Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/270

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212
A WAYFARER IN CHINA

and every kind of service or none. On one occasion the recovery of a stolen necklace brought upon my head demands for a whole sheaf of letters, every one concerned, no matter how remotely, wanted one,—hotel proprietor (it was at a hotel that the affair occurred), hotel manager, clerk, servants, chief of police, ordinary policemen. Finally in desperation I offered one to the thief for allowing himself to be caught so promptly. But I think the strangest one I was ever called upon to write was for a tiger-tamer in the employ of an Indian rajah. I protested I knew nothing about such things, but he would not take no, and as he had reduced the big brute that he brought to my bungalow to the point of drinking milk from a china bowl that I put before him, I agreed to recommend him as a trainer of tigers. But for my Yunnan coolie I wrote a good letter most willingly in spite of the fact that he was a confirmed opium-smoker; in all the long journey that he made with me I could not see that it weakened his wits or his muscles. I was told that such journeyings were not at all uncommon, the coolies taking work wherever offered, and going on and on as new jobs turned up. With all its shortcomings the Manchu Government did not make the blunder of imposing artificial restraints upon the movements of the people, and since no passports were required within the empire, men could come and go at their own will. The part of the commercial traveller