farther east than longitude 99 deg..

Man Hsien is the last yamen place before reaching the British border. I
crossed the river Taping from Manyueen, being shown the road by a Burmese
member of the Buddhistic yellow cloth, who was most pressing that I
should stay with him for a few days. Again did I get a fright that my
manuscript would never get into print, for my pony, Rusty, probably
cognizant of the fact that he, too, was finishing his long tramp, nearly
stamped the bottom of the boat out, and threatened to send us down by
river past Bhamo quicker than our arrival was scheduled.

The large official paper given to one's military escort from point to
point was here produced for the last time, and great ado was made about
me. Reading this document aloud from the top of the steps, when he came
to my name the mandarin bowed very low, called me Ding Daren[BG] (a sign
of highest respect), asked if I would exchange cards, and then lapsed
unconsciously into profuse congratulation to myself that I should have
been born an Englishman. So far as he knew, I could be assured that the
existing relations between the administrative bodies of his contemptible
country and my own royal land were of a nature so felicitously mutual
and peaceful--in fact, both Governments saw eye to eye in regard to
international affairs in Far Western China--that he felt sure that I
should arrive at the bridge leading into Burma without personal harm. He
then, with a colossal bow to myself and a gentle wave of his three-inch
finger-nail, handed me over with pungent emphasis of speech to the
keeping of a Chinese and a Shan, who with a keen sense of favors to come
were to form my escort to Burma's border.

A low grunt of unrestrained approval came from the multitude. The
underlings--Chino-Kachino-Burmo-Shan people--who ran about in a little
of each of the clothing characteristic of the four said races, were all
busy in their endeavors to extricate from me a few cash apiece by doing
all and more than was necessary.

Then the great man rose. He condescended to depart. He passed from the
threshold, turned, paused, bowed, turned again, went down the steps,
bowed again--a long curving bow, which nearly sent him to the
ground--and then continued with a light heart towards that loveliest
land of the East. My men exhibited no emotion. That they were coming
into British territory was of no concern to them; they had come from far
away in the interior, and were the greenest of the green, the rawest of
the raw.

But soon I passed over a small bridge, a spot where two great empires
meet. I was in Burma.

       *       *       *       *       *

So I have crossed from one end of China to the other. I entered China on
March 4th, 1909; I came out on February 14th, 1910.

I had come to see how far the modern spirit had penetrated into the
hidden recesses of the Chinese Empire. One may be little given to
philosophizing, and possess but scanty skill in putting into words the
conclusions which form themselves in one's mind, but it is impossible
to cross China entirely unobservant. One must begin, no matter how
dimly, to perceive something of the causes which are at work. By the
incoming of the European to inland China a transformation is being
wrought, not the natural growth of a gradual evolution, itself the
result of propulsion from within, but produced, on the contrary, by
artificial means, in bitter conflict with inherent instincts, inherited
traditions, innate tendencies, characteristics, and genius, racial and
individual. In the eyes of the Chinese of the old school these changes
in the habit of life infinitely old are improving nothing and ruining
much--all is empty, vapid, useless to God and man. The tawdry shell, the
valueless husk, of ancient Chinese life is here still, remains untouched
in many places, as will have been seen in previous chapters; but the
soul within is steadily and surely, if slowly, undergoing a process of
final atrophy. But yet the proper opening-up of the country by internal
reform and not by external pressure has as yet hardly commenced in
immense areas of the Empire far removed from the imperial city of
Peking. And the mere fact that the Chinese propose such an absurd
program as that which plans the building of all their railways without
the aid of foreign capital is sufficient to react in an unwholesome
manner economically.[BH][BI]

I cannot but admit that, whilst in most parts of my journey there are
distinct traces of reform--I speak, of course, of the outlying parts of
China--and some very striking traces, too, and a real longing on the
part of far-seeing officials to escape from a humiliating international
position, it is distinctly apparent that in everything which concerns
Europe and the Western world the people and the officials as a whole are
of one mind in the methods of procrastination which are so dear to the
heart of the Celestial, and that peculiar opposition to Europeanism
which has marked the real East since the beginning of modern history.

       *       *       *       *       *

And now lovely, lovely Burma!

I had not been in Burma two minutes before the very box containing the
clothes into which I must change before I could enter into the social
life of Bhamo swung from the broken pole of one of my coolies, and
rolled rapidly towards the river. It was recovered after great trouble.

Thick jungle land lay out before me, fleecy clouds in the dense blue sky
hung lazily over the green hills, the heavy air was pregnant with that
delicious ease known only in the tropics--all was still and sweet. The
river flowed grandly from the interior through magnificent forest
country, receiving on either shore the frequent tribute of other minor
streams, and its banks were marvelous cliffs of jungle--tangles of giant
trees on crowding underwood, clinging vine and festooning
parasite--rising sheer from the water's brink. Now long clusters of
villages, deep in the shade of palm and fruit trees; now wide expanses
of grass-grown meadow, where the grazing grounds dip to the river, and
where the only echoes of China are the resting pack-horse caravans--the
banks cut into huge trampled clefts by the passage of the kine trooping
down to drink. Occasional wooded islands broke the monotony of the
river, and were just discernible from the magnificent English roads
which skirted the hills high up from the river, and yellow sandspits and
big wedges of granite and rock ran far out into its uneven course. By
day the joyous Burma sun smiled upon all, and at midday poured its
merciless heat down upon all mankind, unheeding the weary wanderer whose
tramp was now near done. At night the tropical moon turned all this
riverine world to the likeness of a very fairyland. Lying in a long
chair in the dak bungalows one drank in the scenes which succeeded one
another in bewildering succession, and felt himself thrilled by an
almost fierce appreciation of eastern beauty. It was good to meet again
an Englishman, a sturdy, firm-featured Englishman, whose love of the
East, like mine own, was a veritable obsession. The sun glare of the
tropics had parched the color out of our white skin, and despite the
fact that malaria came back again here to taunt me, yet I was again in
the East that I loved, that had scarred and marked me ere my time
mayhap. And yet I, with many such of my own countrymen, despite her
rough handling, worship her.

       *       *       *       *       *

In three days I was in Bhamo.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote BF: _i.e._ New Year, New Year.]

[Footnote BG: _i.e._Great Man. "Ding" is my Chinese name.]

[Footnote BH: I believe personally that the main object of the Yuen-nan
provincial government in employing two American engineers, who at the
present moment (August, 1910) are surveying a route from Yuen-nan-fu to
the Yangtze, is merely official bluff. It is preferable to pay two men a
monthly stipend if the official "face" can be preserved and the Chinese
dogged official procrastination be maintained, rather than to allow
foreigners to come in still farther.]

[Footnote BI: This was of course written long before the Four Nations
Loan was signed, and Tuan Fang appointed Director General of the
Railways in May, 1911. We should now see a speedy reformation of Railway
matters in China if Tuan is given an absolutely free hand.--E.J.D.]



END OF BOOK II.


[Illustration: THE SWITZERLAND OF WESTERN CHINA

To travel in China is easy over country like this, granted that the
traveler sticks to the main road, sample of which is seen at lower
right.]


[Illustration: RED CROSS WORK IN CHINESE REVOLUTION

Red Cross workers at mass graves of men killed during the the Chinese
Revolution.]



[Illustration: TEA FOR FOREIGN COUNTRIES

Coolies carrying tea packed for export; picture was taken in British
concession of Hankow.]



[Illustration: TEA FROM NATIVE DISTRICTS

Picture shows native tea dealers at Ku-kiang bringing in tea for
transport to the great tea factories in Hankow, where it is prepared for
export.]



[Illustration: AUTHOR ON NANKING CITY WALL

Taken during the Revolution, when Author was acting as war
correspondent for world-wide news agencies.]



[Illustration: AT HANKOW--THE CHICAGO OF CHINA

River-front scene at low water, showing junks that transport general
cargo down-river from the exporting districts. This is a typical
riverfront scene.]



[Illustration: A LONELY TRAVELER

This picture was taken far out in untraveled China Far West. For days
you meet no sign of human habitation, and woe betide you if the river
rises!]



[Illustration: EARNING HIS LIVING

This coolie, who carries 420-lb. bale of cotton, as seen in the picture,
from the ship in the river to the Hankow Bund, probably earns a dollar
and a half per week!]



[Illustration: TEA FOR FOREIGN LANDS

Foreign steamers being loaded with native cargoes for export; scene on
the Hankow Bund. The tea trade of China has lost considerable ground in
recent years.]


[Illustration: WILLOW PATTERN TEA HOUSE IN SHANGHAI

A famous landmark in the native city; said to be one of the oldest
tea-houses in China. Much business is transacted in these tea-houses all
over the country.]



[Illustration: THE PERIGRINATING BARBER OF ANCIENT CHINA

If there is an "artist" on this earth, it is the Chinese barber. An hour
in his chair makes you long for a week in bed to fully recover!]



[Illustration: AUTHOR'S HOUSEBOAT (WUPAN)

In which he passed eighteen days on the Yangtze-kiang; scene at one of
the rapids in upper reaches of river.]



[Illustration: AUTHOR'S MODEST CARAVAN IN SZECH'UAN

And a fine body of men they were, kept in order by the general factotum
in the foreground--each of them earning about 25 cents a day.]



[Illustration: QUAINT CHINESE ORCHESTRA HALWAYS MEN

Typical old-time orchestra anywhere in China; the Chinese say, "Once a
musician, always a musician"--so it usually runs in the family.]



[Illustration: SCENE ON THE UPPER YANGTZE

Author and the cook on the aft of the houseboat after all the dangerous
rapids had been passed. The ropes are made of bamboo. En route to
Chung-king.]



[Illustration: MOTLEY GROUP OF HUA MIAO MENFOLK

Picture gives an idea of how the Hua Miao in certain sections are being
gradually absorbed by the Chinese; these men are typical tenant farmers
of the Nou-su.]



[Illustration: RATHER A RARE PICTURE OF TRIBES

Three tribes are shown: White Bones (left), attending her mistress, a
Nou-su aristocrat (Black Bones); the children at the right are Hua Miao.]



[Illustration: AUTHOR'S CARAVAN ON THE MARCH

On the main road west of Chung-king--the Author's four-man chair engaged
to "save his face," and his servant's two-man chair, followed by the
coolies.]



[Illustration: THE MEKONG BRIDGE

A drop occurs from 8,000 feet to 4,000 feet, and then a climb again over
precipitous mountains--very hard going--to 8,000 feet. Shrines are at each
end of the handsome suspension bridge.]



[Illustration: THE AUTHOR IN YUeN-NAN

This picture was taken after convalescence in Tong-chu'aniu, just before
the journey commenced from that city to British Burma, as seen in the
second part of "Across China On Foot."



[Illustration: THE UBIQUITOUS WATER CARRIER

Drawing the water and hewing the wood are daily chores in China, mostly
carried out by women--though this is a picture of a man, a half-wit.]



[Illustration: THE WELCOME FAMILIAR TEA-HOUSE

In many provinces of China, tea-houses, of which this one in Eastern
Szech'uan is typical, are to be found about every ten li (3 miles) on
the main road.]



[Illustration: SPECIMEN OF "MAIN ROAD" IN N.E. YUeN-NAN

Taken in the little-known part of Western China, far from any of China's
"great paved highways"; author is in saddle.]



[Illustration: THE OLD-FASHIONED SOLDIER

All foreign travelers are given an official escort in the interior. This
fu-song was a noble warrior! But not a bewilderingly efficient
protector! He was a very lazy rascal!]



[Illustration: FAREWELL TO THE TRAVELER

These people had never seen a white man, their faces show that, at
farewell after a very pleasant stay among them, they were not altogether
broken-hearted to see the author go!]



[Illustration: CONFUCIAN TEMPLE AT TONG-CH'UANFU

Where the Author's life was miraculously saved; first temple in which
the Author lived. Later, in Tibet, his life was again saved.]



[Illustration: ANCIENT TIBETAN PRAYER WHEELS

The prayer wheel plays an important part in religious observances in
Tibet, the ritual often resembling that of the ancient Christian church.]


[Illustration: WATCH YOUR STEP

Picture shows nature of main roads in certain sections of western
China; when the rains come, traveling is quite dangerous. Author seen on
boulder at right.]



[Illustration: FAR FROM THE MADDENING THRONG

Regimenting the whole village to bid a sad farewell; Samuel Pollard,
author's traveling companion on this trip in the wilds, stands under the
hat on the right.]



[Illustration: HAPPY FAMILY IN BACKWOODS

The Author spent two nights in this crudely-thatched home in the hills.]
Though poor, the people were extremely hospitable--and invariably happy.]



[Illustration: PRIMITIVE COAL-MINING IN YUeN-NAN

Coal is abundant in many parts of Yuen-nan, though production is small and
methods of mining very crude. Picture shows tunnel leading underground.]



[Illustration: WOMEN WEAVING HEMP GARMENTS

These two pictures show (below) the women stripping hemp and (above)
weaving it into the picturesque garments they are wearing. They were all
dressed up for the occasion. It is surprising what they can do with such
primitive appliances. Picture was taken in the hill country beyond
Chaotungfu. They are all Hua Miao.]



[Illustration: HUA MIAO WOMEN AND CHILDREN

Basket on woman's back shows general method of transportation in the
hilly country inhabited by this fascinating tribe.]



[Illustration: WASH DAY AMONG THE CHILDREN

Scene in the school grounds of the mission at Tongch'uanfu, the "City of
the Eastern Streams"--and a very happy little band they are.]



[Illustration: TWO DAYS OUT FROM YUNG-CH'ANG-FU

An almost everyday scene in the western part of China--China's
"Switzerland"--on the main road from Chung-king to Upper Burma.]


[Illustration: THE ITINERANT NECROMANCER

Predicted the disappearance of the author in five days; was himself found
dead in village in three days.]



[Illustration: COPPER KETTLE LANE IN YUeN-NAN-FU

Copper is supposed to be a government monopoly, yet there is always
abundance of copper here! One of the most interesting streets in all
China.]



[Illustration: AUTHOR'S CARAVAN FOUR DAYS FROM JOURNEY'S END

And a snapshot of the bridge said by Chinese "to be possessed of a
demon!"-- because it ate up so much money in public subscription, and yet
was never in repair!]




[Illustration: TYPICAL SINGLE-SPAN BRIDGE OF INLAND CHINA.

Engineers say that China possesses bridges of more varied design than
any other country.]



[Illustration: Top left--Hua Miao, all men, of North-eastern Yuen-nan. Top right--Ch'in
Miao, men, of Kweichow. Bottom left--Three Heh Miao--all women. Bottom
right--Hua Miao--two women have their hair done up in shape of horn to
denotes that they are married; others man.]



[Illustration: A REAL ABORIGINAL FEAST

The man on the left scowled in anger as the Author snapped his
picture--otherwise, all were happy. For them an exceptional feast, not an
everyday affair.]



[Illustration: WHERE EAST MEETS WEST

Playfellows in Far Interior China. The little white girl is the daughter
of a missionary in Sui-fu, Szech'uan, where picture was taken on porch of
mission residence.]



[Illustration: BEAUTIFUL TONG-CH'UANFU IN YUeN-NAN

The city in which the Author rested for several months when his right
arm was broken; situated between two high ranges, Tongch'uanfu Valley is
extremely beautiful.]



[Illustration: TWO VERY PRACTICAL WOMEN

Though their tribes have lived on same range of mountains "for eighty
centuries," they speak different languages and lead different life
generally. (One carries baby.)]



[Illustration: IN UNSURVEYED AND LITTLE-TRODDEN YUeN-NAN

Picture shows into what a dilapidated condition the roads are allowed to
get; off courier roads, this is what you get.]



[Illustration: IGNORANCE AND POVERTY

Characteristic specimens of poor tribes found in wild areas off the
beaten path in the province of Yuen-nan; their food is rarely above famine
conditions.]



[Illustration: THE TENGYUEH WATERFALL

Mountains opposite are about 4,000 feet higher than the Tengyueh Plain,
which is about 5,500 feet; over this waterfall one of author's ponies
"committed suicide," Chinese said.]



[Illustration: FAMILY SCENE IN HUA MIAOLAND

In many districts of this wild country nothing will grow except corn
(maize) and hemp; latter people weave for clothing.]


[Illustration: REFORMED HUA MIAO STUDENTS TAKING IT EASY

Picture shows how much they have benefitted under the missionary's
influence. Taken at the British mission compound in Tongch'uanfu.]



[Illustration: FAR IN THE WILDS OF UNSURVEYED YUeN-NAN

Picture gives only a scant idea of the difficulties of negotiating
country of this nature. When river is high, there is no bridge. Author
on bridge.]










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