Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/179

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133
TACHIENLU

income from the high prices they charge the poor people to whom tea is a necessity of life.

When I grew weary of the confusion and dirt of the narrow streets I was glad to escape to the hillside above my lodgings. The mission compound is small and confined, affording no room for a garden, although fine masses of iris growing along the walls brightened up the severity of the grey stone buildings; but a little climb behind the mission house brought me to a peaceful nook whence I could get a glorious view over the town and up and down the valley, here so narrow that it seemed possible to throw a stone against the opposite hillside.

The first fine morning after my arrival I made an early start for the summer palace of the King of Chala, situated about eight miles from Tachienlu in a beautiful, lonely valley among the mountains. This is the favourite camping-place of Chengtu missionaries, who now and then brave the eleven days' journey to and fro to exchange their hothouse climate for a brief holiday in the glorious scenery and fine air of these health-giving uplands. We were mounted, the interpreter and I, on ponies provided by the Yamen, one worse than the other, and both unfit for the rough scramble. After traversing the town, first on one side and then on the other of the river which we crossed by a picturesque wooden bridge, roofed in but with open sides, we passed out at the South Gate — Ta-