Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/133

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93
THE CHIEN-CH'ANG

construction, three stories high, and with only a few slits for windows. Once or twice we passed through an open bazaar strongly walled and with a fortified gate at either end, serving as a brief resting-place for the caravans hurrying over this dangerous stretch of road.

As we travelled northward we saw fewer of the fine stone bridges of the south; the construction was now generally of wood, not unlike in outline the disfiguring structures of New England, but improved by open sides and a picturesque curly roof of tiles. Usually they were approached by a flight of steps, showing conclusively, if proof were needed, that there were no wheeled vehicles to consider. And, indeed, traffic generally was of limited character after we left the pass. Occasionally we overtook coolies hurrying along with their precious loads of white wax insects, or bending under long, thick pine or cypress boards, sometimes towering high above their heads or else strapped across their shoulders, forcing them to move crab-fashion along the narrow trails. On inquiry I learned that deeply embedded in the soil of the hills are found huge trees, rows of sprouts marking their location. These are dug up with much effort and sawn into boards which are in great request for the ponderous Chinese coffins. It would seem as though the supply must be inexhaustible, for when Sir Alexander Hosie came this way, a generation ago, he noted the