Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/262

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204
A WAYFARER IN CHINA

richly cultivated with maize and rape, and nameless little villages, picturesque with black timbered houses and red temples, peeped out of groves of banyan and bamboo and orange. Then the hills closed in on the river and the current ran like a millrace. Often a promontory was crowned with one of the many-storied white "chuman" pagodas of Szechuan, while in the face of a cliff I could now and then discern openings which I knew were the famous, mysterious cave-dwellings of a bygone time and an unknown people found all about Chia-ting. I visited one that had been converted into a miniature temple, and there are several in one of the mission compounds. I believe they are known only in this region. They have been excavated by an expert hand, showing traces, it is thought, of Indian influence. Much conjecture has been expended upon them, and as yet there is no advance upon Baber's conclusion "that these excavations are of unknown date, and have been undertaken for unexplained purposes, by a people of doubtful identity."

As the river was now high, the current carried us along at a good speed, but I was in no hurry and we made many stops, when I got out to stretch my legs along the bank. At night we always tied up, and it took some effort to secure a place to the liking of us all. I wanted air and quiet, but the desire of my boat people was set on a chance to go a-marketing or to