Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/201

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
151
THE LESSER TRAIL

were able to make very good time. At one point, after passing through a little hamlet,—we came out on a high bluff overlooking a good-sized stream flowing in from the south. Fifty feet below roared the river, spanned at this place by a suspension bridge a hundred and fifty feet long, constructed of three iron cables held together by cross-chains at regular intervals. The footway was merely a single row of boards not more than twelve inches wide, and there was no handrail at all. The soldier at my side waved his hand significantly up and down. I understood quite too well, and was shaking in my shoes at the thought of walking that narrow, unsteady plank, when I espied my knightly coolie, who, having deposited his load on the opposite bank, was hurrying back to my assistance. Gripping Jack, who was as frightened as I, under one arm, I seized the man's hand, and slowly we inched across to safety. There we joined the people of a near-by hamlet, who apparently found their pastime in watching the traffic across the bridge, perhaps waiting for a chance to earn a few cash by carrying the loads of the less sure-footed coolies. My chair-men came over triumphantly, and Mercury almost ran with his baskets, but the interpreter was glad of the fu t'ou's aid, and two of the coolies balked, but were helped out by some of the others.

Later in the day we left the river, and crossing a