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Title: A Wayfarer in China - Impressions of a trip across West China and Mongolia
Author: Kendall, Elizabeth Kimball
Language: English
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project.)



 [Transcriber's Note: The index of this book lists general subject page
  numbers after sub-entry pages.

  Incorrect page numbers in the Illustrations list have been changed.]



         A WAYFARER IN CHINA


[Illustration: THE LITTLE "FU T'OU" (CARAVAN HEADMAN)]



         A WAYFARER IN CHINA

        IMPRESSIONS OF A TRIP
    ACROSS WEST CHINA AND MONGOLIA

         BY ELIZABETH KENDALL

         WITH ILLUSTRATIONS


        BOSTON AND NEW YORK
      HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
    The Riverside Press Cambridge



 COPYRIGHT, 1913, BY ELIZABETH KENDALL
 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 _Published February 1913_



               TO
  THE HAPPY MEMORY OF MY MOTHER
           THE ONE WHO
        ALWAYS UNDERSTOOD



PREFACE


A word of explanation may help to an understanding of this record of a
brief journey in China, in 1911, in the last quiet months before the
revolution.

No one who has ever known the joy of hunting impressions of strange
peoples and strange lands in the out-of-the-way corners of the world can
ever feel quite free again, for he hears always a compelling voice that
"calls him night and day" to go forth on the chase once more. Years ago,
for a beginning, I pursued impressions and experiences in the Far West
on the frontier,--there was a frontier then. And since that time,
whenever chance has offered, that has been my holiday pastime, among the
Kentucky mountains, in the Taurus, in Montenegro, in India. Everywhere
there is interest, for everywhere there is human nature, but whoever has
once come under the spell of the Orient knows that henceforth there is
no choice; footloose, he must always turn eastwards.

But really to see the East one must shun the half-Europeanized town and
the treaty port, must leave behind the comforts of hotel and railway,
and be ready to accept the rough and the smooth of unbeaten trails. But
the compensations are many: changing scenes, long days out of doors,
freedom from the bondage of conventional life, and above all, the
fascination of living among peoples of primitive simplicity and yet of a
civilization so ancient that it makes all that is oldest in the West
seem raw and crude and unfinished. So when two years ago my feet sought
again the "open road," it was towards the East that I naturally turned,
and this time it was China that called me. I did not go in pursuit of
any information in particular, but just to get for myself an impression
of the country and the people. My idea of the Chinese had been derived,
like that of most Americans, from books and chance observation of the
handful of Kwangtung men who are earning their living among us by
washing our clothes. Silent, inscrutable, they flit through the American
scene, alien to the last. What lies behind the riddle of their impassive
faces? Perhaps I could find an answer. Then, too, it was clear, even to
the most unintelligent, that a change was coming over the East, though
few realized how speedily. I longed to see the old China before I made
ready to welcome the new. But not the China of the coast, for there the
West had already left its stamp. So I turned to the interior, to the
western provinces of Yunnan and Szechuan. Wonderful for scenery,
important in commerce and politics, still unspoiled, there I could find
what I wanted.

Of course I was told not to do it, it would not be safe, but that is
what one is always told. A long, solitary summer spent a few years ago
among the Himalayas of Western Tibet, in Ladakh and Baltistan, gave me
heart to face such discouragement, and I found, as I had found before,
that those who knew the country best were most ready to speed me onward.
And as the following pages show, there was nothing to fear. I had no
difficulties, no adventures, hardly enough to make the tale interesting.

It is true, I had some special advantages. I was an American and a
woman, and no longer young. Chinese respect for grey hair is a very real
thing; a woman is not feared as a man may be, and hostility is often
nothing more than fear; and even in remote Szechuan I met men who knew
that the American Government had returned the Boxer indemnity, and who
looked kindly upon me for that reason. If the word of certain foreigners
is to be trusted, I gained in not knowing the language; the people would
not take advantage of my helplessness. That seems rather incredible; if
it is true, the whole Western world has something to learn of China.

But I could not have done what I did without the wise and generous aid
of many whom I met along the way, Europeans and Chinese, officials,
merchants, and above all missionaries, everywhere the pioneers. To them
all I tender here my grateful thanks. And to the representatives of the
Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank wherever I met them, and also to those of
the Russo-Asiatic Bank I would express my gratitude for many courtesies
shown me.

As I look back I know it was worth while, all of it. Half a dozen months
count for little toward the real understanding of a strange
civilization, but it is something to have seen a great people in its
home, to have watched it at work and at play, for you have been forced
once again to realize that although "East is East and West is West," the
thing that most matters is the nature of the man, and that everywhere
human nature is much the same.


        THE ORCHARD,
  WELLESLEY, MASSACHUSETTS,
       November, 1912.



                           CONTENTS


    I. ACROSS TONKING                                   3

   II. DAYS IN YUNNAN-FU                               24

  III. ACROSS YUNNAN                                   41

   IV. THE CHIEN-CH'ANG                                71

    V. ON THE MANDARIN ROAD                           101

   VI. TACHIENLU                                      123

  VII. THE LESSER TRAIL                               139

 VIII. ACROSS CHENGTU PLAIN                           161

   IX. OMEI SHAN, THE SACRED                          180

    X. DOWN THE YANGTSE                               202

   XI. FROM THE GREAT RIVER TO THE GREAT WALL         221

  XII. THE MONGOLIAN GRASSLAND                        236

 XIII. ACROSS THE DESERT OF GOBI                      256

  XIV. URGA, THE SACRED CITY                          276

   XV. NORTH TO THE SIBERIAN RAILWAY                  289

  XVI. A FEW FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF CHINA               308

       INDEX                                          323



                           ILLUSTRATIONS


  THE LITTLE "FU T'OU" (CARAVAN HEADMAN) (p. 6)        _Frontispiece_

  MAP OF CHINESE EMPIRE                                             3

  A YUNNAN VALLEY                                                   6

  OUTSIDE THE WALLS OF YUNNAN-FU                                    6

  MY SEDAN CHAIR AND BEARERS                                       32

  A MEMORIAL ARCH NEAR YUNNAN-FU                                   32

  MAP OF WEST CHINA                                                42

  ON A YUNNAN ROAD: MY CARAVAN--THE MILITARY ESCORT                44

  WU-TING-CHOU: TEMPLE GATEWAY--TEMPLE CORNER                      60

  LOLO GIRLS                                                       80

  "TAME, WILD" LOLOS                                               80

  A MEMORIAL ARCH. SZECHUAN                                        92

  FORTIFIED VILLAGE IN THE CHIEN-CH'ANG VALLEY                     92

  "MERCURY," MY FLEET COOLIE                                      106

  CARRIER COOLIES                                                 106

  A GROUP OF SZECHUAN FARMHOUSES                                  114

  A VIEW OF TACHIENLU                                             124

  TIBETANS                                                        124

  LAMA AND DOG AT TACHIENLU                                       134

  THE GATE OF TIBET                                               134

  A WAYSIDE REST-HOUSE                                            146

  A FORTIFIED POST                                                146

  A ROADSIDE TEA-HOUSE                                            152

  TEA COOLIE CROSSING A SUSPENSION BRIDGE                         152

  A FARMHOUSE IN CHENGTU PLAIN                                    162

  MEMORIAL ARCH TO A "VIRTUOUS WIDOW," CHENGTU PLAIN              168

  THE "REJECTION OF THE BODY" (CLIFF A MILE HIGH), MOUNT OMEI,
  WEST SZECHUAN                                                   196

  IN THE YANGTSE GORGES                                           218

  TARTAR WALL, PEKING                                             230

  CARAVAN OUTSIDE THE TARTAR WALL                                 230

  A POOR MONGOL FAMILY AND YURT                                   248

  JACK AND HIS LAMA FRIEND                                        258

  MY CARAVAN ACROSS MONGOLIA                                      258

  HORSEMEN OF THE DESERT, NORTH MONGOLIA                          268

  A LAMA BOUND FOR URGA                                           278

  A MONGOL BELLE, URGA                                            278

  MY MONGOL HOSTESS                                               284

  THE MONGOL HOUSE WHERE I STAYED IN URGA                         284

  LAMA AND HIS "WIFE"                                             298


My thanks are due to Robert J. Davidson, Esq., of Chengtu, Szechuan, for
kind permission to use the photograph of the Yangtse Gorges. Also to
Messrs. Underwood & Underwood, of New York, for the photographs of the
Tartar Wall, Peking. With these exceptions the illustrations are from
photographs made by myself on the journey. I should like to express here
my appreciation of the care and skill shown by the staff of the Kodak
Agency, Regent Street, West, in handling films often used under very
unfavourable conditions.

                                                                E. K.



SUGGESTIONS FOR PRONOUNCING CHINESE NAMES IN THE TEXT

In general vowels are pronounced as in Italian.

   _a_ preceded by _w_ and followed by _ng_ is like _a_ in _fall_.
   _ü_ like the French _u_.
   _ai_ like _i_ in _mine_.
   _ao_ like _ou_ in _proud_.
   _ei_ like _ey_ in _they_.
   _ie_ like _e-e_ in _re-enter_.
   _ui_ with vowels distinct.
   _ou_ with vowels distinct and stress on _o_.

Of the consonants, _ch_, _k_, _p_, _t_, _ts_ are softer than in English,
approaching respectively _j_, _g_, _b_, _d_, _dz_.

_hs_ is approximately _sh_ (hsien = she-en).


MONEY, WEIGHTS AND MEASURES

 Tael, roughly two-thirds of a dollar gold.
 Dollar or dollar Mex., about fifty cents gold.
 Cash, about the twentieth part of a cent gold.
 Li, a scant third of an English mile.
 Catty, about one and one-third pounds avoirdupois.



A WAYFARER IN CHINA



_For the wander-thirst is on me And my soul is in Cathay._



[Illustration: CHINESE EMPIRE]



A WAYFARER IN CHINA



CHAPTER I

ACROSS TONKING


Three years ago West China seemed at the back of beyond. To make your
way in you had either to traverse the length of Upper Burma and then
cross the great rivers and ranges of western Yunnan, a weary month-long
journey, or else spend tedious weeks ascending the Yangtse, the monotony
of the trip tempered by occasional shipwreck. To-day, thanks to French
enterprise, you can slip in between mountain and river and find yourself
at Yunnan-fu, the provincial capital, after a railway journey of only
three days and a half from Haiphong, the port of Tonking.

When first planning a visit to West China, I set my heart on going in
from the west, for I had long wished to see the wild, picturesque
country that lies between the Burmese frontier and the Yangtse. Years
before, I had looked across the border and promised myself that some day
I would find out what lay on the other side. But when the time came the
difficulty of securing a Chinese interpreter in Burma forced me to go
to Hong Kong, and once there, lack of time made it necessary that I
should choose the shortest route into West China, and that was by way of
Haiphong and the Red River railway. After all, there were compensations.
Even a fleeting vision from the windows of a railway carriage gives some
idea of what the French are doing in their great Eastern colony.
Moreover, there could be no better starting-point for such a trip as I
had before me than the free port of Hong Kong, and the comfort of
arranging an outfit in a place where East and West meet untrammelled by
custom-houses is not to be despised. As a rule it is a mistake to bring
an elaborate outfit from home. Generally each place has worked out just
the devices that best serve its particular needs, and much of Western
travelling equipment does not fit in with the conditions of Eastern
life. Shoes and saddles the traveller from the West wisely brings with
him, and of course all scientific apparatus is best provided in Europe.
But in the main I found all that I needed, whether of Eastern or Western
manufacture, in Hong Kong, and at surprisingly low prices. Interpreter
and cook I had secured from Shanghai. The former, a Kiangsi man, was the
product of mission schools and a year in an American Western college. He
spoke English fairly well, and was sufficiently at home in the various
forms of Mandarin to get on in Yunnan and Szechuan. The cook had come
down the "Great River" from Chung-king with an English family returning
home, and was glad to work his way back, even though by a roundabout
route. Although he spoke no English, he understood European ways and was
quick to comprehend my wishes. And he proved a faithful, hard-working
fellow, and a very passable cook.

By the end of March my preparations were complete. The boat for Haiphong
was to leave at nine o'clock on the morning of the 29th, and the evening
before two sampans took me and my kit, together with the interpreter and
the cook, out to where she lay at her moorings. My belongings looked
rather formidable as they lay heaped up on the deck of the Sikiang, of
the Est Asiatique Français line, but, after all, there was only a
moderate supply of stores, such as tea, jam, biscuit, sugar, cereals,
tinned meats and tinned milk, together with a few enamelled iron dishes
and the cook's stew-pans, all packed in wooden boxes. The bedding-roll
and clothing were put in camp-bags of waterproof canvas, while the
necessary maps and cameras and films were carried in suit-cases for
safe-keeping. An English cross saddle brought from Shanghai proved more
satisfactory for the small Yunnan ponies than would have been the
Mexican saddle which I had tried in vain to secure. Acting on a timely
word of warning I bought in Hong Kong a most comfortable sedan-chair,
a well-made bamboo affair fitted with a top and adjustable screens and
curtains to keep out either rain or sun. I had been told that I should
have no use for a tent, but that a camp-bed was a necessity, and so it
proved. The bed I took with me was of American manufacture; compact and
light, and fitted with a mosquito frame, it served me throughout all my
journeyings and was finally left in Urga in North Mongolia, on the
chance that it might serve another traveller a good turn. An important
part of my outfit, a small Irish terrier, arrived from Japan the next
morning, when I had about given him up. He was dropped into my waiting
sampan as his ship, homeward bound to Calcutta from Kobe, came into her
moorings, and we climbed up the side of the Sikiang not fifteen minutes
before she was off. All's well that ends well. We were safe on board,
and I had secured a gay little comrade in my solitary journeying, while
before Jack lay a glorious run of two thousand odd miles.

The mail boat to Haiphong, due to make the trip in fifty-three hours,
had once been a royal Portuguese yacht, but the only remaining traces of
her former glory were the royal monogram, "M.R.P.," conspicuous in glass
and woodwork, and her long, graceful lines, charming to look at, but not
well fitted to contend with the cross-currents of the China Sea. As the
only lady passenger I had very comfortable quarters, and the kindest
attention from French officers and Annamese stewards. The second
afternoon there came a welcome diversion when the boat put into
Kwang-chou-wan, two hundred miles southwest of Hong Kong, to visit the
new free port of Fort Bayard, the commercial and military station which
the French are creating in the cession they secured from China in 1898,
and which, if all goes well, is some day to rival Hong Kong. The Bay of
Kwang-chou is very fine, affording a safe harbour to the two or three
ships that were riding at anchor, or to two or three navies if need
came, but Fort Bayard displays as yet few signs of the prophesied
greatness. To while away the hours of waiting I went on shore and
wandered about the empty, grass-grown roads of the tiny settlement. To
the right as one walked up from the beach stretched a long line of
substantial-looking barracks, and many of the houses were of European
appearance, attractively set in large gardens. Above the whole towered a
rather pretentious two-spired church. The one native and business street
running parallel with the beach showed little life; people did not wake
up even at the coming of the fortnightly mail from Hong Kong, and the
native population seemed no more than sufficient to serve the needs of
the foreign element.

[Illustration: A YUNNAN VALLEY]

[Illustration: OUTSIDE THE WALLS OF YUNNAN-FU]

We were joined here by two or three French officials attended by an
escort of Annamese policemen. These latter had a decidedly ladylike,
genteel air with their hair smoothly brushed and twisted in a low knot
at the back of the neck, the whole bound round with a black kerchief
laid in neat folds. Their uniform was of dark blue woollen set off by
putties of a lighter blue, and their appearance was decidedly shipshape.
I talked with one of the Frenchmen returning from an official visit to
Fort Bayard. He seemed to have little faith in the new settlement,
declaring the Government had poured in money like water, and with no
adequate return.

It is more than a century since France began to interest herself in this
part of the world, dreaming dreams of an Eastern empire to offset the
one she had just lost in America. Then came the French Revolution, and
the dream went the way of many more substantial things, and it was not
until the days of the Second Empire that Napoleon III, looking east and
west, again took up the question. Little by little the French
strengthened their hold upon the Indo-China peninsula, and the final
contest came in the eighties, a part of the universal game of grab then
going on in Africa and Asia. Although China gave up her claim to the
territory a quarter of a century ago, it took many years longer to
pacify the country, and there is still something to be done. The cost in
men and money has been very great, and at one time the whole policy of
colonial expansion became so unpopular that it spelled political ruin
to the man most identified with it, Jules Ferry, "l'homme de Tonking."

The real history of Tonking dates from the administration of M. Doumer,
Governor-General of Indo-China from 1897 to 1902. During these five
years the Parisian printer, turned Radical politician and administrator,
showed what one able and determined man could do. When he arrived in the
East, piracy and brigandage were rife, there was an annual deficit of
some three million francs, and the feeble administration had done
nothing to develop the possibilities of the country. When he left, the
colony was upon its feet, lawlessness had been suppressed, the
administration reformed, and the deficit turned into a substantial
surplus. He had built towns and telegraphs, encouraged the native
industries of rice planting and silk culture, and by offering special
inducements to French enterprise had developed tea, coffee, and rubber
growing.

Nor did the energetic imperialist stop here. Believing that "a nation to
be great should be always striving to be greater," he began to develop a
vigorous forward policy which seemed to have as its goal nothing less
than the control of Yunnan and Southeast China. Colonial expansion was
necessary to the continued existence of France, he declared. In his last
report, looking back to the achievements of a past generation, he
concluded, "We are the same men, but we no longer believe in ourselves.
We act as if we were a vanquished people, and in any case we appear so
to the world. This is the result of our policy of effacement for which
must be substituted at all costs a policy of action which will permit us
to hold our rank."

It is true the forward policy did not originate with M. Doumer, for the
value of Tonking as the key to China had been recognized by French
statesmen before ever he put foot in the colony, but it was his task to
make that policy something more than a pious aspiration. Not only did he
set about making the French possessions the needed commercial and
industrial base for such an undertaking, but he also initiated the next
move in the game, the development of railway systems which would bring
French traders, and if need be French soldiers, into the heart of the
coveted territory. He worked out all the plans, urged them upon the
Government, and did more than any other man to secure the necessary
support of the French financiers; to-day railways linked up with Hanoi
and Haiphong have crossed the Chinese frontier at two points, Dong Dang
and Ho-k'ou.

The colony, to call it by its correct name, of Kwang-chou held an
important place in M. Doumer's scheme, and he predicted for it a
"brilliant future as a port of commerce." Like the rest of his party he
regretted the mistaken moderation of the Government in not acquiring at
the same time a lease of the island of Hainan. Something is being done
now to repair this unfortunate error by industriously developing French
hold upon that territory, and the big consulate and the French
post-office and hospital at Hoi-hou, the chief port, are significant of
future hopes, even if not justified by present conditions.

The following noon, after we left Kwang-chou, we were approaching
Haiphong through muddy red channels between the low-lying meadow lands
which here border the river Cua-Cam, on the right bank of which lies the
chief commercial centre of Tonking. But its days as a shipping port are
said to be numbered, because of the difficult approach. Much money has
been spent in efforts to improve the waterway, but with no satisfactory
results, and now it is proposed to create a new port in the beautiful
Baie d'Along, a little farther east. There was some doubt in my mind as
to the reception awaiting us. We had been told that the customs
inspection was severe, and we had many packages; no Chinese would be
admitted without passports, and I had neglected to provide any for my
men; there was a strict muzzling law on, and Jack had not even a collar.
But the graceful courtesy of the French officials smoothed away every
difficulty. We were bowed out of the custom-house with our packages
unopened. At the police headquarters, where I at once reported myself
with my Chinese men, we were met by one of my fellow passengers from
Kwang-chou who had hurried ahead to explain the situation, and thanks to
his efforts the lack of passports was kindly overlooked. As for Jack, he
was quickly furnished with all the equipment of the civilized
dog--muzzle, collar, chain--at one of the large outfitting-shops, of
which there seemed quite enough for the needs of the place.

Haiphong is an attractive town of some twenty thousand inhabitants, of
whom perhaps one thousand are Europeans. It is planned with an eye to
the future, like all French colonial centres, with broad streets and
imposing public buildings. But a deep calm brooded over everything;
there was no bustle in the thoroughfares, and the shops seemed
unvisited, nor did their proprietors show interest in attracting custom.
In one of the largest I offered a piastre, fifty cents gold, in payment
for a few picture post-cards, but they could not change the coin, and
seemed disinclined to make the effort to do it, so I went without my
cards. The Annamese, who form the bulk of the population, are attractive
in appearance, finer in feature and gentler in manner than the Chinese.
Save for a serious cast of face, they are much like the Burmese. Their
dress is quieter in tone than that of either their Burmese cousins or
their Chinese neighbours, and is severely utilitarian in cut, differing
little for men or women. The working dress of Haiphong was full, long,
square-cut trousers over which fell a sort of prolonged shirt slashed to
the waist. When at work the front panel was tucked up out of the way.
All alike wore huge straw hats tied under the chin.

But I saw little of Haiphong, as I left the same evening, and even less
of Hanoi, the capital, where we arrived at half-past ten, starting off
again before eight o'clock the next morning. I was sorry not to see more
of the latter place, for it is one of the finest cities in the Far East.
But I carried away a vision of a good hotel, an imposing capitol, and a
pretentious station, all set on wide streets lined with European-looking
houses surrounded by real green grass lawns. A twenty-minute run in a
rickshaw soon after dawn showed fine chaussées leading out into the
country and filled, even at this early hour, with crowds of country-folk
bringing their produce to market. I believe there are over one hundred
miles of metalled roads in the capital and the suburbs, all due to
untiring M. Doumer. But his most enduring monument in Hanoi is the fine
exposition buildings. When he went home to raise a second loan of two
hundred million francs for the development of the colony, the men to
whom he appealed naturally asked what were the resources of the country.
His convincing reply was the famous exposition of 1902.

There is one through train daily each way between Haiphong and
Yunnan-fu. The distance is about six hundred miles, and it took three
days and an evening to make the trip. There is no traffic by night, and
this seems to be the rule on these adventurous railways, for I met the
same thing on the Anatolian and Bagdad lines between Constantinople and
Eregli. The corridor trains are equipped with four classes. The first
was inferior to the same class on Continental lines, but that seemed to
matter little, for it was usually empty. As a gay young Englishman in
Yunnan-fu remarked, no one went first-class unless he was travelling at
some one's else expense. The second and third class were very good of
their kind, and the fourth was far and away the most comfortable
arrangement of the sort I had ever seen, with benches along the sides
and large unglazed window openings. Most of the passengers and all the
jollity went in this class. Everywhere there were other than human
travellers; birds, dogs, goats, and pigs were given room, always on
condition of having a ticket. I paid four dollars gold for my dog's
ticket from Haiphong to Yunnan-fu, but having paid, Jack's right in the
carriage was as unquestioned as mine, and I found this true in all my
railway travel in China.

The Tonking-Yunnan railway is a remarkable undertaking, and shows the
seriousness with which the French are attacking the problems of Far
Eastern colonization. The lower half of the line, which here follows up
the Red River valley, presented few serious engineering difficulties,
although calling for at least one hundred and seventy-five bridges on
the section south of Lao-kai, but it was almost impossible to secure
labourers for the construction work. Annamese refused to lend a hand,
and the Chinese died like flies from the malarial conditions. For a time
work was at a standstill, and in the end it had to be suspended during
the summer months. The upper part, on the other hand, especially that
section which runs through the Namti valley, tested to the utmost the
skill of the French engineers. And the cost was correspondingly great.
Even as it is, much of the embanking seems to be of a rather slight
character, and quite unfit to stand the tremendous tropical downpours of
the early summer months. After leaving China I learned that I had passed
over the line just in time, for the rains set in very early in the
summer of 1911, and for weeks traffic was fearfully interrupted by
landslips and broken bridges.

Whether the line will prove a financial success depends on some things
not wholly under control. The present customs regulations certainly tend
to check the development of trade in Tonking, and the transportation
rates are perhaps more than traffic can bear. The French, however, can
change their policy in these respects if they think best. But the
proposed construction by the Chinese Government of a railway connecting
Yunnan-fu and the West River valley would cut the ground out from under
their feet. For the moment, the Revolution has stopped the enterprise,
but it is certain to be taken up again, as there are no insuperable
engineering obstacles in the way, and every economic and political
reason for giving Yunnan an outlet to the sea through Chinese territory.

On leaving Hanoi in the early morning light we struck across a wide
fertile plain, beautifully cultivated; fields of rice alternating with
maize stretched away to a wall of feathery bamboo broken by stately
palms and glossy mangoes. After a little the country became more broken,
rolling near by, mountainous in the distance. The vegetation, dense and
tropical, hemmed in the line on both sides, but here and there charming
trails led away through the jungle to villages on higher land; a
delightful region to pass through, perhaps to live in if one were a
duck, but for human beings the steamy heat must be very depressing. At
Yun Bay the valley narrowed, and we drew nearer the mountains, but there
was no change in the atmosphere, and had not the sky been cloudy, we
should have suffered greatly from the heat.

My fellow travellers were chiefly officials of the civil administration
or connected with the railway, who chatted or slept or quietly drank
away the weary hours; for them there was no novelty in the trip to dull
the feeling of discomfort. At one small station a man who might have
been a planter got in, followed by an attractive-looking Annamese woman
carrying a little child. She cried bitterly as she waved good-bye to a
group of natives on the station platform. The man seemed well known on
the line, and was soon the centre of a group of his fellows who paid no
attention to the woman. After a while the trio went to sleep, the man on
the carriage bench, the woman and child on the floor. She was what is
euphemistically called a "cook" in Tonking; just another name for an
arrangement so often resulting from the lonely life of Europeans among a
slack-fibred dependent alien population. It is the same thing that
confronts the stray visitor to the isolated tea plantations of the Assam
hills, where young English lads are set down by themselves, perhaps a
day's journey from the next European. What wonder that they find it
difficult to hold fast to the standards and principles of the home that
seems so far away, or that if they once ignore their inherited
traditions, no matter in how slight a thing, there seems to be no
natural stopping-place short of the abyss. As once said to me an aged
American missionary, who perhaps had never worn an evening coat a dozen
times in his life, "A nice young fellow, clean in body and soul, comes
out from England, and finds himself shut up for the year on one of these
plantations, no one of his kind within reach. He means well, but the
test is too great. First he stops dressing for dinner. What's the use?
Then he gets careless about his manners. And the end of it all is
black-and-tan babies in the compound." Here in Tonking the woman is
perhaps as well off as in her native hut until the planter goes home or
brings out a European wife, but in some way or another there is usually
an untoward ending. As for the children, they go to swell the class that
is neither here nor there, and their lot is probably happier than that
of the unfortunate Eurasians of India, since race prejudice is far less
strong among the French than with the Anglo-Saxon.

At Lao-kai on the Tonking frontier I stopped over for a day's rest,
having learned that it boasted a comfortable European inn. The little
town is built on the opposite high banks of the Red River near its
junction with the Namti. Just across the latter stream lie China and the
Chinese town of Ho-k'ou. There is a distinct European aspect to Lao-kai,
and as a frontier post it has a good-sized garrison of the Annamese
Tirailleurs and the French Foreign Legion. The latter did not look as
black as they are painted, and it was hard to realize that behind their
friendly, courteous bearing were ruined careers; but the contrast of
their sturdy forms and weather-beaten faces with the slender figures and
delicate features of the Tirailleurs was very striking. I did not wonder
that the French soldiers have dubbed their Annamese companions-in-arms
the "Young Ladies." The inn, which was most efficiently managed by two
Frenchwomen, served as a sort of club for the Europeans of both Lao-kai
and Ho-k'ou, and incidentally also for innumerable dogs and cats. At
dinner each person was the centre of an expectant group of the
four-footed habitués of the inn, and no one seemed to object. Just
another instance of the liking of the most civilized peoples of the West
and the East, English, French, and Chinese, for pet animals.

A small church on the right bank of the river showed white among the
bamboos, and in the early evening the bells rang with a homelike sound.
Crossing by the ferry I found the place empty save for two Annamese
soldiers kneeling quietly and reverently. In going back and forth on the
ferry-boat as I did several times, I had a chance to observe the people.
As in the case of the Burmans the difference between men and women is
not marked; indeed, among the younger ones it is often difficult to tell
them apart. The great palm-leaf hat generally worn took me back to hot
Sunday afternoons in an old church in the Berkshire hills of
Massachusetts, when my restless little mind busied itself with wondering
what palm leaves looked like when they were not fans. I now had a chance
to see, for I was in the land of palms, and the church-going fans of my
childhood seemed to have transformed themselves into a universal
headgear. In shape the Annamese hat resembles a tea-tray with edges
three inches deep, and of the size of a bicycle wheel. In addition to
the band passing under the chin a small crown fits the head snugly, and
helps to keep the huge thing in place. Primarily it is a head-covering,
a protection against sun or rain, but incidentally it serves as a
windbreak, a basket-cover, a tray, or a cradle. Often French soldiers
crossed with me, and I noticed that they usually spoke Annamese
fluently, unlike Tommy Atkins in India, who rarely knows a word of the
vernacular; also they seemed to be on a friendly, not to say familiar
footing with the natives.

After a comfortable week-end's rest, I left Lao-kai in the early
morning, helped on my journey by those courtesies that so often in
strange lands convince one that "less than kin more than kind" quite
understates the truth. An Italian on his way down the river wired the
landlord of the best inn in Yunnan-fu of my coming, that I might be
properly met. That I had already done so myself did not at all take from
his kind thoughtfulness. Still another Italian of the Chinese customs
service joined me as we left Lao-kai, having come over from Ho-k'ou to
escort me across the frontier, that I might have no bother with my
luggage. Yet another of these kind strangers wired ahead to warn the
solitary American on the line of my coming, thus giving the two
compatriots a chance to exchange a few words at the station as the
train went through.

On leaving Lao-kai our way led up the valley of the Namti, a small
mountain river coming in from the east. The scenery was now much wilder,
and as we rose to higher levels the vegetation changed, the pathless
jungle which comes up to the very doors of Lao-kai gave way to sparsely
covered grass slopes, and they in turn to barren, rocky walls. It was
here that the French engineers encountered their most difficult
problems. We wound up the narrow valley in splendid loops and curves,
turning upon our tracks, running through numerous tunnels, and at one
time crossing a chasm so narrow and with sides so steep and precipitous
that it was found necessary to build the bridge in two parts, each
against the face of the cliff, and then gradually lower them until they
met above the river, three hundred and fifty feet below. Finally by an
almost intolerable gradient we topped the divide and found ourselves
overlooking a wonderful, well-watered plain five thousand feet above the
sea, and cultivated as far as the vision could carry with the care and
precision of a market-garden.

That night I spent at A-Mi-chou in a semi-Chinese inn. The cooking was
good, and, thanks to the thoughtfulness of a railway official who wired
ahead, I had one of the two good rooms of the house, the others being
given over to rats. This was truly China, and the European railway with
its Frenchified trains and stations seemed indeed an invasion, a world
apart. The French officials apparently shared this feeling, and had a
nice way of regarding themselves as your hosts and protectors.

All the next day we were crossing the great plateau of Yunnan, now
climbing a pass in the mountain-ranges that tower above the level, now
making our way up a narrow rocky valley, the gray limestone cliffs gay
with bright blue flowers and pink blossoming shrubs. Just what they were
I could not tell as the train rolled by. Mostly the road led through
long stretches of tiny garden-like fields, broken here and there by
prosperous looking villages half concealed in bamboo groves. The scenery
was very fine and varied; above, the rocky hills, below, the green
valleys. The mingling, too, of tropical and temperate vegetation was
striking. We were in latitude 24° and 25°, about the same
as Calcutta, but at an elevation of nearly seven thousand feet, and the
combination seemed to work confusion among the growing things, for rice
and wheat were found not far apart, and here at last Heine's palm and
pine had come together.

Late on the second afternoon after leaving Lao-kai we were approaching
Yunnan-fu. Seen across the plain, the capital of the province looked
very imposing as it lay stretched along a low ridge running east and
west. Rice-fields interspersed with ruins, sad reminders of the
terrible Mohammedan rebellion of a generation ago, crowd up to the very
walls on the near side of the town. Outside the South Gate is the
station, and not far distant the Chinese house which an enterprising
French couple had turned into a very comfortable inn, where I stayed the
three days needed for arranging my caravan and seeing the sights of the
place.



CHAPTER II

DAYS IN YUNNAN-FU


The situation of Yunnan's capital is extraordinarily picturesque. It
stands in a wide plain, its northern wall running along a low rocky
ridge from which there is a charming view over city and lake to the
great mountains that skirt the plain on all sides. Lying at an elevation
of nearly seven thousand feet, it is blessed with a white man's climate.
Eighty-five degrees in the shade marks the highest summer temperature,
and the winters are just pleasantly bracing. Europeans who have
experienced the biting winds of Peking, the damp heat of Canton, or the
gray skies of Chengtu find in the bright days and cool breezes of Yunnan
some mitigation of their exile to this remote corner of the empire. The
city itself is not very attractive in spite of its many trees, for it
seems a network of narrow lanes, only broken here and there by a temple
enclosure or a stretch of waste land, the whole shut in by sound
thirty-foot high walls; nor are there any sights of special interest,
with the exception of a rather fine Confucian temple. But the country
roundabout affords many charming excursions. The waters of the lake,
some twenty-three miles in length, once perhaps washed the west wall,
but it is gradually silting up, and to-day it is five miles away and is
reached by heavy sampans which ply the narrow canals that intersect the
rice-fields. Farm buildings, tea-houses, and temples buried in groves of
bamboo are dotted over the plain, which is crossed at intervals by high,
stone-paved dykes lined with trees. The rich cultivation of the lowland
is in sharp contrast with the surrounding hills, bare and barren save
where the presence of a temple has preserved the forest.

Yunnan-fu, with a population of some eighty thousand, seems a fairly
prosperous town. Copper is found on the neighbouring hills, and the
metal-work of the place is famous, although by law all copper mined must
be sent to Peking. But the importance of the city depends mainly upon
its trade. It is the centre of a large though rather scantily populated
district abounding in the great staples, rice, beans, and millet, as
well as in fruit and vegetables. Formerly Yunnan stood in the forefront
of opium-producing provinces, but when I was there not a poppy-field was
to be seen. The last viceroy, the much respected Hsi Liang, the one
Mongol in the Chinese service, himself not an opium smoker, had shown
great determination in carrying out the imperial edicts against its use
or production, and rather unwillingly Yunnan was brought into line with
the new order. Under his successor, Li Ching Hsi, a man known to be
given over to the use of the drug, unwilling converts hoped for better
days, only to be disappointed. After a more or less serious effort to
reform, he announced that he was too old to change, but the province had
a long life before it, and must obey the law. So he made amends for his
own short-comings by enforcing the restrictions almost as vigorously as
his predecessor had done. What was true at that time in Yunnan was also
the case in Szechuan. Although always on the watch for the poppy,
nowhere did I see it cultivated. Probably in remote valleys off the
regular trails a stray field might now and then have been found,
innocently or intentionally overlooked by the inspector, but in the main
poppy-growing had really been stamped out; and this where a generation
ago that careful observer, Baber, estimated that poppy-fields
constituted a third of the whole cultivation. Credit where credit is
due. Manchu rule may have been weak and corrupt, but at least in respect
of one great popular vice it achieved more than any Western power ever
thought of attempting. Certainly not last among the causes for its
overthrow was the discontent aroused by its anti-opium policy. And now
it is reported that individualism run mad among the revolutionary
leaders has led to a slackening in the enforcement of the rules, and the
revival of poppy cultivation.

For half a century Yunnan has known little peace. Twenty years long the
terrible Mohammedan rebellion raged, and the unhappy province was swept
from end to end with fire and sword. Marks of the devastation of that
time are everywhere visible. Hardly had it been put down when the war
with the French in the eighties again involved Yunnan. Later came the
outbreak of the tribesmen, while the Boxer movement of the north found a
vigorous response here. Bloodshed and disorder have given the country a
set-back from which it is only beginning to recover.

But the coming of the railway has brought fresh life to Yunnan, and the
prospects for the future economic development are very promising. In the
capital there were many signs of a new day. The Reform movement had
taken good hold in this remote corner of the empire. A hospital with
eight wards and under Chinese control was doing fine work. Schools were
flourishing, and there was even a university of sorts. The newly
organized police force pervaded the whole place and was reputed quite
efficient. But it was the new military spirit that most forced itself
upon you; you simply could not get away from it. Bugle practice made
hideous night and day. Everywhere you met marching soldiers, and the
great drill ground was the most active place in the town. Dread of the
foreigner underlies much of the present activity and openmindedness
towards Western ideas. The willingness to adopt our ways does not
necessarily mean that the Chinese prefer them to their own, but simply
that they realize if they would meet us on equal terms they must meet us
with our own weapons. Writing of the Boxer rising, Sir Charles Eliot
summed up the Chinese position in a sentence, "Let us learn their tricks
before we make an end of them." Now it might read, "Let us learn their
tricks before they make an end of us." The drilling soldiers, the modern
barracks, the elaborately equipped arsenals, as well as the military
schools found all over China to-day, show which one of the Western
"tricks" seems to the man of the Middle Kingdom of most immediate value.
At the military school of Yunnan-fu they have a graphic way of enforcing
the lesson to be learned. A short time ago the students gave a public
dramatic performance, a sort of thing for which the Chinese have decided
talent. One of the scenes showed an Englishman kicking his Hindu
servant, while another represented an Annamese undergoing a beating at
the hands of a Frenchman. The teaching was plain. "This will be your
fate unless you are strong to resist." The English and French consuls
protested formally, and the proper apologies were made, but no one
believes that the lesson was forgotten.

It is not to be wondered at that the people of Yunnan are alive to the
danger of foreign interference, for they see the British on the west and
much more the French on the south, peering with greedy eyes and
clutching hands over the border. In the last fifteen years commissions
of the one and the other have scoured the province with scarcely so much
as "by your leave," investigating the mineral resources and planning out
practicable railway routes. Within the capital city the French seem
entrenched. A French post-office, a French hospital, French shops,
hotels, missions, and above all the huge consulate, are there like
advance posts of a greater invasion. There is an ominous look to these
pretentious establishments holding strategic points in this or that
debatable territory. Take the French consulates, here in Yunnan-fu and
in Hoi-hou, or the Russian in Urga, the North Mongolian capital, they
have more the aspect of a fortified outpost in a hostile country than
the residence of the peaceful representative of a friendly power.

And Yunnan is beginning to move. For some time past the Government has
been considering seriously the project of a railway across the province
on the east to the Si Kiang and Canton, and just before I arrived in
Yunnan-fu two engineers (significantly enough Americans) started
northwards to make the preliminary surveys for a line connecting the
capital with the Yangtse. If these two schemes can be carried through
under Chinese control, good-by to the hopes of the French. Just at the
time that I was in Yunnan there was much excitement over the Pien-ma
matter, a boundary question between the province and Burma. A boycott
of British goods had been started which would have been more effective
if there had been more goods to boycott, but it indicated the feeling of
the people, and the viceroy, Li Ching Hsi, was winning golden opinions
for the stand he took in the matter, which, however, did not save him
from ignominious deportation by the Revolutionary party only a few
months later.

But whatever the feeling towards foreigners in the mass, the individual
foreigner seemed to meet with no unfriendliness on the part of the
people in Yunnan-fu, and apparently official relations were on a cordial
footing. I found the Bureau of Foreign Affairs ready to do all it could
to smooth my way across Yunnan, but perhaps that was due in part to the
fact that the chief of the bureau had been for several years consul in
New York. By arrangement I called one afternoon, in company with a
missionary lady, upon his wife. Threading our way through narrow,
winding streets, our chairs turned in at an inconspicuous doorway and we
found ourselves in a large compound, containing not so much one house as
a number of houses set down among gay gardens. The building in which we
were received consisted apparently of two rooms, an anteroom and a
reception room. The latter was furnished in the usual style (invariable,
it seems to me, from country inn to prince's palace), heavy high
chairs, heavy high tables ranged against walls decorated with kakemonos
and gay mottoes; only in the centre of the room was a large table
covered with a cloth of European manufacture on which were set out
dishes of English biscuits and sweets. Our hostess, dressed in a
modified Chinese costume, received us with graceful dignity. Her
fine-featured face bore a marked likeness to many that one meets on the
street or in the church of an old New England town, and its rather
anxious expression somewhat emphasized the resemblance. She spoke with
much pleasure of the years she had spent in America, and her daughter,
who had been educated in a well-known private school in New York, looked
back longingly to those days, complaining that there was no society in
Yunnan-fu; but she brightened up at a reference to the arrival of a new
and young English vice-consul, hoping that it might mean some tennis. It
was an unexpected touch of New China in this out-of-the-way corner.
Before we left, two younger children were brought in, both born in
America, and one bearing the name "Daisy," the other "Lincoln," but
already they were forgetting their English.

During my three days in Yunnan-fu,[1] through the kindness of the
British Consul-General I was given a chance to make one or two
excursions into the surrounding country. An especially charming trip
that we took one afternoon was to Chin Tien, or "Golden Temple," a
celebrated copper temple about five miles out. Near the town our chairs
were borne along the narrow earth balk between the bean- and
rice-fields, but farther on our way led over the top of a high dyke
lined with trees. We mounted by a charming winding road to the temple,
set high on the hillside among its own groves of conifers, the courts of
the temple, which rose one behind the other, being connected by long,
steep flights of steps. In the upper court we were met by the friendly
priests, the quiet dignity of their reception being somewhat disturbed
by the din of the temple dogs, goaded almost to madness at Jack's
imperturbable bearing. Chinese temples rarely offer much of interest;
the construction is usually simple and their treasures are few, but
everything is freely shown, there are no dark corners, and the spacious
courts gay with flowers are full of charm. The sacred images which they
contain are generally grotesque or hideous. Not often does one show a
trace of the gracious serenity that marks the traditional
representations of Buddha; on the other hand, they are never indecent.

[Illustration: MY SEDAN CHAIR AND BEARERS]

[Illustration: A MEMORIAL ARCH NEAR YUNNAN-FU]

While I was seeing a little of Yunnan-fu and its people, the
preparations for my overland trip were moving forward, thanks chiefly
to the kind helpfulness of Mr. Stevenson, of the China Inland Mission.
For many years a resident of the province, and wise in the ways of the
country and of the country-folk, his advice served me at every turn.
Engaging the coolies was of course the matter of chief importance. On
them would depend the success of the first stage of my journey, the two
and a half or three weeks' trip to Ning-yüan-fu in the Chien-ch'ang
valley. A representative of the coolie "hong," or guild, a dignified,
substantial-looking man, was brought to the inn by Mr. Stevenson. After
looking over my kit carefully (even the dog was "hefted" on the chance
he might have to ride at times), he decided the number of coolies
necessary. As I wished to travel fast if need came, I threw in another
man that the loads might be light. The average load is seventy or eighty
catties, a catty equalling about one pound and a quarter. In Yunnan the
coolies generally carry on the shoulder the burden, fairly divided,
being suspended from the two ends of a bamboo pole. For myself I had
four men, as I had a four-bearer chair, the grandest of all things on
the road save the mandarin's chair with its curved poles raising the
occupant high above the common herd. At first I did not realize the
significance of the number, although I marked the interest with which my
interpreter inquired how many bearers I should have. What I did
appreciate was the extreme comfort of my travelling arrangements.
Seated in my chair, which was open above and enclosed below, and
furnished with a water-proof top and with curtains that could be lowered
to protect me against sun or rain, wind or importunate curiosity, I felt
as though on a throne. Under the seat was a compartment just large
enough for dressing-bag, camera, and thermos bottle, while at my feet
there was ample room for Jack. For my interpreter there was a two-bearer
chair, with which he was vastly discontented, and I, too, had my doubts
about it, although our reasons were not the same. He felt it beneath his
dignity to travel with two bearers only; I feared that it was too great
a burden for two men, even though the chair was light and the Chinese
literatus, small-boned and lacking in muscle, is no heavy burden.
Anyway, the arrangement did not work well, and at Ning-yüan-fu the
interpreter was provided with a closed chair and three bearers, to his
own satisfaction and to mine also, again for different reasons.

A sedan-chair is too luxurious to be long endurable, so I added a pony
to our caravan, purchased, from a home-going Dane of the customs
service, for forty-four dollars Mexican. The Yunnanese ponies are small
and sturdy, and as active as cats. They are all warranted to kick, and
mine was no exception. Although he was described as a gentleman's steed,
he had the manners of a pack-horse. I doubt if any one of our party
escaped the touch of his hoofs, and it was a joy to see him exchange
salutations with the ponies we met on the trail. However, he was
sure-footed and willing, and although hardly up to so long a trip as
mine, yet with care he came out very well at the end. But it required
constant watchfulness to make sure that he was properly watered and fed,
even though most of the time I took along a coolie for no other purpose
save to look after the horse, and lead him when I was not riding. And to
the very last it meant an order each time to insure that the girths were
loosened and the stirrups tied up when I was out of the saddle. When we
started from Yunnan-fu our caravan was made up of thirteen coolies,--six
chair-men, six baggage-carriers, and a "fu t'ou," or head coolie, whose
duty it was to keep the others up to their work, to settle disputes, or
to meet any difficulty that arose. In short, he was responsible both to
me and to the hong for the carrying-out of the contract which had been
duly agreed upon. In my limited experience, the fu t'ou is a great
blessing. I found mine capable, reliable men, adroit in smoothing away
difficulties and very ready to meet my wishes. As for the contract, that
was a serious matter. Each detail was carefully entered in a formidable
document, the route, the stages, the number of men, the amount to be
paid, and the how and where of payment. The hong had one copy and I
another which was handed over to the fu t'ou at the end of the trip,
that he might show it to the chief of the hong as proof that he had
carried out the contract. Each coolie was to receive $7.00 Mexican, or
about $3.50 gold, for his journey from Yunnan-fu to Ning-yüan-fu,
reckoned usually as sixteen stages. About one third the amount was to be
paid before starting, the remainder in specified sums at stated
intervals en route. I had no concern with the men's daily food, but from
time to time I was expected to give them "pork money" if they behaved
well. It would have been cheaper, I believe, to have hired coolies off
the street, but far less satisfactory, for the hong holds itself
responsible to you for the behavior of its men. And in their turn the
coolies pay a definite percentage of their earnings to the hong.

My stores and bedding and other things were packed in large covered
baskets insecurely fastened with padlocks. As time went on, covers
became loose and padlocks were knocked off by projecting rocks, but
nothing was ever lost or stolen. To keep out wet or vermin I had the
baskets lined with Chinese oiled cotton, perishable but cheap, and
effective as long as it lasts. Other sheets of the same material were
provided for use in the inn. One was laid on the floor and my camp-bed
set up in the middle of it, while others were spread over the wooden
Chinese beds with which the room was generally well supplied, and on
them my clothes, saddle, etc., were placed. When new the oiled cotton
has a strong, pungent odour, not pleasant but very effective against
vermin.

A most important item was the money to be used on the journey. I had an
account with the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank at Shanghai, and wherever
there were Europeans it was possible to get checks cashed, but from
Yunnan-fu to Ning-yüan, a journey of two and a half weeks or more, I
should be quite off the track of foreigners. Fortunately Yunnan is
waking up in money matters as well as in other ways, and has a silver
coinage of its own; moreover, one that the inhabitants are willing to
accept, which is not always the case, as I found later to my cost. With
the help of native bankers I was duly furnished with a supply of Yunnan
dollars, akin to Mexican dollars in value, and I obtained also some
Szechuan coins to use when I entered that province. In addition I became
the proud possessor of some seventy dollars in Hupeh money. This I was
told would pass anywhere after crossing the Yangtse. When I reached
Ning-yüan-fu, however, I found that no one would take it save at a heavy
discount. Unwilling to burden myself with it longer, I decided to let
the Chinese bankers have it, even though at a loss, but when they
discovered that the money was in twenty-cent pieces they would have
nothing to do with it at any price. So I carried it some two thousand
miles farther, to Hupeh itself. But even there it was not willingly
accepted. In the railway offices at Hankow not more than forty cents
would be received in small coins. If your ticket cost $10.50, you paid
for it in unbroken dollars, giving the railway a chance to unload some
of the undesirable change upon you. In the end I found myself reduced to
peddling twenty-cent pieces among friends and friends of friends. For
small change on my journey I carried rolls of copper cents, while the
cook festooned himself with long ropes of copper "cash," about twenty to
the American cent.

By the arrangement of the Foreign Office two soldiers were detailed to
escort me across Yunnan. It is by the wish of the officials rather than
at the traveller's request that this escort is given. The Chinese have
learned through an experience not wholly to our credit that injury or
even annoyance to the European may bring a punishment quite out of
proportion to the harm done; so to avoid difficulties the official is
inclined to insist upon sending soldiers with the foreigners passing
through his district, and the traveller as a rule perforce accepts the
arrangement. If he refuses, he will find it more difficult to secure
redress for any loss or injury suffered. For my part I did not feel
inclined to object. The expense is borne by the Government, save for the
customary tip, and in more ways than one I found my escort useful. At
irregular intervals they were changed. When we reached the end of the
last stage for which they were detailed, I gave them my card to carry to
the proper local official. This was replied to by sending a new pair
bearing the official's card.

Some of the men were old-time soldiers, hardly to be distinguished from
yamen runners in their untidy black and scarlet jackets decorated with
bold lettering on the back; and their weapons consisted simply of
something that might be described as a small sword or a huge
carving-knife in a leather sheath. After entering Szechuan I was usually
accompanied by quite real soldiers, men of the new service, fairly
shipshape in khaki and putties and carrying up-to-date guns. But whether
of the old order or of the new, I found the men at all times very
courteous and friendly, and ready to do any little service that came
their way. It was the duty of one man to stay with me, while the other
looked after the baggage coolies. As more at home in the particular
district through which we were passing, they were often very helpful to
my coolies in pointing out a short cut or in finding our intricate way
across the fields. Sometimes one was sent in advance to make sure of the
best quarters the village where we were to pass the night could afford,
and they often showed great zeal in tidying up the room for my coming.
The preparations consisted usually in stirring up the dust of ages on
the floor, a proceeding I did not like, and in ruthlessly tearing out
the paper that covered the lattice opening, of which I much approved.
Glass is rarely seen in West China, and the paper excluded both light
and air, but never the gaze of the curious, as a peephole was very
easily punched. On the march my escort, quick to notice my interest in
the flowers, were active in bringing me huge nosegays gathered along the
trail, so that my chair was often turned into a gay flowery bower; and
they sometimes showed their love for dogs, or perhaps sought to prove
their zeal in my service, by picking up Jack and carrying him for the
half-hour, to his great disgust, as his sturdy legs were untiring, and
equally so was his desire to investigate every nook and corner. "Little
fu t'ou," the coolies called him, because of the careful watch he kept
for any stragglers of the caravan.


[1] The words "fu" and "chou" and "hsien," attached to so many
Chinese place-names, are terms denoting administrative divisions. "Fu"
may be translated prefecture, "chou," department, and "hsien," a
district. The towns having these terminations are the headquarters of
the respective divisions.



CHAPTER III

ACROSS YUNNAN


My departure was set for the 8th of April, and by half-past four of that
morning the coolies, marshalled by the hong man, were at the door; but
it was after nine before we were really under way. It is always a
triumphant moment when one's caravan actually starts; there have been so
many times when starting at all seemed doubtful. Mine looked quite
imposing as it moved off, headed by Mr. Stevenson on his sturdy pony, I
following in my chair, while servants and coolies straggled on behind,
but, as usual, something was missing. This time it was one of the two
soldiers detailed by the Foreign Office to accompany me the first stages
of my journey. We were told he would join us farther on. Fortunately Mr.
Stevenson was up to the wiles of the native, and he at once scented the
favourite device for two to take the travelling allowance, and then, by
some amicable arrangement, for only one to go. So messengers were sent
in haste to look up the recreant, who finally joined us with cheerful
face at the West Gate, which we reached by a rough path outside the
north wall.

[Illustration: WEST CHINA]

Here I bade Mr. Stevenson good-bye, and turned my face away from the
city. Once more I was on the "open road." Above me shone the bright sun
of Yunnan, before me lay the long trail leading into the unknown. Seven
hundred miles of wild mountainous country, six weeks of steady
travelling lay between me and Chengtu, the great western capital. The
road I planned to follow would lead nearly due north at first,
traversing the famous Chien-ch'ang valley after crossing the Yangtse.
But at Fulin on the Ta Tu I intended to make a détour to the west as far
as Tachienlu, that I might see a little of the Tibetans even though I
could not enter Tibet. I did not fear trouble of any sort in spite of a
last letter of warning received at Hong Kong from our Peking Legation,
but there was just enough of a touch of adventure to the trip to make
the roughnesses of the way endurable. Days would pass before I could
again talk with my own kind, but I was not afraid of being lonely. "The
scene was savage, but the scene was new," and the hours would be filled
full with the constantly changing interests of the road, and as I looked
at my men I felt already the comradeship that would come with long days
of effort and hardship passed together. These men of the East--Turk,
Indian, Chinese, Mongol--are much of a muchness, it seems to me; pay
them fairly, treat them considerately, laugh instead of storm at the
inevitable mishaps of the way, and generally they will give you
faithful, willing service. It is only when they have been spoiled by
overpayment, or by bullying of a sort they do not understand, that the
foreigner finds them exacting and untrustworthy. And the Chinese is an
eminently reasonable man. He does not expect reward without work, and he
works easily and cheerfully. But as yet he was to me an unknown
quantity, and I looked over my group of coolies with some interest and a
little uncertainty. They were mostly strong, sound-looking men; two or
three were middle-aged, the rest young. No one looked unequal to the
work, and no one proved so. All wore the inevitable blue cotton of the
Chinese, varying with wear and patching from blue-black to bluish-white,
and the fashion of the dress was always the same; short, full trousers,
square-cut, topped by a belted shirt with long sleeves falling over the
hands or rolled up to the elbow according to the weather. About their
heads they generally twisted a strip of cotton, save when blazing sun or
pouring rain called for the protection of their wide straw hats covered
with oiled cotton. Generally they wore the queue tucked into the girdle
to keep it out of the way, but occasionally it was put to use, as, for
example, if a man's hat was not at hand to ward off the glare of the
sun, he would deftly arrange a thatch of leaves over his eyes, binding
it firm with his long braid of black hair. On their feet they wore the
inevitable straw sandal of these parts. Comfortable for those who know
how to wear them, cheap even though not durable (they cost only four
cents Mexican the pair), and a great safeguard against slipping, they
seemed as satisfactory footwear as the ordinary shoes of the
better-class Chinese seemed unsatisfactory. Throughout the East it is
only the barefooted peasant or the sandalled mountaineer who does not
seem encumbered by his feet. The felt shoe of the Chinese gentleman and
the flapping, heelless slipper of the Indian are alike uncomfortable and
hampering. Nor have Asiatics learned as yet to wear proper European
shoes, or to wear them properly, for they stub along in badly cut,
ill-fitting things too short for their feet. Why does not the shoemaker
of the West, if he wishes to secure an Eastern market, study the foot of
the native, and make him shoes suited to his need?

Our order of march through Yunnan varied little from day to day. We all
had breakfast before starting at about seven, and we all had much the
same thing, tea and rice, but mine came from the coast; the coolies
bought theirs by the way. At intervals during the forenoon we stopped at
one of the many tea-houses along the road to give the men a chance to
rest and smoke and drink tea. Sometimes I stayed in my chair by the
roadside; more often I escaped from the noise and dirt of the village to
some spot outside, among the rice- and bean-fields, where the pony could
gather a few scant mouthfuls of grass while I sat hard-by on a turf
balk and enjoyed the quiet and clean air. Of course I was often found
out and followed by the village-folk, but their curiosity was not very
offensive. Generally they squatted down in a semi-circle about me,
settling themselves deliberately to gaze their fill. If they came too
near I laughed and waved them back, and they always complied
good-naturedly. The little children were often really quite charming
under the dirt, but until they had learned to wash their faces and wipe
their noses I must confess I liked them best at a distance.

[Illustration: ON A YUNNAN ROAD: MY CARAVAN]

[Illustration: ON A YUNNAN ROAD: THE MILITARY ESCORT]

At noon we stopped at a handy inn or tea-house for tiffin and a long
rest. I was ordinarily served at the back of the big eating-room open to
the street in as dignified seclusion as my cook could achieve. Rice
again, with perhaps stewed fowl or tinned beef, and a dessert of jam and
biscuit, usually formed my luncheon, and dinner was like unto it, save
that occasionally we succeeded in securing some onions or potatoes. The
setting-forth of my table with clean cloth and changes of plates was of
never-failing interest to the crowds that darkened the front of the
eating-house, and excitement reached a climax when the coolie, whom my
cook had installed as helper,--there is no Chinese too poor to lack some
one to do his bidding,--served Jack his midday meal of rice in his own
dish. Then men stood on tiptoe and children climbed on each other's
shoulders to see a dog fed like--the Chinese equivalent of Christian.
They never seemed to begrudge him his food; on the contrary, they often
smiled approvingly. We were thousands of miles away from the
famine-stricken regions of eastern China, and through much of the
country where I journeyed I saw almost no beggars or hungry-looking
folk. In the afternoon we stopped as before at short intervals at some
roadside tea-house, for the coolies generally expect to rest every hour.

Our day's stage usually ended in a good-sized town. I should have
preferred it otherwise, for there is more quiet and freedom in the
villages. But my coolies would have it so; they liked the stir and
better fare of the towns, and the regular stages are arranged
accordingly. Our entrance was noisy and imposing. My coming seemed
always expected, for as by magic the narrow streets filled with staring
crowds. Through them the soldiers fought a way for my chair, borne at
smart pace by the coolies all shouting at the top of their voices. I
tried to cultivate the superior impassiveness of the Chinese official,
but generally the delighted shrieks of the children at the sight of Jack
at my feet, and his gay yelps in response, "upset the apple cart." There
was a rush to see the "foreign dog." I gripped him tighter and only
breathed freely when with a sharp turn to right or left my chair was
lifted high over a threshold and borne through the inn door into the
courtyard, the crowd in no wise baffled swarming at our heels,
sometimes not even stopping at the entrance to the inner court, sacred
(more or less) to the so-called mandarin rooms, the best rooms of the
place. I could not but sympathize with the innkeeper, the order of his
establishment thus upset, but he took it in good part; perhaps the
turmoil had its value in making known to the whole world that the
wandering foreigner had bestowed her patronage upon his house. I am sure
he had some reward in the many cups of tea drunk while the crowd
lingered on the chance of another sight of the unusual visitor. Anyway
we were always made welcome, and no objections were offered when my men
took possession of the place in very unceremonious fashion, as it seemed
to me, filling the court with their din, blocking the ways with the
chairs and baskets, seeking the best room for me, and then testing the
door and putting things to rights after a fashion, while the owner
looked on in helpless wonder.

In the villages one stepped directly from the road into a large
living-room, kitchen, and dining-room in one, and out of this opened the
places for sleeping. The inns in the towns are built more or less after
one and the same pattern. Entrance is through a large restaurant open to
the street, and filled with tables occupied at all hours save early dawn
with men sipping and smoking. From the restaurant one passes into a
stone-paved court surrounded usually by low, one-story buildings,
although occasionally there is a second story opening into a gallery.
Here are kitchens and sleeping-rooms, while store-rooms and stables are
tucked in anywhere. In the largest inns there is often an inner court
into which open the better rooms.

While the cook bustled about to get hot water, and the head coolie saw
to the setting-up of my bed, I generally went with the "ma-fu," or horse
boy, to see that the pony was properly cared for. Usually he was handy,
sometimes tethered by my door, often just under my room, once overhead.
Meanwhile the coolies were freshening themselves up a bit after the
day's work. Sitting about the court they rinsed chest and head and legs
with the unfailing supply of hot water which is the one luxury of a
Chinese inn. I can speak authoritatively on the cleanliness of the
Chinese coolie, for I had the chance daily to see my men scrub
themselves. Their cotton clothing loosely cut was well ventilated, even
though infrequently cleansed, and there hung about them nothing of the
odour of the great unwashed of the Western world. I wish one could say
as much for the inns, but alas, they were foul-smelling, one and all,
and occasionally the room offered me was so filthy that I refused to
occupy it, and went on the war-path for myself, followed by a crowd of
perplexed servants and coolies. Almost always I found a loft or a
stable-yard that had at least the advantage of plenty of fresh air, and
without demur my innkeeper made me free of it, although I expect it cut
him to the heart to have his best room so flouted.

Generally I went to bed soon after dinner; there was nothing else to do,
for the dim lantern light made reading difficult, and anyway my books
were few. But while the nights were none too long for me, the Chinese,
like most Asiatics, make little distinction between day and night. They
sleep if there is nothing else to do, they wake when work or pleasure
calls, and it was long after midnight when the inn settled itself to
rest, and by four o'clock it was again awake, and before seven we were
once more on the road.

In Yunnan, or "South of the Clouds," as the word signifies, you are in a
land of sunshine, of wild grandeur and beauty, of unfailing interest.
Its one hundred and fifty-five thousand square miles are pretty much on
end; no matter which way you cross the country you are always going up
or going down, and the contrasts of vegetation and lack of it are just
as emphatic; barren snow-topped mountains overhang tiny valleys,
veritable gems of tropical beauty; you pass with one step from a waste
of rock and sand to a garden-like oasis of soft green and rippling
waters. Yunnan's chequered history is revealed in the varied peoples
that inhabit the deep valleys and narrow river banks. Nominally annexed
to the empire by Kublai Khan, the Mongol, in the thirteenth century,
ever since the Chinese people have been at work peacefully and
irresistibly making the conquest real, and now they are found all over
the province, as a matter of course occupying the best places. But they
have not exterminated the aborigines, nor have they assimilated them to
any degree. To-day the tribes constitute more than one half the
population, and an ethnological map of Yunnan is a wonderful patchwork,
for side by side and yet quite distinct, you find scattered about
settlements of Chinese, Shans, Lolos, Miaos, Losus, and just what some
of these are is still an unsolved riddle. To add to the confusion there
is a division of religions hardly known elsewhere, for out of the
population of twelve millions it is estimated that three or four
millions are Mohammedans. To be sure, they seem much like the others,
and generally all get on together very well, for Moslem pride of
religion does not find much response with the practical Chinese, and the
Buddhist is as tolerant here as elsewhere. But the Mohammedan rebellion
of half a century ago has left terrible memories; then add to that the
ill-feeling between the Chinese and the tribesmen, and the general
discontent at the prohibition of poppy-growing, and it is plain that
Yunnan offers a fine field for long-continued civil disorder with all
the possibility of foreign interference.

The early hours of our first day's march led us along the great western
trade route, and we met scores of people hurrying towards the capital,
mostly coolies carrying on their backs, or slung from a bamboo pole
across their shoulders, great loads of wood, charcoal, fowls, rice,
vegetables. Every one was afoot or astride a pony, for there was nothing
on wheels, not even a barrow. The crowd lacked the variety in colour and
cut of dress of a Hindu gathering; all had black hair and all wore blue
clothes, and one realized at once how much China loses in not having a
picturesque and significant head covering like the Indian turban. But
the faces showed more diversity both in hue and in feature than I had
looked for. In America we come in contact chiefly with Chinese of one
class, and usually from the one province of Kwangtung. But the men of
Yunnan and Szechuan are of a different type, larger, sturdier, of better
carriage. It takes experience commonly to mark differences in face and
expression among men of an alien race, and to the Asiatic all Europeans
look much alike, but already I was discerning variety in the faces I met
along the trail, and they did not seem as unfamiliar to me as I had
expected. I was constantly surprised by resemblances to types and
individuals at home. One of my chair coolies, for example, a young,
smooth-faced fellow, bore a disconcerting likeness to one of my former
students. But fair or dark, fine-featured or foul, all greeted me in a
friendly way, generally stopping after I had passed to ask my coolies
more about me. My four-bearer chair testified to my standing, and my
men, Eastern fashion, glorified themselves in glorifying me. I was a
"scholar," a "learned lady," but what I had come for was not so clear. A
missionary I certainly was not. Anyway, as a mere woman I was not likely
to do harm.

The road after crossing the plain entered the hills, winding up and
down, but always paved with cobbles and flags laid with infinite pains
generations ago, and now illustrating the Chinese saying of "good for
ten years, bad for ten thousand." It was so hopelessly out of repair
that men and ponies alike had to pick their way with caution. Long
flights of irregular and broken stone stairs led up and down the
hillsides over which my freshly shod pony slipped and floundered
awkwardly, and I always breathed a sigh of relief when a stretch of hard
red earth gave a little respite. It was neither courage nor pride that
kept me in the saddle, but the knowledge that much of the way would be
worse rather than better, and I would wisely face it at the outset. If
it got too nerve-racking I could always betake myself to my chair and,
trusting in the eight sturdy legs of my bearers, abandon myself to
enjoying the sights along the way.

Our first day's halt for tiffin was at the small hamlet of P'u chi. The
eating-house was small and crowded, and my cook set my table perforce
in the midst of the peering, pointing throng. I was the target of scores
of black eyes, and I felt that every movement was discussed, every
mouthful counted. As a first experience it was a little embarrassing,
but the people seemed good-humoured and very ready to fall into place or
move out of the way in obedience to my gestures when I tried to take
some pictures, not too successfully. Here for a moment I was again in
touch with my own world, as a runner, most thoughtfully sent by Mr.
Stevenson with the morning's letters, overtook me. According to
arrangement he had been paid beforehand, but not knowing that I knew
that, he clamoured for more. The crowd pressed closer to listen to the
discussion, and grinned with a rather malicious satisfaction when the
man was forced to confess that he had already received what they knew
was a generous tip. Chinese business instinct kept them impartial, even
between one of their own people and a foreigner.

That night we stopped, after a stage of some sixty li, about nineteen
miles, at Erh-tsun, a small, uninteresting village. The inn was very
poor, and I would have consoled myself by thinking that it was well to
get used to the worst at once, only I was not sure that it was the
worst. My room, off the public gathering place, had but one window
looking directly on the street. From the moment of my arrival the
opening was filled with the faces of a staring, curious crowd, pushing
each other, stretching their necks to get a better view. My servants put
up an oiled cotton sheet, but it was promptly drawn aside, so there was
nothing for me to do but wash, eat, and go to bed in public, like a
royal personage of former times.

It was a beautiful spring morning when we started the next day. We were
now among the mountains, and much of our way led along barren hillsides,
but the air was intoxicating, and the views across the ridges were
charming. At times we dropped into a small valley, each having its
little group of houses nestling among feathery bamboos and surrounded by
tiny green fields. Dogs barked, children ran after us, men and women
stopped for a moment to smile a greeting and exchange a word with our
coolies. As a rule, the people looked comfortable and well fed, but here
and there we passed a group of ruined, abandoned hovels. The explanation
varied. Sometimes the ruin dated back more than a generation to the
terrible days of the Mohammedan rebellion. In other cases the trouble
was more recent. The irrigating system had broken down, or water was
scant, or more frequently the cutting-off of the opium crop had driven
the people from their homes. But in general there was little tillable
land that was unoccupied. In fact, the painstaking effort to utilize
every bit of soil was tragic to American eyes, accustomed to long
stretches of countryside awaiting the plough. At the close of the
troubles that devastated the province during the third quarter of the
nineteenth century it is said that the population of Yunnan had fallen
to about a million, but now, owing in part to the great natural increase
of the Chinese, and in part to immigration chiefly from overpopulated
Szechuan and Kwei-chou, it is estimated at twelve million. At any rate,
those who know the country well declare there is little vacant land fit
for agriculture, that the province has about as many inhabitants as it
can support, and can afford no relief to the overcrowded eastern
districts. This is a thing to keep in mind when Japan urges her need of
Manchuria for her teeming millions.

We stopped for tiffin at Fu-ming-hsien, a prosperous-looking town of
some eight hundred families. As usual, I lunched in public, the crowd
pressing close about my table in spite of the efforts of a real,
khaki-clad policeman; but it was a jolly, friendly crowd, its interest
easily diverted from me to the dog. Here we changed soldiers, for this
was a hsien town, or district centre. Those who had come with me from
Yunnan-fu were dismissed with a tip amounting to about three cents gold
a day each. They seemed perfectly satisfied. It was the regulation
amount; had I given more they would have clamoured for something
additional. That afternoon we stopped for a long rest at a tiny, lonely
inn, perched most picturesquely on a spur of the mountain. I sat in my
chair while the coolies drank tea inside, and a number of children
gathered about me, ready to run if I seemed dangerous. Finally one,
taking his courage in both hands, presented me with the local substitute
for candy,--raw peas in the pod, which I nibbled and found refreshing.
In turn I doled out some biscuits, to the children's great delight,
while fathers and mothers looked on approvingly. The way to the heart of
the Chinese is not far to seek. They dote on children, and children the
world over are much alike. More than once I have solved an awkward
situation by ignoring the inhospitable or unwilling elders and devoting
myself to the little ones, always at hand. Please the children and you
have won the parents.

We stopped that night at Chê-pei, a small town lying at an elevation of
about six thousand feet. My room, the best the inn afforded, was dirty,
but large and airy. On one side a table was arranged for the ancestral
family worship, and I delayed turning in at night to give the people a
chance to burn a few joss sticks, which they did in a very
matter-of-fact fashion, nowise disturbed at my washing-things, which
Liu, the cook, had set out among the gods.

Our path the next day led high on the mountain-side and along a
beautiful ridge. We stopped for an early rest at a little walled
village, Jee-ka ("Cock's street"), perched picturesquely on the top of
the hill. Later we saw a storm advancing across the mountains, and
before we could reach cover the clouds broke over our heads, drenching
the poor coolies to the skin, but they took it in good part, laughing as
they scuttled along the trail. The rain kept on for some hours, and the
road was alternately a brook or a sea of slippery red mud; the pony,
with the cook on his back, rolled over, but fortunately neither was
hurt; coolies slid and floundered, and the chair-men went down, greatly
to their confusion, for it is deemed inexcusable for a chair-carrier to
fall. Toward the end of the day it cleared and the bright sun soon dried
the ways, and we raced into Wu-ting-chou in fine shape, the coolies
picking their way deftly along the narrow earth balks that form the
highway to this rather important town. Our entrance was of the usual
character, a cross between a triumphal procession and a circus
show,--people rushing to see the sight, children calling, dogs barking,
my men shouting as they pushed their way through the throng, while I sat
the observed of all, trying to carry off my embarrassment with a
benevolent smile. I am told that the interest of a Chinese crowd usually
centres on the foreigners' shoes, but in my case, when the gaze got down
to my feet, Jack was mostly there to divert attention.

Rain came on again in the night and kept us in Wu-ting-chou over the
next day. The Chinese, with their extraordinary adaptability, can stand
extremes of heat and cold remarkably well. Hence they are good
colonizers, able to work in Manchuria and Singapore, Canada and Panama.
But rain they dislike, and a smart shower is a good excuse for stopping.
Fortunately for all, the inn was unusually decent. Steps led from the
street into an outer court, behind which was a much larger second court,
surrounded on all sides by two-story buildings. My room on the upper
floor had beautiful views over the town, more attractive at close range
than most Chinese towns. The temples and yamen buildings were
exceptionally fine, while the houses, of sun-dried brick of the colour
of the red soil of Yunnan, had a comfortable look, their tip-tilted
tiled roofs showing picturesquely among the trees.

I spent the rainy forenoon in writing and in leaning over the gallery to
watch the life going on below. After the first excitement people went
about their business undisturbed by my presence. At one side cooking was
carried on at a long, crescent-shaped range of some sort of cement, and
containing half a dozen openings for fires. Above each fire was a
bowl-shaped depression in the range, and into this was fitted a big iron
pot. The food of the country is generally boiled, and is often seasoned
with a good deal of care. Barring the lack of cleanliness, the chief
objection to the cooking of the peasant-folk is the failure to cook
thoroughly. The Chinese are content if the rice and vegetables are
cooked through; they do not insist, as we do, that they be cooked soft.
In the smaller inns my men prepared their food themselves, and some
showed considerable skill. One soldier in particular was past-master in
making savoury stews much appreciated by the others.

Wu-ting-chou being a place designated for the payment of an instalment
of wages, and also the time having come for pork money, my coolies had a
grand feast, after which they devoted themselves to gambling away their
hard-earned money in games of "fan t'an." As they played entirely among
themselves the result was that some staggered the following day under
heavy ropes of cash, while others were forced to sell their hats to pay
for their food. I could only hope that the next pay-day would mean a
readjustment of spoils.

In the afternoon it cleared, and I went out in my chair, escorted by two
policemen, to a charming grove outside the walls, where I rested for a
time in a quiet nook, enjoying the views over the valley and thankful to
get away from the din of the inn. Curling up, I went fast asleep, to
wake with an uncomfortable sense of being watched; and sure enough,
peering over the top of the bank where I was lying were two pairs of
startled black eyes. I laughed, and thereupon the owners of the eyes,
who had stumbled upon me as they came up the hill, seated themselves in
front of me and began to ply me with questions, to which I could only
answer with another laugh; so they relapsed into friendly silence,
gingerly stroking Jack while they kept a watchful eye on me. What does
it matter if words are lacking, a laugh is understood, and will often
smooth a way where speech would bring confusion. Once, years ago in
Western Tibet, I crossed a high pass with just one coolie, in advance of
my caravan. Without warning we dropped down into a little village above
the Shyok. Most of the people had never before seen a European. I could
not talk with them nor they with my coolie,--for he came from the other
side of the range,--nor he with me. But I laughed, and every one else
laughed, and in five minutes I was sitting on the grass under the walnut
trees, offerings of flowers and mulberries on my lap, and while the
whole population sat around on stone walls and house roofs, the village
head man took off my shoes and rubbed my weary feet.

When I emerged from my retreat I found that a priest from the
neighbouring temple had come to beg a visit from me. It turned out to be
a Buddhist temple on the usual plan, noteworthy only for a rather good
figure of Buddha made of sun-dried clay and painted. The priest was
inclined to refuse a fee, saying he had done nothing, but he was keen to
have me take some pictures.

[Illustration: WU-TING-CHOU: TEMPLE GATEWAY]

[Illustration: WU-TING-CHOU: TEMPLE CORNER]

The next three days our path led us across the mountains separating the
Yangtse and Red River basins. We were now off the main roads; villages
and travellers were few. To my delight we had left for a time the paved
trails over which the pony scraped and slipped; the hard dirt made a
surer footing, and it was possible to let him out for a trot now and
then. The start and finish of the day were usually by winding narrow
paths carried along the strips of turf dividing the fields or over the
top of a stone wall. I learned to respect both the sure-footedness of
the Yunnan pony and the thrift of the Yunnan peasant who wasted no bit
of tillable land on roads. From time to time we crossed a stone bridge,
rarely of more than one arch, and that so pointed that the ponies on the
road, which followed closely the line of the arch, clambered up with
difficulty only to slide headlong on the other side. The bridges of
these parts are very picturesque, giving an added charm to the
landscape, in glaring contrast to the hideous, shed-like structures that
disfigure many a beautiful stream of New England.

Our way led alternately over barren or pine-clad hills, showing
everywhere signs of charcoal burners, or through deep gorges, or dipped
down into tiny emerald valleys. At one point we descended an
interminable rock staircase guarded by soldiers top and bottom. Formerly
this was a haunt of robbers, but now the Government was making a
vigorous effort to insure the safety of traffic along this way. Our
stay that night was in a tiny hamlet, and a special guard was stationed
at the door of the inn to defend us against real or fancied danger from
marauders.

It was still early in April, but even on these high levels the flowers
were in their glory, and each day revealed a new wonder. Roses were
abundant, white and scentless, or small, pink, and spicy, and the ground
was carpeted with yellow and blue flowers. From time to time we passed a
group of comfortable farm buildings, but much of the country had a
desolate look and the villages were nothing more than forlorn hamlets,
and once we stopped for the night in a solitary house far from any
settlement. A week after leaving Yunnan-fu we entered the valley of the
Tso-ling Ho, a tributary of the Great River, and a more fertile region.
As I had been warned, the weather changed here, and for the next
twenty-four hours we sweltered in the steamy heat of the Yangtse basin.
From now on, there was no lack of water. On all sides brooks large and
small dashed down, swelling the Tso-ling almost to the size of the main
river itself. At one spot, sending the men on to the village, I stopped
on the river bank to bathe my tired feet, and was startled by the
passing of a stray fisherman, but he seemed in no wise surprised, and
greeting me courteously went on with his work. China shares with us the
bad fame of being unpleasantly inquisitive. Would the rural American,
happening upon a Chinese woman,--an alien apparition from her smoothly
plastered hair to her tiny bound feet,--by the brookside in one of his
home fields, have shown the same restraint?

At five o'clock that same day we reached the ferry across the Yangtse,
too late to cross that night. I was hot and weary after a long march,
and the only place available in the village of Lung-kai was a cramped,
windowless hole opening into a small, filthy court, the best room of the
inn being occupied by a sick man. Through an open doorway I caught a
glimpse into a stable-yard well filled with pigs. On one side was a
small, open, shrine-like structure reached by a short flight of steps.
In spite of the shocked remonstrances of my men I insisted on taking
possession of this; the yard, though dirty, was dry, and at least I was
sure of plenty of air. Fresh straw was spread in the shrine and my bed
set up on it; the pigs were given my pony's stable, as I preferred his
company to theirs; and I had an unusually pleasant evening, spite of the
fact that the roofs of the adjoining buildings were crowded with
onlookers, mostly children, until it grew too dark for them to see
anything.

We crossed the Yangtse the next day on a large flat-bottomed boat into
which we all crowded higgledy-piggledy, the men and their loads, pony
and chairs. The current was so swift that we were carried some distance
downstream before making a landing. At this point, and indeed from Tibet
to Suifu, the Yangtse is, I believe, generally known as the Kinsha
Kiang, or "River of Golden Sand." The Chinese have no idea of the
continuing identity of a river, and most of theirs have different names
at different parts of their course, but in this case there is some
reason for the failure to regard the upper and the lower Yangtse as one
and the same stream, for at Suifu, where the Min joins the Yangtse, it
is much the larger body of water throughout most of the year, and is
generally held by the natives to be the true source of the Great River.
Moreover, above the junction the Yangtse is not navigable, owing to the
swift current and obstructing rocks, while the Min serves as one of
China's great waterways, bearing the products of the famous Chengtu
plain to the eastern markets.

After leaving the ferry we followed for some miles the dry bed of a
river whose name I could not learn. The scene was desolate and barren in
the extreme, nothing but rock and sand; and had it not been cloudy the
heat would have been very trying. But we were now among the Cloud
Mountains, where the bright days are so few that it is said the Szechuan
dogs bark when the sun comes out. After a short stop at a lonely inn
near a trickle of a brook we turned abruptly up the mountain-side, by a
zigzag trail so steep that even the interpreter was forced to walk. As
I toiled wearily upward, I looked back to find my dog riding comfortably
in my chair. Tired and hot, he had barked to be taken up. The coolies
thought it a fine joke, and when I whistled him down they at once put
him back again, explaining that it was hard work for short legs. At one
of the worst bits of the trail we met some finely dressed men on
horseback, who stared in a superior way at me on foot. The Chinese sees
no reason for walking if he has a chair or pony. What are the chair and
the pony for? They must lack imagination, or how can they ride down the
awful staircases of a West China road, the pony plunging from step to
step under his heavy load? I doubt if they realize either the pony's
suffering or the rider's danger. I did both, and so I often walked.
After a climb of three thousand feet we came out on a wide open plateau,
beautifully cultivated, which we crossed to our night stopping-place,
Chiang-yi, nearly seven thousand feet above sea level.

We started the next morning in the rain, which kept up pretty much all
day. The country through which we now passed was rather bare of
cultivation and of inhabitants, but the wealth and variety of flowers
and shrubs more than made amends. Nowhere have I seen such numbers of
flowering shrubs as all through this region, a few known to me, but most
of them quite new. It was with much gratification that I learned at a
later time of the remarkable work done in connection with the Arnold
Arboretum near Boston in seeking out and bringing to America specimens
of many of China's beautiful trees and plants. At the head of one small
valley we passed a charming temple half buried in oleanders and
surrounded by its own shimmering green rice-fields, and a little farther
on we came to a farmhouse enclosed in a rose hedge some twelve feet high
and in full bloom. There was no sign of life about, and it might have
served as the refuge of the Sleeping Princess, but a nearer inspection
would probably have been disillusioning.

We stopped that night at Ho-k'ou, a small place of which I saw little,
for the heavy rain that kept us there over a day held me a prisoner in
the inn. I had a small room over the pony's stable, and I spent the
forenoon writing to the tune of comfortable crunching of corn and beans.
The rest of the day I amused myself in entertaining the women of the inn
with the contents of my dressing-case, and when it grew cold in my open
loft I joined the circle round the good coal fire burning in a brazier
in the public room. Every one was friendly, and persistent, men and
women alike, in urging me to take whiffs from their long-stemmed tobacco
pipes. All smoke, using sometimes this long-stemmed, small-bowled pipe,
and sometimes the water pipe, akin in principle to the Indian
hubble-bubble. In this part of Szechuan I saw few smoking cigarettes,
but thanks to the untiring efforts of the British American Tobacco
Company, they are fast becoming known, and my men were vastly pleased
when I doled some out at the end of a hard day.

From Ho-k'ou it was a two days' journey to Hui-li-chou, the first large
town on my trip. The scenery was charmingly varied. At times the trail
led along high ridges with beautiful glimpses down into the valleys, or
affording splendid views to right and left, to the mysterious, forbidden
Lololand to the east, and to the unsurveyed country beyond the Yalung,
west of us, or again it dropped to the banks of the streams, leading us
through attractive hamlets buried in palms and bamboo, pines and cactus,
while the surrounding hillsides were white or red with masses of
rhododendron just coming into flower. Entering one village I heard a
sound as of swarming bees raised to the one hundredth power. On inquiry
it turned out to be a school kept in a small temple. While the coolies
were resting I sent my card to the schoolmaster, and was promptly
invited to pay a visit of inspection. It proved to be a private school
of some thirty boys and one girl, the master's daughter. They were of
all ages from six years upwards, and, I was told, generally stayed from
one to five years at school. Instruction was limited to reading and
writing, and two boys were called up to show what they could do. To
ignorant me they seemed to do very well, reading glibly down their
pages of hieroglyphics.

At another stop I had a talk with the village headman. He was elected
for one year, he told me, by the people of the hamlet, comprising about
forty families. He confessed his inability to read or write, but his
face was intelligent and his bearing showed dignity and self-respect.
Petty disputes and breaches of the peace were settled by him according
to unwritten custom and his native shrewdness; and he was also
responsible for the collection of the land tax due from the village.

The people in this part of Szechuan seemed fairly prosperous, but the
prevalence of goitre was very unpleasant. The natives account for it in
various ways,--the use of white salt or the drinking of water made from
melting snow.

On the 20th of April we reached Hui-li-chou. The approach to the town or
group of towns which make up this, the largest place in southern
Szechuan, was charming, through high hedges gay with pink and white
flowers. In the suburbs weaving or dyeing seemed to be going on in every
house. Sometimes whole streets were given over to the dyers, naked men
at work above huge vats filled with the inevitable blue of China. After
crossing the half-dry bed of a small river we found ourselves under the
great wall of Hui-li proper. Turning in at the South Gate we rapidly
traversed the town to our night's lodging-place near the North Gate, the
crowds becoming ever denser, people swarming out from the restaurants
and side streets, as the news spread of the arrival of a "yang-potsz"
(foreign woman). The interest was not surprising, as I was only the
third or fourth European woman to come this way, but it was my first
experience alone in a large town, and the pressing, staring crowd was
rather dismaying; however, I found comfortable companionship in the
smiling face of a little lad running beside my chair, his swift feet
keeping pace with the carriers. I smiled back, and when the heavy doors
of our night's lodging-house closed behind us, I found the small gamin
was inside, too,--self-installed errand boy. He proved quick and alert
beyond the common run of boys, East or West, and made himself very
useful, but save when out on errands he was always at my side, watching
me with dog-like interest, and kowtowing to the ground when I gave him a
small reward. The next morning he was on duty at dawn, and trotted
beside my chair until we were well on our way, when I sent him back. I
should have been glad to have borrowed or bought or stolen him.

Hui-li-chou, with a population of some forty thousand, is in the middle
of an important mining region, both zinc and copper ore being found in
the neighbouring hills in good quantity; but the bad roads and
government restrictions combine to keep down industry. In spite of its
being a trading centre the inns are notoriously bad, and we were
fortunate in finding rooms in a small mission chapel maintained by a
handful of native Christians. In the course of the evening some of them
paid me a call. They seemed intelligent and alert, and although in the
past the town has had an unpleasant reputation for hostility to
missions, conditions at the present time were declared to be
satisfactory.



CHAPTER IV

THE CHIEN-CH'ANG


The second day after leaving Hui-li-chou we entered the valley of the
Anning Ho, a grey, fast-flowing stream whose course runs parallel with
the meridian like all the others of that interesting group of rivers
between Assam and eastern Szechuan, the Irrawaddy, the Salween, the
Mekong, the Yangtse, the Yalung. The Anning, the smallest of these, lies
enclosed in a wilderness of tangled ranges, and its valley forms the
shortest trade route between Szechuan and the Indo-Chinese peninsula.
For about eight marches, north and south, it runs through a district
known as Chien-ch'ang, celebrated throughout China for its fertility and
the variety of its products. At the lower end the valley is very narrow,
and level ground is limited, but the gentle slopes on either side are
beautifully cultivated in tiny terraced fields. Farther north, however,
in the neighbourhood of Ning-yüan-fu, the valley widens out into a
broad, open plain. Apparently in this favoured region tropics and
temperate zone meet, for I never saw before such motley vegetation. Rice
and cotton alternate with wheat and maize and beans, while saffron and
indigo fit in anywhere. Fruits, too, of many kinds are abundant. A
short time ago the poppy made every turn brilliant, but to-day imperial
edicts, ruthlessly enforced, are saving the Chinese unwillingly from
themselves, and the poppy has disappeared from sight. In spite of
complaints it would seem as though the Chien-ch'ang farmers, better than
many in West China, could support the loss of that remunerative crop,
for their resources, properly exploited, seem almost exhaustless.
Mulberry trees are grown about every village and farmhouse, and the silk
export is of considerable value to the community.

But one of the most interesting products of this region has lost much of
its importance in late years. All over China, but especially in this
part of Szechuan, there grows a tree of the large-leaved privet species.
On the bark of the branches and twigs are discovered attached little
brown scales of the size and shape of a small pea. When opened in the
spring they are found to contain a swarming mass of minute insects.
Toward the end of April, the time when I passed through this region,
these scales were being carefully gathered and packed in small parcels,
and already the journey northward was beginning. Porters bearing loads
of about sixty pounds were hurrying up the valley, often travelling only
by night to save their precious burden from the burning sun's rays which
would cause too rapid development. Their destination was Chia-ting,
which lies on the Min River at the eastern edge of a great plain, the
home of the so-called "pai-la shu," or "white wax tree," a species of
ash. The whole countryside is dotted over with this tree, so cut as to
resemble the pollard willow. On arrival the scales are carefully made up
into small packets of twenty or thirty scales each, wrapped in leaves
and attached to the branches of the white wax tree. After a short
interval the insects emerge from the scales and secrete a waxlike
substance, covering the boughs and twigs with a white deposit about a
quarter of an inch thick. This is carefully gathered, and after
purification by boiling is made up into the small cakes of commerce to
be put to various uses. It forms an important ingredient in sizing and
polish, and also in giving a gloss to silk; but especially it is valued
as imparting a greater consistency to tallow for candles, as it melts
only at a temperature of 160° Fahrenheit. But the Standard Oil
activities have dealt a serious blow to the white wax industry. Kerosene
is now in general use where there is any lighting at all, and whereas
formerly ten thousand coolies annually hurried up the valley carrying
scales to Chia-ting, we now saw only a few hundred.

A generation ago Chien-ch'ang was perhaps the least known part of all
China to the outside world. About the middle of the thirteenth century
the Mongol, Kublai Khan, acting as general of the forces of his
brother, Genghis Khan, went through here to the conquest of Tali, then
an independent kingdom in the southwest, and the untiring Venetian
following in his train noted a few of the characteristics of Caindu, the
name he gave both to the valley and the capital city. Six centuries
elapsed before the next traveller from the West came this way. In the
late seventies Colborne Baber, Chinese Secretary of the British
Legation, traversed the valley from north to south, being the first
European since the time of Marco Polo to enter Ning-yüan-fu, save for an
unfortunate French priest who arrived a few months earlier, only to be
driven out with stones. At that time, according to Baber, "two or three
sentences in the book of Ser Marco to the effect that after crossing
high mountains he reached a fertile country containing many villages and
towns, and inhabited by a very immoral population," constituted the only
existing description of the district.

In spite of the importance of this route it remained until a few years
ago very insecure. Overhung almost its entire length by the inaccessible
fastnesses of Lololand, the passing caravans dared journey only with
convoy, and even then were frequently overwhelmed by raiders from the
hills, who carried off both trader and goods into the mountains, the
former to lifelong servitude. The Ta Liang Shan, or "Great Cold
Mountains," the country of the independent Lolos, is a mountainous
region extending north and south some three hundred miles, which
constitutes to this day an almost impenetrable barrier between east and
west, crossed voluntarily by no Chinese, unless in force, and from which
but one European party has returned to tell the tale. On the outskirts
of this territory a little mission work has been undertaken with some
success, but as yet no real impression has been made upon the people.
Chinese hold upon the country is limited to an occasional more or less
ineffective punitive expedition organized after some unusual outrage,
such as the murder, a few years back, of Lieutenant Brooke, the English
explorer. Naturally the Government does not care to assume any
responsibility for the foolhardy foreigner bent on risking his life.
Lieutenant Brooke went without permission, and during my stay in
Ning-yüan I learned that two French travellers had just sought in vain
for leave to attempt the crossing of the mountains to Suifu.

Within Lololand, of course, no Chinese writ runs, no Chinese magistrate
holds sway, and the people, more or less divided among themselves, are
under the government of their tribal chiefs. The little that is known of
this interesting race has been learned from the so-called tame Lolos who
have accepted Chinese rule, and are found scattered in small villages
in the western part of Szechuan and Yunnan, being perhaps most numerous
in the neighbourhood of the Anning and Yalung rivers, where an
appreciable proportion of the population is of aboriginal or mixed
aboriginal and Chinese stock. Accepting Chinese rule does not generally
mean accepting Chinese customs. They hold to their own language and
religion, one a dialect akin to Tibetan, and the other a form of
animism. It is very easy to distinguish conquerors and conquered, for
the Lolos are darker as well as taller and better formed than the
Chinese. Their features are good and they have a frank, direct
expression which is very attractive. In dress also they have not
conformed to the ways of their masters. Instead of a queue the men wear
the hair in a horn above the forehead, while the women hold firmly to
the feminine petticoats, surrounded though they are by the trousered
Chinese women. Nor do they bind their feet, but stride bravely along on
the feet nature gave them.

What these people really are is one of the unsettled ethnological
problems of the East, but probably they are of the same stock as the
Shans and Burmese. Even their proper appellation is in doubt. The
Chinese call them Lolos, which means simply "barbarians" or "wild men."
By the people themselves the term is regarded as insulting, and one
should avoid using it before them; but they are not agreed among
themselves on a common name, and use ordinarily local tribal names.

Half a dozen years ago travellers were warned against the dangers of the
road, but since then matters have been taken vigorously in hand by the
Chinese authorities. Guard-houses have been erected at short intervals,
the passes are strongly fortified, and a large force of well-trained men
is stationed permanently in the valley. The journey can now be made in
entire safety, but there are numerous signs of past dangers, and the
precautions taken are very evident. Perhaps I was made especially
conscious of possible danger because, as my interpreter said, though the
officials were careful to secure the safety of every one of us, they
were particularly anxious that nothing should happen to me; not, of
course, from any personal concern for the foreigner, but because the
foreigner's Government has such a way of making things unpleasant if
anything happens to him.

From Hui-li-chou northwards I was escorted by real soldiers, quite of
the new service. They looked rather shipshape in khaki suits and
puttees, and their guns were of a good model, but they handled them in
careless fashion at first, belabouring laden ponies and even coolies who
were slow in getting out of the way of my chair. I am told that they are
very ready to lord it over their countrymen when escorting Europeans,
taking advantage of the fearful respect in which the foreigner is held.
I checked them vigorously at the time, and before the next morning's
start I called them up, and with the aid of the interpreter harangued
them to the effect that I was pleased to see that they knew how to use
their guns, and if need came I hoped they would give a good account of
themselves in China's defence, but in the mean time they should be very
slow to use their weapons on men or beasts, and if I saw them do it
while they were with me they would get no "wine money." The soldiers
took my orders very meekly, and the bystanders (there are always
bystanders in China) grinned approvingly.

The first two marches out from Hui-li led over the range into the Anning
valley, a high, rocky trail without much vegetation for the most part,
but after we struck the river, cultivation was almost continuous, one
hamlet following fast on another. This part of the valley is available
for irrigation, and the skill and ingenuity shown in making use of the
water supply is nothing short of marvellous. At one point we ascended a
long, wide, gentle slope all laid out in tiny fields, and well watered
from two large, fast-flowing streams. But where did they come from, for
the slope ended abruptly in a sharp, high precipice overlooking a gorge
through which flowed the Chin Ch'uan, a tributary of the Anning. But on
turning a corner at the head of the slope we saw that from high up on
the mountain-side an artificial channel had been constructed with
infinite labour, bringing water from the upper course of the stream to
the thirsty fields below.

Late on this same day the trail crossed a bare, rocky hillside, at one
point passing between masses of stone ruins; something like a tower to
the right, and on the left a sort of walled enclosure. I had lingered
behind to gather a nosegay of the small blue flowers that marked the
day's march. As I approached I saw some twenty or thirty men clad in
long white or black cloaks hanging about the ruins, and my big chair
coolie, who had constituted himself my special protector, coming to meet
me, hurried me by without stopping. When I joined the interpreter, who
was waiting for me at a discreet distance, I learned that the men were
Lolos, "half-tame wild men," employed by merchants and others to guard
this rather dangerous place where the trail approached somewhat closely
the territory of the independent Lolos. In spite of protests I went
back, accompanied by the big coolie and a soldier, to take some
pictures. A few of the men ran away, but most made no objection and
good-humouredly grouped themselves at my direction while I photographed
them as best I could in the waning light. Their independent bearing and
bold, free look interested me, and I should have been glad to talk with
them, but the interpreter was disinclined to come near, and it was
doubtful, too, if they could have spoken Chinese well enough to have
been understood.

The 25th of April was our last day into Ning-yüan-fu, and I was glad; it
was getting very hot, and the coolies were tired from their long
journey. Several were hiring substitutes from the village-folk, paying
less than half what they received from me. To avoid the heat we were off
before sunrise. Often on that part of the trip we started in the
half-light of the early dawn, and there was something very delightful in
our unnoticed departure through the empty, echoing streets of the
sleeping town where, the evening before, the whole population had been
at our heels. And outside the stifling walls the joy of another day's
ride through a new world was awaiting me.

For a time we followed up the narrow, winding valley, gradually opening
out until we turned off to cross the low hills that barred the southern
end of the Ning-yüan plain. Every inch of ground was under cultivation,
but as yet few crops were up. Mulberries, however, were ripening fast,
forerunners of the abundant fruit of this region. Shortly before tiffin
we crossed a stream over which the bridge of stone was actually being
repaired. In China, as elsewhere in Asia, it is a work of merit to
construct a new building or road, but waste of time to repair the old. I
wondered if by any chance some high official was expected, for the East
fulfils quite literally the Scriptural injunction, "Prepare ye the way
of the Lord, make straight his path before him"; more than once I
realized the advantage of following in the footsteps of the great.

[Illustration: LOLO GIRLS]

[Illustration: "TAME, WILD" LOLOS]

Toward the end of the day we crossed a spur of the hills, and descended
abruptly into the Ning-yüan plain; half concealed among the trees lay
the town, while off to the southeast sparkled the water of the lake
noted by Marco Polo. As we sat resting for a few moments at a tea-house,
I saw galloping towards us two horsemen, Europeans, the first I had seen
for nearly three weeks. They turned out to be Mr. Wellwood and Dr.
Humphreys, of the American Baptist Mission, who had ridden out to make
me welcome. An hour later we crossed the parade ground outside the city
gate, and shortly, turning in by a building of unmistakable European
architecture, found ourselves in the mission compound. It was most
delightful to be again among my own kind, and the three days spent in
Ning-yüan while I was reorganizing my little caravan for the next stage
were very enjoyable, barring the excessive heat.

Ning-yüan-fu is the largest town in this part of Szechuan, having a
population of perhaps fifty thousand. It is surrounded by a well-built
wall, high and broad and nearly three miles in length. Within are few
buildings of interest, due perhaps to the fact that about fifty years
ago it was almost demolished by an earthquake. According to tradition,
the same thing happened in the early part of the Ming period, when the
town, which, so it is said, then stood in the hollow where the lake now
lies, was first shaken by an earthquake and then overwhelmed by a rush
of water from underground. Later a new city was built on the present
site. If the natives are to be believed, the ruins of the drowned city
may still be seen on calm days lying at the bottom of the lake, while
after a storm beds and chairs of strange patterns are sometimes found
floating about on the water.

Even this remote corner of China shows the influence of the new
movement, and Western ideas are making their way. Something had been
done to improve the city schools, and I can testify to the desire of the
military force stationed at Ning-yüan to form itself on European models,
for the morning's sleep was broken by the vigorous bugle practice of the
band, and at every turn one met soldiers, marching along with a good
deal of vim. The large parade ground was given over in the afternoon to
the testing and speeding of ponies. We rode out there one day, and I was
pleased to see that the interest and wise ways of the missionaries in
horseflesh were much appreciated by the owners of the ponies, men of a
class not easily reached by the ordinary channels of mission work.

As my contract with the Yunnan hong was only to Ning-yüan-fu, it was
necessary to make new arrangements here. My old men had expressed a wish
to go on with me, but in the end only one did so, the others disliking
the détour to Tachienlu which they knew I had in mind. Moreover, it
would have been necessary for them to register in the Ning-yüan hong,
which they were not anxious to do, nor was the hong anxious to have
them. So I let them go, well contented with their "wine money," which
was, indeed, outrageously large. Soon after starting from Yunnan-fu I
had realized that the men were inclined to ask for a day's halt more
frequently than I liked, as I was anxious to push ahead, knowing that
the spring rains were shortly due. I did not know then the custom of the
road, which decrees no payment at all if it is the coolies who insist on
stopping, although a small payment, usually five cents gold, is the rule
for each day of halt for your convenience. So I felt that my only check
upon the men was to hold out a reward. Accordingly I offered them a
definite tip and a good one, if they would get me to Ning-yüan-fu at a
certain day, which they did, making the journey, as I learned later,
simply in the ordinary time. I was advised not to pay them the sum
promised, as they were profiting by my ignorance, and it might make me
trouble afterwards. But I reasoned that my ignorance was my own fault;
they had not asked, I had offered the reward, and I was sure the evil of
a broken promise was greater than any bad precedent. So the men got
their tip, and I am certain I gained by the reputation I thus acquired
of keeping my word. I never again gave such rewards, but I always had
good service.

I was sorry to see the Yunnan men go; they were sturdy, willing fellows,
quick to learn my ways. In particular, one of my chair coolies, the big
fellow called Liu, I should have been glad to keep on, in spite of
unexpected revelations at Ning-yüan. He had made the trip from Yunnan
with Mr. Wellwood a few weeks earlier, behaving well, but after
receiving his pay he got gloriously drunk and was expelled from the inn,
whereupon he turned up at the mission, still drunk. As he was not taken
in, he proceeded to tear up the chapel palings and make himself a
nuisance. So after repeated warnings he was turned over to the police,
who shut him up for a night and then gave him a whipping. Probably he
had learned a lesson, for he made me no bother. This was the only case
within my own knowledge of a coolie's giving trouble through drinking.
Out-of-the-way travel in the East is much simpler for being among
non-drinking people. Years ago I made a canoeing trip in northern Maine
with two friends. Almost we were forced to rob the traditional cradle
and grave to secure guides warranted sober--the only sort safe for a
party of women; but in the East that question is scarcely considered,
and personally I have never had any difficulty.

The men that I took on at Ning-yüan were on the whole younger and
smaller than the Yunnan men, but they too did their work well. The new
fu t'ou was a Chengtu man of a type quite unlike the others, tall,
slender, well made, and with decidedly good features. He seemed young
for his post, but soon showed himself quite equal to the task of keeping
the men up to the mark, and of meeting any difficulty that arose.

To my surprise I was able to buy oil for our lanterns on the street
here. One does not think of the Standard Oil Company as a missionary
agency, but it has certainly done a great deal to light up the dark
corners of China, morally as well as physically, by providing the people
with a cheap way of lighting their houses. Formerly when darkness fell,
there was nothing to do but gamble and smoke. Now the industrious
Chinese can ply his trade as late as he chooses.

I was sorry to say farewell to my kind hosts, but it was good to get
away from the trying heat of Ning-yüan plain, all the more oppressive
because of the confined limits of the mission quarters set in the heart
of the city. The only escape for the missionaries during the hot months
was to a temple on one of the surrounding hills. I was glad to learn
that land had been secured at a little distance from the present
compound for more spacious accommodations. People at home do not realize
the difficulty of getting fresh air and exercise in a Chinese town.
Walking inside the walls is almost impossible because of the dirt and
crowds, while near the city all unoccupied land is usually given over to
graves. In Ning-yüan really the only chance for exercise short of a
half-day's excursion, perhaps, was on the city wall, where I had a
delightful ride one afternoon.

It was the morning of April 29, when we finally started, my caravan
being now increased to seventeen men, as I had advanced the interpreter
to a three-bearer chair and given his old one to the cook, who as a
Szechuan man should have been able to walk. But he seemed hardly up to
it,--in fact he gave me the impression of an elderly man, although he
owned to forty-one years only. It needs a trained eye, I imagine, to
judge of the age of men of an alien race.

On passing out from the suburbs of the town, charmingly embowered in
fruit orchards, we struck across the open, treeless plain. There was
little land that could be cultivated that was not under cultivation, but
as yet the fields lay bare and baked in the burning sun, waiting the
belated rain, as this part of the valley cannot be irrigated, owing to
the lie of the land. Rain fell the first night, and after that neither
the soil nor I could complain of dryness. Our first stop was at Li-chou,
a small, comfortable town at the head of the valley, with a bad inn. It,
not Ning-yüan, which lies a little off the main trail, is the centre of
the carrying business between Yunnan and the north, and from this time
on, we found the village population everywhere chiefly occupied as
carrier coolies.

Our first day from Li-chou was a short stage, and we had a long,
leisurely tiffin at Sung-lin, where there was an exceptionally good inn.
The proprietor was away, but his wife, who was in charge, seemed very
competent and friendly, and took me into their private rooms, fairly
clean and airy, and quite spacious. In one was a large, grave-shaped
mound of cement-like substance. On inquiry I learned that it enclosed
the coffin and body of the mother of the proprietor. She had been dead a
year, but the body could not receive final burial until his return. The
Chinese custom of keeping unburied their dead awaiting a propitious
moment strikes one as most unpleasant and unwholesome, but the worst
consequences are usually avoided by hermetically sealing the ponderous
coffin. In Canton the House of the Dead is visited by all travellers. It
is a great stretch of small buildings set in flower gardens, each room
commanding a definite rent, and usually occupied by the waiting dead,
whose fancied wants are meantime carefully supplied. The dead hand rests
heavy on China. Not merely is much valuable land given over to graves,
and the hills denuded of forest to make the five-inch coffin boards, but
the daily order of life is often unduly sacrificed to the departed.

On my way from Calcutta to Hong Kong there joined us at Singapore the
Chinese Consul-General at that place. He was returning with his family
to Canton to attend the funeral of his mother. In talk with him I
learned that he had been one of that famous group of students who came
to America in the seventies, only to be suddenly recalled by the Chinese
Government. He had since acted as Secretary to the Chinese Legation in
Washington, and was quite at home in Western ways. In his dress he
combined very effectively both Chinese and occidental symbols of
mourning, his white coat-sleeve being adorned with a band of black
crape, while in the long black queue he wore braided the white mourning
thread of China. He expected to be at home for some months, and during
that time, so he told me, it would be unsuitable for him to engage in
any sort of worldly business.

We were now leaving behind the close cultivation of the Chien-ch'ang;
the valley grew narrower, hemmed in by higher and more barren mountains,
but the wild roses made beautiful every turn. One village that we passed
was quite surrounded by a hedge of roses several feet high, and all in
full bloom. My second night from Ning-yüan-fu was not much better than
the first, for the inn at Lu-ku, a rather important little town, was
most uncomfortable; but a delightful hour's rest and quiet on the river
bank before entering the town freshened me up so much that the night
did not matter. One march to the north of Lu-ku, up the valley of the
Anning, lay the district town of Mien-ning, reached by a rough trail
that finally wandered off into the inextricable gorges of the Ta Tu Ho.
It was in these wild defiles that the last contests of the Taiping
rebellion were fought. I looked longingly up the valley, but my way
turned off to the right, following the pack-road to the ferry at Fulin.
At once on starting the next morning we passed out of the main valley
into a narrow gorge with precipitous sides opening from the east. The
trail wound upwards along the mountain-face, often hewn out of the rock
and scarcely more than five feet wide, and at one point it was barred
effectually by heavy gates. They opened to us, but not on that day half
a century ago when the Taiping leader, Shih Ta-k'ai, failing to force
his way through, turned back to meet defeat in the wilds above
Mien-ning-hsien.

All along the road we met signs of our nearness to the country of the
Lolos. There was much uncultivated land, and the population seemed
scanty, but officials and soldiers were numerous, while guard-houses
dominated the trail at short intervals. The village type was not always
pure Chinese, and occasionally we met people unmistakably of another
race. At Teng-hsiang-ying, or "Strong-walled Camp," where we stopped for
the night, both soldiers and Lolos were much in evidence. We were here
about two thousand one hundred feet below the summit of the great pass
through which the raiders in times not far past made their way into
fertile Chien-ch'ang. After getting settled in the inn, I went for a
walk, carefully guarded by two soldiers especially detailed for the
purpose by the Yamen. In one alley I noticed Lolo women spinning in the
doorways, and with the aid of the soldiers, who seemed to be on very
friendly terms with them, I succeeded in getting a picture of two. In
feature and colour they might have passed for Italians, and their dress
was more European than Chinese in cut. On their heads they wore the Tam
o' Shanter-like cap of black stuff, common among these people, bound on
with their long braids, and their coats were of the usual felt. Their
skirts, homespun, were made with what we used to call a Spanish flounce.
According to Baber, the Lolo petticoat is of great significance. No one
may go among the independent Lolos safely save in the guardianship of a
member of the tribe, and a woman is as good a guardian as a man. Before
setting out she puts on an extra petticoat, and the traveller thus
escorted is sacred. But if the guarantee is not respected she takes off
the garment, spreading it on the ground, and there it remains, telling
to all the outrage that has been committed, and appealing to Heaven for
redress. Altogether the women that I saw had a rather attractive,
feminine look, and their manner, though timid, was not cringing. People
who know them best have a good word for the Lolos, but few Europeans
have come much in contact with them. Those I saw looked miserably poor.
Missionaries declare that the hand of the official is heavy upon them,
and of course the persistent, hard-working Chinese are certain to have
acquired the best land.

The next day we crossed the Hsiao Hsiang Ling, or "Little Elephant
Pass," fortunately in fine weather. The approach from the south was very
beautiful. For a number of li our road led through a deep, narrow gorge,
following up a fine rocky stream. The flowers and blossoming shrubs were
wonderful; masses of white and of pink azaleas clothed the lower slopes,
and there appeared now for the first time a bush bearing long,
feather-like sprays of fragrant white blooms. From time to time we
passed a guard-house, and soldiers were everywhere, some on guard,
others practising exercises, others lounging. At one place a group had
gathered about a fellow who was playing rather nicely an instrument
resembling a mandolin. He seemed gratified at my interest, and readily
repeated his music for me. As seen in passing, the guard-houses looked
clean and substantial, vastly superior to the ordinary Chinese abode.
But the country had a rather forbidding aspect as we marched farther up
the valley, fit setting for deeds of outrage and bloodshed; its
character seemed symbolized in the head of a Lolo robber set up by the
wayside.

The final climb to the pass was over gentle, grassy slopes. At the top,
nearly ten thousand feet above sea level, the way led through a strongly
fortified post where I stopped for a few moments to enjoy the wide view,
northwest to the nearer mountains of the Tibetan range, and east to the
dark peaks of the Ta Liang Shan. On the northern side of the pass the
descent is long and tiring, a succession of steep zigzags and rocky
staircases. At the time of day when I crossed, the lines of carriers and
baggage ponies were almost continuous. There were guard-houses at
intervals of three li, and at each a special detail of two soldiers came
out, and, saluting me properly, fell into position, one in front and one
behind, to be replaced at the next post by two others. As we descended
to lower levels the valley widened out slightly, giving room for a few
hard-wrung fields surrounded by broad stone walls reminding one of New
England, and now and then we passed a lonely farmhouse built of stones
and enclosed in a rather ineffective defence of wattles. But villages
were few, hardly more than hamlets that had grown up about the military
posts. All were walled, and where the highway passed through the
village, dividing it in two, each half was enclosed in its own high wall
of mud and stones. Moreover, many of the houses were of fortress-like
construction, three stories high, and with only a few slits for
windows. Once or twice we passed through an open bazaar strongly walled
and with a fortified gate at either end, serving as a brief
resting-place for the caravans hurrying over this dangerous stretch of
road.

[Illustration: A MEMORIAL ARCH. SZECHUAN]

[Illustration: FORTIFIED VILLAGE IN THE CHIEN-CH'ANG VALLEY]

As we travelled northward we saw fewer of the fine stone bridges of the
south; the construction was now generally of wood, not unlike in outline
the disfiguring structures of New England, but improved by open sides
and a picturesque curly roof of tiles. Usually they were approached by a
flight of steps, showing conclusively, if proof were needed, that there
were no wheeled vehicles to consider. And, indeed, traffic generally was
of limited character after we left the pass. Occasionally we overtook
coolies hurrying along with their precious loads of white wax insects,
or bending under long, thick pine or cypress boards, sometimes towering
high above their heads or else strapped across their shoulders, forcing
them to move crab-fashion along the narrow trails. On inquiry I learned
that deeply embedded in the soil of the hills are found huge trees, rows
of sprouts marking their location. These are dug up with much effort and
sawn into boards which are in great request for the ponderous Chinese
coffins. It would seem as though the supply must be inexhaustible, for
when Sir Alexander Hosie came this way, a generation ago, he noted the
same traffic and received the same explanation. With the prohibition of
the poppy, the region has for the moment little export trade, while the
imports seem to consist mainly of military supplies for the Chien-ch'ang
garrisons. However, the road is in unusually good condition, for the
whole way from Teng-hsiang-ying to Yüeh-hsi, our next stop, a distance
of perhaps thirty-five miles, is well paved with broad flags. As we drew
near to the town the valley opened a little, affording a glimpse of a
snow peak to the north, while toward the southeast we look up a narrow
gorge into Lololand, the border being but some fifteen miles away. This
is almost the only break in the flanking hills that wall in the
Forbidden Land. Yüeh-hsi itself lies in the centre of a rock-strewn
plain broken by a few rice-and maize-fields, and is important as a
military post guarding the trade route against this easy way of attack.
The best room of the inn smelt to heaven, but on investigation I found
an open loft which proved very possible after ejecting a few fowls.

The following day our march led us through a narrow valley bare of
people and cultivation. Following this was a welcome change to steep
climbs over grass-covered slopes broken by picturesque ravines. I tried
to get a picture of a coolie, bearing a huge nine-foot-long coffin
plank, whom we overtook on the trail. A handful of cash and cigarettes
won his consent, but in spite of my men's efforts to calm his fears,
the poor fellow cringed and trembled so, as I got my camera into
position, that I gave it up. I felt as I might feel if I kicked a dumb
animal.

Our night's stop was at Pao-an-ying,--like so many other hamlets of this
region, little more than a camp-village, and showing its origin in the
termination "ying" or "jin," meaning regiment. My room at the inn looked
out directly on the street, and there was neither quiet nor privacy to
be had, so I went out for a walk, escorted by a soldier and a coolie.
Discovering a secluded screened place in a graveyard, I fell asleep on
the top of a tomb, and my men near by did the same; but presently I was
awakened by Jack's barking, to find myself the centre of a crowd of some
fifty men silently watching me, and down the hillside I saw others
coming, so I gave it up and took a stroll through the town, inspecting
the provision shops.

We were off the next morning in the dark. At first the road was wild and
picturesque. The track was unusually good, and steep, well-constructed
zigzags carried us up and down the hills. Later the valley opened, and
we ascended gradually over beautiful slopes gay with rhododendron and
iris. The clouds above the mountains were very fine, but presently rain
came on, continuing off and on all day.

Late in the afternoon we came in sight of Haitang, a walled town perched
picturesquely on the side of a hill. A temple outside the wall looked
attractive, and I should have visited it had it not been for the rain
which now set in in good earnest. So, instead, I inspected the inn,
which seemed unusually interesting. There was the ordinary entrance
court roofed over, and behind that an inner court open to the sky and
surrounded by galleried buildings. Off from this led a long, high
passage into which opened a number of superior rooms. Mine was quite
elaborately furnished with carved bedstead and chairs and tables, and
best of all, it had a door opening directly on to the city wall, where I
could step out and get a breath of fresh air free from observation.

Here I had my first experience of the "squeeze." On directing the
interpreter to give the fu t'ou the coolies' pork money, I learned that
on the previous occasion the man had kept an undue proportion of it.
Apparently a certain squeeze was regarded as legitimate, but he had
transgressed the accepted bounds. I hardly knew how to meet the
difficulty. Of course I could have paid the coolies directly, but it was
most desirable to maintain the fu t'ou's authority over them. Finally,
in true Chinese fashion, the interpreter worked out a scheme by which
the fu t'ou's "face" might be saved, and yet the coolies not be
defrauded. Going out into the court where the men were lounging, he
called loudly to the fu t'ou to come for the coolies' money, naming the
sum I intended to give, about one hundred cash to a man. In the face of
this there was nothing for the fu t'ou to do but give to each his
rightful share, which he did with a very sulky air. Afterwards I had a
talk with the man, telling him that my idea of a good fu t'ou was one
who kept the men up to their work, and at the same time did not bully or
mulct them of their hard-earned money. Such a man would get a good
reward at the end. My reputation for lavishness stood me here in great
stead, for henceforth there was no difficulty on this score. I might be
"squeezed," but at least my coolies were not. The fu t'ou, however,
tried to get even with the man who told, by discharging him. Fortunately
I learned of this, again through the interpreter, and put a stop to it.
The idea of the squeeze seems to be ingrained in the Chinese. How
difficult it is to eradicate was shown by the delight of a missionary at
Chung-king over the low price for which his trusty Christian clerk had
secured a boat for me. For once he felt sure no commission could have
been taken.

During all this part of my trip I carried no coined silver, only rough
lumps of bullion of varying size, converting them into cash as I needed.
The rate of exchange varied from place to place, and I was sometimes
warned to put off visiting the money-changers until the next town. Of
course the visitor stands to lose anyway, and I am sure that in the
course of a long journey through China you would see your money vanish
in the mere process of change, quite aside from the money you spent.

Rain fell all the next day, but it could not take from the charm of the
road, which led much of the time along the bottom of a deep, narrow
gorge, the steep sides clothed to the very top with tropical green
flecked with splendid splashes of pink and white azaleas, while by the
side of the path were masses of blue iris, and of small yellow and red
flowers. We reached our night's resting-place, P'ing-i-p'u, early in the
afternoon, and in spite of the rain I went for a walk. By dint of
peremptory commands, reënforced by the rain, I shook off my military
escort, who for the last few marches had dogged my steps at every turn,
moving when I moved, stopping when I stopped. To be sure, they had been
very thoughtful of my comfort, helping me in and out of my chair,
gathering the new flowers which appeared each day, keeping up a brazier
fire in my room when it was damp, but I was tired of being treated as
either a suspect or a royal personage, and as we were now well beyond
the limit of Lolo raids I demanded the freedom of being alone. I found
quiet in an overgrown graveyard, with charming views down stream and up
the near hillsides cultivated in tiny scallops to the very top, although
the slopes were so steep that each plot was shored up with a strong
stone wall to keep the crop of maize and buckwheat from slipping down
into the river.

As we passed out of the village the next morning at six o'clock we heard
the hum of the boys in the government school already at work. Apparently
Young China was wasting no time. For perhaps twenty li we followed down
a fine stream, the way rather dangerous from the rocks which now and
then detached themselves from the steep overhanging hillsides. After a
time an ascent of one thousand feet brought us in sight of the Ta Tu,
which we reached some time after noon by a gradual descent of two
thousand feet, through a narrow valley to Ta-shu-p'u. Fine clumps of
bamboo and groups of palm now cheered our sight, and fruit of several
sorts--cherries, pears, loquats--was becoming abundant. It was very
refreshing, although scarcely of a fine quality, and usually gathered
before it was ripe. The place looked quiet and attractive, but half a
century ago the last scenes of the Taiping rebellion were enacted here,
when the remnants of Shih Ta-k'ai's force were surrounded and
slaughtered.

Later in the day I went for a stroll to inspect the shops, accompanied
by my interpreter, and it was on this occasion that I met with the only
instance of unfriendliness (that I recognized) in all my journeying in
West China. At one shop I noticed an interesting bronze dragon. The
interpreter, who had a rather objectionable habit of fingering the
wares, began examining it. Thereupon the merchant came forward and
snatched it from his hands, and when we passed that way again on our
return, he came out before his shop and waved us off vigorously with his
flapping sleeves. The interpreter said that the man disliked foreigners,
but admitted that he did not wish to have his things handled.



CHAPTER V

ON THE MANDARIN ROAD


For once the sun was shining gloriously as we descended the one long
street of Ta-Shu-p'u, lined with food-shops, to the ferry across the Ta
Tu Ho, here about six hundred feet wide. Unlike the crossing of the
Yangtse at Lung-kai, where we were the only ones to be ferried over, we
found ourselves here in a crowd of coolies and ponies impatiently
waiting their turn, for we were now on a main travelled road. The two
great flat-bottomed boats were loaded to the brim, and the crossing was
safely accomplished to the tune of much shouting and kicking (by the
ponies). Sitting at ease in my chair I enjoyed the grand views up and
down the river, which here swings out from the cliffs in a splendid
curve. Above and below the ferry the Ta Tu runs through a wild,
little-known region. Few trails cross the precipitous mountains that hem
in its turbulent waters, which are navigable for short distances only by
timber rafts, and even on these the dangers of the journey are so great
that the owners of the timber are expected to bind themselves to provide
coffins in case of a fatal accident.

On the farther side we landed on a stretch of shingle, across which we
picked our way for a mile to the prosperous trading centre of Fulin,
lying on the right bank of the Liu Sha, or "River of Flowing Sand," a
small stream flowing into the Ta Tu from the north. Our path led outside
the town on the top of a narrow earth embankment, which bordered an
irrigating ditch carried along the side of the hill. I should gladly
have got off, but there was no chance to dismount save into the water on
the one hand or into the valley thirty feet down on the other. But I
think you can trust the Yunnan pony anywhere he is willing to go, and
mine did not hesitate. In fact, he never balked at anything asked of him
save once at a shaky "parao," or footway, constructed along the face of
the cliff on timbers thrust into holes bored in the solid rock, and
another time when he refused a jump from a boggy rice-field to the top
of a crumbling wall hardly a foot wide with another bog on the other
side.

Fulin was crowded with coming and going coolies and I could hardly force
my way through, but one gets used to staring crowds, and I had long
since abandoned the practice of taking refuge in my chair on entering a
town, save at the largest ones. Then it was certainly pleasanter and
perhaps safer to make my way through the throng enthroned high on the
shoulders of my coolies, but in the villages I walked or rode my pony as
chance served. Even in the smallest places our entrance was the signal
for an uproar. The scores of dogs--big, gaunt pariahs--that infested
every village, greeted us as we passed through the gate with a chorus of
barks, sending the word down the line. To his credit be it said, Jack
paid little attention to them, tittupping along, head up, tail up, only
when they came too close turning on them with a flash of white teeth
that sent the cowardly brutes flying and brought cries of delight from
the village folk who crowded nearer to inspect the strange dog, so
small, so brave, and so friendly.

Seen from within, Fulin was not attractive and I escaped outside leaving
my men to get their breakfast, which they generally had at about nine
o'clock, for the Szechuan order of day is not like that of Yunnan. We
were on the road often before six o'clock, and my cook always succeeded
in getting me some tea before starting, but the coolies fasted until
eight or after, when they stopped for a hearty breakfast. At noon there
was usually a second long halt, this time for me and the pony, but the
coolies took nothing more save the hourly cups of tea until we reached
our night's stopping-place about the middle of the afternoon. The start
at dawn was delightful; less so getting into the town with half an
afternoon before me, and I made it the rule to stop a mile or so outside
the town for a nap in peace and quiet, but the quiet was hard to find.
Generally there was a retired nook not too far from the trail, most
times a graveyard, but then came the difficulty of getting there
unobserved, for if seen we were sure to be tracked. Oh, the races I have
run, playing hide-and-seek with the crowd, stealing under a village wall
like a thief, hiding behind a little shrine, and the end was always the
same,--to be wakened from my first nap by Jack barking at a large blue
spot a little distance off, which slowly resolved itself into a stolid
line of villagers.

For a few miles we followed up the left bank of the Liu Sha, whose
waters were turbid with the red soil of Szechuan. The fertile bottom
lands were carefully cultivated with rice, and on the higher ground
maize and sugar-cane were growing. Dotted about the fields were clumps
of mulberry and orange trees, and the flanks of the enclosing mountains
were covered with a sparse growth of oak and pine.

After a time we climbed by a long, steep rock staircase to another
valley some fifteen hundred feet above the level of Fulin and into
cooler weather and clearer air. Just before entering Han Yüan Kai, where
we spent the night, we passed under a very beautiful "pailou," or
memorial arch, built of stone and elaborately carved with spirited
figures representing historic scenes. The workmanship and variety of
these arches are very remarkable. They abound all over Szechuan,
especially in the Chengtu plain, and usually commemorate the good deeds
of an official (his best act, perhaps, was setting up this memorial to
himself), or the virtues of some woman whose merit lay almost invariably
in many years, or many children, or above all in remaining a widow. I
have heard of a pailou in Kwangtung province in honour of a woman marked
out among women for her years, her goodness, and above all for her many
descendants, who numbered six sons, forty grandsons, one hundred and
twenty-one great-grandsons and two great-great-grandsons.

Han Yüan Kai is on the mandarin road that connects Chengtu and Ya-chou
with the frontier. Here we entered a new magistracy, and it was
necessary to send to Ch'ing Ch'i, the district headquarters, for a fresh
relay of soldiers. One of those who had come with me from Ta-shu-p'u
started at once on our arrival at Han Yüan Kai about the middle of the
afternoon, and made the journey, twenty-five li each way, to Ch'ing
Ch'i-hsien and back before night, bringing with him the two men who were
to go on with me. Truly the West China man is no weakling.

During the next day we were following the great tea-road, the road by
which most of the twelve million pounds of brick tea consumed by the
guzzling Tibetans is carried to the frontier market at Tachienlu. At all
hours of the day straggling lines of men or ponies or mules were in
sight, toiling along under their precious burdens. Between Ya-chou, the
starting-point of this traffic, and Tachienlu there are two high passes
to cross, seven thousand feet above the level where the journey begins,
and the whole length of the road is a wearisome succession of ups and
downs. And the loads carried are extraordinary. Baron von Richthofen
says, "There is probably no road in the world where such heavy loads are
carried by man across high mountains." The oblong package, called "pao,"
in which the tea is made up, weighs perhaps eighteen pounds, and,
according to the German traveller, ten or eleven form an average load.
But Baber declares that he had often seen a coolie carrying eighteen
pao, and on one occasion a man with a load of twenty-two, certainly
equivalent to four hundred pounds. I saw nothing like that, but I passed
many a poor wretch sweating under a burden of two hundred and
twenty-five or two hundred and fifty pounds. Day after day they creep
along, rarely covering more than six or seven miles a day. Every four
hundred yards they rest, but the loads are taken off only at noon and
night. At other times they relieve themselves for a moment from the
intolerable strain by placing an iron-shod crutch under the load. On the
march they carry this in the hand, tapping the ground as they go, and
all along the road the granite pavement is worn into holes from the taps
of centuries. The load, which is fastened to a framework attached to
the carrier's back, towers high over his head, and is usually surmounted
by his wide-brimmed hat fastened at such an angle as to give him
protection against rain and sun. Even Chinese ingenuity has failed to
devise a way by which he can wear it properly on his head. Some of them
fanned themselves vigorously as they walked, with respectable black,
old-lady fans, and the contrast with their hard, begrimed faces and
sturdy frames was very comical. The men looked worn and exhausted, and
their work is killing, although I believe they outlast the
chair-bearers; but they were patient and cheerful like the rest, ready
to laugh and share their cold lunch of corn-cake with the little foreign
dog who begged so prettily.

[Illustration: "MERCURY," MY FLEET COOLIE]

[Illustration: CARRIER COOLIES]

I wondered how many of them were opium smokers. To the untrained eye the
signs were not very plain. Among my coolies was one whom I dubbed
"Mercury," so untiring and fleet of foot was he, carrying his load of
eighty pounds or so with apparent ease, and showing much pride in
keeping near my chair, while usually the carrier coolies lagged far
behind. I was told he was the worst smoker of the whole lot. In my
caravan of seventeen men, seven, including the fu t'ou, used opium. As a
rule they limited themselves to one pipe at night, while five years ago
travellers complained that a long halt at noon was demanded by the
smokers. The fu t'ou was making a valiant effort, with the aid of
anti-opium pills, to break off the habit; it was getting too expensive,
he said, especially for a married man. In a number of towns places were
pointed out where these pills were sold by the Government. Those who
know, say they are often as pernicious as the drug itself.

The majority of my men, eleven to be precise, were married, and eight
had children. I was interested to note the discreet and indirect way in
which this information was procured for me by the interpreter. Such
matters are not mentioned in public in China, any more than in India.

My own chair-men, so it happened, were all gay young bachelors, ready to
squander their earnings on anything that took their fancy,--beads or
tobacco, hats or cakes, especially cakes. There was a particular sort,
very sweet with pink frosting, that was a great delicacy, costing two
cents Mexican apiece. I had to speak pretty emphatically to one of the
men who was trying to win Jack's favour by feeding him with the costly
cookies. "But the little dog likes them," he said.

The Chinese generally, unlike the Hindu, is very ready to spend on his
food if he has the money. He will live on less than nothing if put to
it, but given the chance he does not stint himself. At short intervals
on the road were tea-houses and restaurants of the simpler sort
especially planned to cater to the coolie class, but they were often
not unattractive. Sometimes they were substantial buildings open to the
street, and set out with tables on which were ranged dishes of
vegetables and curries and cakes, while in the background was a big
cauldron of rice cooking over the fire. Occasionally the tea-house was
nothing more than a section of the highway roofed over with mats or
leafy boughs. On a handy bench was placed a basin of steaming water for
the visitor to bathe hands and face before drawing up to the table. It
gave me a pleasant surprise to see the Chinese making of the daily
repast a jolly social function, instead of each squatting on the ground
in a corner, devouring his solitary bowl of rice as is the fashion of
most Eastern peoples.

I found much interest in noting the food of my men, the variety and cost
of it, and I whiled away many an hour of waiting, in questioning
innkeepers and provision dealers. A good bowl of rice, called "cat's
head" and costing twenty cash, or one cent gold, was usually the _pièce
de résistance_. This in hand, a man fished out with his chopsticks
tidbits from various dishes set out on the table,--beans, cabbage,
lettuce, peppers, etc., all cooked. Good hot boiled potatoes in their
jackets were sometimes to be had at four cash each, or a bowl of stewed
turnips at the same price. Beans in some shape were an important part of
every menu. You could get a basin of fresh beans for ten cash, dried
bean-cake for five, beans cooked and strained to a stiff batter for
making soup for seven cash the ounce, while a large square of white
bean-cake was sold for one copper cent. A saucer of spun rice or millet,
looking much like vermicelli, with a seasoning of vinegar, cost five
cash. Bowls of powdered grain mixed with sugar were much in demand. So,
too, for those who could afford them, large round cakes at thirty cash
for two. Ground pepper (the Chinese are very fond of pepper in any form)
was sold at one cash the tiny package, and sugar for three cash the
square inch. Almost every coolie had tucked in about his load a large
flat cake of coarse corn-meal or maize mixed with water, which he
munched as he went along. In Tachienlu, my supply of biscuits having
given out, I had my cook buy some of these; split open and toasted, they
were not at all bad. Tea, of course, was to be had everywhere; a pinch
of tea-leaves in a covered cup and unstinted boiling water cost from
five to twenty cash a cup, and most refreshing I found it. On the whole,
the food looked attractive, and the fact that whether liquid or solid it
was almost invariably boiled must have much to do with saving the people
from the legitimate consequences of their sins against sanitary laws.
The Chinese have no principles against eating between meals if they can
find anything to eat, and there was temptation all along the road.
Beside a wayside well, under a spreading tree, would be placed a small
table tended perhaps only by a tiny maiden, and set out with pieces of
sugar-cane or twigs of loquats or carefully counted clusters of peanuts
or seeds, five pieces for a cash.

Our second night from the ferry was spent at Ni T'ou, a rather important
frontier village, and attractive with picturesque red temples and
pailous. A good sleep in an unusually comfortable inn prepared us for
the stiff climb to come. The morning broke grey and the clouds rested
low on the mountains, but at least we were spared a start in the rain.
The road was so steep and rough that I preferred to walk, and soon
getting ahead of my men I did not see them again until midday, and I had
a good morning all to myself among the hills. Occasionally I passed
through a little hamlet, people and dogs all turning out to greet my dog
and me. Once a whole village emptied itself into the fields to show me
the way up the hillside. My cold lunch I ate at the head of a wild gorge
by a solitary shrine half buried in clumps of bushes, and beautiful with
masses of iris. The last part of the climb to Fei Yüeh Ling, or "Fly
Beyond Pass," led through an uninhabited glen down which rushed a fine
stream turning the horizontally placed wheels of a ruined mill. Hurrying
up the rocky zigzag I stood alone at the top of the pass, nine thousand
feet above the sea. Before me I knew towered range upon range, peak
above peak, one of the finest views the earth affords, but alas,
everything was blotted out by thick white clouds, and I could scarcely
see ten feet away.

It was maddening to think of the wonders that lay behind that
impenetrable wall, but there was nothing to do but to descend by a trail
as steep and slippery as the one by which I had just climbed, for the
cold, drenching mist showed no signs of lifting. It was on this slope
that Rockhill, the American explorer, met a pilgrim on his way to Lhasa.
Starting in the Chusan archipelago near Ning-po, he had already spent
seven years on the way, and it would be two more before he could attain
his goal, which was not to be wondered at, as with every two steps he
prostrated himself full length on the ground before the little altar he
carried with him. With this primitive mountain world his act was in
weird harmony, but there was an incongruity almost stunning in the sight
of a Hindu carrying out a similar vow in one of the crowded business
streets of Europeanized Calcutta. I nearly stepped on him as I came out
one day from the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank.

Just before reaching Hua-lin-ping, or "Phoenix" Flat, where we were to
spend the night, I espied across the narrow valley to our right a
picturesque temple perched at the top of a high wooded cliff. As it was
still early in the afternoon, I turned off from the trail, and,
accompanied by the interpreter, scrambled down the slope, gay with pink
azaleas, to a charming wooden bridge spanning the torrent. After a sharp
pull through a fine forest, we came out in front of the temple, which
was dedicated to Kuan Yin: by the way, it is rather significant that
China's favourite deity is the Goddess of Mercy. The place seemed
deserted, and we wandered about at will. Apparently extensive repairs
were going on, and roofs and gods alike were being refurbished. After a
time an old priest turned up, who took us through the timber-built
monastery behind the temple. Here, he told us, well-to-do people of the
neighbourhood often spent a few weeks in summer, to escape the damp heat
of the valley. The practical Chinese do not hesitate to put their sacred
places to use, and they serve in turn for schools, political gatherings,
summer resorts.

I was half a mind to cry a halt, the place looked so attractive, and all
the more when on stepping out of a door there opened before me a
wonderful vision of heaven-kissing mountains. While we were inside the
clouds had lifted, revealing the whole line of the great peaks that
stand as sentinels at the eastern end of the vast Tibetan plateau.
Westward from that snow-topped line there is no low land until you reach
the plains of India. For a few minutes we stood spellbound, and then the
clouds shut down again, leaving only a glorious memory to cheer the
descent through a grey, dripping world.

A generation ago Hua-lin-ping was an important frontier post, but to-day
its broad, barrack-lined street is deserted and grass-grown, for the
vanguard of effective Chinese occupation is steadily pushing westward
into the tribes country. We started the next morning under clouds of
more than one sort; rain was falling, the ma-fu, whom I had been dosing
for a day or two, had given out, and had to be left behind as well as
one of the coolies, and the fu t'ou was cross at having to shoulder the
latter's load. Early on this day we again came to the Ta Tu, having
descended five thousand feet from the top of the pass; and for the rest
of this stage and all the next one we followed up the wild valley of
this beautiful river, which may be said to form the real geographical
and ethnographical boundary between China and Tibet. Wherever the valley
opened out a little, there was the invariable garden-like cultivation of
the Chinese; fruit and nut trees abounded, mulberry, peach, apricot, and
walnut, and the fields showed good crops of maize, beans, and
sugar-cane. But up from the narrow fertile strip of river bank towered
on either hand barren mountains, their precipitous granite sides gashed
here and there by deep gorges in and out of which the trail wound with
sharp turns and steep descents. The grey, forbidding mountains, showing
hardly a foothold for man or beast, tree or house, matched the grey,
swirling river, here unnavigable even for rafts. Thrust back by the
land, offered only a watery grave by the river, it seemed no country for
man to seek a home, and yet the scattered Chinese hamlets were gay and
full of life, and the tea-houses at every turn were doing a good
business.

[Illustration: A GROUP OF SZECHUAN FARMHOUSES]

At Leng Chi, where we stopped for breakfast, I fled from the noisy
restaurant to a small temple across the road, its outer court filled
full of coffins, whether occupied or not, I could not say. A nice old
priest promptly found me out, and taking me into an inner room made me
comfortable with cups of tea. The buzz of voices told that a school was
in session near by, and at the request of the teacher, a good-looking
young man, I paid it a visit. Some twenty boys were hard at work on the
classics and mathematics, undisturbed by the weird-looking gods around
them. They seemed wide awake, and showed real disappointment that I
could not stop to see a display of their skill in gymnastics. Every
good-sized village seems to boast a school of sorts, and not a few do
something for the girls.

The rain was falling as we approached Lu Ting Ch'iao, and that meant a
long evening cooped up in a noisy, ill-smelling inn, so in desperation I
took refuge under a large tree just outside the town where bushes
screened me from the passers on the road. My men had long since made up
their minds that I was rather mad, so they left me in peace, only
posting one of the soldiers in a temple near by to keep watch and ward;
but there was no need, for most of the people hereabouts are Tibetan,
and they have little of the pertinacious curiosity of the Chinese,
whether because of better manners or because less alert I do not know.
And it was well I cut short my stay in the inn, for it was about the
worst I had come across, as I took pains to inform the landlord the next
morning. But there was no choice. Lu Ting Ch'iao, or the "Town of the
Iron Bridge," derives its importance as well as its name from its
location, and it was crowded to overflowing with east- and west-bound
travellers, officials, merchants, soldiers, coolies, for all traffic
must cross the Ta Tu here, the one point spanned by a bridge. Indeed,
according to Mr. Archibald Little, this is the only bridge across any
one of the many large rivers that unite to form the Great River. It is
of the suspension sort, built in 1701, in the reign of that energetic
ruler, Kang Hi, and is three hundred and eleven feet long. The nine
cables of charcoal-smelted iron that compose it are anchored at the ends
in the usual Chinese fashion. On these are laid loose planks to serve as
a footway, while the only guard is a shaky chain on either hand. When
the wind swoops down the gorge, as it does most afternoons, the whole
structure swings uncomfortably, and I wondered at the nonchalance with
which heavily laden coolies and ponies crossed. But such as it is, this
is the one connecting link between China and Tibet, for ferrying across
the upper reaches of the Ta Tu is impracticable most of the year.

After passing the bridge we kept up a narrow trail that clung to the
face of the cliff, often cut out of the granite rock. There were no
villages, but we passed through one or two hamlets set in a small
alluvial fan such as is often seen in Western Tibet, only there the fan
ended with a steep precipice two or three hundred feet above the river,
while here it sloped gently down to the water's edge.

Occasionally we saw across the Ta Tu on the left bank a village
unmistakably Tibetan: no trees; grey, flat-roofed, fortress-like houses,
often reached only by a ladder; with few signs of life to be seen even
with a glass, there was a forbidding aspect to these places in marked
contrast to the bustle of a Chinese village.

We were now skirting the lower slopes of the Ta Shueh Shan, or "Great
Snow Mountains," the outposts of the Tibetan plateau, but we were too
hemmed in to catch a glimpse of the higher ranges, save once, when a
break in the mountain wall afforded a brief, magnificent view of the
snowy peaks towering more than fifteen thousand feet above our heads.
Then another turn in the road shut us in again between grey cliff and
grey river and grey sky. Toward the end of the day a sharp bend to the
left took us away from the Ta Tu into the wild gorge through which
flows the Tarchendo, and with a rough scramble we dropped down into the
pretty little village of Wa Ssu Kou, the "Ravine of the Tile Roof
Monastery." At the extreme western end of the one long street we found
comfortable quarters in a new, clean inn. Like so many of these villages
of wood with shingled roofs, Wa Ssu Kou seems to burn down once in so
often, which has at least the advantage that there is less chance for
dirt to accumulate.

Strolling out from the inn after a wash, I found myself in the fine
gardens that border the river, separated from the water, here level with
the bank, only by a narrow strip of shingle. Men and women were hard at
work even after nightfall. Each plant is brought up by hand, as it were,
and there is no waste of fertilizer; by spoonfuls the precious stuff is
applied to each root instead of being scattered over the ground. Just
across the river towered a precipitous cliff two thousand feet high,
quite overshadowing the village, which looked very small and helpless by
contrast. Up the face of the cliff zigzagged a steep trail, finally
disappearing over the top, and I looked longingly after it, for on this
side the river direct Chinese government ends. The other bank is the
country of the tribesmen, people of Mantzu stock living under the rule
of their tribal chiefs. Northwards from Wa Ssu Kou the Ta Tu changes its
name to Chin Ch'uan, or "Golden Stream," and the whole region is known
as the Chin Ch'uan country, and is famous in Chinese history as the
scene of one of the most hardly fought campaigns against the tribes.

On my return to Wa Ssu Kou a week later a free half-day gave me a chance
for a little run over the border. Guided by a respectable villager I
crossed the rickety bridge over the Tarchendo and after a breathless
climb came out on the top of the cliff, where I overlooked a wide
rolling plateau sloping steeply to the Ta Tu on the east, and enclosed
north and west by high mountains. The country seemed barren and almost
uninhabited, as though removed by hundreds of miles from the hard-won
prosperity and swarming life of the line of Chinese advance to
Tachienlu. Only occasionally did we meet any one, Chinese or Mantzu, and
there was no stir about the few dwellings that we passed, all high,
fortress-like buildings of stone. This whole region is almost unknown to
Europeans, and the few Chinese who go there are generally passing
traders. According to Hosie, they are allowed to take temporary wives
from the women of the country on payment of a sum of money to the tribal
head, but they must leave them behind when they depart.

The next day we ascended the valley of the Tarchendo to Tachienlu, a
distance of about twenty miles. There is a rise of thirty-five hundred
feet on this stage, but so gradual is the ascent that one realizes it
only in watching the stream, which is almost continuous rapid and
cataract. For miles there was scarcely a square yard of smooth water.
The only means of crossing from one bank to the other is by the rope
bridges, of which I saw three. Several times I had a chance to watch
some one making the trip. From a bamboo rope securely anchored on either
bank with heavy rocks, a sling-seat is suspended by means of a section
of bamboo which travels along the rope. Seated in the sling the weight
of the voyager carries him more than halfway across, but after that he
must haul himself up by sheer force. A slip would mean certain death,
and it is said that often on reaching the middle of the stream the
impulse to let go is uncontrollable. Hardy Western explorers have
frequently confessed their dread of these bridges, which are found
throughout the mountains of eastern Asia, but I saw men and women
crossing as though it were all in the day's work. But then the Chinese
have no nerves, you know.

Fortunately the need of crossing here did not seem very imperative, for
there was little sign of life on the north bank of the Tarchendo.
Indeed, on our side there were no villages for the whole distance, only
a few hamlets and now and then a solitary rest-house. The river is so
closely shut in by the mighty rock walls on either hand that there is
scarcely room for more than the narrow trail. There were a good many
walnut trees and willows, and I occasionally saw a meagre patch of
barley or Indian corn, but even the Chinese would be hard put to wring a
living here were it not for the coolie trade. In fact, every other house
seemed to be a restaurant or tea-house. At one the soldier who had
escorted me from Ni T'ou covered himself with disgrace by getting into a
quarrel. Rain was falling, so I stayed in my chair while the coolies
were drinking their everlasting cups of tea. Suddenly there was a great
outcry, every one pitching in, and I saw the soldier seize the innkeeper
by the queue, belabouring him vigorously with the flat of his short
broad sword. I called to the interpreter to interfere, but either he did
not hear me or would not obey; so I scrambled out of my chair as best I
could (a woman, as an inferior being, must always step over the side
pole; to touch the pole that rests on the coolie's shoulder would cause
him to have sores), and, throwing myself into the fray, hauled the
soldier off. I knew, for I had tested it, that the edge of his sword was
sharp. When the excitement had died down, I learned that the whole
trouble rose from the innkeeper's demanding payment for four cakes,
while the soldier insisted that he had eaten only three. Who had the
right of it I do not know, but I read the man a lesson at so misbehaving
himself when escorting a lady, a truly Western point of view which was
probably Greek to him, but anyway he seemed greatly downcast at my
rebuke, and for the rest of the day hung about in an apologetic way,
occasionally mutely laying a bunch of flowers on the arm of my chair as
a peace offering.



CHAPTER VI

TACHIENLU


Tachienlu is surely _sui generis_; there can be no other town quite like
it. Situated eight thousand four hundred feet above the sea, it seems to
lie at the bottom of a well, the surrounding snow-capped mountains
towering perhaps fifteen thousand feet in the air above the little town
which, small as it is, has hardly room to stand, while outside the wall
there is scarcely a foot of level ground. It is wedged into the angle
where three valleys come together, the Tar and the Chen rivers meeting
just below the town to form the Tarchendo, and our first view of the
place as we turned the cliff corner that here bars the gorge, was very
striking, grey walls and curly roofs standing out sharply from the
flanking hillsides.

Within the walls of Tachienlu, China and Tibet meet. As we made our way
through the long, dirty main street, here running parallel with the Tar
which comes tumbling down from the snow-fields of the Tibetan range, I
was struck at once by the varied aspect of the people. The dense crowd
that surged through the streets, some on horseback and some on foot, was
more Tibetan than Chinese, but the faces that peered out from the shops
were unmistakably of the Middle Kingdom. Groups of fierce-looking
fellows, clad in skins and felt, strode boldly along, their dark faces
bearing indelible marks of the hard, wild life of the Great Plateau.
Many of them carried weapons of some sort, for the Chinese have scorned
to disarm them. Among them walked impassively the blue-gowned men of the
ruling race, fairer, smaller, feebler, and yet undoubtedly master. It
was the triumph of the organizing mind over the brute force of the lower
animal. Almost one man in five was a red-robed lama, no cleaner in dress
nor more intelligent in face than the rest, and above the din of the
crowd and the rush of the river rose incessantly weird chanting and the
long-drawn wail of horns from the temples scattered about the town.
Lamaism has Tachienlu in its grip, and I could have fancied myself back
in Himis lamassery, thousands of miles away on the western frontier of
Tibet. It was an extraordinarily picturesque scene, full of life and
sound and colour.

Marco Polo described the territory lying west of Ya-chou as "Thibeth,"
and a century ago the Chinese frontier stopped at Tachienlu, but to-day
Batang, a hundred and twenty-five miles to the west as the crow flies,
is the western limit of Szechuan. In actual fact, however, direct
administration by the Chinese stops at the Ta Tu, on the right bank of
the river the people being governed by their tribal chiefs. Tachienlu
is in the principality of the King of Chala, whose palace is one of the
two or three noteworthy buildings in the place, and the Tibetan
population of some seven hundred families, not counting the lamas, is
directly under his authority. But there is a power behind the throne,
and the town is really governed by the Chinese officials, for it is the
key to the country to the west, and the Imperial Government has long
been awake to the importance of controlling the great trade and military
road to Lhasa. What the effect of the Revolution will be upon the
relations of China and Tibet remains to be seen. Already Chao Erh Feng,
the man who as Warden of the Marches had made Chinese rule more of a
reality in Lhasa than ever before, has fallen a victim to Manchu
weakness; hated by Chinese and Tibetan alike, he met his death at the
hands of a rebellious soldiery in January, 1912.

[Illustration: A VIEW OF TACHIENLU]

[Illustration: TIBETANS]

Between Tachienlu and Lhasa lie many hundred miles of barren, windswept
plateaus and perilous mountain passes. There are, I believe, at least
ten of these passes higher than Mont Blanc. Connection between the two
places is over one of the most difficult mountain roads in the world,
yet it was by this route that the Chinese finally conquered Tibet in the
eighteenth century, and to-day most of the trade goes the same way.
Those who deny the Chinese all soldierly qualities must have forgotten
their achievements against the Tibetans, let alone the still more
extraordinary military feat of their victory over the Gurkhas of Nepal,
when a force of seventy thousand men of the Middle Kingdom crossed the
whole width of the most inaccessible country in the world, and, fighting
at a distance of two thousand miles from their base, defeated the crack
warriors of the East.

The China Inland Mission has a station at Tachienlu, but to my
disappointment the two missionaries were away at the time of my visit,
and although their Chinese helpers made me welcome, providing a place
for me in one of the buildings of the mission compound, I felt it a real
loss not to talk with men who would have had so much of interest to
tell. Moreover, I had been looking forward to meeting my own kind once
more after two weeks of Chinese society. Fortunately another traveller
turned up in Tachienlu about the time I did, an English officer of the
Indian army, returning to duty by a roundabout route after two years'
leave at home. As he too was installed in the mission compound we soon
discovered each other, and I had the pleasure of some interesting talk,
and of really dining again. Eating alone in a smelly Chinese inn cannot
by any stretch be called dining. I found that Captain Bailey had gone
with the Younghusband expedition to Lhasa, and was now on his way to
Batang with the hope of being able to cross Tibet from the Chinese side.
We had an enjoyable evening comparing experiences. I was impressed, as
often before, by the comfort a man manages to secure for himself when
travelling. If absolutely necessary, he will get down to the bare bones
of living, but ordinarily the woman, if she has made up her mind to
rough it, is far more indifferent to soft lying and high living,
especially the latter, than the man. One thing I had, however, that
Captain Bailey lacked,--a dog,--and I think he rather envied me my
four-footed companion. I know I begrudged him his further adventure into
the wilds beyond Tachienlu. Months later I learned that although he did
not reach Lhasa as he had hoped to do, his explorations in the
little-known region between Assam and Tibet and China had won him much
fame and the Gill Medal awarded by the Royal Geographical Society.

Thanks to Captain Bailey I suffered no inconvenience from the absence of
the missionaries on whom I had relied for help in getting a cheque
cashed, as he kindly introduced me to the postmaster, to whom he had
brought a letter from the English post-commissioner at Chengtu, and this
official most courteously gave me all the money I needed for the next
stage of my journey. The Imperial Post-Office was in 1911 still under
the same management as the customs service, and was marked by the same
efficiency. All over China it had spread a network of post-routes, and
by this time, unless the Revolution has upset things, as it probably
has, there should be a regular mail service between Tachienlu and Batang
and Lhasa. To be sure, the arrangements at Tachienlu were rather
primitive, but the surprising thing was that there should be any
post-office at all. When I went for my letters the morning after I
arrived, I was shown a large heap of stuff on the floor of the little
office, and the interpreter and I spent a good half-hour disentangling
my things from the dusty pile, most of which was apparently for members
of the large French mission in Tachienlu. I was sorry not to have a
chance to meet representatives of the mission, which has been
established for a long time, and works, I believe, among both Tibetans
and Chinese, the Protestants confining themselves to the Chinese
community. Nor was I more successful in learning about the Protestant
work, owing to the absence of the missionaries on a journey to Batang.
But I was greatly impressed by the truly beautiful face and dignified
bearing of a native pastor who called upon me at my lodgings. Fine,
serene, pure of countenance, he might have posed for a Buddha or a
Chinese St. John. In my limited experience of the Chinese, the men who
stand out from their fellows for beauty of expression and attractiveness
of manner are two or three Christians of the better class. Naturally
fine-featured and of dignified presence, the touch of the Christian
faith seems to have transformed the supercilious impassiveness of their
class into a serenity full of charm. It is a pity that it is not more
often so, but the zeal of the West mars as well as mends, and in
imparting Western beliefs and Western learning carelessly and needlessly
destroys Eastern ideals of conduct and manner, often more reasonable and
more attractive than our own. The complacent cocksureness of the
Occidental attitude toward Oriental ways and standards has little to
rest on. We have reviled the people of the East in the past for their
unwillingness to admit that there was anything we could teach them, and
they are amending their ways, but we have shown and show still a
stupidity quite equal to theirs in our refusal to learn of them. Take,
for example, the small matter of manners,--if it be a small matter. More
than one teacher in America has confessed the value of the object lesson
in good breeding given by the chance student from the East, but how few
Westerners in China show any desire to pattern after the dignified,
courteous bearing of the Chinese gentleman. I have met bad manners in
the Flowery Kingdom, but not among the natives.

It had been a long, hard pull from Ning-yüan-fu; two weeks' continuous
travelling is a tax upon every one, but at no place had we found
comfortable quarters for the whole of the party, and as the men
preferred to push on, I was not inclined to object. But usually a
seventh-day rest is very acceptable to them; so we were all glad for a
little breathing-space in Tachienlu. The servants and coolies spent the
first day in a general tidying-up, getting a shave, face and head, and
having their queues washed and combed and replaited. Some also made
themselves fine in new clothes, but others were content to wash the old.
As none of them, with the exception of the fu t'ou, had ever been in
Tachienlu before, they were as keen to see the sights as I was, and in
my rambles about the town the next two or three days, I was greeted at
every turn by my coolies, enjoying to the full their hard-earned
holiday.

There was less to see of interest in Tachienlu than I had expected. The
shops are filled mainly with ordinary Chinese wares, and my efforts to
find some Tibetan curios were fruitless, those shown to me being of
little value. I imagine it is a matter of chance if one secures anything
really worth while. At any rate, neither the quaint teapots nor the hand
praying-wheels that I was seeking were forthcoming. Nor could I find any
decent leopard skins, which a short time ago formed an important article
of commerce, so plentiful were they. But at least I had the fun of
bartering with the people, whom I found much the most interesting thing
in Tachienlu, and thanks to the indifference or the politeness of the
Tibetan I was able to wander about freely without being dogged by a
throng of men and boys. Chinese soldiers were much in evidence, for this
is naturally an important military post as well as the forwarding depot
for the troops stationed along the great western trade route to Batang
and Lhasa. The Chinese population under their protection, numbering some
four hundred families, mostly traders, looked sleek and prosperous.
Evidently they made a good living off the country, unlike the Tibetans
who were generally dirty and ragged and poor in appearance. I must
confess that I was disappointed at the latter. In spite of their hardy,
muscular aspect and bold bearing, I did not find them attractive as do
most travellers. They lacked the grotesque jollity of the Ladakhis of
Western Tibet, their cousins in creed and race, and I met nothing of the
manly friendliness which marked the people of Mongolia whom I had to do
with later. Never have I seen men of more vicious expression than some I
met in my strolls about Tachienlu, and I could well believe the stories
told of the ferocity shown by the lamas along the frontier. Very likely
the people are better than their priests, but if so, their looks belie
them. There is rarely a man--or a people--so low as to lack a defender,
and it is a pleasing side to the white man's rule in the East, that if
he be half a man he is likely to stand up for the weak folk he governs.
It may be due to pride of ownership, or it may be the result of a
knowledge born of intimate acquaintance, but whatever the cause, no
race is quite without champions in the white man's congress. Captain
Bailey who had had long experience of the Tibetans in administrative
work on the northeastern borderland of India, was no exception, and he
defended them vigorously. I had no knowledge to set against his, but
when he declared that they were a clean people it seemed to me he was
stretching a point, for I should have thought their dirt was as
undeniable as it was excusable in the burning sun or biting cold of
their high plateaus.

Practically all the traffic between China and its great western
dependency passes through Tachienlu, and the little town is full of
bustle and stir. From Tibet are brought skins and wool and gold and
musk, to be exchanged here for tobacco and cloth and miscellaneous
articles, but tea, of course, forms the great article of trade, the
quantity sent from Tachienlu annually amounting to more than twelve
million pounds. Conspicuous in the town are the great warehouses where
the tea is stored, awaiting sale, and there are numerous Tibetan
establishments where it is repacked for the animal carriage which here
replaces the carrier coolies from the east. Among the Chinese the trade
is mostly in the hands of a few great merchants who deal with the women
representatives of the Tibetan priesthood who practically monopolize the
sale in their country, deriving a large income from the high prices
they charge the poor people to whom tea is a necessity of life.

When I grew weary of the confusion and dirt of the narrow streets I was
glad to escape to the hillside above my lodgings. The mission compound
is small and confined, affording no room for a garden, although fine
masses of iris growing along the walls brightened up the severity of the
grey stone buildings; but a little climb behind the mission house
brought me to a peaceful nook whence I could get a glorious view over
the town and up and down the valley, here so narrow that it seemed
possible to throw a stone against the opposite hillside.

The first fine morning after my arrival I made an early start for the
summer palace of the King of Chala, situated about eight miles from
Tachienlu in a beautiful, lonely valley among the mountains. This is the
favourite camping-place of Chengtu missionaries, who now and then brave
the eleven days' journey to and fro to exchange their hothouse climate
for a brief holiday in the glorious scenery and fine air of these
health-giving uplands. We were mounted, the interpreter and I, on ponies
provided by the Yamen, one worse than the other, and both unfit for the
rough scramble. After traversing the town, first on one side and then on
the other of the river which we crossed by a picturesque wooden bridge,
roofed in but with open sides, we passed out at the South
Gate--Tachienlu has no West Gate--and found ourselves in a small suburb
with a few meagre gardens. A mile farther along we crossed the river
again by a striking single arch bridge, known as the "Gate of Tibet." We
were now on the great trade route to Lhasa, but between us and the
mysterious city lay many days of weary travel.

From time to time we met groups of Tibetans, men and women,
rough-looking and shy, with the shyness of a wild animal. Generally
after a moment's pause to reassure themselves, they answered my greeting
in jolly fashion, seeming quite ready to make friends. Occasionally the
way was blocked by trains of ox-like yaks, the burden-bearers of the
snow-fields, bringing their loads of skins and felt and musk and gold.
Astride of one was a nice old man who stuck out his tongue at me in
polite Tibetan fashion.

[Illustration: LAMA AND DOG AT TACHIENLU]

[Illustration: THE GATE OF TIBET]

After an hour's ride we left the highway and turned into a beautiful
green valley, following a very bad trail deeper and deeper into the
mountains, the soft meadows gay with flowers forming a charming contrast
to the snow-peaks that barred the upper end of the valley. We came first
to the New Palace, a large rambling building having no more
architectural pretensions than an ordinary Chinese inn. As the king's
brother, who makes his home there, was away, I saw nothing more of the
place than the great courtyard filled with mangy, half-starved dogs
and unkempt men. Not far off is one of the great attractions of the
place, at least to the natives,--a hot sulphur spring. To the
disappointment of my Tibetan guide I declined to visit it, preferring a
leisurely cold lunch on the bank of a rushing stream which was
vigorously turning a large prayer-wheel, a cylinder of wood inscribed
many times over with the mystic words of the Buddhist prayer, "Om mani
padme hum," oftenest repeated perhaps of all prayers. Each revolution of
the wheel was equivalent to as many repetitions of the words as there
were inscribed on the wood. So night and day, while the stream runs,
prayers are going up for the king,--and truly he needs them, poor man,
between the bullying of his Chinese overlords and the machinations of
turbulent lamas. Other indications of the Buddhist's comfortable way of
getting his prayers said for him are found all about Tachienlu. From
temple roof and wayside rock flags bearing the same legend wave in the
breeze, each flutter a prayer, and just outside the city we rode by a
long stone wall, much like those of New England, only its top was
covered over with inscribed stones. If you passed by, having the "mani"
wall on your right hand, each inscribed stone would pray for you; hence
the trail always forks to suit the coming and the going Buddhist, and I
remember well the insolent pride with which my Mohammedan servants
always took the right hand when passing these walls in Ladakh.

A mile farther up the valley we came to the Old Palace, a collection of
hovels banked with piles of manure. Far more attractive than the royal
residence were some tents not far off, where a band of Tibetans,
retainers of the prince, were encamped. They came out to greet us in
friendly fashion, pointing out a blind trail up the valley where we
could get better views of the snow-peaks; but we had to turn back, sorry
though I was to leave the spot, parklike in its beauty of forest and
meadow, a veritable oasis in a wilderness of rock and ice. It was more
like home than anything I had seen in West China, for there were
stretches of fine, grassy meadows where the royal herds of cattle were
grazing, and all at once I realized that it was weeks since I had seen a
field of grass or real cows. It is the great lack in this country. Pigs
abound, and fowls, but there is no place for cattle, and the horses live
on beans and corn, or more likely on leaves and twigs.

Priest-ridden Tachienlu boasts many temples and lamasseries, and the
last day of my stay I paid a visit to one of the largest, not far from
the South Gate. It was a wide, rambling, wooden building standing near a
grove of unusually fine trees, a sort of alder. The approach was not
unattractive, flowers growing under the walls and about the entrance.
Once inside the portal, we found ourselves in a large courtyard paved
with stone and surrounded by two-story galleried buildings. Facing us
was the temple, scarcely more imposing in outward appearance than the
others. On one side a group of half-naked lamas were gathered about an
older man who seemed to be relating or expounding something, whether
gossip or doctrine I could not tell, but I should judge the former from
their expressions. They paid little attention to us, nor did others
strolling about the yard, but the big dogs roaming loose were not
backward in their greeting, although to my surprise they did not seem at
all ferocious, and treated my imperturbable little dog with distant
respect. Earlier travellers recount unpleasant experiences, but perhaps
the lamas have learned better in late years, and fasten up their
dangerous dogs if visitors are expected. Afterwards I saw in another
inner courtyard a large, heavy-browed brute adorned with a bright red
frill and securely chained. He looked savage, and could have given a
good account of himself in any fight.

While I was waiting for permission to enter the temple, I inspected the
stuffed animals--dogs, calves, leopards--suspended on the verandah. They
were fast going to decay from dust and moth, but I was told that they
were reputed sacred. The temple, which we were forced to enter from a
side door, was large and high, hung with scrolls and banners and filled
with images, but it was so dark that I found it difficult to discern
much save a good-sized figure of Buddha, not badly done.

At the invitation of an old lama, a friend of our guide, I was invited
to a large, disorderly dining- or living-hall on the upper floor, where
we were very courteously served with tea, Chinese fashion. The old man
had a rather nice face, and I tried to learn a little about the place,
but conversation through two Chinese intermediaries, one speaking
imperfect English and the other bad Tibetan, was not very satisfactory,
and I soon gave up the attempt. I did succeed, however, in making the
lama understand my wish to hire some one to cut for me a praying-stone,
to which he replied that there were plenty outside, why did I not take
one of them? I had thought of that myself, but feared to raise a storm
about my ears. Now, acting on his advice, I made a choice at my leisure
and no one objected. Under the double restraint of an unusually strong
prince, backed by Chinese officials, the priests of Tachienlu are less
truculent than farther west, but at best Lamaism rests with a heavy hand
upon the Tibetans; it is greedy and repulsive in aspect and brutalizing
in its effects; wholly unlike the gentle, even though ignorant and
superstitious, Buddhism of China.



CHAPTER VII

THE LESSER TRAIL


At Tachienlu I reached the western limit of my wanderings; not the
western boundary of China, nor yet of my desire, but my time was nearly
spent; in less than four months I had to be back in England; moreover,
late summer was not a favourable season for descending the Yangtse. So
with a longing glance up the great Lhasa trail I turned my face
eastwards; but it is always wearisome to retrace one's steps, and a
chance remark of Captain Bailey set me on the scent of an alternative
route to Ya-chou. As far as Lu Ting Ch'iao there was no choice; all
traffic across the Ta Tu must seek the great iron bridge both coming and
going, but at that point there turned off to the north and east a
shorter trail than the main packroad which we had struck near Ni T'ou.
Although more direct, it was less travelled owing to the difficulties of
the way, for there were two steep mountain-ranges to be crossed, and
path and bridges were often insecure, calling for a sure foot and a
steady head. It was not easy to get precise information as to the
condition of the road. Captain Bailey knew little save the mere fact of
its existence, and although Major Davies had taken this route, he notes
in his book "Yünnan" nothing more than that it is much too steep for
animals. Even the friendly postmaster failed us here; all he could tell
was that an official who had attempted to take ponies through lost them
all, swept away by the torrents. The interpreter wagged his head
doubtfully when I suggested my plan, but his opinion did not matter,
for, like all of his class in China, he was disinclined to active
exertion. And when I called the fu t'ou into council I found he had once
gone this way, and was not inclined to go again.

_Ku Niang_ (my title): "I wish to go to Ya-chou by the Lesser Trail."

_Fu t'ou_: "It is impossible."

_Ku Niang_: "I intend to go all the same, and I expect you to go with
me."

_Fu t'ou_: "Very well. I will guide the Ku Niang by the Lesser Trail,
but the pony cannot go, nor the chairs, nor the men, for it is
impassable for shoulder loads, and these are Ning-yüan men who know no
other way of carrying."

Apparently the fu t'ou and the cook, Jack and I were the only ones equal
to the trip, as I had already told the interpreter he might go by the
main road. But persistence conquers most things in the East. The pony
should be sent round by the longer way in charge of the ma-fu. As for
the interpreter, when he found I was ready to get along without him, he
decided to stay with me. I would not have the Ning-yüan men discharged
if they wished to go on with me to Ya-chou and Chengtu, as first
arranged but I was sure that by hiring two or three extra coolies, so as
to lighten the loads, they could get along; nor did the chairs present
any real difficulty. We would walk when the trail was bad, and surely
they could be taken empty wherever pack-coolies went. So it proved, all
was arranged as I planned, and in the end everything turned out
satisfactorily.

Our departure from Tachienlu was attended with the usual noise and
confusion; nothing is done quietly in China. Also there were the
customary delays. As we had only a short stage before us, I sat serenely
aloof on the steps of the mission house, enjoying for the last time the
wonderful views over the town to the snow peaks above, while things
gradually got themselves straight. After a long wait for the second
soldier, who never turned up, we were at last off, and the descent of
the valley was very enjoyable in the soft grey light of a misty day. As
the river had risen appreciably during our stay in Tachienlu, it rushed
along at a fine rate between the high, steep banks, and I held my breath
as I watched people pulling themselves over by the perilous rope
bridges. Halfway to Wa Ssu Kou we met a procession of six chairs, and
from each looked out the fair, smiling face of a French sister bound to
her mission station at Tachienlu. Already in thought the town seemed
purer and better for the presence of these noble women, who had probably
left their homes for good, to take up a work which they would lay down
only with life.

We found room in Wa Ssu Kou in the same "comfy" inn as before, and the
welcome we received gave me a truly homelike feeling. Soon after
starting the next morning we passed the funeral cortège of a Chinese
official of Tachienlu, making his last long journey to his distant home
two hundred li beyond Chengtu. The ponderous coffin in its red case,
upon which stood the usual white cock to avert disaster, was preceded by
men carrying flags and cymbals which they clashed in accompaniment to
the almost continuous chanting of the eight bearers. As they stopped for
frequent halts we had soon left them far behind, but late at night they
arrived at Lu Ting and were given quarters in the same temple where we
were lodged, for I had refused to try the inns again.

While it was still dark the next morning we were aroused by the sound of
chanting and clashing cymbals in the court outside. The bearers of the
dead were starting on another stage of their long journey, and at
quarter-past six we too were off, after a last parting injunction to the
ma-fu to take good care of the pony. Already the town was astir, the
marketplace, as we passed through, crowded with traders and their
produce, chiefly good-looking vegetables and fruit. For a few miles we
kept up the left bank of the Ta Tu, and then turned abruptly up the
mountain-side. Here my chair-men halted for breakfast and I did not see
them again until we reached our night's stopping-place. Alone with Jack
I kept on along the steep trail, revelling in my freedom. At first we
met few people, although later in the day the number increased, but
wherever the way seemed doubtful there was always some one to put me
straight by signs. After a little we dropped by a sharp descent into the
valley of a small wild river flowing into the Ta Tu from the east. We
kept up this, crossing the stream from side to side on planks and
stepping-stones. After passing through two tiny hamlets embowered in
walnut trees, we reached the head of the valley and faced a long, steep
zigzag. The climb was hard, hot work, but I found some diversion in a
friendly race with a good-looking woman going the same way; her unbound
feet kept up with mine while our dogs romped along gaily. Women with
unbound feet were far more common here than elsewhere in my travels, and
they seemed exceptionally alert and intelligent, but the population of
the region is scanty, many of the people being newcomers of Hakka stock.
Arrived at the top of the cliff we found ourselves on a narrow ridge,
and for the rest of the short stage our way led along the face of the
mountain, from time to time topping a wooded spur. Everywhere azaleas
made the air sweet and the steep slopes wonderful with colour. At length
we dropped without warning into a little village at the head of a
precipitous narrow ravine, where we spent the night in an unusually
interesting inn. Save for two or three private rooms, the best of which
was given to me, all life centred in a great hall open to the roof and
with merely a suggestion of partition in a few rough railings. Through
the open doors men, children, pigs and fowls, cats and dogs, strolled in
from the rain. Up in the roof our chairs were slung out of the way. Each
coolie, having secured a strip of matting, had found his place. Some
were cleaning off the sweat and dirt of the day's work with hot water:
not until they have done that can they obtain the quilts that are rented
for twenty cash each; others had already curled up for the afternoon
pipe of opium, while still others were busy preparing the evening meal
over the big semicircular range. In one pot bean-cake was being made, a
long, complicated process; in another, cakes were frying in oil; in
another, rice was boiling. One of my chair coolies seemed to be the
_chef par excellence_; brandishing a big iron ladle, he went from pot to
pot, stirring, tasting, seasoning, and generally lording it over two
others working under his orders. In full control of the whole was a
good-looking woman with bound feet, apparently the proprietor of the
inn; at least I saw no man to fill the post. Every one was
good-tempered and friendly, and I was glad to exchange the tiresome
seclusion of the town inns for the bustling scene in which I was
willingly included, tasting each dish, watching the men at their games,
making friends with the children.

The pouring rain of the night gave way to a soft drizzle at dawn, and we
were off before seven. As we ascended the valley we faced a solid green
wall flushed with masses of pink azaleas and cherry-red rhododendrons,
and broken by half a dozen streams which flung themselves over the lip
of the cliff to dash in feathery cascades from rock to rock below. Our
way led back and forth over rushing mountain streams. Riding was of
course out of the question, and I had long since left my chair-coolies
behind; but one of the Tachienlu men, a strong, active fellow with bits
of coral adorning his black queue, was very alert in looking out for me,
always waiting at a difficult place with a helping hand. We crossed the
Ma-An Shan Pass, about ten thousand feet high, by the middle of the
forenoon, having climbed more than five thousand feet since leaving Lu
Ting Ch'iao. Just before reaching the top we descended into a cup-like
hollow, a huge dimple lined with the rich greens and gay reds of the
rhododendron, and merry with the babble of many tiny waterfalls. I
exclaimed with delight at the vision of beauty, and even the coolies
grinned appreciatively. It would have been a place to dream away a day
had it not been as wet as a shower bath. Nearing the pass, we heard
weird sounds above us, not unlike the cries of rejoicing uttered by the
Ladakhis of Western Tibet when they have successfully surmounted a
difficult height, and I wondered if I was to find the same custom here.
But it turned out to be the lullaby with which two men were tooling ten
black pigs over the pass. Again, a little way down on the other side, my
path was suddenly barred by a man frantically gesticulating. I thought
at first that he was mad, but it was merely that he feared Jack would
attach a flock of geese that he was driving in the wake of the pigs, and
when I picked the dog up, the man prostrated himself at my feet in
gratitude.

[Illustration: A WAYSIDE REST HOUSE]

[Illustration: A FORTIFIED POST]

We ought to have had a fine view from the pass over the trackless
mountain tangle to the north, some of the peaks towering almost eighteen
thousand feet into the sky, but again the clouds and mist veiled
everything from sight. All the rest of the day we were making our way
down the steep east side, picking our steps laboriously along the wet
rocky trail. Our path led through a precipitous narrow gorge, its walls
draped with wonderful vegetation, and as we descended it, it grew wetter
and greener, and the thousand little brooks leaping down the sides of
the ravine rapidly swelled the main stream to an impassable torrent.
Now we crouched under overhanging ledges, now we slipped and sprawled
down a rough rock staircase, constantly crossing the stream from side to
side on planks placed from boulder to boulder, or on slippery logs with
insecure handrails or none at all. I found the descent far more tiring
than the climb on the other side. The soldier and the gallant coolie
fortunately kept always with me, one in front and one behind, and I was
often glad of a helping hand. At one time the path led straight into the
torrent, but while I was wondering as to the depth of the water and the
strength of the current, the coolie, hastily depositing his load,
motioned to me to get on his back, and the sturdy fellow carried me
safely around the projecting cliff. Still another time we were forced to
take to the river, and as I could get no wetter than I was, I proposed
to wade in, but again the man was at hand, insisting that I should ride,
and the strength and agility with which he made his way over the
slippery rocks, the swirling water rising above his knees, were really
wonderful; but then my weight was less than one hundred and thirty
pounds, while the ordinary load of the tea-carrier is two hundred. At
our heels came the soldier carrying Jack, whose short legs could hardly
have made headway against the strong current forcing him out into
midstream.

About the middle of the afternoon we forerunners of the caravan reached
Chang-ho-pa, the night's stop. The whole village turned out to greet us,
and their interest was not to be wondered at, as few Europeans and
perhaps no European woman had ever before come this way. The interpreter
did not arrive until two hours later, and what stories my two companions
made up about me to satisfy the curiosity of the villagers, I can only
imagine. As a rule, one stands to lose nothing in the mouths of one's
followers in the East Whatever reflected glory they may earn by exalting
their masters is generally theirs. Years afterward I learned that on a
journey I once made in Kashmir and Baltistan I travelled in the guise of
King Edward's sister. How much I profited by the dignity thus thrust
upon me I do not know, but I have often thought that my servants must
have been hard put to it sometimes to account for the simplicity of my
outfit.

The rest of the caravan straggled in toward the end of the afternoon,
wet and tired, but all in good spirits over the successful day, no loads
drenched, no one hurt. The great room of the rough little inn was noisy
and gay with the men drying their clothes and cooking their dinner, the
centre of an interested throng of village folk. I sat among them on a
low bench by the fire, watching the fun. Every one was heedful of my
comfort, poking the fire, bringing a fan to screen my face from the
heat, drying my shoes, rubbing Jack. The thoughtfulness and good will
of my men during all the journey were unfailing, and I never found that
friendliness on my part diminished in any way my authority over them.

After dinner the chair-bearers gathered round and with the aid of the
interpreter I took down as best I could some of their calls and
responses, a sort of antiphonal chorus handed down from generation to
generation of coolies. Thus the men in front cry, "Lao di!"--"Something
in the road!"--and those behind call back, "Ti chi!"--"Lift higher!" or
maybe it is "Chiao kao!"--"Something overhead!"--and then the answer
comes, "Keo yao!"--"Stoop lower!" When the way is very uneven, you hear
"Leo puh ping!"--"The road is not level!"--to which is replied, "Mon
tien hsin!"--"There are stones like stars!"--followed by "Tien shan hsin
To!"--"Many stars in the sky!"--with the response, "Ti hsia ken
to!"--"Many holes in the ground." Or perhaps at a bridge, "Hsio mo lan
chao!"--"Bridge bad, building for a thousand years!"--to which comes the
proverbial answer, "Chien mien wan lao!"--"Must last for ten thousand."
When there is a steep bit, one calls out, "Deo shan deo!"--"Steeper and
steeper!" and the others retort, "Kuan shan kuan!"--literally, "Official
upon official," but the meaning is plain, "As steep as the ladder of
promotion." In the villages one hears constantly, "Yu ti kou
yao!"--"There is a dog on the road,"--with the response, "Han lao-pan
lai chi tao!"--"Call the owner to chain it"; or else, "Tso shou wahwah
keo!"--"A child on the left hand,"--and then comes the answer, "Han ta
ma lah pao!"--"Call his mother to tend him."[2]

Every hundred yards or so on the road comes the cry, "Fan keo!"--"Change
shoulders!"--followed by a momentary stop to shift the pole. And you
always cross a town to the tune of "Pei-a, pei-a, pei-a!"--"Mind your
back, mind your back, mind your back!" And if a man does not mind, he is
likely to get a poke in the back from the chair pole.

The next day's journey was much the same thing as the preceding. We
started in the grey morning, and I and my two companions of the day
before had soon distanced the others. At first the trail was rough and
slippery, and all ups and downs. The vegetation was of almost tropical
density, and the moisture underfoot and overhead was so great that it
seemed to me I had never been wetter except in a bathtub. As we
descended to lower levels the valley broadened out, and the going
improved so that we were able to make very good time. At one point,
after passing through a little hamlet,--we came out on a high bluff
overlooking a good-sized stream flowing in from the south. Fifty feet
below roared the river, spanned at this place by a suspension bridge a
hundred and fifty feet long, constructed of three iron cables held
together by cross-chains at regular intervals. The footway was merely a
single row of boards not more than twelve inches wide, and there was no
handrail at all. The soldier at my side waved his hand significantly up
and down. I understood quite too well, and was shaking in my shoes at
the thought of walking that narrow, unsteady plank, when I espied my
knightly coolie, who, having deposited his load on the opposite bank,
was hurrying back to my assistance. Gripping Jack, who was as frightened
as I, under one arm, I seized the man's hand, and slowly we inched
across to safety. There we joined the people of a near-by hamlet, who
apparently found their pastime in watching the traffic across the
bridge, perhaps waiting for a chance to earn a few cash by carrying the
loads of the less sure-footed coolies. My chair-men came over
triumphantly, and Mercury almost ran with his baskets, but the
interpreter was glad of the fu t'ou's aid, and two of the coolies
balked, but were helped out by some of the others.

Later in the day we left the river, and crossing a head ridge or pass
affording beautiful views to the south, came out after a time in the
same valley, but now wider and more open. Though the mountains still
towered to left and right, we were getting down to lower levels, and the
change was marked in the palms, bamboos, and peach trees that began to
appear. But the villages were nothing more than hamlets, and the outlook
for dinner at the first stopping-place was so poor that I, now riding in
my chair, decided to go on to the next settlement; but here conditions
were even worse, the only inn being dismantled and abandoned. Although
it was getting late and the others were far behind, there was nothing
left but to travel on. Our last hope for the night proved to be a group
of four houses only with few supplies, but the people bade us welcome
and did their best to make us comfortable. Fires were lighted and
clothes were soon drying and rice a-boiling. After the arrival of the
interpreter I learned that we had been taken for missionaries, and that
it was expected we would hold a service.

The scenery grew even more beautiful as we descended the valley the next
day. Our trail led through fine groves high on the hillside, while below
us the river, now big enough to have a name, the Ya, turned and twisted
in splendid green swirls. Seen from a distance the villages were very
attractive, built usually of wood, their thatched roofs just putting
forth green shoots. A new feature in the landscape were tall spruce
trees, reminding me in their outlines of the rock pines of Italy. As the
road was now good, it was possible for me to ride in my chair once more,
for which I was glad, as the hard climbs and still more wearying
descents of the last three days had made me rather stale. The people
along the way were much interested in me and still more in Jack, but it
was the naïve curiosity of a simple folk, and I did not find it irksome
like the hard stare of the townspeople. At one place where we halted for
tiffin, a lame man with an interesting face attached himself to us, and
presently I found myself and my belongings the subject of an explanatory
talk he was giving the bystanders. He told them how I kept my eyeglasses
on, expatiated on the advantages of my shoes, indicated the good points
of my chair, the like of which had never been seen before in these
parts, and finally expounded at length the character of my dog. If I
wished him to be bad he would bite, but since I was kind I would desire
him to be good, and he would be good. To illustrate, he patted Jack's
head rather gingerly. Fortunately the dog appreciated pats from any
quarter, so our characters did not suffer.

[Illustration: A ROADSIDE TEA-HOUSE]

[Illustration: TEA-COOLIE CROSSING A SUSPENSION BRIDGE

His load weighed about 160 lbs]

Toward the end of the day we were nearing Tien-chüan-chou, the one
largeish town on this road. The approach was one of the finest things I
have ever seen. We were now well down, having descended seven thousand
feet since crossing Ma-an-Shan. Everywhere there was careful
cultivation, the nearer hills being terraced to the top, and the
well-paved trail traversed long stretches of rice-fields just beginning
to show green above the mud. Here and there a group of farm buildings
stood on little knolls above the surrounding marsh, each in a charming
setting of trees. Do trees anywhere group themselves as picturesquely as
in China? Unsympathetic people tell me that no Chinese ever plant trees
save for severely utilitarian purposes. I am in no position to
contradict the verdict of these overpowering persons, the old residents
(fortunately they sometimes contradict each other); and yet why is it
that most temples are set in fine groves, put to no purpose that I can
see save to satisfy a sense of the beautiful, or why are so many Chinese
towns, looked at from a height, bowers of green beauty, the trees
serving neither for fuel nor for food? The truth is, it seems to me,
that the needs of life press so hard on the Chinese that they are forced
to look at things from a utilitarian point of view, but given the least
chance and their appreciation of the beautiful shows itself.

Near the town we struck down to a good iron suspension bridge over the
Ya, which here runs with a tremendous current, broken by curious reefs
thrusting out into the stream some twenty or thirty feet and at right
angles to the bank. Beyond the bridge we came in sight of the town, its
staring red walls draped with green creepers. Entering through a fine
stone gateway, we found ourselves in the single street, broad, well
paved, and wonderfully clean. The inhabitants were apparently well used
to foreigners, which is natural, as Ya-chou with its Roman Catholic and
Protestant missions is only twenty miles away.

The country through which we passed the next day was very varied, and
always beautiful. On leaving the town the path led along a low ridge
given over to graves. Living and dead dwell side by side in China, and
often it seems as though the rights of the one were sacrificed to the
claims of the other. The Chinese saying, "For every man that Heaven
creates, Earth provides a grave," takes on a new significance as one
looks over the land, the dead are so many, the living so hard put to
live. This was not an unattractive place, for the mounds of earth and
stone were overgrown with grass and ferns, while many were decorated
with a tuft of bamboo or a bush of wild roses. The free use of stone in
this district was very striking; pavements, often in good condition,
were general, the irrigating ditches were bridged by a single slab of
the red sandstone of Szechuan, perhaps ten feet in length, while at
every turn there were charming little stone shrines in place of the
shabby wooden ones found farther south.

After a bit we turned away from the plain and river and entered a more
broken country, hills and valleys, ridges and dells, rushing brooks
between banks of ferns, little tumbling cascades over mossy stones,
groups and avenues of fine trees, picturesque stone bridges, everywhere
painstaking tillage and ingenious irrigation. It was all charming, with
the artificial beauty of a carefully ordered park. Resting in my chair
in front of a tea-house where the coolies were refreshing themselves, I
noticed my knight of the bridges suddenly throw himself on the ground
before the interpreter, crying out something in beseeching tones, while
the other coolies standing about laughed unsympathetically. The poor man
was urging the interpreter to ask that I give him back his soul, of
which apparently I had deprived him when I took his picture an hour
back. Without his soul he would die, and then what would his mother, a
widow, do? After some talk he was consoled, the other men assuring him
that they had been photographed over and over again without suffering
harm. If only I had known at the time, I could have consoled him with
the information that there was no picture. Photographing in cloudy
Szechuan has many drawbacks, and I was ready to bark with the proverbial
dog of the province when I saw the sun. The feeling of the Chinese
toward the camera seems to vary. Children were sometimes afraid. One boy
old enough to carry a heavy load, having been induced by the promise of
a reward to stand still, burst into tears just as I was about to snap
him, and I had to send him off triumphant over his bits of cash, while I
was left pictureless. Some, too, of the older people made objection,
while on the other hand I was occasionally asked to take a picture.

Toward noon we found ourselves again in the valley of the Ya, sometimes
following a well-paved trail above the river, the ups and downs
carefully terraced in broad stone steps, occasionally threading our way
among the huge rush mats with which the village streets were carpeted.
The harvesting of the millet and barley crops was over, and the sheaves
had been brought into the village to dry and were spread out in the only
level space available, the highway. Men walked over the sheaves,
children and dogs romped among them, and no one said them nay. Twice we
were ferried across the river, and finally a short run over the low,
wide reefs that here narrow the channel brought us to Ya-chou and to the
end of the Lesser Trail. We had made the trip without any of the
prophesied mishaps, and for me it was far more comfortable and more
interesting than following the main track. To be sure, we took five days
to it, but it would not have been difficult to have saved a day, only
there was no object in doing it, for a wait at Ya-chou was inevitable
that the ma-fu and pony might catch us up there.

My enforced stay of one day in Ya-chou gave me a chance to see something
of the town. I had the good fortune to be entertained by members of the
American Baptist Mission, Dr. and Mrs. Shields, and there as elsewhere I
found the missionaries most helpful in giving the traveller an insight
into local conditions. There is one limitation to this, however, in the
gulf which seems fixed between Protestants and Roman Catholics in the
East, cutting off the chance of learning what the latter are doing; and
when one bears in mind that Rome has had her missionaries in China for
three hundred years and numbers her converts by millions, one would like
to know more of the work done.

But there is no doubt as to the reality of Protestant achievement. In
Ya-chou the relations of missionaries and townspeople seemed very
cordial and natural. Medical work is being carried on, and a hospital
was shortly to be opened. But more valuable, perhaps, than any formal
work may be the results from the mere presence in the town of Christian
men and women living lives of high purpose and kindly spirit.

If you listen to the talk of the treaty ports you will hear much
criticism of missionaries and their work, and since they are human it is
reasonable to suspect that they sometimes make mistakes; but after all
they are the only Europeans in China who are not there for their own
personal interests, and the people are quite shrewd enough to see this.
In spite of differences of views the Chinese who knows the missionary at
all generally respects him. A Chinese gentleman in no way friendly to
missions, speaking of the good relations that existed between Europeans
and Chinese in Nanking, declared it was all because the missionaries
came first. And Dr. Soothill tells the story of an Englishman who
applauded the harsh criticism of mission work by a Chinese river
captain, and met the retort, "That's all well enough, but if it were not
for the missionaries we should not know there were any good men in your
country."

The prefectural city of Ya-chou is the centre of a great tea-growing
district, while in the town itself are large establishments where the
article is made up for the Tibetan trade. The Szechuan tea for the most
part does not rank very high, little being exported from the province
save to Tibet, and for that market even the poorest is reckoned too
good, as the so-called tea carried by the thousands of coolies whom we
met bound for Tachienlu is everything save genuine tea leaves, being a
mixture of which the leaves and twigs of scrub oak and other trees form
the largest part. The Ya-chou tea, when gathered and dried, is bought up
and brought into the towns to be made into the brick tea of Tibetan
commerce. The preparation consists in chopping fine the tea and
adulterating leaves and twigs. After adding a little rice-water the
whole is packed in cylinders of bamboo matting, each package weighing
from sixteen to eighteen catties. It is estimated that the cost to the
manufacturers, exclusive of packing, is about thirty-two cash a catty,
somewhat less than a cent and a half gold the pound. By the time the tea
has reached Tachienlu it is sold at about five and a half cents a pound.
At Batang the price is doubled, and at Lhasa quadrupled. Thus the stuff
bought as tea by the Tibetans can scarcely be called cheap, and yet they
consume great quantities of it. To them it is not a luxury, but a real
necessity.


[2] An apology is due to those wise in Chinese for the blunders
that must be found in this attempt by an American who knows no word of
the vernacular and a Kiangsi man having a limited command of English to
catch and translate the "dirt talk" of Szechuan coolies.



CHAPTER VIII

ACROSS CHENGTU PLAIN


Thoroughly set up by the day's rest in Ya-chou, my men were on hand at
five o'clock on the morning of May 24, in good spirits for the rest of
the trip. Even the ma-fu, whom we had left behind at Hua-lin-ping,
turned up with the coolie and pony sent round from Lu Ting.

Two missionaries going down the river to Chia-ting, at the junction of
the Min and the Ta Tu invited me to take a turn at rafting, and I was
glad to go with them for a few li. The Ya Ho joins the Ta Tu just west
of Chia-ting, the fall from Ya-chou being about six hundred and fifty
feet in a distance of ninety miles. So swift is the current and so
tortuous and rocky the bed of the stream that the only navigation
possible is by means of bamboo rafts fifty or sixty feet long, with a
curled prow. Amidships is a small platform partly roofed over with
matting. In spite of the rapids, which at times make the trip vastly
exciting, there is no danger save the certainty of getting wet. The
scenery on either hand is very beautiful; the great mountains recede in
the distance, fading out in the soft light, but the fine red sandstone
cliffs, alternating with the brilliant green of bamboo groves and
rice-fields on the lowland, afforded a charming picture at every turn.

My men were waiting for me at the appointed place, and ten minutes'
precarious scrambling along the narrow dykes between the fields brought
me to the great highway leading to the capital, four days' march away.
All this day and the three succeeding ones we were travelling through a
district park- or garden-like in its exquisite artificial beauty. The
trail, which was at first fairly good, ran now along the top of an
embankment some six feet broad constructed across the swimming paddy
fields, then dropped into a little valley shaded with fine "namti"
trees, and again it wound along a low ridge. Far off against the western
horizon stretched the splendid snow-line of the Tibetan range from which
I had just come, but now more than a hundred miles away. Every inch of
land that could be irrigated was under cultivation, save where a
substantial looking farmhouse set in groves of fine trees, bamboos,
cypress, and namti, occupied a little knoll laboriously built up above
the encircling marsh. Last year their crumbling walls testified to the
security of the country, but I wonder what has been the fate of these
solitary houses in the recent months of lawlessness. Toward the end of
the day a soft mist settled down upon the earth, outlining the nearer
hills and throwing up against the sky the distant peaks.

[Illustration: A FARMHOUSE IN CHENGTU PLAIN]

We had tiffin at the little town of Ming Shan-hsien. About five miles
west of here rises from the plain the Ming Shan, a small mountain famous
throughout China for its tea, which is grown by the priests of a
Buddhist temple on the summit. According to tradition the seeds from
which this tea is produced were brought centuries ago from India by a
Chinese pilgrim. Only a few pounds are gathered annually and these are
always sent as tribute to Peking for the use of the imperial household.
To whom will they now fall? There is a saying current in China that to
make a first-rate cup of tea you must take "leaves from the Ming Shan
and water from the Yangtse." No one believes for a moment that the
turbid water of the Great River is meant here, and yet no one could
explain what it did mean. But De Rosthorn, in his interesting pamphlet
on "Tea Cultivation in Szechuan," gives what seems to him the true
explanation. Crossing the bay at Chen-kiang he saw men in boats filling
buckets with water. Asking what they were doing, he was told that there
was a famous spring at the bottom of the river well known from the time
when the riverbed was dry land. Here, then, was the Yangtse water which,
combined with leaves brought from Ming Shan two thousand miles away,
made the best tea in the world.

We stopped for the night at the village of Pai-chang, where I spent a
tiresome evening trying to arrange for a pony to take the place of
mine, left behind at Ya-chou, as he seemed in need of a longer rest. The
weather was now too hot for walking, but all day in the chair was
unendurable, so I hoped here to hire a pony for half a stage. I refused
to engage one without seeing its back, but nothing appeared to be
inspected, why, I could not tell. The shifts and turns of the oriental
mind are not our shifts and turns, so I finally gave up trying to find
out, and went to bed, telling the fu t'ou he must have something ready
in the morning, only if its back was sore I would not take it. But
morning came and no pony. I was told it was waiting for me outside the
town, and there it was, sure enough. Ordering off saddle and blanket I
inspected its back to make certain that all was right, as it was. But
the strange ma-fu seemed quite overcome with consternation at the sight
of me, while the fu t'ou collapsed on a stone wall near by, doubled up
with laughter. At last an explanation was made. When the fu t'ou tried
to get a pony for me from the pony hong he was met by a refusal. No
foreigner should ride one of their horses; they had let one to a foreign
gentleman not long before, and he had abused it and gone so fast that
the ma-fu could not keep up, and nearly lost the pony; nor were they to
be moved. Anyway, the fu t'ou told them, he must have one himself. When
it was brought to the inn at dawn he mounted and rode outside the town.
There, finding he had forgotten something,--me,--he went back for it,
while pony and ma-fu waited. In true Chinese fashion the ma-fu accepted
the inevitable and walked quietly at my side, but he had an anxious
expression at first, as though he expected me at any moment to whip up
my steed and vanish. I am not wise in horseflesh, but at least I try to
be merciful to my beasts. When I got off, as I did now and then, to save
the horse over a particularly bad place, the man began to cheer up, and
finally when, according to my custom, I took the pony outside the
village to graze a bit while the men had their breakfast,--a very
unsuitable proceeding, I was later told,--his surprise broke forth.
"What sort of a foreign woman was this?" At noon I sent the pony back,
paying for the half day one hundred and forty cash, about seven cents
gold.

Just before reaching Cheung-chou, where we were to spend the night, we
crossed the Nan Ho by a fine stone bridge of fifteen arches. The Nan is
one of the lesser waterways of West China connecting this corner of
Szechuan with the Great River, and many cumbersome boats laden with
produce were slipping down with the rapid current on their way
eastwards.

I entered the gate of the town with some doubt as to my reception. Baron
von Richthofen, who passed through here a generation ago, wrote of the
place: "All the men are armed with long knives and use them frequently
in their rows. I have passed few cities in China in which I have
suffered so much molestation from the people as I did there; and
travellers should avoid making night quarters there as it was my lot to
do." Time enough has elapsed since the good baron went this way to have
changed all that, but the missionaries at Ya-chou had also cautioned me
against the temper of the people, relating some unpleasant experiences
of recent date. They had kindly given me a note of introduction to two
missionaries who had their headquarters at Cheung-chou who would make me
safe and comfortable in their house. I had sent this ahead only to learn
that the mission was closed, as the people were touring in the district;
and so there was nothing to do but go to the inn as usual.

In the narrow streets of the town there was of course the everlasting
pushing, staring crowd, but I saw no signs of unfriendliness, and Jack's
gay yaps in response to pointing fingers and cries of "K'an yang kou!
k'an yang kou!" ("Look at the foreign dog! look at the foreign dog!")
brought the invariable grins of delight. Later in the day, wearying of
the confinement of the inn, and not unwilling to test the temper of the
people a bit, I went marketing with the cook. Of course a crowd of men
and boys dogged my steps, but it was a good-natured crowd, making way
for me courteously, and when they found that I was looking for apricots
they fairly tumbled over each other in their eagerness to show us the
best shop.

Cheung-chou lies on the southwestern edge of the great plain of Chengtu,
which, although only some ninety miles long by seventy miles wide,
supports a population of four millions, so kindly is the climate, so
fertile the soil, and so abundant the water supply. Two of these
blessings are the gift of nature, but the last is owed to the ingenuity
of Li Ping and his nameless son, known only as the "Second Gentleman,"
two Chinese officials who worked and achieved and died more than two
thousand years ago. At Kwan-hsien there is a temple, perhaps the most
beautiful in China, erected in their memory, but their truest monument
is this beautiful plain, blossoming like a Garden of Eden under the
irrigation system which they devised, and which will endure so long as
men obey their parting command engraved on a stone in the temple, "Dig
the channels deep; keep the banks low."

The people of the plain were as friendly as the mountain folk I had been
travelling amongst, but they displayed less of the naïve curiosity of
the out-of-the-way places. Evidently the foreigner was no novelty, nor
the camera either. At one village I stopped to photograph a fine pailou,
not to the "virtuous official" this time, but to the "virtuous widow."
A little group of villagers gathered to watch, and would not be
satisfied until I had taken a picture of another local monument, a
beautiful three-storied stone pagoda rising tall and slender above the
flat rice land. These picturesque structures add much to the charm of
the level plain which tends to become monotonous after a while. As far
as one can see stretches the paddy land in every stage of development.
Some fields are hardly more than pools of water mirroring the clouds
overhead. Others are dotted over with thin clumps of rice through which
the ducks swim gaily, while still others are solid masses of green, and
transplanting has already begun.

Although we were now approaching the largest city of West China, and the
capital of the empire's richest province, the roads went steadily from
bad to worse. Made with infinite labour centuries ago, they had been
left untouched ever since, and weather and wear had done their work. For
long stretches the paving was quite gone; elsewhere you wished it were.
The people have their explanation of these conditions in the saying,
"The hills are high and the emperor far." It remains to be seen if that
will hold good of the new government. Certainly nothing will mean so
much in the development of the country as good roads. We were now once
more on the line of wheeled traffic, and the wheelbarrow was never out
of sight or hearing. Enormous loads were borne along on the large
flat-bottomed freight barrow, while on every hand we saw substantial
looking farmer folk, men, women, and children, going to town in the same
primitive fashion.

[Illustration: MEMORIAL ARCH TO A "VIRTUOUS WIDOW," CHENGTU PLAIN]

To save the journey a little for my chair-men, and also for the fun of a
new experience, I bargained with a barrow-man to carry me for a few
miles. My coolies took it as a fine joke, and after starting me off
trotted on behind, but my military escort looked troubled. No longer
striding proudly in front, he showed a desire to loiter behind, although
so long as my grand chair kept close at my heels he could save his face
by explaining my strange proceeding as the mad freak of a foreigner. But
finally, when I bade the chair-men stop for a smoke at a rest-house,
knowing they could easily overtake my slow-moving vehicle, he too
disappeared, and only took up his station again at the head of the
procession when I went back to my chair after dismissing the barrow with
a payment of eighty cash for a ride of twenty-five li. Barrow travelling
is not as bad as it seems, for there is a chair-back, and rests for the
feet are fixed on either side of the wheel. But in spite of the
dexterity with which the coolie trundled me over the rough places and
through the deep ruts, an upset into an unsavoury rice-patch seemed
unpleasantly possible, and more than all, you can never lose
consciousness of the straining man behind.

I thought the last stage into Chengtu would never end; the passing of
people became more and more incessant and tiring, while the hot-house
temperature of this rich lowland was most exhausting, and the occasional
downpours only made the roads more impassable without cooling the air.
My coolies, coming from higher altitudes, were almost used up. They
stopped often to rest, and hardly one was doing his own work, making an
exchange with another man, unless he had given up entirely, sweating out
his job to some one hired on the way. So we straggled along, a
disorderly, spiritless crowd, showing a little life only when Jack, whom
nothing daunted, created a diversion by chasing the village dogs along
the narrow earth balks between the fields, their favourite
resting-places. Then the whole party waked up, cheering the little dog
on with gay cries, and laughing impartially when hunter or hunted
slipped into the muck of a rice-patch, while the toilers by the roadside
thought we had all gone mad until they saw what it was, and then they
too joined in with chuckles of delight. There is something quite
childlike in the way in which this old Chinese people welcomes any
little break in the grey days of grinding drudgery.

As the day wore on, one could guess that a great centre of government
and trade was near at hand; the traffic was continuous,--coolies bent
almost double under their heavy burdens, laden barrows creaking
dolefully as they moved, foot travellers plodding wearily along, groups
of wild Tibetans from the distant frontier, gorgeous mandarins returning
from an inspection tour, all were hurrying towards the capital. Yes, we
were nearing Marco Polo's "large and noble" city of Sindin-fu and it is
to-day again a "large and noble" city, only now it is known as Chengtu,
and the days are not so very far in the past when it was hardly a city
at all.

Szechuan's later history begins with the troubled times that marked the
fall of the Ming dynasty. While the Manchus were busy establishing
themselves at Peking, the outlying provinces of the empire were given
over to brigandage and civil strife. Here in Chengtu an adventurer
calling himself the Emperor of the West succeeded in getting the upper
hand for a short time, and when his end came there was little left to
rule over save ruins and dead men, which was hardly to be wondered at,
seeing his idea of ruling was to exterminate all his subjects. Baber has
made from De Mailla's "History of China" the following summary of his
measures: "_Massacred_: 32,310 undergraduates; 3000 eunuchs; 2000 of his
own troops; 27,000 Buddhist priests; 600,000 inhabitants of Chengtu; 280
of his own concubines; 400,000 wives of his troops; everybody else in
the province. _Destroyed_: Every building in the province. _Burnt_:
Everything inflammable."

Since that time Szechuan has been repeopled and to-day the capital has a
population of quite three hundred and fifty thousand, although the
walls, that in the thirteenth century extended twenty miles, are now no
more than twelve in length and enclose a good deal of waste land. The
wonderful bridges described by Marco Polo, half a mile long and lined
with marble pillars supporting the tiled roof, no longer exist, but the
city still abounds in bridges of a humbler sort, for it is crossed by
the main stream of the Min as well as by many smaller branches and
canals, all alive with big and little craft. Chengtu is proud of its
streets, which are well paved and broader and cleaner than common, and
on the whole it is an attractive, well-built city.

The viceroy of the province has his seat here, and Szechuan shares with
the metropolitan province of Chihli the honour of having one all to
itself, and he is more truly a viceroy than the others, for the Mantzu
and Tibetan territories lying to the west are administered through the
provincial government and are in a way tributary to it. Even from far
Nepal on the borders of India come the bearers of gifts to the
representative of the emperor.

Ser Marco speaks of the "fine cloth and crêpes and gauzes" of Chengtu,
and still to-day the merchants unroll at your feet as you sit on your
verandah exquisitely soft, shimmering silks and wonderful embroideries.
It was these last that caught my fancy, and the British Consul-General,
himself a great collector, kindly sent to the house his "second-best"
man and then his "first-best," and between the two I made a few modest
purchases at even more modest prices. Imagine getting two strips of
wonderful silk embroidery for twenty cents gold, or two silk squares
ingeniously ornamented and pieced with gold for the same contemptible
sum. That was what the men wanted at the missionary house where I was
staying; at the Consul-General's they asked me twenty-five cents: that
is the price of being an official.

I liked even better to go to the shops, and Chengtu is so progressive
that that is quite possible. One section is given over to brass and
copper dishes, another to furs, another to porcelains, and so on.
Indeed, the town seems to be a very good place for "picking up" things,
for hither come men from the far distant Tibetan lamasseries, and
patient effort is often rewarded with interesting spoil, while Chinese
productions of real value sometimes drift into the bazaar from the
collections of the ever-changing officials.

But I did not spend all my days bargaining for curios, although they
were tempting enough, for there were other things to do more worth
while. The European community of Chengtu is surprisingly large for so
far inland. In numbers, of course, the missionaries lead, and besides
the Roman Catholic mission there are representatives of English,
American, and Canadian churches, all working together to give to this
out-of-the-way corner of the empire the best of Christian and Western
civilization. Their latest and most interesting undertaking is a
university on Western lines, the outcome of the combined effort of the
Friends', Baptist, and Methodist societies of Chengtu. The economy and
efficiency secured by coöperation must be of even less value than the
force of such a lesson in Christian harmony to the keen-witted Chinese.
Indeed, all over China one is impressed by the wisdom as well as the
devotion of most of the mission work. And however it may be in the
eastern seaports, where I did not spend much time, inland there seems to
be the best of feeling between the different elements of the European
community, official, missionary, and merchant. Perhaps because they are
a mere handful in an alien people they are forced to see each other's
good points, and realize that neither side is hopelessly bad nor
impossibly good.

There is quite a large Tartar population in Chengtu, and the Manchu
quarter is one of the most picturesque parts of the city, with the charm
of a dilapidated village set in untidy gardens and groves of fine trees.
Loafing in the streets and doorways are tall, well-built men and women,
but they had a rather down-at-heel air, for their fortunes were at a
low ebb when I was in Chengtu. The military service they once rendered
had been displaced by the new modern trained troops, and three years ago
their monthly rice pension of four taels, about $2.50, was cut down by a
viceroy bidding for popular support. Although Chengtu is two thousand
miles from the sea, it is one of the most advanced cities of China, and
has no mind to put up with outgrown things, such as Manchu soldiers and
Manchu pensions. It boasts to-day a mint turning out a very respectable
coinage, a large arsenal, and a university of more promise, perhaps,
than achievement; and the pride of the moment was a new arcade of shops
where the goods were set out with all the artifice of the West in large
glazed windows. Although Japanese and Europeans are employed, yet these
are all truly native undertakings, and that, to my mind, is the best
part of Chengtu's progress; it shows what the Chinese can do for
themselves, not simply following Western leadership. And on the whole
they seemed last year to be doing a number of things very well. It
argued real efficiency, I think, that the officials at Chengtu knew at
every moment the whereabouts of the travelling foreigners in a province
larger than France. To be sure, we were only two, Captain Bailey and
myself, but all the same they could not have done it save by a very
up-to-date use of the telegraph. And again, the Chengtu police are
really guardians of the peace. I had a chance to see the order that was
kept one night when my chair-men lost their way taking me to a dinner at
the house of the French Consul-General, quite across the city from where
I was staying. For more than an hour we wandered about, poking into all
sorts of dark corners, finally reaching the consulate at half-past nine
instead of an hour earlier, and nowhere, either in thoroughfare or
alley, was there any rowdyism, and this though it was the night of the
Dragon Festival when all the people were making holiday. But then under
ordinary conditions the Chinese is a peaceable man; he has his own
interpretation of the rule of life: in order to live, let others live. I
met an example of that in Peking. Opposite the hotel door stood a long
line of rickshaws. You soon had a favourite man, and after that the
others never thrust themselves forward, but, instead, at once set up a
shout for him if he failed to note your appearance. However, the Chinese
individual is one thing, the Chinese mob another. It was not many years
since an infuriated crowd stormed through the streets of Chengtu seeking
the lives of the foreigners, and in even fewer weeks after my visit
other crowds would besiege the viceroy's yamen demanding justice for
their wrongs. For even when I was there the undercurrent of discontent
in the province was visible. The students of the university, like those
in Yunnan-fu, had more than once got out of hand; people complained
that the new educational system lacked the discipline of the old, and
indeed Young China seems to outdo even Young America in self-assurance,
and in the spring of 1911 the university was just beginning to recover
from the turmoil of a strike of the students for some real or fancied
slight by the Government.

And there was more serious trouble afoot. The Szechuan merchants and
gentry, wealthy and enterprising, had contributed generously (for China)
to the building of a railway connecting the western capital with
Wan-hsien and Ichang, but now they were hearing that the money had been
squandered and the railway was to be built with foreign capital. It was
bad enough to lose their money, but the evil that might come in the
trail of the foreigner's money was worse. So people were talking hotly
against the new "railway agreement," and it proved in the end the
proverbial straw, for three months later the Railway League of Szechuan
set in motion the revolution which overthrew the Manchus and the empire.

But these things were still on the knees of the gods, and my stay in
Chengtu was altogether delightful, save for the thought that here my
out-of-the-way journeying ended. Henceforth I should go by ways often
travelled by Europeans. And then I was leaving so much behind. Of my
caravan only three would go on with me, the interpreter, the cook, and
the Yunnan coolie, who was ready to stay by me a little longer. The rest
I had paid off, giving to all a well-earned tip, and receiving from each
of my chair-men in turn a pretty, embarrassed "Thank you," learned from
hearing me say it. The pony, too, would go no farther, for most of the
next month my travelling would be by water, so I handed him over to a
horse-loving missionary, and I only hope he proved worthy of his master.
My chair, which had been such a comfort for so many weeks, was left in
Chengtu waiting a chance to be sent to Ning-yüan-fu, where I trust it
arrived in time to serve Mrs. Wellwood on her hurried journey to
Yunnan-fu at the outbreak of the Revolution. Even the little dog came
nigh to ending his travels at Chengtu, for the Post Commissioner put
forward a claim of common Irish blood, which I could hardly deny because
of the many kindnesses received from him. But I could not make up my
mind to part with my little comrade, and I said a determined nay.

It was early June when I started on the next stage of my journey, a
three days' trip down the Min River to Chia-ting. The sun was sinking as
I went on board the "wu-pan" or native boat lying in the stream outside
the South Gate, and after carefully counting heads to make sure that the
crew were all there, and that we were carrying no unauthorized
passengers, we pushed off and the current took us rapidly out of sight
of Chengtu.

The trip to Chia-ting was very delightful. I was tired enough to enjoy
keeping still, and lying at ease under my mat shelter I lazily watched
the shores slip past; wooded slopes, graceful pagodas crowning the
headlands, long stretches of fields yellow with rape, white, timbered
farmhouses peeping out from groves of bamboo and orange and cedar, it
was all a beautiful picture of peaceful, orderly life and industry. Each
night we tied up near some village where the cook and boat people could
go a-marketing, generally coming back after an hour with one vegetable
or two. As the river was high, we made good speed, and on the morning of
the third day after starting, the picturesque red bluffs opposite
Chia-ting came in sight.



CHAPTER IX

OMEI SHAN, THE SACRED


The rose-red city of Chia-ting lives in my memory as a vision of beauty,
the most charming (at a distance) of the many charming (always at a
distance) Chinese towns that I have seen. Built on a sandstone ledge at
the junction of the Ta Tu and Ya with the Min, its crenellated red walls
rise almost directly from the water, which, when in flood, dashes high
against the foundations. On the northwest the city rises to nearly three
hundred feet above the level, and standing on the wall one looks down
upon a sea of living green from which rise temple and pagoda, or west
across Chia-ting plain, perhaps the loveliest and most fertile spot in
the Chinese Eden, and then farther west still to where on the horizon
towers Omei Shan, the Holy of Holies of Buddhist China, often, alas,
shrouded in mist from base to summit, for this is a land of clouds and
rain and floods.

Looking across the river to the great cliffs opposite the town, one
discerns dimly, carved on the face of the rock, the wonder of the
region, a colossal Buddha more than three hundred feet in height,
sitting serenely with his hands on his knees, and his feet, or what
ought to be his feet, laved by the rushing water of the Ta Fo Rapid. As
the tale runs, this was the work of a good monk of the eighth century,
who spent his life over the undertaking in the hope that by this pious
act he might avert the terrible floods that devastated the region. A
mighty task boldly conceived and patiently carried out, but still the
rain pours down, and still the rivers rise and drown the land.

Baber tells the dramatic story of one of the greatest of the floods. It
occurred in 1786 when the fall of a cliff in the Ta Tu dammed the river
completely for a time. Warnings were sent to the villages along the
banks, and many fled to the hills, but the people of Chia-ting, trusting
to their open plain over which the water could spread itself, scouted
the warning, and the cry, "Shui lai-la" ("The water is coming"), became
the catchword of the hour. Let Baber tell the rest:--

"It was holiday in Chia-ting some days after the receipt of the notice,
and the light hearted crowds which gathered on such occasions were
chiefly attracted by a theatrical representation on the flat by the
water-side. One of the actors suddenly stopped in the middle of his
rôle, and gazing up the river, screamed out the now familiar by-word,
'Shui lai-la!' This repetition of the stock jest, with well-simulated
terror, as it seemed to the merry-makers, drew shouts of laughter; but
the echoes of the laugh were drowned in the roar of a deluge. I was
told how the gleeful faces turned to horror as the flood swept on like a
moving wall, and overwhelmed twelve thousand souls."

While in Chia-ting I crossed the river one day to see the great Buddha
from near by, but it is very difficult to get a good view of the image.
The river runs at the foot of the cliff at such a rate that it was all
the boatmen could do to keep us off the rocks, and looking down from
above, the overhanging shrubs and grasses almost hide it from sight.
There is an interesting monastery on the summit of the hill, called the
"Monastery of the Voice of the Waters." Here I spent a delightful hour
wandering through the neglected garden and looking over the treasures of
the place, a rather remarkable collection of drawings and inscriptions
engraved on slate, the work of distinguished visitors of past times,
some dating back even to the Sung period. There were landscapes
extremely well done, others were merely a flower or branch of a blooming
shrub, but all bore some classic quotation in ornamental Chinese
character. I bought of the priest for a dollar a bundle of really fine
rubbings of these engravings. At another monastery a gallery full of
images of the "Lo-han," the worthiest of Buddha's disciples, was being
tidied up. The variety of pose and expression in these fifty-odd
life-size images was extraordinary, and some of them were wonderfully
good, but the workmen handled them without respect as they cleaned and
painted. It is a Chinese proverb that says, "The image-maker does not
worship the gods; he knows what they are made of."

There is one drawback to the delights of Chia-ting, and that is the
climate. To live and work in the damp heat that prevails much of the
time must test the strength, and I imagine the Europeans stationed here
find it so. Chia-ting boasts two strong Protestant missions, American
Baptist and Canadian Methodist, well equipped with schools and a
hospital, and they are hard at work making Chia-ting over, body and
soul. At the time of my visit they were engaged in a strenuous contest
with the representatives of the British American Tobacco Company, and
both sides were placarding the town with posters setting forth the evils
or the benefits of cigarette-smoking.

Chia-ting is the great point of departure for Mount Omei, thirty miles
away, and I stayed only long enough to rearrange my kit and hire coolies
for the trip. Again I had a chance to see the strength that the Chinese
have through organization. Each quarter of Chia-ting has its coolie
hong, and woe betide you if you fall out with your own; you will have
difficulty in getting served elsewhere. Fortunately my host was on good
terms with his proper hong, and after a good-humored, long-drawn-out
discussion I secured the men I wanted.

It was raining when we started from Chia-ting and it kept on all day.
Nevertheless, as soon as I was outside the West Gate of the city I
exchanged my closed chair for one specially devised for the mountain
climb, simply a bamboo chair furnished with a swinging board for a
foot-rest. It gave of course no protection against sun or rain, but
there was nothing to cut off the view. The closed chair affected by the
Chinese seemed to me intolerable, a stuffy box half closed in front, and
with mere loopholes on the sides. But fifteen years ago no European
woman could ride in anything else without danger of being mobbed.

All the first day we were crossing the beautiful Chia-ting plain, seamed
and watered by many rivers and streams. The path wound in and out among
splendid fields of maize and fine fruit orchards, and the comfortable
looking villages were densely shaded with oak and mulberry trees. It
ought to be a prosperous district, for not only is it rich in natural
resources, but the throngs of pilgrims that pass through here on their
way to the Sacred Mountain must bring a lot of money into the towns.

At the start we kept above the Ta Tu, but later we crossed the Ya, now a
strong-flowing tranquil river, and farther along still at the little
town of Süchi ("Joyous Stream"), famous for its silk, we came to the
Omei, which has its sources on the lower slopes of the Great Mountain.
After this the country was more broken, but everywhere there was the
same careful cultivation, and on all sides we heard the plash of falling
water and the soft whirr of the great Persian wheels busily at work
bringing water to the thirsty land; and occasionally we saw men working
with the foot a smaller wheel by which the next higher levels were
irrigated.

Chen Chia Ch'ang, a small market-town a few miles east of Omei-hsien,
made a charming picture, its walls shining white against the dark
background of the mountain as we approached it across the green
rice-fields. Entering its broad, crowded street we found a theatrical
performance going on in an open hall opposite the temple. While my
coolies were drinking tea I joined the crowd in front of the stage,
which was raised several feet above the street. The play, which was in
honour of the village idol, was beyond my comprehension, but the
pantomime of the actors was very good. This sort of thing is dearly
liked by the Chinese. The players are usually maintained by the village,
and a good deal of the unpopularity of the Christian converts arises, I
am told, from their unwillingness to contribute because of the so-called
idolatrous character of the performance.

The town of Omei where we spent the night seems to exist chiefly for the
sake of the thousands of pilgrims who make a last halt here before they
begin the ascent of the mountain. Mindful of the many Tibetans who pass
through here in the spring, I made a raid upon the shops, but in vain;
all that I found was two good pieces of Chinese bronze. The owner and I
could not agree on a price, so I left him to think it over until I came
by again, and then he was away and his wife did not dare unlock his
cases, although I offered her what he had asked. The rain poured down,
but a crowd gathered to offer sympathy and suggestions, while my men and
I argued with her. Would she not fare worse if her husband found she had
missed a sale than if she disobeyed orders? All to no purpose, so I went
away empty-handed. That evening it rained brass pots, but alas, nothing
that I wanted.

Usually in these small places the woman seems a very active member of
the establishment, and I am told that a man often wishes to consult his
wife before making a large deal. The Chinese woman, perhaps, lacks the
charm of the Japanese or Indian, but in spite of her many handicaps she
impresses the outsider with her native good sense and forcefulness, and
I should expect that even more than the other two she would play a great
part in the development of her people when her chance came.

It was again raining when we started the next morning; indeed, it seemed
a long time since I had felt really dry, but the grey day harmonized
perfectly with the soft English beauty of the country that lies between
Omei-hsien and the foot of the mountain, wooded lanes and glens, little
brooks rippling between flowery banks, fine stone bridges spanning the
swift green Omei, red temples overhung by splendid banyan trees, and
over all the dark mysterious mountain, lifting its crown ten thousand
feet above our heads. Did ever pilgrim tread a more beautiful path to
the Delectable Mountains? And there were so many pilgrims, men and
women, all clad in their best, and with the joy of a holiday shining in
their faces. There were few children, but some quite old people, and
many were women hobbling pluckily along on their tiny feet; the
majority, however, were young men, chosen perhaps as the most able to
perform the duty for the whole family. They seemed mostly of a
comfortable farmer class; the very poor cannot afford the journey; and
as for the rich--does wealth ever go on a pilgrimage nowadays? All
carried on the back a yellow bag (yellow is Buddha's colour) containing
bundles of tapers to burn before the shrines, and in their girdles were
strings of cash to pay their way; priests and beggars alike must be
appeased.

After an hour or so we left behind the cultivation of the valley, and
entered the wild gorge of the Omei, and after this our path led upwards
through fine forests of ash and oak and pine. The road grew steeper and
steeper, often just a rough staircase of several hundred steps, over
which we slipped and scrambled. Rain dripped from the branches, brooks
dashed down the mountain-side. We had left behind the great heat of the
plain, but within the walls of the forest the air was warm and heavy.
But nothing could damp the ardour of the pilgrim horde. A few were in
chairs; I had long since jumped out of mine, although as Liu complained,
"Why does the Ku Niang hire one if she will not use it?" He dearly loved
his ease, but had scruples about riding if I walked, or perhaps his
bearers had. Some of the wayfarers, old men and women, were carried
pick-a-back on a board seat fastened to the coolie's shoulders. It
looked horribly insecure and I much preferred trusting to my own feet,
but after all I never saw an accident, while I fell many times coming
down the mountain.

The beginnings of Mount Omei's story go back to the days before writing
was, and of myth and legend there is a great store, and naturally
enough. This marvel of beauty and grandeur rising stark from the plain
must have filled the man of the lowlands with awe and fear, and his
fancy would readily people these inaccessible heights and gloomy forests
with the marvels of primitive imagination. On the north the mountain
rises by gentle wooded slopes to a height of nearly ten thousand feet
above the plain, while on the south the summit ends in a tremendous
precipice almost a mile up and down as though slashed off by the sword
of a Titan.

Perhaps in earliest times the Lolos worshipped here, and the mountain
still figures in their legends. But Chinese tradition goes back four
thousand years when pious hermits made their home on Omei. And there is
a story of how the Yellow Emperor, seeking immortality, came to one of
them. But Buddha now reigns supreme on Omei; of all the many temples,
one only is Taoist. According to the legend, at the very beginning of
Buddhist influence in China, P'u-hsien Bodhisattva revealed himself to a
wandering official in that wonderful thing known as "Buddha's Glory,"
and from this time on, Mount Omei became the centre from which the light
of Buddhist teaching was spread abroad over the entire country.

The land now belongs to the Church, and there are not many people on the
mountain besides the two thousand monks scattered about in the different
monasteries which occupy every point where a flat spur or buttress
offers a foothold. Each has its objects of interest or veneration, and I
believe that to do one's duty by Omei, one must burn offerings before
sixty-two shrines. Judging by the determined look on some of the
pilgrims' faces, they were bent on making the grand tour in the shortest
time possible; in fact, they almost raced up the breakneck staircases.
To save expense, some make the whole ascent of one hundred and twenty li
from Omei-hsien in a day. Even women on their bound feet sometimes do
this, I am told. I would not believe it on any authority had I not seen
for myself the tramps these poor crippled creatures often take.

As I was in no hurry, we stopped for the night at Wan-nien Ssu, or the
"Monastery of Ten Thousand Years," one of the largest on the mountain
and with a recorded history that goes back more than fifteen hundred
years. We were made very welcome, for the days have passed when
foreigners were turned from the door. Their patronage is eagerly sought
and also their contributions. After inspecting our quarters, which
opened out of an inner court and were spacious and fairly clean, I
started out at once to see the sights of the place, for daylight dies
early in these dense woods. Like all the rest Wan-nien Ssu is plainly
built of timbers, and cannot compare with the picturesque curly-roofed
buildings one sees in the plains below. Indeed, it reminded me of the
Tibetan lamasseries about Tachienlu, and it is true that thousands of
Tibetans find their way hither each spring, and the hillsides reëcho
their mystic spell, "Om mani padme hum," only less often than the
Chinese, "Omi to fo."

Behind the building where I was quartered is another, forming part of
the same monastery, and within is concealed rather than displayed the
treasure of the place, and indeed the most wonderful monument on the
mountain, a huge image of P'u-hsien enthroned on the back of a life-size
elephant, all admirably cast in bronze. Although dating from the ninth
century, the wonderful creation remained unknown to the "outside
barbarian" until Baber came this way a generation ago. He speaks of it
as probably the "most ancient bronze casting of any great size in
existence." It is a sad pity that no one has succeeded in getting a good
picture of this notable work, but not merely is it railed about with a
stone palisade, but the whole is enclosed in a small building of heavy
brick and masonry with walls twelve feet thick, which secure it against
wind and rain, but also keep out most of the light.

Wan-nien Ssu boasts another treasure more readily displayed, a so-called
tooth of Buddha weighing about eighteen pounds. The simple pilgrims
looked on reverently as the priests held it before me, but the latter
had a knowing look when I expressed my wonder at the stature of the
being who had teeth of such size. Probably they knew as well as I that
it was an elephant's molar, but they were not above playing on the
credulity of the ignorant folk.

Out of respect for the feelings of the monks I had brought up no fresh
meat, and of course there is none to be obtained on the mountain, so I
dined rather meagrely. Although the people generally do not hesitate to
eat meat when they can get it, the priests hold stiffly to the Buddhist
discipline which forbids the taking of life, and it is only unwillingly
that they have acquiesced in foreigners' bringing meat into the
monastic precincts or even onto the mountain. But at least they did
their best to make good any lack by sending in dishes of Chinese
sweetmeats, candied seeds, ginger, dried fruits. After dinner one of the
younger priests sat for a long time by my brazier, amusing himself with
Jack, the like of whom he had never seen before, and asking many simple
questions. What was I writing? How did I live? Where would I go when I
went away? Where was my husband?--the same questions asked everywhere by
the untutored, be it in the mountains of Kentucky or on the sacred
heights of Mount Omei.

On leaving the next morning the "Yuan-pu," or "Subscription Book of the
Temple," a substantial volume in which one writes one's name and
donation, was duly put before me. Being warned beforehand I knew what to
give, and I was not to be moved even though my attention was called to
much larger sums given by other visitors; but I had also been told of
the trick practised here of altering the figures as served their
purpose, so I was not moved even by this appeal.

The next day brought us to the summit after a wearying pull up
interminable rock staircases as steep as the steepest attic stairs, and
hundreds of feet high. Most of the time we were in thick woods, only
occasionally coming out into a little clearing, but even when the trees
fell away, and there ought to have been a view, nothing was to be seen,
for the thick mists shut out all above and below. We passed by
innumerable monasteries, most of them looking prosperous and well
patronized; they must reap a rich harvest in cash from the countless
pilgrims. Everywhere building was going on, indicating hopeful fortunes,
or, more likely, recent disaster, for it is the prevailing dampness
alone that saves the whole mountain-side from being swept by fires, and
they are all too frequent as it is.

It is one of the many topsy-turvy things in topsy-turvy China that this
prosaic people is so addicted to picturesque and significant terms. I
found the names of some of the monasteries quite as interesting as
anything else about them. From the "Pinnacle of Contemplation" you
ascend to the "Monastery of the White Clouds," stopping to rest in the
"Hall of the Tranquil Heart," and passing the "Gate to Heaven" you enter
the "Monastery of Everlasting Joy."

Toward the summit the forest dwindled until there was little save scrub
pine and oak, a kind of dwarf bamboo, and masses of rhododendron. At
last we came out into a large clearing just as the sun burst from the
clouds, lighting up the gilded ball that surmounts the monastery where I
hoped to find shelter, the Chin Tien, or "Golden Hall of the True
Summit," a group of low timbered buildings, quite without architectural
pretensions. Entering the open doorway I faced a large shrine before
which worshippers were bending undisturbed by our noisy entrance. Stairs
on either hand of the shrine led to a large grassy court surrounded on
all four sides by one-story buildings, connected by a broad corridor or
verandah, and back of this, steep steps led to a temple perched on the
very edge of the great cliff.

A young priest came to meet me and very courteously showed me the
guest-rooms, allowing me to choose two in the most retired corner, one
for myself and another for the interpreter and cook, while the coolies
found comfortable quarters near by. View there was none, for my room,
though adorned with real glazed windows, looked out on a steep bank, but
at least it had an outside door through which I might come and go at
will. The furniture was of the usual sort, only in better condition than
ordinarily; heavy beds, chairs, tables, but everything was surprisingly
clean and sweet-smelling.

Here in this Buddhist monastery on the lofty summit of China's most
sacred mountain I spent three peaceful days, happy in having a part in
the simple life about me. Chin Tien is one of the largest and most
prosperous of Omei's monasteries, and it is also one of the best
conducted. Everything was orderly and quiet. Discipline seemed well
maintained, and there was no unseemly begging for contributions as at
Wan-nien Ssu. It boasts an abbot and some twenty-five full-fledged monks
and acolytes. All day long pilgrims, lay and monastic, were coming and
going, and the little bell that is rung to warn the god of the presence
of a worshipper tinkled incessantly. Some were monks who had come long
distances, perhaps from farthermost Tibet, making the great pilgrimage
to "gain merit" for themselves and for their monastery. Many of the
houses on Omei gave to these visitors crude maps or plans of the
mountain, duly stamped with the monastery seal, as proof that the
journey had been made, and on my departure one such, properly sealed
with the Chin Tien stamp, was given to me.

One day was like another, and all were peaceful and full of interest. I
expect the weather was as good as one could look for at this season of
the year; although the mists rolled in early in the forenoon shutting
out the plain, yet there was little rain, and the night and dawn were
glorious. Each morning I was out before sunrise, and standing on the
steps of the upper temple saw the whole western horizon revealed before
my enchanted eyes. A hundred miles away stretched the long line of the
Tibetan snow-peaks, their tops piercing the sky. It seemed but a step
from earth to heaven, and how many turn away from the wonderful sight to
take that step. Two strides back and you are standing awestruck on the
edge of the stupendous precipice. The fascination of the place is
overpowering, whether you gaze straight down into the black depths or
whether the mists, rolling up like great waves of foam, woo you gently
to certain death. No wonder the place is called "The Rejection of the
Body," and that men and women longing to free themselves from the weary
Wheel of Life, seek the "Peace of the Great Release" with one wild leap
into the abyss below.

At every hour of the day pilgrims were standing at the railed-in edge of
the cliff, straining their eyes to see into the uttermost depths below,
or looking skywards for a sight of "Buddha's Glory," that strange
phenomenon which has never been quite explained; it may be akin to the
Spectre of the Brocken, but to the devout Buddhist pilgrim it is the
crowning marvel of Mount Omei.

Looking off to the north and east one saw stretched out, nearly ten
thousand feet below, the green plains and silver rivers of Szechuan.
Southward rose the black peaks and ranges of Lololand, buttressed on the
north by the great, table-shaped Wa Shan, second only to Omei in height
and sacredness.

Before the first day was past every one had become accustomed to my
presence, and I attracted no attention as I came and went. My wants were
looked after, and one or the other of the little acolytes spent many
hours in my room, tending the fire in the brazier, or playing with Jack,
or munching the sweetmeats with which I was kept supplied. They were
nice little lads and did not bother me, and rarely did any one else
disturb my quiet; it was such a comfort after the living in public of
the last month.

[Illustration: THE "REJECTION OF THE BODY"

Cliff a mile high. Mount Omei, West Szechuan]

The second morning of my stay I attended an early service in the lower
temple near my room. Some twelve monks took part; one, the abbot, was a
large, fine-looking man, and all had rather agreeable faces, quite
unlike the brutal, vicious look of the lamas of Tachienlu. There was
much that recalled the ritual of the Roman Catholic Church,--processions,
genuflexions, chanting, burning of incense, lighting of candles, tinkling
of bells,--all centring round a great figure of Sakyamuni. The words I
could not understand, but the reverent expression on the monks' faces,
their orderly bearing as they circled slowly round, keeping always the
bared right shoulder toward the image, made the service very impressive
in spite of the pranks of the little acolytes and the loud talk of
passing men and women.

In turn I visited the near-by temples, but few were of any special
interest. The hilltop has been burnt over several times, the last time
within a generation, and all the buildings on the summit are of recent
date. The most famous of all, the great bronze temple dating from the
fifteenth century, which after being struck by lightning several times
was finally destroyed, has never been restored, thus giving the lie to
the popular belief that what the lightning destroys the gods will
replace. The fragments of castings that are left are really fine, and it
is a marvel how they ever were brought from Chengtu where they were
made, for many are of great weight. A little below the trail by which we
came was the pewter-roofed monastery, very appropriate here, as pewter
is the only metal the Buddhist pilgrim is supposed to use or possess.

But after all, the charm of the place lay not in this or that building
or relic, but in the beauty of the surroundings and in the peace of
spirit that seemed to abide here. No need to cast one's self over the
precipice to secure freedom from the body. Here on the high mountain-top
among these simple minds, the cares and bothers of the life of the plain
seemed to fall off. If I came as a sight-seer I went away in the mood of
a pilgrim. Turning my back upon the crowded paths I spent long hours of
quiet under the pines on the western slope, facing always toward the
mountains. Sometimes the clouds concealed them wholly, at other times
just one peak emerged, and then perhaps for a moment the mists rolled
away, and the whole snowy line stood revealed like the ramparts of a
great city, the city of God.

And the best of all was not the day, but the night. The monastery went
early to bed, and by ten o'clock bells had ceased to ring, the lights
were out. Then came my time. Slipping out of my room I stole up the
slope to the overhanging brow of the cliff. The wind had died down, the
birds were still, not a sound broke the great silence. At my feet were
the depths, to the west rose height on height, and on all lay the white
light of the moon. Close by hundreds of weary pilgrims were sleeping
heavily on their hard beds. Day after day and year after year they
climbed these steeps seeking peace and help, pinning their hopes to
burning joss stick and tinkling bell and mystic words, and in Western
lands were other pilgrims entangled likewise in the mazes of dogma and
form. But here among the stars, in the empty, soundless space of the
white night, the gods that man has created seemed to vanish, and there
stood out clear the hope that when time has ceased,--

    "When whelmed are altar, priest, and creed;
      When all the faiths have passed;
    Perhaps, from darkening incense freed,
      God may emerge at last."

Finally the day came when I was forced to turn away from the miracles of
Omei. Our stores were almost gone, and the coolies had burnt their last
joss sticks; so I took farewell of the kindly monks of Chin Tien and
started down the mountain. The sun shone as we set off, but as we
descended, the clouds gathered and the rain fell in torrents. Each
steep, straight staircase was a snare to our feet. Sprawling and
slithering we made our way down. No one escaped, and the woods resounded
with gay cries, "Have a care, Omi to fo! Hold on tight, Omi to fo! Now,
go ahead, Omi to fo!" There was no going slowly, you stood still or went
with a rush. Women tottering along on crippled feet pointed cheerily at
my big shoes. I dare say the difference in size consoled them for all
their aches and pains.

It was almost dark when we reached Omei-hsien, soaked to the skin. I had
a big fire made for the coolies and we all gathered round in
companionable fashion for the last time. The return journey the next day
across the plain was as charming as ever, but the steamy heat of the low
level was very depressing, and we were all glad to take to a boat for
the last twenty-two li.

I had one more day in Chia-ting, visiting one or two temples and making
the last arrangements for the trip down the river to Chung-king. Wisely
helped by one of the American missionaries I secured a very comfortable
wu-pan, for which I paid twenty-five dollars Mexican. It was well fitted
out, and equipped with a crew of seven, including the captain's wife,
and a small dog known as the "tailless one." We started down the river
late in the afternoon. There was just time for one look at the Great
Buddha as the current hurled us almost under his feet, then a last
glance at the beautiful town, all rose and green, and a wonderful
chapter in my journeying had come to an end. Only three months later and
Chia-ting was aflame with the fires of revolution, for it was the first
city in all Szechuan to declare for the Republic, and there was many a
fierce contest in its narrow, winding streets.



CHAPTER X

DOWN THE YANGTSE


After the toilsome life of the last three months it was good to look
forward to ten days or so of laziness, for surely river travel may be
the most luxurious of any sort of journeying, and even a humble native
boat on the Yangtse affords many delights. You make yourself comfortable
with your own bed and chair, stop at your pleasure, go as you choose,
without hurry and without noise through charmingly varied scenery, now
soft and cultivated, now wild and grand.

My own little apartment occupied the middle of the boat, screened off
with mats and curtains from the ends occupied by the boat people and my
men, and though it was necessarily a thoroughfare, my privacy was always
respected and no one attempted to enter without permission. By an
ingenious arrangement of the mat roof I could lie at ease on my camp-bed
and watch the shores slip past, but toward evening when the sun was
setting, I often sat out on the extreme prow of the boat where I could
enjoy the full sweep of the view up and down. Liu, the cook, had
provided himself with a little cement cooking arrangement on which he
prepared me very savoury messes. He and the Yunnan coolie and the
interpreter and the boat people all chummed together very amicably, and
I was impressed again, as so many times before, by the essential
democracy of China. The interpreter was several pegs above the others,
socially, but he showed no objection at going in with them, and more
than once, when the inns were crowded, took up his quarters with the
coolies, but--he always got well waited upon. Nor was the captain's wife
kept in seclusion (it would have been hard, indeed, to get it in a
thirty-foot wu-pan), but all day long I could hear her chatting with the
men in cheerful give-and-take fashion.

By the way, the name which Europeans give to the river down which I was
floating, the Min, is quite unknown to the Chinese, and it may have
originated with the Jesuits, the first men from the West to make their
home in Szechuan. By the natives the river is sometimes called the "Fu"
because of the three "fu" towns on its banks, Chengtu, Chia-ting, and
Suifu, and sometimes they speak of it as the Ta-kiang, regarding it as
the upper waters of the Yangtse.

Below Chia-ting the river, by whatever name called, flows through a
smiling, open country, with gently varied scenery. The soft slopes on
either hand were richly cultivated with maize and rape, and nameless
little villages, picturesque with black timbered houses and red temples,
peeped out of groves of banyan and bamboo and orange. Then the hills
closed in on the river and the current ran like a millrace. Often a
promontory was crowned with one of the many-storied white "chuman"
pagodas of Szechuan, while in the face of a cliff I could now and then
discern openings which I knew were the famous, mysterious cave-dwellings
of a bygone time and an unknown people found all about Chia-ting. I
visited one that had been converted into a miniature temple, and there
are several in one of the mission compounds. I believe they are known
only in this region. They have been excavated by an expert hand, showing
traces, it is thought, of Indian influence. Much conjecture has been
expended upon them, and as yet there is no advance upon Baber's
conclusion "that these excavations are of unknown date, and have been
undertaken for unexplained purposes, by a people of doubtful identity."

As the river was now high, the current carried us along at a good speed,
but I was in no hurry and we made many stops, when I got out to stretch
my legs along the bank. At night we always tied up, and it took some
effort to secure a place to the liking of us all. I wanted air and
quiet, but the desire of my boat people was set on a chance to go
a-marketing or to do a little visiting. Sometimes I got what I wished,
sometimes they did, but they did their best, I think, to gratify my
strange whims.

One night when they had their way and we were tied up to a shingle
alongside some forty or fifty junks and small craft, we had all to turn
out on a grand hunt for the "tailless one" who had gone astray. As soon
as the plank was down, I went ashore followed by the dogs. As it grew
dark I sat down on a rock not far away, and Jack curled up by me, but
the other one went back to the boat. Presently I saw the men come ashore
and walk up and down swinging their paper lanterns and sending out long,
loud cries. The little dog was missing, and they were afraid he was
being kept concealed on one of the other boats, for, so they said,
people liked to steal little dogs. I asked if they thought it would help
if I went with them along the beach and they called out that I was
looking for the dog. They were sure it would, so we paraded up and down
the long line of junks, flashing out our lanterns while the men called,
not to the junk people, for "face" must be saved, but to the little dog
himself, "O tailless one, come home, O tailless one, come home, the
foreign devil is seeking thee." And presently there was a joyful shout
from our boat. The "tailless one" had come walking up the gangplank,
quietly returned under cover of darkness. The men were immensely
pleased, and said it was all due to me; the people were afraid to steal
from a foreigner.

Three days after leaving Chia-ting, we came in sight of Suifu, most
picturesquely set on a rocky slope at the junction of the Min and the
Yangtse. But how changed was the Great River since I crossed it at
Lung-kai, four hundred miles to the west. There it dashed furiously
along, dammed in between precipitous cliffs and fretted to foam by rocky
reefs. Now it flowed broad and deep and quiet between soft wooded banks,
bearing many craft on its strong current.

The streets of the prosperous city of Suifu, the starting-point of all
overland traffic to Yunnan, are broad and attractive, and there was a
great display of fruit and vegetables in the open shops, but it needs
much faith in the cleansing power of boiling to overlook the sights of
the river front where vegetables and feet are washed side by side, while
as to the fruit, that had been gathered green, as is so often the case
in China, why I could not learn. Some said the Chinese preferred it so,
others that if it were kept on the trees it would be stolen long before
it ripened. But to tell the truth, the goodness of Chinese fruit seems
to be all on the outside. I never saw finer-looking peaches than in
Szechuan, but they proved worm-riddled and tasteless. Apparently all
that the Chinese can teach themselves has been learned, in
fruit-growing as well as in other things. Now if they are to advance
they must begin to borrow, and much else besides money. I was glad to
learn that one of the American missionaries at Ya-chou is in close touch
with the Department of Agriculture at Washington on a basis of give and
take that ought to be to the advantage of both sides.

We covered the distance of nearly two hundred miles between Suifu and
Chung-king in good time; the weather was favourable, and the river now
ran so high that the troublesome rapids had disappeared. The scenery was
charming as ever, but I was wearying of inactivity and it was a relief
to see the crenellated walls of Chung-king come in sight. I paid off my
boatmen, who had lived up to their agreement (not written this time) in
every particular, and in an hour I had ferried across the river and
found myself once more being carried over the steep hills that here form
the south shore of the Yangtse, to meet a kind welcome from the friends
of friends to their charming summer refuge high above the depressing
heat of the Yangtse valley.

Chung-king, which has been dubbed the Chicago of West China,--Hankow
claims the name in East China,--is one of a trio of cities that cluster
around the junction of the Chia-ting and the Yangtse, and it is easily
the chief, with a population of close on half a million. The approach
from upstream is very striking, a grey city perched on a huge grey reef
and enclosed in a strong, crenellated grey wall. The narrow strip of
shore outside the walls is filled with poor, rickety buildings easily
removed when the river rises or as easily swept away if not taken down
in time. Broad, steep flights of steps lead up from the river to the
city gates, and over these stairs all the water used by hundreds of
thousands is carried in buckets.

In 1895 Chung-king was declared open as a treaty port, and since then
its commerce has grown in true modern fashion by leaps and bounds, and
there seems no limit to its development, for it is in a position to
control the up-country trade. The fleets of junks lie closely packed
three deep along the shore, and within the walls the multiplying
thousands are even more densely crowded, for the room to expand is set
by the limits of the great rock on which Chung-king stands, and
apparently every square foot of land within or without the city is
already occupied by the living or the dead. Nowhere did I see such
crowded streets, and nowhere missionaries living in such cramped
quarters as in Chung-king, a confinement all the more unendurable
because of the long months of damp heat.

The large foreign community of Chung-king has many elements, missionary,
merchant, and officials of the customs, post-office, and consular
services. And lying in the river opposite the city are generally
English, French, or German gunboats. The relations between all these
seem more cordial and helpful than in some treaty ports. So, too,
Europeans and Chinese are on an unwontedly friendly footing in
Chung-king; perhaps something may be due to the fine standard set in the
mercantile community by that pioneer trader, Archibald Little, who
boldly established himself here eight years before the town was made a
treaty port. And on the Chinese side there seemed readiness to
appreciate what the West has to offer; in fact the town has a distinctly
go-ahead air. It has already held one commercial exhibition on Western
lines, and is planning another, and it is now lighted by electricity,
boasting the best plant west of Shanghai, which it sets up against
Chengtu's mint and arsenal. There is, in fact, a real Western flavour
about the rivalry of the two Szechuan cities, recalling the relations of
Chicago and St Louis.

As a purely trading centre Chung-king lacks some of the interest of the
capital, but the merchant class, the backbone of China, is well
represented here, and is famed for its intelligence and initiative.
Through the kindness of Mr. Warburton Davidson, of the Friends' Mission,
I was given a chance to meet members of this class, and also to see
something of a very interesting experiment he had recently started.
Realizing the importance of making known to this influential element the
best that Christian civilization has to offer, but well aware of the
difficulty, indeed, the impossibility, of meeting them through the
ordinary channels of missionary effort, Mr. Davidson hit upon the idea
of starting a social club where men of standing, Christian and
non-Christian, European as well as Chinese, might mingle on an equal
footing. The plan proved successful from the start. Largely through the
interest of a Chinese gentleman of Chung-king an attractive house has
been put up and equipped with newspapers, books, games, and the
beginnings of a museum, and here in the reading and recreation rooms
some of the best business men of the city meet for social intercourse,
discussions, and occasionally a lecture on such up-to-date subjects as
X-rays, tuberculosis, and, very recently, the American Constitution. It
is now open every day and evening except Sunday, and already it is
making itself felt in the life of the city.

Mr. Davidson kindly planned for me to visit the Friends' Institute, as
the club is called, and to meet some of the Chinese committee by which
it is managed, for very wisely things are left as far as possible in the
hands of the natives. For two hours or more I had the pleasure of
talking with these gentlemen, and I was much impressed with their keen
interest in outside matters. All were of a type new to me, quiet,
dignified, interested, with the fine manners of the Chinese gentleman,
but without the rather lackadaisical superciliousness of some
officials, nor was there anything Western about them; they were not
copying Europe, but learning how to be a new, fine sort of Chinese.
Among those whom I met were Mr. Yang, president of the Institute, and a
prominent business man of Chung-king, and Mr. Cheo, the elderly head of
the Chinese Imperial Telegraph, who has now been succeeded by another
member whom I also met. When I left they all escorted me most
courteously to my chair, the passers-by stopping to gape with surprise.
So far as I know the club is a new departure in mission work, and most
worthy of support as a rational and hopeful method of presenting the
best of Christian civilization to a class often repelled by missionary
propaganda.

In Chung-king I parted with the faithful coolie who had come with me all
the way from Yunnan-fu. As carrier or as cook's helper he had worked
well; indeed, on more than one occasion he had cooked my dinner when Liu
was under the weather, and he had become so dexterous in waiting on the
table that he had grown ambitious and was now looking out for a place in
a restaurant. I wrote him a "chit," or letter of recommendation, which I
hope served his purpose if he could get any one to read it. At least I
made it look as imposing as possible. How would the wheels go round in
the East without "chits"? You are called upon to write them for every
sort of person and every kind of service or none. On one occasion the
recovery of a stolen necklace brought upon my head demands for a whole
sheaf of letters, every one concerned, no matter how remotely, wanted
one,--hotel proprietor (it was at a hotel that the affair occurred),
hotel manager, clerk, servants, chief of police, ordinary policemen.
Finally in desperation I offered one to the thief for allowing himself
to be caught so promptly. But I think the strangest one I was ever
called upon to write was for a tiger-tamer in the employ of an Indian
rajah. I protested I knew nothing about such things, but he would not
take no, and as he had reduced the big brute that he brought to my
bungalow to the point of drinking milk from a china bowl that I put
before him, I agreed to recommend him as a trainer of tigers. But for my
Yunnan coolie I wrote a good letter most willingly in spite of the fact
that he was a confirmed opium-smoker; in all the long journey that he
made with me I could not see that it weakened his wits or his muscles. I
was told that such journeyings were not at all uncommon, the coolies
taking work wherever offered, and going on and on as new jobs turned up.
With all its shortcomings the Manchu Government did not make the blunder
of imposing artificial restraints upon the movements of the people, and
since no passports were required within the empire, men could come and
go at their own will. The part of the commercial traveller in creating
the American nation has been noted. Who can tell what the Chinese coolie
is doing in the same way?

At Chung-king I had to arrange for the trip down the river. I might take
passage on the wonderful new steamer plying with some regularity between
the city and Ichang; but that went too fast for my liking, besides
giving me no chance to go ashore. Or I might engage a houseboat; but at
this season of the year the charges were high, as it might be weeks
before the return trip could be made, and one hundred taels was the best
rate offered. So in spite of the fact that "nobody travelled that way,"
or perhaps because of it, I, being a nobody, decided to try the humble
wu-pan again, and through the efforts of one of the Christian helpers in
the Friends' Mission I secured a very comfortable boat to take me and my
reduced following to Ichang for twenty-five dollars Mexican. The boat
was all that could be desired, and the captain, or "lao-pan," proved
skilful and obliging, but unfortunately he was not, as is usually the
case, the owner of the boat, and still more unfortunately, one of the
owners, a rather old man, was serving with the crew. Nothing happened,
but I had at times an uncomfortable feeling that nobody was in authority
over any one.

I started down the river at noon on a fine day at the end of June, and a
little over forty-eight hours brought us to Kwei-fu at the head of the
gorges. For the most part it was a country of soft undulating slopes and
comfortable farmhouses, with here and there a little hamlet or a
bustling town, framed the last part of the way by strange-looking
pyramidal hills. On we went, hurried along by the strong current,
stopping for an hour's marketing at Foo-chou at the mouth of the
Kung-tan Ho, navigable for one hundred and fifty miles by boats of
strange shape known as the "Crooked Sterns," and again at Wan-hsien,
famous for its cypress-wood junks, then on past the City of the Cloudy
Sun, attractive with broad streets and lovely temples, past the Mountain
of the Emperor of Heaven, where for a few cash you may have a pass
direct to Paradise, past Precious Stone Castle, a curious rock three
hundred feet high standing out boldly from the shore and surmounted by a
temple which contains gruesome paintings of the horrors of hell, through
the Goddess of Mercy Rapid and the Glorious Dragon Rapid, and several
smaller ones that I did not even know were rapids, for with the high
water these tend to disappear, while wicked-looking bays of swirling
water showed the peculiar danger of the summer, the great whirlpools.
The nights were very hot, and all our efforts did not avail to get the
air which alone could make sleep possible. Before this the mosquitoes
had given little trouble, but now they sang outside my net all night
long, while the poor, unprotected boatmen, robbed of their hard-earned
sleep, kept up an accompaniment of slapping on the other side of the
curtain. The river was falling again, leaving long stretches of mudbank
over which I had to clamber if I tried to leave the boat for a little
change, but I always managed to go on shore for a while when the men
were cooking and eating their supper. They took an interminable time
over it, and I never could see why they did not burn us all up, for
their cooking was done in the tiny hold in an unprotected brazier. In
fact, we did catch fire one day, but of course there was plenty of water
at hand.

The third day about noon we tied up for a short time to cook some sort
of a meal, and the rain coming on, the captain thought it best to wait.
To escape the bad air of the boat, where all the mattings were down, I
sat under an umbrella on the bank. A huge junk slowly pulling upstream
moored close at hand, and I watched with interest the trackers making
fast. They were men of all ages and sizes, but mostly young and well
grown. Their naked bodies were well developed and muscular, but often
cut or scarred with falling on the rocks. Having made all secure they
too got under cover on the junk, and fell to eating, naked and wet as
they were. It seemed to me that I sat for hours on that mudbank while
the rain fell in torrents and the river rose higher and higher, for the
changes in level are extraordinarily rapid. It was almost dark before we
could set off again, and then we got no farther than Kwei-fu, the
trackers' Paradise. Perhaps that was the reason why we could not start
the next morning, but I fancy it was the truth that the water was too
high to be safe, for there were double rows of junks moored under the
walls of Kwei-fu, and I saw no boats starting down. When the water
covers the great rock at the mouth of the Windbox Gorge, two miles down
the river, the authorities forbid all passing through. And anyway there
was nothing to do but make the best of it.

Kwei-fu is a pleasant-looking town set in maize-fields which grow quite
up to the walls. A few years ago it was notorious for its hostility to
foreigners. No missionaries were admitted, and when Mrs. Bird Bishop
came this way in 1897 she did not attempt to go inside the town. Now all
is changed; the China Inland Mission has a station here, and I went
about freely. But I did not see much of Kwei-fu, as I preferred to enjoy
that Paradise from afar; so we pulled a little way downstream, tying up
near some maize-fields in which I promptly got really lost, so tall and
thick was the growth.

The next morning dawned clear, and the lao-pan declared we could start,
as the water was falling, but he professed unwillingness to take me
through the dreaded Hei Shi Tan, or "Black Rock Rapid," near the
western end of the first gorge; so I carried two two-carrier chairs for
myself and the interpreter, paying one thousand cash for thirty li. At
starting, the road made a bend away from the river, passing through a
succession of hamlets, the homes of the trackers. Leaving my men at a
tea-house I walked on, following a well-made path which led me finally
into the White Emperor's Temple, beautifully set on the very edge of an
angle of the cliff, affording wonderful views down the gorge. It was
clean and light, and the priests who came to greet me in the usual
kindly Buddhist fashion had rather nice faces. It was a place to dream
away a glorious day. At our feet the rippling water just revealed the
dreaded Goosetail Rock, now almost submerged, but in winter standing
like a sentinel forty feet tall at the mouth of the gorge; and over our
heads towered, on both sides the narrow waterway, grey vertical cliffs,
fifteen hundred to two thousand feet high. I hated to leave, but as I
had plainly lost my way there was nothing to do but go back and seek to
overtake the men who were pounding along on the right path, trying to
come up with me.

It is here that the great Szechuan road begins, a pathway galleried into
the solid rock for the whole length of the gorge at about one hundred
and fifty feet above the winter level of the river. It is a fine piece
of road, the gift, I believe, of a rich Kwei-chou merchant. The
surprising thing, of course, is not that it is good--the Chinese have
built many good roads--but that it is new. At present it stops at the
Szechuan frontier, but there is talk of extending it across Hupeh.

The day and a half that I spent in going through the gorges of the
Yangtse were the most exhausting part of my whole trip; from the mere
strain of seeing and feeling, one's senses were all the time on the
rack. Scenes of overpowering savagery and grandeur that held one
spellbound, were relieved by beautiful bits of cultivation, little
hamlets of brown houses and red temples half concealed in groves of
golden bamboo and the glossy green of orange trees; moments when the
boatmen lounged on the deck or hung exhausted over their oars were
followed by grief, fierce struggles against the dreadful force of a
whirlpool that threatened to engulf us.

But, after all, that which most often comes back to me as I recall those
days is the feeling of the ruthless human will grappling with nature and
winning the mastery. Who can call China aged and in decay face to face
with her success in conquering a passage up these gorges? Who can
question the vitality of the Chinese, that has watched the trackers at
work pulling a huge junk against a current like the rapids of Niagara,
clambering over wet, rough boulders, creeping like cats along a thread
of a trail overhanging the gulf, clinging to the face of rocks that do
not seem to offer a foothold to a mountain goat, and all the time
straining with every muscle at a thousand-foot rope. An inhuman task
where men take great risks for a pittance, where death by drowning or by
being dashed to pieces on the rocks confronts them at every turn, and
where, at best, strains and exposure bring an early end. In my dreams I
see them, the long lines of naked men, their strong bodies shining with
wet and bleeding from many a cut, keeping time in a wild chant as they
tug at the taut line; a rope breaks and the toil of hours is lost; one
misstep and a life has ended.

[Illustration: _R. J. Davidson._

IN THE YANGTSE GORGES]

But this is the sole highway to Szechuan; all the trade of China's
largest province, the one best endowed by nature, must pass up and down
here. Any people less prodigal of their strength, less determined and
less resourceful than the Chinese, would have given up the struggle
before it was begun, and Szechuan would have slumbered undeveloped and
forgotten, instead of being as it is now the richest and most advanced
part of the empire.

And the next step is assured; before many years have passed, a railway
will connect the western capital with Wan-hsien and Hankow, the deserted
gorges will no longer reëcho the cries of the trackers, and the upward
trip that now takes six weeks will be a matter of two or three days. It
will be a different Szechuan then, with its resources exploited, with
mines and factories, good roads and fine hotels, a power in the world's
market, the goal of the tourist, and--I am glad I saw Szechuan before
the railway came.



CHAPTER XI

FROM THE GREAT RIVER TO THE GREAT WALL


At Ichang, a thousand miles from Shanghai, I met the West, modern
comforts, bad manners, and all. Situated at the eastern end of the
gorges, this town of thirty thousand Chinese inhabitants and a handful
of Europeans is just where all the merchandise going upstream must be
shifted from the light-draft steamers of the lower Yangtse to the native
junks of forty to a hundred tons which are still the only freight boats
that venture regularly through the rapids and whirlpools of the upper
waters of the Great River. So the water front of Ichang is a busy scene
at all times, and in the winter season the boats are packed together
sardine fashion. When the railway is put through, all the river traffic
will cease, but Ichang proposes to control the new route as it has the
old, and already an imposing station has been completed, even though
only a few miles of iron rail have been laid down.

I shifted my belongings directly from the wu-pan to the Kweilu, a
Butterfield & Swire boat leaving the same evening. It was very
comfortable, although crowded, as everything seems to be in China.
Ichang stands at the extreme eastern edge of the tangle of mountains
that stretch across Szechuan to the Tibetan plateau, and just below this
point the scenery changes, the hills dwindle, and the valley opens into
the wide flat plains of the lower Yangtse. It is a merciful arrangement,
allowing the eyes and brain a chance to recover their tone after the
strain of trying to take in the wonders of the gorges, and I was glad
for the open, vacant land, thankful that there was nothing to look at.

The second morning in the early dawn we moored off Hankow, where I
planned to stay a day or two before turning northward. Hankow, Hanyang,
Wuchang, these three cities lie at the junction of the Han and the
Yangtse, having, all told, a population of some two millions. Located on
the Yangtse, at the mouth of the Han, one of the great waterways of
China, halfway between Shanghai and Ichang, and a little more than
halfway from Peking to Canton, and at present the terminus of the Peking
railway, which in good time will be extended to Canton, the future of
these cities is assured. Each of the three has some special claim to
preëminence, but the greatest of them is Hankow. Hanyang's chimneys are
preparing to rival those of Bombay, and it boasts the largest ironworks
in China. Wuchang is the provincial capital, and the seat of the viceroy
or governor, as it happens, and its mint and arsenal are the most
important in the south, while Hankow is the trading centre, and the
headquarters of the great banking and shipping concerns.

When I was there in early July of last year I noticed only the look of
substantial prosperity about the place, and the comfortable bustle and
stir in the streets. Chinese and Europeans alike seemed intent on making
money, pound-wise or cash-wise. The one matter of concern was the high
water in the river, here nearly a mile wide. Already it was almost up to
the top of the "bund"; a few inches more and it would flood the lowland,
destroying life and property, and stopping all business. There were no
outward signs of commotion underneath, but in about three months the
viceroy's yamen was in flames, shops and offices were looted, and the
mint and arsenal in the hands of the Revolutionary party. One stroke had
put it in possession of a large amount of treasure, military stores, and
a commanding position.

I planned to stay in Hankow just long enough to pack a box for England,
and efface a few of the scars of inland travel before confronting
whatever society might be found in Peking in midsummer, but rather to my
dismay I found the weekly express train left the day after my arrival.
It was out of the question to take that, and apparently I would have to
wait over a week unless I dared try the ordinary train that ran daily,
stopping two nights on the road. But there seemed many lions in the way.
It would be quite impossible to go by this train unless I could take
all my things into the carriage with me; nothing was safe in the luggage
van. It would be a long and tedious journey, and I could get nothing to
eat on the way, and of course it would be impossible to put up at
Chinese inns at night. But face the Eastern lions and they generally
turn to kittens. Travelling by way trains had no terrors for me, it
would give me a chance to see the country, and it was for that I had
come to China, and I knew I could manage about my things; but the
Chinese inn was something of a difficulty, as I was leaving interpreter
and cook in Hankow. I jumped into a rickshaw and by good luck found the
genial superintendent, M. Didier, at the station. _Mais oui_, I might
stop in the train at night; _mais oui_, the little dog could be with me;
_mais oui_, I could certainly manage a trunk in my compartment. And he
did even better than his word, wiring ahead to the nights'
stopping-places, Chu-ma-tien and Chang-te-ho, and when the train pulled
in at each place, I was charmingly welcomed by the division
superintendent with an invitation from his wife to put up with them; and
so instead of two nights in the stuffy sleeping-compartment of the
express train, I had two enjoyable evenings in French homes, and long
nights in a real bed. It was indeed a bit of France that these
delightful Frenchwomen had created in the plain of Central China; books
and journals, dogs and wines from home, and French dishes skilfully
prepared by Chinese hands. But the houses where they lived opened out of
the strongly walled station enclosure; it would not take long to put it
in condition to stand a siege. No one in China forgets the days of 1900.

The train was of the comfortable corridor sort. Most of the time I was
the only European, and the only person in the first class, but the
second and especially the third were crowded full, although the
passengers did not seem about to flow out of the windows, feet foremost,
as so often on an Indian railway. The Chinese is beset by many fears,
superstitious fears or real mundane ones, but he has the wit to know a
good thing when he sees it, and it does not take him long to overcome
any pet fear that stands in the way of possessing it. In 1870 the first
Chinese railway was built by the great shipowners of the East, Jardine,
Mattheson & Co. It was only twelve miles long, connecting Shanghai with
Woosung. At first there was no trouble, then certain native interests,
fearing the competition, stirred up the people by the usual methods,
finally clinching the opposition by a suicide (hired) under a train; so
in the end the Government bought out the English firm and dismantled the
railway. That was forty years ago, and to-day all that stands in the way
of gridironing China with iron highways is the lack of home capital and
the perfectly reasonable fear of foreign loans. The Chinese want
railways, and they want to build them themselves, but they have not got
the money, and for the moment they prefer to go without rather than put
themselves in the power of European capitalists and European
governments. And who can blame them?

The Six Power Railway Loan of 1908 proved the undoing of the Manchus,
and the inevitable sequence, the appointing of European and American
engineers,--to the American was assigned the important section between
Ichang and Chengtu,--was bringing matters to a head before I left China.
The Changsha outbreak in the early summer was directed against the
Government's railway policy, represented for the moment in the newly
appointed Director of Communications, the Manchu Tuan Fang, who visited
the United States in 1906 as a member of the Imperial Commission. Many
will remember the courteous old man, perhaps the most progressive of all
the Manchu leaders. I had hoped to meet him in China, but on inquiring
his whereabouts when in Shanghai I was told that he had been degraded
from his post as Viceroy of Nanking and was living in retirement. A few
weeks later the papers were full of his new appointment, extolling his
patriotism in accepting an office inferior to the one from which he had
been removed. But delays followed, and when the rioting occurred in
Changsha he had not yet arrived at headquarters in Hankow. It was said
openly that he was afraid. On my way north the train drew up one evening
on a siding, and when I asked the reason I was told a special train was
going south bearing His Excellency Tuan Fang to his post. He had just
come from a conference at Chang-te-ho with Yuan Shih Kai, who was living
there in retirement nursing his "gouty leg." If only one could have
heard that last talk between the two great supporters of a falling
dynasty.

And one went on his way south to take up the impossible task of stemming
the tide of revolution, and before four months were past he was dead,
struck down and beheaded by his own soldiers in a little Szechuan town,
while the other, biding his time, stands to-day at the head of the new
Republic of the East.

The Lu-Han railway, as the Peking-Hankow line is called, crosses three
provinces, Hupeh, Honan, and Chihli. Save for low hills on the Hupeh
frontier, it runs the whole way through a flat, featureless country,
cultivated by hand, almost every square foot of it. Seven hundred miles
of rice- and millet-fields and vegetable gardens unbroken by wall or
hedge; nothing to cast a shadow on the dead level except an occasional
walled town or temple grove! And the horrible land was all alive with
swarming, toiling, ant-hill humanity. It was a nightmare.

On the second day we reached the Hoang Ho, China's sorrow and the
engineer's despair. The much-discussed bridge is two miles long,
crossing the river on one hundred and seven spans. As the train moved at
snail's pace there was plenty of time to take in the desolate scene,
stretches of mudflats alternating with broad channels of swirling,
turbid water; and, unlike the Yangtse, gay with all sorts of craft, the
strong current of the Yellow River rolled along undisturbed by sweep or
screw.

Once across the Hoang Ho and you enter the loess country, dear to the
tiller of the soil, but the bane of the traveller, for the dust is often
intolerable. But there was little change in scenery until toward noon of
the following day, when the faint, broken outlines of hills appeared on
the northern horizon. As we were delayed by a little accident it was
getting dark when we rumbled along below the great wall of Peking into
the noisy station alive with the clamour of rickshaw boys and hotel
touts. In fifteen minutes I was in my comfortable quarters at the Hôtel
des Wagons Lits, keen for the excitement of the first view of one of the
world's great historic capitals.

Peking is set in the middle of the large plain that stretches one
hundred miles from the Gulf of Pechihli to the Pass of Nankow. On the
north it is flanked by low hills, thus happily excluding all evil
influences, but it is open to the good, that always come from the south.
So from a Chinese point of view its location is entirely satisfactory,
but a European might think it was dangerously near the frontier for the
capital city of a great state. Years ago Gordon's advice to the Tsungli
Yamen was, "Move your Queen Bee to Nanking." And just now the same thing
is being said, only more peremptorily, by some of the Chinese
themselves. But for the moment lack of money and fear of Southern
influences have carried the day against any military advantage, and the
capital remains where it is. Perhaps the outsider may be permitted to
say she is glad, for Nanking could never hope to rival the Northern city
in charm and interest.

The most wonderful thing in Peking is the wall. That is what first holds
your attention, and you never for a moment forget it. There it stands,
aloof and remote, dominating the city it was set to defend, but not a
part of it. Huge, massive, simple, it has nothing in common with the
gaudy, over-ornamented, unrestful buildings of the Chinese, and as you
enter its shadow you seem to have passed into a different world.

Often before breakfast I climbed to the top of the wall beyond the Water
Gate for a run with Jack before the heat of the day set in. It was a
glorious place for a morning walk. The wall is some forty feet high,
and along the top runs a broad path enclosed by crenellated parapets.
From here your vision ranges north and south and east and west; no
smoke, no tall chimneys, no towering, hideous buildings to break and
spoil the view.

North you look over the Tartar City, which is really three cities, all
walled, and one within the other like the boxes of a puzzle, the Tartar
City enclosing the Imperial City, and that in turn the Forbidden City.
If you stand under the many-storied tower that surmounts the Chien-Men,
you look straight along the road that leads through the vermilion walls,
right into the Purple City, the heart of Peking. In Marco Polo's time
the middle door of the great portal was never opened save to admit the
emperor, and that was still true a few months ago, but last winter a day
came when the bars rolled back, and there entered no emperor, no ruler,
but the representative of the People's Assembly, and then a placard was
posted announcing that hereafter the door was open to every one, for all
China belonged to the people. For a matter-of-fact man the Chinese has a
very dramatic way of doing things.

Turning southwards from the top of the wall you look beyond the Chinese
City, which is nothing but a walled suburb, to the gleaming white walls
of the Temple of Heaven, half buried in the trees. There each year the
emperor comes to offer sacrifices to his ancestors, the crowning
expression of China's truest religion, ancestor worship. In a few months
only, Prince Ch'un, the Regent, whom you have just met driving in state
through the Imperial City, standing among his ministers, and acting for
the baby emperor, will take the oath, not to the people of China, nor to
any representative assembly, but to the imperial ancestors to accept and
obey the new constitutional principles. "I, your descendant, P'u Yi," he
will say, "have endeavoured to consummate the constitutional programme,
but my policy and my choice of officials have not been wise. Hence the
recent troubles. Fearing the fall of the sacred dynasty I accept the
advice of the National Assembly, and I vow to uphold the nineteen
constitutional articles, and to organize a Parliament.... I and my
descendants will adhere to it forever. Your Heavenly Spirits will see
and understand."

[Illustration: _Underwood & Underwood_

TARTAR WALL, PEKING]

[Illustration: _Underwood & Underwood_

CARAVAN OUTSIDE THE TARTAR WALL]

There is unfailing charm and interest in the view over Peking from the
top of the wall. Chinese cities are generally attractive, looked down
upon from above, because of the many trees, but here the wealth of
foliage and blaze of colour are almost bewildering; the graceful
outlines of pagoda and temple, the saucy tilt of the roofs, yellow and
green, imperial and princely, rising above stretches of soft brown
walls, the homes of the people, everything framed in masses of living
green; and stretching around it all, like a huge protecting arm, the
great grey wall. You sigh with satisfaction; nowhere is there a jarring
note; and then--you turn your eyes down to the grounds and buildings of
the American Legation at your feet, clean, comfortable, uncompromising,
and alien. Near you paces to and fro a soldier, gun on shoulder, his
trim figure set off by his well-fitting khaki clothes, unmistakably
American, unmistakably foreign, guarding this strip of Peking's great
wall, where neither Manchu nor Chinese may set foot. And then your gaze
travels along the wall, to where, dimly outlined against the horizon,
you discern the empty frames of the wonderful astronomical instruments
that were once the glory of Peking, now adorning a Berlin museum, set up
for the German holiday-makers to gape at. After all, there are
discordant notes in Peking.

Down in the streets there is plenty of life and variety. Mongol and
Manchu and Chinese jostle each other in the dust or mud of the broad
highways. The swift rickshaws thread their way through the throng with
amazing dexterity. Here the escort of a great official clatters by, with
jingling swords and flutter of tassels, there a long train of camels
fresh from the desert blocks the road. The trim European victoria, in
which sits the fair wife of a Western diplomat, fresh as a flower in her
summer finery, halts side by side with the heavy Peking cart, its curved
matting top framing the gay dress and gayer faces of some Manchu women.
And the kaleidoscopic scene moves against a background of shops and
houses gay with paint and gilding. The life, the colour, the noise are
bewildering; your head begins to swim. And then you look away from it
all to the great wall. There it stands, massive, aloof, untouched by the
petty life at its foot. And you think of all it has looked upon; what
tales of men and their doings it could tell. And you ask the first
European you meet, or the last,--it is always the same,--about the place
and its history, and he says, "Oh, yes, Peking is full of historical
memorials which you must not fail to see"; but they always turn out to
be the spots made famous in the siege of the legations. To the average
European, Peking's history begins in 1900; you cannot get away from that
time, and after a while you tire of it, and you tire, too, of all the
bustle and blaze of colour. And you climb again to the top of the wall
that seems to belong to another world, and you look off toward the great
break in the hills, to Nankow, the Gate of the South. On the other side
the road leads straight away to the Mongolian uplands where the winds
blow, and to the wide, empty spaces of the desert.

So you turn your back upon Peking, and the railway takes you to Kalgan
on the edge of the great plateau. It is only one hundred and twenty-five
miles away, but you spend nearly a whole day in the train, for you are
climbing all the way. And time does not matter, for it is interesting to
see what the Chinese can do in railway building and railway managing,
all by themselves. The Kalgan-Peking railway was the first thing of the
kind constructed by the Chinese, and the engineer in chief,
Chang-Tien-You, did the work so well (he was educated in America, one of
the group that came in the early seventies) that he was later put in
charge of the railway that was to be built from Canton northwards. It
seems to be an honest piece of work; at any rate, the stations had a
substantial look.

At the grand mountain gateway of Nankow you pass under the Great Wall,
which crosses the road at right angles, and as you slowly steam across
the plateau on the outer side, you see it reappearing from time to time
like a huge snake winding along the ridges. Old wall, new railway; which
will serve China best? One sought to keep the world out, the other
should help to create a Chinese nation that will not need to fear the
world.

My first impression of Kalgan was of a modern European station, and many
lines of rails; my last and most enduring, the kindness of the Western
dweller in the East to the stray Westerner of whose doings he probably
disapproves. Between these two impressions I had only time to gain a
passing glimpse of the town itself. It is a busy, dirty place, enclosed
in high walls, and cut in two by the rapid Ta Ho. A huddle of palaces,
temples, banks lies concealed behind the mud walls that hem in the
narrow lanes, for Kalgan has been for many years an important trading
centre, and through here passes the traffic across the Gobi Desert. In
the dirty, open square crowded with carts are two or three incongruous
Western buildings, for the foreigner and his ways have found the town
out. Of the small European community, missionaries of different
nationalities and Russians of various callings form the largest groups.
The energetic British American Tobacco Company also has its
representatives here, who were my most courteous hosts during my two
days' stay.

Kalgan stands hard-by the Great Wall; here China and Mongolia meet, and
the two races mingle in its streets. Nothing now keeps them in or out,
but the barrier of a great gulf is there. Behind you lie the depressing
heat and the crowded places of the lowlands. Before you is the untainted
air, the emptiness of Mongolia. You have turned your back on the
walled-in Chinese world, walled houses, walled towns, walled empire; you
look out on the great spaces, the freedom of the desert.



CHAPTER XII

THE MONGOLIAN GRASSLAND


My stay in Peking was not all pleasure and sight-seeing, for it was
necessary to decide there upon the next steps. Within a few weeks I
would have to be on the Siberian railway homeward bound. Should I spend
the time left me in seeing Shantung, the Sacred Province, with all it
had of interest to offer, or should I make a hurried run through the
debatable land of Manchuria? One or the other seemed the natural thing
to do, but I had an uneasy feeling that either would mean conventional
travel, so far as that is possible in China, railways, and maybe hotels.
Then Shantung is now a much-visited country, while Manchuria, dominated
by Russia and Japan, was hardly likely to offer "an open door" to
anything more than the most cut-and-dried guidebook travel.

But Mongolia seemed to afford a way out of my doubts. Post-roads and
trade-routes crossed the country from the Great Wall, sooner or later
striking the Siberian railway near Lake Baikal. That would set me
forward some five days on the overland journey to Moscow, cutting off
just so much of railway travel, and as far as I could learn there were
no hotels, not even Chinese inns, in Mongolia, so I would not need to
fear being too comfortable. But above all, there was the charm in the
very word Mongolia. Out of that great, little known plateau, almost as
large as all of China proper, had come in days past horde upon horde of
savage warriors, the scourge of God, the terror of the West, carrying
north and south, from Peking to Budapest, from the Volga to the Hugli,
their victorious banners. What was the land that bred such a race? What
of the Mongols nowadays? Even a few weeks would tell me something.

Having made up my mind to go, I set about learning the how and the
where, with the usual results; much advice asked and unasked of a very
contradictory sort. The American Legation with fine courtesy offered no
counsel, but gave every possible help, securing for me the proper visés
for my passports, even speeding the wheels of the slow-moving Wai-wu-pu
so that I might not be delayed. The matter of getting a servant proved
rather difficult. One who was proposed declined to go with a lady, for
he "would have to be braver than she"; others were daunted by the sound
of Mongolia; but finally, through the kind help of Captain Reeves, the
American military attaché, I got hold of my invaluable Wang,
interpreter, cook, and general factotum in one, and faithfullest of
Chinese. Dr. Morrison, the famous _Times_ correspondent, gave me
much-needed encouragement at just the right moment. He had long hoped
to do it himself, he said, and of course I could do it; and speaking of
his own recent extended trip the length of Mongolia and Chinese
Turkestan, he flung out a remark which was very comforting to my soul:
Did I not hate to have people tell me that I could not do a thing, that
it was too difficult or too dangerous? If they would only stop with
giving you the facts as they knew them, and keep their opinions to
themselves. Well, I thought, if people dare to tell Dr. Morrison what he
can and cannot do, I must not mind if I am treated in the same way.

But I needed to take that comfort to my heart more than once in those
days. A request for some bit of information so often met with no facts,
but simply the stern remark that it was not a thing for a woman to do.
And when I did get precise statements they could not all be facts, they
were so very contradictory. I could go from Kalgan to Urga in eighteen
days; I must allow twenty-four or thirty; it usually took thirty days to
the railway; I must not expect to do it under forty-five. I must buy
ponies to cross from Kalgan; camels were the only thing to use; no
camels could be had in summer. Beyond Urga I must hire a droshky; the
only way to travel was by steamer; I could never stand a cart; I could
never sit so many hours in the saddle. There would be no water; I could
not drink it if there were. The weather would be intolerably hot; I
must expect snowstorms and sandstorms; there would be heavy rains making
going impossible. My transport would give out; my men would desert me;
brigands would waylay and rob my caravan.

One gentleman to whom I wrote began his reply by saying that he answered
my inquiries "with much pleasure"; and then continued, "Frankly, I do
not think the trip from Kalgan to Urga should be taken by a lady alone
at any time." Then followed ten good reasons why I should not go, and
first and foremost that I should have to leave behind me all inns, and
would have to camp out.

That settled it. There was nothing I should be so glad to leave behind
as inns, and for months I had been longing to sleep in a tent. So I fell
to making my preparations with good heart. But the enemy had not reached
the end of his resources (the enemy was usually a well-bred, intelligent
European or American with charming manners and the kindest intentions.)
An English officer just returned from Mongolia assured me I could never
get my dog across, the savage Mongol brutes would tear him in pieces;
but I knew my dog and he did not, so I put that aside. The last shot was
the hardest to meet: "It will not be worth while." Almost I gave in, but
I had reached the pig-headed stage, and I could not, though I wanted
to.

And now the crossing of Mongolia is a thing of the past, and I am not
prepared to deny anything that any one asserted about the journey, only
somehow I managed to slip through between all the dangers and
difficulties. I did the trip from wall to railway, not counting the
stops I made for my own pleasure, in twenty-eight days; the weather was
generally a joy, and I bade my Mongols good-bye in Urga with real
regret. I had no troubles, I met with no accidents, and it was worth
while--for once.

It is surprising how well one gets on with makeshifts. As Peking is not
a treaty port there are few European shops, and it would seem as
unsatisfactory a place for making up a camping-outfit as Hong Kong was
satisfactory, but with the help of kind friends I managed to get
together something that would pass muster. There were the usual stores,
but with much more in the way of tinned meat and smoked fish than I took
in West China, for there would be no handy fowls along our road across
Mongolia, only now and then a sheep; and, as always, I laid in a fair
supply of jam. I understand now why England sent tons of jam to the army
in South Africa; the fruitiness of it is most refreshing when fresh
fruit and vegetables are short. But of all my supplies, nothing proved
so comforting as two bottles of lime juice and a tin of so-called grape
nuts. The latter mixed with milk helped out the early starts when the
fuel was so damp that a fire was out of the question, while the lime
juice made drinkable the roiliest and warmest water. The only time when
I felt like losing my temper with good Wang was when he smashed the last
bottle. I had to gallop off to keep from saying things. By good luck I
succeeded in hiring an old American army saddle, and it proved just what
I wanted. There is nothing like that sort of saddle for long tours on
horseback, easy for rider and beast.

The question of money required careful planning; it always does in
out-of-the-way travel; but finally, through the kindness of the
officials of the Russo-Asiatic Bank, everything was arranged. I would
use little money in crossing the desert, and of course the less I
carried the better, but a good sum must be forthcoming when I reached
Urga and the railway, so the bank furnished me with drafts on the native
banks and their own branches, and I had no difficulty, while from Peking
I carried dollars and taels to meet expenses at the start. I felt like
Pilgrim freed from his burden, to be quit of carrying a lot of small
change, for a dollar's worth of cash is almost twenty pounds in weight.

Fortunately my arrangements were so complete when I arrived in Kalgan
that during my two days' wait for letters I had little to do, for my
various activities in Peking, combined with the damp heat, had rather
done me up, and I was glad to take my ease while my kind young host of
the British American Tobacco Company turned the place upside down in his
efforts to provide for the comfort of my journey. My saddle was
overhauled, a charming saddle-cloth of Mongolian work was supplied, a
great package of cigarettes put up to cheer my men on the road, and for
me a box of soda water.

One very important thing had been omitted from my stores. I had
neglected to bring onions and potatoes from Peking, most desirable
supplies in the country for which I was starting, a land where nothing
is grown; and neither potatoes nor onions were to be had in Kalgan. Even
my host could not help; he was out of them himself. But when I bewailed
the omission to resourceful Wang he looked wise and said quietly, "Madam
wants potatoes and onions; she shall have potatoes and onions"; and I
had, a good bag of each, and such fine ones that a missionary lady,
seeing my supplies, asked if she might inquire of my "boy" where he had
got them; never had she seen the like in Kalgan. I hope she found out; I
did not. Most likely it was one of those back-stair arrangements common
in the East, and I hope no Chinese official or Russian merchant had to
go short because of it, but I am sure my need was greater than his. They
tell a delightful story in Peking of an occasion when a group of young
men attached to a certain legation, as student interpreters, wishing to
give a dinner party found themselves short of silver, but the servants
rose to the situation, and when the night came the dinner table was
resplendent with massive silver decorated with the armorial bearings
of--another legation.

Just before I left Kalgan my larder was enriched from another and
unexpected source. Thanks to the friendly introduction of an American
gentleman in Peking, His Excellency, Hou Wei Têh, the Senior
Vice-President of the Wai-wu-pu, most courteously sent instructions to
Chinese officials along my route, especially at Kalgan and Urga, to give
me every assistance. And soon after my arrival in Kalgan three officials
of the Bureau of Foreign Affairs made me a formal call, and the next day
they came again, followed by a coolie bearing a basket of stores which
proved to be of great value before my journey was over. One feels rather
shabby at accepting courtesies for which one can make no return. I did
my best by writing appreciative letters to all concerned, beginning with
His Excellency, the Senior Vice-President. I hope he got the letter, but
the next thing I heard of His Excellency was his sudden appearance over
the wall of the American Mission Compound at Peking, fleeing before the
mutinous soldiers.

On the morning of July 26, I was rumbling over the broken pavements of
Kalgan streets in a Peking cart guided by the trusty Mongol of a friend,
and escorted by soldiers sent by the Foreign Office. My kit was packed
in around me, or I should certainly have whacked my brains out against
the sides of the cover. As it was, my hair came down, my hat rolled from
side to side, and it was a miracle that anything stayed in the cart. And
I did not long, for as soon as we were outside the walls and making our
way along the dry bed of the Sha Shin Ho, I jumped out, and for most of
that day I either walked or rode the Mongol's pony. A Peking cart may
have other and better uses, but as an instrument of torture it is
unrivalled. Just as the thing was in Marco Polo's time, so it is to-day.
You crawl in on hands and knees, and then painfully screw yourself
round, and so sit cross-legged, or with feet outstretched if there is
room, your head only escaping the top as you crane your neck to catch
the view or to get a bit of fresh air. The driver sitting on the shafts
has much the best of it, and more than once I joined him,--very
unsuitable, of course.

The main trails that cross Mongolia from Kalgan to Urga are two. One,
the longer and better known, tends a little to the west, and is called
by various names, the "Mandarin Road" or "Relay" or "Cart Road." Along
its course are markets and Mongol settlements, and there are post or
relay stations at regular intervals. Hence it is preferred by the
Chinese caravan men as well as by the great, or those in a hurry, who
use relays. The other, known as the "Camel Road," turns northward from
Kalgan and after a hundred miles takes a northwestward course to Urga.
There are no Mongol settlements after you have passed the fringe of
villages bordering the Great Wall, and wells are few and far between,
but it is one hundred miles shorter than the more western route, and by
so much the better for those who go through with the same animals. Much
of the way is marked by the telegraph wire that now stretches its many
miles across the desert, but it would be rather unwise to trust entirely
to this guidance, for at times it leads where only winged things can
follow, and above all it never swerves to point out the wells along the
way, and missing one you might not reach another for twenty-four hours,
or perhaps never. As I was neither hurried nor privileged, I chose this
road.

Over one or the other of these trails pass thousands of carts and camel
trains each year, carrying north or south tea and cloth and notions and
hides and furs, to the value of many millions of taels. But most of
Mongolia's exports go on their own feet, ponies or cattle or sheep.

Under the treaties of 1858 and 1860 a post-route between the Russian
frontier and Kalgan was established, and in spite of the competing
railway through Manchuria, a horse-post still crosses the desert three
times a month each way. The Mongols who are employed for the work go
through from city to city in seven days, galloping all the way, with
frequent changes of horses and, less frequent, of men. And once a month
a parcels-post makes its slow way across, guarded by Cossacks.

Just why the Russians persist in this costly and slower method of
forwarding mails when the railway would do it in about half the time, I
cannot understand. One reason given me was that they might not care to
trust their mails to the Japanese, who control the southern section of
the Manchurian railway. And in case of trouble between the two powers
the Russians might find it convenient to have a connection of their own
with China. It seemed to me more like a part of Russia's plan of
"peaceful penetration," of extending her influence over Mongolia even to
the Great Wall. Kalgan seems already an outpost of Russia, with its
groups of Russian merchants, its Russian church, bank, post-office, and
consulate, one as much as the other representative of the White Tsar.

Toward the end of the first day from Kalgan we passed under the towers
which are all that is left here of the Great Wall, save the pile of
stones which marks the line where it stood. Built of mud faced with
stone, it has crumbled away, leaving the solid masonry towers standing
like giant sentinels to guard the road.

Here I stood face to face with another world. China lay behind me and
below, for we had risen some fifteen hundred feet since leaving Kalgan.
Before me stretched the great Mongolian plateau. The wind that cooled my
face had blown over thousands of miles of prairie and desert. The long
lines of stately, shambling camels, the great droves of sheep herded by
wild-looking men on sturdy little ponies told of an open country. Each
mile led deeper and deeper into the rolling grassland and the barren
waste of Gobi, and between me and the next town lay nearly seven hundred
miles of treeless plain and barren sand.

For four days we were crossing the grassland, wide stretches of gently
undulating country covered with thick rich grass; wave upon wave it
rolled like a great ocean up to the ramparts of China. As far as the eye
could reach there was nothing but living green untouched by plough or
spade, unbroken save where little lines of settlement stretched like
clutching fingers into the sea of grass, the menacing advance of the
Chinese, the tillers of the soil.

Much of the time I walked; the air of the uplands almost carried me
along, and it was joy to feel my feet on real grass once more. Over the
open country short cuts were easy to find, and I generally kept in
advance of the others. The groups of Mongols hurrying to the town
greeted me in friendly fashion; the look of the desert was in their
faces, bold, hardy, burnt, and lined by sun and wind and biting cold.
Like and yet unlike the Tibetans I had seen in Tachienlu, they were
slighter of build and gayer and more open of expression; they attracted
me as the others had repelled me. Scrambling over the grassy slopes, I
more than once lost my way, but some Mongol always turned up to put me
straight.

Our first stops at noon and at night were at wayside inns built much
like a Turkish khan on two or three sides of an enclosure of mud and
stones, and furnished with a strong gate. At one, the small private room
off a large common hall was given to me and to a neat-looking Chinese
woman who apparently was travelling alone and on horseback. Two thirds
of the room was taken up by a "kang," or plaster furnace, raised some
three feet above the floor, and on this our beds were spread. But that
was my last sight of a house for many a day; henceforth there was
nothing but tents and "yurts."

Our stop the next night was at a small Mongol settlement of several
yurts. One of these was vacated for me. Judging from those I stayed in
later, it was unusually large and clean.

[Illustration: A POOR MONGOL FAMILY AND YURT]

Here I was in the unchanging East, if it be anywhere to-day. More than
six centuries ago an observant Venetian passed this way, and his brief
description of a Mongol abode fits as well now as it did then. "Their
huts or tents," says Marco Polo, "are formed of rods covered with felt,
and being exactly round and neatly put together, they can gather them
into one bundle." But since his description is so brief, it may be
supplemented by a more modern traveller, genial Abbé Huc, whose visit
dates back only sixty-five years:--

"The Mongol tent, for about three feet from the ground, is cylindrical
in form. It then becomes conical, like a pointed hat. The woodwork of
the tent is composed below of a trellis-work of crossed bars, which fold
up and expand at pleasure. Above these, a circle of poles, fixed in the
trellis-work, meets at the top, like the sticks of an umbrella. Over the
woodwork is stretched, once or twice, a thick covering of coarse linen,
and thus the tent is composed. The door, which is always a folding door,
is low and narrow. A beam crosses it at the bottom by way of threshold,
so that on entering you have at once to raise your feet and lower your
head. Besides the door there is another opening at the top of the tent
to let out the smoke. This opening can at any time be closed with a
piece of felt, fastened above it in the tent, which can be pulled over
it by means of a string, the end of which hangs by the door. The
interior is divided into two compartments; that on the left, as you
enter, is reserved for the men, and thither the visitors proceed. Any
man who should enter on the right side would be considered excessively
rude. The right compartment is occupied by the women, and there you
find the culinary utensils: large earthen vessels of glazed earth,
wherein to keep the store of water; trunks of trees, of different sizes,
hollowed into the shape of pails, and destined to contain the
preparations of milk, in the various forms which they make it undergo.
In the centre of the tent is a large trivet, planted in the earth, and
always ready to receive the large iron, bell-shaped cauldron that stands
by, ready for use."

And that is just what I found, but the tent covering was always of felt,
not linen, and there were often two tents, one for the men and one for
the women, instead of a tent with two divisions; and alas, more often
than not, the hollow tree trunk was replaced by Standard Oil tins. But
as the Mongol lived in Marco Polo's time, and Huc's, so he does still,
and so he will continue to live until Chinese colonization or Russian
rule forces him to give up his nomadic ways and settle down and
cultivate the soil.

Around the yurt gathered women and children, dogs and calves. They were
friendly, almost too much so, and the women interested me as much as I
did them. All alike were clad in long, shapeless woollen garments that
might have been any colour, so grimy were they, but the dirt and rags of
their dress only set off the more the splendour of their headgear; a
broad bandeau, elaborately fashioned of silver and set with bright
stones, turquoise, and coral, encircled the head, and from this hung
long chains and pendants falling to the shoulders. This is the woman's
dowry, with which she never parts, wearing it apparently day and night.
The women themselves, in spite of the dirt, were good-looking; fine
eyes, rather good though heavy features, a skin darkened by the sun and
wind, gave them the look of peasants of southern Europe. In bearing they
were much gayer and more unconstrained than the Chinese.

Mongolia, the land of many names, with a great past and perhaps with a
future, but to-day merely a pawn in the world's game, is a great plateau
rising some four thousand feet above the sea, the eastern extension of
the T'ien-Shan, or "Heavenly Mountains." It stretches east and west
nearly two thousand miles, but its north and south width is only about
nine hundred. In the central part of the plateau is a huge depression
which the Mongol calls Gobi, the "Desert," or Shamo, the "Great Sand,"
and the Chinese, Han-Hai, or "Rainless Sea." To the north the high land
rises and breaks into the wooded hills and mountains of the Altai Range,
and there are many streams, most of them finding their way sooner or
later into the Amur. To the south the land rolls in great grassy waves
up to the foot of the mountain barrier along the Chinese frontier, but
the forests have all been swept away, and the few streams quickly lose
themselves in the ground. Over most of the seven hundred miles between
Kalgan and Urga there are no trees save half a dozen scrub elms, and the
only rivers are the Sha Ho, or "Rivers of Sand." But the grassland,
after the summer rains have set in, is like the rolling prairies of the
West, and even in Gobi there are only about fifty miles quite without
vegetation. Elsewhere there is a sparse growth of coarse scrub broken by
stretches of rock and sand.

In crossing Gobi one sees here and there a marsh or shallow salt lake,
telling of a different climate in a bygone time, but to-day the passing
caravan depends on wells of varying depth, and found at irregular
intervals,--ten, twenty, even fifty miles apart. They date back beyond
the tradition of living men, and each has its name and character. In
some the water is never-failing, in others it quickly runs dry.
Occasionally it is slightly brackish, but usually it is clear and cold.
Without these wells the three hundred miles of Gobi would impose an
almost impassable barrier between North and South Mongolia. As it is,
the desert takes its toll from the passing caravan; thirst, hunger,
heat, and cold count their victims among the animals by thousands, and
the way is marked by their bleaching bones.

This great, featureless, windswept plateau keeps but a scanty
population of less than three millions. On the northern and southern
borders a few among the people have adopted the settled ways of the
Chinese; but elsewhere they live as their fathers lived before them,
their fields the land where the flocks are grazing, their home the spot
where the yurts are temporarily set up. Nomads they are, but within
definite limits, moving no long distance nor very often. Over them rule
their native princes or khans, subject, up to last year, nominally to
China; but Chinese interference has mostly been confined to the exaction
of a tribute--and a good part of that stuck to the fingers of the
princes through whose hands it passed--and to occasional demand for
police or military service. The head of the Chinese administration is or
was the Amban at Urga, and his duties seemed to consist in looking after
the Chinese traders there and keeping a watchful eye on the Living
Buddha, the spiritual and maybe now the political head of Mongolia. But
in spite of his many rulers, or perhaps because of them, the Mongol
seems to know little of the evils or benefits of government. It is far
away, it does little for him, but in turn its demands are small.

The Mongol's wealth consists in his herds; horses, cattle, sheep,
camels. In our sense he owns no land, but if he digs a well, which, I
believe, he rarely does, he has certain rights over it, and his claims
to the water and grass near his yurt should be respected. His friends
have to admit that the Mongol is lazy. His chief duty is to keep an eye
on his herds, but mostly they take care of themselves. Each drove of
horses is in the charge of a stallion which looks sharply after the
mares, fighting savagely with any other stallion which attempts to join
the herd. I am told that the owner only needs to count his stallions to
be sure that all the mares have come home. There is almost nothing of
Mongolian manufacture,--just rugs and felt and saddles; and most of the
work is done by the women. Nor does the Mongol till the soil; nothing is
found growing near his yurt. Unlike the rice-eating people just across
the Great Wall, his diet is almost wholly meat, and milk in some form or
other,--cheese, curds, koumiss. The tea which he drinks in enormous
quantities, so that even my "boy" opened his eyes, is brought by the
Chinese traders.

The Mongol has great endurance; days in the saddle are nothing to him,
and he sleeps as soundly on his camel as on the ground. Nor does he seem
to mind heat or cold. I have seen them wearing sheepskin coats in the
blazing summer sun, and at night the men on the march would throw
themselves down without a rug or mat under the open sky, and the nights
were often cold. If he must, the Mongol can go a long time without
eating, but when the chance comes he is a great glutton, bolting
enormous quantities of half-cooked meat. Drunkenness, I am told, is a
Mongol failing. By preference he gets drunk on whiskey; failing that, on
a sort of arrack of soured mare's milk. On the other hand, the opium
habit does not seem to have crossed the frontier. Very rarely is a
Mongol addicted to that. But they all smoke tobacco,--men, women, and
children,--just as they all ride. To appreciate the Mongol you must see
him on horseback,--and indeed you rarely see him otherwise, for he does
not put foot to ground if he can help it. The Mongol without his pony is
only half a Mongol, but with his pony he is as good as two men. It is a
fine sight to see him tearing over the plain, loose bridle, easy seat,
much like the Western cowboy, but with less sprawl.

The Mongol of to-day is the degenerate son of the conquering warriors of
a thousand years ago. Once his name carried terror to the shores of the
Midland Sea. Now those who do not like him can say with some truth that
he lives the life of an animal, mating rather than marrying, his warlike
spirit gone, his home a lair, his chief pleasures gorging and getting
drunk; but those who do like him--and they are the ones who know him
best--declare he is a good fellow, gay, good-tempered, independent,
hospitable.



CHAPTER XIII

ACROSS THE DESERT OF GOBI


Toward the end of the third day from Kalgan we were following a blind
trail among low, grass-covered hills, all about us beautiful pastureland
dotted over with herds of horses and cattle. A sharp turn in the road
revealed a group of yurts like many that we had passed, but two khaki
tents a little at one side showed the European, and in a few minutes I
found myself among the new friends that so speedily become old friends
in the corners of the world.

Here I was to make the real start for my journey across the desert, and
by good luck it turned out that one member of the little settlement, a
man wise in ways Mongolian, was leaving the next morning for a trip into
the heart of Mongolia, and if I went on at once we could journey
together for the two or three days that our ways coincided. There was
nothing to detain me, fortunately, and by noon the next day I was again
on the road.

I looked with some complacency at my compact but wholly adequate little
caravan. My luggage, including a capacious Chinese cotton tent, was
scientifically stowed away in a small Russian baggage cart, a strong,
rough, two-wheeled affair drawn by two ponies, and driven by the Mongol
who was to guide me to Urga. My boy bestrode rather gingerly a strong,
wiry little Mongol pony, of the "buckskin" sort, gay with Western saddle
and red cloth. Wang bravely said he would do his best to ride the pony
when I did not care to use him, but he added pathetically that he had
never before mounted anything save a donkey. As for me, I sat proudly in
an American buggy, a "truly" one, brought from the United States to
Tientsin and then overland to Kalgan. It was destined for a Mongol
prince in Urga, and I was given the honour of taking it across the
desert. There are various ways of crossing Mongolia, in the saddle, by
pony, or camel cart; one and all are tiring; the desert takes its toll
of the body and the spirit. But here was a new way, and if comfort in
Gobi is obtainable it is in an American buggy; and with a pony for
change, no wonder I faced the desert without dismay.

The combined caravans looked very imposing as we moved off. All told, we
were one Swede, one American, one Chinese, seven Mongols, one Irishman
(Jack), and twelve horses. Three of the Mongols were lamas, the rest
were laymen, or "black men," so called from their unshorn black hair
worn in a queue. They were all dressed much alike, although one of the
lamas had clothes of the proper red colour, and all rode their sturdy
ponies well, mounted on high-peaked saddles.

After the first day we fell into our regular course, an early start at
six o'clock or so, long halt at noon, when tents were set up, and all
rested while the horses grazed, and then on again until the sun went
down below the horizon. During the hotter hours I took my ease in the
buggy, but in the early morning, and at the end of the day I rode. The
Mongols were gay young fellows, taking a kindly interest in my doings.
One, the wag of the party, was bent on learning to count in English, and
each time he came by me he chanted his lesson over, adding number after
number until he reached twenty. The last few miles before getting into
camp was the time for a good race. Then, riding up with thumbs held high
in greeting, they would cry to me "San?" ("All right?") and answering
back "San!" I touch my horse and we are off. Oh, the joy of those
gallops with the horsemen of the desert! For the moment you are mad.
Your nomad ancestors--we all have them--awake in you, and it is touch
and go but you turn your back forever on duties and dining, on all the
bonds and frills that we have entangled ourselves in--and then you
remember, and go sadly to bed.

The weather was delightful; whatever there might be in store for me, the
present was perfect. A glorious dawn, no severe heat but for a short
time in the middle of the day, which cooled off rapidly in the late
afternoon, the short twilight ending in cold, starlit nights. The wonder
of those Mongolian nights! My tent was always pitched a little apart
from the confusion of the camp, and lying wrapped in rugs in my narrow
camp-bed before the doors open to the night wind, I fell asleep in the
silence of the limitless space of the desert, and woke only as the stars
were fading in the sky.

[Illustration: JACK AND HIS LAMA FRIEND]

[Illustration: MY CARAVAN ACROSS MONGOLIA]

At first we were still in the grassland; the rolling country was covered
with a thick mat of grass dotted with bright flowers, and yurts and men
and herds abounded. Happenings along the road were few. The dogs always
rushed out from the yurts to greet us. They looked big and savage, and
at first, mindful of warnings, I kept close guard over Jack; but he
heeded them as little as he had the Chinese curs, and hardly deigned a
glance as he trotted gaily along by the horses who had captured his
Irish heart. Once we stopped to buy a pony, and secured a fine "calico"
one, unusually large and strong. Again a chance offered to get a sheep,
not always possible even though thousands are grazing on the prairie,
for a Mongol will sell only when he has some immediate use for money.
The trade once made, it took only a short time to do the rest,--to kill,
to cut up, to boil in a big pot brought for the purpose, to eat.

Two hundred miles from Kalgan we passed the telegraph station of
Pongkiong manned by two Chinese. It is nothing but a little wooden
building with a bit of a garden. The Chinese has his garden as surely as
the Englishman, only he spends his energy in growing things to eat. At
long intervals, two hundred miles, these stations are found all the way
to Urga and always in the charge of Chinese, serviceable, alien,
homesick. It must be a dreary life set down in the desert without
neighbours or visitors save the roving Mongol whom the Chinese look down
on with lofty contempt. Indeed, they have no use for him save as a bird
to be plucked, and plucked the poor nomad is, even to his last feather.
It is not the Chinese Government but the Chinese people that oppress the
Mongol, making him ready to seek relief anywhere. Playing upon his two
great weaknesses, lack of thrift and love of drink, the wandering trader
plies the Mongol with whiskey, and then, taking advantage of his
befuddled wits, gets him to take a lot of useless things at cut-throat
prices--but no bother about paying, that can be settled any time. Only
when pay-day comes the debts, grown like a rolling snowball, must be
met, and so horses and cattle, the few pitiful heirlooms, are swallowed
up, and the Mongol finds himself afoot and out of doors, another enemy
of Chinese rule.

Whenever we halted near yurts, the women turned out to see me, invading
my tent, handling my things. They seemed to hold silk in high esteem. My
silk blouses were much admired, and when they investigated far enough to
discover that I wore silk "knickers," their wonder knew no bounds. In
turn they were always keen to show their treasures, especially of course
their headdresses, which were sometimes very beautiful, costing fifty,
one hundred, or two hundred taels.

A wife comes high in Mongolia, and divorce must be paid for. A man's
parents buy him a wife, paying for her a good sum of money which is
spent in purchasing her headgear. If a husband is dissatisfied with his
bargain he may send his wife home, but she takes her dowry with her. I
am told the woman's lot is very hard, and that I can readily believe: it
generally is among poor and backward peoples; but she did not appear to
me the downtrodden slave she is often described. On the contrary, she
appeared as much a man as her husband, smoking, riding astride, managing
the camel trains with a dexterity equal to his. Her household cares
cannot be very burdensome, no garden to tend, no housecleaning, simple
cooking and sewing; but by contrast with the man she is hard-working.
Vanity is nowise extinct in the feminine Mongol, and, let all commercial
travellers take note, I was frequently asked for soap, and nothing
seemed to give so much pleasure as when I doled out a small piece.
Perhaps in time even the Mongol will look clean. Asiatics as a rule know
little about soap; they clean their clothes by pounding, and themselves
by rubbing; but sometimes they put an exaggerated value upon it. A
Kashmir woman, seeing herself in a mirror side by side with the fair
face of an English friend of mine, sighed, "If I had such good soap as
yours I too would be white."

But there is a good deal to be said against washing, at least one's
face, when crossing Gobi. The dry, scorching winds burn and blister the
skin, and washing makes things worse, and besides you are sometimes
short of water; so for a fortnight my face was washed by the rains of
heaven (if at all), and my hair certainly looked as though it were
combed by the wind, for between the rough riding and the stiff breezes
that sweep over the plateau, it was impossible to keep tidy. But, thanks
to Wang, I could always maintain a certain air of respectability in
putting on each morning freshly polished shoes.

Of wild life I saw little; occasionally we passed a few antelope, and
twice we spied wolves not far off. These Mongolian wolves are big and
savage, often attacking the herds, and one alone will pull down a good
horse or steer. The people wage more or less unsuccessful war upon them
and at times they organize a sort of battue. Men, armed with lassoes,
are stationed at strategic points, while others, routing the wolves
from their lair, drive them within reach. Sand grouse were plentiful,
half running, half flying before us as we advanced, and when we were
well in the desert we saw eagles in large numbers, and farther north the
marmots abounded, in appearance and ways much like prairie dogs.

At first there were herds on every side. I was struck by the number of
white and grey ponies, and was told that horses are bred chiefly for the
market in China, and this is the Chinese preference. Cattle and sheep
are numbered by thousands, but I believe these fine pasture lands could
maintain many more. Occasionally we saw camels turned loose for the
summer grazing; they are all of the two-humped Bactrian sort, and can
endure the most intense winter cold, but the heat of the summer tells
upon them severely, and when used in the hot season, it is generally
only at night.

From time to time we passed long baggage trains, a hundred or more
two-wheeled carts, each drawn by a bullock attached to the tail of the
wagon in front. They move at snail's pace, perhaps two miles an hour,
and take maybe eight weeks to make the trip across the desert. Once we
met the Russian parcels-post, a huge heavily laden cart drawn by a camel
and guarded by Cossacks mounted on camels, their uniforms and smart
white visored caps looking very comical on the top of their shambling
steeds. Most of the caravans were in charge of Chinese, and they
thronged about us if a chance offered to inspect the strange trap;
especially the light spider wheels aroused their interest. They tried to
lift them, measured the rim with thumb and finger, investigated the
springs, their alert curiosity showing an intelligence that I missed in
the Mongols, to whom we were just a sort of travelling circus, honours
being easy between the buggy, and Jack and me.

We were now in the Gobi. The rich green of the grassland had given way
to a sparse vegetation of scrub and tufts of coarse grass and weeds, and
the poor horses were hard put to get enough, even though they grazed all
night. The country, which was more broken and seamed with gullies and
rivers of sand, Sha Ho, had taken on a hard, sunbaked, repellent look,
brightened only by splendid crimson and blue thistles. The wells were
farther apart, and sometimes they were dry, and there were anxious hours
when we were not sure of water for ourselves, still less for the horses.
One well near a salt lake was rather brackish. This lake is a landmark
in the entire region round; it seems to be slowly shrinking, and many
caravans camp here to collect the salt, which is taken south. The
weather, too, had changed; the days were hotter and dryer, but the
nights were cool and refreshing always.

For eleven days we saw no houses but the two telegraph stations, save
once early in the morning when we came without warning upon a lamassery
that seemed to start up out of the ground; the open desert hides as well
as reveals. It was a group of flat-roofed, whitewashed buildings, one
larger than the rest, all wrapped in silence. There was no sign of life
as we passed except a red lama who made a bright spot against the white
wall, and a camel tethered in a corner, and it looked very solitary and
desolate, set down in the middle of the great, empty, dun-coloured
plain.

I had now separated from my travelling companions, cheering the friendly
Mongols with some of my bountiful supply of cigarettes. As they rode off
they gave me the Mongol greeting, "Peace go with you." I should have
been glad to have kept on the red lama to Urga, for he had been very
helpful in looking after my wants, and had befriended poor Jack, who was
quite done up for a while by the hot desert sands; but I let him go well
pleased with a little bottle of boracic acid solution for his sore eyes.
The Mongols, like so many Eastern peoples, suffer much from inflammation
of the eyes, the result of dirt, and even more of the acrid argol smoke
filling the yurts so that often I was compelled to take flight. I expect
the stern old Jesuit would say of them as he did of the Red Indian,
"They pass their lives in smoke, eternity in flames."

For about eight days we were crossing the desert, one day much like
another. Sometimes the track was all up and down: we topped a swell of
ground only to see before us another exactly like it. Then for many
miles together the land was as flat and as smooth as a billiard table,
no rocks, no roll; and we chased a never-ending line of telegraph poles
over a never-ending waste of sand. Another day we were traversing from
dawn till sundown an evil-looking land strewn with boulders and ribs of
rock, bleak, desolate, forbidding.

Nowhere were there signs of life, nothing growing, nothing moving. For
days together we saw no yurts, and more than one day passed without our
meeting any one. Once there appeared suddenly on the white track before
us a solitary figure, looking very pitiful in the great plain. When it
came near it fell on its face in the sand at our feet, begging for food.
It was a Chinese returning home from Urga, walking all the seven hundred
miles across the desert to Kalgan. We helped him as best we could, but
he was not the only one.

An old red lama, mounted on a camel and bound for Urga, kept near us for
two or three days, sleeping at night with my men by the cart, and
sometimes taking shelter under my tent at noon, where he sat quietly by
the hour smoking my cigarettes. He was a nice old fellow with pleasant
ways, nearly choking himself in efforts to make me understand how
wonderful I was, travelling all alone, and what splendid sights I should
behold in Urga.

And so time passed; tiring, monotonous days, refreshing, glorious
nights, and then toward the end of a long, weary afternoon I saw for a
moment, faintly outlined in the blank northern horizon, a cloud? a
mountain? a rock? I hardly dared trust my eyes, and I looked again and
again. Yes, it was a mountain, a mountain of rocks just as I was told it
would loom up in front of me for a moment, and then disappear; and it
disappeared, and I rejoiced, for at its base the desert ended; beyond
lay a land of grass and streams.

We camped that evening just off the trail in a little grassy hollow. In
the night rain fell, tapping gently on my tent wall, and for hours there
mingled with the sound of the falling rain the dull clang of bells, as a
long bullock train crawled along in the dark on its way to Urga.

The next day rose cloudless as before. My landmark could no longer be
seen, but I knew it was not far off, "a great rock in a weary land," and
already the air was fresher and the country seemed to have put on a
tinge of green.

In the afternoon a little cavalcade of wild, picturesque-looking men
dashed down upon us in true Mongol style, trailing the lasso poles as
they galloped. With a gay greeting they turned their horses about, and
kept pace with us while they satisfied their curiosity. This was my
first sight of the northern Mongol, who differs little from his brother
of the south, save that he is less touched by Chinese influence. In
dress he is more picturesque, and the tall, peaked hat generally worn
recalled old-time pictures of the invading Mongol hordes.

The great mountain had again come in sight, crouching like a huge beast
of prey along the boulder-strewn plain. But where was the famous
lamassery that lay at its foot? Threading our way through a wilderness
of rock, heaped up in sharp confusion, we came out on a little ridge,
and there before us lay Tuerin,--not a house but a village, built in and
out among the rocks. It was an extraordinary sight to stumble upon, here
on the edge of the uninhabited desert. A little apart from the rest were
four large temples crowned with gilt balls and fluttering banners, and
leading off from them were neat rows of small white plastered cottages
with red timbers, the homes of the two thousand lamas who live here. The
whole thing had the look of a seaside camp-meeting resort. A few herds
of ponies were grazing near by, but there was no tilled land, and these
hundreds of lamas are supported in idleness by contributions extorted
from the priest-ridden people. A group of them, rather repulsive-looking
men, came out to meet us, or else to keep us off. As it was growing
late, and we had not yet reached our camping-place, I did not linger
long.

[Illustration: HORSEMEN OF THE DESERT, NORTH MONGOLIA]

We camped that night in the shadow of the mountain. The ground was
carpeted with artemisia, which when crushed gave out a pungent odour
almost overpowering. Before turning in we received a visit from a
Chinese trader who gave us a friendly warning to look out for
horse-thieves; he had lost a pony two nights back. Here, then, were the
brigands at last! For the next three nights we kept sharp watch, camping
far off the road and bringing the ponies in around my tent before we
went to sleep. One night, indeed, the two men took turns in sitting up.
Fortunately my Chinese boy and the Mongol hit it off well, for the
Mongol will not stand bullying, and the Chinese is inclined to lord it
over the natives. But Wang was a good soul, anxious to save me bother,
and ready to turn his hand to anything, putting up tents, saddling
ponies, collecting fuel, willing always to follow the Mongol's
lead--save only in the matter of getting up in the morning. Then it was
Wang who got us started each day, lighting the fire before he fell upon
Tchagan Hou and pulled him out of his sheepskin; but once up, the Mongol
took quiet and efficient control.

At Tuerin country and weather changed. There was now abundance of grass,
and the ponies could make up for the lean days past. Thousands of
cattle and sheep again gladdened our eyes, and the pony herds were a
splendid sight; hundreds of beautiful creatures, mostly chestnut or
black, were grazing near the trail or galloping free with flowing mane
and tail.

We had been warned that the rainy season was setting in early, and for
three days we met storm after storm, delaying us for hours, sometimes
keeping us in camp a day or more. We stopped for tiffin the first day
just in time to escape a drenching, and did not get away again until six
o'clock. As some Chinese pony traders had encamped alongside of us, and
there were two or three yurts not far away, I did not lack amusement.
The Mongolian women camped down in my tent as soon as it was up, making
themselves much at home. One was young and rather good-looking, and all
wore the striking headdress of North Mongolia. Like that of the south,
it was of silver, set with bright stones, but it was even more elaborate
in design, and the arrangement of the hair was most extraordinary.
Parted from brow to nape of the neck, the two portions were arranged in
large plastered structures like ears on either side of the head; these
extended out almost to the width of the shoulder, and were kept in place
by bars of wood or silver, the two ends of hair being braided and
brought forward over the breast. This is the style of head-dressing
adopted at marriage and rarely meddled with afterwards. The dress, too,
of these northern Mongol women was striking. Over their usual loose,
unbelted garment (the Mongol for "woman" means "unbelted one") they wore
short coats of blue cotton with red sleeves, and the tops of these were
so raised and stiffened that they almost raked the wearer's ears. On
their feet they had high leather boots just like their husbands', and if
they wore a hat it was of the same tall, peaked sort. The sight of a
Mongol woman astride a galloping pony was not a thing to be forgotten;
ears of hair flapping, high hat insecurely poised on top, silver
ornaments and white teeth flashing.

It was nine o'clock before we camped that night, but we did not get off
the next day until afternoon because of the rain, and again it was nine
in the evening when we pitched our tent in a charming little dell
beautiful with great thistles, blue with the blue of heaven in the
lantern light.

The next day I was getting a little desperate, and against Tchagan Hou's
advice I decided to try bullying the weather, and when the rain came on
again I refused to stop. As a result we were all soaked through, and
after getting nearly bogged, all hands of us in a quagmire, I gave it up
and we camped on the drenched ground, and there we stayed till the
middle of the next day--spending most of our time trying to get dry. The
argols were too wet to burn, but we made a little blaze with the wood
of my soda-water box. For two days we had tried in vain to buy a sheep,
and the men's provisions were running short. If it had not been for the
generous gift of the Kalgan Foreign Office, we should have fared badly,
but Mongols and Chinese alike seemed to be free from inconvenient
prejudices, and my men, whom I called in to share the tent with me,
feasted off tins of corned beef, bologna sausage, and smoked herring,
washed down by bowls of Pacific Coast canned peaches and plums; and then
they smoked; that comfort was always theirs, and if the fire burned at
all, it smoked, too, and occasionally a drenched traveller stopped in to
be cheered with a handful of cigarettes. And then all curled up in their
sheepskins and slept away long hours, and I also slept on my little
camp-bed, and outside the rain fell steadily.

But at last a morning broke clear and brilliant; the rain was really
over. The ponies looked full and fit after the good rest, and if all
went well we should be in Urga before nightfall. We were off at sunrise,
and soon we entered a beautiful valley flanked on either hand by
respectable hills, their upper slopes clothed with real forests of pine.
These were the first trees I had seen, except three dwarfed elms in
Gobi, since I left behind the poplars and willows of China. Yurts,
herds, men were everywhere. Two Chinese that we met on the road stopped
to warn us that the river that flowed below Urga was very high and
rising fast, hundreds of carts were waiting until the water went down,
and they doubted if we could get across. This was not encouraging, but
we pushed on. It was plain that we were nearing the capital, for the
scene grew more and more lively. At first I thought it must be a
holiday; but, no, it was just the ordinary day's work, but all so
picturesque, so full of _élan_ and colour, that it was more like a play
than real life.

Now a drove of beautiful horses dashed across the road, the herdsmen in
full cry after them. Then we passed a train of camels, guided by two
women mounted on little ponies. They had tied their babies to the
camels' packs, and seemed to have no difficulty in managing their
wayward beasts. Here a flock of sheep grazed peacefully in the deep
green meadows beside the trail, undisturbed by a group of Mongols
galloping townwards, lasso poles in hand, as though charging. Two women
in the charge of a yellow lama trotted sedately along, their quaint
headdresses flapping as they rode. Then we overtook three camels led by
one man on a pony and prodded along by another, actually cantering,--I
felt I must hasten, too,--but unhurried, undisturbed, scarcely making
room for an official and his gay retinue galloping towards the capital,
a bullock caravan from Kalgan in charge of half a dozen blue-coated
Celestials moved sedately along, slow, persistent, sure to gain the goal
in good time,--that was China all over.

And then the valley opened into a wide plain seamed by many rivers, and
there before us, on the high right bank of the Tola and facing Bogda
Ola, the Holy Mountain, lay Urga the Sacred, second to Lhasa only in the
Buddhist world.

But we were not there yet; between us and our goal flowed the rivers
that criss-cross the valley, and the long lines of carts and horses and
camels and bullocks crowded on the banks bore out the tale of the
Chinese. We push on to the first ford; the river, brimming full, whirls
along at a great rate, but a few carts are venturing in, and we venture
too. Tchagan leads the way, I follow in the buggy, while the boy on the
pony brings up the rear, Jack swimming joyously close by. The first time
is great fun, and so is the second, but the third is rather serious, for
the river gets deeper and the current swifter each time. The water is
now almost up to the floor of the buggy, and the horse can hardly keep
his footing. I try to hold him to the ford, cheering him on at the top
of my voice, but the current carries us far down before we can make the
opposite bank.

Four times we crossed, and then we reached a ford that seemed
unfordable. Crowds are waiting, but no one crosses. Now and then some
one tries it, only to turn back, and an overturned cart and a drowned
horse show the danger. But we decide to risk it, hiring two Mongols, a
lama and a "black man," to guide our horses. One, on his own mount,
takes the big cart horse by the head; the other, riding my pony, leads
the buggy horse. Wang comes in with me and holds Jack. The crowds watch
eagerly as we start out; the water splashes our feet. First one horse,
then another, floundering badly, almost goes down, the buggy whirls
round and comes within an ace of upsetting, the little dog's excited
yaps sound above the uproar. Then one mighty lurch and we are up the
bank. Four times more we repeat the performance, and at last we find
ourselves with only a strip of meadow between us and Mai-ma-chin, the
Chinese settlement where we plan to put up. Clattering along the
stockaded lane we stop before great wooden gates that open to Tchagan's
call, and we are invited in by the Mongol trader who, warned of our
coming, stands ready to bid us welcome.



CHAPTER XIV

URGA, THE SACRED CITY


Urga the Sacred City, the home of the Gigin, the Living God, third in
the Buddhist hierarchy, is not so much one city as three, all located on
a high ridge above the Tola. Each is distinct, separate, entrenched.
Arriving from the south, the one you reach first is Mai-ma-chin, the
Chinese trading settlement, a tangle of small houses and narrow lanes
hemmed in by stockades of wooden slabs and unbarked fir trees. Here are
the eight or ten thousand Chinese who control the trade of North
Mongolia. Apparently they make a good living, for there is a prosperous
bustle about the place, and as you pick your way over the mud and filth
of the streets, through open doorways you catch glimpses of courts gay
with flowers and gaudily decorated houses such as the well-to-do Chinese
build. But for the most part dull blank walls shut you out--or in. The
Chinese is an unwelcomed alien in Mongolia, and he knows it.

A strip of waste, treeless land, bare of everything save a group of
"chortens," that look like small pagodas, and a few yurts and sheds,
separates Mai-ma-chin from the Russian settlement which occupies the
highest part of the ridge, dominating everything in a significant way.
It centres in the consulate, a large white building surrounded by high
walls, but more prominent is the tall red Russo-Asiatic Bank close by.
Other buildings are a church and a few houses and shops. The Russian
Consulate also is well fortified, with the last contrivances for
defence,--walls, ditches, wire entanglements,--and it looks fit to stand
a siege.

Before reaching Urga proper, the Mongol or lama city, which lies about
three miles farther west, shut off from the others by a branch of the
Tola, you pass the headquarters of the Chinese governor, and he, too,
has entrenched himself behind strong earthworks. Ta Huren, the "Great
Encampment," as the Mongols call Urga, which is not a Mongol word at
all, but merely a modification of the Russian "urgo," a camp or palace,
is a network of palisaded lanes enclosing, not comfortable houses and
offices and banks, as in Mai-ma-chin, but temples and lamasseries. And
well within these is the most sacred spot of all, the lamassery where
dwells enthroned Bogdo or the Gigin, the Living Buddha ranking after the
Dalai Lama and the Tashi Lama only.

To Bogdo the Mongol millions look up as a god; he is the living
representative of the divine one; and the city where he lives is the
goal of thousands of pilgrims each year. And what do they see?--until
late years, just a feeble, untaught child. When the Bogdo dies, his soul
is reincarnated in the body of a newly born male child. For a hundred
years or more that child has been always Tibetan, not Mongolian;
probably the Chinese Government knows why. And the lamas who swarm the
sacred encampment, debased representatives of a debased religion,
probably could tell, if they would, why, in the past, the child has
never lived to be a man. Furthermore, the Russian Consul-General at Urga
probably knows the secret of the long life of the present incumbent, who
is well past the time that has proved so fatal to his predecessors.

Politics sordid and gruesome are active within the gaily decorated walls
of the sacred lamassery. But all that the outsider sees is a weak,
debased-looking man whose vices should soon end his days even if he
escapes the lamas' villainy. Formerly he amused himself with Western
toys, photography, and especially motor-cars. It is true the millions of
Mongols look to the Gigin as their divine leader, but after all there
are ranks even in divinityship, and when the Dalai Lama, fleeing from
Lhasa before the Younghusband expedition in 1904, took refuge here, they
promptly forgot the smaller god to worship at the shrine of a first-rate
one, and the Gigin's nose was put out of joint, and stayed so until his
distinguished guest had departed. It was to appease his wounded vanity
that a Russian official presented him with a motor-car which had been
brought to Urga at vast expenditure of effort and money. When I asked
what he could have been expected to do with it, for roads there were
none, the answer was that to the divine one with fifteen thousand lamas
to do his bidding, anything was possible. A road was, indeed,
constructed to the Bogdo's summer retreat, a few miles away, but alas!
no chauffeur was supplied with the motor-car, and it would not run of
itself. When I passed through Urga last year I was told that the
undaunted Bogdo had ordered a second car, fully equipped with chauffeur
and all, from America, which was even then at Tientsin, so by now he may
be getting stuck in the muddy lanes of the Sacred City,--unless he has
put away such childish things to take up the farce of governing Mongolia
under Russian guidance.

[Illustration: A LAMA BOUND FOR URGA]

[Illustration: A MONGOL BELLE, URGA]

For more than three hundred years Lamaism has held Mongolia in its grip,
checking the development of the country, sapping the vitality and
self-respect of the people. More even than every other man you meet is a
lama, for it is estimated, by those who know the situation best, that
five eighths of the men are lamas, red or yellow, and the evil is on the
increase. At least, two generations ago Abbé Huc placed the proportion
at one in three. But lamas are not all of one sort. There are those who
live in community, permanently attached to some one of the hundreds of
lamasseries. They represent probably the abler or more ambitious in the
priesthood, and are better versed and more regular in the observances of
their order, living a life perhaps not unlike that in Western
monasteries in their period of decline. It is this class that rules
Mongolia--under Russia. Still another group might be compared to the
begging friars when their brief, glorious day was past; they wander
about the country, east, west, south, to Lhasa, to Omei Shan, to Peking,
with little purpose or plan. As Huc says, "vagabondizing about like
birds of passage," finding everywhere food and a tent corner, if not a
welcome. They neither teach nor heal, and represent the most worthless
though perhaps not the most vicious among the lamas.

A third class, and the largest, has no parallel, I think, in any Western
church at any period. These are the lamas who, sent like the others to
the lamasseries at an early age, after having received the prescribed
training,--taking their "degrees," as Huc calls it,--return to their
homes to live the life of the ordinary Mongol, in no wise to be
distinguished from the "black man" save by their shorn heads and the red
and yellow dress, which they do not always wear. They marry after a
fashion, at least they take wives, though without even the ordinary
scanty formalities, and probably the tie is as enduring as the "black
man's" marriage. In Southwest Mongolia I was told a lama marries just
like other people, while in some northern districts he has no right to
his wife, and if a "black man" takes her away he has no redress. The
Mongol who attended me on the first stages from Kalgan was a lama with
wife, children, and home, faithful and hard-working, at least for a
Mongol, and a useful member of society.

The question one naturally asks is, Why do these men become lamas; do
they do it willingly or under compulsion? Apparently the matter is
decided for them by their parents, who send them when boys to some
lamassery where they are duly and meagrely trained; but they do not seem
to chafe at their condition when they grow up, for the advantages are
very real. The parents save in not having to buy wives for their sons,
while the lama himself is always sure of support if he goes back to his
lamassery, and he is free from all demands by the Government for
military service.

It is said that the Chinese Government has encouraged Lamaism with the
idea of keeping down the population; in this way it would avert the
danger of Mongol invasion. But Lamaism has already done that in another
way, by killing the vigour and warlike temper of the people. The memory
of Genghis Khan still lives in the land where he was born; tradition
holds that the Great Conqueror lies buried on the summit of Bogda Ola,
the mountain that towers over Urga, and no one may climb the height lest
his sleeping be disturbed. But it is the vicious weakling who holds
uncertain sway in the Sacred City, not the spirit of the mighty warrior,
that dominates the Mongol of to-day.

Buddhism takes on many forms. On one side you have the gentle,
intelligent monk of Burma, and the kindly superstitious bonze of China.
But that black travesty of Buddhism, Lamaism, seems to offer no
redeeming feature; brutish in Ladakh, vicious and cruel in Tibet, it is
debasing and weakening in its effects upon the Mongol, who comes of
finer and stronger stock than either Ladakhi or Tibetan. But he
sometimes succeeds in being a good fellow in spite of his religion.

The first day of my stay in Urga I devoted to repairing the damages of
the journey across the desert. Oh, the luxury of plenty of hot water, of
leisure, of privacy. I scrubbed and I mended, but above all I rested.
And if I tired of that, there was always plenty to see just outside my
door. The house where I was so kindly entertained was the home of a rich
Mongol trader, a man of many deeds and few words. It was built around a
large courtyard enclosed in a strong stockade some twelve feet high, the
buildings forming part of the enclosing wall. On the long side of the
court was a roofed-over space where carts and horses and fuel were kept.
To the right hand and to the left were kitchen, godowns, servants'
quarters, while on the side facing the great entrance gates boldly
decorated with the swastika symbol were the family and guest rooms.
Along this front was a narrow verandah roofed by the overhanging eaves
of the one-story buildings. Most of the windows were of the ordinary
Chinese style,--wooden lattices covered with paper,--but a few were
glazed. My room was about fourteen feet by ten in size, one half or more
of the space being taken up by a platform some three feet high, on which
were a large gaudy rug and two or three tiny tables and chests of
drawers. The rest of the furnishing was a rough bench and two decorated
cabinets. The ceiling of the room was covered with a gaily flowered
European paper, and on the walls hung some cheap Chinese kakemonos.

The state rooms, which were next to mine, were evidently held in great
esteem, and my hostess displayed them with the reverent pride of a good
New England woman showing her parlour. There were three of them, opening
one into the other. In each there was the invariable platform covered by
rugs, and big Chinese vases stood about on small tables.

The life that went on in the courtyard was simple and rather
patriarchal. Servants, children, horses, everything was under the eye of
the master, a good-looking, dignified man. I found it rather difficult
to distinguish servants and family; everybody seemed to be on a familiar
footing. But the joy of the place was a small boy, the son and heir, who
played with Jack or sat in my room inspecting my things by the
half-hour. According to Western ideas children in the East are not
"brought up," and it is true they are abominably spoiled, but at least
one's heart is not often wrung by seeing them slapped and beaten.

One of my first rides abroad was to the Russo-Asiatic Bank where I met
much courtesy and helpfulness. Thanks to the bank officials in Peking I
was expected, and I found a warm welcome, and a house ready prepared for
me, which, however, I could not use, as I was already settled where I
was. There is a community of about five hundred Russians in Urga, mostly
traders and officials, and a fifth as many soldiers protecting them. The
look of the Russian quarter takes you across the sea, for many of the
houses are of logs set in a grass yard, the whole surrounded by a high
board fence, almost a stockade in strength. Far East and Far West have
met, and the homes of the Russian pioneer and American frontiersman are
much alike.

For many decades Russia has been extending her influence into North
Mongolia, patiently and persistently, and now through trade and
employment she has the country in her grasp. Almost the only foreign
people the Mongol knows are the Russians, and as a rule he seems to get
on with them rather well, although a Russian official told me he doubted
if there was much to choose between the Chinese and the Russian traders;
both fleeced the poor nomad. However, European onlookers, who know
Mongolia well, declare that if it came to war between China and Russia,
the Mongols would take sides,--and with the Russians.

[Illustration: MY MONGOL HOSTESS]

[Illustration: THE MONGOL HOUSE WHERE I STAYED IN URGA]

When I was in Urga there was much talk among the Chinese about the
railway that was surely coming, and the Kalgan officials said the same
thing. One only wonders that it was not done half a dozen years ago;
there are no serious difficulties. Once outside the Great Wall, the
rails could be laid down on the top of the ground almost as fast as a
man could walk. Only as you approach Urga, north of the desert, would
there be much in the way of bridging and embanking. And it would soon
pay for itself, for the millions of taels' worth of trade done between
North Mongolia and China would easily be doubled if once freed from the
handicap of the costly and uncertain journey of to-day. But more
important than all else is the political side of the question. The
Chinese Government must have known for years that its hold on North
Mongolia was insecure; it has pushed forward colonization by the Chinese
with much more than its usual vigour, and, given time, that would have
settled the matter. But it had no right to count on having time, while a
railway across the desert, taking not long to build, would have bound
all Mongolia to the empire with bands truly of steel, that even the
Russians could not break. And now--is it too late?

       *       *       *       *       *

The hours were quite too short which I had to spend in Urga, the Urga of
the Mongols; the other settlements were merely frontier posts, one
Chinese style and the other Russian, new and uninteresting. But Urga, Ta
Huren, was another story. To reach it we forded the river, the strong
current washing my feet as we rode through. There may be some other way,
but that sort of thing is part of the ordinary day's work with the
Mongol, and I believe he is rather shy of the one or two bridges the
Russians have built.

Ta Huren has a temporary look that suits its name; fire or flood could
easily sweep it away. And there is nothing of any architectural interest
save two or three temples and lamasseries, and having seen one you have
seen all, for there is little of beauty or fine workmanship about them.
The broad main street and the open spaces above the river were much more
attractive, for there the life of the settlement had gathered, and again
you had the impression of a holiday. There was too much leisure, too
much jollity, and too much colour for the work-a-day crowd of the West
or of China. People came and went, stopped to talk, stopped to stare. No
one seemed in a hurry except one or two self-important officials and
their white-jacketed retinue. Only in the horse-market was there any
real business going on. There the crowd seemed really intent on
something, but buying and selling horses is a serious matter the world
over, in Kentucky or in Mongolia. Indeed, the whole scene reminded me of
nothing so much as "Court Day" in Kentucky, done in colour. But the
colour made all the difference. Everywhere there were lamas, of
course,--lamas in red dress and red hats, or lamas with blue-black
shaven heads set off by yellow or flame-coloured garments. Women came
and went on foot or on horseback, alone or in groups, just as much at
home in the motley crowd as the men. Some of them were gorgeously
attired, and the flashing of their silver headgear was quite dazzling.
Now and then I caught sight of one more soberly clad and with a shaven
head, a widow, perhaps, or an old woman who had become the family priest
to the extent of performing the daily simple observances.

Mingling with the gay, happy-go-lucky throng of Mongols were two alien
elements: one, the quiet, purposeful, observant, blue-gowned Chinese,
each intent on his business; the other, the blue-eyed Cossacks in white
caps and the big, bearded, belted Mujiks, looking tremendously
substantial as they lounged heavily along, lazily watching the shifting
crowd. I thought of the Afghan Amir Abdur Rahman's comparison of Russia
to an elephant, "who examines a spot thoroughly before he places his
foot down upon it, and, when once he puts his weight there, there is no
going back and no taking another step in a hurry until he has put his
whole weight on the first foot and smashed everything that lies under
it." But the Chinese are like the tide, coming in noiselessly, gently,
filling each hole and crevice, rising unnoticed higher and higher until
it covers the land. Will it sweep away the elephant?



CHAPTER XV

NORTH TO THE SIBERIAN RAILWAY


One should spend weeks, not days, in Urga, but alas, time pressed and I
had to be "moving on." Just how to move on was a question, for the
ponies and buggy with which I had crossed Gobi could go no farther. I
finally arranged with a Russian trader for a tarantass and baggage cart
to take me the two hundred and twenty-five miles to the head of river
navigation beyond Kiakhta. Innumerable cigarettes were smoked while the
discussion went on in my room, and at times there seemed much more smoke
than progress, for the trader knew only his own tongue and Mongolian,
but one of the two Russians who were to go with me spoke a very few
words of German, so he and I made shift to understand each other. My
Mongol host was on hand, looking after my interests, but he could talk
with me only through the medium of Tchagan Hou, who spoke a little
Chinese, and Wang, who knew even less English.

My spirits were rather low as I said good-bye to my kind hosts one
bright morning in August. I was sorry to leave Urga with so much unseen,
sorry to see the last of Tchagan Hou, who had piloted me so skilfully
across the desert--blessings on his good face! I hope luck is with him
wherever he is--and I was sorry to part with my Chinese tent, my home
for weeks, and with my little camp-bed, on which I had slept so many
dreamless nights. A few days and nights in a tarantass were all that now
lay between me and the uninteresting comforts of Western hotels and
trains.

With great inward objection I climbed into the tarantass, like nothing
so much as a huge cradle on wheels, drawn by three horses, one, the
largest, trotting between the shafts, and the other two galloping on
either side. At the very outset I had a chance to realize the difference
between dealing with the Asiatic pure and simple, and the Asiatic
disguised as a European. We had been told that it would be necessary to
make an early start to cover the first day's stage before dark. I was on
hand, and so was Wang, but it was afternoon before we were finally off.
Luggage had to be packed and repacked, wheels greased, harness mended,
many things done that ought to have been attended to the day before. Now
of course that happens in China,--though nowhere else in my journeyings
did I encounter such dawdling and shiftlessness,--but there at least you
may relieve your feelings by storming a bit and stirring things up;
these people, however, looked like Western men, and one simply could not
do it.

So I kicked my heels for hours in the Russian merchant's lumberyard,
drinking innumerable cups of tea and refusing as many more, and getting
light on several things. I had been told that the Russians have little
of the Anglo-Saxon's race pride, but I did not suppose they ignored all
other distinctions. I was drinking a last glass of tea with the merchant
in his pleasant little sitting-room, attractive with many blossoming
plants, when Wang came in to collect my things. He was at once
boisterously urged to draw up to the table between us. He refused, but
the Russian insisted, trying to force him down into a chair. I watched
without saying anything as my boy quietly took a glass of tea and a
chair and withdrew to the other side of the room. He understood what was
suitable better than the Russian.

Passing out of the little Russian trading settlement, like nothing so
much as a thriving, hideous Western village, we drove through the main
street of the Mongolian quarter, where all the life of Lama-town seemed
to have drifted, for the gaiety and colour were intoxicating. Half an
hour took us away from the river and into the hills. The track was rough
and boggy and often blocked by interminable trains of bullock carts
laden with logs or dressed lumber, Urga's important exports. Toward the
end of the day the way became steeper and wilder, ascending between
slopes well wooded with spruce and pine and larch and birch. It was a
joy to be in a real forest again. The flowers that grew in great
profusion were more beautiful than any I had seen before in North
Mongolia, especially the wonderful masses of wild larkspur of a blue so
intense that it dazzled the eyes.

A storm was gathering and we pushed on as fast as we could; but the road
was too rough for speed and we were a long way from our camping-place
when a tremendous downpour burst upon us, and in the twinkling of an eye
our path was a rushing mountain torrent. Dry under my tarpaulin I could
enjoy the scene, splendid masses of blue-black clouds shot with vivid
flashes of lightning that served only to show the badness of the way and
the emptiness of the country. I will say for Ivan, the tarantass driver,
that he knew his business and kept the horses on their feet and in the
road better than most men could have done.

We drove on until nine, when the driver declared he could go no farther,
and proceeded to make camp by the roadside, not far from a couple of
yurts. A light shone out, and there was the sound of angry voices and
wrangling, but I could not find out what was the matter. Nicolai's
German always gave out, as the Indian babu said his presence of mind
did, "in the nick of time." Finally, the Russians sulkily turned their
horses loose and set up the little shelter tent where the three men were
to sleep. Apparently there was no fuel to be had, and we all went
supper-less to bed.

My first night in a tarantass was very comfortable. The body of the
cart, made soft with rugs and sheepskins, was long enough for me to
stretch out at full length if I lay cornerwise, and the hood protected
me against rain and wind. When I waked in the morning the whole land was
drenched, but the sun shone brilliantly. I started out on my own account
to get a a little dry fuel from the Mongols, but was rather brusquely
repulsed. And I now found out what was the matter. The people had
objected the night before to our camping near the yurts, for it was
their hayfield, theirs by the custom which forbids encroaching on the
land near a settlement, but the Russians had persisted, and now, in
their helpless anger,--they were an aged lama and an old woman,--they
refused to sell us wood. They stood aloof looking ruefully at their
trampled meadow as we made ready to start, hardly brightening up at all
when I tried to make good their loss. An Englishman or an American would
scarcely have asked my boy to sit at table with us, but on the other
hand he would have spared the Mongol's poor little hayfield.

The experience of the first day was repeated all the following days; a
late start in the morning, tedious halts at noon, getting into camp long
after dark. Indeed, I do not know when we should have been off in the
morning had it not been for Wang. He it was who roused the men, and did
his best to get a fire started, collecting fuel for the whole camp.
Although it rained every day, I do not think it ever occurred to the
Russians to avail themselves of a chance to get dry wood against the
next meal, and Wang remarked sadly that the Russians spent even more
time than the Mongols in drinking tea.

After the first day we left behind the wooded hills and were again in
rolling grassland like South Mongolia, but there was much more water;
indeed, the streams and bogs often forced us to make long détours, and
finally we came to a deep, strong-flowing river that could not be
forded; but there was a ferry-boat made of four huge, hollowed logs
securely lashed together and covered with a loose, rough flooring. The
horses were taken out and made to swim across, while the Mongol
ferrymen, all lamas and big fellows, went back and forth, taking us and
the carts over.

The second morning we started again without our breakfasts,--there was
no dry wood. Ivan, the tarantass driver, and the only one of the party
who knew the road, cheered us with the prospect of something hot at a
Russian colonist's house an hour farther on, but it was four hours' hard
driving before we reached the place, which then, however, more than made
good all he had claimed for it.

The two families that formed the little settlement were engaged in
cattle raising, and seemed prosperous and contented. Their houses and
sheds were built of timber and mud, and looked substantial and well
suited to stand the cold and winds of North Mongolia. We were given a
hearty welcome and taken at once into a large whitewashed room, kitchen,
living-room, and bedroom in one. Everything was spotlessly clean; even
under the bed there was no dust. I can testify to that, for I pursued
Jack there. The mistress of the house was a very good-looking,
dark-browed woman in a neat red gown with a red kerchief tied over her
head. She promptly served us with delicious tea from the invariable
samovar, and the freshest of eggs and good black bread, while a chicken,
for me to take away, was set roasting on a spit before the fire. Two
little tow-headed boys, put out of the way on the bed, stared stolidly
at us as they munched raw parsnips, and a baby cradled in a basket
suspended by a rope from the ceiling was kept swinging by a touch from
the mother as she went to and fro. The people seemed to be on friendly
terms with their Mongol neighbours, two or three of whom came in while I
was there, but it must be a lonely life, a day's ride away from the
nearest Russian family. When I asked Nicolai what the children did for
school, he laughed scornfully. "Why should they learn to read? Their
father and mother cannot."

Such homes as these are Russia's advance posts in Mongolia, but given a
fair field and she would stand no chance, for the Chinese colonists must
outnumber the others a hundred to one. From this time on we saw more and
more signs of cultivation, the pasture land was broken by great fields
of rye and barley, and the yurts of the Mongol were often replaced by
Chinese houses, looking on the outside much like the one just described,
save that the window openings were filled with paper instead of glass.

Board signs, not unlike "Keep off the grass" ones of the West, were set
up here and there, showing a Chinese holding. With or without government
aid the Chinese are coming in. They get land from the Mongols very much,
I imagine, as did the first English settlers in America, buying for a
song what the owner does not know he is selling. And once established
they are not easily dislodged, for they are good farmers, thrifty and
untiring. In the end they will oust the Mongol from the best lands as
sure as fate, unless Russia first ousts them, as apparently she is
doing. I am sorry for the Mongol; he is a happy-go-lucky, likeable
fellow, but it is all nonsense for the Russian Government to talk about
the way the Chinese settlers are wronging him, taking away the tillable
lands. He does not want them to till, but to pasture his herds, and that
is just the difficulty. It is not China but civilization that is driving
the Mongol to the wall, just as the Red Indian was driven. Nowadays the
people that will not make the best use of the land must give it up to
those who will.

The next day promised to be a long, hard one, and proved even harder
than I had expected. First the little dog was run over by my own baggage
cart. I thought surely he was dead, and then I feared the first use of
the revolver I had brought from America would be to end his gay little
life. The Russians shook their heads dolefully and gave no help, but
Wang lent a hand with his cheerful "all right," and in twenty-four hours
Jack was able to bark at the horses, even though he was too much bunged
up to stand.

My other trouble was the behaviour of the man Ivan. He was in fact a
thoroughly bad sort, lazy, stupid, sullen, and brutal to his horses. He
was supposed to take orders from the other Russian, but he refused to
obey him or any one. Only when by signs I could make clear what I wanted
could I do anything with him; then I could sometimes put enough
peremptoriness in my voice to bring him to heel. Added to the natural
bad temper of the man he was drinking constantly, and was quite beyond
control.

The country where we now were was a succession of beautiful valleys
watered by many streams and enclosed by barren, treeless hills,--a rich,
uninteresting district. We stopped for tiffin by a broad stream
bordered by willows. The grass was good, but the flies were so maddening
that the poor ponies hardly grazed at all. Hot as it was, I thought they
were better off moving than in this pestilential spot, but it was
impossible to get Ivan started. For hours he slept and drank, while the
horses twitched their skins and switched their tails and stamped their
feet, and between times tried to snatch a bite. Poor-looking women and
boys from some yurts crept over to our camp, and sought eagerly through
the grass for any finds in the way of tins or bottles. They were quite
the most miserable natives that I saw on my trip. As for me, I sat on
the ground, comforting Jack and longing for a Chinese or a Mongol or
anything that had learned to obey.

Finally at half-past five the driver roused from his drunken doze and we
started off again. On and on we go, over a tedious, uninteresting
stretch; the sun goes down, the twilight deepens into night, and the
stars come out. At half-past eight I ask how much longer we must drive,
and am told two hours. At half-past eleven I try to make the man
understand he must stop, but he pays no attention. And it is one o'clock
when I see the river in front of us, glimmering in the misty moonlight.
In a minute we are in the water; two steps more and the swift current is
up to the horses' sides, and the tarantass begins to turn over. Ivan,
now thoroughly awake, jumps out, the other Russian helps, and with
much pushing and floundering the horses manage to struggle back to
shore. This is plainly no ford, and as there is no help in sight we camp
on the bank for the rest of the night, no grass for the horses, nothing
to make a fire. After a bite of black bread and a tea-cup of the Foreign
Office Bordeaux, I curl up in the tarantass, shivering with damp river
cold, and Wang, rolled up in his sheepskin, sleeps on the ground
underneath. As for the Russians, I commit them cheerfully to all the
joys of rheumatism.

[Illustration: LAMA AND HIS "WIFE"]

For once every one is up at dawn. A passing lama directs us to a ferry
down the river, where we cross by means of a flat-bottomed boat worked
by an iron cable. On the other side the men start a fire and we get some
hot tea. Again I am struck by the familiar way in which the Russians
hobnob with the Mongols. Anglo-Saxons of their class would not do it. I
wonder if the "hail-fellow-well-met" treatment offsets the injustice and
rough handling the natives often get from their northern neighbours, and
if on the whole they like it better than the Anglo-Saxon's fairness when
coupled with his reserve. A distinguished Indian, not a reformer, once
said to me, "My countrymen prefer sympathy to justice." Perhaps that is
true of other Asiatics also.

For three or four hours after starting off again we traversed much the
same sort of country as the day before, crossing fertile valleys,
climbing rough hillsides to avoid bogs. There were not many signs of
cultivation, but along the horizon we could see the dark line of a
forest, a welcome change. Just before reaching it we turned off across
the plain to the yurts of the helpful lama of the morning. We were
expected and given a warm welcome in more senses than one, for the yurt
into which I was at once taken was so hot that I thought I should faint.
How those people in their woollen clothes could endure the heat was a
mystery.

The lama, a well-appearing, elderly man, seemed completely fitted out
with wife and children and yurts and herds. He was plainly a person of
substance, and the head of quite a settlement. The yurt where I was
received was very spacious, and was furnished precisely as Huc described
sixty years ago. There was one novelty, a stove-pipe connected with a
sort of cement stove, but perhaps this was merely for ornament, as my
dinner was cooked in a pot placed upon a tripod over a fire of wood and
argols. I was given the seat of honour, a sort of divan, and milk was
placed on a small, low table before me. But I at once espied something
more interesting than food. Round the walls of the yurt were ranged one
or two tables and chests of drawers. On one were some books, detached
leaves in leather covers with clasps. These were the lama's sacred
books. Very stupidly, for I had been told that no secular hand may
touch them, I started to pick one up, but the man courteously but very
firmly waved me back; hardly would he allow me to look at them from a
distance. He assured me he could read them, but that is not true of most
lamas. A little altar set out with small images and pictures of Buddha,
and among them a cheap photograph of the Gigin of Urga, did not seem
half so sacred, for the lama displayed them freely, even allowing me to
inspect the dozen or so small metal pots containing oil and other
offerings which were ranged in front of the images.

When our food was ready, the lama carried off the Russians to eat in the
men's tent; that is the rule, but the neighbours, men and women, who had
flocked in, stayed to watch me. Various strange dishes were put before
me; best of all, some hard curds decorated with lumps of sugar. Sugar is
a great delicacy with the Mongols.

As we were nearing the land of hotels, I emptied my tiffin basket here,
making my hosts and their friends happy with tins of jam and marmalade
and sardines and beef extract, not to mention enamelled cups and plates
and stew-pans. Everything was eagerly taken, even empty jars and
bottles, and they seemed as pleased as children with a new toy.

The country changed abruptly after leaving the last Mongol settlement.
Houses of Russian colonists occurred frequently, and presently we
entered the remnants of a fine pine forest, and from this time on there
was no lack of trees. We were now almost at the Russian frontier, and I
was becoming uneasy about the fate of my little revolver. It had already
undergone various vicissitudes; discovered by the customs officials at
Constantinople, they had threatened to fine me for violating the law
about bringing in firearms, but finally decided to remit the fine but
confiscate the weapon. When remonstrated with on the ground that I was a
lady going to Asiatic Turkey and might need it, they made matters
straight by returning the revolver, but kept the ammunition. I had paid
duty on the thing in Bombay, I had spent hours fitting it with
cartridges in Shanghai, many miles it had been carried, kept handy in
case of need, although I could not imagine what the need could be, and
now I was assured it would be seized and I would be fined if I tried to
take it over the Russian frontier. No firearms of any sort may be
brought into the empire without a permit procured beforehand. No, the
Russians should not have my little revolver. We passed a small pond; one
toss and it was gone.

The sun was setting as looking across the valley I caught the white
gleam of the great church in Kiakhta, but it was after eleven when we
rumbled through Mai-ma-chin, the frontier post of China, and, crossing
the Russian boundary unchallenged, drove quietly down the long main
street of the town. I was too sleepy to notice anything, until I heard
the men chuckling softly, and I waked up to find that we were past the
custom house. "It would be too bad to disturb the sleepy sentinels, so
we took off the bells," they explain. I imagine they had added to their
other misdeeds by doing a bit of smuggling.

It seemed to me that we drove for hours through the dark, echoing
streets of Kiakhta, but at last we stopped before the white wall of a
long, low building, and in a moment I was in another world. Behind me
were the wide, open plains of Mongolia and the starlit nights in tent or
tarantass. Here was Russia, half Europe, half Asia, and wholly
uninteresting. But at least there was a good bed awaiting me, and the
most wonderful little supper ever served at midnight on short notice,
delicious tea, good bread and butter, and the most toothsome small
birds, served hot on toast in a casserole. Where in a Western frontier
town could one find the like?

But it was not until I waked the next morning that I realized how very
Western Kiakhta is: humble log houses side by side with pretentious
stuccoed buildings, rickety wooden sidewalks or none at all, streets
ankle-deep in dust one day, a bog the next; but the handful of fine
residences, and above all the great white church costing fabulous sums
in decorations, tell of Kiakhta's great commercial past, a history that
goes back two hundred years, when Gobi was alive with the long lines of
camel caravans coming and going between the Great Wall and the Russian
border. Those were the days when the great tea merchants of Kiakhta
heaped up huge fortunes, to squander them in ways common to the suddenly
rich all over the world. But with the building of the railway, trade
turned aside, and to-day the town bears the marks of decaying fortunes.
The storehouses are half empty, many of the great merchant families have
gone away or are ruined, and were it not for the regiments stationed at
this frontier post, Kiakhta would be wrapped in the silence of the
desert. It remains to be seen what will be the effect of the railway
Russia proposes to build between Verchneudinsk and Urga. It may give new
life to the town, but of course it is military and political in its
purpose rather than commercial. During my four days' trip from Urga
there was very little traffic coming or going, and unless Mongolia's
resources prove unexpectedly rich, the days of Kiakhta's prosperity are
gone beyond recall.

But I did not stop long to investigate either the past or the present
interest of Kiakhta, for by the next afternoon I was off again, finally
ending my tarantass journey some eighteen miles north of the town, in a
great lumberyard on the right bank of the Iro, the starting-point of
the steamer to Verchneudinsk. There, together with some scores of
people, mostly Russian officers and their families, I kicked my heels
among the lumber for ten hours, waiting for the belated boat. It rained
most of the time, and the two tiny waiting-rooms were crowded to
overflowing with people and luggage; there was no restaurant, and I
should have starved had not good Wang made friends with some Chinese
workmen and got me some eggs. Finally we were told the boat would not
come till morning, so each person tried to find a corner and go to
sleep. I had just curled up comfortably, at one end of a great,
unfinished shed where the horses had been put out of the rain, when a
cry sounded through the dark that the boat was coming. By one o'clock we
were off. Everything was in confusion and every one was cross. I had
secured a cabin beforehand, and then found I was expected to share it
with a young Russian officer going home on leave. I quite regretted my
airy, quiet corner in the open shed.

All the next day we were steaming in leisurely fashion down the Iro,
making long stops at little hamlets in the forest, where all the
inhabitants of the half-dozen log houses clustered round the invariable
white church with green domes turned out to meet us, often bringing
bottles of delicious milk to sell. They were mostly of the peasant type,
large, fair, and stolid-looking. The scenery along the river was dull
and monotonous, low, heavily wooded banks, broken now and then by a
little clearing. It was a sodden, unkempt, featureless country, and I
found myself longing for the journey's end.

On the boat the third-class passengers were mostly Russian peasants and
a few Chinese, with a little group of frightened-looking Mongols. I
fancy they wished themselves back in the desert; I know I did. In the
first and second class there were almost none but military people, the
men all in full uniform of bewildering variety. Most of them were tall
and large, but rather rough in manner. I imagine one does not find the
pick of the Russian army on the frontier.

We reached Verchneudinsk well after dark, and a queer little tumble-down
phaeton took us to the inn chosen because of its German-speaking
landlord. Here I spent two days waiting for the Moscow Express. After I
had started my invaluable Wang off on his journey back to Peking by way
of Harbin and Mukden, I had nothing to do but rest and enjoy the
charming courtesies of the officials of the Russo-Asiatic Bank.
Verchneudinsk has little of interest, however; it is just a big, new
town, raw and unfinished, half logs and half stucco, with streets that
are mostly bog, and several pretentious public buildings and an ugly
triumphal arch marking the visit of the Tsar a few years ago.
Civilization has some compensations, but half-civilization is not
attractive; and it was a happy moment when I found myself with Jack in
my own little compartment on the Moscow Express, westward and homeward
bound.



CHAPTER XVI

A FEW FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF CHINA


It is rather presumptuous for the strolling Westerner who can count only
months in China to have any impressions at all of anything so huge, so
old, so varied, so complicated as China and its people, and still more
inexcusable to put these impressions before the world. And yet it may be
possible to find some sort of an excuse if one is bent on doing it.

We live to-day in a time of surprises. Turkey is reforming, China waking
up, the self-satisfied complacency of the white race has received a
shock, and more are feared. Most of us of the West are anxious to get
over the wall, or look around it,--we are told it is there,--and see
what that other man is really like. We read books written by those who
have spent years in China, in Japan, in India, and we realize that they
know thoroughly this or that corner of the whole. We talk with the man
who has lived his life among the people of the East, and we feel that he
has plumbed them to the core--along one line. He has preached to them,
he has healed them, he has traded with them, and he knows them as the
doctor or the trader knows his community. The men and women of the West
who have spent their lives in the East have usually gone there with
definite purpose and compelling duties. They rarely see more than one
part of the whole country, their work holds them fast, and they are
prone to see it from the point of view of the interest that took them
there. Out of these chapters of intimate knowledge can be put together a
great exhaustive study of the whole, but no one has done that yet; the
time has not come, perhaps.

Now the traveller with no preoccupying purpose, and fresh from a bird's
eye view of large sections of the country, is likely to talk a good deal
of nonsense, and yet he may tell some things of interest that the old
resident has ceased to see from very familiarity. If you mention them,
he says, "of course," but to those at home they are not "of course," and
sometimes they are worth telling.

My first and my most lasting impression of the Chinese was how very like
they are to us. I had been told it was a mistake to approach China from
the east: you touched twelve at once. Nowhere would you find another
country and people so strange, so different from anything before
imagined. Rather you should approach China from the west, then with each
stage as you travelled eastward stranger and ever stranger worlds would
open before you. That is what I did; it just happened so. India was
already somewhat known to me, and on this trip I stopped there only a
few weeks, seeing each day more that was difficult to understand, and
then I went on to China, and to my great surprise felt myself almost at
home.

Of course at first sight most things were queer, that is to say,
different from what they are in the West. The men wore their hair
braided down their backs, and the women dressed in trousers, and both
mourned in white. The seat of honour was on the left, not on the right,
and when people greeted you they shook hands with themselves. All that
one is prepared for, but being prepared does not take away from the
impression of queerness. But even from the beginning, and the feeling
grew stronger as the days lengthened into weeks and the weeks into
months, underneath this surface difference the Chinese seemed to me more
like ourselves, or maybe our ancestors, more like us at one stage or
another, than any other people of the East that I had known.

In India, as every one knows, religion dominates the life of the people.
A man is first of all a follower of a certain creed, a Hindu or a
Moslem, and the observances of that creed control his daily acts in a
way to which there is no parallel in the West--or in China. The
principles of Christianity underlie the best of Western civilization,
but the majority of men in Europe or America pay little conscious heed
to Christ's teachings as they make the daily round of work and
pleasure, and generally they confine their formal religious observances
to one day of the week, if as often. The Chinese, to be sure, is one of
the most superstitious of men, but there is little more religion in his
fears than is implied in the practices of many a Westerner. He never
builds a straight entrance into his house, for he believes that evil
spirits cannot move in a curved line; and across the world, people who
call him names because of this refuse to sit down thirteen at table. The
malign influences appeased, the average Chinese goes his way untroubled
or unconsoled by any thought concerning that which is to come, or at
most he strives to acquire merit, not for a week only, but for the whole
year, by some pilgrimage much more strenuous than church-going. Like the
Western man of to-day he also is impatient of priestly control, and is
apt to say slighting things of his spiritual leaders. His mind is set,
not on things above, but on the bread-and-butter, or, more precisely,
rice, aspect of life. The scale of rewards is different, but the
mainspring of daily living is much the same in the Far East and the Far
West.

Or put it in another way: with Chinese and man of the West alike,
national standards, national aims, all bear the mark of the industrial
world. In America and in Europe the chief concern is industry,--industry
in the large sense, agriculture, manufacture, commerce. These are the
interests that concern the people, that control their policy. In India
religion holds this place, while in Japan the ideals of the old social
order were military, and in a measure that is still true of the new. But
in China material interests have full possession of the field, and the
strong man of the Chinese nation is not the soldier or the priest, but
the merchant.

And there is something very Western, very American, as America used to
be, in the small part played by the Government in the life of the
ordinary Chinese. If he does not misbehave and keeps out of a lawsuit,
he rarely comes in contact with his rulers. He is acquainted with the
saying of Mencius that "the people are of the highest importance, the
gods come second, the sovereign is of lesser weight," and he knows the
place of the Government, but he expects little from it, and neither does
he fear it.

It is the district officer who represents to the ordinary Chinese the
Government, and there are about fifteen hundred of these in the eighteen
provinces, about one to every two hundred and fifty thousand of the
population. The headman of the village is the only official of whom the
Chinese really knows much, and he is one of the village folk, governing
by homemade rules of very ancient date, and never interfering if he can
help it. Policemen are few, and the various inquisitorial boards and
officers that make us clean and sanitary and safe in spite of ourselves
are simply non-existent. No one inspects the Chinese garbage pail except
the pig, or sniffs about for defective drains, or insists upon a man's
keeping the roadway in front of his house in order, or compels him to
have his children vaccinated. The tyranny of the majority may exist in
China, but it is not exercised through the Government. The Chinese as he
is to-day has been fashioned and shaped by long-inherited custom, and
the dead hand rests heavily upon him, but he is not a government
product, nor is he likely to be just yet.

And the Chinese is democratic in very much the same way that the
American is. If there has been an aristocracy at all, it has been
essentially one of race, the conqueror and the conquered, and hereditary
distinctions have played a very small part in the past outside Peking
and the Manchu circle. An official career is, in theory, and in good
measure in practice, open to the man who is fit, no matter what his
antecedents; and the poor boy has quite as good a chance to make himself
fit for all save the highest posts as in America. Nor is there always
much to choose between the American and Chinese standard of fitness. To
regard success as commander in a small war as qualifying a man for the
civil headship of a great industrial state does not seem much more
reasonable than to make skill in writing a literary essay the test for
a high military post. And one thing more, the Chinese, in so many things
essentially democratic, abases himself before the power of riches as
much as the American, and far more than any other Asiatic.

Now, since the Chinese expects little of the government, he has learned
to rely upon himself and his fellows. Like the Englishman and the
American, and unlike the Frenchman and the German, he takes the
initiative. The Government is weak, the individual or group of
individuals strong; the Government does little, so the other side does
much. All over the East,--in Burma, Indo-China, the Malay States, the
Philippines, wherever he can force an entrance,--you find the Chinese
merchant and the Chinese coolie, and it is no state-managed enterprise
that takes them there. Just as the British workmen emigrate, or the
British merchants seek out new markets, so the Chinese make their way
without leading or assistance. And they succeed; throughout all that
territory that lies between the China Sea and the Bay of Bengal, whether
under British or French rule, unless actually barred out, the Chinese is
entrenching himself and prospering. Heavy poll-taxes alone keep him from
controlling trade and the labour market in Indo-China; in the Malay
States he is ousting the native and running the British merchant and
banker hard; in Burma he is getting more and more control of trade, and
has even succeeded in convincing the Burmese woman that he makes a
better sort of husband than her charming but indolent countryman.

To turn to smaller matters. I am sure I had once known, but I had
certainly quite forgotten, that the Chinese, like ourselves and unlike
other people of the East, sit on chairs in preference to sitting on
their heels. For it gave me a little comfortable shock of surprise when
I saw my coolies at dinner sitting on benches around the table, "just
like folks," instead of squatting on the ground after the fashion of my
Indian servants. It is a small thing, but it marks the Chinese off from
all other Asiatics, and brings him a little nearer the West; and I do
not wonder at the touch of pride in the answer of the Chinese student at
a New England college when some one remarked on seeing her sitting on
the ground, college-girl fashion, with a number of her classmates, that
it probably came easier to her to do that, as she was used to it, "Oh,
no; I think you must be confusing us with the Japanese. We Chinese
learned to sit on chairs two thousand years ago."

But not only do the Chinese sit on chairs like ourselves, but they
"dine," just as the West does. Not merely are they ready to spend freely
on the pleasures of the table, but they make of dinner a social
function, longer and more elaborate, and sometimes even more deadly dull
than grand dinners at home. The un-Europeanized Indian, rich or poor, is
abstemious; he eats simply to satisfy hunger, and dining is with him no
more a social occasion than taking a bath at home,--much less, indeed,
than his own bathing, which seems to be often both a religious and a
social act. He would not think of entertaining his friends at a dinner
party. But my coolies at the wayside inns spent jovial hours over their
meals, and the gay Manchu or Chinese diners that I watched at the Peking
hotel might have been Americans at the Waldorf-Astoria, barring a few
details. And it seemed very Western, only it was quite Chinese, for the
chief of the Kalgan Foreign Office to express his regrets that my stay
was too short for him to arrange a dinner party for me.

So much has been said of the differences that exist in China, of the
wide separation between North and South and West, that I had expected to
find repeated there the conditions of India. But externally nothing of
the sort was observable. To begin with, almost all Chinese have black
hair, almost all wear blue clothes, and almost all eat rice. And the
obvious differences between the natives of Chihli and the natives of
Kwangtung, for example, are no greater than you would note in passing
from Maine to Mississippi; while in Yunnan and Szechuan, just as in the
Western States of America, you seem to be among people from "back East,"
only slightly modified by different conditions of climate and life.

The estimate given me by the Chinese Consul-General at Singapore, a
Kwangtung man, as to the proportion of the whole population speaking
some form of Mandarin, was about three hundred millions out of a
possible three hundred and sixty millions, and this agrees with other
statements that I have seen. If this be so, then the enormous majority
of the people have the bond of a common tongue. And more than that, all
the educated--a small proportion, of course, although many more know a
few symbols--have a common written language.

But as Confucius said thousands of years ago, "not all words are in
books, nor all thoughts in words," and the traditions of nature worship,
Taoism, Buddhism, of Confucius himself, have all put their stamp upon
the Chinese, whether of the North or South, and the journeying coolie
(and it must be remembered he is a great wanderer), no matter where he
goes in China, will find himself among men who recognize the same
obligations, cringe under the same superstitious fears, and strive
toward the same goal of material well-being as himself. Fundamental
differences do certainly exist; North and South China are divided in
speech, and the people are unlike, physically and mentally, but I wonder
if the separation is really deeper than that between the Northern and
the Southern States in America to-day.

We talk of China as in decay, of the Chinese as aged, and the country
as exhausted. It is true the soil has been man-handled for ages, like
the soil of India, but over great areas it constantly renews its
fertility, and, anyway, most of China's resources are underground,
untouched. The Government of last year was rotten to the core; it had
outlived its day. But the Government was not the people, and the Chinese
are neither worn out nor unsound.

I think it must be because everything seems finished in China that
people talk about her decay. The whole thing impresses you as having
been made and completed, after a fashion, a long time ago. Nowhere, save
where the touch of the West has been felt, do you see things being tried
for the first time. Everything has been done in China so many, many
times, for so many centuries, and the results have spread abroad all
over the empire; everywhere, in the remotest corners, you find the same
ingeniously contrived commercial system, the same symmetrical and
complicated social order. Being a very clever and resourceful people
that has lived a long time, the Chinese have found out a great many
things for themselves, and as there was no other clever and resourceful
people at hand to incite them to other and better ways of doing some
things, they went on as they were, neither spending their strength nor
sharpening their wits in trying experiments. Indeed, experimenting
stopped centuries ago; each natural difficulty, every social and
economic problem had been met and answered in some sort of way, and so
the people lived year after year, doing things just as their fathers had
done them. And now they impress one as very experienced, though
old-fashioned; but not aged,--no, not at all.

On the contrary, face to face with the Chinese at home, one is
overwhelmed by an impression of power,--actual power, potential power,
power of the individual, power of the group, power well used, power
misspent. The impression is almost stunning. You seem to be watching a
community of ants, persistent, untiring, organized, only the ant-hill is
a town, and the ants are men physically strong, gluttons for work,
resourceful, adaptable, cheerful. Then multiply such ant-hills by
thousands and you have China. For not merely is the Chinese the best
worker in the world, but he also leads in organization. No Chinese
stands alone; behind him is the family, the clan, the guild. He does not
confront life naked and solitary, he is one of a group; that gives him
confidence, and keeps him under control. It makes it both easier and
more difficult to deal with him. Treat him unjustly, and you are
fighting, not a man but a group. But if he wrongs you, you have a hold
upon him, you can call him to account through his group.

And the power of organization smooths greatly the daily machinery of
living in China. As I leaned over the side of the steamer in Singapore
Harbour, watching the seven hundred coolies come aboard that we were
taking home to Kwangtung province, the chief officer remarked to me, "A
thousand Chinese make us less trouble than one Indian"; and he went on
to explain, "When we enter here, half a dozen Chinese boarding-house
keepers come on board and ask how much deck-room we have. They agree on
what they want, and then each stakes out his claim, as it were, with
bits of red paper emblazoned with Chinese characters. A little later
coolies come, bringing the luggage of the home-going Chinese, each thing
marked with a piece of red paper with the same black lettering. They ask
no questions, but look about until they have found the corresponding
marks on the deck, and there they unload. And later the Kwangtung men
arrive, each with a red ticket, and they too ask no questions, but just
hunt up their things all properly marked, and then proceed to make
themselves comfortable. And no one is bothered."

Or to turn to larger things, what was it but this same power of
organization that made ready a great revolutionary movement, permeating
a population of three hundred odd millions, and spreading over an area
of a million and a half square miles, and all so well and secretly done
that, though suspected, it could not be discovered? The Turkish
Revolution seemed a triumph of secret preparation, but there the task
was to convert an organization already made; here it was necessary both
to arouse and to organize.

But then China has ages of experience, both in organizing and in
rebelling, back of to-day. Establishing a Republic, however, is
something new; the Chinese have never before tried their hand at that,
but if they will only bring into play now all their undoubted power of
organization, of resource, of moderation, they will certainly make a
success of their new experiment in government. Given time, and they will
do it. Perhaps my view of China's future is rose-coloured. But the thing
seen and felt is of tremendous force, and the impression of power that
the Chinese made upon me was rather overwhelming. And, anyway, a
friendly opinion may be pardoned in one who, during months of solitary
travel in China, never met anything but courtesy and consideration from
all, whether coolie on the road, villager or innkeeper, official or
priest.


THE END



INDEX


 Abdur Rahman, Amir of Afghanistan, quoted, 288.

 Agriculture, U. S. Department of, 207.

 Amban, the, 253.

 American Baptist Mission, 81, 85, 158, 183.

 American engineers, surveying in Yunnan, 29.

 American Legation, the, at Peking, 232, 237.

 A-Mi-chou, 21, 22.

 Amur River, 251.

 Annamese, in Haiphong, appearance and dress of, 12, 13;
   and the Red River R.R., 15.

 Annamese police, 7, 8.

 Annamese Tirailleurs, 18, 19.

 Anning River, valley of, the shortest trade-route between Szechuan and
   Indo-China, 71; 78, 89.

 Arnold Arboretum, 66.

 Assam hills, life on tea-plantations of, 17, 18.


 Baber, Colborne, in Chien Ch'ang, 74;
   cited, 90, 106, 171, 181, 182, 191, 204.

 Baikal, Lake, 236.

 Bailey, Captain, English officer at Tachienlu, 126 _ff._;
   his later explorations, 127;
   defends Tibetans, 132;
   139, 175.

 Barrow, riding in a, 169.

 Batang, 124, 126, 128, 131, 160.

 Bayard, Fort, 7, 8.

 Beggars, absence of, in West China, 46.

 Bishop, Mrs. Bird, 216.

 Black Rock Rapid, 216, 217.

 Bogda Ola (Holy Mountain), 274, 282.

 Bogdo, the Living Buddha, status of, 277;
   superstitions concerning, 278;
   a second-rate god, 278;
   his motor-cars, 279.
   And see Gigin, the.

 Bonze, the, his Buddhism, 282.

 Boxer rising (1900), 28, 225, 233.

 Brick tea, transportation of, 105, 106;
   how prepared, 159, 160.

 Bridges in Yunnan, 61.

 British American Tobacco Co., 67, 183, 235, 242.

 Brooke, Lieutenant, murder of, by Lolos, 75.

 Buddha, colossal figure of, at Chia-ting, 180, 181, 182, 200, 201;
   reigns supreme on Omei, 189;
   his tooth at Wan-nien Ssu, 191.

 Buddha, the Living, 253, 277.
   And see Bogdo and Gigin.

 "Buddha's Glory," 189.

 Buddhism, and lamaism, 138;
   many forms of, 282;
   lamaism a "black travesty" of, 282;
   317.

 Buggy, an American, in Mongolia, 257, 264.

 Burma, Upper, 3.

 Burmese, the, 12.


 Caindu (Chien Ch'ang), 74.

 Calcutta, 112.

 Camel Road, Kalgan to Urga, 245 _ff._

 Camels, in Mongolia, 263.

 Cameras, feeling of Chinese toward, 156, 157.

 Canadian Methodist Mission, 183.

 Canton, House of the Dead at, 87;
   24, 29, 222.

 Cart Road, Kalgan to Urga, 244.

 Catty, the, 33.

 Cave-dwellings, 204.

 Chair-bearers, their traditional calls, 149, 150 and n.

 Chala, King of, his summer palace, 133, 134-136;
   his troubles, 135;
   125.

 Chang-ho-pa, 148-150.

 Changsha, outbreak at, 226, 227.

 Chang-te-ho, 224, 227.

 Chang-Tien-You, railway engineer, 234.

 Chao Erh Feng, death of, 125.

 Chen River, 123.

 Chen Chia Ch'ang, theatrical performance at, 185.

 Chengtu, missionaries from, 133;
   under the "Emperor of the West," 171, 172;
   the modern city, 172 _ff._;
   its fine silks and embroidery, 172, 173;
   its shops, 173, 175;
   British Consul-General at, 173;
   European community of, 173, 174;
   missionaries at, 174;
   Tartar population of, 174;
   the Manchu quarter, 174, 175;
   one of the most advanced cities of China, 175;
   police of, 176;
   French Consul-General at, 176;
   university of, and its students, 176, 177;
   railway question and the revolution at, 177;
   rivalry between Chung-king and, 209;
   24, 42, 105, 198, 203, 226.

 Chengtu, plain of, 167 _ff._;
   its people, 167;
   its bad roads, 167.

 Cheng-kiang, 163.

 Cheo, Mr., 211.

 Chê-pei, 56.

 Cheung-chou, Richthofen quoted concerning, 165, 166, 167.

 Chiang-yi, 65.

 Chia-ting, seat of white-wax industry, 73;
   the "rose-red city," 180 _ff._;
   the flood of 1786, 181, 182;
   its insalubrious climate, 183;
   Protestant missions at, 183;
   warfare over cigarette-smoking at, 183;
   coolie _hongs_ in, 183;
   the first city in Szechuan to declare for the Republic, 201;
   161, 178, 179, 203, 204.

 Chia-ting plain, beauty of, 180;
   subject to floods, 181;
   184.

 Chien-Ch'ang, district of, diversity of crops in, 71, 72;
   poppy banished from, 72, 94;
   white-wax industry of, 72, 73;
   almost unknown to Western world until lately, 73, 74;
   dangers of travelling in, due to neighbourhood of Lolos, 74, 75;
   recent steps of government to ensure safety in, 77.

 Chien-Ch'ang valley, 33, 42.

 Chien-Men, the (Peking), 230.

 Chihli, province of, 227, 316.

 Children in the East, how "brought up," 284.

 Chin Ch'uan, region of, almost unknown to Europeans, 119.

 Chin Ch'uan River, 78, 118.

 Chin Tien (Golden Temple), 32.

 Chin Tien Monastery, on summit of Omei Shan, 193-199.

 China, and Tibet, meet in Tachienlu, 123;
   western boundary of, 124;
   revolution in, effect of, on relations between China and Tibet,
   uncertain, 125;
   grouping of trees in, 154;
   status of missionaries in, 158, 159;
   fruit and vegetables in, 206;
   and Mongolia, meet at Kalgan, 235;
   hold of, on North Mongolia, insecure, 285;
   is she in decay? 317, 318;
   impression produced by, 318, 319;
   her future, 321.
   And see Chinese and Chinese Government.

 China, West. See West China.

 China Inland Mission, 126, 216.

 Chinese, the, characteristics of, 42, 43;
   their footwear, 44;
   of Yunnan and Szechuan, physical characteristics of, 51;
   dote on children, 56;
   climatic susceptibilities of, 58;
   and their dead, 87, 88;
   spend freely for food, 108;
   how sacred places are used by, 113;
   their lack of nerves, how illustrated, 120;
   in Tachienlu, 124, 131;
   military achievements of, 125, 126;
   good manners of, 129;
   their feeling toward the camera, 156, 157;
   ordinarily peaceable, 176;
   their fondness for theatrical performances, 185;
   friendly relations of Europeans and, in Chung-king, 209;
   their dramatic ways, 230;
   their interference in Mongolia, 253;
   unwelcome aliens there, 276;
   how like they are to us! 309 _ff._;
   their self-reliance, 314;
   found all over the East, 314;
   slight outward variations in, in different parts of the Empire, 316;
   a vast majority of, have a common tongue, 317.
   And see Coolies.

 Chinese city, the, in Peking, 230.

 Chinese funeral, a, 142.

 Chinese Government, projects of railways in Yunnan, 29;
   said to encourage lamaism in Mongolia, 282.

 Chinese inns. See Inns.

 Chinese laborers, on the Red River R.R., 15.

 Chinese mob, the 176.

 Chinese revolution. See Revolution.

 Chinese temples. See Temples, Chinese.

 Chinese women. See Women, Chinese.

 Ch'ing Ch'i, 105.

 Chit (letter of recommendation), the, 211, 212.

 "Chou," meaning of, in place-names, 31n.

 Christians, Chinese, in Hui-li-chou, 70;
   superiority of, to their fellows, 128, 129.

 "Chuman" pagodas, of Szechuan, 204.

 Chu-ma-tien, 224.

 Ch'un, Prince, Regent, 231.

 Chung-king, the Chicago of West China, 207-213;
   a treaty port, 208;
   no limit to its development, 208;
   missionaries in, 208;
   foreign community in, 208, 209;
   friendliness of Europeans and Chinese in, 209;
   rivalry between Chengtu and, 209;
   Merchant class of, 209, 210;
   cosmopolitan club at, 210, 211.

 Cigarettes, 67, 183.

 Cloud Mountains, the, 64, 65.

 Cloudy Sun, City of the, 214.

 Coffins, Chinese, 93, 94.

 Colborne Baber. See Baber.

 Colonial expansion, sought by Doumer, 9.

 Confucius, 317.

 Constitution of the U. S., lecture
   on at Chung-king Men's Club, 210.

 Cooking, in Yunnan, 58.

 Coolies, for overland journey, importance of, 33;
   contract for, 35, 36;
   their wages, 36;
   their character and dress, 43;
   their cleanliness, 48;
   long journeys often undertaken by, 212, 213;
   203, 204, 205.
   See Fu t'ou and Hong.

 Coolies of the author's caravan (_hired at Yunnan-fu_), 51, 52, 56, 57,
   59, 65, 67, 79, 80, 83, 84;
   (_hired at Ning-yüan-fu_), 85, 96, 97, 103, 107, 108, 115, 121, 129,
   130, 141, 143, 144, 148, 156, 162, 169, 170;
   their thoughtfulness and good-will, 149;
   dismissed at Chengtu, 178;
   (_hired at Chia-ting_), 183, 185.

 "Crooked sterns," 214.

 Cua-Cam River, 11.

 Customs regulations, tend to check development of trade in Tonking, 15.


 "Daisy," 31.

 Dalai Lama, the, 277, 278.

 Davidson, Warburton, 209, 210.

 De Mailla, his _History of China_, 171.

 Dead, the, kept unburied in China, 87.

 Didier, M., 224.

 Dogs, in Mongolia, 259.

 Dong Dang, 10.

 Doumer, M., Governor General of Indo-China, his energetic forward policy,
   9-11;
   and the exposition of 1902, 13.

 Dragon Festival, 176.


 East, characteristics common to, different races of, 42, 43.

 Eliot, Sir Charles, quoted, 28.

 Emperor of Heaven, Mountain of the, 214.

 "Emperor of the West," the, at Chengtu, 171, 172.

 Erh-tsun, 53, 54.

 Escort of soldiers, 38-40;
   why urged upon travellers, 38;
   vagaries of, 41, 121, 122;
   change of, 55;
   in Szechuan, 77, 78, 98.

 Europeans, and native women, 17, 18;
   and Chinese, in Chung-king, 209.

 Exchange, varying rate of, 97.


 Fan t'an, played by coolies, 59.

 Fei Yüeh Ling, 111.

 Ferry, Jules, "l'homme de Tonking," 9.

 Flowers, profusion of, in mountains of Yunnan and Szechuan, 62, 65, 66;
   in the Ta Tu valley, 144, 145;
   north of Urga, 292.

 Foo-chou, 214.

 Food, method of cooking in Yunnan, 58, 59;
   some details concerning, 108, 109-111.

 Forbidden City, the, in Peking, 230.

 Foreign Legion, French, 18, 19.

 France in China, 18 _ff._; 224, 225.

 French, race-prejudice among the, 18;
   in Yunnan, 29.

 French consulates in Yunnan, like fortified outposts, 29.

 French troops in Indo-China, familiar with vernacular, 20.

 French sisters, 141, 142.

 Friends' Institute, club at Chung-king, visit to, 210, 211;
   a new departure in mission work, 211.

 Friends' Mission, the, at Chung-king, 209, 210, 213.

 Fruit-growing in China, 206, 207.

 "Fu," meaning of, in place-names, 31n.

 Fu River, the Min sometimes so-called, 203.

 Fulin, 42, 89, 102, 103.

 Fu-ming-hsien, 55, 56.

 Fu t'ou (head coolie), and "the squeeze," 96, 97;
   an opium-smoker, 107, 108;
   35, 36, 48, 85, 130, 140, 151, 164, 165.


 Gardens, in Mongolia, 260.

 Genghis Khan, 74, 281, 282.

 Gigin, the (the Living Buddha), Urga the home of, 276, 277.
   And see Bogdo.

 Glass, rarely seen in West China, 40.

 Glorious Dragon Rapid, 214.

 Gobi Desert, crossing the, 256 _ff._;
   the outfit, 256, 257;
   an American buggy in, 257;
   the party, 257, 258;
   fine weather in, 258, 259;
   gardens in, 260;
   disadvantages of bathing while crossing, 262;
   wild life in, 262, 263;
   vegetation in, 264;
   no houses in, 264, 265;
   235, 251, 252, 304.

 Goddess of Mercy. See Kuan Yin.

 Goddess of Mercy Rapid, 214.

 Goitre, in Southern Szechuan, 68.

 Golden Sand, River of, the Yangtse so called, 64.

 Golden Stream, the, 118.

 Golden Temple, the, 32.

 Goosetail Rock, 217.

 Gordon, Charles G. ("Chinese"), 229.

 Grape-nuts, in China, 240, 241.

 Great Cold Mountains, the (Lololand), 75.

 Great Encampment, the. See Ta Huren.

 Great Snow Mountains, 117.

 Great River, the. See Yangtse.

 Great Wall of China, the, at Nankow, 234;
   246, 285, 304.

 Gurkhas of Nepal, beaten by Chinese, 126.


 Hainan, island of, 11.

 Haiphong, difficult approach to, 11;
   customs officials at, 11;
   at police headquarters in, 12;
   described, 12, 13;
   3, 4, 5, 10.

 Haitang, 95, 96.

 Hakka, 142.

 Han River, and Yangtse, three cities at junction of, 222.

 Han Yüan Kai, 104, 105.

 Han Hai. See Gobi Desert.

 Hankow, the Chicago of East China, 207;
   and its sister cities, 222;
   the trading centre of the three, 222;
   the revolution at, 222;
   preparing for journey to Peking at, 223, 224;
   38, 219, 227.

 Hanoi, capital of Tonking, 10;
   one of the finest cities in the Far East, 13.

 Hanyang, rival of Bombay in manufactures, 222.
   See Hankow.

 Heavenly Mountains. See T'ien-Shan.

 Hei Shi Tan, 216, 217.

 Himis lamassery, 124.

 Hoang River, bridge across, 228;
   contrast between, and Yangtse, 228.

 Hoi-hou, 11, 29.

 Ho-k'ou, 10, 18, 19, 20, 66, 67.

 Honan, province of, 227.

 Hong (guild), coolie, 33, 35, 36.

 Hong Kong, where East and West meet, 4;
   essentials of outfit procurable cheap at, 4, 5;
   240.

 Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, 37.

 Horse thieves, warning against, 269.

 Horses, in Mongolia, 263.

 Hosie, Sir Alexander, 93, 94, 119.

 Hou Wei Têh, 243.

 Hsi-Liang, and the opium trade of Yunnan, 25.

 Hsiao Hsiang Ling, 91.

 "Hsien," meaning of, in place-names, 31n.

 Hua-lin-ping, 112, 114, 161.

 Huc, Abbé, quoted, 249, 250, 279, 280.

 Hui-li-chou, European women rare visitors to, 69;
   native Christians in, 70;
   67, 68.

 Humphreys, Dr., missionary, 81.

 Hupeh, province of, 38, 218, 227.

 Hupeh money, 37, 38.


 Ichang, from Chung-king to, by river, 213 _ff._;
   a busy place, and why, 221;
   its location, 221, 222;
   177, 226.

 Impedimenta, advice as to, 4-6;
   all essentials procurable at Hong Kong, 4.

 Imperial City, the, in Peking, 230.

 Imperial Post-Office, efficiency of, 127, 128.

 India, 310.

 Indo-China, French rule in, 8, 9;
   under Doumer, 9, 10;
   little outward difference between men and women of, 19.

 Inns, in villages, 47;
   in towns, 47, 48;
   plenty of hot water the one luxury of, 48;
   foul-smelling, 48;
   in Mongolia, 248.

 Intemperance, absence of, in East, simplifies travel there, 84.

 Interpreter, the, a Kiangsi man, 4, 5;
   his democratic instincts, 203;
   dismissed at Hankow, 224;
   34, 77, 78, 79, 86, 96, 97, 99, 100, 108, 121, 133, 140, 151, 152,
   156, 178.

 Iro River, travelling on, 305, 306.

 Irrawaddy River, 71.

 Ivan, tarantass driver, 292, 294, 297, 298, 299.


 Jack (terrier), 6, 11, 12, 32, 33, 34, 40, 45, 46, 60, 61, 95, 103, 104,
   108, 127, 140, 143, 146, 147, 149, 151, 153, 166, 170, 178, 192, 205,
   224, 229, 239, 259, 264, 265, 274, 275, 295, 297, 298, 307.

 Jam, in praise of, 240.

 Japan, and the Manchurian railway, 246.

 Japanese, at Chengtu, 175.

 Jardine, Mattheson & Co., 225.

 Jee-ka, 56.


 Kalgan, China and Mongolia meet at, 235;
   main roads from, to Urga, 244, 245;
   an outpost of Russia, 246;
   233, 238, 239, 241, 242, 243, 252, 257, 266, 273, 281.

 Kalgan-Peking R. R., the first railway constructed by Chinese, 234.

 Kang (furnace), 248.

 Kang Hi, 116.

 Kerosene, white wax superseded by, for lighting, 73.

 Kiakhta, "very western," 303, 304;
   its great commercial past, 304;
   289.

 Kinsha Kiang. See Yangtse River.

 Ku Niang (author's title), 140.

 Kuan Yin (Goddess of Mercy), temple to, 113.

 Kublai Khan, 49, 74.

 Kung-tan, 214.

 Kwang-chou-wan, 7, 9;
   bay of, 7.

 Kwangtung, province of, 51, 105, 316.

 Kwei-chou, 55.

 Kwei-fu, the "trackers' Paradise," 216;
   change in attitude toward foreigners at, 216.

 Kweilu, the, river-steamer, 221.


 Ladakhis, the, effect of lamaism on, 282;
   131, 146.

 Lamaism, in Tachienlu, 124;
   aspect and effects of, 138;
   strength of, in Mongolia, 279, 280;
   said to be encouraged by Chinese Government, 281;
   its effect on the people, 281, 282;
   a "black travesty" of Buddhism, 282.

 Lamas, ferocity of, 131;
   different kinds of, 279, 280, 281.

 Lamassery, in the Gobi, 265; at Tuerin, 268;
   of Bogdo, at Urga, 277, 278.

 Lao-kai, 18-20.

 Lao-pan (boat-captain), the, 213, 215, 216.

 Laughter, the universal solvent, 60.

 Leng Chi, 115.

 Lesser Trail, the, 140 _ff._

 Lhasa, road to, 125, 134;
   126, 127, 128, 131, 160, 274, 280.

 Li Ching Hsi, and the opium trade of Yunnan, 26;
   and the Pien-ma question, 30.

 Li Ping, 167.

 Li-chou, 86, 87.

 Lime juice, merits of, 240, 241.

 "Lincoln," 31.

 Literatus. See Interpreter.

 Little, Archibald, 116, 209.

 Liu, chair coolie, 79, 84.

 Liu, cook, from Chung-king, 5;
   dismissed at Hankow, 224;
   38, 45, 48, 56, 86, 103, 110, 140, 178, 188, 202, 203, 211.

 Liu Sha River, 104.

 Loess country, the, 228.

 Lo-han, 182.

 Lololand, the mysterious, 67, 74, 75;
   neighborhood of, complicates travel in the Chien Ch'ang, 75;
   measures taken by government thereanent, 77;
   92.

 Lolos, in Yunnan, 50;
   "tame," 75, 76;
   their ethnological status a problem, 76, 77;
   their proper appellation uncertain, 76, 77;
   89, 90, 91, 92, 98, 189.

 Losus, in Yunnan, 50.

 Lu-Ting Ch'iao, bridge at, the only connecting link between China and
   Tibet, 116, 117;
   115, 139, 142, 145, 161.

 Lu-Han R.R., 225, 227, 228.

 Lu-ku, 88.

 Lung-kai, scanty accommodations at, 63;
   101, 206.


 Ma-An Shan Pass, 145, 154.

 Ma-fu (horse-boy), 48, 157, 161, 164, 165.

 Mai-ma-chin, one of the three cities in Urga, 275, 276;
   the Chinese trading settlement, 276.

 Mai-ma-chin, on the Siberian frontier, 302.

 Manchu rule, its anti-opium policy one of the causes of its overthrow, 26.

 Manchuria, 55, 236.

 Manchus, downfall of, and the Six-Power loan of 1908, 226.

 Mandarin language, some form of, spoken by five sixths of the people of
   China, 317.

 Mandarin Road, the, 104 _ff._

 Manners, in China, 129.

 Mekong River, 71.

 Mencius, quoted, 312.

 "Mercury," coolie, 107.

 Miaos, in Yunnan, 50.

 Mien-ning, 89.

 Military schools, in Yunnan, 28.

 Military spirit, in Yunnan, 27.

 Min River, travelling on, 202 _ff._;
   name unknown to the Chinese, 203;
   native names for, 203;
   scenery on, 203, 204;
   64, 73, 178, 180.

 Ming dynasty, fall of, 171.

 Ming Shan (mountain), famous for tea, 163.

 Ming Shan-hsien, 163.

 Missionaries, at Ya-chou, 158;
   status of, in China, 158, 159;
   at Chengtu, 174;
   at Chung-king, 208.

 Mohammedan rebellion, 50, 54.

 Mohammedans in Yunnan, 50.

 Monasteries on Omei Shan, picturesque names of, 193.

 Monastery of Ten Thousand Years. See Wan-nien Ssu.

 Monastery of the Voice of the Waters, 182.

 Money, arrangements for, 37, 38;
   Yunnan dollars, 37;
   Szechuan coins, 37;
   Hupeh money, 37, 38;
   difficulties concerning, 97, 98;
   for the Mongolian journey, 241.

 Mongol city, in Urga, 277.

 Mongolia, and China, meet at Kalgan, 235;
   prospective attractions of, 236, 237;
   preparing for travelling in, 237 _ff._;
   stores, 240, 242, 243;
   money, 241;
   on the road from Kalgan, 243 _ff._;
   the "Camel Road" chosen, 245;
   exports of, mostly animals, 245;
   post-routes across, 245, 246;
   Russian influence in, 246;
   first impressions of, 247;
   the grassland, 247 _ff._, 259;
   inns in, 248;
   tents or huts ("yurts") in, 248-250;
   "the unchanging East," 248;
   the women and children of, 250, 251, 260, 261;
   topographical description of, 251, 252;
   population of, 253;
   government of, 253;
   opium habit in, 255;
   wives come high in, 261;
   Chinese unwelcome aliens in, 276;
   lamaism in, 279, 280.
   And see Gobi Desert and Mongolia, Northern.

 Mongolia, Northern, rainy season in, 270-272;
   trade of, controlled by Chinese of Mai-ma-chin, 276;
   extension of Russian influence in, 284, 285;
   railway connection would be advantageous to, 285;
   hold of Chinese Government on, insecure, 285, 286;
   colonization of, by Chinese, 285, 286.

 Mongolian plateau, the, 247 _ff._

 Mongolian Road, 244.

 Mongolian tents. See Tents.

 Mongolian women. See Women, Mongolian.

 Mongols, material position of, 253;
   lazy, 254;
   their herds, 254;
   neither manufacturers nor tillers of the soil, 254;
   as tea-drinkers, 254;
   great endurance of, 254;
   intemperate, 254, 255, 260;
   fine horsemen, 255;
   degenerate sons of a conquering race, 255;
   oppressed by Chinese, not by China, 260;
   eye-diseases of,
   265;
   effect of lamaism on, 282;
   prefer Russians to Chinese, 285;
   not China, but civilization is driving them to the wall, 296, 297.

 Mongols, of the author's Mongolian expedition, 257, 258, 265.

 Mongols, Northern, 268, 270.

 Monks, of Burma, their Buddhism, 282.

 Morrison, George B., 237, 238.

 Moscow, 236.


 Namti River, 18, 21;
   valley of, 15, 21.

 Nan River, 165.

 Nanking, as the possible capital of China, 229;
   159, 226.

 Nankow, 233, 234.

 Nankow, Pass of, 228.

 Napoleon III, 8.

 Ni T'ou, 111, 121.

 Nicholas II, Tsar, 306.

 Nicolai, 292, 295.

 Ning-yüan-fu. 33, 34, 37, 71, 74, 75, 80-82, 83, 85, 86, 178.


 Omei (town), and its pilgrims, 185;
   its shops, 186.

 Omei, Mount. See Omei Shan.

 Omei River, 184, 187.

 Omei Shan, the holy of holies, 180;
   ascent of, 187 _ff._;
   myths and legends concerning, 188, 189;
   monasteries on, 190, 193, 194;
   memories of a three days' stay on the summit of, 194-199;
   wherein its charm consists, 198, 199, 280.

 Opium habit, among coolies, 107, 108;
   rare in Mongolia, 255.

 Opium trade, in Yunnan, 25, 26;
   Manchu government adverse to, 26.


 Pai-chang, hiring a pony at, 163-165.

 Pai-la shu (white-wax tree), 73.

 Pailou (memorial arch), 104, 105.

 Palm-leaf hats, 19, 20.

 Pao-an-ying, 95.

 Paper, substitute for glass in West China, 40.

 Passports, lack of, 11;
   not required within Chinese Empire, 212;
   for Mongolia, 237.

 Pechihli, Gulf of, 228.

 Peking, arrival at, 228;
   situation of, 228, 229;
   the Tartar Wall, 229 _ff._;
   the divers cities of, 230;
   viewed from the Wall, 231, 232;
   the American Legation, 232;
   the streets, 232;
   to the average European its history begins in 1900, 233;
   preparing for Mongolian journey at, 237 _ff._;
   24, 163, 176, 222, 223, 280.

 Peking cart, an instrument of torture, 243, 244.

 Peking railway, the. See Lu-Han R.R.

 People's Assembly, the, 230.

 Photographing, in Szechuan, 156.

 Pien-ma boundary question, 29, 30.

 Pilgrim to Lhasa, the, 112.

 Pilgrims to Omei Shan, 185, 187, 189, 193, 195.

 P'ing-i-p'u, 98, 99.

 Polo, Marco, 74, 81, 124, 171, 172, 230, 244, 248, 250.

 Pongkiong, 260.

 Ponies, Yunnanese, 34, 35.

 Poppies, not now cultivated in Yunnan, 26;
   banished from Chien Ch'ang, 72, 94.

 "Pork money," 36, 96, 97.

 Post-routes, between Kalgan and Siberian frontier, 245, 246.

 Praying-Stones, 138.

 Precious Stone Castle, 214.

 Protestant missions in China, achievement of, 158, 159.

 P'u-chi, 53.

 P'u-hsien Bodhisattva, 189, 190, 191.

 P'u Yi, the baby Emperor, and the new government, 231.

 Purple City, the, in Peking, 230.


 Queue, the, 43.


 Railway, projected by Chinese Government, 15, 16.

 Railways in China, history of, 225, 226;
   the Kalgan-Peking line the first one built by Chinese, 234.

 Rainy season, the, in No. Mongolia, 270-272.

 Rats, 21.

 Red lama, the, 258, 265.

 Red River R.R., from Hanoi to Yunnan-fu, 14-23;
   no night traffic on, 14;
   accommodations on, 14;
   a remarkable undertaking, 14, 15;
   engineering difficulties of, 15;
   rates on, excessive, 15;
   4.

 Reeves, Captain, 237.

 Reform movement, in Yunnan, 27.

 "Relay," the. See Mongolian Road.

 Religion, in India, 310;
   in China, 311.

 Religions, great diversity of, in Yunnan, 50.

 Revolution, Chinese, effect of, on railway project, 16;
   27, 28, 125, 177, 201, 222.

 Richthofen, Baron von, 106, 165, 166.

 Rivers of Sand. See Sha Ho.

 Rockhill, Mr. W. W., American explorer and diplomat, 112.

 Roman Catholic missions in China, 158.

 Roman Catholic missionaries at Chengtu, 174.

 Rosthorn, A. de, his _Tea Cultivation in Szechuan_, 163.

 Russia, and the Mongolian postal service, 246;
   her policy of "peaceful penetration," 246;
   extension of her influence in No. Mongolia, 284, 285.

 Russian Consulate at Urga, 277, 278.

 Russian frontier. See Siberian frontier.

 Russian settlement in Urga, 277, 291.

 Russians, in Urga, 284.

 Russo-Asiatic Bank (Urga), 241, 277, 284.


 Sacred City, the. See Urga.

 Salween River, 71.

 Sandals, 43, 44.

 "Second Gentleman," the (son of Li Ping), 167.

 Sedan-chair, method of travelling in, described, 34.

 Sha Ho, 252.

 Sha Shen Ho, 244.

 Shamo. See Gobi Desert.

 Shanghai, 4, 222, 225, 226.

 Shans, in Yunnan, 50.

 Shantung, 236.

 Shields, Dr., 158.

 Shields, Mrs., 158.

 Shih Ta-k'ai, Taiping leader, 89, 99.

 Shyok River, 60.

 Si Kiang, the, 29.

 Siberian frontier, post-routes from
   Kalgan to, 245, 246;
   arrival at, 301-303.

 Siberian Railway, 236, 306, 307.

 Sikiang, the, river steamer, from Hong Kong to Haiphong on, 5-11.

 Sinden-fu, Marco Polo's name for Chengtu, 171.

 Singapore, Chinese Consul-General at, his mourning, 88.

 Six-Power Loan of 1908, proved the undoing of the Manchus, 226.

 Soap, in Mongolia, 261, 262.

 Soothill, Dr., 159.

 "Squeeze," the, 96, 97.

 Standard Oil Co., and the white-wax industry, 73;
   85.

 Standard Oil tins, use of, in Mongolia, 250.

 Stevenson, Owen, missionary, 33, 41, 53.

 Süchi, 184.

 Sugar, a great delicacy in Mongolia, 301.

 Suifu, 64, 75, 203, 206.

 Sung-lin, inn at, 87.

 Szechuan province, natives of, 51;
   travelling in, 63 _ff._;
   the Cloud Mountains, 64;
   private school in, 67, 68;
   condition of people in, 68;
   western boundary of, 124;
   beginning of its later history, 171, 172;
   viceroy of, 172;
   Railway League of, and the revolution, 177;
   "chuman" pagodas of, 204;
   the river the sole highway to, 219;
   future of, 219, 220;
   5, 26, 37, 39, 55.

 Szechuan dogs, and the sun, 64.

 Szechuan money, 37.

 Szechuan road, the, 217, 218.


 Ta Ho, 235.

 Ta Fo Rapid, 181.

 Ta Huren, the Mongol city of Urga, 277, 286-288;
   alien elements in, 287, 288;
   291.

 Ta Liang Shan (Lololand), 74, 75, 92.

 Ta Shueh Shan, 117.

 Ta Tu Ho, the limit of direct Chinese administration, 124;
   its only bridge, 116, 117, 139;
   its change of name, 118, 119;
   valley of, 114, 115, 144, 145;
   42, 89, 99, 101, 143, 161, 180, 181, 182, 184.

 Tachienlu, _sui generis_, 123;
   situation of, 123;
   China and Tibet meet in, 123;
   in the grip of lamaism, 124;
   principality of King of Chala, 125;
   government of, 125;
   key to the western country, 125;
   meeting Capt. Bailey at, 126 _ff._;
   postal arrangements at, 128;
   the people the most interesting feature of, 130, 131;
   practically all China-Tibet traffic passes through, 132, 133;
   visit to a temple at, 136-138;
   priests of, 138;
   105, 106, 110, 119, 141, 160, 248.

 Tailless dog, hunt for the, 205.

 Taiping rebellion, the, 89, 99.

 Ta-kiang, the Min sometimes so-called, 203.

 Taoism, 317.

 Tar Ho, 123.

 Tarantass, travelling in a, 289-304.

 Tarchendo River, 118, 119, 120, 123, 141, 142;
   valley of, 119, 120, 121.

 Tartar City, the, in Peking, 230.

 Tartar Wall, the, at Peking, 229 _ff._

 Tashi Lama, the, 277.

 Ta-shu-p'u, unique instance of
   native unfriendliness at, 99, 100;
   101, 105.

 Tchagan Hou, 269, 271, 274, 289.

 Tea, on the Mandarin Road, 105 _ff._;
   heavy loads of carriers of, 105;
   of Ming Shan, 163.
   And see Brick tea.

 Tea, Szechuan, 159.

 Tea-houses, on the Mandarin Road, 108, 109;
   44.

 Temple of Heaven, the, 230, 231.

 Temples, Chinese, generally uninteresting, 32.

 Teng-hsiang-ying, 89, 90, 92.

 Tents, in Mongolia, described by Marco Polo and by Abbé Huc, 248-250.

 Tibet, and China, meet in Tachienlu, 123;
   frontier of, 124;
   relations with China, how affected by Chinese revolution, 125;
   Chinese conquest of, 125, 126.

 Tibet, Western, adventure in, 60.

 Tibetan Mountains, 92, 123, 162.

 Tibetans, consume vast quantities of brick-tea, 105, 160;
   in Tachienlu, 124, 131, 134;
   defended by Captain Bailey, 132;
   in Omei, 190;
   and Mongols, 248;
   effect of lamaism on, 282.

 Tien-chüan-chou, approach to, 153, 154;
   155.

 Tien-Shan, 251.

 Tientsin, 257, 279.

 Tobacco, use of, universal, 66, 67.

 Tola River, 274, 275, 276.

 Tommy Atkins, in India, and the vernacular, 20.

 Tonking, under Doumer, 9-11;
   its value as the key to China, 10.

 Tonking-Yunnan R.R. See Red River R.R.

 "Trackers" on the Yangtse, 215, 216, 218, 219.

 Travellers on Red River R.R., 16, 17.

 Tso-ling Ho, 62.

 Tsungli Yamen, 229.

 Tuan Fang, 226, 227.

 Tuerin, 268, 269.


 Urga, the Sacred City, approach to, 273, 274;
   first sight of, 274;
   arrival at, 275;
   three cities in one, 276, 277;
   Chinese government of, 277;
   described, 277;
   worship of Bogdo in, 277;
   pilgrimages to, 278;
   a wealthy Mongol household in, 282-284;
   railway prospects of, 285;
   difficult departure from, 289-291;
   6, 29, 238, 239, 240, 241, 243, 244, 245, 252, 253, 257, 304.


 Vegetables, washing, in China, 206;
   fresh, for Mongolian journey, 242.

 Verchneudinsk, 304, 305, 306, 307.

 Villages, in Yunnan, 45.


 Wa Ssu Kou, 118, 119, 141, 142.

 Wagons Lits, Hôtel des, at Peking, 228.

 Wai-wu-pu, the, 237, 243.

 Wang, interpreter, cook, and general factotum, for the Mongolian journey,
   237, 241, 242, 257, 262, 269, 275, 289, 290, 291, 294, 297, 299.

 Wan-hsien, 177, 214, 219.

 Wan-nien Ssu, 190, 191.

 Water, a serious problem in the Gobi Desert, 264.

 Water Gate (Peking), 229.

 Wellwood, Mr., missionary, 81, 84.

 Wellwood, Mrs., 178.

 Wells, in Gobi Desert, 252, 264.

 West, the, zeal of, mars as well as mends, 129.

 West China, former ways of reaching, 3;
   now simplified by French enterprise, 3.

 West River valley, 16.

 White Emperor's Temple, the, 217.

 White Tsar, the, 246.

 White-wax industry, the, 72, 73;
   wrecked by Standard Oil Co., 73.

 Wild life, in the Gobi Desert, 262, 263.

 Windbox Gorge, 216.

 "Wine money," 83, 84.

 Wives, come high in Mongolia, 261;
   their status, 261.

 Wolves, Mongolian, 262, 263.

 Women, Chinese, qualities of, 86.

 Women, Mongolian, their vanity, 261, 262;
   their dress, 270, 271;
   250, 251.

 Woosung, 225.

 Wuchang, provincial capital of Hupeh, 222.
   See Hankow.

 Wu-pan (boat), down the Min and Yangtse in, 202 _ff._

 Wu-ting-chou, 57-60.


 Ya Ho, difficult navigation of, 161;
   scenery on, 161, 162;
   valley of, 157;
   152, 154, 180, 184.

 Ya-chou, 105, 106, 139, 140, 155, 157, 158, 159, 161, 166, 207.

 Yalung River, 67, 71.

 Yang, Mr., 211.

 Yangtse River, crossing, 63;
   its swift current, 63, 64;
   the "River of Golden Sand," 64;
   at Suifu, 206;
   travelling on, 206 _ff._;
   gorges of, 218;
   at Ichang, 221;
   and Han, three cities at junction of, 222;
   contrast between, and the Hoang, 228;
   3, 37, 42, 71, 116, 163, 165.
   And see Min River.

 Yellow Emperor, the, 189.

 Yellow River. See Hoang.

 "Young Ladies." See Annamese Tirailleurs.

 Younghusband expedition to Lhasa, 126.

 Yuan Shih Kai, 227.

 Yuan-pu, the, 192.

 Yüeh-hsi, 94.

 Yun Bay, 16.

 Yunnan, province of, effects of Mohammedan rebellion in, 27;
   the railway brings new life to, 27;
   the Reform movement in, 27, 28;
   new military spirit in, 27, 28;
   significance of adhesion to western ideas, 27, 28;
   dread of foreign interference in, 28, 29;
   French encroachments in, 29;
   French consulate in, 29;
   government projects of railways in, 29;
   Bureau of Foreign Affairs and its chief, 30, 31, 38;
   travelling across, 42 _ff._;
   meaning of the name, 49;
   a "land of sunshine," 49;
   varied inhabitants of, 49, 50;
   conquest of, by Kublai Khan, 50;
   proportion of tribes in population of, 50;
   ethnological map of, a wonderful patchwork, 50;
   variety of religions in, 50;
   a fine field for civil discord, 50;
   natives of, 51;
   hill-roads in, 52;
   travelling among the mountains in, 54 _ff._;
   estimated population of, 55;
   3, 9, 22.

 Yunnan dollars, 37.

 Yunnan pony, 102.

 Yunnan-fu, from Haiphong to, by rail, 13, 14;
   approach to, 21, 22;
   its picturesque situation, 23;
   its climate, 23;
   an unattractive city, 24;
   its lake, 24, 25;
   famous for its metal work, 25;
   opium trade banished from, 25, 26;
   military school in, 28;
   French predominance in, 29;
   a native official hostess at, 31;
   excursions from, 32;
   hiring coolies at, 33-35, 36;
   departure from, 41, 42;
   3, 21.

 Yurts (Mongolian huts), 248, 249.



The Riverside Press

CAMBRIDGE · MASSACHUSETTS
         U·S·A





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