Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/145

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105
ON THE MANDARIN ROAD

plain, and usually commemorate the good deeds of an official (his best act, perhaps, was setting up this memorial to himself), or the virtues of some woman whose merit lay almost invariably in many years, or many children, or above all in remaining a widow. I have heard of a pailou in Kwangtung province in honour of a woman marked out among women for her years, her goodness, and above all for her many descendants, who numbered six sons, forty grandsons, one hundred and twenty-one great-grandsons and two great-great-grandsons.

Han Yuan Kai is on the mandarin road that connects Chengtu and Ya-chou with the frontier. Here we entered a new magistracy, and it was necessary to send to Ch'ing Ch'i, the district headquarters, for a fresh relay of soldiers. One of those who had come with me from Ta-shu-p'u started at once on our arrival at Han Yüan Kai about the middle of the afternoon, and made the journey, twenty-five li each way, to Ch'ing Ch'i-hsien and back before night, bringing with him the two men who were to go on with me. Truly the West China man is no weakling.

During the next day we were following the great tea-road, the road by which most of the twelve million pounds of brick tea consumed by the guzzling Tibetans is carried to the frontier market at Tachienlu. At all hours of the day straggling lines of men or ponies or mules were in sight, toiling along under