Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/134

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94
A WAYFARER IN CHINA

same traffic and received the same explanation. With the prohibition of the poppy, the region has for the moment little export trade, while the imports seem to consist mainly of military supplies for the Chien-ch'ang garrisons. However, the road is in unusually good condition, for the whole way from Teng-hsiang-ying to Yüeh-hsi, our next stop, a distance of perhaps thirty-five miles, is well paved with broad flags. As we drew near to the town the valley opened a little, affording a glimpse of a snow peak to the north, while toward the southeast we look up a narrow gorge into Lololand, the border being but some fifteen miles away. This is almost the only break in the flanking hills that wall in the Forbidden Land. Yüeh-hsi itself lies in the centre of a rock-strewn plain broken by a few rice- and maize-fields, and is important as a military post guarding the trade route against this easy way of attack. The best room of the inn smelt to heaven, but on investigation I found an open loft which proved very possible after ejecting a few fowls.

The following day our march led us through a narrow valley bare of people and cultivation. Following this was a welcome change to steep climbs over grass-covered slopes broken by picturesque ravines. I tried to get a picture of a coolie, bearing a huge nine-foot-long coffin plank, whom we overtook on the trail. A handful of cash and cigarettes won his consent, but in spite of my men's efforts to calm his fears,