Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/198

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148
A WAYFARER IN CHINA

of the caravan reached Chang-ho-pa, the night's stop. The whole village turned out to greet us, and their interest was not to be wondered at, as few Europeans and perhaps no European woman had ever before come this way. The interpreter did not arrive until two hours later, and what stories my two companions made up about me to satisfy the curiosity of the villagers, I can only imagine. As a rule, one stands to lose nothing in the mouths of one's followers in the East. Whatever reflected glory they may earn by exalting their masters is generally theirs. Years afterward I learned that on a journey I once made in Kashmir and Baltistan I travelled in the guise of King Edward's sister. How much I profited by the dignity thus thrust upon me I do not know, but I have often thought that my servants must have been hard put to it sometimes to account for the simplicity of my outfit.

The rest of the caravan straggled in toward the end of the afternoon, wet and tired, but all in good spirits over the successful day, no loads drenched, no one hurt. The great room of the rough little inn was noisy and gay with the men drying their clothes and cooking their dinner, the centre of an interested throng of village folk. I sat among them on a low bench by the fire, watching the fun. Every one was heedful of my comfort, poking the fire, bringing a fan to screen my face from the heat, drying my shoes,