Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/150

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108
A WAYFARER IN CHINA

valiant effort, with the aid of anti-opium pills, to break off the habit; it was getting too expensive, he said, especially for a married man. In a number of towns places were pointed out where these pills were sold by the Government. Those who know, say they are often as pernicious as the drug itself.

The majority of my men, eleven to be precise, were married, and eight had children. I was interested to note the discreet and indirect way in which this information was procured for me by the interpreter. Such matters are not mentioned in public in China, any more than in India.

My own chair-men, so it happened, were all gay young bachelors, ready to squander their earnings on anything that took their fancy,—beads or tobacco, hats or cakes, especially cakes. There was a particular sort, very sweet with pink frosting, that was a great delicacy, costing two cents Mexican apiece. I had to speak pretty emphatically to one of the men who was trying to win Jack's favour by feeding him with the costly cookies. "But the little dog likes them," he said.

The Chinese generally, unlike the Hindu, is very ready to spend on his food if he has the money. He will live on less than nothing if put to it, but given the chance he does not stint himself. At short intervals on the road were tea-houses and restaurants of the simpler sort especially planned to cater to the