Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/139

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99
THE CHIEN-CH'ANG

crop of maize and buckwheat from slipping down into the river.

As we passed out of the village the next morning at six o'clock we heard the hum of the boys in the government school already at work. Apparently Young China was wasting no time. For perhaps twenty li we followed down a fine stream, the way rather dangerous from the rocks which now and then detached themselves from the steep overhanging hillsides. After a time an ascent of one thousand feet brought us in sight of the Ta Tu, which we reached some time after noon by a gradual descent of two thousand feet, through a narrow valley to Ta-shu-p'u. Fine clumps of bamboo and groups of palm now cheered our sight, and fruit of several sorts — cherries, pears, loquats — was becoming abundant. It was very refreshing, although scarcely of a fine quality, and usually gathered before it was ripe. The place looked quiet and attractive, but half a century ago the last scenes of the Taiping rebellion were enacted here, when the remnants of Shih Ta-k'ai's force were surrounded and slaughtered.

Later in the day I went for a stroll to inspect the shops, accompanied by my interpreter, and it was on this occasion that I met with the only instance of unfriendliness (that I recognized) in all my journeying in West China. At one shop I noticed an interesting bronze dragon. The interpreter, who had a rather