Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/246

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190
A WAYFARER IN CHINA

told. I would not believe it on any authority had I not seen for myself the tramps these poor crippled creatures often take.

As I was in no hurry, we stopped for the night at Wan-nien Ssu, or the "Monastery of Ten Thousand Years," one of the largest on the mountain and with a recorded history that goes back more than fifteen hundred years. We were made very welcome, for the days have passed when foreigners were turned from the door. Their patronage is eagerly sought and also their contributions. After inspecting our quarters, which opened out of an inner court and were spacious and fairly clean, I started out at once to see the sights of the place, for daylight dies early in these dense woods. Like all the rest Wan-nien Ssu is plainly built of timbers, and cannot compare with the picturesque curly-roofed buildings one sees in the plains below. Indeed, it reminded me of the Tibetan lamasseries about Tachienlu, and it is true that thousands of Tibetans find their way hither each spring, and the hillsides reëcho their mystic spell, " Om mani padme hum," only less often than the Chinese, " Omi to fo."

Behind the building where I was quartered is another, forming part of the same monastery, and within is concealed rather than displayed the treasure of the place, and indeed the most wonderful monument on the mountain, a huge image of P'u-hsien enthroned on the back of a life-size elephant, all admirably cast