Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/129

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91
THE CHIEN-CH'ANG

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