Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/189

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141
THE LESSER TRAIL

cided to stay with me. I would not have the Ningyüan men discharged if they wished to go on with me to Ya-chou and Chengtu, as first arranged but I was sure that by hiring two or three extra coolies, so as to lighten the loads, they could get along; nor did the chairs present any real difficulty. We would walk when the trail was bad, and surely they could be taken empty wherever pack-coolies went. So it proved, all was arranged as I planned, and in the end everything turned out satisfactorily.

Our departure from Tachienlu was attended with the usual noise and confusion; nothing is done quietly in China. Also there were the customary delays. As we had only a short stage before us, I sat serenely aloof on the steps of the mission house, enjoying for the last time the wonderful views over the town to the snow peaks above, while things gradually got themselves straight. After a long wait for the second soldier, who never turned up, we were at last off, and the descent of the valley was very enjoyable in the soft grey light of a misty day. As the river had risen appreciably during our stay in Tachienlu, it rushed along at a fine rate between the high, steep banks, and I held my breath as I watched people pulling themselves over by the perilous rope bridges. Halfway to Wa Ssu Kou we met a procession of six chairs, and from each looked out the fair, smiling face of a French sister bound to her mission station at