Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/211

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159
THE LESSER TRAIL

there for their own personal interests, and the people are quite shrewd enough to see this. In spite of differences of views the Chinese who knows the missionary at all generally respects him. A Chinese gentleman in no way friendly to missions, speaking of the good relations that existed between Europeans and Chinese in Nanking, declared it was all because the missionaries came first. And Dr. Soothill tells the story of an Englishman who applauded the harsh criticism of mission work by a Chinese river captain, and met the retort, "That's all well enough, but if it were not for the missionaries we should not know there were any good men in your country."

The prefectural city of Ya-chou is the centre of a great tea-growing district, while in the town itself are large establishments where the article is made up for the Tibetan trade. The Szechuan tea for the most part does not rank very high, little being exported from the province save to Tibet, and for that market even the poorest is reckoned too good, as the so-called tea carried by the thousands of coolies whom we met bound for Tachienlu is everything save genuine tea leaves, being a mixture of which the leaves and twigs of scrub oak and other trees form the largest part. The Ya-chou tea, when gathered and dried, is bought up and brought into the towns to be made into the brick tea of Tibetan commerce. The preparation consists in chopping fine the tea and adulterat-