Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/208

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A WAYFARER IN CHINA

and entered a more broken country, hills and valleys, ridges and dells, rushing brooks between banks of ferns, little tumbling cascades over mossy stones, groups and avenues of fine trees, picturesque stone bridges, everywhere painstaking tillage and ingenious irrigation. It was all charming, with the artificial beauty of a carefully ordered park. Resting in my chair in front of a tea-house where the coolies were refreshing themselves, I noticed my knight of the bridges suddenly throw himself on the ground before the interpreter, crying out something in beseeching tones, while the other coolies standing about laughed unsympathetically. The poor man was urging the interpreter to ask that I give him back his soul, of which apparently I had deprived him when I took his picture an hour back. Without his soul he would die, and then what would his mother, a widow, do? After some talk he was consoled, the other men assuring him that they had been photographed over and over again without suffering harm. If only I had known at the time, I could have consoled him with the information that there was no picture. Photographing in cloudy Szechuan has many drawbacks, and I was ready to bark with the proverbial dog of the province when I saw the sun. The feeling of the Chinese toward the camera seems to vary. Children were sometimes afraid. One boy old enough to carry a heavy load, having been induced by the promise of