Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/207

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155
THE LESSER TRAIL

came in sight of the town, its staring red walls draped with green creepers. Entering through a fine stone gateway, we found ourselves in the single street, broad, well paved, and wonderfully clean. The inhabitants were apparently well used to foreigners, which is natural, as Ya-chou with its Roman Catholic and Protestant missions is only twenty miles away.

The country through which we passed the next day was very varied, and always beautiful. On leaving the town the path led along a low ridge given over to graves. Living and dead dwell side by side in China, and often it seems as though the rights of the one were sacrificed to the claims of the other. The Chinese saying, "For every man that Heaven creates, Earth provides a grave," takes on a new significance as one looks over the land, the dead are so many, the living so hard put to live. This was not an unattractive place, for the mounds of earth and stone were overgrown with grass and ferns, while many were decorated with a tuft of bamboo or a bush of wild roses. The free use of stone in this district was very striking; pavements, often in good condition, were general, the irrigating ditches were bridged by a single slab of the red sandstone of Szechuan, perhaps ten feet in length, while at every turn there were charming little stone shrines in place of the shabby wooden ones found farther south.

After a bit we turned away from the plain and river