Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/209

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157
THE LESSER TRAIL

a reward to stand still, burst into tears just as I was about to snap him, and I had to send him off triumphant over his bits of cash, while I was left pictureless. Some, too, of the older people made objection, while on the other hand I was occasionally asked to take a picture.

Toward noon we found ourselves again in the valley of the Ya, sometimes following a well-paved trail above the river, the ups and downs carefully terraced in broad stone steps, occasionally threading our way among the huge rush mats with which the village streets were carpeted. The harvesting of the millet and barley crops was over, and the sheaves had been brought into the village to dry and were spread out in the only level space available, the highway. Men walked over the sheaves, children and dogs romped among them, and no one said them nay. Twice we were ferried across the river, and finally a short run over the low, wide reefs that here narrow the channel brought us to Ya-chou and to the end of the Lesser Trail. We had made the trip without any of the prophesied mishaps, and for me it was far more comfortable and more interesting than following the main track. To be sure, we took five days to it, but it would not have been difficult to have saved a day, only there was no object in doing it, for a wait at Ya-chou was inevitable that the ma-fu and pony might catch us up there.