Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/110

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
74
A WAYFARER IN CHINA

gol, 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