Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/205

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153
THE LESSER TRAIL

shoots. A new feature in the landscape were tall spruce trees, reminding me in their outlines of the rock pines of Italy. As the road was now good, it was possible for me to ride in my chair once more, for which I was glad, as the hard climbs and still more wearying descents of the last three days had made me rather stale. The people along the way were much interested in me and still more in Jack, but it was the naïve curiosity of a simple folk, and I did not find it irksome like the hard stare of the townspeople. At one place where we halted for tiffin, a lame man with an interesting face attached himself to us, and presently I found myself and my belongings the subject of an explanatory talk he was giving the bystanders. He told them how I kept my eyeglasses on, expatiated on the advantages of my shoes, indicated the good points of my chair, the like of which had never been seen before in these parts, and finally expounded at length the character of my dog. If I wished him to be bad he would bite, but since I was kind I would desire him to be good, and he would be good. To illustrate, he patted Jack's head rather gingerly. Fortunately the dog appreciated pats from any quarter, so our characters did not suffer.

Toward the end of the day we were nearing Tienchüan-chou, the one largeish town on this road. The approach was one of the finest things I have ever seen. We were now well down, having descended