Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/115

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79
THE CHIEN-CH'ANG

structed 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