Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/227

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171
ACROSS CHENGTU PLAIN

double under their heavy burdens, laden barrows creaking dolefully as they moved, foot travellers plodding wearily along, groups of wild Tibetans from the distant frontier, gorgeous mandarins returning from an inspection tour, all were hurrying towards the capital. Yes, we were nearing Marco Polo's "large and noble" city of Sindin-fu and it is to-day again a "large and noble" city, only now it is known as Chengtu, and the days are not so very far in the past when it was hardly a city at all.

Szechuan's later history begins with the troubled times that marked the fall of the Ming dynasty. While the Manchus were busy establishing themselves at Peking, the outlying provinces of the empire were given over to brigandage and civil strife. Here in Chengtu an adventurer calling himself the Emperor of the West succeeded in getting the upper hand for a short time, and when his end came there was little left to rule over save ruins and dead men, which was hardly to be wondered at, seeing his idea of ruling was to exterminate all his subjects. Baber has made from De Mailla's "History of China" the following summary of his measures: "Massacred: 32,310 undergraduates; 3000 eunuchs; 2000 of his own troops; 27,000 Buddhist priests; 600,000 inhabitants of Chengtu; 280 of his own concubines; 400,000 wives of his troops; everybody else in the