Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/190

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142
A WAYFARER IN CHINA

Tachienlu. Already in thought the town seemed purer and better for the presence of these noble women, who had probably left their homes for good, to take up a work which they would lay down only with life.

We found room in Wa Ssu Kou in the same "comfy " inn as before, and the welcome we received gave me a truly homelike feeling. Soon after starting the next morning we passed the funeral cortege of a Chinese official of Tachienlu, making his last long journey to his distant home two hundred li beyond Chengtu. The ponderous coffin in its red case, upon which stood the usual white cock to avert disaster, was preceded by men carrying flags and cymbals which they clashed in accompaniment to the almost continuous chanting of the eight bearers. As they stopped for frequent halts we had soon left them far behind, but late at night they arrived at Lu Ting and were given quarters in the same temple where we were lodged, for I had refused to try the inns again.

While it was still dark the next morning we were aroused by the sound of chanting and clashing cymbals in the court outside. The bearers of the dead were starting on another stage of their long journey, and at quarter-past six we too were off, after a last parting injunction to the ma-fu to take good care of the pony. Already the town was astir, the marketplace, as we passed through, crowded with traders and their produce, chiefly good-looking vegetables