Monday, August 25, 2008


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" 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. 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 Yün-nan-fu.

Coming into Ch'u-hsiong-fu--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" 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," 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 Yün-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 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 Yün-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 , the temple grounds are robbed still more. In the days of its prosperity Yün-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 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 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.

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" "only five more li to Sha-chiao-kai."

We had thirty li to do. Such is the idea of distance in Yün-nan.

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.


But the storm came the next day, as we were on our way to Pu-pêng, during the ninety li when we passed the highest point on this journey. By name The Eagle Nest Barrier , 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 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-pêng. 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?"

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-pêng 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 , 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_ 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 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 Yün-nan-ï 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 , there is a plain extending for twenty li to Yün-nan-ï--flat as country in the Fen district. The road was good , 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.

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 , 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 . 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 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 .

Major H.R. Davies, whose treatise on the tribes of Yün-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 , 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.


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 . 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 Yün-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. 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 Yün-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 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."

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.

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 Yün-nan-fu to Burma. Tali-fu, although growing, is only the official town, of which Hsiakwan is the commercial entrepôt. 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 Yün-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-ïn-tang, and there is no place in all China where Kwan-ïn is worshipped with such relentless vigor. Some years ago, so the wags say, when Tali-fu was threatened by rebels, Kwan-ïn 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-ïn 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.


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 , 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.

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-pêng, 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" --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 . 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 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 Yün-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 Yün-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 Yün-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 , 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--


Mere words are a feeble means to employ to describe the mountains of Yün-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 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 . 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.

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 Yün-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 Yün-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 Yün-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 Yün-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. Three of them lived but a few months thereafter; the fourth survived his reformation, but was a life-long invalid."

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_ by Chester Holcombe.