Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/154

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A WAYFARER IN CHINA

above peak, one of the finest views the earth affords, but alas, everything was blotted out by thick white clouds, and I could scarcely see ten feet away.

It was maddening to think of the wonders that lay behind that impenetrable wall, but there was nothing to do but to descend by a trail as steep and slippery as the one by which I had just climbed, for the cold, drenching mist showed no signs of lifting. It was on this slope that Rockhill, the American explorer, met a pilgrim on his way to Lhasa. Starting in the Chusan archipelago near Ning-po, he had already spent seven years on the way, and it would be two more before he could attain his goal, which was not to be wondered at, as with every two steps he prostrated himself full length on the ground before the little altar he carried with him. With this primitive mountain world his act was in weird harmony, but there was an incongruity almost stunning in the sight of a Hindu carrying out a similar vow in one of the crowded business streets of Europeanized Calcutta. I nearly stepped on him as I came out one day from the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank.

Just before reaching Hua-lin-ping, or "Phoenix" Flat, where we were to spend the night, I espied across the narrow valley to our right a picturesque temple perched at the top of a high wooded cliff. As it was still early in the afternoon, I turned off from the trail, and, accompanied by the interpreter, scrambled down