Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/274

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216
A WAYFARER IN CHINA

changes in level are extraordinarily rapid. It was almost dark before we could set off again, and then we got no farther than Kwei-fu, the trackers' Paradise. Perhaps that was the reason why we could not start the next morning, but I fancy it was the truth that the water was too high to be safe, for there were double rows of junks moored under the walls of Kwei-fu, and I saw no boats starting down. When the water covers the great rock at the mouth of the Windbox Gorge, two miles down the river, the authorities forbid all passing through. And anyway there was nothing to do but make the best of it.

Kwei-fu is a pleasant-looking town set in maizefields which grow quite up to the walls. A few years ago it was notorious for its hostility to foreigners. No missionaries were admitted, and when Mrs. Bird Bishop came this way in 1897 she did not attempt to go inside the town. Now all is changed; the China Inland Mission has a station here, and I went about freely. But I did not see much of Kwei-fu, as I preferred to enjoy that Paradise from afar; so we pulled a little way downstream, tying up near some maizefields in which I promptly got really lost, so tall and thick was the growth.

The next morning dawned clear, and the lao-pan declared we could start, as the water was falling, but he professed unwillingness to take me through the dreaded Hei Shi Tan, or "Black Rock Rapid," near