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A WAYFARER IN CHINA
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
and bloodshed; its character seemed symbolized in the head of a Lolo robber set up by the wayside.