Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/153
ON THE MANDARIN ROAD
Our second night from the ferry was spent at Ni T'ou, a rather important frontier village, and attractive with picturesque red temples and pailous. A good sleep in an unusually comfortable inn prepared us for the stiff climb to come. The morning broke grey and the clouds rested low on the mountains, but at least we were spared a start in the rain. The road was so steep and rough that I preferred to walk, and soon getting ahead of my men I did not see them again until midday, and I had a good morning all to myself among the hills. Occasionally I passed through a little hamlet, people and dogs all turning out to greet my dog and me. Once a whole village emptied itself into the fields to show me the way up the hillside. My cold lunch I ate at the head of a wild gorge by a solitary shrine half buried in clumps of bushes, and beautiful with masses of iris. The last part of the climb to Fei Yüeh Ling, or "Fly Beyond Pass," led through an uninhabited glen down which rushed a fine stream turning the horizontally placed wheels of a ruined mill. Hurrying up the rocky zigzag I stood alone at the top of the pass, nine thousand feet above the sea. Before me I knew towered range upon range, peak
wayside well, under a spreading tree, would be placed a small table tended perhaps only by a tiny maiden, and set out with pieces of sugar-cane or twigs of loquats or carefully counted clusters of peanuts or seeds, five pieces for a cash.