Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/281

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CHAPTER XI

FROM THE GREAT RIVER TO THE GREAT WALL

AT Ichang, a thousand miles from Shanghai, I met the West, modern comforts, bad manners, and all. Situated at the eastern end of the gorges, this town of thirty thousand Chinese inhabitants and a handful of Europeans is just where all the merchandise going upstream must be shifted from the light-draft steamers of the lower Yangtse to the native junks of forty to a hundred tons which are still the only freight boats that venture regularly through the rapids and whirlpools of the upper waters of the Great River. So the water front of Ichang is a busy scene at all times, and in the winter season the boats are packed together sardine fashion. When the railway is put through, all the river traffic will cease, but Ichang proposes to control the new route as it has the old, and already an imposing station has been completed, even though only a few miles of iron rail have been laid down.

I shifted my belongings directly from the wu-pan to the Kweilu, a Butterfield & Swire boat leaving the same evening. It was very comfortable, although crowded, as everything seems to be in China. Ichang stands at the extreme eastern edge of the tangle of