Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/261

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
203
DOWN THE YANGTSE

had provided himself with a little cement cooking arrangement on which he prepared me very savoury messes. He and the Yunnan coolie and the interpreter and the boat people all chummed together very amicably, and I was impressed again, as so many times before, by the essential democracy of China. The interpreter was several pegs above the others, socially, but he showed no objection at going in with them, and more than once, when the inns were crowded, took up his quarters with the coolies, but—he always got well waited upon. Nor was the captain's wife kept in seclusion (it would have been hard, indeed, to get it in a thirty-foot wu-pan), but all day long I could hear her chatting with the men in cheerful give-and-take fashion.

By the way, the name which Europeans give to the river down which I was floating, the Min, is quite unknown to the Chinese, and it may have originated with the Jesuits, the first men from the West to make their home in Szechuan. By the natives the river is sometimes called the "Fu" because of the three "fu" towns on its banks, Chengtu, Chia-ting, and Suifu, and sometimes they speak of it as the Ta-kiang, regarding it as the upper waters of the Yangtse.

Below Chia-ting the river, by whatever name called, flows through a smiling, open country, with gently varied scenery. The soft slopes on either hand were