Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/271

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213
DOWN THE YANGTSE

in creating the American nation has been noted. Who can tell what the Chinese coolie is doing in the same way?

At Chung-king I had to arrange for the trip down the river. I might take passage on the wonderful new steamer plying with some regularity between the city and Ichang; but that went too fast for my liking, besides giving me no chance to go ashore. Or I might engage a houseboat ; but at this season of the year the charges were high, as it might be weeks before the return trip could be made, and one hundred taels was the best rate offered. So in spite of the fact that "nobody travelled that way," or perhaps because of it, I, being a nobody, decided to try the humble wupan again, and through the efforts of one of the Christian helpers in the Friends' Mission I secured a very comfortable boat to take me and my reduced following to Ichang for twenty-five dollars Mexican. The boat was all that could be desired, and the captain, or "lao-pan," proved skilful and obliging, but unfortunately he was not, as is usually the case, the owner of the boat, and still more unfortunately, one of the owners, a rather old man, was serving with the crew. Nothing happened, but I had at times an uncomfortable feeling that nobody was in authority over any one.

I started down the river at noon on a fine day at the end of June, and a little over forty-eight hours