Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/113

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77
THE CHIEN-CH'ANG

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