Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/275

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
217
DOWN THE YANGTSE

the western end of the first gorge; so I carried two two-carrier chairs for myself and the interpreter, paying one thousand cash for thirty li. At starting, the road made a bend away from the river, passing through a succession of hamlets, the homes of the trackers. Leaving my men at a tea-house I walked on, following a well-made path which led me finally into the White Emperor's Temple, beautifully set on the very edge of an angle of the cliff, affording wonderful views down the gorge. It was clean and light, and the priests who came to greet me in the usual kindly Buddhist fashion had rather nice faces. It was a place to dream away a glorious day. At our feet the rippling water just revealed the dreaded Goosetail Rock, now almost submerged, but in winter standing like a sentinel forty feet tall at the mouth of the gorge; and over our heads towered, on both sides the narrow waterway, grey vertical cliffs, fifteen hundred to two thousand feet high. I hated to leave, but as I had plainly lost my way there was nothing to do but go back and seek to overtake the men who were pounding along on the right path, trying to come up with me.

It is here that the great Szechuan road begins, a pathway galleried into the solid rock for the whole length of the gorge at about one hundred and fifty feet above the winter level of the river. It is a fine piece of road, the gift, I believe, of a rich Kwei-chou