Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/240

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184
A WAYFARER IN CHINA

It was raining when we started from Chia-ting and it kept on all day. Nevertheless, as soon as I was outside the West Gate of the city I exchanged my closed chair for one specially devised for the mountain climb, simply a bamboo chair furnished with a swinging board for a foot-rest. It gave of course no protection against sun or rain, but there was nothing to cut off the view. The closed chair affected by the Chinese seemed to me intolerable, a stuffy box half closed in front, and with mere loopholes on the sides. But fifteen years ago no European woman could ride in anything else without danger of being mobbed.

All the first day we were crossing the beautiful Chia-ting plain, seamed and watered by many rivers and streams. The path wound in and out among splendid fields of maize and fine fruit orchards, and the comfortable looking villages were densely shaded with oak and mulberry trees. It ought to be a prosperous district, for not only is it rich in natural resources, but the throngs of pilgrims that pass through here on their way to the Sacred Mountain must bring a lot of money into the towns.

At the start we kept above the Ta Tu, but later we crossed the Ya, now a strong-flowing tranquil river, and farther along still at the little town of Süchi ("Joyous Stream"), famous for its silk, we came to the Omei, which has its sources on the lower slopes of the Great Mountain. After this the country was