Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/249

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193
OMEI SHAN, THE SACRED

even when the trees fell away, and there ought to have been a view, nothing was to be seen, for the thick mists shut out all above and below. We passed by innumerable monasteries, most of them looking prosperous and well patronized; they must reap a rich harvest in cash from the countless pilgrims. Everywhere building was going on, indicating hopeful fortunes, or, more likely, recent disaster, for it is the prevailing dampness alone that saves the whole mountainside from being swept by fires, and they are all too frequent as it is.

It is one of the many topsy-turvy things in topsy-turvy China that this prosaic people is so addicted to picturesque and significant terms. I found the names of some of the monasteries quite as interesting as anything else about them. From the "Pinnacle of Contemplation" you ascend to the "Monastery of the White Clouds," stopping to rest in the "Hall of the Tranquil Heart," and passing the "Gate to Heaven" you enter the "Monastery of Everlasting Joy."

Toward the summit the forest dwindled until there was little save scrub pine and oak, a kind of dwarf bamboo, and masses of rhododendron. At last we came out into a large clearing just as the sun burst from the clouds, lighting up the gilded ball that surmounts the monastery where I hoped to find shelter, the Chin Tien, or "Golden Hall of the True