Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/178

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A WAYFARER IN CHINA

acquaintance, but whatever the cause, no race is quite without champions in the white man's congress. Captain Bailey who had had long experience of the Tibetans in administrative work on the northeastern borderland of India, was no exception, and he defended them vigorously. I had no knowledge to set against his, but when he declared that they were a clean people it seemed to me he was stretching a point, for I should have thought their dirt was as undeniable as it was excusable in the burning sun or biting cold of their high plateaus.

Practically all the traffic between China and its great western dependency passes through Tachienlu, and the little town is full of bustle and stir. From Tibet are brought skins and wool and gold and musk, to be exchanged here for tobacco and cloth and miscellaneous articles, but tea, of course, forms the great article of trade, the quantity sent from Tachienlu annually amounting to more than twelve million pounds. Conspicuous in the town are the great warehouses where the tea is stored, awaiting sale, and there are numerous Tibetan establishments where it is repacked for the animal carriage which here replaces the carrier coolies from the east. Among the Chinese the trade is mostly in the hands of a few great merchants who deal with the women representatives of the Tibetan priesthood who practically monopolize the sale in their country, deriving a large